Smoke-Filled Backrooms of the Internets, Conclusion

blogging, News Media

If you want an instrument to measure how imperfectly the “MSM” reflects actual reality, look no further than the current media pile-on of Markos Moulitsas. Today David Brooks jumps in.

They say that the great leaders are gone and politics has become the realm of the small-minded. But in the land of the Lilliputians, the Keyboard Kingpin must be accorded full respect.

The Keyboard Kingpin, a k a Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, sits at his computer, fires up his Web site, Daily Kos, and commands his followers, who come across like squadrons of rabid lambs, to unleash their venom on those who stand in the way. And in this way the Kingpin has made himself a mighty force in his own mind, and every knee shall bow.

Oh yes, the Mighty Kos, who last Thursday was seen sitting quietly in the corner of the Lotus lounge while a roomful of rabid lambs debated the lamb business. “It’s not about me,” he responded, wistfully, to a question — I didn’t hear the question — and this lamb concurs. While I appreciate Kos’s skill at connecting blogging to the fleshly political world, I don’t actually read Kos all that much. No offense, Kos, but I don’t. On my list of blogs I try to read frequently Daily Kos comes in at about #20, meaning I don’t get to it more than once or twice a week.

Nor are Kos’s ideas accepted unquestioningly among bloggers. For example, among the many bloggers I’ve schmoozed with over the past month, including those at YearlyKos, I can testify there is considerable disinterest in a Mark Warner presidential bid in 2008. This is true even among those of us who went to the infamous Warner party in Las Vegas. And I can’t imagine any leftie blogger endorsing Warner just on Kos’s say so. That’s not how we do things here. As the Green Knight says,

First of all, Kos doesn’t have any followers. He has readers and co-bloggers, sure. But followers? Don’t be ridiculous. We’re talking about progressives, liberals, and Democrats here. You might as well try to herd cats as make people like us get in line.

The cluelessness of MSM pundits is one of the many public outrages that inspired a lot of us to get into blogging; blogging is, at least, more therapeutic than yelling at the TV. Watching and reading some of these bubble-wrapped wonders can be more frustrating than, well, herding cats. But now we have hard proof that their almighty opinions have all the substance of soufflé.

“Keyboard kingpin?” Puh-LEEZE.

It’s clear that elements among the punditocracy have been incited to take down these blogger people before they get too big for their britches. As Greg at The Talent Show says, “I’d love to get a peek at what’s been getting discussed on their private email list.”

However — and I’m speculating here — I wonder if the real target is Mark Warner and not Kos. After YearlyKos I thought it weird when the Warner party became the subject of much finger wagging, even though other politicians hosted parties for conference attendees. Wes Clark invited us all to a “do” at the Hard Rock Cafe, for example (I passed; I was too tired to go), and two or three congressional candidates held more modest cocktail parties. Yet Mark Warner’s party has been called out as if there were something sinister about a candidate inviting voters to some kind of shindig so he can shake their hands and kiss their babies. Not that I saw any babies at the Warner party, but I trust you get the point.

Where did the finger-wagging campaign originate? Why is the MSM suddenly piling on Kos this week? Is attacking Kos a back-door way of derailing candidates associated with Kos? Like Mark Warner? Or Sherrod Brown? Or Ned Lamont? Who is orchestrating this?

Today Newsweek is running a photo of Kos and Warner together on its web site; I assume the photo is in the print edition as well. And Newsweek reports on the 2004 Howard Dean internet campaign and the current challenge of Joe Lieberman as if these efforts were entirely Kos’s doing instead of the work of many blogs pulling together. As I said in an earlier post, Kos has become the physical manifestation of the blogosphere to people who don’t get blogging. Someone should explain to them that he’s only the tip of a very big iceberg.

In the two previous posts I’ve talked about the allegations of quid pro quo, some of which are absurd on their little red faces, and of the mysterious email that was allegedly written by Steve Gilliard, even though Steve says he has no record of writing it, and sent to the Townhall Townhouse listserv, even though no one on the listserv received it. Like the New Republic pundits before him, Brooks holds up the email as evidence of something without questioning its provenance. Way to go.

And these are the pros. These people have editors.

Brooks repeats allegations against Jerome Armstrong that in 2000 he was paid to tout a software stock on the web. The SEC is investigating this. I don’t claim to know what happened. But Brooks passes on the New Republic claim that Kos tried to shush discussion of the SEC story on the web, without noting that TAPPED did write about it. Some “kingpin.”

And Brooks tries to use these allegations to build an implication that Armstrong and Kos are nothing more than old-style influence peddlers. For the other side, which Brooks ignores, see Ezra Klein.

Now, if I were the Democrats, I’d be coming to the support of the blogosphere, because as I say I’m not persuaded Kos and bloggers are the real targets here. And Brooks should be ashamed of himself for passing on smears without bothering to check facts. But then, he’s only a vegetable.

See also Raw Story, James Wolcott, Tbogg, and Shakespeare’s Sister.

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33 Comments

32 Comments

  1. A. Citizen  •  Jun 25, 2006 @12:08 pm

    Here is what I emailed to the ‘editors’, that is what they call themselves not my name for them, at the NYT:

    I am sure that the emails and letters attacking David Brooks for his ‘column’ on Markos Moulitsas Zúniga are flooding in. You will be reading all sorts of prose excoriating Mr. Brooks for everything from his lousy prose to his inability to use his mind in a useful way.

    This letter is not one of those.

    This letter is in the nature of a funeral oration for your once great paper.

    First a little about myself, I used to visit your website daily if not more. This was up until the election of 2004. I have not visited, other than to write an occasional letter to you editor folk, since then. I now get all my information from the Internet either blogs or direct feeds from new services.

    I do not see that changing.

    Why?

    Well, it’s not because you have such lousy opinion writers; that’s been true for many years.

    It’s not because of the subscription wall. I could afford it but why would I pay for the crummy product you are putting out.

    It’s not because Brooks attacked Kos. Whom I met at YearlyKos and found to be a smart guy with a very good sense of humor. Which is more than I can say for Brooks.

    It’s not because you shilled for the Bush administration’s illegal, immoral, unjustified War in Iraq.

    It’s not because you employed Judy Miller to lie to the American people.

    It’s not because you vilified me and the hundreds of thousands who came to NYC to march in protest at the RNC national convention.

    Nope. It’s none of those.

    It’s because Markos is absolutely correct when he says, ‘Don’t worry about the corporate media. They no longer matter.’

    The day when your paper could have a significant impact on the national political discourse is over.

    That’s what publishing lies, ad hominem attacks and information so blatantly false that no intelligent reader would believe for a second will do to any news organization. No matter how large. No matter how ‘prestigious’. That’s what putting the desires of the worst President in American history ahead of the nation’s interest will get you.

    Consigned to irrelevance.

    Yeah, you’ll still be around publishing but never again will knowledgeable Americans take your words for anything more than what they are: Lies.

    I posted this a dKos as a comment and got the usual reply that the corporate media are still important, yadda and yadda.

    They are not.

    They are losing eyeballs partially for the reasons I list above. But the facts are the facts, no matter what David ‘AssClown’ Brooks writes.

    Seriously, David Brooks is a sick joke. He can’t write worth a damn and he knows nothing about how America really is.

    As Kos says: ‘We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing…’

    I will not be posting or commenting on this utter waste of time again. There are more important things to be working on:

    Net neutrality…did you call your congressperson?

    The ReThug effort to prevent you from freezing your credit…see above.

    That thing going on in Iraq…now we just murder our allies the Iraqi’s.

    Yeah, let’s talk about that not Ann Coulter and D. Brooks.

  2. Bonnie  •  Jun 25, 2006 @12:10 pm

    I think we need to find out who is behind this and expose them. And, that goes for every new smear that will be coming out between now and November.

  3. Swami  •  Jun 25, 2006 @12:35 pm

    But in the land of the Lilliputians,

    Sounds a little like a ” let them eat cake” analysis of life outside the media castle. Personally, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the blogosphere as insignificant.

  4. Donna  •  Jun 25, 2006 @1:25 pm

    Uh, oh, looks like the liberal blogosphere as been detected as a threat to the status quo regime of beltway pols and MSM. Must be time to try to ham-string this new threat with one of those repeat-700-times-in-a-week, twist-the-facts responses used to try to ham-string Howard Dean.

    Well, Howard Dean is still truckin and so are we.

  5. PW  •  Jun 25, 2006 @3:33 pm

    The major media are part of the oligarchy and have been for at least a couple of decades. We know that. Any self-determination or restlessness on the part of the paying natives makes them nervous.

    During the mid-’90’s, one of the most discussed subjects in chatrooms was the New York Times’ propensity to write as though it wished there were a single DemRep party, forever centrist, forever in power, forever familiar and accessible to insiders.

    No one who’s found a niche in our increasingly capital-oriented republic wants any variation from the status quo. They’ve got a handle on the system and wouldn’t know what to do with a reordering of the familiar process, any serious democratization of America, any genuine progressive movement — and maybe even politicians who make themselves independent from K Street and who go around the media to talk directly to people via this new medium.

    I think it’s as much about members of the media going home to the kids at night with a surefire paycheck, a set of skills and a growing database of insider access and info as it is about any major ideological arguments with Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga. They dislike his brashness, his early success, his uncanny grasp of process and the system, and his independence. Independence, above all, is threatening to those who are themselves controlled.

    Eventually Kos and many other successful bloggers will be the “old guys,” the “entrenched blogosphere,” and will be doused by the next big wave.

  6. gglgljar  •  Jun 25, 2006 @3:59 pm

    A. Citizen,

    That Mind-Numbing Mantra Style, where you repeat the same phrase over and over, looks very poetic and convincing to the people who write it. The rest of us think it looks like a blinkered fanatic striking dramatic poses in front of a mirror. Good thinking using words like “assclown” and “rethug”, though. Shows people how thoughtful you are.

    Now, as for the blog post, what you all need to realize is that Kos did his level best to drum up some media attention, and he got it. Now he, and you, are upset because the coverage isn’t all to his liking. Well, that’s life: Things don’t always go your way.

    My money isn’t on a conspiracy. I’m betting that the recurring themes in the coverage are down to two causes: First, when people from outside Kos’s circle look at Kos, what most of them see is a lot like what Newsweek saw. Second, journalists tend to pay attention to each other. There’s a self-reinforcing echo chamber effect, or “positive feedback” if you like. Everybody’s ox gets gored by that phenomenon pretty regularly.

    Consider record reviews. There’s usually a critical consensus. Is that a conspiracy? Does Rove like the White Stripes? I doubt it.

    You’ll have to get used to it. If you’re big enough to be news, you’ll be news. You don’t like leaks? No, wait, you *love* leaks… I mean, you don’t like leaks when *you’re* on the receiving end. Well, welcome to public life, Markos. You’ll be playing by the same rules as everybody else, and that means you shouldn’t say anything in private that you wouldn’t want ascribed to you in public. Or at least don’t say it in print, for God’s sake. And when you do, and it comes out, be a man about it.

    You guys should at least consider the possibility that you might be fallible. It is a fact that Kos has backed, what, 20 candidates? 21? And every one of them lost. That’s not the track record of a skilled political operator. It’s the record of an amateur who doesn’t learn from his mistakes. The aces in that field, like Rove and Michael Whooley, have devoted their lives to practical politics, and so have a lot of others who never made the grade. It’s more than a profession. It’s a way of life, like sumo or ballet (and like ballet, “many are called but few are chosen”: Native talent is hard to come by). Of course pols need people to raise money, but you don’t see fund raisers for the NY City Ballet trying to get out on stage and dance. Kos is out of his depth trying to pose as a political strategist. It’s an incredibly difficult and competitive craft and the na&iuml:veté of amateurs who think they can be world beaters on their first try is breathtaking. Anybody who thinks it’s easy knows far too little even to qualify as an apprentice, much less a master.

    The Dems do seem to have problems at the polls. Raising money is one good way to address that. Getting the base revved up is another. Getting a blind kid to grab the wheel in the middle of a curve is not.

  7. gglgljar  •  Jun 25, 2006 @4:06 pm

    PW,

    “…his uncanny grasp of process and the system…”

    Twenty-one candidates and counting.

    (Oh, and P.S.: I don’t pretend to know what the Dems need to do to turn their fortunes around, and I do suspect that part of their problem is the quality of their political wizards, but getting *worse* wizards isn’t likely to fix *that*.)

  8. maha  •  Jun 25, 2006 @4:22 pm

    ggigljar — There are no Kos worshippers here, and FYI Kos endorsements alone carry zero weight among us liberal bloggers. Some of us get irritated, however, when newspapers publish lies and when powerful people orchestrate smear campaigns to discredit and shut up little people.

  9. Steve M.  •  Jun 25, 2006 @5:35 pm

    Where did the finger-wagging campaign originate? Why is the MSM suddenly piling on Kos this week?

    You really don’t know? Obviously, someone very high up in the GOP thinks Kos would been a fun new Democrat to turn into a laughingstock, a Democrat just entering the national limelight whom Republicans can define before he can define himself.

  10. maha  •  Jun 25, 2006 @5:39 pm

    You really don’t know?

    I certainly have suspicions, but it’s struck me as weird, especially since most of the snarking about the party I’ve encountered was coming from liberals.

  11. dms  •  Jun 25, 2006 @5:53 pm

    Whoa, ggigljar,

    Talk about your mixing of metaphors…ballet somehow becomes a religious experience? I never realized George Balanchine was the second coming of Matthew.

    This from a man who studied dance, specifically ballet, for 10 years in NYC. Nobody called me; I made the decision myself. And I didn’t fail because I didn’t have a measure of talent and skill; rather because I didn’t have the confidence.

    Few people make a success of their careers; even fewer make a success of life; even fewer hit a home run their first time at bat (or should I say, fewer still complete a triple tour en l’air the first time they try on a dance belt).

    Please, spare me the esoteric ballet analogies.

  12. Edward Anderson  •  Jun 25, 2006 @6:24 pm

    Maha–

    Just for the record, I am the one who confronted Warner about how much he was spending at YearlyKos, — for the over-the-top, $150/head Stratosphere Party, for the Informercial, for the dozen or so staffers, for the thousand plus fancy t-shirts draped on every chair.

    I put Warner on the spot in front of the national press for one large reason. His display of largesse was completely out of character with the rest of our grassroots convention, and I was more or less disgusted buy his seeming attempt to buy his way in. (Not helping is the fact that he had not just Jerome Armstrong, but seemingly Joe Trippi on his payroll.)

    That the Stratosphere excess resonated with the press so much wasn’t because of me, or because of a media conspiracy, but b/c it was essentially true. Warner’s display of money and glamour was in stark contrast to the rest of the conference, which was held at the very dumpy Riviera.

    In the backgroud are bigger questions about whether Warner was given preferential treatment at the event b/c of his financial relationship with Armstrong, and by connection Kos.Also, as a third way politician, Warner is certainly not my idea of “progressive”. What was he doing giving the keynote?

    But the bigger questions had nothing to do with my putting Warner on the spot. It was really just a concern about money in politics, and a worry that the Blogosphere at the Stratosphere might be the first step down the wrong road. (I have heard their will be bigger and better parties next year!

    I’m not seeing a concerted attack against Kos. Markos purposefully made a big splash with his book tour, YearlyKos, and the Lamont/Lieberman battle all happening in conjunction. What we are seeing is just the inevitable backlash against his coming-out party.

    And as to the Clintons, you should know that Warner’s campaign treasurer is Gerald McGowan who is a friend and Georgetown classmate of Bill Clinton. McGowan met his wife and ex-Clinton staffer Susan Brophy on none other than Air Force One. For this reason, I see Warner and Clinton as being on the same team. Warner is just insurance in case Hillary can’t gain traction next year.

  13. gglgljar  •  Jun 25, 2006 @6:42 pm

    No, dms, it’s nothing to do with a “religious experience”. That was an ill-chosen metaphor. The point is that a heck of a lot of kids spend an enormous amount of time playing guitar, for example, but there’s not a great glut of Jimi Hendrixes and Mark Knopflers.

    I didn’t say *anything* about why you, in particular, didn’t succeed at ballet. I didn’t even know who you were when I wrote that comment. I won’t dispute that lack of confidence is another reason why people may not become stars.

    I agree that nobody does a magnificent job the first time he tries something. That’s a point I made at (possibly excessive) length in my comment above. Hard things ain’t easy. The problem I was trying to illustrate was exactly that: Kos thinks he’s Hank Aaron, but he’s never even hit the ball. Heck, I could have left out the bit about competence-vs.-greatness entirely (and wish I had, since I didn’t communicate the point well), because Kos hasn’t even reached competence yet.

    maha,

    Well, the “uncanny grasp of process and the system” guy strikes me as something resembling a Kos worshipper, but it’s hardly fair blaming you your commenters. I noticed that you’re not a Kos groupie, but I’m not much exercised about how (or *if*) you-all manage your message discipline. Or… umm… Honestly, I have no idea why you bring up liberal bloggers in general. I never mentioned them. How are they relevant?

    The point is that Kos appears to be pitching himself as a political strategist who can tell the Democratic Party how to dominate politics in this country. Given his record (and his prose), it’s not unreasonable for the press to treat him as comic relief. It would be strange if they didn’t. Reporters have seen self-promoters before, you know. Where’s the evidence that he has any idea how to win elections, even in Berkeley or Madison? There isn’t any. His boundless faith in his own ability at practical politics is based, as far as I can tell, on nothing but sheer brass. The press is being kind, if you ask me. They could be calling him a con artist. They could be calling him delusional. They could be comparing him to Charles Ponzi, Timothy Leary, William Jennings Bryan, or Savonarola. Instead, they’re presenting him as a flawed idealist.

    Anyhow, what are the lies the papers are printing? It’s a genuine question; I haven’t been following Astrologergate at all closely.

  14. A. Citizen  •  Jun 25, 2006 @7:16 pm

    Typical ad hominem attack by somebody with a screen name designed by a dyslexic. Whoops, sorry about that.

    You seem sort of…

    Angry.

    I wonder why. What is it about folks getting together to discuss politics, society, science and art that disturbs you so? I don’t care what you think about my style as yours is proof positive that you have only a rudimentary grasp of that skill. Whoops, I did it again. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

    Oh, I’ve got it now you’re a Platonist. Dude, wake up that elitist crap was trashed several hundred years ago. Only fat stupid old men like Cheney and Rove believe that sort of thing. As to Rove’s great record as a political strategist…

    So what.

    Or are you going to argue that the state of our nation is just great? That Rove’s political campaigns have resulted in a stronger, safer America? That would make you even dumber than you sound.

  15. Chief  •  Jun 25, 2006 @7:16 pm

    When I used to watch “The Newshour” on PBS, every Friday they would have Mark Shields, essentialy representing the left of center and , for awhile, David Brooks, representing the right of center. He was vacuous then and his writing reflects his inability to engage in critical thinking.

  16. gglgljar  •  Jun 25, 2006 @8:01 pm

    A. Citizen, I’d be grateful if you could explain a) What Platonism is, in your own words? b) What led you to think I’m a Platonist myself? c) What led you to think Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are Platonists? d) What “folks” discussing art have to do with anything I, or anybody else, has said in this discussion? e) How I might improve my prose style.

    I’m not too clear about where you’re going with the “whoops” thing, but I’m glad you’re not angry.

    What I said about Rove’s skill at getting his candidate elected, was that it exists. It does. I could have made precisely the same point about James Carville (and I did mention Whooley, remember?)

  17. Chief  •  Jun 25, 2006 @8:06 pm

    Remember, Mr. Brooks, all the other print reporters and the so-called MSM need to keep selling their product. If Markos or any other blogger represents a threat to the reporters and MSM income stream then there will be more and increasingly vituperative attacks of the influential bloggers of the left blogosphere.

    So, I’d suggest that daily Kos and others are getting to them.

  18. Kevin Hayden  •  Jun 25, 2006 @8:08 pm

    Life will be so much simpler if we leave this Wiccan circle of Kos devotees and follow someone with real American Values like Jim Jones Falwell, David Koresh Robertson and the next lieutenant guv of Georgia, Ralph ‘Potsy’ Reed.

    For added guidance, turn to Aimee Semple O’Reilly, and Tammy Faye Limbaugh and you’ll soon be cured of the wickedness of your ways.

  19. Swami  •  Jun 25, 2006 @8:28 pm

    How I might improve my prose style.

    Well, the line about, “many are called but few are chosen” is a little cornballish. Other than that, you do a good job.

  20. gglgljar  •  Jun 25, 2006 @9:28 pm

    No credit for the scare quotes, Swami? Jeez, you commies are brutal.

  21. maha  •  Jun 25, 2006 @10:47 pm

    Edward,

    I put Warner on the spot in front of the national press for one large reason. His display of largesse was completely out of character with the rest of our grassroots convention,

    Who the hell elected you to be the character arbiter at “our” grassroots convention?

    and I was more or less disgusted buy his seeming attempt to buy his way in.

    Lord, son, don’t be such an ass. As I said in the post, politicians have thrown such shindigs for voters since they invented politicians. It’s a respectable, time-honored tradition. And you must have an awfully low opinion of the other convention attenders if you think Warner actually bought any votes.

    When you find evidence of real quid pro quo, that’s one thing, but if the candidates want to throw us parties, what’s the deal?

    Please, son, get over yourself before you do any more damage.

  22. maha  •  Jun 25, 2006 @10:49 pm

    gglgljar — Perhaps someone else will explain the “monkey minutes” rule I enforce here, but this constitutes a warning that you’re about out of yours.

  23. jawbone  •  Jun 25, 2006 @11:41 pm

    Bobo passing on smears? It’s what Repug pundits do

    Bobo writes and says nothing that does not in some way advance the RNC/BushCo agenda.

    And not check for veracity of a charge? IOKIYAR, what else?

  24. jawbone  •  Jun 25, 2006 @11:44 pm

    It is not a coincidence that the Net Neutrality ammendment failed to pass in the House.

  25. Donna  •  Jun 26, 2006 @12:48 am

    Maha….gglgljar, who sort of made me nauseous with his posts, must stand for GaseousGaggerLaunchesGannonLite’JustAdmireRove’

    Whomever has integrity would condemn Rove, not hold him up for admiration. Karl Rove is one very depraved soul.

    Alright with me if you twit this Rove wannabe. Seems to me he stalked in here to denigrate folks who differ from Rove because we recognize that ‘how we do things’ is as important as the ‘ends we work to achieve’.

  26. Ian  •  Jun 26, 2006 @11:28 am

    To be fair, it doesn’t appear to me giggler is holding rove up for admiration … just using him to contrast with Kos’s record when it comes to backing candidates. Which, IMHO, is a fair comparison, in a limited sort of way. Rove is a slimeball who almost certainly has a special spot in hell already picked out and decorated for him, but he is also very, very, very good at getting people elected. Kos, apparently, is not.

    Now, I think that Kos provides value above and beyond his candidate picks… i think he’s done a good job of helping to get the left side of the ‘net started on organizing, which is a good thing. But, I also think it is absolutely vital that some of the netroots candidates start getting ELECTED. If it becomes common political wisdom that netroots makes a lot of noise but doesn’t help with elections at all, that will be the end of whatever political influence netroots has.

    As for anything else giggly might have to say, well, difficult to say based on what he’s written so far, but he appears to be one of those “concerned republicans” … you know, conservatives that are worried, just worried SICK, that we democrats might be making ourselves irrelevant by opposing the war in Iraq (or whatever), and is advising us, in all honesty and sincerity and in a spirit of brotherhood, that it would really be better for US if we went ahead and frogged every time the republicans say jump.

    If that’s not the case, I apologise to him, but that’s the way it looks.

    -me

  27. Britwit  •  Jun 26, 2006 @3:10 pm

    I don’t read DailyKos unless there is a link from Mahablog. I don’t like the layout.

    David Brooks is an asshole who thinks he is being “cool” by talking about bloggers.

    Mark Warner – let’s hope that guy doesn’t get elected.

    Karl Rove makes me absolutely crazy. He is a college dropout who is a political hatchet man with lots of bags of dirty tricks.

  28. gglgljar  •  Jun 26, 2006 @7:59 pm

    Ian, I couldn’t care less whether you can oppose the war or not, and I have zero interest in arguing points nobody’s going to budge on.

    My sole point was that there are clear reasons for the media to treat Kos as they are treating him, without any need for a conspiracy. I agree that much of what Kos does — raising money, getting people revved up — has real value to candidates. Frankly, I won’t lose too much sleep if he grabs the wheel (though I doubt he’ll get that far) and steers the party off a cliff (which of course he may not, even given the chance), but he’s far more likely to end up as another guy who controls political money and attaches the customary strings to it. I anticipate that he’ll keep the Mercedes.

    I can’t see what’s so bad about the “concerned Republicans”, though. Agree with ’em or not, it seems to me that an attempt at persuasion, however ineffective, is better than the obscene and abusive outbursts that usually pass for communication across the partisan divide these days.

    Maha, I’m sorry I pinned that sign on Citizen’s back. It was unkind.

  29. Edward Anderson  •  Jun 27, 2006 @2:26 am

    Yo, Maha–
    Warner didn’t buy any votes in Vegas. He did buy access. Why weren’t other ’08 candidates given equal access?

    This isn’t about me at all. If I had my druthers I wouldn’t have been quoted by name. (unfortunately one of the reporters knew me from Iowa ’04 and the GOP convention, so I couldn’t rely on an alias…)

    When bloggers start becoming part of the celebrity/cocktail circuit we are clearly heading down the wrong path. Only a matter of time before our best and brightest get co-opted like Chris Matthews and Joe Klein.

    Sure, everyone was having a great time being wined and dined in the luxury hotel, but no one knew what Warner stood for. Something utterly wrong with that.

    Please Maha, have an open mind. I encourage you to peruse Warner’s financial disclosures. Sadly something like one in four of his $5,000 donors are hard-core Republicans. You down with that?

    And finally, I had no problem with Warner throwing a party. I just expected barbecue and blue jeans. The Stratosphere was way over the top, and in a cycle where Congressinal candidates are struggling for $$$, a $100,000+ for a stupid party was a ridiculous expenditure of money. We could have had fun for $25/head. At least where I’m from.

    P.S in theory, Warner’s PAC is supposed to be about helping candidates, not schmoozing bloggers. right?

    Please, Maha, if you want to respond, do so substantively and spare me the ad hominem crap. It is about money in politics. It is not about me.

  30. maha  •  Jun 27, 2006 @7:06 am

    He did buy access. Why weren’t other ‘08 candidates given equal access?

    But they did. I clearly remember sitting through a series of speeches by candidates at the “progressive superstars lunch.” I believe one was John Laesch, who is running against Dennis Hastert, but off the top of my head I can’t remember who the others were. But they were given the stage in the big room and they talked to the entire assembled convention. That looks like “access” to me.

    [Update: OK, I had some coffee and realized you are talking about presidential candidates. Wes Clark, who might run, was there and gave a party also, and he spoke at a Friday morning panel that I attended, but then he had to leave. Later that day he had to be in another state. There aren’t that many declared candidates right now. Joe Biden — would have been booed. It’s just as well he didn’t show up. Don’t even talk about Hillary. Russ Feingold would have been a rock star there, but he may have chosen not to go for his own reasons. The Senate was in session, after all. Al Gore would have been a mega rock star, and I’m sorry he wasn’t there, but I can’t imagine he wasn’t there because he was turned away. Anyone else you can think of?]

    [Update update: Kerry … he’s not saying he’s running, of course … I suspect some of these guys believe that association with Kos would hurt them more than help them. And they may be right.]

    And I haven’t heard complaints from any Democratic candidate who they were denied “access.” Have you? If you have, please educate me.

    When bloggers start becoming part of the celebrity/cocktail circuit we are clearly heading down the wrong path. Only a matter of time before our best and brightest get co-opted like Chris Matthews and Joe Klein.

    “Celebrity cocktail circuit”? Oh, please … if that party constituted entree to the “celebrity cocktail circuit,” whatever that is, I’m Popeye the Sailor.

    I grew up in a very small town in the Ozarks and had little experience with a lot of normal social activities until I was well into adulthood, which means I’ve gone through my whole life feeling a bit like a hayseed everywhere I go. But even I wasn’t all that ga-ga over the Warner party. I might have been 40 years ago when I was fresh out of the hills, but not now, especially now that I live in the greater New York City area.

    Believe me, the Warner party was a plebian affair by New York City standards. As I’ve said, I’ve been to swankier office Christmas parties.

    In short, I suspect the reason you are so uncomfortable with it has to do with your own background and social experiences.

    Sure, everyone was having a great time being wined and dined in the luxury hotel, but no one knew what Warner stood for. Something utterly wrong with that.

    Warner spoke to the convention about what he stood for. I remember watching some film about him, too.

    Please Maha, have an open mind. I encourage you to peruse Warner’s financial disclosures. Sadly something like one in four of his $5,000 donors are hard-core Republicans. You down with that?

    Warner’s candidacy leaves me cold on several levels, but the issue of who is backing him has nothing whatsoever to do with throwing a party for Kos conventioners.

    And finally, I had no problem with Warner throwing a party. I just expected barbecue and blue jeans. The Stratosphere was way over the top, and in a cycle where Congressinal candidates are struggling for $$$, a $100,000+ for a stupid party was a ridiculous expenditure of money. We could have had fun for $25/head. At least where I’m from.

    “At least where I’m from” tells the tale, I believe. If you’ve lived in different parts of the country you come to realize that people have different standards about what’s “over the top” and what isn’t.

    For example, I remember when I was in my 20s I went to a wedding reception where there was an orchestra, and dancing, and booze, and a buffet featuring lots of shrimp. I was astonished; back home, a wedding reception was nonalcoholic fruit punch and cake in the church basement. If someone had thrown a big whoop-dee-doo wedding reception like that back where I came from it would have been a scandal. But in many parts of the country it is standard. Expected, even.

    Although I’m not exactly a party animal, in the several years I’ve lived in or near cities, once in a great while I have gone to social events that required wearing formal evening dress and which were held in luxury venues that made the Stratosphere look like, well, the church basement in comparison. And with better buffets, too. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find the Warner party remarkable.

    Warner is a rich guy, and by a rich guy’s standards that party was the equivalent of cooking hamburgers in the back yard. Trust me on this.

    Please, Maha, if you want to respond, do so substantively and spare me the ad hominem crap. It is about money in politics. It is not about me.

    I’m sorry, but it’s YOUR objections that lack substance. Your discomfort with the Warner party is something that comes out of your own background and experiences. I doubt very much that many other people were bothered by it.

    The problem is YOU, in other words.

  31. Clarke  •  Jun 27, 2006 @2:04 pm

    HOW TO HERD CATS:

    Stop free-feeding (i.e. leaving out a bottomless bowl of kibble) and get them on a meal schedule like you would with dogs.

    Within a week, ten days tops, your cats will be eminently herdable. Also less prone to diabetes.

    Sorry, but that simile drives me up a wall.

  32. maha  •  Jun 27, 2006 @2:19 pm

    Clarke — that might work with some cats, but you haven’t met Miss Lucy.

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