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  • (10)

    Insecurity and fear

    Insecurity is something that can do any creature in. Look at the runt of a dog litter. Beaten out in competition for the teat, they miss out on succoring. They grow up into the ones that bark and bite. They are bruised emotionally by everything around them -- unless they find that doting owner that heals their wounded spirit.

    When insecure people get really scary is when their afraid. They're like wounded animals. They're ready to tear someone's head off. They don't like being afraid. So what do they do? They put on a front. They act tough. They swagger. They smirk. And inside, that little mouse is racing on its wheel, trying to get away from it all.

    People in domestic abuse counseling will tell you about abusive men. They're typically weak. They are unable to stand up to their peers. Perhaps they are ridiculed. They feel deep down like they can never measure up. They whine, or perhaps brood. They complain out loud, or they keep score quietly. And when they don't get their way, eventually they lose it. They throw fits. They have tantrums. They scream. They break things. They kick the dog. And they beat on "their" women and children -- anyone who can't really fight back.

    They're dangerous. In their weakness, they're dangerous, because they're unpredictable. Their rage is all bottled up, ready to explode at the slightest provocation. In their destructive whirlwind, they feel power, if only for a moment. It gives them what they lack in the rest of their lives. For a moment, they feel validated.

    And if they don't get the upper hand, they feel their rage vindicated. It's proof that they are helpless. And they rage all the more.

    Fear, fearful men and politics

    We have seen a lot of this kind of behavior from the conservatives lately. They rage and bellow and complain. Even though they have all the elected power in the federal government, they play the victims. They whine about how they're victims. They never take responsibility for their own actions -- let alone the power they wield.

    In the aftermath of Terri Schiavo's passing, I think we've see the abusive sides of these conservatives. They bellow threats, spittle flying from their purple lips as they tremble with rage. They don't control everything, and they can't stand it.

    Don't think they're not aware of this. The fragile male ego is the target of their rhetoric. They want all men to be afraid of being emasculated. They appeal to insecurities. How can you trust your woman if she can use birth control?

    They don't trust their own masculinity. The mere presence of a gay man will drive them to righteous indignation, if not outright violence. They don't trust their own heterosexuality. How else to explain the fear they have of men marrying men? Are they afraid that if it's not illegal, they might go marrying men, too?

    Addiction and succor

    There's another kind of insecure male that populates the conservative ranks. This type is epitomized by George W. Bush.

    This is another kind of insecurity we see in people, the kind that shows up in addictions. Some ten years ago I remember reading a magazine article on Keith Richards, who (most I think would agree) is something of an expert on addiction, where he said that addiction is like trying to mother yourself. You're wounded. You don't feel up to it. You escape (or seek strength or comfort). "I just like to get high, dude." Yeah.

    By many reports a coke fiend, and by his own admission a drunkard and pothead, W. fit the perfect mold of the insecure son of a powerful man (and perhaps a fearsome woman -- Barbara, I understand, is much feared in DC). Finding no succor at home, W. found it in the bottle and the fast life of a rich kind born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

    His failures in the Texas Air Force and in business did him no favors. When the love of his life gave him an ultimatum, to his credit he went sober.... And found a new addiction in religion.

    There's nothing like a man of faith who's just discovered it. He dove into it and it filled the void that was left when he gave up liquor. Drunk on religion, he continued in a new chapter of his life.

    But is that insecurity gone? It couldn't have helped to know that he didn't really win in 2000. Even if all the votes were counted and still added up to an electoral victory, he still would have known that he lost the popular vote. Here Cheney and the neocons were all set to invade Iraq. Maybe that made him feel good. He was going to do his daddy proud. But he seemed pretty absentee those first several months, more eager to cut wood on his estate in Texas than actually address problems in Washington.

    But when 9/11 hit, he got scared, real scared.

    So did we all. This was when we needed a leader. What we got was a frightened boy acting tough to scare off the real tough guys. He's got a new addiction -- that of the Great White Crusader.

    A fearful nation with a fearful leader

    I think it's important to remember (and it's easy to forget these days): This was not the first time foreign nationals attacked on foreign soil. The most recent example of that scale was Pearl Harbor. The nation was pretty damned scared then, too.

    But there was a different man at the helm. FDR, a man so crippled he could no longer walk, in constant pain, kept his cool. And he encouraged the nation to keep its cool. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," he said during the Great Depression, and he carried the same message during the war.

    Churchill, too, had strong words, but words of calm determination, not of frantic fear-mongering. Imagine Churchill saying, "We're going to be attacked, but we don't know when, we don't know where, but millions could die." You can't. He would never have said that. He had more sense than that. And he had more inner strength, which he lent to the nation (and they lent to him).

    The things Bush has said are a far cry from "blood, sweat, toil and tears." He didn't have the strength. So what we got was modern-day tough-guy pollyanna aphorisms like "The best defense is a good offense," and "You're either with us or you're against us," and more rhetoric more akin to that of Goebbels than Churchill.

    And so after the war in Afghanistan was scarcely underway, he launched a new war in Iraq. His daddy had beaten up Saddam, so he must've figured he could, too. Not much risk of losing outright. Wolfowitz was offering assurances. (Remember he said the war would cost $1.7 billion.)

    On the other hand, for Bush, there was a lot of personal risk to his ego if we did not invade. After all, Osama bin Laden got away. Al-Qaeda got away. W. had to go beat up somebody.

    "Saddam Hussein is thumbing his nose at us," he cried in justification for the war. (Note that the conservatives use that same phrase now about the judiciary.)

    And now over 1500 of our soldiers are dead, our surplus is long gone, our economy is in ruins, oil prices are skyrocketing -- and our national security, by many expert accounts, is worse than it was before 9/11.

    Institutionalized fear

    Today we get more fear-mongering from the Bush administration to justify extending the most radical parts of the Patriot Act, which targets American citizens, not foreign nationals.

    The fear-filled manner which Bush has carried himself has been quite frightening. It plays along with the conservatives' own fears, and right into the fears they wish to perpetuate in the American public to remain in power.

    What they're finding, however, is that the same formula doesn't quite work with domestic policy. With Social Security, they warned of a "crisis," but then when it became clear there was no crisis, they warned of "going broke." But then they offered a plan that made things worse. People weren't so inclined to buy it.

    With Terri Schiavo, they cried that the judiciary has gone berserk, and is out to kill everyone in hospitals all over. But most people have faced death in the family first-hand, and know that it's never easy, and the last person you want messing with your healthcare during your final days is an interventionist Congress. "Let the woman die in peace!" was what 3/4 of the public said, according to the polls.

    (These people are so afraid, they are fearful of moving to prevent terrorists from buying guns at gun shows lest it lead down some imaginary slippery slope to the repeal of the Second Amendment.)

    But they keep pushing.

    The golden age of fear and rage

    Now the conservatives are saying that these "radical" judges are responsible for violence in courtrooms. My guess is that most people would figure that if a suspect goes batshit in a courtroom, it's probably not the judge's fault. But you won't hear a conservative say that these days. Now we're supposed to be afraid of the courts -- even the Supreme Court (which refused to hear the Schiavo case).

    But the conservatives continue and continue. They cannot help themselves. They're small men trying to fill big shoes. They don't know how to wield power responsibly because, deep down, it does not address their own insecurities. They are not up to it.

    And so we will continue to see the conservatives aggressively trying to butt their rage-filled faces into people's private affairs while they try to make us all afraid.

    They can't help it. They're abusers.

  • (10)

    First let's get the gender role deconstruction out of the way. One of the things that was interesting about Star Wars IV (the original movie) was that the ostensible leader of the rebellion was Princess Leia, who ruled not by imperial decree but by no-nonsense take-charge authority. She was small, but she stood taller than any of the boys.

    Or so it seemed. In Empire she fell down a notch, to the love-sick matriarch with little more to do than notice bad things happening and hearing Luke's telepathic plea for help. By the time we got to the teddy bear movie, she was a bondage sex slave in a skimpy outfit, and peacemaker with the teddybears themselves.

    Flash back a generation and we get the two female figures of Queen Amidala as a powerless figurehead, and Anakin's insightful mother. Amidala befriends a child and otherwise plays tag-along. Anakin's mother is around just enough for us to care just enough when she dies in Episode II: The Boredom Wars. In that overlong yawn, Amidala becomes like a star in a really bad soap opera. How did Lucas manage to get Natalie Portman to turn in such a wooden performance?

    In the Sith installment, suddenly all the actors seem to perform better -- especially Portman, whose reaction to Anakin's turn to the dark side really gives the sequence impact. But the big disappointment, in terms of any hint at female heroes, is that once she gets pregnant, she's relegated to helpless waif status. The only other apparent females in the show are the Chancellor's silent bald aide, and a lithe Jedi who manages to wear a skimpy midriff top for her shot-in-the-back betrayal. (Where were the women who kick ass? Why didn't someone like Queen Latifah get cast as a Jedi? Samuel Jackson's a great actor, but let's face it, he's done better, and someone else might have thrived in the role of head of the Jedi Council.)

    Now that that's out of the way, I can say that I really enjoyed the movie. To be honest, I didn't expect much, especially after that mess of a movie with 45 minutes of action that ran about 35 minutes too long. Sith opens with action, but it seems Lucas has been a quiet fan of Battlestar Galactica, for the action sequences are much more intense for their lack of overt intensity. Explosions don't need close-ups and ear-splitting effects. In fact, the space battles look more like distant fireworks spectaculars. Somehow they're all the more horrifying for it. At one point, the film seems more like Master and Commander than a space epic.

    The relationship between Palpatine and Anakin is quite interesting. Hayden Christensen learned some acting chops since the previous movie, so his presence carries much more weight now -- which is important, because with this film in place, we truly realize that Star Wars is really the tale of Anakin's rise, descent and redemption, and Luke and Leia and even Obi-Wan are really just side players.

    Yoda and the Emperor get to do star turns in a battle that tops any Jedi-Sith duel to that point. We also get to see Wookies, including Chewbacca, and enough battle droids of various designs and weaponry to fill up an entire fictional issue of Jane's The Galaxy's Fighting Droids.

    But the real star of this picture is Obi-Wan. Ewan McGregor carries the film with his charm, smile and intensity. I've never found a man with a thick beard to be so attractive. And the easy way he faces situations is quite engaging. Think of an amiable James Bond.

    The heart of the story, however, lies with Anakin's turn to the dark side. It's not an easy path for him -- nor for the Republic itself, which transforms from democracy to fascism, all to the sound of applause. Many of those he kills have it coming. His decisiveness is undeniable. One can see why the conservatives in America might get a little hot and bothered about things in the film: many of the characteristics of the Dark Side of the Force are traits the conservatives like to praise these days -- black-and-white thinking, impatience, reacting emotionally, letting rage and hate determine one's actions, all with a genuine frustration with the quaint niceties that are an integral part of democracy.

    But in watching the movie, one isn't thinking about George W. Bush. If the conservatives are serious about making a Sith-like move on Washington, Darth Cheney would have to develop some more in-Sidious powers than a smirk and a fat bank balance. The movie is an adventure, scored by John Williams -- and blissfully free of Frists and DeLays and other dark figures with little cinematic appeal.

    It will be interesting to see what Lucas does next. He's making noises about more experimental films. At least he finished this series showing that he can, when pressed, make a halfway decent blockbuster. Since he (along with Spielberg) practically invented the summer phenomenon, it's nice to see that the dark side hasn't destroyed his storytelling talents. It's been a wild ride, but now I'm even more interested in what he'll do next.

  • (10)

    Lorraine has a nice round-up of some observations over the Kos Pie Incident.

    I also would like to direct you to trubledum's post on all of this:

    How was the trust broken on dKos. It came up to medium flame with the Langevin/NARAL debacle. There was a frontpage where Kos "called" the election for Chaffee because in his estimation only Langevin could have won and it was those stupid women who were trying to hijack the party for their own agenda. Many women implored Kos to instead of righting off the new pro-choice Dem candidates to give it that old Kos spirit and rally around the new entrees... yet that was answered with more post with polls showing how Chaffee was "going to win" and more rants about NARAL. Never mind that many pointed out that there was still 18 months to the election. Then it went full flame when NARAL (IMO rightly so) endorsed Chaffee. I call it the "Burning Bed" bitch slap from the NARAL to the DSCC. Of course this ensured more rants and rave now with Armando chirping in... the Pie Fight was the bitch slap on the micro level.

    Could both of these events been avoided HELL YEAH... but it takes strong "fair" leadership... Herein lies the rub... BTW ...Dean has this by the buckets and this is the type of leadership we should loom for and support in the Democratic Party.

    It is no longer just good enough to support a pro-life candidate just because he has a d (miniscule) behind his name when there are little girls in Texas asking their boyfriends to kick the in the stomach for a homemade abortions...and "activist" pharmacist who have the blessings of Kerry and Hilliary to discriminate against women buy birth control.... enough is enough... this is not a "pet issue".

    As for the men who continue to insist that we're all really just upset over a T&A ad featuring bimbos in a pie fight, all I can say is that your own willful ignorance speaks volumes, and serves as vivid illustration of the very mindset with which we take issue: that unless men can agree and approve, women's ideas, concerns and issues are irrelevant and even wrong.

    Can a woman have an idea without a man's permission?

  • (10)

    Stock in hubris is going up these days. Not only is it in great demand by the radicals and paranoiacs leading, and cheerleading for, the Republican party these days, but now it seems to be in great fashion with the alpha male bloggers of the left. Of course, we all know that male hubris is not new -- nor is anti-feminism. STFU is a common refrain heard whenever we of the "minoriity" class called female get uppity and question what the wise men are doing.

    The heat is on, and they don't like it. Now the men are complaining about women (and men) de-linking from Kos and other chauvinists -- to which I think Kathy's response is apt:

    Imagine, all those years I've spent walking the streets handing out literature, all those days and nights working for Democratic candidates—guys like Bill Richardson, Howard Dean, and Herb Kohl—when all along I was secretly plotting the downfall of the entire party with just a few subversive clicks on my blogroll.

    Us feminists—or Femi-nazis as Rush Limbaugh cheerfully calls us—are truly the spawns of the Republican devils, despite the fact the grunt work at most Democratic Party offices I've been to has been done by women volunteers, most of whom consider themselves feminists, (albiet some of them still shave their legs). How dare we demand our concerns be listened to, responded to without condescension, even!

    Steve Gilliard, in his usual ranting tone, accuses us women of just being stupid:

    Some women got pissed at Kos for running a TBS ad of two women throwing pies at each other. What I don't think the women understand is that it's not a simple matter of refusing ads. Daily Kos is a business, and it needs money to operate the way it does. It's easy for other people to debate your actions when they don't have your bills. And a lot of people, especially younger people, don't get that you need to make hard choices to reach a goal.

    Yes, we dumb girls just don't understand commerce. Silly us! Thanks, Steve, for educating us.

    But of course it's Steve who doesn't "understand": he still thinks this is all about the pie ad:

    Second, let me say this: if the biggest concern in your world is a TBS ad, consider yourself lucky. You must have an otherwise perfect life. If the ONLY thing you have to complain about is an ad for a show you will avoid, I'm happy for you. And he was far nicer than I am to people who tell me how to run my site. But I think you think this is a simple issue and it is not.

    He then goes on to the "We're just businessmen" argument we hear all the time from polluters, pornographers, sweat-shop owners and that ilk:

    Once an ad goes up, it's up and you've been paid. In Kos's case, a couple of grand. You can't just drop it.

    You spent zero time thinking about the complications of this. You expect Kos to make decisions as you would and when he said he wouldn't, you got all huffy like your college prof said something you didn't like.

    Yeah. We're just being "huffy." Pardon me, Steve, but you can kiss my huffy pumps. Yet I look at $6500/week from Blogads and see your point. How dare us amateurs question the professionals! Of course! It's towards the end of his rant that he shows is cards:

    What is the greater goal? Having a successful site or making sure everyone isn't offended.

    Apparently commerce trumps principles, and profit is the primary mission of these principled bloggers who just want us inconvenient women to shut the fuck up. It does shed new light on bloggers who blog as a business, yet claim virtue over the mainstream media who do news as a business. But that's all really a different topic.

    Because the loudest complaints against us uppity women keep trying to make this all about the pie ad, when many of us have made it quite clear that it's not. Steve makes the mistake a lot of Kos apologists have made over the past week -- that this is even about the pie ad:

    And like that, Kos is on the shit-list with the crowd who dares not shave their legs.

    If you listen to their rhetoric, Bush is Hitler and the world is coming to an end and Iraq is a quagmire and they have to take back Congress or all is lost, yet they allow their unity to be challenged by something like this. I saw less serious repercussions when half the Democratic Caucus voted for the hideous bankruptcy bill.

    Instead of sticking together when they need to, they choose to have a big pie fight about, well, a pie fight.

    Talk about setting up straw men! (Or women!) Who's talking about Hitler? And what does he care how often I shave my legs?

    Of course, a little criticism isn't going to stop the truly righteous ones, like John Cole, who's gone after Shakespeare's Sister and who had a special comment just for me:

    I don't think this is about the pie ad, and have said so repeatedly. This is about you guys demonizing Kos for running the pie ad and his refusal to take the ad down and his 'condescending' response, for which he apologized for aspects of it.

    And I am not a misogynist, not that I give a shit what you think.

    Yeah, right. Like I gave a shit about the pie ad. Really, John! And you complain about people making assumptions. I and many others were responding to horse's ass remarks like yours here. But go ahead. Heaven forbid you might feel criticized!

    What all of their impassioned cries of outrage don't address is the real problem in the liberal politocracy: the idea that chauvinistic, sexist and, yes, misogynistic attitudes are excused if one is "pro-choice."

    Pinko Feminist Hellcat's snarky response to all this I think cuts to the bone:

    Remember girls--you're just supposed to nod and smile. Make sandwiches for them and stuff. Laugh at their jokes, no matter how lame or stupid they are. Cause they're the men, and their fee-fees might get hurt. Odd how they can dish it out but cannot take it.

    Someone hand these boys some tissues before they aspirate on their own spittle.

    It's not an easy thing to face from one's "allies": a complete dismissal of any validity to our concerns. That these men even try to claim to be the arbiters of what is and what is not an appropriate feminist concern is the epitome of hubris.

    That such a refrain comes from men who claim what they consider moral stances on issues they find important and criticizing certain Democrats for compromising values too readily, but give a very DLC-like admonition to STFU and toe the line in the name of unity, is especially ironic in this day and age -- especially when the Dems aren't exactly garnering any clear loyalty from women:

    Despite the gender gap, President Bush succeeded in increasing his overall share of the women's vote this year. Senator John Kerry did win a slight majority of women's votes (51%), but he lost ground from 2000, when 54% of women voted for Al Gore. President Bush's ability to increase his share of the women's vote to 48% this year (up from 43% in 2000) is a major reason why he took the popular vote this time around.

    Maybe this time it's the alpha males who should shut the fuck up and try listening for a change.

  • (10)

    Some 25 years ago, the Democratic Party did something precipitous: they abandoned progressive values in a political gambit to ride the coattails of the conservatism that was sweeping the country. Like Judas, they cried, "I'm not liberal. I don't even know any liberals!" The gambit paid off in the form of two terms for Clinton, and massive losses in Congress.

    Yet they've stuck to their guns, under the guidance of the DLC. They generally backed many of the conservative attacks on our government infrastructure. They are culpable.

    And now, in the disastrous man-made disaster following Katrina, We The People are paying the price.

    The loudest howls have been in the indifferent, contemptuous, ineffective and arrogant responses from President Bush and his minions. It's bloody obvious that FEMA, now a part of the Department of Homeland Security, has been rendered all but totally ineffective -- and even obstructionist.

    Imagine if this had been a terror attack. Clearly there is no preparation to protect the people. Clearly the federal government has squandered the past four years since 9/11.

    But let's face it: There's plenty of blame to go around. We have local officials to slacked or fell down on the job. We have state officials who seemed to think protecting property from looters was more important than getting drinking water to desperate survivors. We have police doing their best to impersonate blackshirts.

    What went wrong? One can point to a number of things, from beaurocratic incompetence to, as conservative Robert Tracinski claims, welfare shirkers and criminals who chose to die rather than do anything that doesn't involve government handouts.

    But what caused this obscenity that is still unfolding is a political culture built upon this pernicious notion that the government can't do anything, that the government is the enemy, that government should be gutted, disabled and dismantled.

    Obviously, some strong and effective government could have come in pretty handy this past week. In fact, a strong and effective government could have prevented this horror from ever happening.

    We're paying the price. Our leaders failed us. And we failed ourselves by not demanding better of them. Not only is New Orleans under 25 feet of water. Conservative ideology is all wet as well. Protecting the people isn't up to the private sector. And it involves a lot more than sending in boys with machine guns.

    This is OUR country, and it's suffering. And this is OUR government, and it's broken.

    So what are we going to do about it?

  • (10)

    Any "strict constructionist" jurist would have to uphold a woman's right to an abortion as constitutionally protected, since it was legal and not even regulated during the founding of this nation. Apparently, no real enforcement of any restrictions on abortion happened until the 1940s.

    So is criminalizing abortion just the right wing's own "new deal"?

  • (10)

    Yesterday, Chris Bowers noted how the conservative blogosphere seems to have a disproportionately large influence on the mainstream media, as well as results in Google News.

    For a long time, I have hoped that the progressive blogosphere would eventually emerge as an important cornerstone of a new progressive media empire that would not only serve as a counterweight to the Republican Noise Machine, but would even come to surpass the efforts of the right. To this end, I have written numerous posts, essays and articles lauding the growing influence of the progressive blogosphere, including the report The Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere for NPI that I co-authored with Matt. However, after sepnding most of the day compiling research for another project I am working on, I stumbled across some rather disturbing data that indicates the progressive blogosphere is making few, if any, real waves when it comes to influencing the content of the MSM.His proposed solution:

    There are probably at least 15-20 people who are trying to live as full-time progressive bloggers in America, and many more progressives with good blogs who would like to make blogging their full-time occupation. While these people are experiencing rapid audience growth, not only do many still have a difficult time making ends meet, but they are clearly struggling to make real waves within the national political discourse. (Hell, even I had to use Google News for this study instead of Lexis-Nexis, to which I should really purchase a subscription). To put this as bluntly as I can, progressives will not be able to break the conservative governing majority over the long term, no matter how narrow it may be, unless we can turn around the rapidly deteriorating media climate in this country. In order for progressives to change the deteriorating media climate in this country, it will be absolutely essential for the new progressive pundit class, which is to be found primarily in radio and the blogosphere, to be funded and cross-promoted.Now, while I find the call for developing progressive think tanks to be laudable -- and hardly unique -- I feel that Chris perhaps is missing something essential about the progressive movement and how it is complemented by the internet medium.

    This is adapted from my response there....

    It takes work to pay attention

    Ann Coulter makes news, for example, by calling for the murder of journalists and other outrageous statements.

    Is that influence? Perhaps she's marginalized herself, but there's no question that conservative voices, no matter how wacked, get access to the cameras and newspapers and skew the debate way right of the mainstream public. They provide simple, simplistic sound bites, playing right into the medium. (And the medium is the message, right?)

    What's the message of the internet medium?

    Here's something I've noted in my own stats: Links from the biggest sites above, with the exception of Atrios, seem to generate precious little traffic. Sites like Daily Kos are so insular, even a FP mention will generate only a few curiosity hits, while a casual oh-by-the-way link in a modestly trafficked site could generate hundreds of hits. (Now, before the army of consent descends upon me claiming I'm simply attacking Daily Kos, let me say categorically that I'm not. Sure, I have my issues with the site and some personalities there, but this is about the greater "progressive blogosphere" as a whole, which is orders of magnitude larger. Having the biggest blog on the internet is great for the vaguely Democratic/progressive/liberal causes, but it's not enough. The internet rewards internetworking, not just isolated size.)

    This is not a new criticism: The big sites tend not to link to the smaller sites. The "Top 100" pay attention to each other, but the real strength of the progressive blogosphere is in the thousands upon thousands of very sharp smaller blogs out there. (Where would many sites be without Peter Daou constantly linking out to mid-sized sites?)

    The internet rewards communities across websites. The internet rewards conversations between websites. The internet rewards relevance, which is measured by in-content links from other sites of relevance. This is the state of SEO today.

    And blogrolls are mostly ignored by the search engines now -- certainly deprecated. The relevance comes from in-content linking. And there's precious little of that from the big blogs because everybody's looking one way, and the big bloggers don't see the smaller sites behind them.

    With all the heated debates on the left-of-right perspectives of the major issues, it would seem that there's plenty of opportunity to link out -- to post a dissenting opionion, for example. But unfortunately there seems to be a mindset on the part of many big bloggers that dissenting opinions should be ignored rather than engaged, preferring to do their part to help a website drift off "in obscurity." If we cannot embrace the dissent within our vaguely-defined "ranks", then how can we expect more progressive influence? If we're so busy ignoring each other, then how can we expect others to pay attention?

    Changing this paradigm may not affect how the MSM treats the blogosphere, but it WILL affect how Google News treats these hits. I have some email alerts for Google News, and in the results I'd say 2/3 are mainstream news sources and 1/3 are conservative sites (like "LifeNews"). Every now and then a liberal voice comes through, but that seems very rare in my experience. (Does Google News have a political bias?)

    But here we are, some 7+ years (?) since the Cluetrain started, and we who are most advantaged by these trends collectively continue to fail to appreciate it, and act upon it.

    Cross-linking helps. And that takes effort, work, time. But with money or not, people already are blogging the heck out of the topics of the day from a progressive perspective. The real question, perhaps, is not whether they should be paid by a thinktank, but rather why so many excellent voices languish in obscurity, ignored not just by Google News and the MSM but by their peers. Thoughts?

  • (10)

    Since the not-at-all-surprising confirmation of Samuel Alito, there's been a lot of hand-wringing going on in the so-called "liberal" or "progressive" blogosphere.

    "I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that the Democrats didn't all stand firm!" come the mealy-mouthed cries.

    It's time to wake up.

    Matt Stoller offers one perspective:

    The netroots needs to get serious. Our culture is sick. On every conference call with elected officials, I hear preening, sycophantic questions towards elected Democrats. That time is over. They work for us, the people. Or rather, I am an American, and I am not going to bow down to someone because they are a Congressman or a Senator. I don't have to say that someone pursued 'great leadership' just because they wear a Congressional pin. I don't have to care about titles, about nobility, about respect for the office. I am an American.

    It's time that we start acting like Americans again, and stop acting like we are courtiers worshipping at the throne of high officers, be they D's or R's. Be an American, not a courtier. Be skeptical of your elected. And take responsibility for your country. If they fail we fail, and that's why we will hold them accountable. That's why we need power, because without it we cannot prevent failure and drive the changes we all know we so desperately need.

    So take heed, blogosphere, let's get back to being Americans again. We are the people. We have a responsibility to act like it.The thing is that that power is earned, and right now the electorate, by and large, gets no respect from the elected. They try to play us like chumps, giving us bloviating speechifying and imperious poses while they do business as usual.


    The Republicans in power right now are just about the worst political ruling class in our country's history. Look at the deficit and debt. Look at the wars. Look at New Orleans. Look at the regressive bills passed over the past year. These folks are dangerous!

    But the Democrats have no spine. And that is largely because they do not have any sort of collective vision or cohesive purpose. The "big tent" of the Democratic Party has rendered it ineffective for over 20 years now.

    And the Party itself is trying to diffuse its caucus even more by backing more regressive politicians like Bob Casey, Jr., who just had to go on the record to let us all know that he thought Samuel Alito was just a fine judge, just fine. Can a Party build strength when it continues to work against its progressive base and undermine its progressive principles?

    Jeffrey Feldman couldn't help but notice the problem:

    Tim Kaine's speech, last night, while well-presented, demonstrated that the Democratic Leadership is making decisions that are almost completely detached from anything I recognize as the day-to-day political condition of this country--particularly the past two election cycles, setting up the scenario whereby the Democratic party runs in 2008 virtually the exact same race it ran in 2004, using the same professionals, the same strategies, the same metrics--and resulting in the same, dire outcome.

    For reasons I will elaborate in the extended post, I used to think that the netroots were working exclusively in the interests of the Democratic Party. Today--this morning, specifically--I now believe that we in the netroots need to start thinking about 'Our' gains in relation to 'Their' gains. This is a complicated step to take. It is risky and involves steps that, while I describe them, I do not fully understand how they should happen on the ground.

    But I believe, this morning, as a result of this week, that the future of our country depends on our willingness to start seeing ourselves--starting right now--as a distinct political entity in U.S. politics. And that means recognizing where we are in realistic terms, defining the gains we want to make and how to measure them, and building, building, building towards larger and larger possibilities. There seems to be no doubt about that. When it comes down to it, I think the largest political bloc in this country is the bloc that goes totally unrepresented by the elected officials of either party. The bloc that largely stays home and doesn't soil itself by endorsing the posers they're offered in the pseudo-choices offered up on election day.

    The bloc that believes that the government should largely leave people's private lives private.

    The bloc that believes that the government should protect people not just from crime, but from fraud, abuse, exploitation and depredations by anyone so-inclined, including multinational corporations.

    The bloc that believes that people should be treated equally.

    Feldman's analysis has some sharp observations:

    The Democratic Party has abandoned any effort at creating and defining a social experience of being a Democrat. It has given up. Instead, we have an increasingly isolated leadership that hires experts to launches plans--plans conceived in a private culture of celebrity consultants and society fundraising--in an effort to achieve their goals in our world. This will not change simply because we want it to.

    The netroots, by contrast, is steeped in a new kind of liberal politics as social experience. This new experience is build of routines, ideas, and a growing diversity of long-distance and face-to-face relationships. This new culture of netroots politics is as distinct from the culture of the Democratic leadership as the Democratic elite is distinct from the rest of the nation.What's more, the netroots -- at least the netroots that aren't just playing the DNC game -- more closely reflect the views of the people. After all, the netroots have roots.

    At least that's the theory.


    There are self-proclaimed "netroots" who have been bellowing at everyone who has dared express skepticism that culture-of-death Democrats like Bob Casey, Jr. and Tim Kaine deserve our support.

    And this leads to an area where I believe Feldman misses the mark:

    The Democratic Party currently competes with no other party in the marketplace of Liberal politics in the United States. This must change and the only way to change this is to create an entity--a branded entity--thereby allowing for mass identification with and support of the netroots. What form this will take remains to be seen, but it will need to be capable of circulating at economic, social and political levels. The netroots will not be a 'party' in the conventional sense, but also not a 'club' in the conventional sense. It will be somewhere in between, with the brand affixed to ideas, media as well as activities and places. I would submit that the Democrats are not competing in the marketplace of Liberal politics at all. In fact, they're still running from the "liberal" label, following in the frantic footsteps left by Michael Dukakis 18 years ago.

    And as long as the largest political blog continues its repeated attacks on liberal values and progressive politics and fails to get over its phobia of standing for something, I don't see much hope for any sort of truly progressive netroots gains in the 2006 elections.


    Like many people holding progressive views, I feel that I have no party representing me. There's no party that fights for the people -- or even talks about how we're doing as a country in terms of how the people are doing as people. There's no party that fiercely defends the civil and human rights of American citizens across the board.

    There's no party even talking the talk, let alone walking the walk.

    Feldman says:

    A few words about what I am not advocating, here. I am not calling for the netroots to leave the Democratic Party or to work for its downfall. I believe a party, as an institution, has valuable aspects that far outweight its component parts. I am not calling for an end to working with and for the Democratic Party, neither at the level of campaigns or broader efforts to strengthen the party. All those efforts most continue. I am not calling for increased hostility towards the Democratic Party. In fact, I am calling for the exact opposite. I am not calling for a departure from the 'people-powered politics' outlined in Jerome and Markos' new book. That vision is important and it is within every aspect of what I describe above.While I would agree with the first part -- if it's possible, it would be much better to reclaim the Democratic Party than to ditch it for an untested, unmonied, unknown third party -- I do not think that Jerome and Markos' anti-progressive, conservative-Dems-or-bust agenda is the way to pursue it.

    Roots required

    The Democratic Party is not working because it no longer stands for traditionally Democratic ideals. It no longer defends liberal values. It no longer advocates progressive policies. The Democratic Party has been the "go along to get along" party. And that is not going to change as long as Democratic voters are attacked by Kos and others for caring about their civil and human rights, or wanting to breathe clean air, or demanding fair and open elections.

    If there's going to be a real netroots resurgence -- and make no mistake, it will be a resurgence -- then it will take roots. The netroots are about the people, and if there's no room for what the people believe, then the "netroots" is nothing but astroturf.

  • (10)
    N-now th-th-that that don't kill me
    Can only make me stronger

    The above lyrics to "Stronger" is a widely held moral belief that what does not kill someone makes them stronger. They are admirable lyrics that perfectly coincide with the title of the song. Here's where things get hairy:

    Let's get lost tonight
    You can be my black Kate Moss tonight
    Play secretary im the boss tonight.

    Why do the producers of this video use Cassie, who is a talented singer in her own right, represent the "black Kate Moss" Kanye is referring to in the lyrics? If you watch the video in it's entirety, Cassie, who is a gifted singer... is reduced to eye candy. Check out the latest cover of Complex Magazine.

    By the way, "Complex is a metropolitan men's style/lifestyle magazine founded by Marc Ecko in 2002. The publication offers mainstream readers insight into the latest trends in urban America's niche cultures, such as streetwear, sneaker culture, hip hop, and graphic art." [link]

    Complex always has two different covers. One cover is a male superstar and the other side is a female superstar. In the above magazine covers, Kanye's title reads, "Guest editor Kanye West talks style with T.I." while the other side of the magazine cover with Cassie reads, "Kanye West gets Cassie to Reveal all Inside".

  • (9)

    Let me say that again: Women's Rights ARE Human Rights

    You want to know why we focus so much on abortion? WOMEN DIE IN CHILDBIRTH! Do you get that? It's not equal to smoking pot, or any other thing that is prohibited. It is not just a matter of freedom, it is a matter of life and death. Without access to safe, legal abortions WOMEN DIE. Sick women die in childbirth; healthy ones die from botched operations, unsanitary conditions, COAT HANGERS. You want to cry about racial prejudice but think it's alright to enslave women? What kind of dimwitted, half-assed, logic is that?

    It's our work that is underpaid and underappreciated. Those are OUR children dying in your wars, our husbands, sons, brothers. At least men aren't systematically raped in war, or in life. At least men can walk away from an unwanted pregnancy.

    Left Wing bigots are the worst kind of hypocrites. All these guys want to pretend they're so much better than Republicans, then turn around and act just like them. I'm sick of these entitled white boys, and I, for one, won't give another link to any of them until they get a clue.