Archive for March 18th, 2007

The World I Want To Live In

Oh, how I hope Stoller is right…

Here’s how I see blogs impacting Presidential politics.  It’s going to push Democrats to become more progressive, it’s going to put the press on the defensive, and it’s going to accelerate the Republican Party crack-up.

Democrats Become Progressive: …[T]he blogs are focusing a generic progressive push on every candidate that is coming from the progressive activist base.For instance, Clinton and Obama’s weak responses on homosexuality were not be tolerated for very long.  Every candidates’ ability to freeze out and marginalized right-wing propaganda outlets like Fox News is enhanced – Edwards raised a lot of money off of Ann Coulter.  Democratic candidates can hit back against the Swift Boat for Truth Veterans if they want, as there are now progressive surrogates.  But if they do not act aggressively, they will be criticized.

The Gang of 500 Is An Issue:  The basic left-wing critique of the political press is that as a system it is superficial and represents only the concerns of a narrow elite.  There is excessive tabloid and gossipy elements to it, leading to narratives that don’t adequately allow the public to make informed choices.  Liberals have built structures over the last four years to remedy this problem.  The media landscape now involves a genuinely progressive press and activist voices.  Obama has frozen out, and the Nevada Democrats canceled a debate with Fox News.  Credible blogs are now just part of the media landscape and can debunk smears like the Madrassa one against Obama and can push back on poor coverage of the prosecutor purge, Iran the Libby trial.

Look for journalists to become an issue, for Fox News to continue to lose influence (if not audience), and for Democrats to push back aggressively against the press.  Republicans will not change their relationship with the press, but their adversarial tactics will become less effective.

Republican Crack-Up: For a long time, the right has been in control of the media narrative, which has meant that Republican politicians could escape from genuine scrutiny and say different things to different audiences….

This will not be the case this year.  Republicans are going to encounter a host of issues they cannot respond to without damaging their coalition or their mainstream appeal.  Immigration, homosexuality, the war in Iraq, choice, scandal – they will be dragged along in Bush’s wake, and blogs will push the press to examine their contradictory statements.  For instance, Giuliani and Romney are being exposed by Youtube as patently dishonest, but there’s nothing remotely similar on the Democratic side.  Ann Coulter is damaged goods, and CPAC saw a conference split along all sorts of factional lines.

Giuliani’s record in New York is going to be on full display, and McCain will not be able to pander to the right and sustain his mainstream credibility.  Local blogs are going to be in a lot more forums than ever before, leading to increased scrutiny that Republicans are just not used to.

My sense is that blogs are basically part of the political and media landscape at this point, revamping the process and bringing in more public concern and reducing the power of the candidates and various insiders to set the agenda.  It’s a big shift, and one that’s going to damage Republicans, damage the mainstream media, and push the Democrats to become increasingly progressive.

Stoller is a lot more optimistic than I am. I think the political blogs are still mostly voices in the wilderness that only political junkies and insiders pay attention to. Fortunately, politicians and the media fall into that latter group, and can occasionally be influenced. But when they flat out refuse to heed the blogosphere, we don’t have a big enough voice of our own to be heard by the wider public. We’re still dependent on a host body to carry out our wishes, and probably will be for quite some time.

1 comment March 18th, 2007 at 11:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Democrats,Media,Politics,Republicans

Smoking Gun, Gonzo’s Gone.

I think this is going to be the last straw for Gonzo:

Fired San Diego U.S. attorney Carol Lam notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe the day before a Justice Department official sent an e-mail that said Lam needed to be fired, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday.

(…)

Feinstein said Lam notified the Justice Department on May 10, 2006, that she planned to serve search warrants on Kyle Dustin “Dusty” Foggo, who’d resigned two days earlier as the No. 3 official at the CIA.

On May 11, 2006, Kyle Sampson, then Gonzales’ chief of staff, sent an e-mail to deputy White House counsel William Kelley, asking Kelley to call to discuss “the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.”

I don’t think he can survive this one. His only defense would be that Sampson was acting on his own, but even if that were believable, he’s still responsible for his immediate subordinate’s actions.

(h/t Atrios)

UPDATE: Jonathan Singer connects some more dots at MyDD:

What we have now is a pattern of actions. U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton begins an investigation of Republican Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona and is subsequently added to the purge list. U.S. Attorney David Iglesias informs two Republican members of Congress that he will not rush an indictment of a former Democratic elected official in New Mexico before the 2006 midterms and and is subsequently added to the purge list. U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins opens an investigation into Missouri’s GOP Governor Matt Blunt and is subsequently added to the purge list. U.S. Attorney Carol Lam informs the administration that she is opening a probe into corruption within the CIA and is subsequently added to the purge list. Could this all be a coincidence? Really?

This is bad, very bad. Singer also thinks Gonzo is toast.

1 comment March 18th, 2007 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans

The Battle For Fictional Heroism

Sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson has an op-ed piece in today’s NYT, which reminds me of something I find rather silly:

Many critics dislike “300” so intensely that they refused to do it the honor of criticizing it as if it were a real movie. Critics at a festival in Berlin walked out, and accused its director of being on the Bush payroll.

Thermopylae is a wedge issue!

Lefties can’t abide lionizing a bunch of militaristic slave-owners (even if they did happen to be long-haired supporters of women’s rights). So you might think that righties would love the film. But they’re nervous that Emperor Xerxes of Persia, not the freedom-loving Leonidas, might be George Bush.

I remember this happening with Chronicles Of Narnia, the Star Wars prequels, and with the new Battlestar Galactica. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it elsewhere, but those are the three that came to mind first. Both Democrats and Republicans start from an assumption that the movie or show must be an allegory for something else, and then either strive to prove that the good guys represent their side, and the bad guys represent the other side, or else complain that the allegory is somehow slanderous or propagandistic.

While it’s probably true that some movies and TV shows are allegories, does it really matter that much? Is anyone really going to vote against Democrats or Republicans because their party were the bad guys in 300?

Side note: It seems like this phenomenon crops up a lot more often for sci-fi material (which Stephenson lumps 300 in as). This is probably because it’s so unmoored from our reality that it’s much easier to project additional meaning onto.

6 comments March 18th, 2007 at 07:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Movies,Politics,Republicans,TV

Leak Question

Why was Knodell a witness in Friday’s hearing on the Plame leak and not his predecessor? I didn’t see the point of asking him why there was no investigation, or why he didn’t initiate one over a year after the fact.

Um, Waxman did know that Knodell wasn’t the one on the job when the leak occurred, right?

March 18th, 2007 at 02:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Libby/Plame,Politics,Republicans

Sunday Mr. Deity Blogging


So much for the bunny idea.

From Joe. My. God, by way of Bigezbear.

1 comment March 18th, 2007 at 11:44am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging,Mr. Deity,Religion


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