July 16, 2007
We Still Can't Get Our Act Together
Arthur Silber contrasts the organized conservative outcry that stopped the immigration bill with progressive fecklessness, especially on Iran:
Over the last few years, I have never heard anything similar on the liberal shows. Never. Not about the Military Commissions Act (see both "'Thus the World Was Lost'" and "America, Now Without the Revolution"), not about the Roberts, Alito or Gonzales nominations, not about ending the immoral and criminal occupation of Iraq -- and not about preventing an attack on Iran.
Not on any of these issues. Never. Nor have I ever seen a similar kind of effort on the liberal and progressive blogs. Never. Every once in a while, the liberal blogs will urge action on perhaps on a single day, maybe two -- and then the issue vanishes until some new development (not brought about by the bloggers themselves) might catapult it into public consciousness again. Such tactics are sporadic, severely limited in time and scope, very infrequent, and completely ineffective.
I hesitate to say that the conservatives who worked so hard to defeat the immigration bill are "serious" about their ideas. That word grants them a stature that is entirely undeserved, particularly since the reasons for their opposition are so viciously ignorant. But I will acknowledge that they care about their ideas and that they are committed to them, in a way that it appears liberals and progressives are not.
Posted at July 16, 2007 02:24 PM
Wait, what? The dems didn't organize and defeat social security privatization? The liberal blogosphere can't organize, commit, and see things through in electoral politics? The right-wing blogs have one successive issue and they're somehow shaming the liberal blogosphere?
The blogosphere can galvanize and organize and focus issue awareness into policy, but largely the blogs disseminate information. They're a counter to institution-backed narratives. The blogs have had some mild success against institutional policies, but mostly the blogs are forced to fight empty words with meritorious ideas.
Interfering with the President's Foreign Policy prerogatives is a different game entirely than the one the blogs play. Let's not forget, Arthur Silbur is calling out Digby to take on the DOD, Congress, Halliburton, GE, etc etc. That's a tall fucking order for someone who's been blogging since (2003?).
For what it's worth, there's a million issues out there. It's pretty overwhelming, and it's disheartening that we can't coalesce into an efficient, singletary-purpose machine like we ascribe to our political opposition. But the reality is these issues do get attention, all of them, we just don't respond with the fervor and froth that xenophobic nationalists respond with. you may consider that a bug, I consider it a feature.
And if Arthur Silbur or Mr Schwarz here thinks the blogosphere didn't respond with rage over the military commission act, well, maybe someone’s immediate interests precludes them from full disclosure. Liberals were ready to leave the party en masse after the Commissions Act, but then the Libby affair finalized, the DOJ scandal happened, and some other stuff happened, and people were brought back into the fold by the lack of alternative + red meat/schadenfreude of republican collapse.
YOU THINK THAT'S TOUGH, you should see what one has to go through just to get folks to make a phonecall. (Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 discuss IMPEACHMENT)
if you want to stop the iran attack, you have a little over six months. iraq isn't secure enough yet to contain local blowback but it will be by winter.
Lefty blogs spend most of their time huffing over repub sins and sinners, instead of getting behind issues (impeachment, single payer, out of Iraq now, etc.) or a candidate that champions these issues (say Kucinich). They, just like the msm, go on about who has raised the most money or how the msm is trivializing one of the dem top three rather than demanding that those at the top come out unequivocally for left positions. No matter what talent these bloggers have for polemic, it is never used to consistently take on the dems for their failures or hold the leadership to account by throwing their support behind the only real progressive, Kucinich. Few bloggers lead, most just kvetch.
btw, Mike, most of the things you enumerate have been proposed or endorsed by Kucinich at one time or another.
Unh-hunh, john in california.
But Kucinich isn't 'serious'. (See my message above. Again.)
Unh-hunh, john in california.
But Kucinich isn't 'serious'. (See my message above. Again.)
Paraphrase (top comment): "They can't insult us! We are the meritorious liberal blogs!"
"Interfering with the President's Foreign Policy prerogatives is a different game entirely than the one the [American left's] blogs play."
That's the whole point. This impending war is the single most important issue affecting America at the moment, and Arthur Silber is absolutely right. Calls to action, with ideas and phone numbers, should be at the top of every "progressive" blog.
There are enough of "us" that we could really hold the elites' feet to the fire, that we could make them scared to follow their monstrous predilections through, if only we put forth the effort. Or at least make it very well-noticed.
Most Americans are sick of Iraq, but they don't follow the blogs or any of that. What voices do they hear besides the media's line, straight from the the houses of power, that Iran is evil, and a military conflict is unavoidable because of their very bad behavior? There is virtually no discourse about this on a national level. Most people have no clue there is even dissent. Maybe we should do something about that.
Mike, I did get your point the first time. I just wanted to emphasize that K. has been trying to steer the dems in a progressive direction but, though those considered 'serious' have ignored him, it doesn't mean the rest of us should fall in line.
Reid has finally decided to call the repub bluff (sorta, 30 hrs worth) because the dem approval rating has tanked, not because the result will be an actual withdrawl from Iraq. K. has maintained for as long as the US has been there that the only way tinpot will get out is if the dems quit cutting checks for the war. This resolution will do nothing, yet the lefty blogs are all "go get 'em " like it will make a difference. I can only conclude that lefty blogs, for the most part, are more interested in the dems scoring political points than actually leaving Iraq.
Even if one finds Kucinich personally repulsive, (and I do not)for strictly tactical reasons, one would think he would have more support. Isn't that how the fundies have gained so much influence w/ the repubs? Repubs know that if the fundies sit it out they will lose. The dems feel no such pressure from 'progressives'. A lot of dems blame Nader for Gore's loss in FL, but there wouldn't have been any support for Nader if Gore had been just half as 'liberal' in 2000 as he is now. And it would have taken very little, maybe a few words on economic justice and, Heavens to Betsy, Global warming. Instead he ran as Billy Boy w/o the sex. The current crop of 'serious' candidates are all spouting Clinton redux, therefore, even if cynically, knowing that in the end they will vote for one of the 'main chancers', wouldn't it push the front runners toward the left if lefty bloggers came out strong for Kucinich?
But with regard to the following observations, I am not concerned with why opponents of the immigration bill fought it so vehemently: I am focused only on the fact that they opposed it so strenuously, and that their opposition had the intended effect. I've mentioned that I listen to far too much talk radio, in part because I don't have television. I listened to a number of conservative talk radio shows during both recent periods when the immigration bill came up for consideration: Limbaugh, Hannity, Al Rantel here in Los Angeles, Mark Levin, and several others. On both occasions, all of the shows talked about the immigration bill all the time. They discussed what they viewed as its inevitable awful results, why it was "unAmerican," how it would destroy our country, and included the other standard rightwing talking points on this subject.
Hey, it could be as simple as a bunch of us progressives are also closet racists that are deeply conflicted about the immigration mess and were secretly rooting for our ugly cousins, the Republicans on that one.
With regard to the 97-0 vote -- I was looking at the mirror the other day and wondering -- "Why do I look so fat? I say I do the right stuff whenever people ask me if I do."
It must be the freaking mirror.
Arthur Silber IS right .. and it is painful to watch from outside your country as the intention to attacjk Iran and contain dissent on the continental USA continues to take (more) shape.
Not only painful, but very distressing .. why can a few hundred rich white privileged folks hold everyone else (and that includes much of the rest of the world, IMO) hostage ?
It doesn't really seem possible, yet there it is ... unfolding before your very eyes.
i would venture that a reason the republican base is more aggressive is that it's they who believe in the government and the country as a real thing that has a place in the world, in history, and in heaven, even. the center-left that owns the rest sees the country less distinctly and certainly doesn't feel that it has a heart or mind. they see a machine that one operates better or worse. this has a terrible effect on the ability of their constituents to act according to their beliefs.
the situation in congress is ugly for the marginal democratic majority. the courts are against them, the executive is against them, the press is against them. nobody but them believes in the kind of honor that held the federal government together for ages. if i had to say, "this is why the US is watching itself head over another war cliff, that has no visible bottom," i think i would say that people are watching a proud and historic institution being eaten. there's nothing in the manual for this situation.
One look around and it's plain to see who sets the total agenda in this country: The voters who send pro-business, pro-theocracy, pro-empire, anti-Constitutional zealots to Washington, D.C.. The mass media, being capital-based, belongs to them. It's their echo chamber. Liberals ceded that ground a long time ago. We don't even try to compete against it.
But, hey, we've got The Blogosphere, where people who already know they're continuously being lied to can go and read all about it.
Democratic politicians don't even have to be brought to heel by The Right, as they have been more than adequately leash-trained over the last quarter century or so. It's always 1980 at the DNC, where "populism" is synonymous with "Reaganite lynch mob" instead of universal healthcare or education for all or a living wage.
Democratic voters - like the people they annoint as public servants - know damn good and well who owns America and, despite all the bitching, accept it unconditionally. Read Huffpo or DKos or Americablog and there is never a shortage of self-described "progressives" willing to make excuses for the latest "betrayal" by the national party. It's always The media would crucify them for demanding immediate withdrawal and They don't have the votes to impeach and [Fill-in-the-blank] would just give Karl Rove ammunition. Feeble, feckless and all too ready to wait for that magical political pendulum which exists only in the minds of "moderate" or "left-leaning" Pollyannas who expect something for nothing.
I regret to inform you The Democratic Faithful are ticket-takers and rubber-stampers. By day's end, they do what they're fucking told. In the Good Cop, Bad Cop routine, they are absolute suckers for The Good Cop. Democrats don't make demands because they are unwilling to look any further than the next election. There is no vision. How could there be? Contrary to the turbo-posting lefty masses, there isn't even a Progressive Movement, just as is there is no Anti-War Movement. Social movements are so Sixties. God forbid today's Democrats should ever be associated with anything from The Sixties - what, with history being re-written and all.
It took me waaay too long to catch on that Democratic politicians are pussies because the people who elect them are pussies. Today's Democrats are best represented by Ward & June Cleaver. What would the neighbors think? is always the paramount concern.
Democrats en masse won't lend support to Kucinich or any other candidate who espouses the values they claim to hold. They're too terrified of being photographed next to some sandal-wearin' kid with a spliff in one hand and a "Free Mumia" sign in the other. Nevermind that Republicans don't give a shit if the fuckin' Grand Dragon of the KKK shows up at the RNC's "big tent." It's nothing a wink and a nudge can't resolve.
What if Kucinich gets photographed taking a ride in a tank donning a large and goofy-looking helmet? Why, everyone who supported him will end up looking like douche bags! Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy.
the bought & paid for Handjob Crew at Washington Week In Review.
Yes, the deck is stacked against anything and anyone to the left of Fred Thompson. The Right owns the deck. And with that deck, it sets the terms of faux-debate because it is corporate, religious and xenophobic. They - not liberals - are the True Believers dwelling among us. Everybody knows American politics is all about that Dolla Dolla Bill, Y'all - and, sad but true, the butter saturating political bread comes from corporate cows which don't give an anachronistic term like "the public good" a thought except to oppose it. The problem is that everyone who knows this accepts as an incontrovertible truth that it will - or, worse, must - forever remain that way.
Democratic politics is a top-down operation. "What are they gonna do? Vote Republican?" say the brainiacs at the DNC. They've got your number, Progressives. When the bell rings, you will pull the lever for whatever cookie is offered - and if it's made from the grist of conveniently forgotten corpses, oh well, the Republican is worse.
Gotta be pragmatic.
Gotta keep writin' those letters to the editor.
Gotta keep hollerin' in the same deaf ears.
Awwww, look at the those fringe lefties. They're so cute when they're mad.
Corporate theocratic xenophobes are not afraid to wield torches, pitchforks and an arsenal of disproportionate resources when their representatives don't listen and act in accordance with the Little Pecker Syndrome which defines that particular consituency. And when the time comes for such unpleasantries, you may have noticed they don't do much hand-wringing.
Nice, Arvin. So we should act like a mob, you say? Never! How, then, could our virtue remain intact?
What are Democratic voters - not to mention the progressives accustomed to not having any political representation - prepared to do when faced with systematic, institutional betrayal? After the requisite bloggy indignation and an hour or two in the drum circle, you aren't going to do jack shit.
And that ain't no secret. Especially at Democratic National Headquarters.
"iraq isn't secure enough yet to contain local blowback but it will be by winter."
It's odd to me that people think blogs are the leaders on any of this. Silber obviously doesn't spend enough time watching Lou Dobbs, who comes on every afternoon/evening on every cable system in the U.S. on CNN, spouting his anti-immigrant rhetoric. He led the anti-immigration-bill movement, not some pissants like LGF. What is the lefty equivalent? Democracy Now! is probably the best well-distributed lefty show, and it (wisely) doesn't get hung up promoting specific issues. Other than that, there is almost no left mass media. Blogs of either side preach to the converted and the curious. Talk radio, especially on the AM and satellite bands, fills the vast void between home and work, between stops on the highway, between clients for the millions of people who sit in their cars all day, and it even wakes millions of people up in the morning. If people want to get on a high horse about how other lefties in the U.S. aren't doing enough, how about this: Why doesn't the Pacifica network own at least one huge AM signal, the kind of Salt Lake City- or St. Louis-based signal that could cover a million square miles with something more substantive than traffic and weather together on the 8s or the latest from around the major leagues? I have never actually made the map I meant to make in 2000, but it struck me at the time that the only media market in Florida to give any real votes to Nader was Tampa Bay. That was also, I'm pretty sure, the only place in the state with Democracy Now on the air. Not that I want a big fight about whether a Nader vote is good or bad. I am using this to demonstrate that there may be real-world effects of the media landscape. (It would be worth mapping that show's signal and regressing for effects against other political variables.)
Kvetching about bloggers is a good way to make perfectly nice niche players get annoyed and quit (see Billmon, though no, I don't know for sure that he quit because of complaints) but isn't a very effective way to make change. If you're a writer, write. If people like your message and your writing, they'll go to your blog. If you happen to have any other organizational skills, perhaps it would make sense to spend time building more of a mass media that supports what you believe in. Even just donating to the better NPR shows is probably useful, though talk about a media outlet that doesn't want to be seen with the smelly kid in combat boots.
Um, 'you'. Fumblefingers.
Our 'deep' (read: "fundamental") political problem(s) stem(s) from the fact that our 'established' (read: "entrenched" and/or "corrupt") political parties aren't really interested in doing anything that would actually 'improve' (read: "make more open, more representative and/or more democratic") our politics--because that would weaken their position(s). And because they and their patrons benefit (quite handsomely, thank you) from our chronically dysfunctional political status quo. Lip-service from this or that minor player notwithstanding, those folks and the interests they carry water for are the only ones actually 'at the table'--in the White House, in Congress, at the Pentagon, in the various regulatory agencies, and in the courts. So, when political push inevitably comes to political shove, they (naturally) think of good ol' 'just us' and find a way to dance with them what brung 'em. It's a virtuous cycle from their perspective--above and beyond patriotism, principle and/or party.
Truth is and odds are, if you only knew what they only know, you'd act the same way.
Hey, wait a minute. The immigration bill was a messy compromise of competing interests, held together with duct tape and string. In the end, all it took to kill it was a minority of Senators to defeat a vote to cut off debate.
Now compare that with the Iraq war funding issue, where the Dems needed a super-majority to overcome a Bush veto of their funding+withdrawal timetable bill.
I've done my share of criticism of Dem leaders, but anyone who wants to compare the right-wing "success" of defeating the immigration bill with recent Dem "defeats" should at least acknowlege that there's a difference between 40 and 67.
Now look at the likely U.S. atack on Iran. In Bush's mind, all that's needed to start the bombing is a phone call to his Generals. He doesn't think Congressional authorization is required, so what should I, as your hypothetical liberal blogger, be telling my readers to do? Call your Congresscritter and ask her to vote "no" on the Iran war authorization bill that's not before the Congress?
Sure, let's demand the Dems pass a bill prohibiting any funding for a war on Iran (as was done with Nixon's invasion of Cambodia), but can we at least agree that it's harder to initiate legislation than it is to stop legislation?
I was going to say exactly what hedgehog said. Right-wingers don't succeed because they're more committed, or form better mobs, or get down-and-dirty and don't just whine, as some have suggested in this thread. They succeed because they have prominent media personalities leading the charge. On the one hand, you have 100,000 people in a stadium yelling "FUCK YEAH!" when the speaker asks "Am I right?" And on the other hand, you just have 100,000 people in a stadium, milling around and talking with each other. It does not EVEN begin to compare.
As to why there are no prominent progressive media personalities with the kind of access that O'Reilly, Limbaugh or Glen Beck have, I'll let you figure that one out.
I see New Haven is going to sell ID cards to the Illegals. Show ya, somebody gots some sense. BTW, have you called Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and discussed IMPEACHMENT, today?
Yo Arvin, never seen it better put! So OK, great, we know what the problem is but will you ( and Mike) associate yourselves w/ a Solution? Will you Name drop Dennis da K in your posts? Even if you can't stand the guy (and I think that if a guy at his age w/ his money adnd looks can get a wife that hot, and smart!, he already got more than he deserves, but anyway..) wouldn't it be worthwhile to make those blog readers that H./O./E. have hired, report that there seems to be a Kucinich surge? You don't have to be sincere or expect electorial success. Wouldn't it be worth supporting him just to piss them off? And just maybe give them a little scare? Toward the left?
i want that AM radio! especially for news, but anchored and annotated. i said before that i thought it was a way better investment than the TV channel those canadian folks are trying to put together.
my top reason for lack of fiery leftishy media leadership is... mmmmm... mmmm... absence of support network. the rightie talk shows are provided with a lot of material by a fairly radical central republican operation. for anti-wingnuts, there's plenty of good material, much not wonkish, but collection, massage, and redistribution for saturation seems missing. that not just a lack of money, it's a lack of socially-oriented core personal anger of the "i'm going to fix this dammit" variety. you have to want to run the thing to effectively fight off horrible contenders.
"iraq isn't secure enough yet to contain local blowback but it will be by winter."
some security standards don't include the safety o of iraqi-type people.
oh, and scapegoats, self-referential lies, and backstabbing make for awesome radio.
First, bravo Arvin, many times over.
Second-- I agree with the commenter, I think it was hedgehog, who noted that Lou Dobbs and his corporate-based phoney-baloney populism were probably a lot more instrumental than right wing blogs in stirring up opposition to the immigration bill.
That being said, even though lefty blogs aren't nearly as potent a force for change as the various bigshot lefty bloggers would like to think they are, Arvin(and others)are right insofar as they've already conceded the fight, many times over, to the post-Constitutionalist right.
If I(well, we) end up with the two miserable choices of either Guiliani or Hillary Clinton choosing the next supreme court justice, I guess I'd prefer Hillary. Does that mean I want her to be president? Oh, hell no.
so it's decided. we attack iran and whatever follows is well deserved.
Arvin Hill: Man, That was BEAUTIFUL. Have you called Nancy Pelosi @ 1-202-225-0100 and told her something like that? When I call Nancy Pelosi I just say " IMPEACH The President and Vice President over the wiretap thing or over the Libby thing or over the yellowcake thing because I'm NO GOOD on the telephone. SOMETHING LIKE YOUR POST would SURELY sway anyone and I'm sure she would want to hear your opinion and would RESPECT IT.
We had our chance and that was the Soviet Union. But they were "communist" and we were too chicken shit/ignorant to defect there to help them and destroy these Slave Masters 5o years off the Plantation.
Some Russian people had no trouble doing it for them.
Grow up people. We have to KILL our enemy, for he will never suffer us. At least Hail to the Chimp understands that. Cowards all of us! We deserve our shit stain of a king!
Speaking of Feds, they're notorious for expressing sentiments congruent with "Posted by at July 18, 2007 09:07 AM" Not that entrapping disgruntled youths in illegal schemes isn't important - no doubt, RICO charges against teenagers will look extremely impressive beneath the "Pepperdine" section of your impressive CV - but we're trying to have a conversation here.
* * * * * * *
Mike, do you truly believe Nancy Pelosi gives a flying fuck what you or I or any citizen thinks if they're not bearing a hefty check for the DNC or her own campaign? That phone calls and articulate, reasoned pleas can wring out some humanity from morally bankrupt politicians with vast personal fortunes and, by proxy, billions of dollars, invested in the status quo? There is a reason why millionaires run the American government on the front-end and the back-end and every point in between, and the reason is because they are adept at convincing voters that everyone is in this together. That, of course, is a lie. They get the pie and we get a knobby fucking boot on our throats. She cares not one whit whether you or I live or die, Mike. Nor do her esteemed colleagues.
* * * * *
A pedestrian is walking down the road and sees a car broken down on the shoulder. Several people are gathered around it. Being a compassionate person with a modicum of mechanical ability, the pedestrian offers assistance.
"What's the problem?"
"Got a spare?"
"Yeah, but there's something funky about this jack. We aren't doing it right or something."
The pedestrian checks it out. "I hate to tell you this" he says, "but the jack ain't funky. It's designed to function exactly like you thought. Except for one problem: The piece that goes right here is missing, and this jack will never work without it."
Everyone huddled around the pedestrian nods in agreement.
The pedestrian walks away and someone in the crowd shouts "Hey, how 'bout a little help here?"
The pedestrian stops, turns around and says "What's the problem?"
"I already told you, man. We got a flat tire!"
* * * * * *
That's what just happened here. It happens pretty much everywhere I go.
People refuse to believe the fucking jack is broken. We can survive at the point of collective misfortune for quite some time. But not indefinitely. Atrophy creeps. Death advances.
Sometimes, we just have to walk.
I couldn't agree more Arvin....
I couldn't agree more. Josh ;)
And Mike is a hopeless idiot, too.
Since when did the Feds WANT people defect to the Soviet Union? What discussion were you having? When was it last that you actually READ what someone wrote instead of skimming through to the parts where you could find fault? Are you as much of an asshole as you are a moron? Inquiring, feeble minds such as mine would like to know...
Arvin Hill: As for what I think calling Ms. Nancy Pelosi @ 1-202-225-0100 will do, is bring IMPEACHMENT, which is MY goal in posting it. What Madam Speaker may believe, think or feel would be best answered by her. Call her and ask.
Well, sure, call yer congresscritter. After all, it worked on the whole Alito and Roberts thing. Calling your congresscritter ALWAYS works.
Sure it does.
Prove it doesnt!
AlanSmithee: So how much did you have invested in those phonecalls?
I'm assumeing that you're saying that you have called before.
50 cents? Say you called EVERY BUSINESSDAY for 30 businessdays= 15 bucks, You don't have 15 bucks to donate to the IMPEACHMENT OF THE VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? Is not AMERICA worth 15 bucks and 30 minutes of your time?