mark ames

The political blogosphere has shifted much since the Bush II era. DailyKos teems with kneejerk Obama apologists, OpenLeft's Matt Stoller became a DC insider, and even Atrios, the left's master of light irony (as one blogger called him) seems stuck in a loop, complaining about the same old Slate and NYT sellouts.

By contrast, The Exiled's Mark Ames has emerged as a go-to, no-BS voice of the current landscape, pounding on labor and class issues too awkward for neoliberal Obama-ites. His S.H.A.M.E. project with Yasha Levine doesn't just vent about establishment suckups in the media, it gathers hard facts about their conflicts of interest and shaky pasts. For example, did you know this about Malcolm Gladwell?

During college, Gladwell received journalism training at the National Journalism Center, an outfit that worked with the tobacco industry “to train budding journalists . . . to get across our side of the story," according to an internal Philip Morris document.

Or that

After college, Gladwell worked at the right-wing American Spectator, the Moonie-owned Insight on the News and a neocon-Christian fundamentalist thinktank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which was “established by neoconservatives to promote an increased role of religion in public policy and turn back the influence of secularism.”

This background makes you question how much Gladwell's pro-corporate New Yorker writing is "contrarianism" and how much is stealth propaganda.

Earlier we talked about Ames' book Going Postal, which sees school and workplace shootings as a kind of unspoken revolt against the tough-talking, post-Reagan environment where "winning" is worshipped and the social safety net is shredded. In [a NSFW Corp. essay]* about this month's Empire State Building workplace revenge killing (initially reported incorrectly by the media as a terrorist event), Ames ties together the themes of postal-style running amuck with media shilling for the permanent war establishment, drawing an analogy between the shooter and hack publicist Joshua Foust, who recently sought to minimize state murders in Kazakhstan (but also had a background of angry confessional writing, Ames discovered). Speculating whether the hack is just another form of revenge-seeking nerd isn't "responsible" opinionmongering -- it's more of an impassioned poetic connection of the Hunter Thompson variety. Also recommended is his post Tracy Lawrence: The Foreclosure Suicide America Forgot, which considers the political and economic repercussions of a single person's agony, experienced in the face of overwhelming social pressure.

*Update: I de-linked Ames' essay after his publisher, NSFW Corporation, put all their content behind a paywall. The old bait and switcheroo. Around the time I wrote this post Ames was doing more writing for NSFW and less for Exiled. As of March 2013, Exiled is dormant and NSFW is subscription-only (including formerly available content).