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Letter to a Friend...

OK, every once in a while I'll check the comments at Digby's place, especially on her extremely myopic "Woe is me, these awful Republicans are ruining everything, whatever are we to do? The Democrats are our only hope, regardless of their policies, issue positions, and actions-past, present, and future." posts. This one is a good example of the genre (update: here's an even more exemplary post).

Commenter 'bakho' responded to Digby's post in the way that only a true Democratic partisan could.

Let's see what 'bakho' had to say in comments:

Sorry, but the DEMS do NOT control Congress. 49 GOP Senators + Joe Lieberman + Dick Cheney gives the PUGS a 51-50 majority on Iraq.

Liberman does caucus with the Dems because of social issues, but 49 Dems + 2 independents is not enough to stop the Pugs from filibustering (and they are blocking a LOT of legislation).

Everything the Dems try to do right, like SCHIP and troop withdrawal from Iraq can be vetoed by the commander-in-chimp. Dems won't have power to change the course we are on until they have an ally in the White House and a clear majority in Congress.

We did get the min wage increase. Be thankful for that.
bakho

So, here's my quick response to this oh so common and oh so retarded lament of the bold, Fightin' Dem Online Nerd Battalion Member.

Dear bakho,

Tell Lieberman to fuck off. Make him caucus with the Republicans. Get off-line for 20 minutes a day and do some fucking work to have your party act as a functioning opposition party.

love,
Matt

ps-How adorable are you talking about the minimum wage? So cute. I recommend you read this:

It is the liberals, then, who count. They are, as it might be, the canaries in the sulphurous mineshaft of modern democracy. The alacrity with which many of America’s most prominent liberals have censored themselves in the name of the War on Terror, the enthusiasm with which they have invented ideological and moral cover for war and war crimes and proffered that cover to their political enemies: all this is a bad sign. Liberal intellectuals used to be distinguished precisely by their efforts to think for themselves, rather than in the service of others....

...But back home, America’s liberal intellectuals are fast becoming a service class, their opinions determined by their allegiance and calibrated to justify a political end. In itself this is hardly a new departure: we are all familiar with intellectuals who speak only on behalf of their country, class, religion, race, gender or sexual orientation, and who shape their opinions according to what they take to be the interest of their affinity of birth or predilection. But the distinctive feature of the liberal intellectual in past times was precisely the striving for universality; not the unworldly or disingenuous denial of sectional interest but the sustained effort to transcend that interest.

It is thus depressing to read some of the better known and more avowedly ‘liberal’ intellectuals in the contemporary USA exploiting their professional credibility to advance a partisan case. Jean Bethke Elshtain and Michael Walzer, two senior figures in the country’s philosophical establishment (she at the University of Chicago Divinity School, he at the Princeton Institute), both wrote portentous essays purporting to demonstrate the justness of necessary wars – she in Just War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, a pre-emptive defence of the Iraq War; he only a few weeks ago in a shameless justification of Israel’s bombardments of Lebanese civilians (‘War Fair’, New Republic, 31 July). In today’s America, neo-conservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig-leaf. There really is no other difference between them.

This:

To stop them finally and at long last, we must tell the truth -- all of it, sparing no details and leaving out none of the particulars. Then we will be able to proceed into the future. We will still not have redeemed ourselves or earned forgiveness; that is not possible now or for many years to come, not after what we have done. But we will have honored the truth, and the dead and injured -- and we will have begun to make real a commitment to never again permitting ourselves the commission of such acts.

Some may object that such a course is not politically "smart," or that it will endanger the Democrats' chances in 2008. To such objections, I simply ask: Where in God's name are your priorities? Hundreds of thousands of innocent people are dead, tens of thousands are horribly injured, countless numbers have been and are being tortured, and the horrors still continue, day after blood-drenched day.

The United States government has committed acts of great evil. There is no other word for it. If we genuinely wish to get past this terrible moment in our history, we must tell the truth. All of it.

This:

With regard to Iran in particular, the current Democratic Congress has already approved the critical rationales for an attack. The Senate approved -- by a vote of 97 to nothing -- an amendment that accuses Iran of committing acts of war against the United States. Thus, if we were to attack to Iran, we would purportedly only be acting defensively, and in response to what Iran has already done. This amendment, based entirely on unproven, propagandistic, intentionally warmongering allegations, was pushed in large part by Lieberman. Democrats (and progressive bloggers) may condemn the former Democrat all they wish: the fact remains that every Democratic Senator who voted on this measure voted for it. When the wider war begins, they will have no serious basis on which to object.

And this:

Behind all the outrageous events of this era --- Iraq, global warming, the debt, election fraud, war profiteering, failure to create alternative energies, species extinction --- is a culture of non-accountability, cronyism, and obscene profit. How will it stop? Raising the minimum wage by $1.50 over three years might not do it. Arrogance, deceit and blatant crime are responsible for these crises. Not poor execution. Accountability is the way out. There is no reason why we can’t pass fair, life-saving legislation at the same time. We can walk and chew gum. We have grown so accustomed to living in a world of euphemism and double speak, so accustomed to not calling reality by its name, that we think there is no reality except what we can get away with, the reality that sells the product or “develops the resource.” Not true. Nature won’t be fooled. And we only imperil ourselves and our cherished institutions if we don’t hold ourselves accountable. It’s not about partisan revenge, it’s about naming the crime. Some very bad people have broken our laws, dashed our hopes, mortgaged our futures, broken our hearts, and betrayed our country. They need to pay the piper. If we don’t hold them accountable, who will we allow to hold us accountable for making things right?

It’s a platitude to say that political progress is the art of compromise. We compromise in order to share as much justice and opportunity as evenly as we can. But when great crimes have been committed by our elected leaders, we shouldn’t compromise with our sense of justice. It’s hard to admit because as citizens we are responsible, too. But that responsibility demands an accounting, demands an earning back of national integrity by investigating the depth of the crimes. That’s called maturity. Our leaders have inflicted an enormous trauma on Iraq and on us. We will all be much healthier if we heal by inquiry and justice rather than repression.

Oh wait, I'm sorry. You'd have to pull up your pants and stop wanking to this for an hour or so. My bad, get back to work, bakho. Be sure to pull that lever for Obama extra hard. That'll save the country.

Crossposted at ScaryShit.

edited slightly for clarity at 8:27 pm (MST).

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Submitted by lambert on

Not only do we get comments about another blogger, we get a humongous cut-and-paste job from another blogger's comment section! W00t! (sp?) Talk about value add...

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

That's what I would call Digby's post Matt links to above.

And so the new Democratic president will be nearly paralyzed, ...

This is a foreshadowing of things to come: Dems will win the White House AND Congress in 2008 and STILL claim to be powerless to enact progressive policy.

Matt: I second your emotion about Digby's "woe is me" posts, perhaps your addressing her posts and the issue head on would have been easier to follow from a reader's perspective.

And for the record Digby rules. Her eloquence is barely matched in the blogosphere. But I wish she wouldn't devote all her considerable skills towards defending Dems behaving badly. There is another way.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

warranted. digby is the wrong target, for a lot of reasons. let's go over this.

OK, every once in a while I’ll check the comments at Digby’s place, especially on her extremely myopic “Woe is me, these awful Republicans are ruining everything, whatever are we to do?

that's not really a fair assesment of her sum posts on "everything," is it? sure, she's not happy with republican despotism, and she's very strong in saying so. but are they the only ones she blames? i challenge you to show me one solid month of digby's posts that fail to mention the failures of some democrats. seems to me she's pretty consistent in that. "balanced," if you will.

The Democrats are our only hope, regardless of their policies, issue positions, and actions-past, present, and future.” posts.

this is one of those cases where i think you are wrong, and right. the issue at hand, "the democrats," is more complex than a simple "with them or against them" stance. you can walk and chew gum at the same time, and perhaps you feel that digby can't. that's fair. but for those who are only chewing gum- she's doing the right kind of work to fix the gum problem. and you perceive that you are walking, moving forward. why can't both happen at the same time?

there is nothing wrong with choosing to focus upon the democratic process in this nominal repubic. that's what digby mostly does. you have a different focus. cannot both exist and contribute positively to their common goals? i think so. just as you ignore those who blog on brittney or sports cars, if you don't like those who are invested in following other issues, why read them? this is the essence of "freedom" as it is still left to us, here in the blogosphere.

finally, i perceive a little fallacy:

a Tell Lieberman to fuck off. b Make him caucus with the Republicans. c Get off-line for 20 minutes a day and do some fucking work to have your party act as a functioning opposition party.

A and B are not the same as C, yo?

A = something we do every day at this blog. which has accomplished what, in the context of your critique of digby?

B = and how are any of us supposed to do that? not saying it's impossible, but it's a tall order, and requires a lot more detail than just the imperative.

C = well, that's not really in the same category as A and B, is it? what is "your" party? state? county? national? how does one participate in it in "20 minutes a day?" being active in my state and local parties, i'll tell you right now that's not the schedule; it's more like three hours today and tomorrow and some emails thru the week and a batch of phone calls at key times and...you get my point. and that's just my experience. i know yours is very different. and what about "issue" people, as opposed to "party" people? are they the same, or distinct? or something else?

there are many solutions, many paths of action, many moral high grounds, and many sins. i do not defend digby for her own sake (she can do that herself); instead i ask you to turn to mirror back, and evaluate the benefits of fringe progressive bloggers attacking other fringe progressive bloggers. is this the best use of your time?

Jean Bethke Elshtain and Michael Walzer, two senior figures in the country’s philosophical establishment (she at the University of Chicago Divinity School, he at the Princeton Institute), both wrote portentous essays purporting to demonstrate the justness of necessary wars – she in Just War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, a pre-emptive defence of the Iraq War; he only a few weeks ago in a shameless justification of Israel’s bombardments of Lebanese civilians (‘War Fair’, New Republic, 31 July). In

/eyeroll/

everyone at school knew JBE was the conservative mouthpiece appointment. seriously, it's not like anyone, even jr students, thought of her as "liberal." my god, just look at how she runs her classes and treats her students; what a martinet. and weak, scholarship-wise, but i'll leave that one to the classicists. in any case, our media is so stupid, they don't even know what "liberal" means anymore. they most certainly don't understand academic departments or the political orientations of the faculty.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

However, I have sent Digby multiple emails, sent emails to her Facebook account, directed multiple blog posts in her direction, commented on her site, and have never received any response (other than one tossed off comment on a post of mine about Giuliani).

I honestly feel bad for Digby. She is a fantastic writer, and must be constantly receiving criticism much nastier than mine, all day, every day. It must be extremely tiresome endlessly receiving emails like "Hey, you've got everything wrong, dumbass. You need to say X,Y, & Z instead of whatever you've been saying." However, she does have an enormous microphone, and I would like to see her turn her skills towards something more constructive.

I've often said she is the best pure writer on the web, but I find her to be serving the role of the proverbial 'useful idiot' and it is a major bummer. She does a fantastic job of documenting the Republican atrocities, which then serves as an outlet for so many of us online to channel our rage into.

I've said it many times on my little-read corner of the Nerdosphere: We have absolutely no power over the Republicans. They are enormously heinous, that is a given. However, we have a party that is nominally on the 'liberal/progressive' side, and they are supposed to answer to us. So let's exert some pressure on them rather than stomping our feet about those big, bad Republican boogiemen.

The atrocities have been sufficiently documented. It's time for action, ASAFP.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Chicago Dyke,
And whether Digby likes it or not, she is THE opinion leader of the liberal web. If blogs are simply an enormous online social club to discuss politics, then so be it. I however, come down firmly on the side of attempting to use blogs and the networking power of the internet to do something to try to halt the slide into tyranny.

Digby is by no means alone, nor anywhere near the worst offender in the online "woe is me-ism" found throughout much of the proggie web. Things might actually be completely hopeless, but I at least want to go down swinging. However, I find it extremely distasteful to see extremely smart and talented people explaining to their readership that the Democrats will fuck you, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it (I do know that she often documents the Democratic atrocities).

Politics is about power, and pressure. We do have leverage, but we refuse to exercise it.

I don't claim to have any answers here, but we've got to move beyond our current malaise and attempt to do something. Let's put our heads together and figure out what.

Submitted by lambert on

Since CD commented, I'll expand.

If you're going to call one of Digby's "laments" "retarded," you'd better fucking nail it. IMSHO, this post didn't. If you want to, go for it: Knock yourself out. But I'd take a post and go at it systematically, word by word, line by line if that was what it took. Make the case. That was my issue with being "meta."

I'm all for leverage. I think we've got a little (especially when I compare matters to where they were four or even two years ago).

I know the "woe is me" thing. (Part of our history, as dirty fucking hippies, has been to play Cassandra, so that's an easy role to fall into. And an easy post to write, and Gawd knows you need to post post post.) I guess I try to read the Cassandra post as "if present trends continue." But, as we all know, past results are no guarantee of future performance, so there is always hope.

And I wouldn't get too exercised about no mail from Digby. I'm sure she gets a ton of it, not all can be answered, and I'm guessing she's reclusive (heck, we didn't even know she was a she until recently). Since she isn't put on this earth to live up to your expectations, don't worry about what she does, or getting her to do stuff, worry about what you write, and stuff you want to do. Alas, blogging is a long-tail phenomenon....

UPDATE On "useful idiot"--Ah yes, I remember this from back in the day. Like so many words, it's an edged weapon, and I want to make sure its cutting in the direction you think it is. Here's the definition:

In political jargon, the term "useful idiot" was used to describe Soviet sympathizers in western countries (particularly in the United States) and the alleged attitude of the Soviet government towards them. The implication was that the person in question was naïve, foolish, or in willful denial, and was being cynically used by the Soviet Union, or another Communist state.

It's the "being cynically used by" relation between the useful idiot and their handler that is key to the use of the term, I believe. If you think that Digby is being "cynically used" by someone, then who's the someone? (There needs to be an actual relation, not a mere affinity; the term "fellow traveller" would be used for affinity.)

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

It's imperative with the next election a year away that we not lose sight of the essential goal of keeping today's corrupt, ruthless, and valueless Republican Party the fuck away from any power.

Right now, our best bet is to support Democrats -- and to support primary challenges to the many disappointing Democrats.

We need to work on media reform (like, I don't know, maybe progressive "web logs" of some sort -- this woman named "Digby" runs a pretty good one) to break the stranglehold that neo-conservative thinking has on our media. Until we do that, third-party challenges will fuck us up as badly as Nader's 2000 run did (and yes, that wasn't the only factor that was enough to swing Florida, but it was one, and the arrogant argument that Gore was indistinguishable from Bush may be famous last words for this once-great republic).

Submitted by lambert on

The Mighty Corrente Building is not about sloppy.

Wrong, perhaps, beautiful, vicious, polemic, sober, impassioned.... But never sloppy.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Post was slightly edited for clarity.

Now, Vastleft, where did you see me mention anything about third party challengers or Nader? Here is my suggestion.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

OK, quick answer, destroy one (or many, if necessary) of our own. Work together for once, and do not stop until Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid step down from their leadership positions. We act as if we have no power. The Republicans know how to destroy a failed leader.

I say it's time to show them that we aren't playing around anymore. We need to do a full-on, VRWC, Republican style freakout, and destroy a failed leader. I've got a nominee, too....

...Sandy Levinson makes the important point that our Constitution allows for the impeachment of only criminal presidents, not "merely incompetent" ones. We don't need to write a new constitution to let Harry Reid know that we have "no confidence" in his leadership of the Democratic party in the senate, and he should resign his position immediately

and:

Basically, I said that scalping Reid now prevents the nasty 'cut off your nose to spite your face' aspect of threatening to stay home or vote third party. Taking over the party is the correct answer for right now. So let's do it. Third party discussion are a luxury we cannot afford right now, 2000 and Ralph Nader was a whole different animal from what we are facing now. We need to prove that we are not irrelevant and impotent. We need a brute exercise of power to scare the Democratic leadership apparatus out of their wits.

I also said that scalping Reid might not be the correct answer, but it is something we can do NOW. The now is the important part. We won't be swearing in a new president until 1/20/2009. That's a long time from now. I'm not smart enough to figure this one out all on my lonesome, but there's at least one suggestion. Let's see some of the big brains in the blogosphere tackle this. Brainstorming on 'what do we do right damn now' is extremely important in itself. I hope that we can pursue this for a while, the blogosphere has a terribly short attention span, and this is far too important of a topic for a single, Sunday evening.

Look at what the Republicans did to Trent Lott. Look what they did to John McCain and their congressional leadership who supported comprehensive immigration reform during the immigration debate. I also suggest you guys take a look at this, but if you couldn't slog through my longer stuff, I doubt you'll want to make it through Arthur Silber's prodigious output (although it's a hell of a lot better than anything I could ever say.)

I'm going to end with Dan from PruningShears:

Left wing activists are as much to blame by now because their activism has had no effect. There was an initial burst of anger and in typically liberal fashion it receded as other issues took center stage. Consider the recently defeated immigration bill as a contrast from conservatives...

...Democrats appear to understand this difference. They seem to know that if they withstand the initial blast from the base it will abate and there will be no consequences. It is a comprehensive failure of leadership by progressive activists. Ask why they can’t sustain pressure and unity of purpose and you’ll likely hear a combination of denial, spin and condescension that goes something like “that’s because we can simultaneously consider more than one thought.” Unfortunately that’s a reflex and not a response. Progressives’ suceptibility to being disorganized and flitting about from one issue to the next to the next means that even the most pressing and fundamental problems have to compete for attention with the flavor of the day. The fact that no actual change happens despite all their efforts is a scathing indictment and irrefutable proof of their impotence. The fact that they won’t recognize their weaknesses and strive against them even in the midst of a Constitutional crisis is nothing less than a betrayal.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

ps-Lambert, since we're apparently using Wikipedia to chase down the etymology of the phrase 'useful idiot,' the definition continues:

The term is also sometimes used by anarchists and other radicals to describe groups and individuals whose ideology is alleged to be excessively deferential to a government or authoritarian political movement.

That was my intended usage.

Matt,

There was a time a few years back when we were quite friendly. But something seems to have changed your opinion of me in the last six months and you seem nearly obsessed with insulting me.

For those of you who don't know Matt's Blog "Scary Shit" you can read all the lovely things he says about me under the lovely label:

Is Digby high because I blog stoned all the time and I don't think I come off that stupid."

If I want to talk to somebody who says things like that, I'll engage with the wingnuts. At least they have an ideology and a plan and make sense. Matt and his little cadre of malcontents (yes there is a whole crew of them) spend an inordinate amount of time and focus on me and Greenwald complaining that we are silly, naive,uneducated and in my case, just plain dumb. This stems from the fact that I allegedly cheerlead incessantly for the Democrats.

This is why I don't respond. It's factually inaccurate on such a huge scale that their problem with me obviously stems from something else altogether and I just don't give a damn what it is.

That Matt chose this week of all weeks to excoriate me on yet another blog for being a Democratic shill proves my point. In the last seven days I have excoriated the Dems repeatedly and passionately. I do apologize if I forgot to call for armed revolution, but there's always next week.

The PAC I run with three other blogs (Blue America) works exclusively to support progressive primary challengers. And it has actually has done the most aggressive work so far in this cycle against Democrats(all of which was documented on my blog.) We took out ads in Rahm Emmanual's district taking him to task for his position on immigration. We ran robo calls and ads in the districts of the Dem congressmen who voted against SCHIP. I wrote the goddamned ads.

The fact is that I do what I do, the way I want to do it. If Matt Whitmyre and his little friends don't like it, they are free to organize people to do something else. I'm too busy.

I'm sorry that Matt chose to bring this here. He has gotten the attention he craves now, so perhaps he'll give it a rest. You guys are all, of course, welcome to insult me as well, but I would hope that if you do that you will at least show me the respect of reading my blog with an open mind and then judge for yourself before taking his word for it. Matt seems to have some reading comprehension problems.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... is that one of our highest callings -- if not the highest -- is to cause pain to Dems who do us (i.e., believers in the Constitution and basic human values) wrong.

Throwing Digby under the bus doesn't seem like a sensible or warranted means to that end.

Please assume that you're dealing with a sophisticated audience here (a few trolls notwithstanding) that's passionate about political change, and cut to the chase.

What, precisely, do you propose to do about Reid? How can the public "scalp" him now? He isn't up for re-election until 2010. Are you proposing that Nevadans impeach him?

Cindy Sheehan is running against Pelosi. Is supporting that one independent candidacy the ticket? At this point, I wouldn't think ill of you for proposing it, but we need to understand that a rash of progressive protest voting could badly, badly backfire on us if, say, Ron Paul makes a third-party bid.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... that Digby is an exemplar of your pincer strategy: simultaneously articulating progressive truths and tangibly supporting challengers against Bush Dog Dems.

Matt's supposed "woe is me" example didn't impress me as such. Digby is, methinks, merely (and cogently) articulating the likely case scenario for the next president's term.

The fact that many Democrats have been profound disappointments of late doesn't mean that the unlevel media playing field is no longer an important and dangerous fact to shine a bright light on.

It's become uncool to talk about that problem, which IMHO is a key element in why so many Dems cave so often. When I met with my Congressman's assistant, he straight-up admitted that fear of being slammed in the press as "not supporting the troops" and being "soft on terror" has a real impact on how many vote. Noting that fact is often misconstrued with forgiving the chickenshit behavior.

Likewise, people keep mocking "more and better Democrats" proponents as if we're only saying "more." I fear that the current climate of frustration may lead us into vanity vote temptation, so I'll continue to be a useful idiot in favor of primary challenges and straight-blue voting next November.

Submitted by lambert on

Well, think about the goddamn janitor who has to clean it up. Nice work there, big guy.

NOTE Frankly, I thought the idea that Digby was a shill was so stupid there was no point even responding to it, which is why I worked the meta angle, hoping to let the thread take care of itself and die a natural death. Which it was. Sigh.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Coming late to the show as I was busy elsewhere (LOTR marathon on TNT, hangs head in shame) but I am mortified to the core that Digby had to take time out of her day to come and defend herself against a line of bullshit here.

Matt, you got an argument with somebody, that's your beef. Purity trolls piss me off more than anything this side of Rushboobs. Go, and darken our hand towels no more.

Digby, we are honored to have your words appear here, sorry they had to be in such an eye-rollingly stupid cause. Lambert, I never called for banning before but I do not want the janitor to have to waste his time cleaning up after crap like this when he could be picking up empty Makers Mark bottles out of the forecourt.

Submitted by lambert on

I really do not have the time or the energy -- it's after 1AM where I am, now -- to worry about how Corrente is to be used as a platform to attack other bloggers. Therefore, I've closed this thread. I anticipate screams of censorship but, as Atrios once said to me, "Get your own blog."

At some point tomorrow, I'll discuss the issue of posting with the Fellows....

In the meantime, for those who are finished meditating the pincer strategy, I recommend getting the concept of a "layered architecture" into all your minds, because the Republicans have used it very successfully. There's no point screaming at an AEI "scholar" that he (or she) isn't a KKK bottom feeder, or vice versa; because they both work together at their own level very well and toward the same ends.

In the same way, because Digby is working at the PAC level, that doesn't mean that she's doing anything wrong. If you want to work at some other level, then do your work, and don't ask her -- and in a manner seemingly calculated to offend -- to do your own work for you.

And don't make the janitor of this space clean up your mess, either, I might add. Out.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan