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June 15, 2005

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And here's a little bit of Blogger's Caucus dynamics for you: I was thinking that maybe John Aravosis might have been a good target to approach with the anti-boycott consultancy idea. But maybe now isn't the time.

This is Aravosis' standard operating procedure - first with Mary Cheney, then with the Jeff Gannon porn angle, and now with the Lynching thing. In this latter case, however, I'd say kos and Atrios are equally guilty of the leading the lynching lynchmob.

Yes, they're definitely doing their part. Although I would say that Kos has a case for doing what he's doing -- that is, displaying a list of who's who, and whipping up a frenzy about it. At least that arguably pursues a partisan goal. Aravosis, I fear, may just be interested in driving traffic, because there's nothing to be gained by moving Republicans to cosponsor a bill that provides them with racial cover, and has already passed.

I don't know what Atrios is doing, but an educated guess would be that he's somewhere in Kos territory.

You're quite right about the SOP at AMERICAblog, though. I didn't see the Mary Cheney go-round, but I saw the Jeff Gannon one.

How do we tell when Aravosis "wins" in his campaign? And who "wins" when he does?

I gotta say, I respectfully disagree here.

I will cede that this will not win on principle or get any tangible legislation done.

But there's a reason the Senators who didn't want to be on the record on this didn't want to be on the record. It's all very easy to say, "Most of [the Senators' reasons] have less to do with racism than they do with issues of headlinet-grabbing and/or spotlight-avoiding." But that discussion was NOT about why Senators might not want their name attached to this.

For example, we didn't talk about why Kaybee wouldn't want to be opposed to lynching if she were going to run for Governor in TX, but neither can she afford to be the easy target she may end up over this. Ditto John Cornyn (who, unlike Kaybee, may very well support lynching), who doesn't want this to scuttle his SCOTUS chances but neither does he want it to piss off the people who put him where he is.

I do feel like the Dems should have pushed a roll call on this (although I suspect Fristie wouldn't have let it come to a vote then). But in the absence of that--particularly with the demonstrable discomfort of several GOP Senators about going on the record on this--I see no problem with trying to force everyone to take a stance post-facto. I mean, even the many reasons we came up with on the previous thread were reasons why someone wouldn't support a no-brainer legislation before the fact. Now that it has passed and become by CW no-brainer, I'm not sure many of those reasons are operable. Particularly for the likes of Trent Lott. Even Alexander, whose reasoning might be the most intriguing, says he supported the rseolution, but won't co-sponsor. Why not? He's pissed that Allen got his name on it before he did and now he's sulking?

I'm all in favor for working for a politics that favors substance over style. But we don't live in that world. We live in a world where John Kerry got discredited because he wasn't able to articulate that the military programs he opposed were also opposed by Dick Cheney, where Max Cleland got accused of being soft on military issues. Until we live in a world where substance trumps, we need to create opportunities for showing swing voters that the Republicans they MIGHT support are not what they seem. As the minority with little access to the press, we don't have many chances to do that. I'm not sure this will get enough press (either now or during Kaybee's governor run) to make a difference. But I do see some value in using this opportunity.

I can't deny with certainty that there's value in using this opportunity. The question is whether that value is diminished by continuing to fan the flames at this point, the way AMERICAblog is doing, or whether it's better to let the embers smoulder, the way Daily Kos is doing.

What's the benefit of continuing to push Republican holdouts on the arcana of cosponsorship procedure?

I should clarify. By this: But that discussion was NOT about why Senators might not want their name attached to this. I meant, we were having a process discussion. Not one that discussed a lot of the more unsavory reasons why a Senator might not want their name attached to this. So, not a surprise that most of the reasons didn't have anything to do with racism.

The list is now whittled down (because of Aravosis' work and Kos') to a number where the dominant reason why Senators don't want to be included is, by and large racism, either their own or that of some very important supporters. Not the only reason. But quickly becoming the only reason.

And, sorry, I do think having a list of Senators who, for no demonstrable reason, won't go on the record supporting an innocuous resolution. I do think it can become a valuable tool, next time the GOP tries to claim they've got an expansive tent. Does it make George Allen any less of a racist? No (although I might have to revise my estimates about his stupidity). But it does provide a useful tool to suggest that Kaybee should not be Governor of a state with large numbers of people of color.

Oh, crossed in the commenting.

Yup. I'd drop it at this point. We've got what we want, a list we can waggle in front of Kaybee's face the next time she fakes a good cry on teevee. But there is SOME value to get on the record the false excuses that the Senators are using.

If you assume that no more of the GOP senators will cosponsor at this point, continuing to fan the flames is energizing the Democratic base. It reads - fairly or not - as "The GOP is the party of lynching."

And if you assume that GOP senators do co-sponsor, then you're accentuating the division between reactionaries and hyper-reactionaries in that party, which could be useful if the campaign was part of a longer strategy.

I don't see that it is, though. The blog reaction to the apology reads to me like "target of opportunity," rather than trying to beat the GOP at their own game. So I'm sympathetic to Kagro's POV.

Here's another question to shift this discussion a little.

You mentioned TWN here. Well, apparently Clemons has been told the White House reads his blog. And McCain suggested in yesterday's press conference that he read it, too.

I'm a little fascinated by that. Does that mean, by doing this kind of thing in blogs, we're letting the other side see our hand and we should stop? Does it mean the blogs provide a good sense of where an issue is headed? Or how much uptake that issue is getting? I'm not really sure. But I'm fascinated that McCain alluded to TWN during the press conference...

I have a smaller question. What does the individual netroots activist want from the intern/office/senator to whom his or her abuse is directed.

If we really believe these holdouts are pro-lynching -- do we think we can bully any of them into seeing the light overnight?

Or do we think we can bully them into an insincere sponsorship of a measure that's already out the door?

Are either of these goals feasible and valuable?

If we don't believe that, what are we doing, and why?

One possibility is that we think there are really a very small number of pro-lynching senators (or even senators who would currently oppose the anti-lynching measures that came to the Senate in ages past). We suspect we can pick off eqivocators, and can reduce their true obejctor's protective cover, and finally hold the two or three of them up to harsher disapproval.

Maybe so, but the real opponents can slip this trap simply by caving in as the holdout bubble collapses, and then what have we got?

Do we have a unanimous moral victory, closing the door on an age of darkness?

Or do we have an "I proved I can make you eat dirt" victory? (In this case, that might not be a bad thing ... but let's not kid ourselves, it's not the same thing.)

We're almost certainly revealing more than we should. But sometimes, letting the other side know what you're doing doesn't necessarily help them stop it. Most of the time, I'd venture to say they see it coming.

But I've always thought that reading the blogs gives you a pretty good idea of what the future print headlines are going to look like.

Why bloggers do what they do: isn't it the same reason bloggers do everything they do (on blogs) -- to get people to listen to them?

Their readership gets to kick an opponent, so it stirs civic activism (of a sort). And any impact on the legislators is a feather in the bloggers' cap.

I think I see what you're saying from a future-of-the-blog-community perspective, we don't want to go hypersonic over every small outrage (inrage?). But for an individual blogger what's the downside to trying to incite action - again and again and again?

The worst that happens is nothing.

Ron, that was originally the heart of my question, when I was still debating it on Daily Kos. But when the question expanded to include, specifically, what is John Aravosis doing, I decided to take it to a different forum.

This makes it a related but different question, and one that links (if we dare to take it there) to a tangential issue in the Daily Kos Pastry Unpleasantness: What strange things can happen at the nexus of advertising-funded blogging and netroots activism?

What's left to gain from making yourself the blogosphere's pivot point for the campaign of harassing Senate interns now, if not jacking up your pageview totals?

Well, I think the Jeff Gannon thing had a chance in hell of being important. Particularly if the connection to the Mary Mapes TANG documents had been successfully drawn. (I am referring here to the allegation that Jeff Gannon was the first person to reveal the fact that the TANG forgeries were received by or cleared to run by Mary Mapes. She was on Bushco's shitlist for clearing the Abu Ghraib story to run, and a Jeff Gannon posting on Free Republic appears to have been the first statement anywhere that Mary Mapes received the documents. Jeff shouldn't have known that unless someone in the White House knew that the forgeries were leaked to Mapes. Which of course would be very interesting.)

(I should add that I am nothing close to an authority on this subject.)

Anyway, I think Gannon was worth pursuing, because there's a very real chance that somewhere along the line he was used to leak something that the White House officially shouldn't know anything about. And there is probably a story in this lynching voice-vote too; someone told Frist they didn't want a roll call vote, and if Frist thinks this is going to be hung around his neck effectively, his staff might just let us know which Senators actively objected to the roll call. Which would be R-on-R violence, which is ALWAYS good, and which might give us something to bludgeon a weak R with; if it were Cornyn, for instance, whom almost no one in Texas has a real impression of, we could make this plus the box turtle plus the judge violence into some authentically bad PR.

I do think Aravosis is messing up by not putting the pressure directly on Frist, for allowing the voice-vote. Frist is aleady weak enough that journalists might be willing to run with that story. And if he betrays an R who's stronger than he is... anyway, the potential for stirring up trouble is there. But I do agree with you that his tactics don't look from the outside like a well-considered campaign; they look a little bit like banging the drum loudly, and maybe ginning up traffic, without being very effective. Maybe he's got a strategy in the works, but I can't see it.

Well, don't I look silly. By the time I finished writing that I was responding to a minor point waaaaay upthread.

RonK

I don't doubt a lot of the phone calls have been harrassment. But I also think a number of the phone calls (I've sent 3 emails to non-interns, spoke to 4 interns and one non-intern) serve to alert a Senator's staffers that this will receive greater scrutiny than the Senator thought it would, passing as it did late at night and with a voice vote.

Now, sure, some Senators will cave when they realize this. But some won't. I think the Senators from AL and MS wear their racism proudly. Trent Lott, even for all he's paid for his racism, isn't going to back down on this.

And I do think someone like Kaybee is calculating wildly right now. "Will the bloggers be able to make a stink of this during the governors race? Or am I just better off staying off the record on this, so as not to offend the TX right, which is proud of its own lynching past." Hopefully, Aravosis will be as active then as he is now, because I DO think we can use this against her. Will it win Bell the election? Probably not.

One more thing. I don't know how to measure Aravosis' victories concretely on issues like Gannon and Mary Cheney. But I do count the stolen gay marriage photo is a win we can count in Aravosis' column, and the case hasn't even been heard yet. Ditto the pressure he--and a number of others--put on Microsoft.

The stolen photo is a clear win, and a clear benefit to Outrage Centralism.

This one, not so much. But it's clear he loves the attention.

Need I point out you've got to sustain the traffic--and the outrage activism--to be able to pull of wins like the stolen photo and Microsoft?

I hold the non-signatories in low regard, but I would continue to do so for other reasons even if they signed-on. Having said that, I seriously doubt that any of them are "pro-lynching." This is silly.

This has turned into a battle of wills. Against all reason they are refusing to sign because they don't want to be forced to do anything by Democrats, even if it is the correct thing to do.

As far as politics go, we should be glad the morons didn't sign. Why try to make them avoid a political blunder, even a small one like this? I guess the answer we want to see if we can "make them eat dirt" as RonK said and it drives traffic.

Enviable lives: spare time to tilt at windbags.

The Microsoft "win" was a case of the rooster takng credit for the sunrise. That turnaround was dialed in from day one, blogs or no.

I won't automatically impute southern resistance to racism, either ... and certainly not to any affirmative defense of lynching. Credit their perception of the resolution as yet another round of northern axe-grinding, and "you folks up norht have got your own problems, and don't try to tell me otherwise".

And we DO have our problems ... and given our druthers, we'll keep flogging the Jim Crow South any day of the week.

As long as we're poking holes in things like the Microsoft win, I might as well point out that the greatest leap forward -- identifying the couple -- was done on Daily Kos. AMERICAblog pumped up the outrage meter.

But I suspect you can do that just as well without inflating your traffic numbers with fluff. If you're good.

Aravosis and the other contributors to his site do what they do very well . . . and that is stir up outrage and activism. You can argue about the extent to which he needs to hone his campaigns toward the right target or cut them off at the right moment if you like. I don't think much of the idea of a Culture of Outrage, but the fact is that more people need to be informed and outraged about the things that are going on. Too much is dependent upon our apathy and impotence. So . . . small victories where we can claim them, and a more active base seem to be good things, and I'm not one to begrudge anyone site traffic. I think Aravosis is necessary in these times, and if ever a time comes when he is NOT necessary, he will fade away, in one way or another.

Here's a radical idea: if you want to know why Aravosis is doing what he is doing, and what if any strategy or goals he has in mind, why not ask him? It's not as if he insulates himself.

He has a flair for outrage and political theater, and he dose gin up the base and keep a battalion of activists engaged. Those are things our side has sorely lacked, as we play reality based politics better than we do entertainment age politics. This is in lage measure why we lose.

This whole thread has the whiff of a conversation about someone in the room who is actually available to answer for himself. The absense of a direct attempt to ask him says more about our political lack of coordination than any other blogger process observations illuminate about the strength or weaknesses of our online strategies and issue campaigns.

KagroX, why not contact Aravosis and report back to us?

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