Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Official Statement About The Recent Disruptions
I apologize to our good members for the chaos this place descended into over the weekend. I assure you that the staff and I handled it as best we could. Our goal was to preserve the life of the site while abiding by our principles. We had a few hiccups here and there, but for the most part I think we achieved that. And really, what mod staff would not have had a few hiccups under these circumstances? None of us are infallible. It's hard to have perfect judgment when attacks are being hurled at you faster than you can read them, let alone reply.
There are some pretty basic management principles that I adhere to as much as possible, whether here or elsewhere. I really like "Catch people doing something right" and "Praise publicly, criticize privately." They almost never fail me. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to deviate from those a little bit here. Many lies have been told about Old Elm and people need to know the truth. Our credibility is our most important asset. I must set the record straight.
First, a little history: As hard as this may be to believe, Old Elm Tree was started as a partnership between Mike and I. (He was using the name Two Americas at the time.) Our basic original agreement was to start a site with two main rules: protect free speech and members must treat each other with respect. I continue to hold to that.
The division of labor was that Mike did the tech stuff and I did most of the writing and all of the art. From the time we opened to membership (July 2008) Mike argued against our respectful discussion rule. I was so confused. Why would he agree to that premise and then do a 180 degree turn as soon as we opened? I really don’t know. I do know that even though he said the mission statements and guidelines were fine just as I had written them, he later admitted that he had never read them. He insisted that any moderation at all would be unfair to him and his group of friends because of their ideology. I could never understand why he thought that given that he and I would be the final authority on all moderation. He refused to even acknowledge the possibility of a compromise on this issue. The majority of the mod staff felt that The Crisis forum was the best compromise, so in November 2008 we started that and Mike and TBF stepped down. (She was a mod in the very early months.)
False Claim: Mike did a ton of tech work here, even after stepping down as admin.
Truth: Old Elm was conceived to be more than a message board. It was to be a complete community, with opportunities for members to display and promote their creative output or their small businesses. There were to be many bells and whistles. Mike also said that we would be able to earn money from the site, making it self-supporting and more. I deferred to Mike on tech questions. Clearly he knew much more than me in that area. Mike never completed the tech work necessary for any of that. Although he worked on many things, the only thing he actually completed was setting up the message board. Mike stated he literally could not make any further progress because of the disagreement about requiring respectful discussion. That never made sense to me, but he insisted it was true. Mike stepped down from being an admin and tech support person. After that he did help a few times when we had server issues, because he controlled the server and he knew he had left us with no tech person. It's not easy to find a webmaster that will work for free, but we finally found Solidad in January of this year.
False Claim: Old Elm Tree is “owned by commies” and supported by PI.
Truth: We started this site on server space owned by BlindPig. This was Mike's idea, and it was probably the only way we could have afforded to start. It made sense, because Mike controlled BP's server. I think the situation is that BP receives donations from members at PI to pay for his server space. I know that we were hosted there, PI was and is, SocIndy is, and there may be others. I'm not part of that group and don't know what their arrangement is. What I do know is that Mike and I agreed on a price to pay BP with the understanding that the payment would increase when we started generating revenue. Mike was the one who actually discussed this with BP. Of course, we have never generated any revenue because Mike never did any of the things necessary to generate it. The agreement was that Mike would pay a certain amount per month and I would pay the like amount. I do not know if Mike ever paid his portion. Although I told him when I sent money orders to BP, Mike never mentioned making any payment. I know that I paid my portion from the beginning until we left that server, with Waiting For Hope splitting my portion with me once she stepped up to be an admin and my partner. I have also paid all the domain registration fees and any other incidental expenses. So no, we are not "owned by a bunch of commies." Technically, legally, I own this site. For all practical purposes, Waiting For Hope and I own it. Morally, in my mind, it is owned by the good faith members, the staff, and ultimately by the principles it's based on. I paid the price I agreed to for our hosting. I don't know what the total cost of BP's server space is and I don't know what he receives in donations. If I go to Kroger and buy a gallon of milk, the only thing that matters to me is what my price is for that gallon. I don't know how much milk they have altogether, who else buys it, or how the wholesale price is paid.
False Claim: Chlamor's banning was ideologically motivated.
Truth: His posts speak for themselves. Chlamor was defiantly saying that he had no intention of ever following the rules. Obviously the firefights would never end as long as he was here vowing to keep fueling them.
False Claim: We were trying to shut down the opinions of Mike and his friends.
Truth: I offered Mike his own column several times. Although he accepted each time and said he would like to do that, he never followed through.
Mixed Claim: Mike also claimed that he was being attacked.
Truth: Well, yes, there were some attacks against him. I can't defend all of them. I will say that he provoked most of the attacks.
Some people reappeared here after months away only to throw gasoline on the fire. These people were not here contributing to the community in the good times. They were elsewhere sneering at OET with Chlamor and Mike (you can find it yourself if you care). When they suddenly showed up here causing trouble, was that good faith? If you don't contribute to a community for months or years and then show up causing trouble, are you to be considered a member of that community? Should consideration be given to your desire to disrupt over the rights of the true members who have been consistently building trust and friendship? Of course not. That's absurd.
The hard thing about OET is that we have two foundations: free speech and respect for other members. Not only do these not conflict, but in fact they are synergistic. However, the duality does make us vulnerable to those that disagree with these core beliefs and seek to destroy us. They play one foundation against the other and mock both.
We knew from the beginning this could be a problem. We could have done things differently to make things easier. We could have limited membership. We could have banned some people before we had proof beyond a reasonable doubt that they would never be good neighbors. We could have done things behind closed doors with no explanation and made the evidence disappear. We didn't do any of those things. We are governed by our principles.
Sadly, this created a bad atmosphere for good members. And that goes against something else we hold dear. It's not just that we expect members to value and respect each other, it's that the staff also values and respects the members. On Sunday, we took some steps to calm things down for the time being, which I will elaborate for you below. We're going to be brainstorming this week on changes to prevent this from happening again. We aren't afraid to think outside the box around here.
Here are the changes we have made:
Balantz and Cornermouse, our two most longstanding mods, have been promoted to admin to help WFH and I keep up with everything. We four will decide later if this will be permanent.
Several members were given suspensions. We needed to do that to stop the chaos and give us time to fix things. No final decisions have been made on whether these members may return. They are free to contact us privately to give input on the final decision. I want to make this perfectly clear. The prime consideration is the good of the community as a whole, not the wishes of the individuals. I am letting you know in advance that we are not open to discussing whether or not any members should have been suspended or should be allowed to return. It is not good for the community to do that. You may make your feelings known by pm. I am simply making the list public so that you all will know what is going on.
Those suspended are:
In addition, three members who had previously asked that their accounts be deleted were accommodated. Those were TBF, Erinacious, and DJinn. (Also note that a couple members voluntarily suspended their accounts. They will be back in a couple days.)
Chlamor, probably with the help of someone more computer savvy, was attempting to register sock puppets. So, we changed new member registration procedures to require individual admin approval.
We locked the thread on Chlamor's banning because it was constantly escalating the problem. We may reopen the thread, and we may move part of it to The Crisis. As you know, we don't like to lock threads, but we're not magicians and we can't bend time.
We are confident that OET remains strong and will continue to grow. We have halted the trouble. It won’t be allowed to start again. Please accept our apologies and know that we will protect you better going forward.
Andrea and Waiting For Hope
and the Mod/Admin Staff
Thursday, March 25, 2010
As one who long ago understood the depravity that is America and how thoroughly corrupt is each and every aspect of it's political structure there is nothing that surprises me. In my district I have one of the other "best of the best" progressives, Maurice Hinchey. I have had a few very hot personal confrontations with him and his staff and pointed discussions with those who continue to support Maurice. Most of these people took leave of their sense and climbed aboard the Obama crazy train. Now they are bleating and the same is happening to those who fawned at the feet of Brave Sir Dennis. Remember now that Dennis immediately got behind Obama and is first and foremost a Democrat hack and a true believer in American Exceptionalism.
Having said all of that I read Kook's pandering rationalization, as it was posted at Common Dreams yesterday, and was pretty gape jawed at how poorly it came off. It's the sort of thing that in real life goes on too long and sounds as if the speaker stopped believing himself halfway through. The just response at that point would be a cavalcade of tomatoes which would force the speaker off the stage.
Here's my initial response when I read Kucinich's whining self-idulgence yesterday:
Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
wo-o-o, feelings again in my arms.
Feelings...(repeat & fade)
My how tolerant of tyranny we've become.
This isn't so complicated. The emperor fattened the purses of the owners through officially recognized byzantine procedures. The faux rebel saw the writing on the wall and rather than spar further with the Emperor he chose the path of boot licking. He saved himself.
I would point to this quote from Upton Sinclair:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
And what about the children here who continue to bleat, asking others for solutions and audaciously claim they are the ones being "practical?"
Maybe the bottom line is whether or not we all seek the same depth of changes in our society. There is no doubt that whether under the control of Democrats or the Republicans, the number one beneficiary of political decisions, be they foreign policy or domestic, will be large industries/the extremely wealthy - that is, the general protection of the status quo, and the continuation of a capital-before-people mentality, the right of the US to impose its will on sovereign nations for the benefit of its corporations.
If people are comfortable with this reality, if a slightly higher minimum wage and a slightly friendlier attitude toward minorities or some minor (and generally unenforced) efforts toward reducing environmental damage, if changes on that level are good enough, then I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. But if people are seeking significant change, if they want to see the current military occupations end, the power of the military-industrial complex diminish or disappear, and the rights of working people protected, health care for everyone, fair elections based on platforms rather than personalities, or other changes of that magnitude, then an honest analysis of the Dems' desire/ability to make those changes must be undertaken. And by all analyses I don't see these changes coming through them, ever.
I wish it was a matter of pressuring them, writing letters, lobbying their offices, supporting certain candidates. But it has been shown time and time again that these measures don't work. And this is the question I still don't seem to have a clear answer for - what evidence is there (in this time of high-paid and high-powered corporate lobbyists, manipulated elections, pro-corporate media, etc) that the citizens of this country have any real influence over the politicians in Washington, or even that elections actually represent the will of the American people? If placating legislation here and there is good enough for you probably quickly forget that when it comes to the big national issues - war, health care, oil dependency, environment, there is little more than rhetoric and half-measures. It's the whole thing about doing the same things over and over and expecting different results....The main arguments I have seen for continuing to focus on the Dems as a force for real change are based on faith, not fact.
As an aside, I have been doing a fair amount of reading about social uprisings, revolts, and revolutions lately. There is one thing I know for sure - people successfully demanding social change is NOT some impossible dream. It has happened throughout history, all over the globe. It is common, it is necessary, and, as far as I am concerned IT IS TIME.
Monday, January 4, 2010
It seems there are bits and pieces scattered all over the place that keep folks incessantly busy bending over picking up these little bits, but the folk aren't taking the time to look over their shoulder to see who's scattering the pieces all around and the folk are not quite able to keep pace with the giant who keeps scattering those pieces about...when looking up and seeing the giant and smashing his hand, which holds the scattered pieces, would be the logical solution.
Return to The Constitution
The Reagan Legacy
Abolishing the CIA
A new New Deal
Scattered pieces that keep the folk blindly occupied and forever looking down.
It's not so hard to look up. Take a look. Smash that hand. No more scattered pieces.
Friday, December 4, 2009
"Progressive"- It's just another weasel word.
"Progressive" is merely a term that was salvaged from the scrapheap of history, sorry but that's too great a metaphor not to steal, by the alleged "left" in this country because the Limbaughs,Kristols,et al had so demonized the word "liberal." That's basically it, plain and simple. The problem is, that in spite of the fact they were led by one of the biggest imperialists and warmongers, the original Progressives,were a bunch of Bolsheviks, compared to the hegemonic capitalists who wrap themselves in the "progressive" mantle today.
While some of us here know that modern-day liberalism was founded to be a capitalist-friendly "third way" between socialism,and conservatism, most people do not. If they did and truly understood this history they would not waste all of their time and effort into trying to make "liberals", and The Democratic Party in particular, into the socialists they might want them to be.
A "progressive" is someone who cannot admit to the systemic failure of the society. Through this stubborn blindness, they reveal their own fundamental loyalty to the social system as a whole. The solution to the "anti-democratic" turn in American politics is not to question its foundations but to proscribe "more democracy" or "real democracy", without evaluating for a minute whether the ""turn" is really an aberration. In economics, a "progressive" is one who blames an excess of greed, a deficiency of regulation, or the corruption of the state rather than the normal operation of capitalism. In this way, "progressives" are identical to Libertarians who, in the face of insurmountable evidence, continue to insist that it is "too little" and not too much "free enterprise" which is the problem.
We need a capitalism based on good intentions says the one, based on a strengthening of the "individual" claims the next, and one purged of racial corruption declares the last. Fixing capitalism is the highest and in fact the only slogan of all of the above, and this in the most trivial and unhistorical way possible. Those are the last and the only words of this brand of "radical" criticism which is actually a radical support for the society as it exists... if only that society could be "allowed" to achieve its "true" nature.
All too often "progressive" has come to mean someone who will offer unconditional support to The Democratic Party no matter what.
A progressive is someone who believes in the system.
Progressives and liberals are as ready as conservatives to support government interventions in our lives and on the world stage. The country in question may be Sudan, Afghanistan or perhaps Iran. The clarion call is the same. "We must do something” because “we” are superior, all knowing, and chosen by a divine force to make the world in whatever image we choose.
No one asks how “we” is defined, or if the presence of the United States is needed or wanted. No one asks about the history of past interventions and their usually negative outcomes. It is assumed that Americans are good and know what is best for the world, despite a long history of numerous brutalities carried out across the globe.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
You know I'm wondering about this.
In only a month we've seen that Obama is going to continue with the Imperial juggernaut unfettered by any pesky constituents who dreamt otherwise.
In only a month we've seen Obama will gladly hand over taxpayer dollar to the proven grand bandits of Wall St. and will do so in amounts that would leave even the Bush gang green with envy.
In only a month we've seen that the much rumored Changling has surrounded himself with a cesspool of reactionary troglodytes, the very same pariahs that have been swirling around DC for decades.
So I wonder, as we bear witness to the entire charade what are the responsibilities of those who approached their guy with nothing less than religious fervor.
Do these people not have any responsibility to hold their man's "feet to the fire?"
Do they not bear any responsibility for the criminal acts they have enabled with their tacit or vocal support for this guy?
So do they just get to walk away from the voting booth and now just lament that their guy has been "a disappointment so far" and not bear any responsibility for his policies, policies which many of us have described in detail long before they even became policies?
Is their any responsibility for every child who is bombed by US planes in Afghanistan?
Is their any responsibility for the Obama supported continuation of the corporate takeover of the world and for this unending financial disaster?
What about for wiretapping and rendition (both of which Obama supports)?
Are you willing to stand behind Obama as he commits crime after crime?
I need to know.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Such breathtaking analysis on Lincoln's bible, was it his, which version of the bible is it yada, yada, yada.
Anyone who naysays The Prince of Hope is a "beyond the pale cynic" who only wants to harsh the buzz of the American moment.
What color is Michele's dress? Mustard?
So beautiful "comity" between the aisles.
Joe Biden chatting away. Does that even need to be discussed? Twitter, twitter, twitter.
Everyone's here but the star of the show, Barack H. Obama.
Baritone voice: "Ladies and Gentlemen."
Heraldic trumpets in the background.
"My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty...and so on..."
"Great stuff" coming soon to the American political theatre.
Warmed over American Exceptionalism.
Whitewashing of history.
Veiled threats to those who don't get on board.
America as 'can-do' Nation and pretty darn special in fact the mostest specialist ever, in God's eyes.
The Market, The Market, The Market.
I'm pretty sure you could write a simple computer program to create an Obama speech.
"The challenges before us are great. The obstacles we face are daunting. We must stand determined. The road ahead is long and hard.
But together we will rise to a New Day. Through the strength of our principles and courage of our convictions..blah blah blah"
Industrial strength pablum is what it is..gotta be a vat of it in some factory in New Jersey or something..takes a lot more than Maalox to choke this crap down.