Sunday, February 06, 2011

Everbody scatter at The Confluence

In a village run by idiots , Riverdaughter would still reign supreme. And, at The Confluence, the Big Pharma apologist and cog ("Soooo, let me get this straight. The ability to sue is still of utmost importance. Did I get that right? Because, from where I sit, the class action lawsuits are part of the problem. Everyone complains about not reining in the big finance guys but ambulance chasers looking for big bucks who glom onto adverse drug reaction reports like blood sucking ticks are all ticketyboo?") has run off nearly everyone.

Not to worry though, Katiebird, the only contributor she appears to have kept after her most recent meltdown, joins Riverdaughter in leaving comments at the site. Were it not for their multiple comments to their own posts, people might start to notice just how many readers have left.

Last week, Riverdaughter managed to top her own record for stupidity and superficiality with her post "Whose side is the American right on?" which opened with:

I haven't watched Fox’s coverage of Egypt (because I watch *actual* news) but let me guess what's going on there: The Muslim Brotherhood is stirring up trouble, they're going to take over the country, they'll be an immediate threat to Israel, there will be chaos and looting, rending of garments and tearing of hair, the blind will lead the deaf, oil prices will spike, the Imams will call for jihad and all is lost, LOST, I say.

Got that? Another fact and information-free post from the increasingly embarrassing Riverdaughter who feels she just must weigh in on what a TV network is doing even though she's not watching the network. And is not going to do the work required to actually watch the network. Instead let her use her imagination to rip it apart for a lengthy post because facts just don't matter and, hasn't her writing always demonstrated, research never mattered.

In this community, Marcia has repeatedly tackled the nonsense of Riverdaughter. The rest of us largely avoid her and the site. That is due to the fact that The Confluence linked to this site at one point and Ty contacted them to ask that they please delink from us. Instead of doing that, a lengthy e-mail arrived from Riverdaughter. Ty had been very clear why we did not want to be linked to them (shortest version of the story: they were promoting a 'political' site running nude photos of women and objectifying women with Riverdaughter and others praising the male blogger). Ty didn't need to enter into a long conversation about all the people supposedly out to get The Confluence. He made a simple request which should have been honored. We are a feminist site and the link was causing us problems.

We take the e-mails very seriously because we take our readers seriously. And in the last two weeks, the bulk of the e-mails not related to content published here have been from PUMA bloggers asking if we're going to weigh in on the nonsense going on at The Confluence?

In 2008, Barack Obama was gifted with the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He did not earn it which is why Nancy Pelosi had to cut short the delegate roll call in Denver. Long before he was officially given the count, it was becoming obvious that it didn't matter what Democrats wanted, Barack would be imposed on them. At that point "PUMA" was born. "PUMA" meant "Party Unity My Ass" and meant that everyone wasn't going to fall in line behind the candidate chosen by fat cats in smoke filled rooms. In fact, that approach was supposed to have stopped long ago.

PUMA was not just women but a large number of them were women. At some point, fretting over the 'image' and 'genteel' factor, there was a push to say "PUMA" meant "People United Means Action." That was such a weaker phrase and may explain the eventual weakening of what was a very real movement.

We were never a part of PUMA. Ava and C.I. were sympathetic to PUMA and knew women in the movement but were too busy to take part in it. (They were speaking out against the wars and doing things like reporting from the floor of the Democratic Party convention "TV: The endless non-news." They felt the role of observer was needed more than anything else by that point and we agree.) When PUMA was mentioned here in an article written by the group, they would usually call friends to make sure an accurate portrait was being conveyed (they'd already checked with friends for their own pieces -- which doesn't mean PUMAs always agree with what Ava and C.I. wrote about PUMA, many times they didn't).

We've noted many times that we were supportive of PUMA movement and, among other sites, we link to The Daily Puma -- a great resource for various reports, articles and commentaries in the last remainders of the reality-based community. And we watched with amazement as what should have been a powerful movement began to fall apart. (This is not a "Death of PUMA" article -- it remains the grassroots supported movement it always has been.)

When the "our name stands for" insistence started, Ava and C.I. noted it was the beginning of the splintering and that we should make a point to register that. Why? Because "Party Unity My Ass" is a battle cry. "People United Means Action" is pretty wallpaper that attempts to conceal the very pain and anger that members of a political party felt as they were betrayed by the leaders of their own party. "People United Means Action," by contrast, sounded both like a charity and a bumper sticker.

In the years since that popped up, we've often asked Ava and C.I. for their thoughts -- and offered our own -- during writing editions about PUMA. One thing that was obvious (and we believe obvious to Betty first) was that PUMA's biggest problem was The Confluence.

For a site that used to boast/encourage "Come together at The Confluence," Riverdaughter was forever doing purges and forever ticking people off -- the latter resulting in websites like The Widdershins emerging so an argument can certainly be made that her actions unintentionally had a net positive*. But she was forever taking a giant eraser and scrubbing people as well as her own original opinions.

We don't believe someone has to have a fixed point forever. Ideally, we all grow -- on our own paths -- and evolve and we're not going to be the exact same in ten years as we are today. But there's a difference between that sort of growth, for instance, and, for example, a friend of C.I.'s who heads a studio and is forever reinventing himself and will deny his own statements from six months prior to your face, insisting that never happened. The man is friendly and very amusing but we wouldn't trust him for political commentary.

And that's the type of person Riverdaughter's become. Every few months, she's furious and determined to reinvent herself. As Betty has noted for two years, this reinvention requires her to accuse the people she's purging of racism. "That's her favorite tactic," Betty says today. "'They were racists and who knew!' And she takes to the comments to make those statements -- usually implying more than she will outright state. That way, those who don't have the patience to read through 30 or 40 of Riverdaughter's comments to her own post will just be left with the post where she pretends she's high roading it."

She tends to reinvent herself especially when she's made a fool of herself.

Instead of having the guts to say, "Hey, I was dead wrong about ____," and just move on, she has the need to purge.

If she had a background in anything -- she has no discernible knowledge framework to pull from -- she most likely wouldn't make so many mistakes. But she's someone who repeatedly feels she knows everything and rushes to blog when she doesn't know the first thing she's writing about. (A hilarious example of that is documented by Marcia in "Idiot Riverdaughter's online meltdown" about Riverdaughter confusing the CIA and government paying, planting and controlling the media with 'that right wing!') Worse yet, for Riverdaughter, she rushes to blog about the 'hot topics.'

You can always tell one of Marcos' Daily Toilet Scrubber refugees when they leave. They don't really break with Big Satan Orange, they just try to copy him at their own sites. Emulating The Daily Toilet Scrubber, they chase after whatever topic the media has glommed on and rush to weigh in. They don't feel bound by facts because they are factless. But they were trained, at Big Satan Orange, to believe in 'hits' and the mistaken belief that web 'hits' are the end all, be all.

They're not. If you're blogging or writing online to make money, then "hits" may matter in terms of advertising revenue. But they have no real relevance. At a dinner party C.I. threw Saturday, a music producer and an actress got into a lively conversation about just this topic and used Stevie Nicks as their example. In the seventies and eighties, few rockers were trashed by critics and music writers more than Stevie Nicks who was regularly mocked as "a space cadet" and far worse. Those articles and album and concert reviews were read by millions. Writing with a smaller audience were those celebrating the unique artistry of Stevie. As the 90s drew to a close, who had won out? Not the most widely read, not the accepted narrative. It was the smaller writers, writing passionately and factually that changed the tide and led to the critical reappraisal of Stevie.

That was before the dominance of the web and that's the kind of power that you'd assume independent writers online would be going for: Tackling false (and often sexist) narratives and refuting them.

With that in mind, you'd think the net would see various writers carve out their own territories, their own areas of expertise. Instead, it's all rush to cover the Water Cooler, to glom on whatever every newspaper column is about, to that which is over-talked and over-covered.

Not only will most writers have very little of value to offer to the over-covered topics, it's also true that, by joining in, it often reveals a writer's worst weakness.

The Tucson shootings, for example, revealed Riverdaughter's worst weaknesses.

First up, her hatred for others as she rushed to instantly demonize a large section of Americans. Second up, her tendency to grab onto a term she doesn't understand (in this case, "meme") and use it in one sentence after another without ever using the term correctly. Third of all, when her snap-judgments blow up in her face, her tendency to do a 'Gather round everyone, I think some people have been speaking a little heatedly and we need to remember . . ." Needless to say, the 'heated speaking' was never, in her mind, from her. Then comes the fourth step: Casting out of the garden.

Riverdaughter made an idiot out of herself attempting to politicize the Tucson shooting. It would have been very easy to politicize the shooting for any of us. Here, we did our late-Beatles edition because of the Tucson shooting. We all ended up writing individual articles and did so because we didn't want to become part of the swarm that was taking place. Ava and C.I. know Gabrielle Giffords and were very clear that they were appalled by a great deal of the early commentary taking place as we worked overnight on that edition. It was also noted that as various writers glommed on narratives (most of which have been demonstrated to be false), the most telling narrative was being ignored: In this society, when someone's targeted, doesn't it appear to be women? We could have easily run with that narrative. We didn't.

"The Hysteria Beat (Ava and C.I.)" encouraged us not to join the hysteria and to remember, as Ava and C.I. wrote in the aftermath of the shooting, "A tragedy's taken place. A shooting has led to multiple deaths and many wounded. That's what's known. Probably a good thing to leave tea leaf reading to the psychics. Or do we not remember the last attempt to whip up hysteria over a death?"

But facts weren't an issue for Riverdaughter as she launched one attack after another. While this was going on, the saving grace of her site was Klownhaus (miq2xu). While Riverdaughter was trafficking in the crazy, Klownhaus was a voice of caution. When it all blew up in her face, Riverdaughter lacked the good sense and grace to type, "I was wrong." Instead, it was time for another purge. Klownhaus was gone because, she insisted, it was like she'd left him in her home and he'd thrown a party without her knowledge. No, he'd kept her site alive with postings. (It's pretty much dead there now except for her and Katiebird and the multiple comments they leave on each of their posts. Klownhaus is currently blogging at The Crawdad Hole.)

The offense wasn't what Klownhaus wrote. As one PUMA blogger e-mailed us, "What the heck? She just wrote 'Tucson. I hope this is the last day we beat this dead horse.' Does she not get how offensive that is? People died in Tucson and she's calling it a 'dead horse.' And she just got done trashing [Sarah] Palin in a post about Palin's word choices." [The blogger is not linked to by us or mentioned in this article. So before Riverdaughter blames one of the two sites already mentioned and goes off on another war path, it wasn't them. But there are five PUMA sites in contact with us to express that they are very concerned about the damage Riverdaughter's doing.] Even more disturbing was the fact that it was Riverdaughter who chose to make her site all about Tucson (because it was a 'hot' Water Cooler topic) and that she was now acting as though the topic had been forced upon her -- acting that way after, as Marcia had noted, her site had announced it would be tastelessly live blogging a memorial.

In Tucson, people died and were wounded. In what world do you live blog a memorial? That is tacky and tasteless. That's akin to paparazzi rushing into a funeral and taking photos of the grief stricken. But you ignore the insult, you ignore the gutter dwelling when your entire goal is to go after those "hot" topics. A number of bloggers have demonstrated that they could easily work for The National Enquirer. It's a shame so few have been interested in demonstrating that they can contribute anything of even momentary value.

What concerns the PUMAs e-mailing us is that Riverdaughter is repeatedly burning bridges, repeatedly demonizing people (including We the People) and, for some, she is seen as 'the' voice of PUMA. The face she is presenting is not seen as helpful or needed. They are concerned about the upcoming 2012 election and they are concerned about whether or not PUMA will be able to have any impact. But, as one noted, with Riverdaughter blacklisting everyone every other month, all she's doing is creating and hardening divisions among PUMAs.

Were she not wanting to be part of a movement (presenting herself as a leader, according to some), we wouldn't care too much about this issue. We'd read the e-mails and reply privately. But she's constantly accusing others of destroying the movement and using terms like "rat f**kers" who are supposedly infiltrating 'her' movement when, in fact, the only one that's damaged the PUMA movement in any real way has been Riverdaughter.

If her role was that of social critic, we'd try to publicly ignore the issue. But, again, she's presenting herself as part of a movement and PUMA bloggers are especially bothered by the way she repeatedly (mis)defines what a PUMA is. In fact, she's now identifying PUMA on terms very similar to the ones Tamerlane defined PUMA at Liberal Rapture -- a definition that bostonboomer wrote a post ("Lecturing 'PUMAs'") rejecting, March 5, 2009 at . . . The Confluence.

The inconsistency never bothers Riverdaughter. She just grabs a large eraser and tries to erase all that's come before as she attempts yet another make over. In the process, that movement she claims to be building? Where is it? Her sites gone from 180 comments per posts just three weeks ago to 23 and 25 comments -- and it's even worse than those numbers because on the 25 comments, 9 of those are from Riverdaughter and Katiebird (Katiebird often adding such important comments as "I totally agree with this post -- Riverdaughter!"). To her, does that qualify as movement building (let alone leading)?

As a blogger, she bores us with her ambulance chasing choice of topics and her apparent ADD. As a movement member and/or leader, she's pissing off a number of PUMA bloggers who have had it with her repeated attacks on others in the movement (often done 'slyly' in her opening sentence of a post). All in all, it's a real shame because her tactics in every way ape those of The Daily Toilet Scrubber demonstrating that she's unable to re imagine the world to the way she wants it to be; instead, she's merely content to copy the very things that ran her off from Big Orange Satan.

* Dona note added 2-10-2011. Our apologies to The Widdershins because a kind e-mail explained how we were wrong that the site was created after a purge. It was created by someone walking away from The Confluence on her own, leaving and not being kicked out. Our sincere apologies for our mistake. I've reworded the sentence to fix our error.
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