"Eat a Turd, Troll"

A few days ago I posted a blog on MyDD about George W. Bush's way of "leading" the United States by stampeding Congress and the media into Afghanistan and Iraq and the Patriot Act and now the great Wall Street bail-out. What kind of "cowboy President" leads by stampeding?

It's a picture of Bush as an insane cowboy, with the rest of the so-called establishment playing the role of mindless cattle.

So far so good, for a little impressionistic diary about the financial meltdown...

But then I also mentioned that Barack Obama hasn't exactly been leading the Democrats on this issue, and this observation garnered the one and only comment on my blog:

"Eat a turd, troll."

We have gunboats provoking Russia on the Black Sea, Russia is sending warships for manoeuvres in the Caribbean, we're losing the war in Afghanistan, enormous banks are going bankrupt, so...

What difference does it make if somebody writes "Eat a turd, troll" under a blog on MyDD?

It matters just a little, because the progressive blogosphere was supposed to matter, and it doesn't.

Every once in a long while Glenn Greenwald pesters the powers that be into paying attention to something they want to ignore, and this sort of rare event is celebrated all over the internet. But Greenwald and the few other consequential bloggers are bloggers more or less by accident, and there's always a place waiting for them in some old-media venue, if they quit the blogoshere.

Meanwhile, the battle between Clintonistas and Obamabots was so ugly and intense that everyone forgot that it had absolutely nothing to do with the progressive agenda.

Neither Clinton nor Obama has any claim to be called progressive, unless you dream up some other category for Dennis Kucinich and Russ Feingold. Early polls on Daily Kos showed a strong preference for Kucinich, who favors exactly the same programs as most progressive bloggers: single-payer health insurance, immediate withdrawal from Iraq, abrogation of NAFTA, green energy, and so on.

None of that agenda was ever in play after the first few primaries, and it wouldn't have mattered much if Hillary Clinton had been nominated instead of Obama.

While the progressive blogosphere was totally dominated by a war between Clintonistas and Obamabots for six months, all other issues disappeared in the sound and fury of that meaningless conflict.

Now we don't matter. We don't even matter to ourselves. Yes, McCain is very, very bad, and yes, Obama is very, very good. But if you had any doubts about any of it, you wouldn't be here.

Let's try to imagine how MyDD and Daily Kos and other "progressive" sites would impress a fairly intelligent person who wandered in for the first time...

Wouldn't all these sites look like nothing other than echo chambers for singing the praises of the center-right candidate Barack Obama? Patient research might turn up a few blogs advocating single-payer health insurance or the sort of commitment to green energy that Kucinich and Feingold represent, but how many of our hypothetical newcomers would stick around long enough to find these atypical holdovers from the progressive era of the "progressive" blogosphere, when they also encountered a level of discourse that was previously reserved for prisons, or gangsters on the street.

Where else but the blogosphere do any of us who aren't in jail hear anything like "Eat a turd, troll?"

So this is who we are now: A foul-mouthed chorus in an echo chamber for a center-right politician, and nobody gives a damn about this asylum except the inmates.

Tags: meta (all tags)



one thing

I would disagree that Obama is center right, but I agree with you that sometimes people throw the "troll" comment a bit too quickly.

by highgrade 2008-09-28 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: one thing

agree. Obama is NOT center right. Far from it.

by soyousay 2008-09-28 04:50AM | 0 recs

I didn't intend "center-right" as an insult, although my own agenda is significantly to the left of Obama.

If Kucinich and Feingold characterize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, calling for single-payer health insurance, immediate withdrawal from Iraq, impeachment of Bush and Cheney, continuation of the ban on offshore drilling, filibustering the FISA bill, and so on...

Maybe you can call Obama "centrist" instead of "center-right," but I can't see how he fits in the progressive category with Kucinich and Feingold.

It's also worth remembering that the "center" has been redefined by eight years of radical right-wing misgovernment, and a "centrist" today would have looked like a center-right candidate, to say the least, just a few years ago, before Bill Clinton signed off on Welfare Reform, the Telecom Act of 1998, and all the rest of the corporate package.

by Milo Millipede 2008-09-28 08:48AM | 0 recs
Re: "Eat a Turd, Troll"

It matters just a little, because the progressive blogosphere was supposed to matter, and it doesn't.
Really? I really don't think what is said in diaries matters except for the satisfaction of self expression. It's the blog itself that has an agenda....IMO

by soyousay 2008-09-28 04:49AM | 0 recs
a caution

First, this is the internet. Comments like "Eat a turd, troll" are background noise, they don't convey anything like the disagreement you seem to imply.

What would worry me, was if someone took the time to write a reasonable post lambasting you for expressing your opinion. THAT would mean someone felt strongly enough about it to write a response. What you received means anything from "good points, but I lack the skill to rebut you" to "I think it's funny to irritate people" to "why are you trying to destroy our nominee?".

Yet it is this third definition which you have keyed on. There is certainly not enough information in "eat a turd" to decide what the poster meant to say, so perhaps you are projecting an expectation of criticism?

Second, this:

Where else but the blogosphere do any of us who aren't in jail hear anything like "Eat a turd, troll?"

Nowhere else. That's the dirty secret of the Internet, that this technological marvel simply exposes us to the absolute extreme of flawed humanity. There are things on the Internet that are foul, and what separates this things from daily discourse is simply convention and etiquette.

That being said, "eat a turd" means much less on the internet than it does in real life. Has anyone in real life ever told you do die in a fire? It's common enough on the internet that there is an abbreviation:

"diaf, troll".

You seem to be making "eat a turd" sound like the vicious attack it would be in Real Life, when it's not. On the Internet at large it's mild disagreement at best. On the slightly better-policed political blogs, it's pretty rude, but certainly within the bounds of what can be expected as a reply. Someone will think you are the best thing since sliced bread, and someone will think you should STFU. The latter person simply commented on your post before the former did.

Finally, this:

Let's try to imagine how MyDD and Daily Kos and other "progressive" sites would impress a fairly intelligent person who wandered in for the first time...

Wouldn't all these sites look like nothing other than echo chambers for singing the praises of the center-right candidate Barack Obama?

Now this one actually irks me, because it feels like you're being disingenuous. A person visiting the Internet for the first time would be as likely to see "Barky the darky" as "We love Obama". You have to know this. A person visiting TalkLeft would be exposed to some fairly harsh Obama critisicm. Taylor Marsh is certainly no Obama cheerleader. DailyKos IS mostly Obama cheerleading.

The problem as you state is is that the universe of all "relevant" sites is skewed to Obama, when this is hardly the case. The reality is, there is an entire spectrum of opinion, and there are sites which represent each and every slice of that spectrum.

Why should posters on a progressive site agree about green energy? Why should we agree about healthcare? The echochamber argument misses the underlying truth that what differentiates blogs different IS their consistency of viewpoint. Do you expect the same perspectives on DailyKos and RedState? Of course not. They are both echochambers to some degree. More importantly, they both enforce their particular viewpoint, as does every other blog on the internet. Post a pro-Obama diary on Alegre's Corner, and see how long it lasts. Post a really anti-Obama diary on kos and see how hard you get flamed. This isn't some grand conspiracy of thought-policing, it's the social structure of the sites, exhibiting pressure to maintain their identity.

Finally, the timing. We're in the middle of an election. "We" all want the GOP to lose. This means "we" are all rooting for the Democrat. SURELY you understand how this environment differs from one where the Dem is in office? Picture this:

Man-eating Aliens are invading the Earth. Through some miracle, the Army and Air Force, against all odds, are holding them off and pushing them back. There's a slim chance that, thanks to the military, our children won't end up as Alien Slim-Jims. In the midst of this war against genocide, you want to write a post about wasteful spending in the military AND you accuse your detractors of being too pro-Army. Yeah no shit, Sherlock. Maybe try again after the war?

by Neef 2008-09-28 05:31AM | 0 recs

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

"Why should posters on a progressive site agree about green energy?"

For me, that's like asking why posters on a math site should agree that two plus two is four. There are plenty of disagreements on math sites, but far, far down the line from a well-established core where everyone agrees.

Anything like a similar core of agreement on progressive sites is vestigial. There's a general feeling that more money should be invested in renewable energy, instead of oil, coal, and nuclear power, and... that's just about all there is to it.

The financial meltdown is a screaming example of what happened in the dark while the whole progressive blogosphere obsessed first about "Hillary or Barack" and now about the horse-race between Obama and McCain.

I agree that it's enormously important to defeat the ludicrous hoodoos Palin and McCain, but it's also possible that shining a lot of light on hemorrhaging financial markets before the patient died would have been a more effective way to attack the Republican Party than piece by piece deconstruction of McCain's ever-changing platform.

Here we are, watching the Democrats try to hastily assemble a proposal in a crisis where every hour brings us closer to the brink of a complete financial shut-down, and in the forum where some sort of progressive agreement about this mess might have been forged months or years earlier, what do we have?

Not much beyond finger-pointing and confusion, reflecting the same confusion and blame-gaming in Washington, and something has to be done so quickly that we don't even have time to ask ourselves...

Who has all that missing money?  

by Milo Millipede 2008-09-28 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: "Eat a Turd, Troll"
While I don't agree with all of your points. I agree with you central issue that the progressive blogosphere should be about progressive ideas and not extensions of political campaigns. The election year has suspended that.
However we've been in the wilderness for so long that I think we're a little distracted just trying to get some decent representation again. Hopefully we can return to that after the election.
by kbal 2008-09-28 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: "Eat a Turd, Troll"

Most diaries here generate few comments. A recommended diary will sometimes be on the list for most of a day and still generate less than 10 comments. Given such a small sample size of comments, it's utterly unsurprising that the one you did get was a random buzz-off.

Unfortunately, we've been hearing the same complaint for years on sites like this which allow user diaries. It basically boils down to: "I wrote a great diary, why didn't anyone comment on it?"

I know it sucks, because people write a lot of great content that goes mostly ignored, but that's jut the vagaries of a blog. Frankly, if a diary isn't about Palin, meta/site discussions, or the day's election events, it's probably not going to attract much attention.

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-09-28 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: "Eat a Turd, Troll"

I will also say, there are a lot of posters who think they are god's gift to debate?

Milo CAN stray into that area, but certain posters  (won't name any names..Nancy K....)
make it a point to remind us all how slightly unworthy we are of their brilliance, as if cutting and pasting makes them a Rhodes Scholar.

Condensension is one almost automatic way to get a snark stupid response.

Agian, not calling out Milo's diary as being of that type, but just saying...

by WashStateBlue 2008-09-28 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: "Eat a Turd, Troll"

Well, I would respond if you were worthy of my keystrokes. Now stop typing and start fanning me! Palm fronds don't wave themselves, you know.

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-09-28 07:11AM | 0 recs
A matter of fantasy vs. reality

The reality is that there is nothing, NOTHING, more important to moving forward progressive causes than making sure our next President is Barack Obama and NOT John McCain. Want to fantasize that a far far left candidate will someday be president. Go right ahead, but most of us are far more interested in getting something done than in taking some non-bending supposedly idealogically pure stand.

by Travis Stark 2008-09-28 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: "Eat a Turd, Troll"
"Wouldn't all these sites (DailyKos and MyDD) look like nothing other than echo chambers for singing the praises of the center-right candidate Barack Obama?"
Too late.
Oh, rec'd.
by ChitownDenny 2008-09-28 09:10AM | 0 recs
You are on to something

You know the site used to be called my due diligence not direct democracy.     I guess it is a more accurate name now.   It sure seems like this site has become a tool to get out the lazy electorate.  Repeating memes from the campaigns and doing everything they can to ignore the reality.  As "progressive" candidates bend like the wind during campaigns and their tenures in office, the site surely isn't helping getting the progressive ideas across.  Repeat the party line, avoid issues and get democrats elected.  Try to hold any of them accountable to keep their word, avoid corruption and run this country right....be prepared for the troll slam.

by Classical Liberal 2008-09-28 11:59AM | 0 recs


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