New Establishment Rising? The End Of the Flat Blogosphere

by: Chris Bowers

Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 16:30

(Actually bumped at 2:31 p.m. - promoted by Chris Bowers)

Summary
Over the past five years, as the audience and political effectiveness of the progressive, political blogosphere has exploded, the "short head" of the progressive, political blogosphere has undergone a transformation from a loose collection of small, independent, solo projects into a sophisticated media and activist structure driving the national political scene. This transformation has the side-effect of significantly increasing the entry costs into the "short head" of the progressive, political, blogosphere for new, independent actors. As a result, what was once a fluid, "outsider" and "open" form of new media is now, quite possibly, crystallizing into a new "establishment" all its own.


Introduction
This article was originally scheduled to appear in the first issue of JONI, The Journal of Netroots Ideas, to be published by the organization responsible for the YearklyKos Convention.  Instead, it will serve as the first installment in a collaborative project between Open Left and JONI. Articles scheduled for print publication in the journal will first go through a series of directed discussions online, and those discussions will eventually be incorporated into the final JONI project. In the case of this article, the editors of Open Left and JONI have posted a series of questions alongside the piece to help start, and direct, discussion. As you read the article, please examine these questions, and consider providing an answer to one or more of them in the comments. This is an important project that will help define the progressive blogosphere to a more off-line political world.

Also, I have to admit that I enjoy making a lengthy article about the difficulty of breaking into the "short head" of the progressive blogosphere my first post on Open Left. In short order, this website will become a direct test of the theories I present in this article.

The article can be found in the extended entry.
There's More... :: (52 Comments, 3797 words in story)

What is OpenLeft.com?

by: Matt Stoller

Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 18:17

(Actually bumped at 1:32 p.m., eastern - promoted by Chris Bowers)

We believe that there is a great movement of left-wing activism in America today, and we want to understand it. 


Now, there are a lot of ways to talk about movements, and we see them not as historians but as modern political activists.  That means we are trying to understand the institutions those movements left behind, and the technologies, tools, tactics, and ideas of those institutions.  The first progressive movement, from 1890-1920, led to the regulation of the meat industry, anti-trust legislation, popular election of Senators, women's suffrage, the federal income tax, etc.  It's not clear, though, what institutions remain that live on along the lines of early progressive era groups.  The ACLU is one example, as it was established after the first red scare, and now has a large direct mail base.

There's More... :: (33 Comments, 1328 words in story)

The Birth of a Movement

by: Mike Lux

Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 20:02

(Working on the timestamp issue. - promoted by Chris Bowers)

I have been involved in progressive politics a long time now, full time for more than a quarter century. I've been a community organizer, a labor leader, on presidential campaigns five different times and a White House staffer. I've also been a staffer, board member, or consultant for literally scores of different organizations. It's been a career I've been proud of, but I also have spent much of that time frustrated by our progressive movement. The story below is one of the worst in some ways, except that we actually won decisively in the end. But the getting there was ugly.

The reasons I wanted to tell this story, the story of the Clinton impeachment fight, is that it was (1) a great lesson in how to ignore the inside-the-Beltway CW bullshit and actually win, and (2) it was the launch of a new movement, a movement that is still transforming American politics today: the Open Left.

There's More... :: (20 Comments, 1615 words in story)

Welcome To Open Left!

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Jul 09, 2007 at 01:35

Welcome everyone, to the public launch of Open Left!  We are a new, progressive community website, dedicated toward building a progressive governing majority.  Open Left is powered by Soapblox, so we have all of the community Scoop features with which you are familiar.  Please, make an account, and start posting diaries and comments.  Pretty please, bookmark this page, and keep coming back!

What can you expect on Open Left?  First, we are an experiment, trying to bring progressive activists and professionals from "inside" and "outside" the political establishment into regular, thoughtful, and active connection with one another.  There will be a wide variety of progressive people and organizations posting here, many of whom will introduce themselves as we roll out many of our soon-to-be regular features this week.  We have innovative new posting protocol, epitomized by the "Right To Respond", where, in the interests of openness and a desire to foster more conversation among progressives, any progressive individual or organization we blog about in a front-page post will have the opportunity to respond with a front page post of their own.  With both Matt Stoller and myself, you can expect much of what we provided at MyDD (electoral and infrastructure analysis, mainly), only expanded into other areas.  Mike Lux will be able to provide a wealth of professional political experience and an inside viewpoint rarely seen in our previous work.  Also, there will be more topics we write about both for an extended period of time and in great detail, rather than relying on singular posts and off-the-cuff analysis.  We will write more about legislative policy, as well as strategy on how to pass progressive policy.  Further, there will also a lot of talk about progressive culture and lifestyle, since there will never be a sustainable progressive governing majority in America unless that governing majority is accurately representing a more progressive America.

Anyway, enough talk about what we are going to do, since it is by our fruits that ye shall know us.  As you may have noticed, rather than gradually rolling out our first few articles during our first morning, we have loaded up the site of with new content so you have plenty to dig through right away.  Already, you can check out the following articles and permanent pages:


  • The Birth of a Movement, where Mike Lux gives an inside view of what it was like to be part of the Clinton impeachment fight. Spoiler alert: the Democratic and progressive advocacy group establishment was not very helpful.

  • What Is OpenLeft.com?, where Matt Stoller offers some perspective on why we chose the name Open Left for our new website, and on where our contemporary movement of left-wing activism fits into a broader historical picture of American politics. This article will be permanently linked in our About section.

  • New Establishment Rising? The End of the Flat Blogosphere, is my opening, lengthy theoretical piece for Open Left.  If I may be so bold to say so, it is one of the best, if not the very best, piece I have ever written on the progressive, political blogosphere.  It is also the first step in a collaborative project with JONI: Journal of Netroots ideas, which will take place over the next weeks and months on Open Left.

  • Towards A Universal Neutral Internet,  where Matt Stoller offers a broad perspective on the progress of the fight for Net Neutrality. It ties directly into, among other things, the primary challenge Donna Edwards is running against Al Wynn in MD-04, and to the political interplay between labor unions and the Democratic Congress.

  • The Self-Identified Progressive Candidate, where I look at how often each of the eight Democratic campaigns for President use the ideological term "progressive." Content warning: this post might cause you to conjure up images of me dancing at home in my underwear.

  • In the Nomination at a glance page, you can find the latest national and early state polling averages, along with fundraising numbers, primary calendar info, and general analysis, for both the Democratic and Republican nominations.

All five of these posts, as well as the "Nomination at a Glance" page, are open for comments, so please, start firing away. Also, please note that even though they are not at the top of the website now, I will be gradually promoting them all above this post throughout the day, so that each will have its time at the top. This also means that you can help guide the discussion for each of these posts if you start commenting early.

Additionally, on the right side of the blog you will see a "Quick Hits" section, not unlike Breaking Blue over at MyDD.  As with Breaking Blue, This is where you will find quick commentary on breaking news, the latest poll information, and links to important articles around the blogosphere.  We will have all of the bugs in this section sorted out shortly.

I imagine we will run into other bugs during our first week, but we will sort them out as we go along. After three weeks in blogging limbo, I am incredibly eager to get back to full-time writing about progressive politics. I hope you are just as eager to join in the conversation. As a bonus, if you sign up now, you can secure a really low user ID in what will hopefully become a vibrant community.

Let's do it. The Open Left is open for discussion.

Discuss :: (62 Comments)

Towards a Universal Neutral Internet

by: Matt Stoller

Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 20:30

I spent much of the day yesterday at the New Organizing Institute, which trains young progressive political operatives on modern political campaigns.  Zack Exley, who ran Kerry's internet division, and Judith Freeman, who does data analysis at the AFL-CIO, are both organizing geniuses, and it's interesting that we now have two generations of progressive operatives in politics today.  There is no longer any dispute about the importance of open tools in our party, though the Republicans are resisting them fiercely.

There is a threat, though, to the opening of politics.  And that is coming from entrenched interests who want to shut down the internet by eliminating net neutrality.  But that's not the only way they are limiting speech; if you live in certain areas, it's impossible to get broadband access.  I'm reminded of this because I was talking today to Adrienne Christian, who is managing Donna Edwards' Congressional campaign, and she mentioned that Donna couldn't easily participate in a web chat on Firedoglake because because she can only get dial-up access from her home.  Here's Donna's comment.

Hi Howie. As I sit here on my laptop with dialup access, I feel the pain of so many communities who've not enjoyed the full promise of the new technology. I believe that Internet access expands your world view. When I was young, I used the books to visit other places and people. If we want all our children to be prepared for 21st Century challenges, they need full access to the technology that will transport them.

Donna's running in the fourth Congressional district against Al Wynn, who is financed by telecom interests.  What's important to understand about the net neutrality fight is that it isn't a fight about an obscure telecom regulation, but an argument about who gets to speak in America.  And regardless of whether we get net neutrality enshrined into law, if Verizon continues its current strategy of installing fiber only to wealthy areas, much of the country won't have access to what is quickly becoming our public square.  This hits African-Americans, poor whites, and rural areas especially hard.  I'm reminded of Tavis Smiley's words at the last Democratic debate, when he said 'When American gets a cold, black America gets pneumonia'.  This is as true for broadband as it is for anything else.  In other words, the net neutrality fight last cycle was a proxy fight for whether we can put policies into place for a universal internet, or whether government policy will continue to cut disempowered citizens out of our economy and democracy. 

There's More... :: (9 Comments, 560 words in story)

Immigrants' Rights Forces Flexing Their Muscles

by: Mike Lux

Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 16:30

There is a very important post by Howie Klein here that talks about how immigrants' rights organizers of all kinds- in the 501c3 non-partisan category, and on the more partisan side- are playing a huge role in the Lipinski race. It's great to see this happening. We are not going to see immigration reform in this country absent a really tough, muscular, aggressive political strategy by immigrants' rights organizers, and we are starting to see evidence of those strategies around the country. Chicago is ground zero for that, being the home of Rahm Emanuel, who has been leading the "spooked and scared Democrats" on this issue. The Lipinski primary is huge, as he has been on the wrong side of this issue despite having a lot of immigrants in his district. If Pera wins or even comes close to beating the Lipinski machine, that would be a sign the immigrants' rights movement, in combination with their allies in the blogosphere, has really come of age.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Beyond Iraq: Poor Choices On US Foreign Policy

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 17:15

On the issue of Iraq, all three of the top Democratic candidates have been disappointing, especially compared to Kucinich, and to Richardson's unambiguous rejection of "residual forces."  But beyond the issue of Iraq, things do not get any better.  While Edwards has explicitly rejected the "war on terror" framework, the leading Democratic candidates have failed to articulate anything truly fresh and inspiring, and the reason is not hard to find: It's the advisors, stupid!-as Amy Goodman explained in a program aired on the morning of the Iowa caucuses.

Goodman introduced her segment thus:

Presidential candidates are scrambling to win last-minute support in Iowa ahead of tonight's caucus. Thousands of reporters have also descended on Iowa this week, covering everything from Mike Huckabee's haircut to John Edwards's rally with singer John Mellencamp.

But little attention has been paid to perhaps one of the most important aspects of the candidates: their advisers, the men and women who likely form the backbone of the candidate's future cabinet if elected president. Many of the names will be familiar.

Advisers to Hillary Rodham Clinton include many former top officials in President Clinton's administration: former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Senator Barack Obama's list includes President Carter's National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross.

Rudolph Giuliani's advisers include Norman Podhoretz, one of the fathers of the neoconservative movement. John McCain's list of official and formal policy advisers includes former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, General Colin Powell, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and former CIA Director James Woolsey. One of Mitt Romney's top advisers is Cofer Black, the former CIA official who now serves as vice chair of Blackwater Worldwide. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Elizabeth is advising Fred Thompson.

As for Mike Huckabee, it's not clear. In December, Huckabee listed former UN Ambassador John Bolton as someone with whom he either has "spoken or will continue to speak," but Bolton then revealed the two had never spoken. Huckabee also named Richard Allen, but the former National Security Adviser also admitted he had never spoken to Huckabee....

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2005 words in story)

The Moray Eels Eat The Bipartisan Democrats*

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:45

* An off-take on the title of one of the great classic albums of American weirdness:

Led by maverick folksters Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber, the Holy Modal Rounders were a blend of Greenwich Village strum, Kentucky bluegrass and Appalachian drone -- topped off with enough mind-altering chemicals to derail the Wabash Cannonball. The Rounders' 1968 masterpiece, The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders, spotlights "The Bird Song," an infectious ditty used in the Easy Rider soundtrack, the squealing majesty of "Werewolf" and drug-addled ramblings like "My Mind Capsized" and "The STP Song" (it wasn't about that slippery engine oil). Sam Shepard, the Rounders drummer (and soon-to-be-acclaimed playwright), even muffs the words to the pledge of allegiance, transporting you to the era as surely as a truncheon to the head at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

And now, on with the diary:

As expected, Barack Obama struck hard on themes of unity in his victory speech in Iowa on Thursday, and while all Democrats can-or at least should-join in enthusiastically when unity means inclusion of all people, the further theme of bi-partisanship, trying to include hostile political views, remains deeply problematic.  It's not just an attitude of willful intransigence that stands in the way.  It's historical memory.

Democrats have been trying to make nice-nice with Republicans in order to put an end to polarization and divisiveness at least since the days of Jimmy Carter.  The results have been quite satisfactory... for the Republicans.  Barack Obama says that this time it will be different.  If he means to inspire us, that's one thing.  But if that's really his game plan, then he is reading from speeches given by Lucy to Charlie Brown: this time, for sure, she won't pull that football away at the last moment.

Okay, folks, there are so many examples, it's impossible to choose.  Should we look at:

    (A) Jimmy Carter takes "bipartisan" advice from Henry Kissinger , lets the deposed Shah into the country, and precipitates a hostage crisis that costs him the presidency-with a little help from the 1980 Reagan/Bush team, which is not above a little bit of treason, if that's what it takes to get elected.

    (B) Michael Dukakis refuses to get down and dirty.  "It's about competence, not ideology," he explains-perhaps the most incompetent thing a presidential candidate has said since Hebert Hoover adopted the theme song "Happy Days Are Here Again" in the midst of the Great Depression.  In Ohio, Senator Howard Metzenbaum ran as a full-throated economic populist and cruised to a 57-43 victory, while Dukakis ran away from the "liberal" label, and lost badly, 55-45. [Ohio SOS Raw Totals]

    (C) Bill Clinton ignores a whole raft of Republican scandals [Iran-Contra, Iraqgate , October Surprise, etc.] in an attempt to make peace with the Republicans.  He caves on a whole series of issues, and-voila!--the Republicans win control of Congress for the first time in 40 years, and launch a scorched earth campaign to drive him from office.

    (D) Al Gore plays by Marquess of Queensberry rules, and has the Presidency stolen from him.

    (E) John Kerry refuses to fight back when swiftboated, then starts to think better of it, until John McCain tells him "no fair hitting back."  Then he reverses his earlier pledge to fight to ensure that every vote is counted.

Spin the magic wheel, jump the flip, and see which one it is we'll be examinig today...

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3024 words in story)

The Moray Eels Eat The Bipartisan Democrats*

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:15

* An off-take on the title of one of the great classic albums of American weirdness:

Led by maverick folksters Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber, the Holy Modal Rounders were a blend of Greenwich Village strum, Kentucky bluegrass and Appalachian drone -- topped off with enough mind-altering chemicals to derail the Wabash Cannonball. The Rounders' 1968 masterpiece, The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders, spotlights "The Bird Song," an infectious ditty used in the Easy Rider soundtrack, the squealing majesty of "Werewolf" and drug-addled ramblings like "My Mind Capsized" and "The STP Song" (it wasn't about that slippery engine oil). Sam Shepard, the Rounders drummer (and soon-to-be-acclaimed playwright), even muffs the words to the pledge of allegiance, transporting you to the era as surely as a truncheon to the head at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

And now, on with the diary:

As expected, Barack Obama struck hard on themes of unity in his victory speech in Iowa on Thursday, and while all Democrats can-or at least should-join in enthusiastically when unity means inclusion of all people, the further theme of bi-partisanship, trying to include hostile political views, remains deeply problematic.  It's not just an attitude of willful intransigence that stands in the way.  It's historical memory.

Democrats have been trying to make nice-nice with Republicans in order to put an end to polarization and divisiveness at least since the days of Jimmy Carter.  The results have been quite satisfactory... for the Republicans.  Barack Obama says that this time it will be different.  If he means to inspire us, that's one thing.  But if that's really his game plan, then he is reading from speeches given by Lucy to Charlie Brown: this time, for sure, she won't pull that football away at the last moment.

Okay, folks, there are so many examples, it's impossible to choose.  Should we look at:

    (A) Jimmy Carter takes "bipartisan" advice from Henry Kissinger , lets the deposed Shah into the country, and precipitates a hostage crisis that costs him the presidency-with a little help from the 1980 Reagan/Bush team, which is not above a little bit of treason, if that's what it takes to get elected.

    (B) Michael Dukakis refuses to get down and dirty.  "It's about competence, not ideology," he explains-perhaps the most incompetent thing a presidential candidate has said since Hebert Hoover adopted the theme song "Happy Days Are Here Again" in the midst of the Great Depression.  In Ohio, Senator Howard Metzenbaum ran as a full-throated economic populist and cruised to a 57-43 victory, while Dukakis ran away from the "liberal" label, and lost badly, 55-45. [Ohio SOS Raw Totals]

    (C) Bill Clinton ignores a whole raft of Republican scandals [Iran-Contra, Iraqgate , October Surprise, etc.] in an attempt to make peace with the Republicans.  He caves on a whole series of issues, and-voila!--the Republicans win control of Congress for the first time in 40 years, and launch a scorched earth campaign to drive him from office.

    (D) Al Gore plays by Marquess of Queensberry rules, and has the Presidency stolen from him.

    (E) John Kerry refuses to fight back when swiftboated, then starts to think better of it, until John McCain tells him "no fair hitting back."  Then he reverses his earlier pledge to fight to ensure that every vote is counted.

Spin the magic wheel, jump the flip, and see which one it is we'll be examinig today...

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 3024 words in story)
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