Archive for June 16th, 2006

In the right-wing Weekly Standard — the Forrest Gump of the American intelligentsia – Dean Barnett argues that the left blogosphere actually hinders the Democratic party.

If Democratic politicians were rational, they would realize that blogs are a factor in the political culture, but are a limited force with little growth potential. And it is certainly not worth risking one's credibility with mainstream America in order to win the affection of bloggers, especially relatively obscure ones.

There's another risk regarding the blogosphere that politicians in future political cycles will likely have to navigate: guilt by association.


The progressive blogosphere is noted for its "passionate" means of expression…At some point, politicians who flock to bloggers who talk this way will be asked if they're aware of the kind of company they're keeping. And, if so, how they justify keeping it.

In this worldview, bloggers are “extremists” or “out of touch” with “mainstream” Americans.

Oddly, as if on cue, in an interview with a conservative blogger, Rove says a similar thing about the left blogosphere:

I do…think that the Internet has proven to be a more powerful tool on our side than it has been for the other side. It has proven to be a tool on our side to sort of unite Conservatives and have a healthy intra-movement dialogue. But it's essentially been something that has helped us gain in influence and broaden our appeal. Among Democrats, my sense is that the blog world has tended to strengthen the far Left of the Democratic Party at the expense of liberal, but somewhat less liberal, members of their party. It has tended to sort of drive their party even further to the Left rather than focusing on good ideas that would help unite people around common goals and common purposes. Instead, the Internet for the Left of the Democratic Party has served as a way to mobilize hate and anger — hate and anger, first and foremost, at this President and Conservatives, but then also at people within their own party whom they consider to be less than completely loyal to this very narrow, very out-of-the-mainstream, very far Left-wing ideology that they tend to represent.

This is typical Rovian strategy: to attack your opponent where you, yourself, are weak.

Is the left blogosphere “extreme” or “far” left? Of course not. First off, lefty blogs represent a myriad of views along the political spectrum, but I would argue that the most are written by moderates whose most extreme idea might be preferring a single-payer health care system. Hardly radical, since about 60% of Americans think it’s a good idea, too.

Barnett’s main target for “extremist” and embarrassing Internet behavior is Daily Kos founder, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga. But it’s Zuniga who advocates avoiding valuing and supporting candidates for their ideological purity, preferring electable candidates willing to stand up to the GOP. Thus Kos’ support for Virginia’s Jim Webb, a former Republican, Reagan official, a man who has issues with affirmative action and whose stance on abortion is unclear. Or the Colorado blogosphere’s support of Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Bill Ritter, who opposes abortion.

Consequently, what Barnett and Rove don’t want you to notice is how extremist and repulsive the right blogosphere is. One need look no further than Michelle Malkin, an overt racist who advocated opening internment camps for Arab-Americans, and who happens to be a regular contributor to Fox News. In other words, a mainstream extremist.

The smaller blogs are full of racist, homophobic hate. Take bob t a commenter from Montana's rightwing blog, "What's Right in Montana," who regrets the emancipation of the slaves and advocates for the extirmination of brown-skinned people:

If I had my choice, I would prefer to see Iran wiped off the face of the earth first and then Syria, but I really don’t care who gets wiped off or in what order. They are all savages to me, or at best quasi-humans. The only important goal is that their numbers be radically reduced, and that those who survive, if any, pose no threat to Europe, the United States, or the energy supplies of the Middle East.

But it’s not like the Repubican hierarchy is threatened by infiltration by right-wing extremists. It’s already infested with repulsive paleo-conservatives. Take President Bush’s new chief domestic policy advisor, Karl Zinsmeister:

A review of years of articles reveals a formidable thinker with a powerful sense of what he considers right and wrong. As Zinsmeister sees it, racial profiling by the police makes sense; the military, if anything, treats terrorist suspects too gently; and casual sex has led to wrecked cities, violence and "endless human misery." In a "soft, often amoral, and self-indulgent age," he warned, some children "will be ruined without a whip hand," and he assured that “things generally go better with God.”

This is a guy who’s now going to help the most powerful politician in the world shape domestic policy. And what does he think about the people for whom he’ll help draft legislation?

In a 2004 profile by the Syracuse New Times, Zinsmeister was quoted as saying, "People in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings." But the New York Sun discovered last month that he doctored that and other quotes when he posted the profile on the AEI Web site. The edited quote said, "I learned in Washington that there is an 'overclass' in this country stocked with cheating, shifty human beings that's just as morally repugnant as our 'underclass.' "

So the nation’s “underclass” is “morally repugnant”? Not like the nation’s “overclass,” who I suspect is mostly lilly-white and inhabiting million-dollar co-ops behind security gates.

That the Bush administration would hire someone as repulsive, hateful, and out of touch with everyday Americans to craft the White House domestic policy clearly shows the contempt that Bush and his ideological supporters hold for government, for freedom, for diversity, and for people.

No, the lefty blogs are not extreme. Nor are they a handicap to Deomcratic candidates. That Rove takes the time to slam the blogosphere indicates that the reverse must be true: Karl Rove must be terrified of how the Internet has aided grassroots campaigns, especially in rural areas – like Montana – where political buzz can spread rapidly from neighbor to neighbor.

Update: I thought I would share just a few comments found today on "What's Right…" to give you a flavor of who frequents the right side of the Internet:

Black Jack said… Scared? You’re the one who’s scared. You’re the one who’s always worried about protecting the fags, wetbacks, ragheads and other alien life forms.

Anonymous said… …Personally, I don’t care about the government or taxes. I don’t have any use for the leeches up in Helena or down at the courthouse or the fat single mom sitting at home collecting welfare or the drunken Indian on the res who needs rehab. I don’t have any police or fire protection. I don’t have any street lights or municipal water or sewer service. I don’t use the public libraries or the public schools or the public universities.

In fact, I can’t think of anything I get from the government except threats to my liberty.

So I don’t pay for any of that crap. And when they do manage to rip me off with some tax I shouldn’t have to pay, then I rip them off right back.ANY politician that votes for ANY tax is a pice of sh[*]t in my book.

Anonymous said… ….Go f[*]ck yourself with your compassion and education.

I’m free, white, college educated (BA, MA), and wealthy. But most of all I’m a man, which is something you will never understand.

Considering blog proprietor Eric Coobs just posted Tester's records on supporting civil rights for gays, I expect to see a storm of homophobic comments any moment now. If you still doubt which side of the spectrum is radical and dangerous to the communities of the country, take a stroll over there and read some comments…

A day later, a day less angered by Chuck Schumer's maybe support for Joe Lieberman if he chooses to run as an independent against Ned Lamont, should Lamont win the primary.

Yesterday I slammed Schumer for his statements. Yesterday I saw Schumer’s backing of Lieberman an insider establishment figure defending Joe from his outside populist attackers.

Today, while compiling information for a post on the subject for the American Prospect, it seems maybe Schumer isn’t anti-net, pro-incumbent, but just trying to hedge his bets in case Lieberman actually does win the general election as an independent.

One of the interesting bits of info that I picked up from the Hotline is that Schumer may not legally be able to throw DSCC funds at Lieberman without approval from Connecticut’s Democratic party, something not likely to happen if Lamont wins the primary.

…there is something "official" that a state Dem party has to do in order to allow the DSCC to transfer money to help a particular candidate. For instance, the DSCC made sure the VT Dem Party endorsed Bernie Sanders (I) in VT SEN before the DSCC could publicly touted its support of the "independent" member of Congress. In order to financially support an indie Lieberman, does the DSCC need to have the CT Dem Party officially endorse Lieberman's indie run? Can the state party do that if Lamont wins the Dem primary?


So what’s Schumer really trying to do? Is it a bluff, an attempt to get netroots activists to cool their enthusiasm for Lamont and back the candidate he thinks likelier to win in the general election? While the blogs are eager to tout their successes in Democratic Senate primaries (e.g., Jon Tester and James Webb), a netroots candidate has yet to win in a general election — a test that’s more important for their brand of populist politics. It’s easy to see why long-standing congressional incumbents might be slow to believe in the blog’s “people power” message.

Or does Schumer’s stance reflect some behind-the-doors infighting within the Democratic Party? After all, Democracy for America, a PAC run by DNC chair Howard Dean’s brother, Jim Dean, backed Ned Lamont. Schumer’s support for Lieberman could be an insider ploy against Chairman Dean and his 50-state strategy that has drawn much criticism from D.C. Democratic consultants, who prefer concentrating the party’s money and attention on “battleground” races.

What’s more likely, though, is that Schumer is trying to bet on both Democratic ponies. His comment supporting Lieberman could still tip the primary in Lieberman’s favor. If Lamont wins the primary, legal issues could excuse Schumer from backing Lieberman financially in the general election, yet still keep Lieberman’s “loyalty” to the Democratic caucus and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).

As an astute observer already noted in the comments, that’s not a very smart or long-sighted move for Schumer to make. But face it: he’s probably not used to the speed and power of the Internet to take pre-primary insider political gossip and mainstream it to millions of readers.

Hotline also uses Markos Moulitsas’ own words from “Crashing the Gate” against his attack on on Schumer: “…a Senate in Dem hands is much better for progressives than ideological purity from any one candidate…” Maybe that’s true (see Webb, James), but my interpretation of Moulitsas’ words is that he’s interested in putting an end to the Bush administration, and anybody who’ll stand up to Bush should be embraced. Lieberman has not, does not, and will not stand up to Bush. Lieberman, for all intents and purposes, is a Republican.

In the long run, supporting Lamont will only encourage the recent energy, activism, and organization from a rapidly growing populist movement that could sweep Democrats into power in both the House and the Senate. However, we may need a Democratic majority more, now.

But we're waaaaaaay ahead of ourselves. Lamont has not (a) won the primary and still trails in polls. Lieberman has not (b) declared himself an independent. Schumer has not (c) thrown the DSCC's material support behind an independent Lieberman. Until those three things happen, it's all talk.


O’Reilly endorses Lieberman! As does Sean Hannity! What else do you need to know?

By the way…I was probably wrong about the US withdrawing from Iraq…

Congress is currently embroiled in an ugly debate, in which Republicans mouth pre-scripted talking points written by the Pentagon (likely in violation of lobbying and propaganda laws), while Democrats craft an actual Iraqi plan.

Firedoglake on the House debate. I’ll be checking out Rehberg’s statements and vote, that’s for sure.

Think Progress got its hand on the official GOP strategy memo urging Republican Congressmen to hit Democrats over the war. Um…crowing over an ongoing unnecessary war started on false pretenses? Yeah, that’s a winner.

Meanwhile, USA Today is reporting that US troops are being “pushed to the edge” in Iraq.

And Dick Polman thinks Bush’s message was “Iraq is a terrible mess.”

Of course, the US military has been running a propaganda campaign to elevate Zarqawi’s importance in Iraq. But the recent documents found saying the insurgency is in its last throes couldn’t be fakes, could they? I mean, this administration hasn’t lied to us before, have they? (Digby riffs on Zarqawi’s paperwork.)

Republican lawmakers favor extending amnesty to – no, not Mexican immigrants – Iraqi insurgents. That’d be fine, only Iraqis hate the idea. Let’s get these craven armchair warriors out of office.

On the home front, courts kill any incentive police might have had to keep them from just busting down your door.

And fundamentalist homo-haters mull over how to move the country one more step towards theocracy.

Speaking of fundies, Rev. Jim Rigby points out how the movement uses Christ as a model for a benevolent dictator: “People within the power hierarchy proclaim that God is the ultimate authority, and then appoint themselves as God's interpreters and enforcers. They are God's humble bullies. It has been one of the most successful con games of all time.”

Colbert interviews Rep. Westmoreland, sponsor of Ten Commandments bill, yet who can’t name them. Classic.

And Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) was lying when he denied offering amnesty to anyone who violated the FISA court. In other words, the NSA wiretappers and their administration overlords.

Meanwhile in Montana, Tester’s barber is p*ssed at the GOP for claiming Jon’s not a good tipper. Oops. Who’s out of touch with Montanans?

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