Chris Bowers Trivializes Netroots

Thursday, July 13, 2006

There was a surprisingly capable overview of the latest kerfuffle in the Daily Kos family of sites on Fox's website. It focused largely on Maryscott O'Connor's magnum opus "Something is Rotten in Blogmark." I read the piece over the weekend and thought it very restrained. I also found the outrage it inspired hilaaarious. But Fox used the piece to point out the increasingly apparent hypocrisy on the Daily Kos.

Hypocrisy in an organization is an awful thing for a devoted team member to recognize, but even harder to admit. To her credit, O'Connor expanded on another obvious contradiction — Kos's support for the seemingly moderate former governor of Virginia, Mark Warner, implicitly due to Armstrong's consulting arrangement with the presumptive 2008 presidential candidate — while elaborating on the Hackett affair.

"[A]bandoning Hackett, signing on with the candidate anointed by the DLC, seemed in complete contradiction to the ideas and ideals behind Markos's book," she wrote..

Sounds like real world Machiavellian politics have crashed the gates, doesn't it? Yet, O'Connor is not the only Kossack having such doubts. The day before she posted her personal revelations, Richard Silverstein wrote another blog — this one conspicuously not posted at DKos — entitled "Don't Cross the 'Cult of Kos' or You'll Live to Regret It." In it, Silverstein raised a very important question:

"[H]ow does a political blogger who endorses candidates at his site create a transparent environment when he may also be consulting for — or have some other undisclosed relationship with — some of these same candidates?" Silverstein asked.

How indeed, Richard?

Many of the issues raised by the Fox piece have been raised on this site by me and in visitor comments. I consider them serious enough to write about them. But MyDD's Chris Bowers dismisses the whole thing as a "flame war" and mocks Fox for its "obsession with the progressive netroots." So, Chris, do you want the progressive blogosphere to be relevant or not? Is this citizen journalism and involvement in the greater political process, or is it just a bunch of geeks playing around on a message board? It's getting to be high time to decide.

I find this kind of schizophrenia particularly ludicrous when it comes from VIBs like Bowers, who want the blogosphere to be a vehicle for political change, an aggressive watchdog to nip at the heels of a dozing mainstream media, and financially viable. When bigger players in the media start to pay attention, that's actually a good thing. But it can be a bit uncomfortable if your house is not in order, and Kos's house is not in order.

I also find it deeply ironic that the blogosphere, a grassroots answer to journalism and political activism, routinely silences and marginalizes the teeming masses who make it up. Maryscott seems concerned as well about the bully tactics used to intimidate dissenters.

There is a sort of groupthink, Lord of the Flies kind of behaviour at DKos over certain issues that absolutely makes me nauseated.

So come on Chris. Condescend to me a little more about how my issues and concerns are the stuff of typical "flame wars." Otherwise I met get uppity and begin to think my values and opinions matter.


Simon Malthus said...

i'm glad you brought this up. i came to Bowers' post via an approving mention by Booman.

this bit is particularly telling:

As user ID #123 (never trust any user ID over 10,000!) I can also tell any "outsider" that s/he really has no idea what s/he is talking about, and that the diary in question is an extremely minor incident in the history of Dailykos that will not damage the blog in the slightest. In fact, with the attention it has brought, it will probably only help it.

the VIBs really don't seem to get that it is their insularity and arrogance that's coming back to bite them, not merely the dergangement of their opponents.

i'm really growing tired of the kososphere.

Simon Malthus said...

a related bit from a diary of mine on BT:

To give of one's perspective while remaining open to having it changed is just good manners.

I think DailyKos is well demonstrating where an absence of good manners gets you: eventually, if the condition persists long enough, into the pages of Newsweek. It might, in other words, make you popular and powerful, but it'll never make your fair and just and honorable. These seems exactly the great contest within civilization, and so history.

this contest, in fact, is the question that gives birth to Plato's Republic, in the form of the question: Which is more powerful, justice or injustice?

i find it particularly interesting that the critique of 'justice,' as nothing more than the euphemized interests of those in power, was already well-articulated 2400 years ago. we also, with the arc of Socrates' life, have long had an image of what happens to those figures who remind those in power that there is a difference between their interests and justice proper - no matter how reasonably. in fact, the more reasonable, the more likely they are to invoke abuse.

this, as i see it, is what's going on in the kososphere, with the advent of real political power. the powers that have emerged are being confronted with their deviation from the just; and they are reacting pretty much as those with power always react.

Anonymous said...

Political struggles are almost invariably won by those who are nasty, shrill, single-minded (even fanatical), and hit below the belt. The only example I can think of in which the "good guys" won is the American civil rights movement. Usually, those who can yell the loudest and wield the biggest clubs are the ones who win, not the ones who have the best ideas and most pure intentions.

In other words, I have seen the future of the blogosphere and it is DailyKos, unless DailyKos is brought down by a Congressional or Federal Election Commission investigation that reveals that Mr. Moulitsas has, in fact, been involved in wrongdoing. If DailyKos disappeared tomorrow, though, another site identical in tone and purpose would take its place. How do I "know" this? To be Rumsfeldian, I know it without knowing how I know it, but I do know that I know it. Know what I mean? Those possessing high minds and noble purposes need not apply.

(If you think I'm a burned-out old cynic, you're wrong. I'm a burned-out middle-aged cynic. So there!)

So far critics have suspicions of wrongdoing by Mr. Moulitsas on several counts but no solid proof, such as Mr. Moulitsas' quick flip from being a Hackett supporter in Ohio to being a Brown supporter...I'm sure it's merely a coincidence that Mr. Moulitsas had a change of heart less than 48 hours after Jerome Armstrong signed on as a consultant to the Brown campaign.

I have come to the conclusion that the blogosphere is a vehicle for self-expression and emotional venting but not for political change. The sites that are honest are simply too small in readership to have any perceptible impact on our very big American nation. Propaganda kicks honesty's ass every time, I'm sorry to say.

As for the larger sites--well, there really is only ONE site, and it is Think of it as an Internet version of a 1-800 number for donating funds to candidates and you will understand the purpose of that particular site. All else is window dressing, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I am the Great and All Powerful Kos!

You see, I don't need to prove that Mr. Moulitsas is taking money under the table to endorse Candidate X because what I know he is doing is bad enough: he speaks like a progressive most of the time to lure people onto his site, but in fact when pushed to it, as he did when "Kossacks" complained about a sexist "pie fight" ad, Moulitsas reveals his true origins as a Reagan conservative and center-right libertarian whose sole quarrel with Bush is that they've mismanaged the occupation of Iraq. (Moulitsas responded to complaints about the sexism of the ad by insulting the "sanctimonious women's studies groups" who weren't going to tell him how to run HIS blog!)

Moulitsas would gladly throw a woman's right to control her own body overboard, for example, if he thought doing so would win the Democrats ONE Senate or Congressional seat (which is, in fact, what he is advocating Democrats do with the Senate candidacy of Bob Casey in Pennsylvania).

Just imagine what Moulitsas would give up to get a Democratic MAJORITY.

In short, it doesn't matter if Moulitsas or Armstrong are "dirty" or doing anything unethical or illegal (if Moulitsas was proven to have taken payola tomorrow, it wouldn't deter the loyalty of 99% of his followers one bit). It's what they're already doing--manipulating the so-called "Netroots" to get them to funnel cash to candidates that Moulitsas and Armstrong favor--that's enough to make them just a couple of glorified online ward-heelers.

Simon Malthus said...

wow... that is scathing.

are you sure you're only middle-aged?


Anonymous said...

Just tired of being hustled and manipulated, Simon, and especially tired of watching other people willingly--no, make that eagerly--participate in their own disenfranchisement and exploitation.

Honestly, do you disagree with anything I've written?

Anonymous said...

Oh and one more thing...were you aware that there are a lot of very prolific commentators on DailyKos who are either paid by Democratic lobbying firm or are Congressional staffers?

My source is a former "insider" at DailyKos who had a falling out with the Kosfather, but at one time was privvy to the IP addresses of commentators (and in some cases, their "real world" identities).

Ever wonder how certain people at DailyKos have the time to apparently do little else but comment on that site, and to enforce certain "talking points"? They're not all students, retirees, and stay-at-home parents, you know.

Simon Malthus said...

no, actually, i don't disagree with anything that you've said... in so far as i'm aware of it. my opinion of the kososphere isn't quite as hard as yours - not because i disagree with your assesment of the mainstream activity there, but because i think some good comes of it in spite of the dominant voices.

Simon Malthus said...

oh, and it doesn't surprise me that there are paid consultants and so forth. though of course i'm curious to know who in particular you're referring to, it doesn't really matter. in the first place i'm banned from dkos, and in the second place i wouldn't at this point (given that dkos has long - relatively - been recognized as an important battleground) assume anyone to be a mere concerned citizen.

hell, most of the 'concerned citizens' would love to find a way to get paid for posting. it's the holy grail of blogging. and fortunately we have Bushco and the Republican Noise Machine around to make shilling for any Dem seem relatively good.

Anonymous said...

And the good that comes from it is?

I guess that's like saying the voyage of the Titanic wasn't a total failure because up until the ship hit the iceberg, everybody was having a lovely time....

Simon Malthus said...

you're looking at is a single journey with a definite end. i'm looking at is as a process with integrative and disintegrative phases.

consider your titanic example: couldn't we apply this same attitude to life in general, given that we're all bound to die? we must, then, from your perspective, conclude that life is useless, because no matter what you do in the meantime, it always ends the same way.

Curmudgette said...

simon malthus wrote:

the VIBs really don't seem to get that it is their insularity and arrogance that's coming back to bite them, not merely the dergangement of their opponents.

Precisely. Are you publishing for the masses, taking advantage of the ability to turn the small press into something with a global reach, or are you a private club, preaching only to the converted and calling everyone else an outsider and a "newbie?"

this, as i see it, is what's going on in the kososphere, with the advent of real political power. the powers that have emerged are being confronted with their deviation from the just; and they are reacting pretty much as those with power always react.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. It's animal farm, baby. It's like I wrote a while back, of another one of these sites. Eventually they start re-enacting Woody Allen's "Bananas."

From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now... 16 years old!

Absolute power and all that. It's as predictable as the weather.

And Simon. Feel free to link to your stuff on BT or anywhere else. That way I don't have to dig, which I did. I peruse BT now and again, but I missed that one, as I'm sure I do many of your diaries. I did however catch your pantsing of There Is No Spoon. Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for interrupting the private conversation between you and the Curmudgette, Simon. Won't happen again!

Simon Malthus said...

what are you talking about?

my first two posts were, actually, to her, so it seems appropriate that she responded just to me.

our conversation isn't affected by that. i responded to you and you're totally free to respond to me.

you're free not to, as well, but it's entirely your choice.

Curmudgette said...

Anonymous said:

I apologize for interrupting the private conversation between you and the Curmudgette, Simon. Won't happen again!

Oh, for Christ's sake.