Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bartcop the Political Blogger: Remembering He Who Swung The Hammer of Truth (1996 - 2014) (UPDATED)

**Updated 11:57PM 3/24/2014: See below for additional content.**

**This entry was posted on March 22nd, 2014.**


I want to post this entry before too much time passes ... I don't have a great deal of pictures, but that will just have to do.

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Terrence "Terry" R. Coppage has died.

Mr. Coppage was better known to the world as the blogger Bartcop. He was a liberal blogger since 1996 who lived in the Tulsa, Okla., area. (He called the area "K-Drag" for"Knuckle Drag" and though an ardent Clinton partisan, he was also some of a gun nut, often going on about his Glock and attending the ubiquitous gun shows in that part of the country. He wasn't your typical liberal.)

The only picture of Bartcop (Terry Coppage) that I have ever seen. It was provided in the above-linked Floral Haven obituary page to him. Save for the beard and being a bit heavier than I imagined, he kind of looks like I thought. I knew his writing and even his voice very well.

It was Bartcop who helped angry and confused progressives through the 2000 election in which the media helped to destroy Vice President Al Gore and then cheer-leaded the Florida election theft and subsequent Supreme Court coup that resulted in one of those historical tragedies: the Presidency of George W. Bush.

In this entry, I try to give a sense of Bartcop (rather than Terry Coppage's personal life, though I believe he was from Arkansas originally and ran a bar at one time; I don't think he had any children). But I do it -- as I have other memoriam pieces when the last of my great uncles died -- in the context of how Bartcop affected me. This makes the tribute a bit problematic, I guess. Also, again, I just don't have that many pictures to accompany it.

And with that ...

I started reading Bartcop probably in 2002 (though possibly as early as 2001). Prior to that stretching back really all the way to the late 1980s and in particular starting in 1992, I became an avid reader of The Washington Post and its editorial and op-ed pages, thinking that there was wisdom to be had there. While I gradually became aware of its increasingly neoliberal leanings and the whole "Washington Consensus" worldview, I really could not explain this. In short, my views were quite inchoate on the matter.

But it was the 2000 presidential election and the behavior of the media in general -- think Rick Berke* then of The New York Times -- and the subsequent Supreme Court intervention that made George W. Bush president that was the final straw. In particular, it was one of the unsigned house editorial where the writer (maybe Hiatt himself) wrote that "there are no asterisks next to Bush's name."

It was too much for me. Yet I had nothing but rage and no focus.

*I met Rick Berke at a house party given by a one-time friend, Paul Williams, back in 2003, and I couldn't contain my anger at him over all the bullsh!t made up stuff about Al Gore that he and the political press corps peddled, all while giving Bush a free pass. Of course, I didn't it out so articulately, and he asked me, "Are you crazy?" to which I said, "Fuck you."

I'm sorry, Paul.

Anyway, it was into this context and the early internet (before it became the virus-laden all-consuming sewer that it is now) that I started to find other websites, in particular Salon and (as explained below) an electrifying one called Media Whores Online to get alternative views.

But then the 9/11/2001 attacks happened, and the media deification of George W. Bush was off-the-charts.

It lasted for a good three to four years, and it was during that time that Bartcop through his website and his internet radio show (to which I subscribed for a period) who got me and other liberals through the worst days of the "Bush Is God" period that also included the lead up to the Iraq War, its execution, and the catastrophic aftermath -- through all of which the mainstream media (including The Washington Post Editorial Board) shamefully acted as sorority girl cheerleaders.


While most of the liberal "netroots" sites really came into existence as a result of the 2000 Supreme Court coup, Bartcop predated them by four years . The site actually started back in February 1996 as "Rush Limba, Lying Nazi Whore" (RL - LNW). Later, Bart would call Rush "the vulgar, lying pigboy."

Describing himself as "an Okie with a 64 IQ," Bartcop was a ardent Clinton support -- Bill and Hillary -- and he couldn't abide the monstrous rise of Rush Limbaugh, whose entire schtick was anti-Clinton obsession, scandal-mongering, and Archie Bunker-style buffoonish rightwing politics. Limbaugh and assorted rightwing radio talk show host imitators were all the rage -- and not just in the AM radio hinterlands and Flyover Country but also in major metropolitan areas with angry "office park dads" in their cubicles. (Keep in mind this was pre-Fox News Channel and before the internet turned everything to sh!t.)

As for the mainstream media, the anti-Clinton scandal-mongering narrative had already made it there through the epic Waterwater Hoax that, though totally fraudulent as authors such as Joe Conason and Gene Lyons carefully detailed.

The Washington media elites -- think Sallie Quinn, Cokie Roberts, the Sunday morning talk shows, and The Washington Post Editorial Board -- were (in Bartcop terminology) bought-and-paid-for "mediawhores" with their Clinton hatred.

The media elite's hatred of the Clintons stretched back to the 1992 election and the perceived "Slick Willie" (or "Slick Willy") quality of Bill Clinton and his assorted "Bimbo Eruptions," not to mention the role of Hillary Clinton as an equal to her husband with her own aspiring career.

Such a First Lady was not the media's (or, indeed, much of the country's) idea of what her role should be (though it's not like the U.S. hasn't had powerful and influential First Ladies before!).


Benjamin "Benji" Wittes (pictured above at this or that Brookings event) probably owes his career today as legal scholar to excuser and enabler of the Military-Industrial-Surveillance Apparatus State to the ponderous and tendentious unsigned editorials he wrote about both the phony Whitewater "scandal" and Monica's Dress in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Starting at the tender age of 26, Wittes was The Post's legal affairs editorial writer (not to be confused with the stable of op-ed columnists whose pieces appear under their own names), and he gave the Graham Family and the Washington Consensus crowd what it wanted in terms of dressing up phony scandals or ridiculous sex scandals to sound as though they were apocalyptic events leading potentially up to impeachment and conviction.

It was Bartcop and another now-defunct but once epic internet site called "Media Whores Online" (which apparently evolved out of the early Salon site) that were the vanguard of the rise of the post-2000 election theft netroots opposition. (The "media whore" part was code phrase for any ostensibly "objective" journalist or nominal Democrat who was viewed as compromised or in cahoots with the anti-Clinton / anti-Gore / pro-Bush mainstream media. In this sense, it was NOT applied to rightwingers themselves. The term was misunderstood as "horse" and the "MWO" site referring to itself sometimes as "The Horse" -- and later the term "media pony" was used by net roots thought leaders with a wink-and-a-nod.

MWO became quite influential in the early 2000s until the identity of the person behind it was discovered by "the opposition" and -- most likely in exchange for keeping that identity hidden -- the site was taken down.

The term "whore" could be applied to anything they (we). Bart used it liberally, so to speak, and its how we got Meet the Whore, Face the Whore, and This Whore in place of Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and This Week, respectively. Again, it was electrifying and refreshing and helped frame the nature of the battle we were in against neo-liberal Democrats and what Paul Krugman would later call the "professional centrist" pundit class.

Turning to my own story, my life in the period 1996 and 2002 between the ages of 26 and 32 was that of a bewildered and foolish, perennial UMCP graduate student living on student loan refund checks in the D.C. area (initially in College Park and later in D.C. itself). The meteorology path had already mostly failed, and I was trying to find some magical path to success in the world of journalism during this "Golden Age" of the Washington Consensus crowd.

This was why I had that weird and silly James K. Glassman fixation in the late 1990s. Glassman was once editor and co-owner of Roll Call, and later he was a financial writer and op-ed columnist for The Washington Post. In finance, it was always "HIGHER! HIGHER! HIGHER!" Politically, it was just garden variety sh!tty libertarian worldview designed to make the world safe for corporate oligarchy.

I had a strange email correspondence with him for a while (probably a few thousand emails, all of which I printed out and put in a journal that I kept that then stretched to tens of thousands of pages including handwritten notes, print outs, and taped-in newspaper articles). Glassman also took me to lunch a few times including once at the old Sherrill's in Capitol Hill (my idea) and once at The Palms (his idea).

Glassman is most notorious for his co-authored book Dow 36,000 that appeared in 1999 less than a year before the dot-com crash. Glassman was also head of something called the George W. Bush Institute at one period. Both these events were a number years after he and I "broke up" -- he stopped answering my emails and then I got really pissed off at what an expert he suddenly was in the pseudo-science of denying global climate change and told him to sod off.

To clarify, it was back in the mid-to-late 1990s when I made a few attempts to get published in The Washington Post, and always had to get around the then-letters editor Martha "M.J." McAteer, and it is also why I would send emails (in the early days of email) to various columnists. For some reason, I developed a thing about him. This also occurred during my Tim A. / rightwing Catholic days when I hung out with that nutty crowd, always going to drink at bars and formal dances and then saying novenas. How weird.

But it was 2000 election theft was the event that forever turned me on that crowd -- and it is why I have such antipathy toward The Washington Post Editorial Board and its members, past and present.

And yes, flippin' Fred Hiatt was there as awfully then as he is now, and apparently will be forever and ever, Washington Consensus World without end, Amen.

It was Blogger Atrios who summed up Fred Hiatt and his ways the best.

Anyway, all of this was the context for me when I discovered Bartcop in 2002.

Over the years, Bartcop provided me endless political mirth and political focus for my then-inchoate views. He was also the source of so many of the political cartoons that I posted on this blog (and my previous Arcturus blog) over the years.

He updated the site almost daily and for a time he used to have "mirror" websites for Bartcop, and he wrote next to the links:

"Can't get Bartcop in your GOP workplace? Use these mirrors ..."

And once he had a theme of "No Anti-Bush Website Left Behind" that was a pun on the disastrous Bush-era Federal education law "No Child Left Behind."

It was Bartcop who gave me the terrific phrase (and assorted images) "Bush Family Evil Empire" or B.F.E.E. (I don't think he coined the term, but he certainly used it a lot.) Some of my friends found my use of that hilarious.

I had a few email exchanges with Bart, and he referred to me once on his page when he posted something I wrote as "The NASA Dude" (because I was at Goddard at the time in a job as an astronomy writer).

And as mentioned, Bartcop also for a time had an AWESOME radio show for which I paid $10 per month (that was the student rate).

It was well worth it.

He not only had a surprisingly melodious radio voice, but he went on about topics that even today 12 years later I still find hilarious and quote. My two favorite examples are:

In the first case, he read a letter to the editor in the USA Today (a national newspaper to which all his U.S. listeners had access) by a woman who -- following a chance encounter with Pres. George Bush -- went on in her letter in painful detail about how she suddenly felt she was in the presence of the Divine and (for real) saw in his countenance the Face of God. At that point, Bart said: "THIS is the kind of INSANITY I've been talking about ..."

Secondly, he told this story about how if you are an ordinary person and your car breaks down, you have to take it to the mechanic and the resulting cascade of transport, logistical, and financial issues this typically raises.

After he finished, he said (and here I am paraphrasing what he said, though it's close):

"But if you're George W. Bush and the RED Mercedes breaks down, you take the BLUE Mercedes and tell the 'Spic married to Consuela the housekeeper to get the other one fixed!"

Bart often used racial epithets including (a little too frequently) the N-word, which would then trigger these long back-and-forth email exchanges with offended readers that he would post and answer.

Oh, yes, he referred to email from Bush supporters / Republicans as "Monkey Mail" and would usually post the picture at left or, alternatively, a picture of a monkey holding a banana as a phone.

Then there was that time when a then-writer for Salon (now at CNN) -- Jennifer Liberto -- found Bartcop and interviewed him with what he understood to be a promise of anonymity, but she promptly revealed his identity that was part of a larger story to uncover the person(s) behind the MWO site, and Bart was only mentioned in one paragraph with his real name.

Bart went nuts. And for months -- maybe a year afterwards -- he would post this image every time he talked about Jennifer Liberto.

Ha ha

He hated Tiger Woods (and would use the phrase "A hex on thee, Tiger Woo ..."). There was a period during which he mocked Maureen Dowd as "MoDo the She-Dragon."

Bart's ire was also directed for years at Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who he called "Laura the Unloved" -- and, yes, this is the source of my a certain reference I used on this blog, adapted for what I call the D.C. Gay Mafia. I even got the habit of doing the "R" or "D" followed by a sarcastic or ironic descriptor from Bart. As you can see, I borrowed liberally from him.

I also took from Bart terms such as "The WaHoPo" for The Washington WhorePost (which is sometimes called The WaPo) and a "Nancy Grace Guarantee" to refer to anything that was "guaranteed" by someone in the manner of Nancy Grace (another frequent object of his derision).

Then there was his view of the Palestinian-Israeli issue. He proposed giving the Palestinians the State of Oklahoma. But he also used to refer to the "religious insanity" of people including in the Middle East, where he said people would sooner let their children be killed rather than "give up that sacred sand."


Speaking of religion, Bart was a former Catholic, and he always referred to God as the "Invisible Cloud Being," and sometimes accompanied with some variation of the above image. He was forever going on about the Church's sex scandals during the awful time of Benedict XVI.

But as for acceptance toward gays and lesbians, he was quite liberal in his views. More noteworthy, I recall him writing once that his views were evolving: "I'm learning ..."

I don't recall Bart ever saying that about anything else.

Bart's bête-noire were what he called "pink tutu-wearing" Democrats (especially in the Senate). The idea started out with a picture he would post of a ballerina in a pink tutu who would always say something cloyingly and naively nice after he made some furious point. He would post her "response" under her picture.

That picture was subsequently photoshopped to feature the heads of Senate Democrats. It actually started with then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle back in the Bush era. Bart had a particular hatred of Daschle as the worst of compromised Democrats would simply "refused to fight."

His "tutu-dash" Tom Daschle in a pink tutu image was among my favorite. It is pictured at left (I don't have a higher resolution version). You have to understand just how well this image captures the fecklessness and wussiness of Tom Daschle, which in turn was due to how bought-and-paid-for compromised he is.

Eventually, the image evolved into one showing a set of Senate Democrats dancing in their pink tutus in front of the White House during Bush's presidency.


The political images that Bart posted were frequently hilarious, and I liberally borrowed them for this blog and its predecessors. As for those images, some of the best were produced by Bruce Yurgil, whose cartoons were often made to look like old detective magazines and were quite brilliant. (I've posted a few in this entry.) But it was the one below that I recall Bart once saying was perhaps his favorite:


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UPDATED 11:57PM 3/24/2014: Additional Bartcop related memories have come to my mind since I posted this entry, and I'd like to include them as an update within this entry rather than in an addendum entry.

While he may not have come up with the phrase or even the picture (I'm just not sure and have no way of finding out), Bartcop popularized the "Worst President Ever" political image of George W. Bush.

Bartcop sold the image in shirts on his blog for a number of years during the Bush presidency. I even bought one, although I really only wore it once outside. It all was a warm summer afternoon, and Gary and I took a walk in Arlington that included a Metro ride. It got a lot of (favorable) attention (in terms of what anyone actually said to me).

Gary also had a variation of the shirt -- gray with black lettering. He wore this more than mine (though not on that aforementioned day).

Bartcop also LOVED two things in this life: Chinaco Añejo tequila and Shirley Manson from the group Garbage. For years, he would end his entries with a picture of her, and for a while he would even have a notice saying that he would let her become a lifetime member of the Bartcop Radio Network for free. (I'm not sure Ms. Manson ever knew of him.)

OK, that's all for this update. I may add extra content if I think of anything else.

End of Update.

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During the Obama / Clinton primary battle in 2008, Bart was decisively on Hillary's side and found himself at odds with the Obama worshippers who at the time despised her. He took to calling at Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas "the Great and Powerful Kos" in a pun on "the Great and Powerful Oz." There was a lot of meaning in that phrase.

Conversely, during Obama's presidency, he found himself defending the president against angry and disillusioned liberals, though he never hesitated to post political cartoons critical of Obama. More recently, he was adamantly opposed to Edward J. Snowden's leaking of classified materials and staunchly defended Obama and the NSA -- a position that deeply alienated his natural core supporters. But by that point, he was already getting sicker and you could tell he was already thinking of just giving up the site.

Bart found out he was terminally ill a number years ago (not sure when -- mid-2000s, I think) but it only became acute recently. I though he had cancer but his obituary said it was leukemia. His blog posts had, understandably, become less frequent in the final months. He contracted a complicating flu and pneumonia and finally passed away on March 5th, 2014.

Here is what Bartcop wrote that his wife ("Mrs. Bart") posted in the final entry, #3,198:

Since you're reading this, I'm either gone or I'm too sick to get to my computer.

I'd like to thank everyone for reading, especially the pillars who allowed me to quit working at that little car lot and turn my rage on the illegal Bush thugs full time.

But I have a favor to ask and it's a big one. I left Mrs Bart with a mortgage that she can't handle by herself.

When the doctors told me I wasn't going to reach old age, my first thoughts were worry about Mrs Bart and how she was going to make it without me and my income.

You know me, I'm a gambler to the end, so when Bartcop Manor flooded in 2004, I/we gambled that I'd live long enough to get the house paid off, or at least paid down to where she could see the end of the payments. Since you're reading this, it means I lost that gamble.

So I'm asking you this hueueuege favor - would you keep your subscription going?

I know it's a lot to ask, but the thought of her having to sell Casa de Bart for a loss and move into some smaller place is something too sad to think about.

If you're thinking it makes no sense to keep the subscription going, what if you kept it going long enough to read thru the back pages one more time?

I hope your last memory of me isn't one of "greedy bastard," but I've got this problem (or used to have :) that I don't know how to fix.

So if you can help her out, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for the life you gave me,

bart

Rest in Peace, Bartcop.

I don't know if the "Invisible Cloud Being" can be with you wherever your journey now takes you, but if He can, I'm sure He will. As you would say, Keep Swinging the Hammer of Truth!

--Regulus

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