Left Blogs: On Purity and "Corruption"

As I always I speak only for me

Atrios is as smart as a whip and much more progressive than me, a dirty corporation defending lawyer. He, along with the other 800 pound Left Blog gorilla, Markos, has not an ounce of corruption in them. Indeed, I have been an arse in defending them from scurrilous charges in the past. But he is missing the point in this piece:

[W]e're having another round of "my opinions are pure yours are somehow corrupted" in the blogosphere. I don't claim to be right about everything, but the fact that I disagree with you doesn't necessarily involve some grand conspiracy.

This is about the Iraq supplemental. I strongly disagreed with the position taken by Atrios, MYDD, Sirota and others because I believe they are wrong. But also because, for the most part, their arguments (excepting Sirota's) were largely based on hometeamism, support the Dem leadership rationales. This is a form of cooptation. Not corruption.

The fact is even Duncan, as sharp as they come, never really laid out an argument for his view. His post in support of the Iraq supplemental was brief:

You Go To Vote With The Democrats You Have And, let's face it, some of them suck. As I've written a couple of times, things are a bit different now that the message isn't everything. There are the contours of what is realistically possible, and people who to try to navigate within them. There are also people who try to change those contours. I applaud both. But wishing for a magic pony plan to withdraw from Iraq is no different than the hundredth article from TNR or WaPo wishing for a magic pony plan to "win" in Iraq. Our side has the Congress we have, and their side has George Bush running the war. Neither is perfect.

That's the whole sum of his argument. He addresses nothing those opposed to the plan wrote or argued. The title itself is a plea for cooptation.

The question is do you give a free pass to the Democrats you have? I thought the Netroots were all about NOT doing that?

The ultimate irony is Atrios' link to Peter Beinart (of all people) makes the exact point those of us opposed to the Iraq supplemental were making:

The real danger for Democrats in the Iraq debate isn't that they'll oppose the war too aggressively; it's that they won't oppose it aggressively enough. . . . If the public doesn't like what you stand for, then you should probably adjust your views. But if the public doesn't believe you stand for anything, then you had better show them that you do. That's the problem the Democratic Party faces today. And the solution is to end the war in Iraq.

Atrios titles his post "The Education of Peter Beinart." In light of his previous post on the Iraq supplemental, what not a better title be "When Will the Netroots Be Educated?"

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    The Politics of (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Edger on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:55:15 PM EST
    Cooptation: Group 1 holds political power. Group 2 threatens this power. Group 1 decreases the upheaval probability by co-opting some agents from Group 2 into a more benign Group 3.
    their arguments (excepting Sirota's) were largely based on hometeamism, support the Dem leadership rationales

    Good post, Big Tent.

    Thanks (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:01:38 PM EST
    Not much solace today.

    The celebrating today will turn into gnashing of teeth in a matter fo weeks.

    I told you so will be thin gruel.


    Yeah... sigh (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Edger on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:07:09 PM EST
    Yes. I'm suspicious of anyone who claims ... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 06:02:02 PM EST
    ...her crystal ball is unclouded. So I'm not definitively predicting gnashing of teeth. But I think it's highly likely. A scenario:

    The Senate bill is diluted with amendments making its already weak "timetable" weaker. The bill goes to conference for reconciliation where Waters, Woolsey and Watson are nowhere in sight and the "aye" Blue Dogs join with the "nay" Blue Dogs to generate a weaker "reconciled" bill than the House passed today. A bill in which timetables are alluded to in passing. Bush smiles and signs. Voters roll their eyes. Especially voters who chose in '06 for the first time in years to choose a Democrat to cast their ballot for.

    I'm not saying this will happen. But it very well could. And, if it does, being vindicated for having favored a "Nay" vote today will not relieve our pain over what might have been.


    I can hear the Bushies in 6 months: (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:26:33 PM EST
    "You f***ed up. You trusted us."

    These Democrats Held Out & Voted No (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by leoncarre on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:54:50 PM EST
    These Democrats Held Out & Voted No

    Kucinich; Lee; Lewis (GA); McNulty; Michaud; Waters; Watson; Woolsey

    Those Democrats who were leaning no, and who said on the House floor, that it was not the bill they wanted, did indeed vote with the Democratic bill they had, as Duncan says above.

    I read what Kos had to say.  He said that the debate on the Supplemental had generated a lot of good headlines (or headlines we like to read, anyways)

    At the end of the day, this is a message battle. It's a chance for Democrats to show that they are interested in ending the war and getting our troops safely home, while the other side wants to escalate the war and get our troops killed.

    To that end, look at the headlines the Supplemental is generating:

    •  US Democrats press deadline for Iraq pullout
    •  Iraq pullout measures moves with war bill
    •  US House opens debate on US withdrawal from Iraq
    •  House Democrats seek votes for Iraq exit timetable
    •  Dems labor for sure majority on pullout
    •  Iraq pullout measure moves ahead
    •  After 3 decades, Congress again tries to end a war
    •  Dems seek votes to order pullout from Iraq

    But I never read the particulars of this bill as being any of the above, and if Bush read it, or had his readers read it, there is enough in there for him to claim a vindication of his policy... the benchmarks, the timetable, and the open door to prosecute the global war on terror where and when he will...  when I spoke to someone from DemocracyRising.US I remarked that the language echoed and seemed to re-ratify the AUMF... truly a nightmare for the coming 18 months.

    the pullout is an illusion, this bill does not make it real... what would have made it real is the Barbara Lee amendment which was not allowed to be brought to the floor

    the teeth were not in the bill, but in the tactics of those dems who strongarmed other dems to cave and vote yes

    BTD, (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Peaches on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 02:42:13 PM EST
    As I said before, I think the stance you took and your plan for defunding the war is admirable. The ones who opposed this bill from the progressive side did a commendable job making their voices heard. You view your efforts as futile, since the bill was passed, but I think the ground was shifted, if ever so slightly.

    The Dems passed a bill based on a tacticlal, but not  guaranteed, position that Bush will veto the bill. Perhaps, they are wrong and you were right all along. In my opinion, you will be proven right in some sense, but, as politicians are want to do, all sides will present themselves as the beneficiary of their tactics and decisions somehow, rather than admit their mistakes.

    I only chime in because you respond to Atrios's

    I don't claim to be right about everything, but the fact that I disagree with you doesn't necessarily involve some grand conspiracy.


    their arguments (excepting Sirota's) were largely based on hometeamism, support the Dem leadership rationales. This is a form of cooptation. Not corruption.

    which very well might be true, and I personally believe is, in fact, true. But Cooptation is a strategy not a conspiracy. In the link to the polotics of Cooptation that Edger provides the rest of the abstract reads

    Improvements in upheaval technology lead to less co-optation. Increasing the relative size of Group 1 implies larger co-optation payments to a smaller group, decreasing the total resources committed to co-optation. In an extension in which Group 3 also threatens Group 1, although less destructively than does Group 2, co-optation transfers are reduced. Growth causes political stabilization. The theory applies to the origin of the welfare state, post-communist privatization and other situations.

    in other words, as I see it, cooptation is nothing but politics as usual where groups are attempting to reach consensus while keeping as much of their power intact as possibile. Sometimes it requires giving up some power. Its the art of compromise. Nothing new, or nothing we haven't seen before. It might be a fine line we are slicing, but it appears you are saying that by coopting there is a conspiracy involved and Atrios and the other members of Netroots were in the midddle of it. if not conspiracy than out of ignorance there ideas have been coopted. Therefore, your opinions remain purer and theirs are less pure - not corrupted - but coopted. I think it is a matter of strategy and you strongly disagree with your netroots colleagues. However, holding steadfastly to ones principals does not make one pure in my opinion. In fact, it usually leads to bad strategy. For if convictions equals purity, there is no compromise and therefore no consensus in any social or political field.

    I guess I am just wondering what it is about compromise and consensus, even when it is done in ignorance, that makes it impure? And, how can one avoid being impure when attempting to reach consensus among diverse groups and opinions.

    I didn't think he was talking about you.... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by jerry on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 02:42:30 PM EST
    wrt the "corruption" charges, that had to do with his having had a secret star chamber meeting with the trilateral commission according to another blog.

    I actually thought he was acknowledging
    (and even thanking you for) your activities and beliefs while disagreeing with you on your conclusion.

    But I am pretty clueless to lots of these things.

    Sad to me when the Out of Iraq caucus does... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by cal11 voter on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 02:49:42 PM EST
    not stand together.  Why have a caucus then?

    I suppose for the fighting that will (none / 0) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 04:44:58 PM EST
    have to take place when this bill does a big ole belly flop.

    Looking at Danby's latest (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 02:57:19 PM EST
    I think I've come to agree with you about him. To me it seems that if he says one thing, the opposite must be true.

    funny you should say that (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by conchita on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 05:20:53 PM EST
    i found myself thinking the same thing today.

    Don't give up (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by roy on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 03:02:35 PM EST
    Every snowball in Hell started as a single snowflake.

    Giving up is not an option for me (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 04:49:08 PM EST
    It is nice to see that I have company that chooses to be here.

    here's what pisses me off about this bill (5.00 / 4) (#24)
    by chicago dyke on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 03:09:27 PM EST
    booman writes: In reality, the bill has been watered down so that the President can sign waivers to deploy troops even if they are not sufficiently trained and equipped.

    so to my mind, that means more war for as long as bush feels like it. what was accomplished here? a "deadline?" not if he can sign a waiver. more money spent? i'm glad more of it will go to VA health care and armor that works, but is that on top of welfare for halliburton or in place of it? seems like the former. i was just reading somewhere that by the time we've finished the surge, troop levels will be at an all time high over there. i really, really, really, want to feel good about this, but my eyes and perception of the last six years tell me that this is going to do nothing to end the war soon.

    but what has made me the most upset is all the time spent and bad feelings among us on the left this has generated. by opposing it, i have relagated myself to the "fringe" left because i "don't understand how things work." ok, perhaps i don't. but i do understand that democrats spent a lot of political capitol, that in fact congressional support is down in the public, more troops will be going over there to die, and we're three months closer to bush being able to run out the clock on this war and dump the whole thing into president hillary's lap. and she has already indicated that "protecting israel" and other war-extending concepts are a-ok with her.

    so tell me, what am i celebrating here again?

    You, and only you... (1.00 / 3) (#2)
    by sphealey on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:23:14 PM EST
    You (BTD), and only you, know the True Path(tm) out of Iraq and all those others, including Pelosi, her entire team, Black, Kos, etc are Wrong(tm).  

    Do I have that correct?


    I respond to substance (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:25:48 PM EST
    not ad hominems.

    Try again.


    That is, in fact (1.00 / 2) (#4)
    by sphealey on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:27:18 PM EST
    That is, in fact, a substantative criticism of your entire campaign.

    Try again.  And leave off the trademark snarky last line next time.



    And your solution is? (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Dadler on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:38:50 PM EST
    If you cannot provide an alternative to Tent's defunding proposition, then you are, in effect, making his argument for him.

    What IS the alternative?  Do you have an idea?  Keep the war going for at least two (almost assuredly more) years?

    Tent has laid out a cogent, rational plan.  His opposition has laid out nothing but essentially empty hope masquerading as "progress".  Which is no progress at all.


    I have yet to hear... (none / 0) (#13)
    by sphealey on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:30:24 PM EST
    In 6 weeks of these posts I have yet to hear a realistically workable plan from BTD.  I live in a red-purple state among very conservative (and often war-loving) Democrats and the Republicans to the right of them.  It took a lot of hard work on the part of many dedicated people (including my family and I) to get things moved just slightly more purple in November 2006.  An abrupt defunding bill will simply move these people firmly back into the R ("stand tough") column next time - even if it were achievable.

    My plan?  For the moment, my plan is to put a little trust in Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats who are actually working this issue in Congress.  Not much trust, because I don't trust any politician (nor should any American).  But I am reasonably sure that no bill stronger than that one that did pass, would have passed.  And failing to pass a stronger bill would be foolish.


    By the way, I find the inherent and ingrained assumption that I (and anyone else) who disagrees with BTD is stupid, blind, naive, obtuse, and probably immoral to be "invective" of the type which is supposedly not allowed on TalkLeft.  How about dropping those assumptions in future posts?  Implied invective is just as much invective as stated invective.


    Oh no, not here too (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by fairleft on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 02:03:27 PM EST
    Can your charges against Armando consist only of what he writes, please? Leave out what he 'implies' or 'assumes' between the lines. Added benefit: it'll do wonders for your peace of mind, too.

    What the hell, I'll give this a shot: I don't think you're 'stupid, blind, naive, obtuse, and probably immoral'.


    Me neither (none / 0) (#17)
    by Edger on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 02:06:33 PM EST
    these people (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:48:55 PM EST
    I heard those comments too (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by sphealey on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 02:11:50 PM EST
    I heard quite a few comments in 2004 from my conservative neighbors about how they were concerned about the direction George Bush was taking and probably wouldn't vote for him.  Then we got these results.

    Peple apparently make very different decisions when they are faced with a choice of only one D and one R at the top of the Presidential ballot than they do when they are speaking to pollsters about their level of happiness with a sitting politician.



    True (none / 0) (#25)
    by Edger on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 03:29:10 PM EST
    but look at the slide since then.

    Must be me then (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:44:39 PM EST
    Sorry, I have no response for you. I don't see the substance to what you are saying.

    For the record, this is Talk Left, not daily kos. NO invective here.


    Very droll (none / 0) (#10)
    by sphealey on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:22:30 PM EST
    > For the record, this is Talk Left,
    > not daily kos. NO invective here.

    Very droll.



    I'm glad you liked it (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 01:26:26 PM EST
    IT is also an admonition to you.

    Don't try and start fights here.


    Hometeamism (none / 0) (#1)
    by HeadScratcher on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:18:22 PM EST
    Taking a position based upon your party instead of right or wrong isn't cooption as you genlty put it. It's dishonest - plain and simple. And it is also why the political system is dysfunctional because it's more about power and winning.

    I truly believe that if the parties were reversed and the same things were going on the arguments would be the same but would be mouthed by the opposite aisle.

    Wouldn't things be so much different (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 04:54:52 PM EST
    if our all volunteer forces were a bigger slice of the American population pie.  If their screaming families could be heard over the din of what is doable I wonder what we would find was doable then!  And not only do I not think that terrorists from Iraq will skip across the ocean easily to attack me, I don't think the screams from Iraq will skip across the ocean easily either.  Today is another one of those days when I'm ashamed to be an American.  But I'll have to  let it be, let it be.