In Need of Further Edjamacation

I'm totally beat. I'll get back to poll posting tomorrow. For now, I need some help.

I am not a "first generation" progressive political blogger, like Josh Marshall, Teagan Goddard, Jerome Armstrong or Kevin Drum. I'm not even a "second generation" blogger, like Markos or Duncan. Like many people who are now bloggers, I came from the great unwashed masses of the blogosphere. In late 2002, I started as a lurker. In early 2003, I started making comments. Eventually, I started writing diaries on Dailykos. Then, I started writing lots of diaries. It wasn't until May of 2004 that I actually started blogging myself.

I always thought that coming from the greater blogosphere community gave me special insight into what blog readers want from blogs and what they expect from bloggers. I have to admit, however, that my experience with the Alito fight has left me at a loss. I just don't understand what happened over the past month. Maybe its just that two years with this big podium has resulted in me getting too distant from the community, but whatever the cause, I'm pretty sure I need some re-education.

Let me explain what is perplexing me. On the first day of the hearings, when I was with Tim Tagaris blogging in the Hart Senate building, I made the following opening salvo:
I am in DC today, as I will be for the rest of the week. While I am down here, one of the main things I will be working on is to defeat the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

I want to make that last sentence clear. I believe the Democratic goal for the Alito hearings should be to defeat his nomination through a filibuster of 41 votes or more, and then to defeat the nuclear option with a vote of 51 votes or more. Samuel Alito is an unacceptable choice to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. That post got 11 comments. 11. And that was actually a lot compared to the Alito blogging we had done on MyDD since November. Of the eight posts we made on Alito in the two weeks before the hearings, only two of them received more than 11 comments. Clearly, Alito was not a hot topic on MyDD before the hearings began. In fact, even during the hearings there wasn't much that we wrote on Altio that generated all that many comments. Just check out the two pages we put up on Alito during those two days, here and here. Apart form the Guess Alito's Freeper Name contest, there really did not seem to be all that much. And the story was pretty much the same over at Dailykos. The posts Armando wrote during the hearings received fewer comments than most other posts on Dailykos at the time (if you don't believe me, check it out for yourself).

So then, earlier this week, I remember reading in Hotline one morning hat five Democrats had come out in public opposition to using the filibuster to stop Altio. I saw that and I figured it was over. These weren't even what I considered "persuadable" Democrats for the netroots. We're talking senators like Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Mark Pryor--not exactly senators who have a history of listening to the netroots in the past, and not exactly the sort of Senators to whom we have given much support in the past. I think I muttered a series of explicatives to myself, stomped around my apartment for a bit, had a pot of tea and then went back to work on matters other than stopping Alito.

That same day, a couple of hours later, John Kerry publicly announced that he was going to try and organize a filibuster to stop Alito on Dailykos. Suddenly, after weeks when trying to generate interest in Alito blog action was like trying to pull teeth, there was nothing else a huge number of commenters wanted any blog to discuss. I was one of many bloggers who was suddenly regularly accused of not paying enough attention and devoting enough resources to trying to stop Alito. I was really dumbfounded by this.

For weeks before Kerry's announcement, quite a few large blogs had spent quite a bit of time and resources blogging about Alito and calling for Demcorats to use any and all methods to stop him from being confirmed. We had generated what seemed to me fairly little interest from the community, at least compared to other stories that were occurring at the time. However, a couple of hours after the whip count on the filibuster had failed, John Kerry coming online and saying he was trying to organize a filibuster suddenly changed everything. Now, after we had spent weeks calling for the same thing, now only a couple of hours after defeat had already been pretty much assured, now we were supposed to do everything we could to organize the filibuster.

Pardon me for asking this to no one in particular, but what the fuck? Why was the progressive blogosphere community suddenly interested in making a huge stand against Alito only after victory had become nearly impossible, and only after John Kerry--not exactly the most popular Democrat in the blogosphere before last week--had announced that he would give it a shot? What happened?

Edjimacate me. What was the psychology of the netroots interest in Alito? Why was Kerry the catalyst? Did the fact that the fight had suddenly become nearly impossible actually play a major role in people suddenly wanting to engage it? Did bloggers such as myself just do a crappy job leading the netroots against Alito in the first place? If so, what could we have done differently?

I need to know. I came from the blogosphere community, but maybe I don't understand it anymore. I often hear calls for better leadership from top bloggers, and as many campaigns as we try to lead, there is still clearly a lot of disconnect on certain major issues. This can't stand, because the last thing we need is for the progressive establishment to be disconnected from the netroots, and for netroots leaders to also grow more disconnected.

Tags: Activism, Blogosphere (all tags)



Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Simple, the exact same thing as a lot of local DFA groups have discovered. People like quick easy bursts of instant gratification. Long political campaigns are hard, take work, and sometimes fail. Calling your Senator and being threatening is quick, faux empowering, and gives you the illusion of making a difference, while not interfering with even the most trivial aspects of one's life.

It's really the same debate as the ones over useless protest marches, etc... Give a lot of folks the choice, and they'll pick the useless, yet fun and easy instant gratification choice.

Sad but true.

by ElitistJohn 2006-01-30 07:39PM | 0 recs
The upside is that

since not many people engage in a smart and useful way then those who do are becoming more powerful and important.

It's the same in the conservative community - they have a small core of people who really make an effort to help Republicans.

A small number of people can make a huge difference - they have to fight alone at first, but then people jump on the bandwagon.

by Populism2008 2006-01-31 12:12AM | 0 recs
The Downside was the AWOL Democratic Leadership

I was totally opposed to ScAlito from the moment he was nominated, but posted very little about it on the blogs. There is nothing wrong with that -- the fact that the blogs lit the fire under the filibuster is an indictment of the Democratic Leadership, not a measure of bloggy impotence.

The sad truth is, the Democrats went into the hearings without a game plan or a coherent message. The result was predictable -- a few salient points, buried in piles of bloviating B.S.

The progressive blogosphere should not have to drag the Democratic Party, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century. Unfortunately, that is what we are faced with. All things considered, the blog leadership on the filibuster was a good thing; we flexed our muscles, and just maybe awakened a sleeping giant.

What happened to the Conservative movement after the Goldwater loss? They took over the GOP. If we can dump Lieberman, it will drop a dime on the leadership that we are a force that must be reckoned with, and not just an ATM to be exploited and ignored.

by ck 2006-01-31 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: AWOL Democratic Leadership

Somehow, I think many of us thought that things were going on behind the scenes that would marshal an effective filibuster effort. I really thought there would be more support and much more strategizing by Dems to get the job done.

What was there to say in the earlier blogging on this? There seemed to be widespread agreement that a filibuster was necessary and urgently needed.

I didn't comment on blogs during that period but I certainly faxed, emailed and called my Senators and many others urging a no vote AND a filibuster.

I was also busy on local political activities, including Party stuff. I think many people are, which definitely cuts into blogging time!

by barbwire 2006-01-31 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I definitely agree with this statement, and it's one reason why long-term issue based campaigns have a hard time keeping momentum.

by Alex Urevick 2006-01-31 06:43AM | 0 recs
I resemble that remark

But it still pisses me off. Yeah, I got all bent out of shape over the last five days over the incredibly inept and ineffectual political game played by the opponents of the Alito confirmation. Mostly, my reaction was just a gut upswell of indignation that nobody was showing a god-damned ounce of real outrage. (Except maybe for Senator Kennedy.) It pissed me off.

Yeah, maybe I should be in the fight for the long-haul, for the dull days as well as the big fights, but I look around and wonder "What the hell else can I afford to do?" I don't claim to be a special case, but I work full-time in a job that has nothing to do with politics, I go to school in the evenings, I vote pragmatically for candidates that support 'my team' even if I disagree with them on many issues, I donate to progressive candidates and causes . . .I even tried to volunteer for the local Democratic party, but every time they have an organizing session . . .I have class.  I'm trying to provide for a family here in a world where they take away more health insurance every year, where my entire career seems to be switching to contract-based non-benefit bearing jobs, and in which I have a pregnant wife (our first child) and I feel like I'm an irresponsible schmuck for even bringing another child into the world as it is and as it is obviously becoming. I know the statistics. If you don't get above a certain income line going forward, you're going to get shoved down into the 'undeserving poor' as conceived by the rulers of Dickensian England, and as resurrected by the neo-cons of the Kingdom of Bushland. I had been working under the assumption that I could work hard enough and be smart enough to make sure that at least my family is safe and has enough to survive. But the evil people running the country now are changing the rules too damned fast! What is it? The top 1% now own 57% of all corporate assets? Hell, the elitists are even jettisoning their own lower ranks just to make sure that the top 1000 individuals in the land are the only ones left with the luxury to even play politics. This last little bit of the Alito fight, for me, wasn't about abortion. It was about putting a man in place who could very well make this a true monarchy. And in an aristocracy . . . 99.9% of us are fucked. That's why I started yelling online the last few days.

I'll try to help and fight harder in the future, but you asked why things happened the way they did the last week in the bloggosphere. That's my take on it.

by Tergenev 2006-01-31 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: I resemble that remark

Here is my personal take on the whole thing:

I already spend way too much time on dailyKos and other left blogs. I try to find ways to filter out some of the volume of information and opinion. One of the things I started to filter out was Armando's many Alito stories. Not because I didn't care. Not because I didn't think it was important. It was because I had already made up my mind that Alito sucked and that Dems should do everything including a filibuster to stop him. So I intermittently followed the drama hoping that Senate Dems would wise up and follow some of Bill Scher's always excellent advice. But both of my Senators are Republicans, so I didn't really feel like calling my Senators was a useful thing to do.

Anyway, that's my story. It's probably pretty typical.

by miasmo 2006-01-31 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

have you considered that we were doing more reading than writing?  that might sound lame, but for instance, i didn't comment on any of armando's diaries, but i read every one.

i think that many people expected the "big" orgs (NARAL, PFAW, etc) to get involved and map out a real game plan for us to follow.  i think we also expected that SOMEONE in the senate would step up and become the megaphone for such a movement.

so when kerry finally stepped up, it galvanised people.  even if it may have been too late (and honestly i was not convinced it was too late until this afternoon), it was like "FINALLY!  someone in a leadership position stood up!"  so everyone put all their energy into trying to make it happen, trying to heed the call.  

i dunno.  just some random thoughts.  i'm still processing it myself.

by annatopia 2006-01-30 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I agree that part of the problem was that it didn't appear that anyone was taking charge.  Lack of leadership.


by Sarah R Carter 2006-01-30 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

And that lack of leadership was due to the fact that most Dems knew that Alito was going to be confirmed. We have 35 senastors who are sincerely against him, that's not enough.

by Populism2008 2006-01-31 12:22AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

It had the feel of something predestined.  /No matter how hard we work, that shit from Connecticut is still going to vote for him*

by Robert P 2006-01-31 01:28AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

It had the feel of something predestined.  No matter how hard we work, that shit from Connecticut is still going to vote for him

by Robert P 2006-01-31 01:29AM | 0 recs

Leadership. Leadership. Leadership.

I think people expected some 10-years-in-the-making master plan from PFAW/NAARAL, which never showed up. The outpouring of support after Kerry made an announcement shows that people were ready to act, but needed someone to lead the charge.

Unfortinately for all of us, Chris, no blogger is in a position to lead any kind of popular political action. Stimulate a groundswell is about as close as we get, but without someone who's got mainstram clout and influence, you don't get critical mass.

It might be easier for blogger(s) to drive press criticism, but the bar for meaningful action there is significantly lower. Just a few hundred comments on the WaPo blog is enough to bring down the house, apparently.

Stoller was right: the progressive leadership simply didn't really want to put in long hours on this.

by Josh Koenig 2006-01-31 05:30AM | 0 recs
As Usual, Anna, You Hit Several Nails On The Head

Everything you said was true--and very clearly put.

But I still think there's something more to be asked.

Such as why--with all the remarkable self-organzing we've shown the blogosphere capable of--we ended up waiting for someone (Senator, major org, whatever) to do something, rather than the next thing simply happening as either (a) an emergent function of what we were doing already, or (b) the direct result of some very specific action taken by someone (or several someones).

In other words, I think you've described quite succinctly what we were doing--which was considerably more than meets the eye.  But it does not address the gap between that and what we needed to be doing--and, more importantly, how we could have addressed that gap in time to do something about it.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-30 08:06PM | 0 recs
Harsh glare of public attention

Being the first to step into the light makes you very vulnerable to attack.

I believe that when a "big enough" leader finally steps forward, they give people tacit permission to join in. The leader can't be just anyone, though. He or she must be someone that people recognize as a leader - someone with enough stature to provide sufficient protective shade from the harsh glare of public attention.

People who aren't yet recognized as having sufficient stature may come out first, but they are not likely to block enough of the sun to give those waiting in the wings the protection they feel they need in order to step forward.

They are leaders, but small leaders. The protective shadow they cast is not long enough.

by mataliandy 2006-01-30 09:29PM | 0 recs
that is a good point, paul

i would certainly like to see less waiting and more doing.  in fact, i think the blogosphere is very capable of "more doing", and that's been proven.

from where i stand, this fight was different.  on an order of magnitude, i don't think that we bloggers alone could have stopped the nomination even if every "big" lefty blogger stepped up with a game plan. we just aren't that powerful yet.  and because the SCOTUS fight was so, well, huge, we needed everyone from NARAL to the green party to our entrenched leadership to our lobbyists to the netroots be on the same page, working from the same game plan, with the same end goal.  

now, i think we had the same end goal: stop the alito nomination.  but the middle part was not well coordinated or mapped out.  it's like that southpark episode.  step one: steal underpants.  step two: ???  step three: profit!  

nobody really put forth a real plan for stopping the nomination until it was too late, and from what i saw there (and granted, i may not be privy to some things) was very little behind-the-scenes coordination between the big lefty orgs and activists like us.  now, there was a significant amount of coordination and information sharing between the netroots.  and i must give senator kennedy and his staff a TON of credit for working with the netroots during the last minute push.

but i do think that some netroots folks tried to step up and lead (armando comes to mind).  but on top of that, i also think that many of us feel empowered, but not quite powerful enough without the backing of our democratic leadership.  

there's something i've written so often on the blogs, and that's that if we want our leadership to stand up and fight we have to show them that we have their backs.  but i also think the reverse is true, that if our leadership wants us to have their backs, they have to stand up and fight for what's right.  and that's what i was trying to hit on in my comment late last night.  when someone finally stood up (kerry and kennedy), we were there instantaneously.  we took all the information that armando and chris and everyone else had been putting out there, and used it when we executed kennedy's game plan.

it didn't work this time, and i just hope people learn their lessons and do better next time around.

by annatopia 2006-01-31 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: that is a good point, paul

I think it bears mentioning that while BlogPAC had gone out of its way to announce its intention to fight the nomination with "" as early as November 1st, the site remained inactive until fewer than two weeks remained before the hearings.

by Kagro X 2006-01-31 08:49AM | 0 recs
blogpac's dead

markos and jerome disbanded it back in the fall.  it is supposed to be replaced by another project run by stoller and others. was brigham's idea, and he's become toxic, apparently.

you can email me if you wanna discuss more details.

by annatopia 2006-01-31 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Amen.  I wasn't commenting much but I was reading everything I could.  I even added more blogs to my feeds just to keep up.

i think we also expected that SOMEONE in the senate would step up and become the megaphone for such a movement.

I expected strategy, planning, and coordination from the Democratic leadership. I guess that expectation was too high.

The Democrats blew the confirmation hearings but I thought maybe they could pull something out with a filibuster.  Then Harry Reid says he's not going to pressure anyone, it's a "conscience vote."  WTF?

I was grateful that Kennedy & Kerry led the way.  (Truthfully, I would have preferred that Kerry cancel his trip to Davos then leading the charge from Switzerland.)  Hell, I was grateful that anybody stood up.  It's an improvement over the trained seal act we've come to expect.

It was like watching a group of people blossom from idiots to imbeciles.

by KimPossible 2006-01-31 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Chris -- I remember well your first post you cite in this and remember thinking -- "oh good, someone is going to call on us to get involved." Then, no action items followed. Over at Bump on the Beltway, Melanie made a similar post suggesting we'd be called into action -- but nothing followed there. What happened to whatever initiative was promised there?

So I wrote my own Senators and let it go.

Annatopia -- like you, I thought we'd get useful strategy from the advocacy folks, though the one I hoped for was the Alliance for Justice who I have seen marshal opposition to nominees in the past. Something short-circuited there. I hope we'll learn what. NARAL and PFAW seemed to be just posturing, but I don't have a lot of faith in direct mail outfits.

The Dems on the Judiciary Committee were a tremendous disappointment. I listened to the whole Bork hearings back in the day and they were simply smarter (better staffed?) in those days. They were dopey this time round. I don't credit Alito on that; he could have been confronted intellectually.

Kerry is not my leader, but I am glad somebody stepped up a little.

by janinsanfran 2006-01-31 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

This is a very interesting situation.  I don't think it was attention that was lacking, but enthusiasm or energy.  I think the excitement of someone like Kerry unexpectedly asking for our help was the catalyst.  

I've found that it's sort of hard to determine what will capture the activism and of the blogosphere, even though I've been a lurker around here for years.  It seems like some good causes go ignored, while others become huge.


by Sarah R Carter 2006-01-30 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Hey Sarah, thanks for your insight and comments.  It's great to see that you're joining in the community.

If I may ask, what does your dad think og the Alito nomination/confirmation?  Would he have been a guaranteed filibuster vote?

by HellofaSandwich 2006-01-30 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you, but I wanted to check with my Dad first so that I would be sure to not put words in his mouth.  So, here's the email he sent to me in response to the question:


I would have voted NO for Alito and NO for the filibuster.  I disagree
with Alito's stands. I'm sorry he got confirmed and I'm well aware that
his impact on the SC will be longlasting.  However, the Republicans played
by the rules and the Constitution.  They got the votes for their majority
and their President fairly (at least, mostly fairly) and we have to accept

I take some responsibility for the Democrats' failure to keep more in tune
with the American people.  The issues are all on our side, but we continue
to give the Republicans free and unopposed reign in the rural areas of our
country where they have been successful in painting us as having no
"family values".  We, as a Party, have been remiss in ceding this
important group of voters to our opposition, and now we as a nation have
to pay for it with this kind of Judge.

I am not going to allow that to happen in my race.  I am going to give the
rural areas the time and respect they are due.  We Democrats have no
reason to fear country folks.  They have a strong grasp on the American
values that are the core of our Party.  They will be with us if we go to
them and ask for their support.


by Sarah R Carter 2006-01-31 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Thanks Sarah!  I'm a bit sad that he wouldn't filibuster, but a NO vote on Alito sure is a hell of a lot more than we could get from Ensign.

Best of luck for your Dad.  I think he's awesome.

by HellofaSandwich 2006-01-31 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

yeah, I was going to say "a sense of hopelessness in the face of inevitability" and that the last-minute flurry gave an unexpected shot of possibility...

we shouldn't be hopeless.  perhaps we don't need calls to action but evidence that there might be enough votes that some leaning could make a difference, and I don't think you can get that several months out...


by redfox1 2006-02-01 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

We're ordinary human consumers of information. In other words, the dynamic of what captures interest among blog readers is basically the same as what captures the interest of television viewers, although the subject matter is different.

There has to be a compelling story and a sense of involvement. It's not a knock aimed at you, BTW. What major party figure made stopping Alito a priority before Friday afternoon?

There have to be actors (they used to be called leaders.) My blog and your blog aren't there yet, although myDD is highly respected in the left blogosphere.

Blogs are great but they can't pull the load by themselves. We need a symbiotic relationship with the party. Once an actor takes action, like Kerry did, people are more than ready to jump in with both feet and then some.

So one thing we might learn is we have to hound the actors into acting, and sooner.

by jondevore 2006-01-30 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I can only give you my experience. I felt that defeating Alito was a long, long shot. What got me excited was the opportunity for the Dems to show some backbone. I didn't have the podium to start the firestorm but that was my reason for joining it when I saw one developing. (I can't tell you what caused the firestorm to develop. Maybe your posts contributed to building the momentum, maybe it was something else.) Once it started, I was commenting all over the place in favor of the fight to filibuster and arguing against those that wanted to be more sensible. I do not regret it a bit. Not even though we lost 72 to 25. We have a long way to go in the backbone department but this was worth it. We have to respect ourselves before we can expect respect from others. And if we want to respect ourselves we have to take on these fights.

by Alvord 2006-01-30 07:45PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I think lefty bloggers are just beginning to wake up to the fact that they actually can be leaders.  I think many of them have been reluctant to really climb into the fray and organize on a mass level; it may have something to do with a desire to remain independent and not feel forced to march in lock step as do rightwingers.  

I've often wondered myself why there wasn't more coordination between blogs, more of an effort at mass motivation of our side on particular issues.

I think this past week and a half will make people think again, though.  That was a taste of real power.    

by mercury 2006-01-30 07:47PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I agree. Netroots folks tend to be suspicious of authority, but without leaders, the blogosphere can't really accomplish much. There needs to be more coordination among bloggers and better planning. There never seemed to be a concrete strategy for taking down Alito.

by bluenc 2006-01-30 07:55PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Well,  there seems to be these opposite forces working here.

We need to see some sort of leadership from somewhere, in delivering/coordinating messages and actions, however, there is a natural distrust of those who would lead.

I don't know that we need to see a "leader" as it were, just direction from somewhere.  Both when it comes to a specific message, or more importantly, when it comes to getting people to act.

David (Austin Tx)

by David Austin Tx 2006-01-31 05:55AM | 0 recs

actually, there is a quite a bit of coordination going on behind the scenes as far as the lefty blogs are concerned.  you might not see it, but it's there and it's happening and it's getting bigger.  soon we'll see some real results of what folks are doing, and in fact i do think you can attribute what happened over the past few days to that burgeoning coordination.

by annatopia 2006-01-31 08:39AM | 0 recs
respectfully disagree

it is exactly bloggers' lack of any real power that dampened enthusiasm for alito posts.

until some democrat with power was actually willing to show his/her hand with regard to the alito filibuster, getting involved in blogger discussions about it seemed like a waste of energy (for me personally).

by jethropalerobber 2006-01-31 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I have spent the day reading comments from other sites.  It is a combination of the boost from Kerry, last minute though it was, and the interest in the Alito confirmation sort of waned at bit, until the date of the vote was set. And now that the vote is over, too many people are ready to throw in the towel, completely.

The problem is instant gratification.  Because the Internet allows us the ability to instantly read and react to news, I have noticed a distinct lack of urgency, if there is a deadline that is weeks in the future (just like most of us did in school when writing term papers ;) ).

Right now, eventhough the final vote on Alito is Tuesday, many people involved in the progressive blogosphere have given up.  Instead of calling their Senators to insist on a no vote tomorrow (as unlikely as it may be), it is as if the cloture vote was the end of it.

This is the battle that we all have to combat in the interval between the SOTU and the general election. This general malaise that has settled over everything I have seen just in the past 8 hours.  It is more pronounced than the 2004 election aftermath.

David (Austin Tx)

by David Austin Tx 2006-01-30 07:56PM | 0 recs
My Hobby Horse

I'll admit it. My answer is my hobby horse: We need a quantum leap in blogosphere organization.

Without that, we can make a lot of noise, and we are beginning to have some real effect--as with the WaPo--but we can't take on the super-big stuff successfully.  And so, yes, since we can't take on the big stuff successfully, we will do the symbolically second best thing--be beautiful losers.  You hit the nail on the head with this question:

Did the fact that the fight had suddenly become nearly impossible actually play a major role in people suddenly wanting to engage it?

The answer is: Yes. Absolutely!

What do I mean by blogosphere organization?  Well, for starters, some sort of super-blog that is organized heterarchically by issues and geography, at the very least.  This will create all sorts of nodes where different issues and/or issues and geography intersect, which in turn can be represented as mini front pages.  Each of these can have its own customized set of front page posts, recent diaries, recommended diaries, and blogrolls. They will be natural intersection points where independent bloggers will come together.

The creation of such a structure will greatly facilitate the development of far more effective targeted political action, as well as significantly increasing the quality of interactions and speed of people's learning curves when encountering new issues.  It will, quite simply, help to redistribute attention in a much more productive manner, making it far easier for many more people to productively find their way around to want they want to read about and discuss.

By making the blogosphere more coherent, transparent, and manipulable on a daily basis, it will substantially enhance people's sense of empowerment, so that when something major comes along, there will be a substantially higher level of can-do feeling--along with a lot more practical experience in working together successfully online.

This is just one example of the sort of thing we could build that could significantly enhance our community empowerment.  We need to think of 5 to 10 other ideas of similar magnitude, and then implement them all.  We need to generate a quantum leap in our effectiveness as a community.  We've already gone from the power of addition to the power of multiplication. Now we need to go from the power of multiplication to the power of exponentiation.

That's the challenge we face.  If we meet it, we win. Not just online, but in real life.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-30 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: My Hobby Horse

As a (sort of) example, I use the Washington state page of to quickly track what other progressive bloggers in Washington are writing about. Not as rich as you are talking about, but it's been very useful for me.

What I've noticed is that we're all hesitating sometimes trying to find the message, when it's in fact staring us in the face.

Somehow the message "we have to stop Alito at all costs" was never transmitted through the netroots.

by jondevore 2006-01-30 08:08PM | 0 recs
That's Right--We Have Pieces of What We Need

But we need to put the pieces together in new way.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-30 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: My Hobby Horse

I don't know that a "super blog" is the right direction.  That is what dailykos is trying to be.

What is really needed is something like memeorandum or newsmap as a starting point for getting the word out.

However, the main thing that is needed is a place for bloggers to go and work together when planning and pushing a message on a topic.  This is where the message brokers Matt wrote about below would be useful.

But, as a caveat, if it ends up turning into a pajamas media type setup, where ideological leanings matter more than the quality of the content, then it will be doomed to failure.  Bloggers didn't start blogging to be a part of a machine.  The independence has to remain or those that would be interested are driven away.  Where the coordination comes in, is sharing research, and helping to shape a message in such a manner that, even through the individual personality of each blogger, the message can be conveyed.

I don't know if what I am saying means what I want it to.  I have been an observer from the outside so long and I have my ideas on what I would like to see happen between now, and the ramp up of the campaign season.  Since I don't have the platform myself to get the word out, I have to try and articulate what I mean here and elsewhere.

David (Austin Tx)

by David Austin Tx 2006-01-30 08:23PM | 0 recs

DKos is a HUGE site, but it has a very small funnel for people to pass through.  That means it has an enormous amount of content that gets far too little attention.  Not what I mean by a superblog.

What I'm talking about is a site where there are hundreds, possibly thousands of potential "front page" views, each a node in a heterarchical (overlapping tree) structure.  Your front page view could highlight environmental justice issues, or women's issues in the South, or everything in Washington State.  (A customizable pull-down menu would allow you to store any number of front page views, in addition to being able to navigate up and down the tree structure.) Although it would be a single site, it would function as a meeting place where many different subcommunities--also represented on a large number of different blogs--would interact.

A given front page view would either be generated automatically, or be edited by a group--typically, composed of people who post a lot on the subject at hand.  The auto-generated pages would derive their content algorithmically from nodes above and below them.  Edited ones would have a wider range of algoritmically material to select from, as well as anything else they might want to add.

In short, this concept is very much about community-building as well as organizing information for both long-term strategizing and short-term action.  It is intended to help nurture a more richly-connected blogosphere.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-31 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: My Hobby Horse

I agree strongly with your basic idea.  I don't think the right approach is to create a new site, but a method for leading sites to interact with each other.

Some sites do things better than others.  MoveOn can generate $250K in a day, but is useless for news/analysis.  I'm sure I don't have to list the pros and cons of dKos.  My home for the Alito fight was  The DNC had some useful content. There are many, many other sites that had  valuable pieces to the Alito puzzle.

Leading sites like these could (from a technical standpoint) very easily generate a combined RSS feed covering the issues of the day.  I know that I'd syndicate a feed like onto my blogs in a heartbeat.  There's a hundred different ways to access a feed like that: desktop news tickers, MyYahoo pages, etc, etc.

The potential stumbling block is if the leading sites can put their differences aside and work together for a common goal.  I'd say if it was going to happen, it'd be most likely to happen after a stinging defeat.

by hoose 2006-01-30 09:17PM | 0 recs
Re: My Hobby Horse

I agree strongly with your basic idea.  I don't think the right approach is to create a new site, but a method for leading sites to interact with each other.
As you note, there is already technology the individual can use to make different sites work more in concert for them.  My concept of a heterarchically-structured super-blog is the most obvious way I can see for making different sites work more in concert for all of us.  I'm quite open to other suggestions. But I must stress that the advantage I see to this approach is that it involves community-building on a potentially massive scale--something blogs have a proven track record of doing.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-31 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: My Hobby Horse

I'm not 100% sure if I'm reading your posts right, but I want to take a stab at responding.  

An example of a similar kind of project in another milieu is  It aggregates announcements from, gee, hundreds of thousands of individual sites for open source software.  It backs this with the obvious community-building tools -- voting, chat, discussion boards, searching, a "frontpage" of sorts, and the ability to select views of multiple categories at once (you could imagine combining an "Alito" filter with a "Florida" or a "National" filter).

I'm curious if that's close enough to what you're thinking about to compare to and contrast with.

by hoose 2006-01-31 07:08AM | 0 recs
I Don't Know No Freshmeat...

So I can't say just by clicking on the link for a quick look-see.  But the front-end interface is not encouraging.

I envision a front page much like what you'd see here, at DKos, or My Left Wing.  The difference is that you can customize it with multiple filters (the user's view of the heterarchical tree structure), save and retrieve those filter settings via a pull-down menu, and set one of them as your default view of the site.  The filtering would effect the recent and recommended diaries, the blogrolls, and possibly ads, as well as the content of the center column--since all these would be generated through filters.  This would be algorithmic for everything except ads and center column content, which would have algorithmic defaults with over-ride provisions.

You would have multiple ways to move around the node structure, the interfaces to which would all be grouped together in one navigation box.

Oh, and in addition to the formal node structure, you'd also have tags, and user subcommunity tracking ("people who recommended this diary also recommended..." that sort of thing) as alternative ways of organizing information to move around the site.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-31 07:48AM | 0 recs
Get Offline and Get on the ground...

I agree we need bigger and better organization, but we do not need a  "super blog." What we need is on-the-ground organizing that can provide us face time with people who might get moving on issues if they were asked directly to do so.

Drinking Liberally provides Philly with one example of this, and maybe this could help facilitate ground organizing in other cities.

Let me ask you this Chris- outside of any e-mails that you may have sent, did you try at all to get people at DL interested in working collectively on the issue?  

The best way to get people to participate is to ask them in person- I think many people would be surprised to find that they can be quite effective catalysts towards movement and change if they work with national orgs to convince their friends to do things...

by Alex Urevick 2006-01-31 06:53AM | 0 recs

I will never understand that mindset that says, "We don't need potatoe chips, we need a monkey wrench."  Of course we need a monkey wrench.  But we also need those chips.

One thing that the sort of super blog I'm talking about would do is increase the cross-traffic between issue concerns and electoral concerns at different geographical clustering levels.  This would obviously support and encourage increased levels of offline interaction and organizing.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-31 07:56AM | 0 recs


I wasn't trying to imply an either/or situation, but I do feel that our online communications are currently being overemphasized in relation to our on the ground activities.

The fact is that there are plenty of blogs- new ones pop up every day (some big, some small)- but how often do you see new things happening offline? As I said, DL in Philly is a step in the right direction, but overall there is an almost complete lack of offline political resources and capabilities.

by Alex Urevick 2006-01-31 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Well the fact of the matter is that for the most part all the blogs have done to this point is net organize much of the old dead left. You and they pay way too much attention to what the political class says instead of building a real movement for change.

And of course with Alito you found out what the old left really likes to do -- lose. It makes them feel good, because the point isn't too build new, but simply suffer opposition.

by brutus1 2006-01-30 08:00PM | 0 recs
Pie In The Face

  1 Pie
  1 Face


by Paul Rosenberg 2006-01-30 08:13PM | 0 recs
The deep wave.....

The holidays are over and people are more fed up than ever.

In general my immediate family is very political. When my parents first started to date, it was illegal for them to get married. He was white and she was not.

Now decades later, as we all were watching the fight to put Scalito on the bench, my parents in their tired state looked at me and said, "Why bother fighting, he's going to be affirmed anyway." I thought for a time perhaps they are right. They have been politically active for a very long time. They have a lot of experience and insight.  But then I realized this fight is too big not to fight.

I feel incredibly energized despite the loss. I feel that we have lost this battle but we're going to win this war. The most of the 25 democrats who voted for cloture did not do so because they felt strongly about the filibuster; they did it because of the pressure placed upon them from their grassroots. We must keep up the pressure!

When you ask why people were galvanized when Kerry stepped up, I have to say that is a misinterpretation. Kerry stepped up because people galvanized. Between all the various forms of progressive communication, radio, Internet, or television the masses in the grassroots have finally begun to flex their muscle and hold their representatives to task.

The senior senator from my state is up for reelection. I told her that if she did not vote to filibuster that I would not vote for her. She got the message.

The message she got one is a message of deep frustration from the grass roots letting her know that either she will now stands up for progressive values or she is gone.

It's not about to blogosphire it's about the deep wave of anger and frustration of the voters.


by Cousin It 2006-01-30 08:08PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Could this be Peter Daou's triangle in action? I know for me, there are so many "action alerts" on all the blogs I read that sometimes, it just seems like one constant futile fight, and I lose interest. While Kerry's message was missing the critical media aspect of the triangle, what I did observe was that someone from outside the blogosphere was really able to galvanize the community. I also agree with John Aravosis that this fillibuster was poorly planned from the start. BUT, had we had a cohesive media narrative, coupled with politicians leading the charge backed up by the overwhelming strength the blogosphere exhibited this week, I think we could have won. Maybe not on the vote, but at least we would have won on principle, and that would have been the story the media covered leading into the state of the union.

In short, I think this proves what Daou has been saying all along. On our own, the blogosphere can get burned out, distracted and disinterested. A rallying cry from a democratic politician can whip the netroots into a frenzy, and a media narrative can lead to the win.

by who threw da cat 2006-01-30 08:14PM | 0 recs
Yes, Daou's Triangle!

We can't go it alone. We, blogs did our part and right from the start. Chris and Armando, and I agree we were reading a lot more than commenting.

If the next step, the Democratic politician establishment had stepped up sooner then we would have had the time to begin the next leg, engaging the independent MSM media.

Perhaps we should have sought out a high-powered political sponsor sooner. Could we have engaged a Feingold, or Durbin or in hindsight Kerry, even a couple of weeks earlier in the process, we might have had a better shot.

I have, with this comment, the hindsight of digby, who is rightly impressed with the 25 and the paradigm shift of the base becoming the default home of the meaningless vote, rather than pandering to the right with the throw-away vote.

If I'm not clear read him here.

by Jeff Wegerson 2006-01-31 03:07AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I think there's two problems.

The first big problem is summed up in one word:  "blog".  Look, I love reading this stuff as much as the next guy, but it doesn't really influence public opinion and it doesn't influence policy makers or elected officials.  Somewhere, there is a formal disconnect between what people out here in commentland think and what the people in Washington think.  A blog just isn't an effective activist organization.

I hate to reinforce this thought, but it does seem to me that conservative blogs, or discussions sites, whatever, serve a different purpose.  Sites like BlogsforBush or Redstate, from my experience of them, aren't trying to influence public and official opinion so much as they are trying to pass on talking points for conservatives. The conservative sites I've been through are a way to get the message out, not to take one in.  I'm not sure that observation is terribly helpful, but it is something to be noted at least.

The second problem is the official Democratic leadership, and this is exemplified by situations like the Alito confirmation.  The Senate Democrats appeared to believe that they could paint Alito as a liar and a bigot, and, most importantly, that they could do all this within the weeklong hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  So, they let the whole issue slide for 2 months without putting anything relevant before public.  The fight could have been won if the official leadership had come out swinging from the day of Alito's nomination--it wasn't an unforeseen event--and maintained a consistent barrage against him for those two months.  

So, in its relation to blogs, the second problem wasn't a failing of blogs, but a failing of the Democrats to stir things up a bit and give us something to talk about.  

Ultimately, there are limitations on blogs.  The format appeals to and is only available to some people.  So, while it might influence official opinion sometimes, it is difficult to expect elected officials to fall in line with what we say.  On the flipside, however, just like everyone else, bloggers' opinions can be influenced by elected officials, and they would be wise to use the medium more effectively.

by Reece 2006-01-30 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Hey Reece:

Give us a break. Don't like blogging? Then do something else.

by blues 2006-01-30 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

You missed the point.  I do like blogs.  But I'm not going to delude myself into thinking that I'm making a difference by commenting on them or writing my own.  

Politics is a major league sport.  But we're not the players; we're not the coaches; we're not the general managers; and we're not the owners.  We're the fans.  Every once in a while we'll get tickets the big game, but most of the time we are just Monday morning quarterbacks and stat-keepers.

by Reece 2006-01-31 04:35AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Hey Reece:

Maybe my blogging has its effects on the political world -- and maybe it doesn't. Anyway, I blog because I am an American who cares about the future of my country and my world.

Why the hell do you bother to blog? Do you get your kicks by founding a cult of impotence?

by blues 2006-01-31 10:18PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I blog because I happen to have real things to say. For example, see my diary entry The Art Of Making History Fast - The Alito Revolt.

by blues 2006-01-31 10:36PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Leadership was sorely lacking until too late.  I got many many E-mails from PFAW exhorting me to fax/mail/call, but I didn't see Ralph Neas or his crew out raising hell on the tube.  I assume from what I've read that NARAL didn't work awfully hard either.

That surprised me.

Then this afternoon I happened to catch a bit on CNN, and (I'll quote from my blog):

After the cloture vote came down I heard some CNN reporter say there was muttering in the halls of Capitol Hill to the effect of "why didn't Kerry start this filibuster effort earlier? We might have had a chance if he had."

My response to those clowns is "What? Your arm was broke? You could have tried earlier -- why didn't you?"

Why did it take Kerry in Davos?  Why wasn't it Reid, Durbin, or one of the ostensible 2008 Presidential candidates in the Senate?

I'll hazard a guess.  They're too afraid of the word "Liberal."  They desperately feel they have to be in the center of the electorate, and they don't recognize where that center is on the issues, despite polls which tell them liberal postions are overwhelmingly approved by majorities.

by Linkmeister 2006-01-30 08:33PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I see Reece and I came to the same conclusion while cross-posting.

by Linkmeister 2006-01-30 08:35PM | 0 recs
Lock & Load

Quoting Chris:

For weeks before Kerry's announcement, quite a few large blogs had spent quite a bit of time and resources blogging about Alito and calling for Demcorats to use any and all methods to stop him from being confirmed. We had generated what seemed to me fairly little interest from the community, at least compared to other stories that were occurring at the time. However, a couple of hours after the whip count on the filibuster had failed, John Kerry coming online and saying he was trying to organize a filibuster suddenly changed everything. Now, after we had spent weeks calling for the same thing, now only a couple of hours after defeat had already been pretty much assured, now we were supposed to do everything we could to organize the filibuster.

Pardon me for asking this to no one in particular, but what the fuck? Why was the progressive blogosphere community suddenly interested in making a huge stand against Alito only after victory had become nearly impossible, and only after John Kerry--not exactly the most popular Democrat in the blogosphere before last week--had announced that he would give it a shot? What happened?

Kerry was slow on the draw, as usual, but he never would have pulled the trigger if the 'Sphere hadn't loaded the gun for him ahead of time.

Don't beat yourself up -- you did good.

Under the prevailing circumstances, it's an unexpected surprise to see a call for a filibuster by a Democrat that has a high enough profile to make a difference. Such is our disillusionment with our party.

I think that we may have made some progress. It may still take a DC politician to pull the trigger, but now they know that the gun is loaded -- for elephant.

by Netromancer 2006-01-30 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation
I only discovered MYDD about two weeks ago.
But I've been fighting against Alito's nomination with PFAW and MoveOn and NARAL for a long time!
Sorry but I just didn't see this blog or Kos
or DU or ANY blog, as a driving force!
I have to agree that when a well known Senator,
finally called for help...we were all there!
Up to that point, I just thought signing petitions was 'the way to go...", so to speak!
The younger crowd seems to think this is a
"Scratch and Win" action!
Then they lose the inevitable 'vote' and the 'BooHooing' begins and they all want to take their toys and go home because it's so UNFAIR!!!" :sarcasm:
Bunch of cry-babies!
I think they have NO CLUE what it takes to fight and that is obvious because they are so upset that we lost!
last I checked the Dems are in the minority!
We didn't have a snowballs chance in hell
but that wasn't what this was about!
Today was about the power of the party!
Would they get up and fight?
We all discovered that we do have power!
We, on short notice, gained twenty-three NO'S!
and I, for one, think that's pretty, damn good!
I didn't think we'd get that many!!!
So, maybe Kos and DU and MYDD and RRMB all
need to get together and have a meeting about co-ordinating the "next time"!
I kept mentioning this website on another site
and NO ONE had heard of you!
And they call themselves 'progressives'?! Ha!
Maybe you need to advertise more?
I'll tell you;
I was inundated with e-mails daily, for months, against Alito and was sent tons of petitions to sign! After a while, I ignored them!
I mean, they were all the same, from different staff members who didn't know the petition had
all ready been sent out!
But I also never saw a blog as a driving force.
I just see them as a place to view other's ideas.
Hope that makes some sense.
I'm pretty tired from today.
We'll do better next time!
This was a learning experience!
And I think we did great today!
Despite the naysayers!
by LividPatriot 2006-01-30 08:49PM | 0 recs

For me, the events of the past two weeks finally made me believe that blocking Alito was possible.

As for not commenting on Alito threads, I'm no judicial scholar and there's nothing constructive I could have added.

Maybe others felt the same way? IDK.

by gina 2006-01-30 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Momentum

I totally agree. I only comment when I think I have something constructive to say or at least a personal insight. Just putting up a post that says "I agree" seems so lame. But if you want to hear that too, I can do it. I so appreciate the work all the bloggers are doing.

I live in TN, Frist country, and have a very conservative (old line money grubber) congressman. After the 2000 election I thought I was the only one in the State who was upset. The blogs saved me from losing it. Then Air America kept me from moving to France :) when the war began.

My only suggestion is if there is a way to band together with the liberal talk radio people. They are few and far between (don't have one in Knoxville and have to stream Air America) perhaps the audience would grow.

by mpower1952 2006-01-31 03:46AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I do admit my first reaction to Kerry's statement that he would filibuster was "Wow, he must really want that 2008 nomination." I heard it on the radio on my way to class and i said that outloud.

As for interest I was plenty interested, I listened to the questioning (and raged at because all we were gettin was heroically parsed non-answers) but what more could I do that contact Coleman or Dayton my senators? What more was there to discuss?

I'll say discussion picked up because it's a lot simpler to organize if you have a standard bearer. Of course this probably wasn't the only reason but it's as good as any.


by MNPundit 2006-01-30 09:00PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

blogs in themselves and even well funded internet oriented political action groups are not a sufficient form of social organization to fight the battle that we are now facing.

We need a broader sense of community and we need to involve and activate more people.

Unless we do that we are going to start every political fight or goal as we did this one, feeling that were are coming from so far behind the eight ball that it is hopeless and that will always lead to the sort of mix of defeatism and too little too late effort we saw this time, even if some of us were really energized and engaged as much as we could be in this specific effort.

Its time to admit that the political whores in office just take our blog money and occassionally visit with us, but when it matters to us they just ignore us becasue we can't energize enough people to really scare them.

They stole TV - the live broadcast medium from us. Its owned and dominated of course by corporations who favor the right and feel its good for business to keep us dumb and distracted.

So we need internet TV, our own channels our own content. We need live multi-media point to point multicasting. If we could do that when for example a protest or happening event occurred, even if the corporate media did not cover it, we would be aware of it and we would all get that sort of self and community re-enforcing positive feedback that would help us to better understand that we are not in the minority and we are not alone and isolated and just out of step with the greater public will. Which is precisely the message that they deliberately engineer to dominate and demoralize us on a daily basis. If our greater (potential) community felt we were coming from a position of greater strength and numbers we would be more successful more often.

We need a means of channeling live contemporaneous multimedia content point to point between everyone on the internet any time any place. Blogs and text based media will not energize the greater community of people who agree with our views and goals. And we can set up internet based services (lets say server based) that will send us content types that we would subscribe to. Further, content of those pre-selected types that is popular at any moment could appear in a preset number of windows on the pc screen, and we could switch between them and have the option to record the media files for playback later.

I work in telecommunications and networking and I know that this is now technically possible even if it not not immediately feasible on a wide scale basis as it will have to be. But in any case some small pieces of the technology puzzle are still missing or not as robust as we need and at this precise moment not exactly a piece of cake to make happen.

I wrote about this more than a year ago in this forum and earlier elsewhere.

I said then that it is time to admit that blogs and text based media have their limits and we need to move beyond them to engage enough people to see our greater goals realized.

by leschwartz 2006-01-30 09:25PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I want to propose a specific set of projects that will help us move in this direction.

We (the greater internet community) need to gather information live as it happens at the time of the 2006 and 2008 elections. We can not rely on the corporate media to honestly cover elections any more.

We need live video/audio feeds from poling sites, community meeting sites and rallies.

We need those feeds to go to multiple internet host sites and we need to make those streams available to internet clients of those web sites.

This technology effort can start with political events leading up to the election.

Some entity like Air America which already has some of this technology in place might be persuaded to set the downstream side of this up for 2nd tier clients (web host sites) on a fee basis.

by leschwartz 2006-01-30 10:07PM | 0 recs
So many fsck-ups, so little time

I am relatively new to following political blogs, and have been in more into watching and trying to understand instead of posting around....but I will add my two cents worth.

As some earlier have could all be just a lack of focus. But is that lack of focus really due to lack of leadership (just talking bout the blogosphere here)...or because the attention has been spread out amongst too many important and outrageous happenings in the past month.

Alito, NO still in shambles, NSA wiretapping, Iraq, Abramoff, etc...there were just too many things to take the attention away from a concerted effort to block Alito. In addition, the holiday break sucked the life out of any Alito movement, and there were other things to take its place.  I waited to see if there would be some Dem Party action after the break, but they all seemed resigned to defeat.

I personally believe it was the ongoing NSA wiretapping scandal that brought focus back on Alito's views on the Unitary Executive, that kicked people into gear and realizing that he was the key to overturning Roe v Wade, along with officially annointing King George (along with a bunch of other things). That late groundswell seemed to motivate Kerry and Kennedy into action to make this final push.

Hell I think the marginalization of the lefty blogosphere by Howell at the WaPost (and others) had really helped raise the outrage meter and pushed bloggers and readers into overdrive to prove that they were a force to be reckoned with.  This is when Alito finally got in the crosshairs of the pending tsunami.

I dont think the leadership has necessarily been bad, but there are too many important things going down at the same time to diffuse the message. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen some of the blogs working together better on hot button issues, and things will probably get a bit better in the future (along with new voices like Glenn Greenwald).  Things are coming together, and some of the right people higher up are starting to listen.

by zAmboni 2006-01-30 09:34PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation


In my view there was very little to discuss about the Alito nomination.  Or rather, discussing Alito himself in the context of his nomination was somewhat beside the point.  We all knew that he was bad and, at least in broad strokes, why he was bad.  I admit, all of the discussion about the Alito nomination prior to Kerry's call for a filibuster was informative, but information alone doesn't activate people.  So people read the blogs, stayed informed, and waited for a call to action that came way too late.  

What was needed was a lot of direction and organizing that just never happened.  I don't think the blogs themselves could have done this, and I am stunned that PFAW and other such groups were not fighting this thing harder and more intelligently. And so what ended up happening is that, when given something quick and easy to do, the blogosphere was able to massively mobilize. But we never really found a way of leveraging the strengths of the blogs to reach out and organize people who weren't already seeing eye to eye with us.  

It's interesting that there were endless posts about, say, Mrs. Alito's tears and the media's response to them.  But I didn't see any analyses during the hearings about who we could count on, who was iffy, who would almost definitely vote with the Republicans.  I think we had some idea, but I never saw anything that was politically sophisticated and brought people up to speed on the Democrats, their histories and predilections, their biases, pressure points, etc.  We all accepted Roberts' nomination in order to allow our leaders to keep their powder dry, but we never got any commitment from them that they'd pull the trigger if X, Y, or Z.  In sum, the blogosphere approached the nomination as if it were a debate and not a power play.  At least that's how it seems to me at this point.                

P.S. "Blogosphere" comes up as incorrect using the spellcheck function.  I'm very tired, so it seems unreasonably symbolic.  But anyway, thought you should know.  


by Matt Lockshin 2006-01-30 09:38PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Well put, Matt.  

There was no debate in the lefty blogosphere as to whether Alito should be confirmed, and there was near-universal acceptance that the filibuster was appropriate.  There wasn't much to do after that.

Among the amazing abilities of the Rove administration is the ability to be so terrible in so many ways that the people can't even keep up with them and thus ignore them.  In 2004, when the Democrats called Bush an idiot, a liar, a draft dodger, and an asshole, none of them stuck.  What was Kerry?  A flip-flopper.  What was Gore?  An exaggerator.  One idea, and it connected with so many people, regardless of its accuracy.  

Alito, as we have learned over the past many months, is a racist, a monarchist, someone who will say anything to get a job, a liar, a Bork clone, a Scalia clone, a Thomas clone, and anti-choice.  Had he just been crazy, like his idol Bork, it would have been easy.  But the Democrats are TERRIBLE marketers, and we couldn't sell Alito on his faults.  Hell, we couldn't even convince the nation that a man who has voted consistently against choice and has stated his goals to eliminate choice is going to overturn Roe.

But we were all convinced.  So what were we supposed to talk about?

And there is no need to discuss how badly the Dems screwed up the whole filibuster concept from the start.

Our Senators cut us off before we ever had a chance.  Feinstein killed us, choking off all momentum at the start long before her eventual flip flop.  

The problem with the blogosphere is that it has no votes.  Russ Feingold, the winner of the straw poll every month, was in hiding.  Tough guy Harry Reid talked politics but not issues.  Even Ted Kennedy made no real effort to lead the filibuster publicly.  Kerry's effort was reminiscent of an SNL skit from the '90s, when the students all raised their hands only after the teacher gave the answer.  Leave it to a Democrat to raise his hand after the issue is dead.

Our leaders are paralyzed with fear.  Large majorities in this country support choice, support civil unions, but our leaders would never submit to these wacko liberals that make up the United States of America.  They are so scared of being called liberals that they refuse to be liberals or even representatives.  The Democrats -- folks like us -- spoke up, but our leaders wouldn't listen.

We will continue to fight for them.  But if they refuse to fight for us, come November, there's a chance that we are stuck with 2 more years of this crap.  And if that's the case, we might have to start fighting for ourselves.

by ZamboniGuy 2006-01-31 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I read the posts here and Armando's posts on Alito. But there was never any post organizing the community to act. What I mean was providing links with the tools - phone & fax numbers, email addresses.

The leading blogs like MyDD, Dkos, etc should have camapign sections that are focused on campaigns on issues with an action plan that enables folks to get engaged.

What these last few days proves is that we have a very energetic base that wants to be heard and is willing to take risks and act.

My suggestion is that influential liberal blogs start a 2006 primary campaign section. The focus here should be action oriented not opining. Specific actionable agenda should be the theme. Let's harness this energy to support and elect real liberals and take-no-prisoners fighters during the coming primary season.

Next let's take the campaign that has been launched against the right wing traditional media shills to the next level by having measurable goals of forcing advertisers on Hardball, etc to fold.

We can make it if blogs can transform some of the traffic and energy of the community to a gale force wind on a specific target.

by ab initio 2006-01-30 09:56PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation


Judibrowni attached a list of links and contacts to every diary that was even tangentially related to Alito.

People complained about it, even.

There was no lack of information on that front that I can tell.

by Flynnieous 2006-01-31 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Various people with heads up their asses are now whining how they need a Great Leader and Why Did He Come Too Late, and they're unpacking all their usual anti-snob and internalized serfdom baggage.  It's sad to watch.

I joined in this thing because it was in a sense too late.  I knew that all the power-hungry opportunists and losers and defeatists weren't going to show up and be counted.   This was Dreyfusard territory- it might just work, but the virtue was in doing it and seeing who would show and give of themselves in what was probably a lost cause.

We now have a tally- we have 25 hardcore Democrats in the Senate and the backing for them.  The Right has squeezed Democrats down to their core and the core has begun pushing back successfully.  About 20 Democratic Senators now know themselves badly humiliated in the eyes of their own activists and colleagues, maybe having won survival from their electorate but lost all dignity and face.  Obama and Feinstein realized they were never going to hear the end of it if they voted for cloture.  Others not fare as well.

Similarly, 5-10 moderate Republican Senators and 5-10 hardliners already in trouble with their constituents are looking at a resurgent activist Democratic grassroots opposition out for blood.  The first controversial 5-4 from the Court in which Alito was one of the majority, whether he goes too far to the Right or sells the Right out, is going to cost them- and they know it.

Beyond that, the real game was to psychologically set the stage for when the next such nominee comes through- the Kerry-Kennedy effort is about making all the moderate cavers-in pay a political price.  It will take a few weeks or months to extract all of this price, but the idea is that moderates and Republicans shouldn't have enough left to spread around to get another Right winger through prior to the next elections.  Elections in which some number of them will pay the usual price- losing office- and be replaced by people who won't repeat their mistakes.

by killjoy 2006-01-30 10:33PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Comment numbers are a bad way to judge interest. The real problem on MyDD is the fact that no one is actively promoting MyDD.  I did promote MyDD for several months but could no longer keep doing it and also work on my own sites.  So there was a lag of traffic over the past 2 weeks which may have seemed like a lack of interest.

I'm coming at this from a webmaster's perspective who has been involved in online communities for 10 years.  It is very frustrating to me that people as talented as the ones here on MyDD don't seem to care about traffic for if they did they would be spending as much time promoting MyDD as they spend writing diaries on it.

I was hardpressed to find anyone with talent to help in some of my previous communities and here you are chock full of talent but the readership does not seem to be there.

There is nothing stopping MyDD from becoming as popular as BoingBoing or SlashDot.  IT's simply a matter of thinking about traffic flows and how to trap spiders and humans into your own web network.  Use your members to help you, they want to help you, tell them what to do.  

Have a traffic contest.  For one week see who's diary get's the most hits and award that person the traffic award.  Members will be encouraged to link their posts in as many places as possible during that week.  

Start a Top 100 Direct Democracy list, blogs put up a small piece of code so people can vote on them.  Each vote brings them onto to see the results.

Set up a simple newsletter where one post a week gets sent out to members, they can then forward that on to friends and family.

That's all I got.


by goplies 2006-01-30 11:07PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation
These are my personal reactions.  When I first read your post I was hopeful, but almost immediately it appeared that the hearings would come across as some windbag senators who never came to the point, no drama, not even any pointed truth, and Alito wearing everyone down with the shear boredom of his presentation.  He wasn't "sexy" enough to be controversial.  Then I saw that Kerry was posting on Kos, which he had never done before, to my knowledge. I really didn't read the diary but I wanted to sign some sort of petition, so I clicked the link.  The letter attached to the petition was eloquent, short, pointed, intense.  It made be feel intense urgency which I had not felt before about Alito or about Kerry.  I actually wondered whether he wrote it himself, but maybe he writes better than he speaks. I began to imagine a million signatures being read into the congressional record. Then I wrote everyone I knew, especially those with email lists.  Since my friends think I'm always right (go figure) and I'd never asked them to do anything before, I believe I am personally responsible for about two thousand signatures.  
I'm just sorry, Chris, that I waited too long, but there was a forum that I found effective, a strong letter with a national name attached to it.  I'd love it if you were a national name, but the U.S. is all about fame and you don't get anywhere without it.
by prince myshkin 2006-01-30 11:21PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Many people realised that this was lost in November 2004. Our energy should be directed to win elections first and foremost. With 44 senators there's not a lot we can do.

To me stopping Alito seemed impossible and hence I lost a lot of engagement. But I will work my ass off to elect more Dems in 2006.

by Populism2008 2006-01-31 12:14AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Just one thought for all of y'all out there in the 'Sphere: this may be the darkest day in US political history.  Yes, even darker than the TWO separate days that the Shrub was placed in the fabled "catbird seat" (the first at the behest of the unconstitutional intervention by the Supreme Court and the second by the THEFT of the 2004 election).  Why?  Not only do we have to suffer yet ANOTHER disgusting display of outright LIES and BAT SQUEEZE fall from the mouth of the pathetic little man in the big chair, but ALL methods of peaceable political redress will be essentially gone upon Alito's confirmation vote today.  Let's face it, folks, it is just as Stalin said it: it's not who casts the votes that matters but rather who COUNTS the votes.  If the voting mechanism ITSELF has been co-opted by the neo-con fascists to the degree that I fear it already has, we could re-animate BOTH Kennedy's fro the dead and they'd STILL lose.  The simple truth is this: for every single district out there that must now use the ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES in the fast-approaching 2006 elections, YOU HAVE NO guarantee that your vote will actually be properly registered, retained & tallied.  The 3 main companies that MAKE these damn machines (Diebold is the biggest - and we all know the CEO of the company was ALSO the Chair of the Ohio Re-elect Shrub campaign) are all FIRMLY in the neo-con corner.  It seems to me that the ONLY fight worth our time & efforts is to STOP THE THEFT OF THE BALLOTING MECHANISM - NATIONWIDE.  And to this end, a "paper receipt" is worth no more than the paper itself.  We need verifiable, INDEPENDENT oversight regarding the software code used to tabulate election returns.  Currently, the companies involved in this industry all claim that THEIR code is PROPRIETARY and therefore EXCLUDED from the public's purview.

Sunlight is ALWAYS the best antiseptic.  Any one else care to weigh in on this, the only battle that matters?  After all, with the release of today's newly-minted executive power "rubber-stamp" (AKA the US Supreme Court) what, dear citizen, shall we do to STOP these bastards from tearing apart the very fabric of our political structure?  

by buddhabelly 2006-01-31 01:49AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I am going to volunteer to work on election day. I figure this way I will learn how the machines work (we're getting new ones in my county, don't know the brand). It's a start.

by mpower1952 2006-01-31 03:51AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation
I think we suffered a kind of Group sense of Powerlessness. The idea that we could effect any real change or have an impact on the process seemed remote! Then there was the Washington Post and Tweetie Bird Hard testicle affair. To me there was mass see change in the attitudes of Liberal/progressive atmosphere and it abilities. I think we Lurkers and commenters are like most are wanting of real leadership from Bloggers. I think most Bloggers don't really feel comfortable with power and are emotionally unprepared to harness the resources at their feet. I personally feel like a cooped up pony waiting for someone to set me loose give me direction and get me in the race!
To make my point, in your opening salvo you stated your goals all right but you forgot to include your readers in your effort. You gave us no instructions.
by eddieb 2006-01-31 02:02AM | 0 recs
What's next?

Off the top of my head, I think wiretapping is the next biggie.  Let's use what we learned with Alito and do better on wiretapping.

Let's not forget that we had at least 2 big underdog victories last month: ANWR, USA-PATRIOT Act.  (Seems like I'm forgetting something.  Scalito hangover.)

Working together (blah!), we can do better.

by hoose 2006-01-31 02:31AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation


Alito was, from the moment he was nominated, obviously the worst thing possible for the Republic.  Everyone in Left Blogistan knew this.  I think that fact was so obvious, blogging about his badness drew few comments because it was gratuitous.  

I, and others I know, started calling my Senators immediately.  I called weekly once the wiretapping came out.  I think it is an error to think that nobody tried anything until this week.  I'm not the only one, believe me.  Once the Judiciary began, after that I simply decided "the odds here are exactly zero."  I kept calling, but it was depressing.

With Kerry's call, exactly zero turned into mostly zero.  Nobody fooled themselves into thinking it was more than 1%, but when the straits are this dire, you have to grab at even 1% in a way you don't for 0.

We need bloggers to tell us when whip counts are, and who's wobbly in them.  We lack this;  we lack the machinery to be effective.  You, and Aravosis, are building it.  But this loss was depressing in a different way than I expected.  I am only depressed about the loss itself.  The action, while sucking in many ways, has great promise.

by Professor Foland 2006-01-31 03:02AM | 0 recs
Its Chris

by aiko 2006-01-31 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I read those threads,  but I didn't comment.  I try not to comment when I don't think that I have anything useful to add.  For judicial analysis I'm much more likely to go to a site like Lawyers, Guns and Money.

I also didn't have a sense of a coordinating strategy.  Where were the people who had stopped Bork?  What did they know how to do that we didn't?  Of course,Bork was very open about his views, and nobody is going to make that mistake again.

I also found it really hard o get straight information out of anyone.  Kerry and Kenndy are my Senators, so I called them both.  Kerry wouldn't say how he was planning to vote before the Judiciary committee held their vote; he wanted to be polite.  I left messages urging them to oppose.  I don't have any sense of what a coordinated and effective attack would look like.

I am also, with a few exceptions, trying to cut down on my blog reading.  I still skim them, but I only give a lot of attention to a few posts.  I don't want to know too much about things that I have no power to change.  If I have a sense that there's a useful action that I can take, then I'll do it, but loading up on information is just too depressing if I don't fee that I can do anything.

Also, there's a governor's race where I think that I can be effective, and I've been busy with that.

by Abby 2006-01-31 03:30AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

The effect of the blogs is different when it is not an election or a regular bill in Congress. In this campaign, the only audience that mattered was the Senate. The Senate has particular ways of working, but there seemed to be no campaign that took particular advantage of that.

What was the role of the blogs? To get constituents messages to senators, and perhaps to give reporters a divergent view to report. Sure, I called my senators. They were already on board, so I asked them to lead the filibuster effort (even while the Judiciary Committee hearings were ongoing).

But the results of blogging don't have much effect unless there is a campaign within the Senate for it to feed into.

There are three Senate leaders that would have had significant influence, but seemed to fall into the losers role too readily. Especially considering that this is the biggest political prize in this session.

Reid made good noises, but it is hard to tell how much he was working other senators. Maybe someone who was there can tell us!  Durbin should have been counting and changing votes. When I heard him on the radio last week he sounded like the spokesman for the designated losers, already conceding. You can't win when your Whip is conceding before the vote.  Finally, Robert Byrd, who is a senators senator. Alito's confirmation will lead to sharp reduction in Senatorial power in favor of the Executive branch. You would think that Byrd would lead opposition purely out of love for the Senate and its traditions.  But he came out in favor of Alito last week. Those three had to perform at the top of their game for a win. At least two out of three ended up playing for the other side.

by De Re Rustica 2006-01-31 03:55AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

FWIW, I'll echo the comments of those who said they read the Alito threads here and on dKos, but didn't contribute to the discussion because I didn't have much to say.  Not here.

That doesn't mean I didn't do anything to make my horror of Alito known to my Senators. I wrote letters (not emails, but actual letters) telling my Senators (Boxer and Feinstein) that I wanted them to oppose Alito, and specifically to filibuster him.

When I wrote those letters, I wasn't hearing much from Senators or activists to indicate that a filibuster was likely.  Desirable, yes. Likely? Not so much.

My letters were basically self-motivated, but I filled out online petition forms - on more than one occasion - sending the Senators email to that effect, too. Still, I wasn't hearing any evidence that the Senators actually had the stomach to filibuster. Which was disheartening, but I certainly still added my voice (such as it was) to the chorus demanding that Alito be blocked.

When Kerry (and then Kennedy) posted to dKos, I was motivated to make phone calls because that was, for me, the first tangible indication that there might be the will to actually try to wage a filibuster on the part of some of our Senators.

Maybe it was a stunt, as was frequently suggested... maybe it was a thin reed to grasp onto... but it felt like the seed crystal got dropped into a supersaturated solution. There was a focal point for action.

by Malacandra 2006-01-31 04:31AM | 0 recs
Commments are not a pure indication of interest

What was there to say?  I agreed with all the diaries about the need to stop Alito.  But there was nothing more to say.  Post a comment that says, "I agree!"?  What does that accomplish.

The front pagers who wrote against Alito offererd reason why he should be oopposed but did not organize people to concerted action.  We're blaming the party and the interest groups for having failed to do that, but we didn't do it either.

When Kerry stepped in, he at least offered some centralize plan of action others could follow.  If we had been given a plan of action from the Bloggerati (the loose consortium of higher traffices liberal blog hosts, who post ideas to each other and talk together) earlier, maybe woul could have turned our energy into action earlier.

About a week ago I posted my idea to start a campaign to pressure the WaPo over Deb Howell's hackery in the comments at one of the "first tier" liberal blogs.  Without getting into the details of my private communications with any of the Bloggerati, that did not materialize in the form I had imagined, but it prompted conversations among people like Matt Stoller, Peter Daou and John Aravosis.  The result?  The Open Letter to the WaPo page and the Open Letter to Chris Matthews campaign/advertiser boycott.

My point is, the Bloggerati can coordinate campaigns too.  If they think strategically and harness the energy of us in the collective progrssive blogosphere, we can coordinate campaigns proactively, not just reactively.

One other thng.  The Alito thing happened at a time when the netroots was reaching a critical mass of anger and sensing its ability to be effective in pushing the larger political and media cultures.  This is a maturation thing, and its organic.  We did not know how well we could take action if we tried, but we wanted to try, because the battle was important enough.  Now, there have been other important battles, so why this one?  In part, simply because we were ready.   CtG will, I expect, also be a galvinizing cultural event for us.

There's not turning back now.  We are a real movement, not just an online movement.  We are a think thank and an army.

That's the lesson to elarn from this Alito business.  I hope the Bloggerati learn that they can be strategic organizers, pushing the party and shaming the innefictive interest groups.  Should this organizing be happening at the national party level?  Of course.  Is it?  No.  So we have to build it; we can't wait.  That's what I hope the Bloggerati work together to build.

The rest of us learned we can make oursleves heard, but we need to be mre organized and proactive, rather than reactive.  John Aravosis was right in that the filibuster fight was not well conceived.  That's because it was organic.  I'm glad we fought it, and I don't believe, as he did, that it will hurt us.  But we can learn from it.

by Pachacutec 2006-01-31 04:33AM | 0 recs

First judicial filibusters are always a mistake. They are fundamentally anti-Democratic. If a candidate is that bad and you can't muster 51 "No" votes than you are just not doing your job. Whether Alito falls into that category is one question. Whether we can or should just sideline the question of who would have been nominated in his place is another. I think both questions are debateable and in ways that suggest letting him take the seat with the maximum number of "No" votes on confirmation is the best course. Time will tell.

But I don't plan on being in the minority in the Senate forever. I am not convinced the Democratic Party will not have a Senate majority this time next year. Do the netroots really, really want to legitimize the Right's ability to block an openly pro Roe v Wade justice to replace Stevens? Do you really want to legitimize a judicial filibuster and just hand this weapon over to the Republicans?

I sense a lack of awareness of the history here. Republicans used a wide variety of tactics to block Clinton's nominees. Refusing to schedule hearings was a good one, blue slips another, denying that vacancies on the Fourth Court represented any kind of judicial emergency another. The list went on and on. They didn't need to filibuster because they had all kinds of proceduarly alternatives that in effect let a single senator filibuster any candidate from his or her state.

All of those procedural alternatives went away when Bush came in. Suddenly the right of the minority to have a voice vanished. Blue slips 'poof'. Consent of both senators from that judge's state 'swoosh'. And that is not coming back should Democrats come back to power. Why should it?

At which point the Republicans will only have one weapon: shutting down the Senate via a filibuster. Will they use that weapon? Well if legitimized by Democrats using it to block a Supreme based on ideology alone of course they will.

Like Chris I came actively to the blogsophere in 2002. For me the issue was the War and Bush. I hated and hate both. But oddly most of my shouting matches ended up being with people who equally hated both but insisted that some combination of American blindness and the brilliance of Boy Genius/Turd Blossom Rove meant we were doomed, doomed, doomed and that the only viable response was to "Shut it Down!".

Well I didn't and don't agree. Given patient explanation people will come to see the realities and the polling numbers over the last three and a half years show that clearly. But I still smell a bit of "gloom and doom" in the filibuster debate. I still hear a lot of the "if not now, then when?" talk that I was hearing when people said "popular war time President" and meant it. We have the Republicans on the run and have to act like we will be in control next year.

Kerry made a brilliant political move. He got the netroots all fired up while ensuring that little to nothing would spill over into the papers and that nothing would come of it. It was a cynical exploitation of most people's total incomprehension of what a filibuster actually was. His move was carefully timed to have the maximum impact online and the minimum impact in the MSM and the Senate itself. At the height of the shouting on Saturday I could not find a single mention of filibuster in the New York Times.

People marvel that all of the Presidential candidates that have not moved on fundamental issues like Iraq suddenly reacted to pressure and voted for Cloture. Friends by the time that vote happened it was perfectly safe, this move could have been script written by Steve Elmendorf.

"The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."

Remember those words the next time Hillary or Kerry come bragging about their opposition to Alito and then slipping a request for some dollars. In my opinion the whole Left Blogosphere got played here.

by Bruce Webb 2006-01-31 04:37AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

whats wrong with the blog community is the same thing thats wrong with americans in general.....we are under the influence of so many drugs (grinding poverty, religion, tv, sugar, fat, info overload, etc) add to that chronic stupidity (we just arent very well educated and dont have critical thinking skills thanks to our education system) and you have the wall that will be hit continually...the only thing that cracks the wall is discomfort...enough discomfort to break thru the haze and register with a person ....enough discomfort to cause someone to finally put 2 and 18 together and get a vision of a future that will really cause some have to overcome stupidity, apathy, laziness, and this culture's opiates to motivate people to do much of anything.

it doesnt help when there is no clear message, no clear alternative, no clear leadership, no clear purpose, etc.

for is a message i got this week on the so called progressive blogs;

we have to oppose the alito nomination to preserve reproductive rights and we have to make sure the senators who dont stand with us know there will be consequences, that we will support only real democrats in the future, and we will look for alternatives to run against the turncoats and traitors who voted for cloture etc....except in the case of pa where we will support casey cause we really just want to win and we would rather do that with someone our daddy rendell told us we should support and by the way lets all make fun of pennachio and totally dismiss any effort to lift him up and push him forward as the kind of candidate we say we want to replace the turncoat dems with....

yeah thats the way to motivate the grassroots.

by annainphilly 2006-01-31 04:38AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

The left blogosphere was used, Chris. Kerry decided to lead the filibuster fight after an aid whispered in his ear words to this effect:

"You know, Senator, leading a losing filibuster would shore up your bonifides with the left going into the '08 campaign cycle."

To which Kerry might have replied:

"Mon dieu! Vous êtes un genié!"

We got played, big time. Even so, fighting the Alito nomination was the right thing to do.

I think the other dynamic at work here is leadership. Kerry's quixotic endeavor energized the base for the simple reason that we had someone on the hill who was willing to hoist the standard, even if it was done so for cynical reasons. We need leaders who will stand up for the right thing even when it may not be politically expedient for them to do so.

by Tod Westlake 2006-01-31 04:39AM | 0 recs
Gee, perpetuate those memes

To which Kerry might have replied:

"Mon dieu! Vous êtes un genié!"

While you're at it do you have any other rnc talking points or memes to regurgitate?

I'd rather have a president who was able to converse in another language than the current little man occupying the White House who has intense difficulty with his native tongue, even while he's fed the lines.

by Michael Bersin 2006-01-31 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Gee, perpetuate those memes

Give me a break, will ya?

Just because I dislike Kerry doesn't make me a right-winger (I'm as left as they come). I held my nose and voted for him, just like the rest of us did.

I would have prefered Dean or Kucinich.

The French quote was just a little jest, btw. Don't take yourself so seriously. You'll end up with ulcers.

Here's an excerpt from All the President's Men which nicely encapsulates the way I feel:

DEEP THROAT: Can't you understand what you're onto?

BOB WOODWARD: Mitchell knew?

DEEP THROAT: Of course, Mitchell knew. Do you think something this size just happens?

BOB WOODWARD: Haldeman had to know, too.

DEEP THROAT: You ain't getting nothing from me about Haldeman.

BOB WOODWARD: Segretti said...

DEEP THROAT: Don't concentrate on Segretti. You'll miss the overall.

BOB WOODWARD: The letter -- the letter that destroyed the Muskie candidacy, the Canuck letter, did that come from inside the White House?

DEEP THROAT: You're missing the overall.

BOB WOODWARD: But what overall?

DEEP THROAT: They were frightened of Muskie and look who got destroyed. They wanted to run against McGovern. Look who they are running against. They bugged. They followed people. False press leaks, fake letters. They canceled democratic campaign rallies. They investigated democratic private lives. They planted spies, stole documents, and on and on. Don't tell me you think this is all the work of little Don Segretti.

[emphasis mine]

Now, replace the name "Muskie" with the name "Dean," and the name "McGovern" with the name "Kerry" and you'll get my point. The "Dean Scream" was this past election's "Canuck Letter."

RNC talking points, indeed.

by Tod Westlake 2006-01-31 08:09AM | 0 recs
rnc talking points, indeed

The French quote was just a little jest, btw. Don't take yourself so seriously. You'll end up with ulcers.

That's the problem - you don't take it seriously. Like the media you think it's funny or cute to use a cheap shot - never bothering to understand how you've become a tool for perpetuating their memes.

Just because I dislike Kerry doesn't make me a right-winger (I'm as left as they come).

I don't care if you love John Kerry.

I only stated that you were regurgitating right wingnut memes. If you're "as left as they come" then start acting like it - and try to be a disciplined political activist rather than an amateur junior high wannabe who wants so badly to show all the adults how witty he is. Don't do the right's work for them ever - make them scratch and claw for everything.

Nixon's henchmen were creampuffs compared to the current group of thugs.

by Michael Bersin 2006-01-31 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: rnc talking points, indeed

I'll do what I like, even if you don't like it. How about that?

Who the fuck are you?

by Tod Westlake 2006-02-01 01:19AM | 0 recs
Re: rnc talking points, indeed
I'll do what I like, even if you don't like it. How about that?
You'll probably get over that petulance thingy once you graduate from junior high school.
Who the fuck are you?
I'm a nobody. That's what really makes your cluelessness so pathetic.
by Michael Bersin 2006-02-01 01:47AM | 0 recs
Re: rnc talking points, indeed

Sorry I don't kowtow to your idea of the way a good liberal should comport himself. I guess I missed the course in PC etiquette.

I suppose my weariness of being confronted by mealy-mouthed purists, such as yourself, could be construed as petulance, but it might also be construed as simple frustration that I can't seem to pass your ideological litmus test. Can I please be a memeber of the Kool Kids? Pretty, pretty please?

John Kerry is an asshole. I don't like him. My barb may indeed have originated from a right-wing think tank -- something of which I was well aware, before you so ham-handedly pointed out the obvious -- but my use of such language was intended to be ironic, and amusing. I'm sorry you didn't find it funny, but then you really don't have much of a sense of humor, do you? If the progressive movement becomes an "irony free zone," as has the wingnutosphere, we are right and truly fucked.

And you're quite right; you are a nobody, as am I.  

by Tod Westlake 2006-02-01 07:26AM | 0 recs

Heh. Your self-righteousness is truly touching.

You ain't no liberal lefty, not when you say stuff like this:

...I guess I missed the course in PC etiquette....


by Michael Bersin 2006-02-01 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Heh

How dare you question my credentials? I've worked for SANE/Freeze, Greenpeace, PennPIRG, NYPIRG, CISPES, NJ Citizen Action, and The NJ Environmental Federation. I've volunteered for NARAL and NOW. I've woked on independent expenditure campaigns on candidates from Vic DeLuca (Newark NJ City Council), to the Jesse Jackson campaign (1988), to the failed Dukakis campaign for president (another milquetoast asshole, also in 1988).

As I've siad, who the fuck are you?

by Tod Westlake 2006-02-01 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Heh

Isn't the alphabet cool?

You're losing control. You use far too many right wingnut talking points (hint: what's wrong with PC, especially since it makes the right wingnuts' heads explode?).

As I've siad, who the fuck are you?

I am Spartacus.

by Michael Bersin 2006-02-01 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Heh

If you'd like to ratchet this down a bit, I'm game.

If you had simply stated that you didn't appreciate my joke and then listed the reasons why, I'd have replied favorably, earnestly saying that I was sorry to have offended you, but I reserve my right to make comments that some people may dislike. Instead, you accused me of being a troll, something that I found really offense. Touché, I suppose.

I happen to be a purist when it comes to First Amendment issues. If any one's speech is squelched, then my speech is squelched. I believe all Americans (and by extension, people all over the globe) have the right to speak their minds, even if it is offensive to some.

We know how the Right stifles freedom of expression; let's not fall into the same trap.

And it's legal, by the way, to shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater if the place is actually going up in flames.

I'll close with this epigram, usually attributed to Voltaire, but actually coined by Voltaire biographer, S. G. Tallentyre:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Why don't we leave it at that?

Oh, and I love you, Spartacus.

by Tod Westlake 2006-02-01 04:48PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

My VERY humble opinion. If you could have gotten someone like Kerry to come on here and do what he did on Kos, only earlier, I think it would have had the same effect. I don't think anyone expected Kerry to do what he did, so it really galvanized people.

BTW, even though many pretty influential bloggers have praised Kerry for what he did, I don't think there is any doubt it was a crass, cynical attempt at "getting in good with the base". Really where was he before it became obvious a filibuster would fail?

by bobbyk 2006-01-31 04:40AM | 0 recs
We Used Kerry

I have no doubt Kerry used the Alito filibuster campaign for his own purposes in '08.

So the fuck what?

We WANT them to come to us in the nettroots, grassrots, people.  DUH!

I have no problem with what Kerry did, I wish he or others had done it sooner.  We used him.  He didn't use us. I don't think there are very many people who fought the filibuster fight who have any idealistic illusions about Kerry.

By the same token, a lot of the Kerry bashing, including the quotes attributed in French, are simply replaying dfeatist GOP smears.  

Fuck you, people, seriously.  If you have to cannibalize Democrats in the service of your defeatism, and if you have to replay Karl's Rove's talking points while you're at it, go to hell.

This post is not in eact response to the comment directly above it, but to the Kerry bashing commnts in general.

by Pachacutec 2006-01-31 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: We Used Kerry

Actually I generally agree with you. As long as people take Kerry's actions for what they were. Just don't give him so much credit-he really doesn't deserve it.

by bobbyk 2006-01-31 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: We Used Kerry


by Pachacutec 2006-01-31 05:20AM | 0 recs

As much as I am into politics, I've had a difficult time getting into the subject of the Supreme Court. I'm pro-choice, but it's not high on my priority list. But for this nomination, I tried to watch some of the hearings, and I started getting into it. The more I saw, the more I didn't like about Alito. The vision of America that Alito promotes seems to be an athoritative police state, where much authority is transfered to the Executive branch. By the end of this nomination process, I've made about 60 calls to the Senate. Before the 10-8 Committee vote, I called each member and said

"this is an extreme nominee, from and extreme president who is extremely unpopular. Not only should Alito be voted 'No,' but filibustered if that's what it takes. This is America's Supreme Court, not George Bush's"

Then I called the 44 Dems plus Jefffords when Kerry's announcement of the filibuster came out. And I made a few additional calls to my 2 Senators. I even asked some relatives to call the Senate, which I've never done before.

The problem was failed leadership, be elected Democrats. I can't speak about the single issue groups - I never saw anything, but I didn't look for it, so maybe I just missed seeing their efforts.

At a time when Bush is very unpopular, and he wipes his asss with the Constitution, you'd think they could increase the drama a little bit.

Bottom line: We just need to keep raising hell, and get others to raise hell. Nobody supports the shotguns-in-your-face police state that Alito will bring us, but we didn't get our point across early enough. We really have to push the Dems harder, and threaten the Repubs that we are an INFORMED public.

This is the same Senate that largely has to know we were lied into war, they were lied into war, they have the evidence, but they don't DO anything about it. When Harry Reid shut down the Senate to get the Phase II investigation going, that was good, but unfortunately, all we are going to get is a white wash, and a press that quickly moves on.

UNLESS we get really fucking agitated, 24-7.

by bejammin075 2006-01-31 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

1. Many people realized there was nothing that could be done to stop the nomination, so they did little. Perhaps now people will realize what it means to have a one party government. If they had been able to filibuster there is a good chance Frist would have changed the rules and Alito would still have been confirmed.

2. Politicians react only slightly to the public. They react to those who pay for their campaigns. The high cost of running for office means that both parties are beholding to business interests. If you want to get some notice, intead of 2000 phone calls (as Maryscott O'Conner called for) try 2000 $10 checks.

3. Withdraw your contributions from the Dems (and let them know) and send the money to good government groups instead.

4. Don't pick on imperfect incumbent Dems, focus on getting Republicans defeated. Internal debate and splits is what always hobbles liberal organizations. Once the Dems are in control then it will be time to replace the less progressive office holders.

by rdf 2006-01-31 04:42AM | 0 recs
Why is simple

The reason why is simple. In your early posts, you stated that there will be no filibuster.

Everyone here who agreed with you , at that point, became innoculated against further posting on the subject, because without a filibuster - Alito could not be stopped.

When the filibuster finally came, you ignored it for two days. It wasn't even posted on the main page when it was announced.

Then, a regular sequence of posts occurred explaining how the filibuster was fake.

Frankly its not surprising that there was so little interest - your very first set of posts included the bottom line that in your meetings you found that the democrats would not try to stop him, and yet, when they finally did - you didn't highlight it.

To oppose Alito was also, I have to say, not a simple matter. Alito had a long paper trail. In my case, it was not really  until I had hit "Morrison vs. Olson" and realised that Alito's views on the power of the executive branch would be a death blow to our constitutional separation of powers - that his appointment was a power grab by the white  house - that I actually vocally opposed him. But it was Kerry's filibuster that gave me something to focus on, something that we could do.

In the online community, petitions , signatures and email to senators rule. We could let our voices be heard. In the real world, you need marching orders and logistics + you have to quit your job to do it.  Alito had no real world opposition, nobody except the pro-abortion types were out there marching. And abortion is disgusting. Period.

And online, there were a few campaigns.  Alito was a problem: everyone knew he had all the votes he needed to be confirmed the minute he stood up there, but he is still the first candidate in 90 years, to have been confirmed in committee without a single vote from the minority party.

Bowers, your stance was clear from day one on this. Its not that you quashed the debate - its that the online community needs goals and action to focus their efforts + these elements were all missing from your posts. Esp. with this candidate, who has a long paper trail, you could almost hear everyone's gears turning trying to figure him out - is he prejudiced against RVW? maybe yes. maybe no. What are his views on the unitary executive? about 12 papers there to read.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-31 04:43AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

It was pretty straightforward for me.  I'm not a Senator.  I can't cast a vote.  I'm one person, the Senators will ignore one person.

And I had read that some Senators had already said they would not support a filibuster.

When Kennedy and Kerry stepped up I knew there would at least be Senators who could cast a vote.  When the different blogs became active I knew I wouldn't be a lone voice.

Without someone who is entitled to vote in the Senate and without substantial numbers of people being involved I didn't see how I could make a difference.  I'm glad I got the opportunity to try.

by SusanD 2006-01-31 04:52AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

The Repigs have been working since 1982 to take over the Court.  Democrats think that they could stop this in a few days through the blogs with John Kerry leading??

We have to recognize that we no longer control any facet of the Government, and very little of the MSM.  Taking our country back is going to take some time and a lot of effort beginning with electing a lot more good Democrats beginning with this year's elections.

Stop beating yourself up and keep hammering!

by huey 2006-01-31 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I agree with Huey 100%.

by howardpark 2006-01-31 05:36AM | 0 recs
Elected officials have actually won elections

And they tend to have broader support, even within the blogosphere, than newspapers, television shows or blogs. When they set a clear goal people listen and follow. This is similar to the befuddlment of some blogs and pundits over Hillary Clinton's popularity, they forget that she appeals to a much broader audience.

At the same time, politicians are reluctant to lead unless they are sure people will follow, or 'back them up'. And that is where blogs can be effective, by identifying sympathetic politicians, convincing them that support will come if they take a stand, and delivering that support by getting the message out. The support, even if narrowly based, helps politicians force the media to deliver their message to their broad audience of constituents (the media is far more susceptible to pressure than politicians).

by tib 2006-01-31 05:20AM | 0 recs
Dear Chris,

You really impress me.  I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability.  Thanks.  Since I was one of the critical voices wishing for more from you and kos over the weekend here are my two cents.

1.  There have been lots of calls to action by the blogs but coming in a diary from a senior senator equated to the inside the beltway asking the hinterlands for help.  We know what we are capable of and Kerry gave hope to that potential.  Without Kerry this would not have happened.  Just wait until Dean asks us to do something....

2.  The blogs need to be better prepared and a campaign function is a great idea.  I have been involved in political organizing for 30 years and it was so obvious that we desperately needed a prominent clearing house of information--hour by hour.  The blogs are a perfect place for numbers, emails, faxes and for updates, vote counts, confirmation of rumors, targets, etc. Quite frankly the blogs are a political organizers dream come true.

3.  The blogs are a perfect tool for a national effort directed at Washington.  It allows us to speak with one voice.  Local and state efforts aren't going to be as successful because you run up against what we saw in Iowa and with Hackett.

4.  Kos suggested that an interest group should have led this fight but I am not so sure.  Again I think the blogs are perfect for political organizing--the communication is swift and multiple interest groups can join together under one umbrella.  Non-bloggers don't really understand bloggers.  I am not sure that NARAL could have provided what you or Matt or Armando or georgia10 could have.  I think that is why we need our own organizing tool.  Sort of a GOTV function of the liberal blogosphere.  We are not just an ATM we can deliver pressure as well.

5. I like many think it was worth it.  And I was even more amazed at the success despite the silence or quasi-silence on the front pages of all the blogs I frequent except firedoglake.  That speaks volumes to potential.  Remember there will be other votes, there always are.

Thanks again.  You are doing a great job.

Heather Ford

by aiko 2006-01-31 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

In brief, perhaps the lesson is that hindsight is a lot more common than foresight.

by howardpark 2006-01-31 05:35AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I have a different interpretation--

If it was not for the blogosphere and people like you, Armando, etc---Alito confirmation would just be smooth sailing.

When Sen Kerry gave a specific call for action--Call your Senators--people responded--it is Democracy and grassroots in action.

Where our leaders failed is that they did not educate (not netroots who was well informed by you and Armando) clearly how Alito would roll back all progressive reforms for the past 40 years.

Even the Alito Ad was so lousy--Alito talking and then read the anti Alito points(goes against rules of Ad making.

by jasmine 2006-01-31 05:49AM | 0 recs
speaking of poll posting...

Could you give us an idea as to the IMPACT this poll may (or may not) be having?  Who knows about it?  It hasn't hit ANY MSM (and I'll use MSM if I want to) outlets... just one press release (that Chris wrote) shows up on google or yahoo news... (furthermore... on U.S. Newswire... not even on Reuters or A.P.).  Nobody knows about this thing... so what was the point again?

Democrats need to stand up for... (fill in the blank)?  

Let's not kid ourselves, that was a small part of the point... the other major point was... Chris et al. were going to spend a lot of time getting the poll out for everyone to see... and nobody's seeing it.

by NCDem 2006-01-31 05:52AM | 0 recs
The Triangle

Ah yes, again with Peter Dauo's Triangle. But you know what, it's happenings like this which prove how right Peter Dauo is.

The blogs went nuts on Alito. No response from the net/grassroots. Then Kerry, a prominent Democratic politician, joins the battle. Everyone is fired up.

Now, imagine if the DNC, Senate Democrats such as John Kerry, groups such as NARAL, and the netroots had coordinated together to fight Alito? And then what if the few remaining liberal voices in the media had picked up on all of that, amplified it, and forced the rest of the media to talk about it?

What if, what if...when will we learn?

by LiberalFromPA 2006-01-31 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I suggest each blog adopt one or a couple of Congresscritters to be its partner to create actions of this kind.  

Kerry's call for a filibuster was the catalyst.  Up until then, however concerned we were about Alito, we had no reason to think we could do anything about it.  Yeah, yeah, write and call your senators who aren't listening.  Not fun.


Kerry's call galvinized us.  Somebody was listening!  That somebody actually TALKS to other senators!  That's what made that outpouring of calls, faxes and email worth the trouble and the phone bill.

Had Kerry known in advance that he'd be supported by the readership of the big blogs like MyDD and DailyKos, maybe he'd have called for the filibuster sooner.  A partnership between a blog and a legislater could mean two-way communication and earlier action.

by sozzy 2006-01-31 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

What John A. said.

What was the psychology of the netroots interest in Alito?

Frustration and the desire to do something ... anything.

Why was Kerry the catalyst?

Up until Kerry made his announcement the msm had simply said that Alito was a done deal. The msm threw Kerry some media attention. This initiated a rl drive for a filibuster. As for why he was the catalyst .... everyone could get on the bandwagon when Kerry stood up, not just the netroots, but more establishment Dems.

Did the fact that the fight had suddenly become nearly impossible actually play a major role in people suddenly wanting to engage it?

Like John said, Kerry was using us. He had to know it was impossible, or maybe he simply cracked his head skiing in the Alps.

Did bloggers such as myself just do a crappy job leading the netroots against Alito in the first place?

Not at all. MyDD had a kewl poll and live blogging. Who could ask for more.

I don't see how more can be done the way the current blogsphere operates. Diaries come and go. People read, comment, and move on. How can one build an opposition under these conditions? Unless one prominant blogger steps up to the plate, there will continue to be little direction and focus.

I would like to see certain front page articles and diaries stay up for more than a day, especially if readers are still commenting. I can think of no better way to create dialog, attract readers, and get together enough people to make an individual action work as intended.

Also take a look at slashdot as someone else suggested. I wish we had the same set up in the political arena.

by misscee 2006-01-31 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I will keep this short as I know you have a lot of these to go through.  I am a stay at home mom - started reading blogs w/the 2004 election and have been truly sucked in - half of me loves the experience of reading and connecting to like minded people and (some) truly brilliant writers and thinkers.  The other half is so depressed at the daily litany of abuses, lies, backpedaling, etc. etc. from both parties coupled with the feeling that nothing is changing.  In the past two years I have responded to calls from many different blogs to write/call senators, advertisers, and anyone else on the list.  I write my email to be sent off into the ether never to be heard again.  And it makes me more depressed - did it make a difference?  Did others do it also?  Did anyone read it?  I appreciate that when John of Ameriblog puts out a request for action he follows up on it - what he's hearing, what type of response he's getting - I feel as though maybe I am part of something bigger.  Which brings me to this latest filibuster exercise - we were part of something bigger - so many bloggers were following up and reporting back that I really felt my calls were doing something.  And I also knew that it would have almost no chance but it was invigorating, cleansing even.  I would also note that I did not think there was any point until Kerry jumped in - I'm fairly sure that only senators can call for a filibuster on the senate floor - no matter how determined a bunch of letter writers may be, it does take that type of catalyst to get things moving.  And so what if Kerry "used" the blogs - we are here to be used to promote what we feel is important - we don't have to vote for him again.

I don't know where exactly this is leading - only want to give my opinion and experience - we really do want to be part of the bigger picture.  If that means a short, all out effort for two or three days (some sort of concerted action re: the NSA hearings maybe?) with lots of follow up and coordination with other blogs then I will do my best and I'm sure others here will also.

Thanks for your time and thank you for being part of this awesome blogosphere.

by bam123 2006-01-31 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

As many people here have posted, I followed the blogging of the hearings.  I knew what I didn't like about Alito.  I knew my senators would vote against Alito.  I didn't see that there was much else to do.  

I'm bombarded with requests to sign this petition (often against legislation that happened in the 90's) or to evangelize about this abuse of power or that.  I don't have the enthusiasm or energy to fight all the fights worth fighting.  I got involved with the Alito fight because people I found credible were involved, because there was a specific time table, and because it was something I felt strongly about.

Also, the Post's recent misbehavior helped get me all worked up, and primed the activism pump.

by mhoram 2006-01-31 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

The filibuster only gained traction as an actual possibility once a major figure (in this case Senator Kerry) stepped up to take the lead on it.  Granted, the way he did it was pretty fucking stupid, waiting a few hours until after enough people had announced they would not filibuster that it wouldn't matter, but that was obviously the catalyst that got the ball rolling.

As soon as that happened, the blogosphere lept into action.  In retrospect, the only thing that I see the blogs could have really done differently is this:
Decide amongst ourselves via a poll, or via Markos and Jerome and Chris and John Aravosis and whoever else, deciding on who should be the blogosphere's target.  Then all the blogs would have a day or a couple days where the main story on the front pages is about contacting this one particular target (be it NARAL, PFAW, or Senator Durbin) and telling that target that we want them to step up and lead NOW.  A coordinated effort like that would certainly generate thousands of calls and be more than just a little blip on the radar screen.  If that person didn't step up, two days later we'd call another Senator.  After a while, they might realize that their colleagues have also been getting shitloads of people to urge them to stand up and fight.

The point is that in order for something like a filibuster to occur, some major figure needs to lead the way first.  So rather than us calling each of our Senators and telling them that we think they should oppose Alito, we could all call one and tell that one to stand up and lead the fight.

by Fran for Dean 2006-01-31 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I did a little database query of my own blogging. I posted nearly 500 items since Alito's nomination. My top subject: The Supreme Court.

Here's the article count of my top 10 subjects:
31    Supreme Court
30    Domestic Spying
28    Iraq
25    Corruption
21    Media and News Coverage
16    Iraq War Debate
15    Congress
14    Torture
13    Civil Liberties
11    Jack Abramoff

There were a couple of items on individual decisions, but the bulk of the Supreme Court discussion was on Alito. I read a lot of Alito related material. I sent out emails to Senators, friends, my newsletter, and to readers of the blogging email list I belong to. And I talked to a lot of people about the Supreme Court thing.

But when I commented on other blogs it was on other topics. I don't recall commenting on Alito stories on blogs at all.

Why? Because the Alito thing was obvious. Everyone had the same information on him. It wasn't like, say the corruption scandals with lots of people digging up new information all the time. And it was three months in coming. And look at all the other stuff going on. There was a lot more twisty and unclear angles to ferret out about those other topics and pitched battles happening at various points.

When the hearings were dogbone boring and poorly handled, it looked like it was over. But a fight by Kerry? One last chance.

by DrLaniac 2006-01-31 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation


The swarm of blog activity after Kerry's invitation was a Perfect Storm, with two causes:

1) The firedoglake-inspired takedown of Deborah Howell.  Finally, the MSM paid attention to what we were saying (not in the right way, of course, but at least they paid attention!)  I'm astonished that no one has yet mentioned how much this fired up the netroots.

2) Kerry actually writing a dKos diary and inviting action.  Say what you want about Kerry (and we all have), at least here was someone in the Dem leadership actually asking our help for a big action.

So the blogaction against the Washington Post got the MSM to sit up and take notice, and this MSM attention got the Dem leadership (in the form of Kerry) to sit up and take notice.  MSM and Dem leadership acknowledgment of our political POV are the two things that everyone has been banging their head against the wall to get!  Why is it a mystery that the troops responded with a giant war whoop??

We've got to train ourselves to see these "flow of battle"-type realities; for better or worse, it's what Rove has excelled at.

by metroboy 2006-01-31 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I think what happened is that other events such as wiretapping and Abramoff pushed Alito to the background; for the record, I defined Alito as a litmus test early on (late October).

I think there are two reasons the politically motivated use the web:

1) to discover new information, or new interpretations of existing information (e.g., the anti-Chris Matthews perspective).

2) to mobilize people to engage politically (at the risk of speaking for you, I think that's how you see the internet being used).

The lefty blogosphere is very good at #1, but not so good at #2. In part, a lack of discipline is at fault: it's very hard to keep a focus on a handful of issues, particularly on the web. There's no one to get in your face and tell you to focus: the medium encourages stream-of-consciousness, not message discipline.

Or maybe we're just not as smart as we think we are...

by mfeld356 2006-01-31 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

And let's not forget: The Young Turks marathon with streaming audio, video and a blog-oriented audience and guests. And enough people to sustain it and the activity surrounding it.

by DrLaniac 2006-01-31 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I think progressive bloggers need a liason up on capital hill (maybe DNC, too? media even?) so we know what we can do and whether our efforts are having any effect.  It looked to me like Kerry picked up on the sentiments in the blogs only after his first post on Kos about Chris Matthews' comment about Osama bin Laden and Michael Moore.  A large number of comments on Kerry's post were about filibustering Alito.  I think he heard it and took action.  And then everybody finally thought something could possibly happen.  Who can we look to for coordinating the message and the effort?

by ps 2006-01-31 04:03PM | 0 recs
FWIW, What actually happened.

Hi Chris, I just found this by a link from Alternet. I hope you are still reading responses.

I have a somewhat different view of what happened to trigger John Kerry's "announcement" that he was supporting a filibuster. Since in my version of events, I myself play a significant role, perhaps a check of timestamps, links, etc is in order, because maybe my  impressions are a little warped.

For starters, here's a post I made in reply to someone at DailyKos who posted something absurd, that I later found that they had picked up here: 28/02059/1098/233#233

To sum up something of a timeline:
1) On January 20th, John Kerry made his first post at DailyKos. It received over 1200 comments. He followed it up with another, that received over 800 comments. Two diaries - 2000 + comments.

The diaries weren't about Alito. You can go read them for yourself, if you managed to miss them:
Real Hardball
Thank You

However, many, many of the comments were about Alito.  Begging John Kerry to start a filibuster.

2) On January 24th, the Alito nomination was reported out of committee, on a party-line vote. Note: John Kerry is not a member of the Judiciary Committee. If he was discussing a filibuster with other Dems already, prior to the nomination even coming out of committee, I am sure it was assumed that it must be kept quiet.

3) On January 26 at 11:52 am, Will Pitt posted a thread at Democratic Underground,
Source tells me Kerry is now openly in favor of a filibuster.
This thread got a ton of "recommends" and ended up on the "Greatest" page, where yours truly saw it.

As a big Kerry fan (yes there are a few of us in the "lefty blogosphere"), I was fairly sure that this was a good thing to spread around, if I could be sure that it was true; because it seemed there was nothing but despair in blogworld for the fact that not one Democratic leader had stood up to fight against Alito. Plus, there were all those comments people at dailykos had written on the diaries John Kerry had posted. It seemed they would like to know Kerry had listened to them.

Soon after that I saw a post by dwahzon at dailykos corroborating Will's claim. Between what I know of Will Pitt and dwahzon as sources, that was good enough for me.

4) At 12:37 pm on January 26, I posted this diary at dailykos,
Kerry wants filibuster - CALL SENATORS to Support him!
. It SHOT to the top of the recommended list - ultimately ending up with 348 comments. Many were asking for corroboration. Most were saying, (to the effect of) "let's get this show on the road."  By 4:30 pm there were already 250+ comments on this diary. Most of them were about how to contact Senators, and reports of contacts - later, reports that Senators' lines were jammed. The filibuster show was on the road.

5) At 7:28 pm on January 26th, only 7 hours after hell started breaking loose at both DU and dailykos because of Pitt's post (DU) and mine (dailykos) - and others after that, to be sure - John Kerry posted at dailykos, Filibuster Alito. Of course Kerry's diary jumped up on top of the Reco list even faster than mine had - and I had the distinct pleasure of realizing that my diary had been bumped off the top by John Kerry ;-).

So what's my point?

  • John Kerry's "announcement" did not come with his diary posting at 7:28 pm on Thursday night. It came much earlier in the day, when his office allowed it to be known that he was "supporting" a filibuster.
  • Frankly, I think it was the combination of his dialog at dailykos the prior weekend, plus the incredible reaction to mine and Pitt's posts - which itself was a reaction to the mere hint that John Kerry might lead the Senate in this (note the word supporting not leading was always used by Kerry) - that motivated him to cancel a prestigious speaking invitation at the University of Ulster, leave the World Economic Forum, and return immediately to the Senate once Frist had announced the cloture vote would happen on Monday. I don't have those details, but I've been told that Kerry would have had to have jumped on a plane almost immediately after the call for the cloture vote was announced.
  • John Kerry only "led" this filibuster effort in the Senate. We led this filibuster effort in the blogosphere. We were galvanized by the knowledge that someone - as someone put it, "even Kerry" - would actually step forward in the Senate. Before that it probably seemed like a wasted effort.  That is not to diminish one iota the courage that Kerry and Kennedy showed in stepping forward. (If you know how I feel about John Kerry, you know better.) But the thing is, they couldn't do it without us. And we wouldn't do it - at least not with all the passion and fury we subsequently proved capable of - until we were assured we had one of them.

What was missing was the connection. That connection was made by John Kerry posting at dailykos. You can say he should have done it sooner. But I am pretty sure that his initial posting had nothing to do with Alito - remember the nomination hearing was underway at the time, and that was the responsibility of other Dems - but it was made apparent to him from the comments that this was something the folks at dailykos really, really cared about.  Was he hearing it too late? Perhaps. But the fact that he did hear it, and did act on it - I think that is what has really impressed a lot of folks, and perhaps even given them new hope.  Perhaps that sense that someone - a high-profile Democratic Senator - had finally listened to them and was going to stand up for them - that is what really made the difference.

Now, because I just can't let this mischaracterization stand, let's look at the statement in your post, and compare it with the timeline. You say, "That same day, a couple of hours later, John Kerry publicly announced that he was going to try and organize a filibuster to stop Alito on Dailykos." Well, if the time that you knew the filibuster was "lost" was only 5:30 pm, then Kerry had already publicly announced more than 5 hours earlier, when his office started telling people he was supporting a filibuster and trying to get other Senators on board. Presumably, he didn't just wake up Thursday and start doing this, either. And by 5:30 pm on Thursday, the "filibuster effort" was already in full swing in the blogosphere, with John Kerry's name all over it. His posting at 7:30 was only an affirmation, not an "announcement",  "2 hours after hope was lost", and therefore is not deserving of the vilification that certain members of the MyDD community have been slinging around. What would you have had him do, make a post saying "Sorry guys, we appreciate your efforts, but we just found out a couple hours ago that all is lost, so don't waste your efforts"? No, of course you wouldn't have wanted him to do that!  People were pouring their hearts and souls into making this happen...knowing it was an extremely high hurdle, but making the effort anyway. Being engaged. Making themselves heard. Kerry should have come out and slammed the brakes on? No. And he didn't. He came out with encouragement, but realism. (Go back and read his diary again if you missed the realism.) He did the right thing at the time with the deck that was dealt him. The questions of whether he should have acted sooner altogether - or whether other Democrats should have done a better job of leading this from the start - are valid questions but are entirely different than your argument.

So ... if this post has been too long and confusing, I apologize, but please go back and re-read the timeline and understand why the point about Kerry "announcing" 2 hours late is just wrong.  I trust that your post here was in good faith, and I hope that my post sheds some light. If I've overblown my own role, well that comes from the distorted perspective of looking at it from inside my own head. Check the diaries and the comments and the timestamps and draw your own conclusions about all of it.  I really hope you will do that, and that it will all make sense.

If you want to discuss the details further, you can reach my by leaving a comment on my blog. I will probably post a version of this there, now that I've taken all this time to write it.


by MH in PA 2006-01-31 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

I haven't read through the comments - so forgive me if I repeat someone else's thoughts.  First, I feel the blogosphere couldn't have done this alone.  It took someone in the Senate to LEAD.  I expected and got what I think is a lousy nominee - but without someone in the Senate willing to at least stick out a neck - it is discouraging.  It's shameful in one respect, but I believe that most of us share an unbeliveable frustration trying to make a dent in this absurdity.  I do not believe the bloggers did a crappy job.  It is, as we all know, difficult to keep fighting a "losing" battle - which is exactly the point of all the efforts from the other side, including the MEDIA.  

by Dyana 2006-01-31 06:24PM | 0 recs
no movement

i read the first couple of armando's alito diaries but quit after a while, because there was never any movement.

movement is what excites people and generates comments.

armando did a good job of outlining the various ways in which alito was a dangerous hardline conservative, but i aleady knew he was that from about the day after bush named him. and throughout the debate, there was never any discernable motion - from senate democrats, in the press coverage, in the polls. there never seemed to be anything new.

one other thing - it seemed to a lot of us that this was a lost cause from the start. if 51 senators were not willing to put following senate rules ahead of a couple of bush's circuit court picks no one ever heard of, they probably weren't going to do it with a SCOTUS seat in the balance either.

by jethropalerobber 2006-01-31 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation


It seems to me that the one Senaotr that stepped up to the plate to do this deserves praise not chastizing. Yes, there was a huge disconnect in the netroots on Alito.

How to stay focused with so many issues on the table?

Maybe, it might be best to admit that Kerry is more popular than some bloggers give him credit for. The "first" and "second" generation bloggers, pay very little attention to anything Kerry bloggers say in the blogosphere. That's my perspective as a "first generation" Kerry blogger.

We all need to learn to work together instead of bickering about who's first or who's the popular politician. Kerry motivated the masses, that speaks volumes Chris. Jane Hamsher recognized and acknowledged that on her blog yesterday.

One thing I can tell you I learned from my Kerry sources is Kerry called for a Filibuster in the Dem Caucus last Wednesday. it was leaked on Thursday and his staff verified while Kerry was in Davos. He flew home the next morning to work on this.

I know MH in PA provided some documentation on what went down in a post above. Here's a list of posts on my blog documenting everything that happened:

John Kerry - Stand with Us: No on Alito
Monday, January 23rd, 2006 - 22

John Kerry Nails Bush: President Fails to Explain Why He's Above the Law
Monday, January 23rd, 2006 - 24

From the first day of the Alito debate on the Senate Floor -
John Kerry on His Opposition to Judge Alito's Nomination to the Supreme Court
Wednesday, January 25th, 2006 (link to video included) - 49

More on Kerry Backing Filibuster
Thursday, January 26th, 2006 - 59

John Kerry Supports Filibuster on Nomination of Judge Alito
Thursday, January 26th, 2006 - 61

Filibuster Alito
Posted by John Kerry
January 26th, 2006 @ 4:52 pm
Do I support a filibuster? The answer is yes. - 62

John Kerry on the Alito Nomination: The Time To Stand Is Now
Friday, January 27th, 2006 - 74

Fighting the Good Fight, Knowing When to Pick Your Battles
Saturday, January 28th, 2006 - 84

John Kerry: The Vote Of A Lifetime
Sunday, January 29th, 2006 - 96

Some of the posts have "sourced" info that other blogs may not have posted. The Democratic Daily does post a lot of Kerry news that most blogs ignore, and the fact is, our readers appreciate it and ask frequently why other bloggers don't do the same.  

by Pamela 2006-01-31 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation


I'll leave you with one thought on this, Kerry pays far more attention to what the people are saying than he's given credit. He's still out there fighting for us everyday and doing a damn fine job of it. We'll all get farther in solving a lot of the issues, if we work together.

by Pamela 2006-01-31 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation

Good questions. I can tell you that I didn't come to life on the filibuster because of Kerry; I just caught a whiff of a movement starting in the comments on Atrios, caught a couple of blogs that listed the main Capitol switchboard number and urged folks to call, and had the bright idea of using a blog I'd created just a couple days earlier -- VichyDems -- as a place to pull together resource info for activists to use. Not rocket science, just laboriously extracting all the DC and District phone and fax numbers off all the key Senators' pages, creating links to their webmail forms so people didn't need to surf a bunch of different sites, etc.

Then it made sense to categorize the Senators according to where they stood, and update things in real time. People started leaving comments about what senate staff were telling them about the senators' positions, so I had to update faster and faster. I started coming up with strategies to keep everyone focused, and finally wound up with something like 15,000 total hits over 3 or 4 days on a week-old site. Shit howdy. I think we "sponsored" a good 50,000 phone calls or so.

I'm only telling my story because it shows why one person, at least, was late to the battle.

On the bright side? I'm trying really hard to keep the momentum going. First, I've cross-referenced the Dem Senators for and against the filibuster with who's up for reelection this year, and who's in the Gang of 14.  (Hey -- everyone in the G14 voted for cloture! Hey -- if everyone up for reelection pandered to their base, we would have won!)

I've also put up links to a couple of challengers: Ned Lamont (vs Joementum) and Mark Wilson (vs. Cantwell). I've asked Wilson to email me so we can talk about his positions, since I don't know much about him; I have no idea whether he's the best guy to beat Cantwell in the primary and still win the general, or even whether Cantwell is really a Vichy.

Most importantly, I'm trying to get all those visitors to make similar calls, emails, etc. to praise those who did the right thing, and later to chastise those who didn't. I'm starting with the praise to the good guys. It's really important, both to retain the moral high ground (we say thank you to those who support us), AND TACTICALLY, because it reminds them that WE'RE STILL PAYING ATTENTION.

Bottom line: I think the Alito vote COULD be the start of a new wave of activism, one notable for its anger at the Vichy Democrats as much as at the Bushies themselves. If it catches on, then we can reshape the Democratic Party to give it some cojones or, barring that, at least a tepid but deeply fearful allegiance to its base.

What the jury's still out on is whether enough people are willing to do the same kind of work now that they did last weekend and on Monday. I've had something like 170 hits today, compared to over 7,000 on Monday -- and a large number of that 170 are referred from conservatives websites that have linked to me as an example of an insane Democratic person.

In the end, I'm less curious about why there was a delay in getting behind the Alito filibuster (I blame Reid and our other leaders in the Senate for not leading -- e.g., calling this as a free vote instead of a party-line vote). I'm more curious about whether these passionate anti-Alito activists can be converted in equally passionate anti-fascism, anti-Vichy activists. And the jury's still way out on that one.

Sorry to ramble so much, but your post really caught my attention.


by Thersites2 2006-02-01 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: In Need of Further Edjamacation
I think you are missing the forest for the trees here.  A lot of people who read - and even post - on these sites arn't "hardcore".  They don't read daily.  They don't read all the time.  They certainly don't fight for the cause.  They just come by when they are curious on your take on the news.

I think that all of these people showed up in waves when the Alito story went large.  They read more and more, and got into it, and started posting like mad.

You have to keep in mind that every time there's a big story, people are going to show up like this.  It's like having a street festival near your local bar.  The crowd changes.  And a lot of people are going to try to catch up on progressive street cred by yelling the party line really, really loudly.  Essentially, a flash mob.

by apandapion 2006-02-14 04:53PM | 0 recs
by marakka 2006-08-01 01:38AM | 0 recs
by posco 2006-08-01 07:57AM | 0 recs


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