Debate Blogging

http://f9:03: “Brilliant legal scholar” and a moment of silence. GAME ON!

9:07: Trump decided to go Google a few good options for SCOTUS. But otherwise, he seems resigned to the idea that Obama will nominate.
Kaisich doesn’t want this to run into politics, and thinks the best idea is to either not nominate, or else nominate someone everybody just love, l0ve, loves. Good idea.
Carson: doesn’t think lifetime appointments are a very good idea. Also, we don’t need to be political, we need healing, fuck Obama.
Rubio: pretty boy studied some talking points. Says it’s not unprecedented, but cites a completely bogus idea that lame duck presidents don’t nominate. Forgetting the God of Republicans, Reagan.
Bush: Surprisingly lucent argument that nominating justices with no record isn’t working. Better to fight for the nomination you want. We need concensus, so fuck Obama..
Cruz: “80 years of not confirming.” Getting the facts straight gets a boo from the audience. But the grandstand on the SCOTUS is actually very effective and sounds legitimately heart-felt. Really, I think he comes off a lot better than Trump, whom to the crazies, probably sounds too soft.

9:18: Trump’s commentary on our overall foreign policy is lucid and effective. Not specific, but very few politicians are in this context. Rubio is the best speech maker on the stage. But I don’t hear a lot that is any less robotic than it was before. Carson just sounds wobbly in the beginning, but his idea of being an experimental doctor is interesting. Not sure if interesting gets across in this environment. Kaisich is way too wonky. Bush sounds schooled and informed. His answers sound rational and considered, not posed and rehearsed.

9:27: Trump says you can’t fight two wars in front of a room full of people who supported fighting two wars for how long? Oh, and he tries the “special interests” joke a second time. Bush rises to the “bitch-slap politics” of Trump pretty decent, in my view. He still sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. Trump just sounds angry. Cruz argues against regime change in front of a room full of people who have supported regime change for how long? He also supports air attacks, which generally is received as pussy work by Republicans.

9:32Vomiting child break. Sorry. I won’t be continuing this live blog. But the statements on the SCOTUS were what I was after.

9:50: Ok, I’m back. Kaisich sounds informed. But in being informed, he’s required to accept the expansion of Medicare, which is an anathema. “Repeal and replace” is the Bush line. I’m not sure that the “replace” thing works anymore for Republican audiences. Kaisich cites Reagan. It becomes a Traditional Conservative-off. Probably not a winning strategy. I don’t know what the hell Ben Carson just said. Absolutely no idea.

Commercial break thoughts: It is genuinely breathtaking how little sanity seems to matter in this primary. Kaisich and Bush have substantive differences on real policy issues. And they’re fighting an uphill battle against pure id and bitch-slap. How does any of that anger play out against an electorate made up of people who actively support the things Republicans are so pissed off about?

Trump seems a lot more focused on genuine answers to policy questions than in the past. He’s got his applause lines. He’s not letting go of the Republican Screaming Id’s hand. But he’s also getting just serious enough to be taken seriously by the people who want him out, the Republican establishment.

Also: what does “vicerous” mean?

10:04: Cruz tries to get in on the “donor class” schtick. Trump can do that. Cruz needs those dollars. Cruz’s debate skills are showing through, though. Somehow, Rubio backs Cruz up on his record on immigration and it backfires against Cruz. Bush is a lot less informed on this issue, or else doesn’t know how to communicate it. Least of all to this red-meat crowd.

Jeb Bush’s defense against Trump was laughably weak. But Trump’s whole “take his pants off” thing is weirdly weak as well. Kaisich argues for less negative adverts. In a Republican primary. What is he smoking?

10:14: Shorter Carson: Financial execs committing crimes? We need less regulation! Because reasons! Cruz can’t even complete a sentence when the question is about helping the poor and minorities. Trump gets asked a basic question. He spins it into a crap argument about “deal making.” He was asked how he could promise taxes on companies leaving America like he promised his supporters.

Commercial break thoughts: Trump is way off right now. It really seems like he’s trying to pivot to the general right now by offering solutions that sound cogent. This is exactly what most observers have always assumed he would do eventually. But right now seems way too early. What is he seeing in South Carolina that the rest of us don’t? He’s four points ahead and falling in SC. Arguments among the second tier seem focused on seeming rational to the Republican donor class, which has yet to fully commit to anyone specifically.

10:24: Trump is now a “common-sense Conservative.” Fully in pivot mode. Meanwhile, Cruz hits Trump on abortion. Trump responds with bitch-slap about lying.

Media Technology

The HuffPo/Tasini Suit: It Pays to Have a T&C

Say what you will about HuffPo or its blogging system, it pays to have a Terms and Conditions policy whenever you’re blogging or publishing online. The suit more or less proves that point pretty clearly.

Because Tasini’s case would have more than a little merit to it in lieu of HuffPo’s T&C: simply offering “exposure” as compensation for writing when the company itself if making huge profits is like saying I should work for Kodak for free because it looks good on my resume. That might wash for a college intern, but not for adults.

Still, Tasini agreed to blog for HuffPo and they have a policy that states that there will be no monetary compensation. Having such language in your site’s policy is by no means the end of the road, but it certainly makes the case much more winnable for the defendant.

For the rest of us, careful consideration of just where any random visitor can leave their own thoughts or content – and careful language aimed at mitigating the potential disasters they can inflict – is something no self-publisher can be without. I’m actually surprised that there isn’t more support for such language. That would be an excellent money-making scheme for some enterprising young lawyer. Any takers?

HuffPo Tells Judge: Tasini Blogged For Fame, Not Cash—Throw Out His Lawsuit | paidContent.

Site Updates

Introducing the Demwazel Theme (Blog wonky!)

No doubt those of you who read my blog posts on a regular basis already know things have changed at DFE. But after two weeks of checking the last few bugs and such, I’m ready to call the Demwazel theme officially active and introduce it to you. So, like, here goes!

Demwazel (dem-wah-ZEL) ~ Hatian Creole, “Dragonfly”

So, that’s where the name came from. Or more specifically, it came from me trying the word “dragonfly” out in a number of languages on Google Translate. I settled on this one just because I liked the way it sounds.

When I originally started this website, it had a lot of goals. But chief among those was to be a platform for my development: at the time, I was only just starting to learn how to code web pages, and when the opportunity came up to get some web space cheap, I took it. Since I love to write, love to write about politics specifically and needed to have a large volume of content to work with, creating a site not unlike this one seemed like the most logical choice. Little did I know how important the actual writing and policy stuff would eventually become to me, not to mention my audience.

Since then, I’ve moved on quite a bit in terms of development and don’t need to show off as much. What’s much more important to me now is satisfying the needs of my audience in the most efficient way possible, which is what Demwazel is all about. The last iteration of DFE, while it was nice, was really just becoming more work than it was worth, especially since it was clear that most of that content couldn’t be updated regularly. The notion that I had to update my news feed; had to update my videos; had to check in on other writers to see if they wanted to write for the site; had to check up on current writers to see if they had anything new; then if I got around to it, actually write a blog piece was so draining that I began to hate the whole process.

So the new layout is clean and efficient, focusing on the way I have reintroduced myself to a much wider audience these days, which is link blogging on Twitter. You’ll notice at the bottom of this page there are now three columns of information, organized to be the most relevant they can be. The “Trending” column shows the most popular links and articles I’ve posted from by account. The “Current” column shows the most recent posts from my Twitter account, and “Recent” displays the most recent posts on the blog. These columns are a lot more convenient on the front page, where only a few words of my latest post are displayed along with these three columns, so you should be able to get a good sense of what I’m up to today in a moment’s glance.

(And while I’m trying to focus on content, geek that I am, I couldn’t help adding a little AJAX-ified flair. The columns of content actually auto update on five-minute intervals and the full text of my latest post can be viewed on the front page by hitting “expand.” Ah, I’m weak!)

One goal of the new layout was to provide a complete picture of the day’s events at DFE on a single “above the fold” view on tablets like the iPad and Xoom. For the most part, this has been successful, though I note with more than a little disappointment that none of the tablet browsers I’ve been able to sample from seem to render the new Web Fonts correctly! Guess that whole HTML5 thing is going to take longer than we thought, eh?

I’d love to hear your comments about the new design, if you get a chance. Leave a comment here or if you’d like to, drop me a line and tell me all about it. If you see problems, definitely let me know. Thanks and please enjoy the blogging!


Straddling Journalism and Advocacy

The Deal with Palin | Talking Points Memo.

An interesting post from Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, sort of laying out a justification of how often they post articles on Sarah Palin. But what it reveals more than anything else is the sort of twisted logic that accompanies the strange world that perhaps all of us bloggers inhabit, some more deeply than others. TPM straddles a variety of mediums and fulfills audience needs that do not always harmonize together.

Because of course, he’s a blogger. “Blogging” is a term which was at one time artificially loaded with meanings, but in the simplest sense, it really only means self-publication. The ability to take thoughts you might write on paper, type them into a web interface and publish them for the world to see is blogging. It might also refer to specific types of software you might use; it might also refer to a certain style of writing which I have often referred to as “stream of consciousness.” Blogging is often the process of discussing the events of the moment without necessarily painting a complete picture; that complete picture is contained within the blog as a whole rather than the post.

That someone is “blogging” does not by itself mean they are or are attempting to do anything approaching journalism. Some blogs are poetry. Others are deep discussions of web standards or programming techniques. But at this point, Josh is definitely a journalist. And he’s the editor of a web news publication. Many of us regularly get our news from TPM. Accuracy is important. As is context, a thing which news blogging generally ignores, post to post.

But here’s the thing: Josh Marshall is an advocate for his political point of view. I generally argue that the term “objective” is a horribly mis-used word in journalism, bordering on a myth. But in this case, there is not now and never was any real sense of impartiality, which is perhaps closer to the meaning of the word “objective” as applied to journalism. In fact, in terms of where he got his audience from and what at the core is his primary audience, the advocacy is much more important than the reporting.

So it kind of gets to the point where things become quite confused, as indeed this article suggests. When Josh says, for example, that “TPM has its news section and its opinion pieces, most of which are here in what we now call the editor’s blog,” it suggests an entirely false separation between the two. There is a huge amount of commentary and even humor in the news articles which would be entirely inappropriate in a conventional news room, and meanwhile the moment-by-moment breaking news generally finds its way onto the editor’s blog long before a formal piece is written. The middle section of the article not only veers off the original topic – why Sarah Palin is featured on the website so often – into a thumb-sucking introspection into the problem of Liberal messaging, but actually defies the logic of the entire article: that the decision making is based on readership and journalistic ethics.

I love TPM. And while I kinda think he’s a bit of a priss – some of that is also in this article – I like what Josh Marshall does and can even admit to the more-than-obvious inspiration I’ve taken from him over the years. But I’m glad not to try and put my two feet into three different buckets at one time like he is. This article is just embarrassing.


Happy New Year! What’s Coming for DFE?

Now that the dust has settled on the New Years celebrations and we’re heading into the official start of the new year – the first day back to work – I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on where we are and give you some thoughts on where we’re headed as the year progresses.

The first and most obvious thing is that “blogging” as a trend and a vehicle for large-scale traffic, is dead. Writing, I am happy to report, is not.

When this site got its start six years ago, huge volumes of traffic were being pushed through Blogger, and other sites because people wanted the opportunity to be social in their views and reflections and blogs offered the best choice at the time. However, setting up and running a blog – even on hosted sites like – still requires a certain level of commitment that most people just don’t have time for. Besides which, having a blog suggests needing to write something useful or profound, whereas most people would be perfectly happy to write a quick sentence about their kids or where they’re going tonight. So social networks like FaceBook and Twitter provide a low-impact, low-key way of doing everything that blogging was ever about – reading other’s thoughts, sharing your own.

As a developer and as an enthusiastic consumer of technology, my own habits have moved much more in the direction of social networking and away from this site: the @dragonflyeye Twitter account and the DragonFlyEye.Net FaceBook page have both become central parts of my day-to-day communication with my audience. The site is still in regular use, but largely as an essay writing site, and quite static. Meanwhile, the most recent update to the site layout – done about a year and a half ago – reflected some but not all of this reality. The site definitely features other networks more prominently. But it also was setup to enhance the profile of the writing and actually represents a return to a fairly traditional blog layout.

In more techy/wonky news, recent developments in HTML5 and CSS3 support across the Internet have made this an exciting year to be a web developer! Whereas support for Internet Explorer 6 had previously stunted broad support for the rich new layouts promised by CSS3, we head into the new year comfortable in the knowledge that support for “Web Fonts” and other neato tricks like text rotation can be relied upon sufficiently. Personally, the idea that I can create a new version of DFE with the slick custom fonts presented by sites like The Blaze (conservative bastards that they are!) has me jumping out of my skin to get started!

So, what does all this mean for the future of DFE? Where do we go next? Well, here’s an unordered list of goals and projects for the near future:

  • Writers! As ever, I am looking for new writers with new voices for the site. In my most conceited moments of pure dream-land, I have always envisioned DragonFlyEye.Net as Rochester’s online answer to Harper’s and Rolling Stone. I don’t want the site to be all politics, all the time. And I am actively campaigning to find new writers and essayists for a wide variety of topics including those proven to be of interest to my Twitter followers: science, technology, music and culture.
  • A new layout, a new focus. I think it’s time to completely rethink the DFE layout yet again. Whereas the current focus is on egalitarian display of my writer’s work, I think the next layout will need to focus on the “DFE Network” as a unit: Twitter, FaceBook,, perhaps Google Buzz and others. The front page will likely take on more of a news magazine look and feel, in an effort to drive more traffic onto the site.
  • Onward and upward, Social Networkers! The ability to directly engage with you, my audience, has been an invaluable asset in understanding what it is you’re really interested in and what will drive the next wave of inspiration. Thank you so much!! And we’re not stopping now. I’m wracking my brain, trying to come up with cunning new ways of expanding my reach on FaceBook, Twitter and other social networks. By all means, help me out with a few #ff’s and “likes”!
  • Mailing list. Email still has a prominent place in our communications, with new innovations like Google Wave pointing the way to richer versions in the near future. So, DFE is going to have a mailing list soon, so as not to miss out on these new technologies. This is requiring a lot of recoding to an old plugin I wrote for a local band many years ago, but hopefully I won’t be too much longer with that.
  • Twitter integration. Yeah, I know I listed SNs above. But Twitter in particular has been a key to my current strategy and will be a lot more key in the future. I’m playing around with Twitter logins to allow commenting quickly and easily through the Twitter API. Also, there’s going to be some new back end funkiness that will help me find more of you cool people.

Wow. That shouldn’t take too long, should it?

I want to thank every one of you who reads my blog, my Twitter feed, my FaceBook page and everything else I’ve been working on over the past several years. Thank you for sticking with me as I’ve struggled to transition from my old rapid-fire, hyper-partisan blogging into new realms of content and media. I could not do this without you. Or rather, I totally could, but it would boring as hell…

Happy New Year from DFE!


Olbermann, Kopel and Journalism: Complete the Thought

I’m certain I did not originally start this website for the purposes of being a commentator on the news media. I’m sure that’s not really my desire even now. Yet I keep coming back to the theme, despite myself, because the media increasing becomes the story.

So, I’m going to keep this one brief, but observe that, in the whole Keith Olbermann / now apparently Joe Scarborough / Ted Koppel dust-up over journalistic objectivity, it strikes me that Keith ultimately has made the most salient point. Or glanced it, anyway. He’s right when he says that Koppel’s bland form of journalism has indeed failed us. He’s right when he says that the rise of his own brand of – well, let’s just call it “journalism,” though I’m not at all sure that’s the right term for it – was inevitable in the wake of that failure. I don’t necessarily think that this is any kind of defense of Olbermann, however.

To me, the slavish insistence on “objectivity,” as in the insistence on not coming to conclusions based on the reporting done, is a cheat. Those of us who watch the news on television or read it online or in print do so because we want to read the news as reported by someone who has some sense of what it means. While the rest of us do our jobs, live with our families and enjoy our hobbies, we don’t often find time to sit down with Senators, Senate staffers, generals, or mayors to discuss the news of the day. We don’t even get the opportunity to sit in a row of uncomfortable chairs and watch said leaders bloviate or dodge questions. And we certainly don’t have the benefit of having done such things for the last several years.

So when the people who actually have done the leg work and the drudge work of reporting the news fail to connect the dots for us – when they fail to complete the thought – we get cheated. When the people with the expertise in both journalism and their specifically-assigned politics choose to censor themselves because they want to be “objective,” the rest of us who are busy doing our own jobs get left in the lurch. No, we do not in fact need your opinion. But we are not so weak-minded that, if we hear the informed opinion of an experienced journalist, we won’t be able to handle it.

And into that chasm will inevitably flow editorials. Then talking heads. Then bloggers such as myself. Because conversation is how humans operate. Because people will always look outside themselves for guidance, inspiration and wisdom. Even to those whom, like myself, don’t really have any more to give them than they had in the first place.

Site Updates

Open Casting! DFE is Looking for New Writers

The site has been a bit idle over the last year or so, but we’re starting to ramp up a new round of blogging and political analysis going into the fall. And that’s where you come in. We’re currently seeking talented writers with unique perspectives to add to the conversation. Political writing is just one of the possible types of writing to be done on this site: music and culture, food and wine or technology writing would also look pretty flippin’ sweet on this site.

The biggest thing I’m looking for is voice and writing. It is important that new bloggers writing style matches or is complimentary to what is on the site. To that end, I’ve setup a guest blogging area for potential writers. Accepted candidates will be given access to this location to write an article or two, so we can see how the content matches the website. If it seems we’ve found a match, you’ll get your own blog to write to whenever you feel the inspiration!

Writers also get access to a few other perks, such as an email newsletter with tips and ideas for working with the DFE blog platform, WordPress, along with topics of interest to the site. There’s other stuff, too, but of course, you’ll have to be accepted to find out!

Writing for a blog site is fun. If you have a passion for writing and an interesting perspective on the world we live in, we’d be happy to hear from you! Please contact us at for more details!


Look Who’s Blogging

Some of you may have already heard that there is an allegation running around – started by a FaceBook security person, so its fairly high-profile – that yesterday’s FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, LiveJournal and others DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service, see a decent review here) attack might have been perpetrated to silence a man whose been blogging about the Georgia / Russia conflict. Well, it now seems that Live Journal has taken down the man’s blog.

But you can still see a cached version of it on Google’s Translate service here.


About Integrity. Smugtown, Indeed.

Interesting story brewing in the local Rochester blog circuit. One which the local media might do well to monitor…

My take on anonymity is that it is the right of every citizen of the Internet to decide how much or little of their personal information they choose to divulge and when. Unlike other forms of communication, Internet information has a way of staying around forever and being publicly available, which means that the normal rules of disclosure do not always apply. For my own part, I really don’t care what anyone thinks of my personal political views; if someone changes their mind about employing me because of something I’ve said on this website, they can go outside and play a game of Hide and Go Fuck Yourself.

But the decision whether or not to reveal one’s identity has nothing much to do with the veracity of one’s writing. Clearly, Smugtown has an authority issue on this one. An authority issue that goes beyond the relatively petty disagreements between private publishers and seems by all accounts – including those of City Newspaper – to be affecting the democratic process in Monroe County.

Late Update: I’m also told that this Smugtown thing appears to be a bit of astroturf. They’re apparently advertising in City Newspaper and paid someone to get a professional website done for them. To each his own and my design skills are hardly immune to critcism, but it looks to me like the site was built by the same person who did the site, which is a piss-poor representation of what modern Internet sites should look like:

RBJDaily.Net: No RSS, Ten Year-Old HTML Style
RBJDaily.Net: No RSS, Ten Year-Old HTML Style

The Smugtown Beacon: no RSS and fifteen year-old HTML style. This is the face of Hypertextile Dysfunction.
The Smugtown Beacon: no RSS and fifteen year-old HTML style. This is the face of Hypertextile Dysfunction.


Warning to Bloggers:

National news media seems to forget who their biggest audience is. Decadence is exponential, it seems.

So just a reminder to be on your toes. This issue of quoting original sources (called a bibliography when I was in school, and a means to avoid copyright infringement) comes back every so often. Now with a down economy and newspapers becoming dinosaurs sinking in the tar, they’re kind of dangerous animals.


Why I’ll Not be Blogging Too Much Today. .

This is why I'm not blogging much I’ve been working so hard for the Christmas selling season that I’ve ignored a problem with my foot. Well, now that problem has drawn enough attention to itself that I was forced to go have emergency surgery on it yesterday.

Nothing big, I’m confident I’ll live. But keeping this foot raised makes it difficult to get to the keyboard. So, keep looking at the headlines, as I’ll try to keep those updated. But don’t look for too much analysis today or this weekend. See you Monday!


Why Are There So Many Progressive Bloggers?

Evan Dawson had asked the question, in anticipation of our coming to the studio, “why are there so many more Progressive bloggers than Conservative?”

The short answer is, I think, that Progressivism is less easily defined – and more importantly – that it’s very factional.  This means: some of us are economic progressives, others gay rights activists, others many other things.  You don’t have to be all of the above in order to be a Progressive and one rarely is.  That means that Progressives often feel that thier niche issue is not getting the exposure that they feel it deserves.

That lends itself to the need for self-expression on a very personal level.  That, I think, leads heavily to blogging

By comparison, Conservative values can be boiled down to small government, low taxes and strong military.  You don’t need a lot of voices to make that happen.