Over at MyDD Chris Bowers has a post in response to our discussion here about the 'netroots' as a political movement. And Chris keys in on the already observed bifurcation within the progressive political blogosphere. The thesis -- and there's some persuasive statistical evidence to back it up -- that there are really two progressive blogospheres -- one built around Kos, MyDD and other blogs that have grown out of them, and another with a less activist or more journalistic bent like TPM, Tapped, Kevin Drum, Yglesias, etc.
Now, what Chris notes that when I discussed the importance of institutions in making up a political movement, I mentioned Kos and other sites but not the group of sites that I run ...
What is particularly striking about Marshall's query is that he does not include the TPM universe of blogs in his list of netroots institutions. Personally, as someone who would probably be considered one of the "leaders" of the "activist" progressive blogosphere, I think the entire progressive, political blog universe, including the TPM centric, "intellectual" blogosphere, can accurately be considered a single, sprawling, new media institution that is the ultimate, successful spawn by the new movement Matt describes (although MoveOn.org would also vie for that title).
I actually don't think our thinking is as far apart on this as it might seem. Part of my reason for not mentioning my own sites was just what I guess was an awkward attempt at modesty. But I also wasn't trying to be encyclopedic.
I don't think that any of us who've had a high-profile role in the evolution of the progressive blogosphere over the last five or six years can have any doubt that we've been part of an evolving political movement of some sort -- and one that's grown, become integrated in more complex ways and more mature in institutional terms. There've just been too many threshold developments not to recognize this.
So when Chris describes both wings of the progressive blogosphere functioning as one big sprawling (if somewhat decentered and less than totally hierarchical) institution, I agree with that. That's my experience of it too.
I think one can recognize this while also seeing some real distinctions in how the various 'nodes' in the progressive blog space function -- and that that's not a bad thing.
I won't speak for others on this side of the blogosphere. But I have always felt both part of and not part of the more activist part of the progressive blogosphere. Let me just take a few examples. I never raise money for candidates on the site. That's not because I think it's usually much of a secret which I support or that I'd like to see candidates I like raise a lot of money. It's just a line I don't cross.
I also don't endorse candidates -- for whatever 'endorsing' means. Again, I'm usually fairly transparent about who I like or don't, if I have strong opinions. These are just lines I don't cross.
Now, I don't usually discuss this because it can come off like I'm saying there's something wrong with sites that do. But that's not the case at all. In fact, raising money -- even if Max is a bit dismissive of it -- is one of the most potent and important aspects of what the blogs have accomplished. Sometimes I'm even a bit envious of sites that do. But it's just part of how I've chosen to define my identity and that of the sites I run online.
Largely, I think this is because I come out of the world of journalism, not activism, and it's just a line it's bred into me not to cross. As much as I've dipped heavily into activism at TPM -- far more than I think I ever would have imagined -- and as much as it's opinion journalism in which my views and opinions are right at the surface, fundamentally, it's journalism. Clearly, for a lot of journalists, I'm already way past the point of becoming part of the stories I report on. But everybody needs their lines, and money is one of mine. I can't be involved with particular candidates on an activist level and still be able to report on them -- or now have my reporters be able to report on them in the way I want to. The two just don't mix.
Again, to bend over backwards to make sure I'm not misunderstood, that doesn't mean I think that bloggers who raise money for candidates are compromised in some way. It's just that they're existing in a different niche than the one we occupy here at TPM. And here's where I want to come back to Chris's point about whether people in the 'intellectual' blogosphere either don't think of the progressive blogs as a movement or perhaps aren't conscious that we are part of it.
Speaking for myself at least, that's not the case. I think there are real differences between what I do and what Chris or Markos, for instance, do. But I also think that these modes are often highly complementary in a political context. There are audiences they reach and influence they have that I can't, and vice versa. I often, for instance, stand a bit apart from the conference calls and coordination that goes into a lot of net activism. It just conflicts a bit with what I see my 'mission' (if you'll excuse the hifalutin word) as. But as we learn from the natural world, biodiversity -- diversity of forms, functions and niches -- is critical to a vital and durable ecosystem. Perhaps some of us strengthen the movement or give it reach by not always thinking of ourselves as entirely part of it.
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We got to figure out a way to get these open threads on before Countdown, I wrote this up this morning and he's already scooped me. Great minds, Keith… C&Ler ysbaddaden emailed us to let us know he just couldn't bring himself to watch the season premiere of "24" this weekend.I've never watched the TV show [...]
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Kevin Drum asks:
Question: If this really was the primary critique among the anti-war left, has the Iraq war vindicated them?
My quick answer is - for the same reasons Bush pere did not go to Baghdad at the end of Desert Storm. But my long answer relies on the Congressional testimony of General Wesley Clark in September 2002:
GEN. CLARK: I've been concerned that the attention on Iraq will distract us from what we're doing with respect to al Qaeda. . . . I think, as a minimum, that when one opens up another campaign, there is a diversion of effort. The question is whether the diversion of effort is productive or counterproductive. I really -- it's -- there are forces operating in both directions at this point. You can make the argument, as General Shalikashvili did, that you want to cut off all sources of supply. Problem with that argument is that Iran really has had closer linkages with the terrorists in the past and still does, apparently, today, than Iraq does. So that leads you to then ask, well, what will be the impact on Iran?
. . . SEN. CLELAND: And if you took out Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party, the secularist party, don't the . . . Shi'ite Muslims make up a majority of the population in Iraq, and wouldn't that give Iran a strong hand there, and we ultimately end up creating a Muslim state, even under democratic institutions?
GEN. CLARK: Yes, sir. I think that there is a substantial risk in the aftermath of the operation that we could end up with a problem which is more intractable than we have today.One thing we're pretty clear on is that Saddam has a very effective police state apparatus. He doesn't allow challenges to his authority inside that state. When we go in there with a transitional government and a military occupation of some indefinite duration, it's also very likely that if there is an effective al Qaeda left -- and there certainly will be an effective organization of extremists -- they will pour into that country because they must compete for the Iraqi people; the Wahabes with the Sunnis, the Shi'as from Iran working with the Shi'a population. So it's not beyond consideration that we would have a radicalized state, even under a U.S. occupation in the aftermath.
Was General Clark vindicated? Kevin writes:
The fact that Iraq is a clusterfuck doesn't demonstrate that preemptive war is wrong any more than WWII demonstrated that wars using Sherman tanks are right. It's the wrong unit of analysis. After all, Iraq didn't fail because it was preemptive (though that didn't help); it failed either because George Bush is incompetent or because militarized nation building in the 21st century is doomed to failure no matter who does it. Preemption per se had very little to do with it, and the argument against preemptive war, which is as much moral as pragmatic, is pretty much the same today as it was in 2002.
Now, you can argue that non-preemptive wars are more likely to get broad international support, and that this in turn is more likely to lead to success. But this just gets back to Max's original point: does this mean that anti-war liberals think the war would have been OK if only the UN had authorized it?
Maybe so. That actually comes perilously close to my own view. But it's not an argument I've heard much of lately.PEDANTIC UPDATE: I've used the term "preemptive war" throughout this post, but it's worth noting that this is yet another case in which the Bush administration has twisted broadly-accepted language for its own use. A preemptive war is one in which an attack is imminent and you decide to strike first rather than wait for a certain invasion. A preventive war is one in which you invade in order to prevent a possible but uncertain future attack. Iraq was a preventive war.
Didn't Kevin just concede the point? The argument was always about preventive war, whatever word Bush used. General Clark explains again:
. . GEN. CLARK: I think that the United States always has the option of acting unilaterally. But I'd say in this case it's a question of what's the sense of urgency here, and how soon would we need to act unilaterally? And so I think it's very important that we recognize that so far as any of the information has been presented, as General Hoar said, there is nothing that indicates that in the immediate, next hours, next days, that there's going to be nuclear-tipped missiles put on launch pads to go against our forces or our allies in the region. And so I think there is, based on all of the evidence available, sufficient time to work through the diplomacy of this.
But to put a fine point on it, General Clark testified before the House Armed Services Committee and said:
We have an unfinished, world-wide war against Al Qaeda, a war that has to be won in conjunction with friends and allies, and that ultimately be won by persuasion as much as by force, when we turn off the Al Qaeda recruiting machine. Some three thousand deaths on September 11th testify to the real danger from Al Qaeda, and as all acknowledge, Al Qaeda has not yet been defeated. Thus far, substantial evidence has not been made available to link Saddam�s regime to the Al Qaeda network. And while such linkages may emerge, winning the war against Al Qaeda may well require different actions than ending the weapons programs in Iraq.
. . . I would offer the following considerations:
- The United States diplomacy in the United Nations will be further strengthened if the Congress can adopt a resolution expressing US determination to act if the United Nations will not. The use of force must remain a US option under active consideration. The resolution need not at this point authorize the use of force, but simply agree on the intent to authorize the use of force, if other measures fail. . . .
- The President and his national security team must deploy imagination, leverage, and patience in crafting UN engagement. In the near term, time is on our side, and we should endeavor to use the UN if at all possible. This may require a period of time for inspections or even the development of a more intrusive inspection program, if necessary backed by force. This is foremost an effort to gain world-wide legitimacy for US concerns and possible later action, but it may also impede Saddam�s weapons programs and further constrain his freedom of action. Yes, there is a risk that inspections would fail to provide the evidence of his weapons programs, but the difficulties of dealing with this outcome are more than offset by opportunity to gain allies and support in the campaign against Saddam.
. . . Force should not be used until the personnel and organizations to be involved in post-conflict Iraq are identified and readied to assume their responsibilities. This includes requirements for humanitarian assistance, police and judicial capabilities, emergency medical and reconstruction assistance, and preparations for a transitional governing body and eventual elections, perhaps including a new constitution. Ideally, international and multinational organizations will participate in the readying of such post-conflict operations, including the UN, NATO, and other regional and Islamic organizations.Force should be used as the last resort; after all diplomatic means have been exhausted, unless information indicates that further delay would present an immediate risk to the assembled forces and organizations. This action should not be categorized as "preemptive."
I think this answers Kevin's question. The Anti-War dirty hippies were utterly and completely vindicated. Small solace for the greatest strategic blunder in the history of our country by the worst President the United States has ever had.
Oh, Jonathan Schwarz! Yoo-hoo! You, sir, are a prevaricator!
That's what I first thought when I read this post, and the excerpt from Jonathan Chait's latest column that Jonathan Schwarz included. "No," methinketh, "Chait couldn't possibly have said that! That [to use Jonathan S.'s apt phrase] is dangerously insane!"
But then I thinketh on it more. "Jonathan S. is one smart guy. I mean, really smart. (And funny! Never forget the funny. Buy his book.) He couldn't have misread Chait that badly, even if Chait is dangerously insane." So I read Chait's column. Chait actually, truly, as real as the blinding pain in my head when I contemplate the fact that Chait is a columnist published in the freakin' Los Angeles Times and Jonathan S. and I aren't, said it. Chait burbles:
[Jonathan] Schell insisted [in 1990] that we could force Iraq to leave Kuwait with sanctions alone, rather than by using military force. But the years that followed that war made it clear just how impotent that tool was. Saddam Hussein endured more than a decade of sanctions rather than give up a weapons of mass destruction program that turned out to be nonexistent. If sanctions weren't enough to make him surrender his imaginary weapons, I think we can safely say they wouldn't have been enough to make him surrender a prized, oil-rich conquest.[Irrelevant note to self: Why is everyone in this post named "Jonathan"? Well, except Saddam. And me. Does this mean anything?]
I DON'T WANT to accuse American doves of rooting for the United States to lose in Iraq because I know they love their country and understand the dire consequences of defeat. But the urge to gloat is powerful, and some of them do seem to be having a grand time in the wake of being vindicated.The magnanimity toward "American doves" is overpowering, like the stench of rotting corpses. And that, you miserable son of a bitch, is the point. Those of us who opposed the war and occupation of Iraq wanted to avoid all the unnecessary deaths and maimings that have resulted from our actions, and from our damnable "war of choice." Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and tens of thousands of Americans are dead and maimed because of what we have done. Most of us don't give a damn about gloating: we want the killing to stop. We wanted it never to begin.
There are many lessons to be absorbed from Iraq. We'd be foolish not to absorb them; only the most dense war supporter has come away from the experience unhumbled. But the failure of a criminally negligent administration to carry out a highly challenging rebuilding task in the most hostile part of the world does not teach us everything we need to know about the efficacy of military power.The highlighted sentences are critical. Chait's reference to "a criminally negligent administration" falls within the ambit of the first major error I discussed here: "Trapped in the Wrong Paradigm." Chait does not object to the fact that we began an immoral and illegal war of aggression, in defiance of international law and minimal norms of conduct abroad. He objects only to the fact that the occupation has been managed "incompetently." If it had been managed "well," he would have no objection at all. War criminals have been hanged for less.
Of course we'll learn lessons from Iraq. I'm worried that we'll learn too much.
(Tonight’s selections are brought to you courtesy of the Rescue Rangers. SusanG)
With tonight's round-up including reflections on Dr. King's legacy; discrimination; the passing of one Kossak's dear, politically engaged friend; BushCo's corruption, criminality, and incompetence; and the vital importance of energy efficiency, let us not forget to mourn and organize.
This evening's Rescue Rangers are dannyinla, jennyjem, Elise, Got a Grip, pico, and srkp23, with srkp23 as editor.
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I found this version on Youtube to give you a taste—although it's not Stirling's choice and I apologize. He wrote an incredible article none the less. …(Blogged by Stirling Newberry)George Crumb's "Black Angels" has proven to be one of the most durable works of the late 20th century, written for electric string quartet, it combines simple [...]
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"These are the times that try men's souls," wrote Thomas Paine, the Glenn Greenwald of the 1700's, "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now,[...]
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We failed to mention Obama's presidential bid earlier today because, well, it wasn't really news. We all knew it was coming. Though it probably wouldn't be a bad thing to give you all a chance to discuss it.
We've always liked Obama here at AMERICAblog. (Sure, he bought blogads on other blogs and not ours, but we're not bitter.) Well, at least I do (and I don't think Joe has any great issues with him). I'm from Illinois, and I like Obama, at least from what I've seen. He speaks well, seems down-to-earth, earnest, sincere. All good things. And, what do you know, he has a brain, which would be a nice thing to have in the Oval Office.
Can Obama win the presidency? Sure, some day. Will he win this time? I'm not sure, but it's obviously far too early to tell - hell, I never thought Kerry had a chance in hell of becoming the Democratic candidate, and well... Though I wonder if the electorate might find Obama too green to win this time. After 8 years of Bush, the voters could very likely desire brains and experience. Then again, whether he wins or not, a presidential run is still a good chance for Obama to get his name out there - and he certainly is doing that - and set himself up as a prime talking head and a possible run in the future. No one says you have to win the first time.
One bit of advice for the Obama crowd. Teach your boss to use the word "I." Obama was on CNN last week, talking about Bush's Iraq escalation plan, and he kept talking about (and I paraphrase) how "our office was considering that" or how "my staff is looking at that" or how "we are certainly thinking about that." It's no your office, it's not your staff, and it's not we. It's you. It's I. Obama is far too new at this to be adopting Senator-speak so quickly. He has a fresh face and a fresh voice. And some adviser(s) are already ruining the guy's speech (and worse yet, thought?) patterns.
Obama is a masterful speaker, and seems to have a brain to match. Hopefully, whoever he's getting his advice from, won't turn Obama into the same overly-cautious we-man that we've seen far too many times before.
Jane Hamsher is truely one of the nicest, most decent persons I've met through blogging. I wish I were a believer so I could pray for her tonight. Hopefully, my respect and friendship for her will serve in prayer's stead.
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