Tuesday, 11 January 2011

This is not a Sarah Palin blog

As you may have noticed, things have gotten a little busy here on the blog in the last day or so! Yesterday's post has generated over 350,00 page views in just a 24 hour period, and the blog has been linked to by a bewildering range of high profile figures, including Andrew Sullivan, Dan Savage, and the Guardian newspaper. The post has been retweeted and shared on Facebook tens of thousands of times.

So hello to all my lovely new readers! And judging by the tone of the comments, I have a few not-so-lovely new readers as well - hello to you too. Have a cookie. Take a deep breath. We'll be hugging and growing before you know it in the finest tradition of the situation comedy.

So I realise that you (new readers) and I (old blogger) are at a slightly awkward moment in our relationship. This is like the morning after a one night stand with: our chance to grab a cup of coffee and get to know each other a little bit after a highly charged and emotional introduction.

Let me start.

Let's answer a few questions:

  • Why do you care so much about US politics if you're British? I am not British. The blog is called Obama London because I am a US citizen and activist with Democrats Abroad who works to register US voters here and London and throughout the UK so that they can exercise their right to vote from overseas. If you are a US citizen living overseas, no matter what your party affliation or voting intention, you can register and request your absentee ballot here: http://www.votefromabroad.org/
  • Aren't you kind of obsessed with Sarah Palin? I am not a Sarah Palin obsessive. I am a Barack Obama obsesive. (Check the name of the blog, guys.) Very important that we get that straight, because if you are expecting this blog to feed a Palin fixation, you will be dissappointed. This blog has been in existence for nearly three years, focussing exclusively in US Politics - including detailed coverage of the 2008 campaign. In all that time, yesterday's post - which has taken off to an incredible degree online - was the first time I have written a post specifically about the Former Governor. I mentioned her in passing exactly twice. (For the record, here and here.) If you think about it, I would seem to have been working pretty hard to AVOID writing about Sarah Palin, and for good reason. Any time her name comes up, people tend to get sort of shouty. On both sides. It hurts my head. I would suggest, given the overwhelming response on the one occassion when I did write about her, that I am not the one who is obsessed with Sarah Palin but rather that the obsessed are... well, everyone else.
  • So what do you write about, then? I'm glad you asked. I like writing about health care reform. About gay rights (btw, I'm a straight married female), about legislative reform. Politics, policy and lots more.
  • How dare you suggest Sarah Palin is responsible for the AZ shooting!? Did I? Let's go to the tape: I said, "in the wake of the terrible events in Arizona, with many commentators pointing out the obvious fact that Gabrielle Giffords had been targetted by Palin in the November election on a map that used a chilling gun site graphic, I thought it would be worth watching her page for a little while to see if her team were indeed deleting negative comments routinely." That sentance was not followed by, "Because this is all her fault." I think Sarah Palin made some terrible judgements about how to express herself. In particular, "don't retreat, reload" makes me queasy. I think she should, I think most people would, feel terrible if someone that they had directed a comment like that towards is attacked in this manner. I think we should tone back our rhetoric and remember that we have more in common than we disagree over. And I think that people like Glen Beck shouldn't suggest that the desire to provide all Americans with affordable and comprehensive health insurance is exactly the same thing as being a Nazi. I think these things are a bad idea, and I would ask them to stop. Please and thank you.
  • I can't believe you spent ALL THAT TIME obsessing over Sarah Palin's Facebook page! Don't you just have too much time on your hands? I really don't understand this criticism. I spent about two hours just observing and reporting what I saw on Palin's page on a Sunday afternoon while waiting for my husband to finish up some work. Better I should have spent that time watching Friends reruns? Because I do think I get enough of my Recommended Daily Allowance of Friends reruns. Yesterday's Palin post, which generated hundreds of thousands of readers and hundreds of comments was not a waste of time to write. Although I am starting to wonder about the many hours I have spent crafting long posts about policy and politics lo these many years for far, far fewer readers.

27 comments:

Chani Says said...

New Fan- ChaniSaysdotCom (twitter)
I reposted both of your blogs re Palin. Kudos for standing up and saying what you think- there are a lot of others who feel the same. As for the naysayers, never mind them, it seems that negativity has become the american way...

donna-n-raleigh said...

Hello Obama London, I just found your blog tonight and I must say I found the investigative journalism riveting in highlighting the supreme hypocrisy exhibited by one who says she supports freedom of speech until it contradicts her opinions.And ignore those who would question your use of your time for they are the very ones who are least effective in managing their own. Keep up the good work of this pro-Obama site. I am delighted to have found another oasis in the desert of responsible reporting. Thank you for connecting the dots between what is said and what is done. May those who call themselves Christians practice the teachings of Jesus and show love to our neighbors,even if they are Democrats.

Blog Queen said...

Thank you for revealing the truth about Sarah Palin; that she would rejoice in the the murder of a 9 yr old, preventing her from growing up and becoming a bleeding heart liberal.

I have passed this information on to America's news organizations, but there is no chance they will be reporting on this in the corporate news media. Sarah Palin is the designated messiah of the fascist, corporate overlords who are in charge of America these days, and none of the network puppets would dare breathe a word about this.

yelahneb said...

Just a quick thank you for being your wonderful, reasonable self. I hope the newfound exposure leads to more weal than woe :)

KathyF said...

As someone who recently discovered Friends (I know! Late to the party!), I think maybe that would be a better use of your time than reading hateful comments on Sarah Palin's Facebook page.

Nevertheless, I thank you for your diligence in uncovering just how hateful some people can be, and how that hatefulness is tolerated in some corners.

Jamie McGarry said...

Absolutely heroic attitude and patience on show here, well done for maintaining the sense of humour and beautiful writing! I found the blog last night due to the Palin post, will be keeping a close eye on it in future. - J.M.

Solissea said...

Let's see.You write a blog about Sarah Palin moderating her FB and Twit pages, and you yourself moderate your blog comments (admitted and evidenced by yourself in the comments). So, it's okay for you to edit your blog but not okay for Mrs. Palin? You are NOT a hero - you are a hypocrite. You spent a disturbing two hours hitting the "refresh" button on Palin's page, and then used the pointless information (everyone with a public page edits)to incite people to further hatred, all the while you were editing your own comments. That is not investigative journalism. Perhaps next time you have two hours to waste, you might find a way to use your words and forum for better purposes.

Obama London said...

Thanks for the kind words all! Blog Queen, I have to dispute your contention - nothing in my post shows that Palin took delight in this girls death. I'm trying to be really fact based here - that's why I described what happened as "inexplicable".

I don't know why that horrific post was not removed more promptly. But since Sarah herself was almost certainly NOT the person managing the page, I don't think we can directly infer anything about her state of mind from that action. It was noteworthy, so I noted it. All we can do is theorise about what happened here, but to suggest that it happened because Sarah personally delights in the death of a 9 year old girl seems to me the least likely possible explanation.

Blog King said...

@Blog Queen - wow, really? Sarah Palin rejoices at a 9 yr olds death? You are out of your mind and probably can't find your ass with both hands, I am surprized you can power on a computer. Search the web and you will find several examples of Democratic US maps with targets on Republican controlled entities. The only person to blame for this shooting is Jared Lee Loughner who called "Giffords" stupid as far back as 2007. His actions had nothing to do with a map or sanity for that matter - get a grip! As for scrubbing a facebook page Mrs. ObamaLondon - tell me you REALLY don't believe any democrats scrub hate from their FB pages or other entities? Right!!! Go study their pages for hours on end, apparently you are that bored!

Anonymous said...

Listen I think Ms Obama London should be congratulated. If readers/commentaries are too myopic and you can not read the facts (not opinions) but facts being presented, I feel sorry for you.

Nothing I read on her original Sarah Palin entry states blame, it simply ask questions and points to facts which contributed to her questions.

So take a moment to a pause and think before you start insulting the owner of the blog.

Frankly IMHO: it takes a lot of guts to state facts & ask questions, it is cowardly to personally insult someone who has the courage to ask questions.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Someone here has a problem with reading comprehension. Did the writer oppose any and all editing of comments? I don't think she did. I think she was talking about the lack of civility. That's what I took away and I think that is right.

majii said...

Keep doing what you're doing OL. It's evident that your insightful and well-documented posts are having an effect on some on the right due to the increase in their traffic to your blog.

You did NOT accuse Palin of being directly responsible for the massacre in AZ. My understanding of the post is that it was an attempt to illustrate that words do matter, and that some people are more susceptible to acting upon them than others.

RAF said...

I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. Not just for your insight but also because it got so much attention. I wouldn't have found you if you hadn't. I too am a US citizen living in London. Your blog is now on my regular reading!!!!

Solissea said...

@Anon. Seriously? Do people not get that it is not about left or right but about mental illness and hypocrisy? There is a woman fighting for her life in the hospital. 6 other families are grieving the senseless death of loved ones and others are still recovering (mentally & physically) from the tragedy. You hail a Palin FB stalker a hero who reported nothing other than edits to a FB page (useless info: everyone who has a public page edits comments, including Ms. ObamaLondon herself!) over the person who hit the shooter over the head with a chair or the lady who grabbed the gun magazine before he could get off another round and kill more innocents? Right or left, middle, top, bottom - doesn't matter - people who have used this tragedy to further their political and/or personal agendas are, IMHO: more disturbing than the young man who did it. Shame on you. At least he is likely certifiable. What is your excuse for lack of common sense and decency?

JoelBlogsJoel said...

@ Blog Queen and Blog Queen - Uh oh, looks like trouble in blog paradise, I wonder who gets custody of the Blog Princes and Princesses?

But, to be serious, I really enjoyed your post the other day, and I plan to follow your blog for now on. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

@ Solissea,

I think we are getting our signals crossed, so please allow me clarify my position; my Anon post @17:26 was addressing the issue of Ms. Obama London's blog entry (1/09/11) and the hundreds of comments that followed.
You and I disagree about her tactics but I have enough respect not to personally attack the blog owner or her tactics. Questioning her methodology is fine, but applying a label with a negative connotation is not something I did. However your use of a label: "stalker", just proves my point. Words have consequences.

As for the AZ tragedy; IMHO: it is a horrific watershed moment for our country and deserves the respect and decency not to desecrate it with false or uniformed accusations.

So let me ask you what are you really upset with;
1) Are you upset that Ms. Obama London had the audacity to report Palin's (IMHO) strange & factual FB actions?
2) Or are you upset that Palin's FB administrators are using the AZ tragedy to re-shape Palin's position and re-directing the National debate (eg is Palin partly responsible for the vile/violent political rhetoric)?

3) That Mrs. Palin has yet to come out and condemn violence or violent rhetoric? (ps her intra-email to Beck doesn't count.)

I have not posted/expressed any comment to be ashamed or lacks decency. Conversely you have made false accusations, judgements and personally attacked the owner of this blog, IMHO which is replete of any modicum of social/on-line etiquette.

So you might want to ask yourself the same question you asked in your post (20:55), before you rhetorically ask/attack her readers.

Obama London said...

Solissea - as I thought I made clear in the original post, I accept that Sarah Palin has a perfect right to moderate her Facebook page. I do question the wisdom, however, of removing all critical comments (it really is ALL - not just a few that are offensive). If I were to do the same, then your comment would also have been removed as would many others that have been posted to the original post. It is my personal preference, however, to let the discussion be pretty free-wheeling here not least because it allows for interesting dialogs such as the one between you and Anonymous. In all seriousness, I feel like I am learning a lot from these comments - even the ones that strongly disagree.

And I'm interested in your choice of the word "Stalker". Palin's Facebook page is a marketing tool for her. It is one of the very vew ways in which she interacts with the public. She works very hard to make herself a public figure, with her Fox News work and her TV series and many high profile speeches. Observing a public page of a public person is obviously not stalking. I suspect you were using hyperbole, but it's exactly that kind of overheated rhetoric that I object to. Previously, my policy on this blog had been to almost entirely ignore Sarah Palin. I broke down and wrote about her, in the end, because she so relentlessly insists on inserting herself into the public debate. OK. If she wants to be part of the public debate, then she is subject to observation, commentary and, yes, sometimes criticism.

If she ever runs for public office again, people have a right to know how she handles her public persona.

Anonymous said...

Hi OL,

Not sure if you saw it, but your Sarah Palin FB post was picked up by AOL news: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/01/10/sarah-palin-facebook-page-deleting-negative-comments-about-giffo/
and Reputation Online: http://reputationonline.co.uk/2011/01/11/palins-facebook-mistakes-raise-far-bigger-questions/

I'm sure there are other news outlets to have picked it up too.

Well done you. Humph to that naysayer who said you had nothing better to do.

A fellow American (Democractic) expat in London. xx

tom_oftheplains said...

Heya. Got here by way of either crooksandliars.com or washingtonmonthly.com, can't quite remember which.

Loved the Palin article and the follow-up; hoping your audience continues to grow!

Obama London said...

Thanks Anonymous at 13:00 - I hadn't seen the Reputation Online piece. It's very interesting.

Yes, the blog has been all over a lot of media. It's all gotten very viral...

Anonymous said...

I found this blog on Huffington Post from a fellow huff poster

Solissea said...

Response In Two Parts:
@Anon and @ObamaLondon (OL) My reference to @Anon should have been to @majii’s comment, “your insightful and well-documented posts are having an effect on some on the right”. My apologies for the @reference error. I do appreciate the dialogue though.
OL admittedly sat for two hours hitting the refresh button to capture images of comment deletions, and then publicly reported it in her blog. We established that everyone with a public page, esp. public figures, maintain and edit their pages for the purpose of maintaining the image they want their public to perceive. That is fact, but it is not something that is new or even news, nor exclusively done by Sarah Palin (SP). OL began her post with the statement that “Sarah Palin has a reputation for being an agressive[sic] editor of comments on her Facebook page…” By her own statement, it’s not news.
The subsequent screen shots and assumptive commentary assigning or implying questionable motive, is not responsible journalism. Nor did the query uncover or expose any crime or wrongdoing on SP’s part, therefore, it is not heroic or even investigative journalism. It was simply biased speculation which is no different than thoughtless rhetoric that SP, or any other politician, or for that matter, any other human being is guilty of at some point. OL has every right to publish it if she wants, but note: OL has a public page, a public political page, so she is subject to the same kudos or criticism, observations and commentary like anyone else. (continued)

Solissea said...

Continued...
I’m sure OL is a fine individual and a fine writer.I do not know her as a person so I cannot judge her as a person. It is my opinion that her admitted 2-hour obsessive behavior to uncover nothing, is disturbing and now, the public’s veneration of this nothing is kind of disturbing as well. Had she not written about it in a public forum, I would have never known this about her and formed an opinion now would I?
It is my opinion that this particular blog post was simply unfortunate political journalism in the wake of a terrible tragedy that helped perpetuate the already out-of-control wag-the-dog (archaic term, I know, but nonetheless accurate) politics prevailing in America.

Finally, if SP is cautious about responding to the allegations, then that is her business. That people are waiting to pounce on her every word, have called her a murderer, etc., I would imagine necessitates caution. You have all stated, words are powerful and have consequences. If that applies to everyone, then perhaps we should ALL be more thoughtful… and more truthful… and more helpful in our use of them.

Obama London said...

Thanks for your thoughtful response, Solissea. It boils down to this: I had a look at Palin's page and found something that I thought was interesting and noteworthy. Apparently, many other people agreed, because without much effort on my part, it was spread and shared by many thousands and blogged about commented on by many more. I tried hard to write about this in as non-inflamatory a way as possible, to be rigorously factual, and give Palin's team the benefit of the doubt wherever possible.

If your contention is that this little story is trivial in comparison to the tragedy of the shooting itself, I couldn't possibly agree with you more! In fact, I tweeted this on Monday: "Palin's troubling moderation is trivial compared to the horror of the attacks themselves. But worth noting"

And finally - fair play to you for catching me out on my typo in the word "aggressive". I'm fising that now, because now that I see it, it's really annoying me.

Solissea said...

LOL on the typo. I always have at least one myself. :-)I admire your conviction and willingness to take risks! OL, I hope your new notoriety serves you well, and that you serve it well! Enjoy! Great dialogue, and I appreciate your allowing me to express myself in your comments.

JimmieFromDayton said...

It's nice to read your blogs. I am a first time reader and I did not get here because of your Sarah Palin blog. I got here via BlackWater Dog's blog roll. My preference is not to read or hear any thing about Palin.

smack said...

Very well written, informative blog. I would love one of the trolls to direct me to the Republican equivalent....