...but they blew it over Edwards/Marcotte. Check out all the blog posts - at Poor Man, Atrios, LGM, Edroso, this is even before Coulter's faggot comment. I'm talking about the business of who curses more, right or left. This was what was needed to combat Donoho when he was raging.
Edwards sold Amanda down the river when he admitted that he was offended by her old posts. I realize that it looked like a hard slog to admit you used the word "Christofascist" and still live, but that was the time to do it - the year before the actual campaign. This is the time to say that everybody talks dirty sometimes, sometimes in conversation you make your point that way, and whatever anybody says, blogging is not book writing. In formal terms it is a form of chat.
This is the year to say that all such fake scandals and questions are not going to be able to distract us. We don't care who the President screws and we don't care if the President uses bad language sometimes. More than that, pace Adam B, but the ability to talk FREELY is the key to the energy of the netroots. To think that blogginh is some kind of technological whizbang is an error. What it is, is a feeling that goes counter to the way interacting with the government makes you feel (tired). Blogging is the antidote to watching TV, which is why hardly anyone (but me) blogs without watching TV. You see something on TV and then you blog it to purify yourself...
The reason why everybody is landing on Coulter for doing the same thing she's done for years, the reason why everybody is suddenly out there backtracking to prove that the Right is just as foulmouthed as we are, is because we all feel the sudden loss OF OUR BALLS. Edwards said he was offended by Amanda's posts. How could she work for him after that?? I don't care if she comes up saying that's not how it was. What did he mean, he was offended? By her bad language?
We could have struck back at Donoho and we could have won respect and more strength for blogging. Instead we have a situation in which bloggers need to realize that this has happened, and we're close to a situation in which bloggers have to pass a mouthwash test to participate directly in campaigns. Just at the moment when Stoller and Bowers were doing their "Pay Us" campaign, too.
As for Obama - he is still feeling out his stump speech. He is more of an innocent than you think. Watch the entire raw video from Austin if you can get it from that TV station. He almost fell apart in the middle of that speech. I also think that Obama and his wife have retained a lot of personal power in the campaign - they're not like the candidates who crawl around begging the consultants to "do something".
As for that anti-Hillary commercial - I cannot imagine anyone thinking that was a real campaign commercial. Mrs. Clinton is a little stiff but she isn't Big Sister, come on. That was a graduate student project.
Giuliani appears to be doing well because he doesn't have to open his mouth. Once he has to start doing that - in public, not just at funders - he'll be sunk.
Rudy does not want to be President. he just wants to run for President for a while. He wants the money and the attention, but he's a sick man. McCain will be their nominee, or (if they pack it in) Romney - but by the time the election comes up, the story won't be who's gonna win, bu how will he get us out of this mess?
In other words we will have real problems to worry about.
As far as this talk about authoritarianism and what Republican people think, etc. - I thought Armando's use of that Nation of Dobson horseshit wa discredited enough. Matt and Chris appear to me to be image-blind. They can read (and cipher, too I reckon) but they can't SEE. I mean, look at how casually Stoller drops literally years of blogospheric CW off on poor Josh Marshall. For years everybody says they hate gays and love the nuclear marriage - now, whoops! Look out! It's tribalism (that's the one Digby and Poputonian are in love with). And you end up demonizing a group of people that are on the cusp of being approachable, who want help now.
It's cultural and social snobbery, I fear. It's just so bizarre to see Stoller slam the redstaters in a completely new way, as if making them for the long term punching bag they already are.
You could tell what you know about Mongiardo, then, since I didn't see Nickolas say anything about it.
And as far as Northup is concerned, she may think she wants to be governor, the governorship is definitely "averse to" her. The only way she could win is if the Democratic primary winner has a scandal after winning. When Chandler was running for the House seat he has now, McConnell put Alice Forgy up against him so HE would be sure to win, and stay out of the state. Anne Northup has zero name recog outside her old district.
The Republicans don't want the governor's chair anymore. Holding one chamber for insurance and continuing the high-level cooperation is better.
Apropos of nothing in particular - I was reading Atrios...why are YOU anti-religion, Matt Stoller? Were YOU raised to be?
McConnell will in all likelihood be re-elected in 2008 even if Kentucky goes for the Democrat in the Presidential race.
The main reason for this is that McConnell has what amounts to an understanding with major Kentucky Democrats. Just for example: Dan Mongiardo, the guy who almost stole Bunning's seat a couple of years ago, has for some reason accepted the second slot on a 2007 gubernatorial ticket with frequent loser Steve Beshear.
WTF? Why would Mongiardo not be the logical Dem candidate to run against McConnell? The Democratic Party doesn't seem to be encouraging him much.
McConnell was supposed to be the eminence grise that got Ernie Fletcher to run against Ben Chandler in 2003. Mitch has now ditched Ernie and may be supporting Anne Northup's insurgent candidacy - but the bottom line is that the Dems are a lock to retake the governor's chair in 2007. Northup doesn't want to be governor. She could be trying to expand her fund-raising pool for another House run, or she might be thinking about Bunning's Senate seat. But the meaning of her candidacy is to prevent Fletcher from raising enough money to buy the general election.
The only way to get Mitch out is to run the Senate AT HIM. Make his life as Minority Leader miserable. As it is, though, Teddy Kennedy's supposedly kick-ass speech a while back, about all the amendments the Republicans had lined up to prevent a vote on certain legislation, seemed a bit obtuse. It was obvious that the Minority Leader had provided his soldiers with adequate parliamentary ammunition. Teddy might as well have gone over to shake McConnell's hand. McConnell has already shown himself to be a better Senate manager than Frist ever tried to be.
Excess publicity is another way of hitting Mitch. He does seem to have entered into a "power marriage", and it's appropriate to discuss that.
By the way - the Blue Grass Report is continually referred to as this kick ass local blog. I realize Markos has a sort of first-dollar-I-ever-earned love for Ben Chandler and Mark Nickolas, but political analysts in Kentucky are structurally indistinguishable from race track touts. It's all about the competition. No one even pretends to have any idea how to manage the state government so as to benefit its population. I recently pleaded for some analysis of the status of the attempt to retake the Kentucky Senate - the sine qua non of progressive movement in the state - and got no response. Mark is not an activist (although he has adopted a lot of the Daily Kosish tribal language in his blog); he is a professional campaign manager. And the comments on his blog do not differ significantly from those found on the NBA Sportsline threads.
There's a lot of talk below. I couldn't make any sense out of some of it. Look, many experienced bloggers and analysts of legislative performance have written about Obama's policy proposals, and on his website there are white papers. It's early for him to be getting into specifics anyway.
So, first off, the people who say Obama has no specific proposals are wrong. But even if he was just talking about priorities, I wonder what some candidates and their supporters want. Should every Democratic candidate appear on one stage and say, we're gonna raise taxes?
That would pretty much fix the problem about specifics, but it might create other problems, worse ones. The campaigns are not about specifics at this point because you can't be sure what the state of the economy will be. You can't even be sure what it is now, since a lot of information is really being withheld.
I would like to pimp my long comment above. I forget to change the comment titles.
As for this comment title:
You have two or three levels at which the election is being contested. For the lower levels - state houses, Congress - you need rapid response because there can be separation between the national candidate narrative and the local or state guy.
As regards the national narrative - the Presidential candidate - everybody is still feeling the pain of Kerry's swiftboating. If you go back over the details - the fact that the swiftboating occurred after the big military show at the Dem convention, and at a time when convention dates caused a big hole in Kerry's financing - it all makes enough sense. The root cause was the calendar causing an imbalance of available money.
But you don't really understand what happened without the context. Under the Kennedy Rules (definition in my long post above), a republican doesn't have to be honest, just successful economically; but a Democrat has to be honest to the core, and voters found ways to doubt Kerry. Kerry's unnatural way of responding to questions about his faith had as much effect as the swiftboating, which really just stopped his momentum with veterans cold. It was during the debates that Kerry "won" that he lost. Election geeks don't seem to have figured that out yet.
Clinton fits awkwardly into this analysis because he was a minority President who won the country over only after several years as President. There was also an event in the first year of his Presidency. That was the year that disppointed Republicans really started to construct the VRWNM, the Mighty Wurlitzer.
Now, Kos has caused a sort of VLWNM to be constructed. But he knows that it can't be used to construct a narrative - only to destroy one. National leadership, however you might like to have a comptroller style President, in reality borders on the religious. If you go back through Presidential history, they're always trying to analyze it rationalistically, but they always have to ignore a ton of emo activity. People give Johnson credit for the Great Society programs, but LBJ himself would admit that it was the spirit of dead Jack that fueled the whole thing.
I understand what counterattacking is, and why you do it. And since that sort of instinct is something that Democrats learned pretty recently, it might seem the heighth of foolishness not to simply perfect the techniques that won the last election.
The only case in which that would be FALSE is if there were a much better outcome available that an emphasis on counterattack might cause us to miss. And my contention is that everybody's perceptions, under Bush, got pulled way over to the right (please don't say anything about windows, that's not right). Pumping up people to be aggressive and getting them into attack mode was a good way of reviving their progressive instincts, getting them to think really lefty, instead of hedging toward the center all the time (which we often call triangulating, but that's really not a good description).
However, once you have freed yourself from the mindset that just can't believe the Dems can win (or get anything done if they do win) - and don't forget how common that was just a couple of years ago - once you kick free, why would you continue to be tense, to attack and attack. Let's be honest about something. Three or four years ago I was thinking about pouring gasoline on myself to break the Republican hypnosis. We were DESPERATE a few years ago. It didn't seem that anything would work, so we could try anything. Most people were still slaving away under the "9/11 changed everything" mindset.
In many ways we have to really thank Bush and Cheney for being stupid pols who just wanted to run a wag-the-dog little war and pay off their contractor buddies. Imagine how things could be! Suppose they HAD tried to do their jobs well instead of turning into Baron Harkonnen. Suppose they had won the frigging war! Would we, or would we not be up shit creek if Iraq had been pacified? A helluva lot of Democratic voters would not have complained if the price of gas really had gone down.
Up to the point of obvious and irreversible DEFEAT in the Iraq War, the political situation was frozen. Now spring is coming and the ice floes are moving faster and faster. People are still processing the defeat - which includes years of not calling it that.
But so here comes this candidate who can tap into the narrative-changing forces that drive history for a century or so at a time. The other candidates can never be anything but not-Bush. I think any Democrat can win, but I don't think any other Democrat can change the narrative, establish a bond of love with the American people.
This candidate could fail for any number of reasons. It's possible that his heart is not pure, that there is something in his past we don't see that would cause us not to trust him. It could all vanish like the dew.
If that happens, then you'll be back where you were a couple of months ago - where all the candidates are these closely calculated known quantities, almost the perfect experimental animals the geeks need. A few months ago I not only accepted that, I preferred it. I'd rather have government by committee than the personality cult. I'd rather vote for a platform than a candidate.
But all that has to go by the board when you have chance to re-establish the social contract under an exceptional and - I can say it - God-given leader.
A lot of you guys are leary of Obama's Christianity. If I wanted to be mean I would say, yeah, Edwards' Christianity or Hillary's Christianity are much better. But I understand the reaction. You don't want to beat Fundamentalism and then get up the next morning and its there again dressed in blue instead of red. For a lot of people Republicanism IS fundie-ism. A lot of people would like to hear a candidate come out swinging in favor of the Separation of church and state. Not that I think Obama will end up supporting faith-based payoffs.
Kos was right about the war being the ONE horse to ride in November. This emphasis did something a lot of things do in the blogosphere, it went too far. Now we have people writing things about how you have to be a troll to want to emphasize economic issues.
The problem with "the economy" is that it has to have a symbol in order to penetrate as an issue. The War was symbolized by deaths and bombings, by the nightly bad news. But the economy could acquire a symbol. It could be stocks crashing or companies going under - or people losing their homes through foreclosure. We don't know where the dam will break because we aren't really in control of our economic policy and haven't been for years.
So it is entirely logical for Obama or anyone else to simply study what's happening without giving everybody a book report every Monday. It's about trust. Obama has the best educational qualifications. He's spent more time in the trenches with ordinary people. Culturally, he's a wild card that apparently cannot be wrong-footed, as long as he continues to demonstrate love and affection for ordinary people.
I'm beginning to think the people understand the personality cult better than I used to.
We have a President who has been willing to set one group of Americans against another. Who has been willing to to set branches of government against each other. Who has done everything possible to weaken people's faith in the institutions of government.
And at that point faith not only comes into government but is indispensable. Accountability with regard to money should be easy - if it's not, it's a sign that the government is dishonest! But over and above all that there has to be a deep seated and practically religious faith that the government is for the benefit of the people. And the people establish and maintain this faith through the President, in a mediatized democracy. The President, one person, guarantees the reality of what people see on television, and also its benign nature. When people stop trusting the President, great change can occur.
I just wrote a whole long diary about this, Chris, and I would invite you to read it.
These apologies are not necessary in themselves. However, it's beneath a candidate to respond to people like Donoho. Instead of playing into the con and saying that he was "disgusted" by Amanda's post which made a joke using the metaphor of the Holy Spirit as a nut-load, Edwards, and the bloggers, should have said, IT WAS A JOKE. All Christians who have never told a dirty joke, step up to the mike. Otherwise SYFPH.
Again, on strict religious grounds, any priest or minister could have been brought forward to say that profane speech and dirty jokes have their place in life, and are not really sinful behavior. They might also have said that those who claim to speak for the Lord or the Church without permission, and who speak in error, are skating on far thinner ice than Amanda.
That would be it. Edwards comes out and says, there's a time and a place for everything, even a dirty joke. Nobody was attacked, least of all the Holy Spirit.
As far as Obama's remark was concerned, it looks like he's going to ride it out OK, because a lot of people think the soldiers' lives WERE wasted. In some ways I think it's OK to let Malkin and Co. flog that one. They're not reading it right.
The historical context is the most important thing here. Obama is driving the context, and this is why: voters are re-examining the Kennedy Rules.
The Kennedy Rules say that a Republican candidate doesn't have to be pure or even good, as long as he looks out for your money. But A Democratic candidate has to be a sweet angel.
These Kennedy Rules replaced a previous edition of Kennedy Rules that said that a Kennedy would lead America to the Promised Land.
They expired when Teddy Kennedy drove off a bridge. Don't get me wrong. I love Sen. Kennedy. He's been wonderful, but he did make a terrible mistake. Anybody could have made such a mistake, but the fact that he made it in that particular way meant not only that Ronald Reagan became President, but that the way voters judged the parties changed.
Now another change is offered to the voters. I think all the people who commented in that "What do Obama Supporters Want To Accomplish" thread, the literally hundreds of bloggers this past week who have attacked Obama based on a supposed lack of experience or concrete proposals - all these people are either obtuse or disingenuous. Because we all know perfectly well that if white papers won elections, Bush would still be clearing brush or whatever.
It is absolutely crystal clear that Obama represents an opportunity to establish a new relationship with voters. The reaction he is getting clearly blows past all concerns about white papers or Party ID or "apologies".
There is a part of the normal analytic work of this site that involves state parties, policy analysis, and a whole lot of geek stuff. And then there is the matter of symbolism and images. Which is more important in the election of an American President? You're not interviewing Obama for a fucking job, whatever you think. And the people who are (obtusely or disingenuously) hassling him about specifics of programs that cannot possible mean anything real at this point - they are simply continuing their momentum from the elections like good little physical objects. They were trained to attack, and they don't seem to be able to stop. So much for Party loyalty.
The truth of the matter is that people like Malkin and Donoho are able to slip their little nagging and annoying attacks in because Democrats are attacking each other. They sholdn't attack each other. It's perfectly OK to ask Obama a question about an issue. But that doesn't mean that every new Obama supporter - and we're all new - has the inside dope on Obama's positions. Anyway, it's more than clear that these attacks are intended to slow Obama's momentum. If all you want is a policy position, e mail the Obama website instead of presenting a divided front to Republican operatives. Why don't YOU tell us what YOUR Godlike candidate thinks, and then just note politely that Obama as not gone into detail. Effective as anything you're doing with your "Oh, God, he doesn't know what he's going to do!!" bullshit, and a whole lot more Party-friendly.
Responding to Donoho type attacks requires some understanding of culture, history, religion, and so on. There are things that turn out to be beyond the powers of election geeks to figure out. We do have a division of labor in most businesses in this country. How strange. In order to respond to Donoho's attack, you should consider its religious significance (it was in error).
As for Obama, I don't really feel comfortable anymore detailing his real strengths. I'm a little dismayed at the way putative Democrats think it's OK to just have at him from all angles instead of at least recognizing what a marvelous resource he is for the Party, all the way around.
That turns out to be one of the downsides of the whole Kos-My DD strategy. You turned the peanut gallery into a bunch of Colosseum plebs screaming for blood. It seemed necessary, it did work. It looks like overkill now, it didn't in October. But now what is needed is to reprogram people to follow the Eleventh Commandment. Is that so hard?
Obama's real strengths would be quite obvious to people who weren't leaning against him for a variety of reasons. That's OK, though. It's all good. I don't think he's gonna get derailed by one of these meaningless little Donnoho things.
I have to admit, though, that John Edwards didn't come out of this looking as good as coming in. It was obvious as soon as he said he was disgusted that Amanda would be gone. It also showed me, speaking as a Christian, that Edwards isn't much of an expert on religion.
None of this would stop me from voting for him or talking up his strengths. I could criticize him harshly if I wanted to. But I don't want to. Same for Mrs. Clinton.
If the Democratic candidates and their supporters supported each other - and if you can't get Party ID at that level forget the stat, really - we wouldn't be having this problem. We don't seem to be able to stand prosperity, people - again.
I'm not worried, though. Speaking in terms not of preferences but predictions, I predict that neither Edwards nor Mrs. Clinton will be very successful at getting votes in the primaries. Nothing, really, can be done about that. The reason is the New Kennedy Rules. Because we have a New Kennedy. Not really a Kennedy, but someone like that, someone the American people can identify with like they haven't since Teddy drove off the bridge. He had been the third one, still anointed. It was assumed he would be President. He had funked it in 1976 but in 1980 he was going to restore Camelot.
The disappointment from that, and from Kennedy's incredible TV appearance afterward, marked a turning point in American politics. Now we have another potential turning point.
I don't want specifics from Obama now. I want to feel that there is a plan to win an electoral victory in Nov 2008 that will place the continued existence of the Republican Party in doubt.
The game we always play is politics vs. politics. We want the candidate to give us all his Fantasy stats so we can play "the election game". But we know on the other hand that if the candidate does that, he's likely to get skewered. The more specific your points are, the more likely it is that they can be framed in a bad light. Plus, you've put all that quotable material out there as sample and loop fodder for Fox News editors. Obama said "No amount of American lives" can solve another country's civil war. Apparently Fox today is altering this by leaving out the words "No amount", making the statement appear to be a horrible one.
You all are fighting the last war. My DD appears to be more Obama friendly than Daily Kos, Kos' prediction and Stoller's declaration notwithstanding. But you are still analyzing the next election in terms of the last one.
That is correct as far as close detailed analysis of Congressional races goes. But you are not calculating the upside of Obama as nominee and as President.
Here's my problem, the paradox that has me tearing my hair over bloggers. You argue very cogently that the MSM has to be continually countered because it puts out misinformation. But then you come back to the discussion with the same elements and the same frame.
You have to use your imagination in order to reach reality. Foreign policy is not the way it has been presented. The economic situation of the US is not as it has been presented.
The current administration didn't really care about foreign policy except as it might impact domestic voting intentions.
The next administration will have to convince the rest of the world that there really are two parties in the US by conducting itself differently.
Obama will create political power from a source that other candidates can't tap - the world. In previous years the travels of Presidents have been gaffe-hunts.
But imagine Obama and Nelson Mandela putting out a joint communiqué.
The most dangerous thing that could ever happen to the United States - worse than a dozen bombs - would be for the rest of the world to decide that it is just another grubby country after all. Our properity is not something we made with our own two hands. It is a gift that history gave us, and for a reason.
David Sirota wrote a brief slam. He usually doesn't get received at dKos very well. It was noted that he had issues with Obama going back to CT-SEN. He didn't link any of his books for sale, but he did have some former FPers show up midthread to buck him up.
I haven't seen as many attacks on Obama from Clintonites as from Edwardsians. I regret that Edwards supporters think belittling Obama and demanding point by point plans (so they can pick those apart) is the way to go. I haven't heard Obama say anything derogatory about his opponents.
Eleventh Commandment, folks. It doesn't mean shut up, but it means be constructive.
is wrong because society is a product of art as well as technique. Sociology really doesn't handle the anthropology of American culture very well. You can describe how society is constructed but not why it flies apart. I understand that statistical analysis can be very helpful in locating people in need. That's not what I'm talking about.
If you work under a non-triviality condition - that is, if your progressive sociology is to be conceptually robust, then it has to be based on an ethical prise de position. A preponderance of American sociology privileges statistical analysis. What role does statistical analysis play in progressive sociology?
The left bloggers have explicitly approved Edwards' mild smackdown of Amanda. Why? Because it appears to them to be a proper reaction, given the reality of the conventional wisdom about the MSM-ospheric to such speech. None of THEM are offended by the speech in question (the blog posts). But they approve Edwards saying he was. He had to say that, because the CW predicts that a lot of people would be less likely to vote for Edwards if he didn't - or at least that was the proper way to make the incident fall off the radar as quickly as possible.
This is so easy to agree on - and yet in order to agree on it you have to split your tongue so you can talk out of both sides of your mouth at once.
Bloggers constantly harp on the difference between them and the MSM. The MSM fails to fact check. The MSM caters to power. The MSM practices the sociology of missing white women, and a variety of techniques intended to slant the news toward drama and soundbites instead of policy and discussion.
And yet your entire analysis often consists is following their same analysis, even if the purpose is to counter its effects or avoid its consequences. The point is that "their" frame of reference, CW, is always taken for granted. So how can it ever really change?
Already, a major blogger has been subjected to a sort of enema. A cleansing. Already people are rummaging in their archives. Or not. But the precedent was established by nothing more than the feral violence and vulgarity of the assault by Donohoe.
They scored. But it would now be wrong to conclude that because they scored, we need to ramp up our rapid response. It seems that way. There's no harm in responding.
But the principle that needed defending was that people should feel free to speak, and not to fear "rectifying" themselves later. We of the Left can take pride, if you like, that our pursuit of the slightest whiff of pie in someone's words has left a lot of people wiser - about holding their tongues. But as a result, when they find an outlet, it has to be violent like this. We can't educate them as long as we RHETORICIZE THE SPANISH INQUISITION (pun at your own risk). And they for their part have it going on the other way.
The long term CW in such a case is that public discourse breaks down completely. Whether this has happened because our culture has been vulgarized, or the other way round, I don't know.
I just note that the Christian response you're asking for here, you already got it from your candidate.
And it was actually the wrong one and you fucking well know it. But politically you think it was the right one. You even hung a medal around that Dr. Phil soundalike's neck.
And that's...OK. (h/t Al Franken) But there was more to say.
One of these days we should take back part of the mental area of the United States in the name of freedom.
I'm talking about the crawl, or what some people are calling the third third or something. The bottom of the TV picture. One of these days you'll be able to have a crawl that says: "Doubt what you're hearing? Wanna hear the other side, NOW? Push * 11...," etc. In other words, some day, people will not be so susceptible to the first powerfully expressed version of things they're exposed to...
...or don't you think so? I see a bifurcation in the left blogosphere I don't like. The bloggers at Sadly, No! call it a "comedy blog" now. The assumption is that there is a "Left humor" that can be found chez the Editors, the General, and so on. But dKos and My DD, while continuing to post a good deal of general interest items, seem to be developing a social-science model that buiilds on the lessons of the campaign.
This is like crashing the gate and getting a new gate. Why? Because the number of settled policy points are too few. We used to despair of ever having our "message" refined like the Right's: "Low taxes, strong defense, small government, secure borders" (Or whatever you thought the fourth element was) Well, don't we now have "universal healthcare, no loser wars, no torture, woman's right to choose"? And yet this is not nearly enough to govern.
I have read a lot of "systems" in sociology. Many of them end up making use of existing methods of control over the psychology (sic) of various populations. And they all promise that things will be better, at least, if we do what they recommend, and give our power of choice to them.
I think finally that this must have something to do with Atrios' continued use of the dirty hippy theme. Among the hippies, there were those who at least laid claim, among Americans, to the title of philosopher. Philosophically speaking, the thing you want to leave out of your comparison to Rome is the time scale. Things happen faster now. There is such a gap between the CW about policy and the reality of policy. The entire "guns vs. butter" dichotomy may give way. America's entire economy vis a vis the rest of the world could suddenly feel very vulnerable.
We are going to have to sell America culture and education - things it knows little about since it has been induced to purchase their knock-off versions. You think heads should roll in the Defense Department? Hospitals sell fake health care. Universities sell fake degrees (and I'd really like to see Kos' collection some time...). Lawyers sell fake justice and fake judges mete it out.
Strike three game over.
The real honest to God political blogosphere is like a machine that runs really well as long as there is a human standing there the whole time. Because the machine only properly interprets reality within a certain range of phenomena. Who cares what the gauge says after the water heater blows up.
I will tell the Bill Joy story again. Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems was known as the "adult in the room" in the ranks of computer geniuses. Back when the "gray goo" scare was going around he went on NPR basically to say that we need an ethics panel for nanotechnology. He was serious.
But then he admitted that he was unable to figure out the ethics of the situation.
Here's a poser: suppose you could transplant a brain into someone else's head. Who would that person be?
The answer is, ask me again in about two hundred years. But no one living will ever be able to accomplish such a thing, except as the equivalent of hooking up a frog to a hot wire. Is there such a thing as a conceivable experiment that should never be carried out?
Think before you answer.
Many people think science is the cure for the problem represented by religion. Few think religion might be of help with regard to something science tends to screw up.
The left blogosphere has a seminal connection to corrosive intellectual humor. It also has a connection to a sort of belief in the invincibility of science.
I'm not talking about the ignorant travesties around creationism and the like. The only shame there is that the left blogosphere has not been able to make those people into complete laughingstocks (not for want of trying).
But there is a problem with science and technology that people who live on the Internet have a certain structural difficulty realizing.
Let's just put it in brief. You have a responsibility to figure out what affects the CW, and how, and to put this knowledge at the service of Democratic candidates, and to lobby for its recognition.
But you also have a responsibility, let's call it cultural or social, to think up the perfect system of distributive governance, and lobbying for that as well. For example, where is the campaign for mandatory voting? Who's AGAINST that? And why?
Internet technology doesn't just bring us fun blog posts. It brings the commercial camel of television even further into the tent of our heads.
So many people and so many machines, all claiming loudly to bring me freedom. Is it liberal or conservative if I say that TV is a waste of time?
Can science really tell us how to rebuild our culture out of its ruins? can the CW?
Even the "normal business" of science in this country is as corrupt as anything else - tainted by commercial applications, by military applications, by corporate desires.
Real religion is no longer set up to oppose science, as it once was, centuries ago. Rather, the people who work in science and technology, like Bill Joy, have been brought to the realization that culture is an organism that escapes their models. It appears from the political standpoint that culture can be gamed, led by the nose, bamboozled - but on the other end, once it appears that culture has been damaged there is no short term fix for it.
Religion, art, and culture emphasize the importance of the whole human being, apart from technology and connectivity. In some ways, we are all wearing the diaper. Instead of thinking that the blogosphere is the new kid on the block but here to stay, we should be pushing for more agreement on policy.
What I think, though, is that it's still going to take a candidate to do it. I said a long time ago, and I can prove it, that I hate the personality cult. I'd rather vote for a policy front than a candidate. But the sociological reality of America - so damaged, so unaware - has convinced me that there has to be a candidate who can reveal the world to us - not the world of the CW!! but the one that is there beyond the atrocities of our televised wars. A candidate who can give an example of how to live your own religion in your own life without the slightest need for the attempts of ambitious preachers to organize Christians into an army of illiterate idiots.
A candidate who can Sister Soul'jah the Church when the time comes. But a candidate who realizes that the age of rapid development in technology may well be OVER - and the day may come when we wonder why we thought so much about it, there are so many things technology induced us to miss completely.
There's a difference between Christianity, the "interest group" and the religion. There's a difference between people who "identify" with that interest group, and educated students of the Bible and the history of the Church.
Speaking as a Christian, I'm SORRY that Amanda and Melissa thought they had to apologize. I'm also sorry that Edwards licensed this business of being "offended" by their posts. Again, speaking AS A CHRISTIAN, I can't even give you an estimate of the number of times I have taken the Lord's name in vain (although to be fair to me I don't say the G-D word any more at all). Dirty jokes, racial and social stereotypes and slurs, descriptions of sexual practices - why go on? And I'm a highly educated teacher of your children!!
There is a fairly important technical point here - it couldn't be clearer that blogging is more closely related, by intention and in its social development to SPEAKING than to WRITING. People are always talking on dKos about how well diarists write. In which universe? Hunter could not sell even one of his diaries, much less a collection, to a for-profit publication - and I'll stop there. Blogging is like speaking, and the most casual kind of speaking at that. The whole argument about pseudonymity overlooks that fact that in real life we are so regimented that a lot of people would never manage to say what they feel unless they felt free to curse, swear, and talk gross.
As a matter of fact there are any number of dirty jokes IN THE BIBLE. You have to know what's up to get them, but they are there (mostly in the Old Testament). Let's get this straight. Jesus had a dick. He took it out to pee. He had an asshole and he shat from it. He may never have fucked or jerked off, but he probably did get wood. And he knew how people really are. There's no hint in the Bible of all his friends getting all clammed up whenever He walks in, as if He would punish them for being themselves.
Because Americans don't know what religion is anymore, or what it's for, stupid and evil people have taken over the franchise and fucked it up something fierce. However, God is going to punish Donohoe - or, more like, he's going to show him up in such a way that you will know He was on the case. At least you'll remember somebody saying this. He's toast as of now, I put my perfect prediction record on the line for it.
What people post on blogs should be compared to what they have ever said, like at a party, or in a steam room, or whatever. Humans are gregarious animals and they like to sniff each others butts like dogs. They like to blow stinky gas at each other like cows.
Furthermore! As I said in my above referenced post - Donohue is wrong on religious grounds. The worst thing we could be talking about here would be that Amanda had it in for God or Jesus - and that clearly is not so. Amanda doesn't write God Blows or Jesus is Shit. She writes something about the Holy Spirit getting a nut IN ORDER TO MAKE A SATIRICAL POINT. And religious people, monks, Popes, prophets of all kinds have always done this.
Put another way, there is nothing, but nothing, that is vulgar about the posts. Donohoe's rants are vulgar because he does not have the authority of the Church, but he clearly tries to cop to it.
The whole premise of Donohoe's attack is to try to co-opt political correctness - which wouldn't be what it is if it isn't correct, right? - by claiming that a "group" - in this case Catholics - has been "offended" by someone's speech. The only thing is, he has it all wrong.
When women are insulted, they deserve advocacy and defense because women deserve respect. When blacks are insulted, same thing. Idem for all such groups.
But when Christians are insulted - assuming that we have someone willing to stand up and say "Christians suck shit", which we DO NOT have in the case of Amanda - it does NOT work this way. Any and all true Christians are obligated to accept such comments with equanimity and love. There is not supposed to be any personal puffed-up-ness or PRIDE there, to be wounded by insults.
Christianity is not a country, it is not an army, it is not an interest group, it cannot be insulted, it does not need to be defended. And what Edwards said was tantamount to washing Amanda's mouth out with gentle soap prior to her coming on board. And I assume she allowed herself to undergo that mild humiliation because she genuinely wants to improve the lot of suffering mankind, and thinks John Edwards might be able to do something in that direction.
That is, Amanda is good people; she is on the right side of things. God knows this and loves her for it.
As for Donohoe, you don't see any priests or prelates jumping up and down to defend him.
You guys have a problem. Every single one of your Presidential candidates is a Christian. Not just for show, but they actually compete to see which one is the biggest Christian (hint - it's the most educated one). And yet you treat Christianity as some sort of disease of the intellect because you only interact with "Christians" who express the sense of religious teachings badly.
Someone was teasing a candidate the other day about not being as cutting-edge as some with regard to blogging and the netroots. I thought that was funny, really. It's entirely possible that the whole complex phenomenon is in the process of re-morphing right now, such that you will never get the opportunity to refine everything (media attack, raid response, meetups, blog as ATM, solidarity of the netroots as such, crystaliization of political blog communities, etc.) into a technique that you can get paid to administer.
This all reminds me of the Internet guru who told me the Internet would increase the degree of political freedom - told me in 1993. Blogging is just communication. The netroots are just people who blog. We have an Overlord who admitted quite candidly the other day - after saying that he collected degrees as a hobby - that he wasn't into POLICY. Well, that wasn't a shock. It was valuable candor.
He understands that he's trying to refine a technique. He likes to hide stuff he does under things that the Great God Pan of the Intertubes - who immanentizes the eschaton - does. Like revamping the blogroll. In fact setting up the state blogs shows clearly where he's going. And the further he goes, the clearer it is that it is just technique and machinery that could be used by either side (and I would like to specify that to me Christianity is not a side). The blogosphere is ours, as someone said, we just let the Right play in it for our own amusement.
But it didn't start out that way. What could possibly guarantee durability for the pact between blogging, satire, blunt speech and the Left? Nothing except a broad policy front that not only comes true but works. Successful government in a developing world.