Tag: Netroots

Sick Of Move On

I think Move On sucks. I have all year, starting with their backing of the House Iraq Supplemental last Spring. I thought the title of their “General Betray Us” ad was collosally stupid. And now I am completely sick and tired of all the teeth gnashing over the Senate resolution condemning Move On’s stupid ad.

The Netroots truly suck. Geekesque said it best at the Big Orange Satan’s place yesterday:

The following Senators voted YES to end the Iraq debacle and voted YES on the irrelevant bill:

Ben Cardin
Diane Feinstein
Herb Kohl
Pat Leahy

and this Senator voted Yes to end the Iraq debacle and refused to vote on the irrelevant bill:

Barack Obama

These Senators voted against ending the Iraq debacle and voted NO on the irrelevant [Move On] bill:

Jeff Bingaman
Carl Levin
Jack Reed

Now, there has been plenty of rage directed towards Senators Cardin, Feinstein, Leahy, and Obama.

None has been directed at Bingaman, Levin, and Reed.

Judging from the Netroots reaction, apparently the Netroots feels that it’s more important to pander to the Netroots and avoid hurting Moveon’s feelings than it is to end the Iraq debacle.

If that be the case, why should people take the Netroots seriously?

Wake up. . . .

The Problem With The Netroots Strategy On Iraq

The Netroots has this year focused its fire on Iraq on “moderate” Republicans and what they term Bush Dog Democrats. Move On’s Tom Matzzie “masterminded” a brilliant plan that Move On has implemented this spring and summer of running ads against “moderate” Republicans like Jim Walsh and it worked, Walsh will now favor a toothless “change the course” strategy that Democrats will offer as a “bipartisan” plan. Move On and the Dems have concocted a political position that will give “moderate” Republicans cover on the Iraq issue in 2008 while doing nothing to change the course of the Debacle. Brilliant!

Similarly, the Bush Dog Democrat plan, which threatens to run Netroots-inspired primaries against people like Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor (D-MS) (because I am sure Mississippi Democrats will rise up once some Mississippi progressive is anointed as the Netroots candidate in such a primary), will no doubt make a big dent in Bush’s Iraq policy. Not.

Meanwhile, erstwhile Netroots Dem Joe Sestak (D-PA), once a supporter of a date certain for withdrawal, no longer supports a firm timeline:

Sestak said, Democratic leaders should set aside their demands for immediate withdrawal “and begin to help author a comprehensive regional security plan that accepts the necessity for a deliberate redeployment.” . . . Sestak has been among those Democrats who think that setting a “date certain” for withdrawal is the best way to force Iraqis to assume more responsibility. But he now believes the length of time needed to redeploy, and the potential for the entire Army to “unravel” unless troops are redeployed, require a compromise. . . .

This is indicative of all that was wrong with the progressive activist strategy on Iraq in 2007. Instead of concentrating on growing and holding the group of Dems, once 171 strong in the House, in favor of no funding without timelines, some decided they could pressure Republicans and conservative Dems like Gene Taylor. And we are where we are today in no small measure because of these miscalculations. I repeat, one more time, that it will take pressure on Dems, MAINSTREAM and PROGRESSIVE Dems, to hold the line on no funding without timelines. We need to work for more pledges like this one:

Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to inform you that we will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.

More than 3,600 of our brave soldiers have died in Iraq. More than 26,000 have been seriously wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured in the hostilities and more than 4 million have been displaced from their homes. Furthermore, this conflict has degenerated into a sectarian civil war and U.S. taxpayers have paid more than $500 billion, despite assurances that you and your key advisors gave our nation at the time you ordered the invasion in March, 2003 that this military intervention would cost far less and be paid from Iraqi oil revenues.

We agree with a clear and growing majority of the American people who are opposed to continued, open-ended U.S. military operations in Iraq, and believe it is unwise and unacceptable for you to continue to unilaterally impose these staggering costs and the soaring debt on Americans currently and for generations to come. . .

The pledge made in this letter should have been the focal point of our activism. Sadly, it was not.

The Move On Ad

I have not been shy about the need to demythologize General Petraeus as the “honest broker” who will provide an independent assessment of the Surge. I wrote:

[T]his is not meant to doubt General Petraeus' integrity or competence. It is meant to treat him for what he is – not an infallible disinterested observer, but a soldier who believes he can accomplish an impossible mission and will view events in a manner that most favors that belief. This is to be expected from ALL human beings

What I must condemn is the use of the phrase “General Betrayus” by Move On in its ad today in the New York Times. This inexcusable use of the detestable Republican tactic of labelling those who disagree with you as “traitors,” something I have long objected to and I must, in good conscience, strongly condemn Move On's use of this deplorable tactic. Moreover, not only was this morally contemptible, it was political idiocy as the coverage of the ad clearly demonstrated. There is a way to take on the Petraeus myth. Glenn Greenwald demonstrated how to do it. And he is featured here showing how again:

Open Left has a petition you should sign.

How to win the defunding debate (a cross-post with a left jab)

This place has had far too little contentiousness since it’s inception, so in honor of Armando’s FP diary promoting defunding I’m cross-posting a DKos diary I wrote on the topic the week before last, to which I add this preface:

I think that couching opposition to defunding as craven bellywriggling on the part of the netroots is ridiculous.  In trying to drum up netroots support for defunding, Armando is being every bit as much a “leader” as Kos or Bowers and Stoller.  And, as usual, there’s a psychosexual aspect to his attack, such that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is a weak punk without the guts for exert “people power” — as if agreeing with him on this issue is people-power’s sine qua non.

I explain below why I don’t think defunding — while a good idea in principle — is going to work.  If it won’t, then we’re simply setting up a situation where we’re going to howl at the Democrats because they can’t control the Bush Dogs.  (In fact, I think that the leadership already knows that there is too much support for continued funding — based on fears of a GOP Dolchstoss strategy for defunding to work, which is why they’re trying to make the best of a bad hand right now.)  That will feel really goooood for those of us who like to be able to say we told you so, but it won’t do a damn thing to stop the war, and by weakening the Democratic Party, may prolong it.

But as (and if) we debate the merits of defunding, let’s not pretend that this is part of any acid test for the netroots.  Armando does not equal “people-power,” despite his claims; he’s just another netroots leader with a different policy idea, which he and several friends have been hammering in a manner that is not readily distinguishable from the putative “top-down” approach of kos, Bowers, and Stoller.  It’s all about persuasion over what tactic to use to tackle a difficult issue; let’s not pretend it’s about something grander than that.

Oh, and if you wonder why I don’t raise this in Armando’s diary itself: he asked me to keep out of his diaries, which I usually (but not inevitably) do as a courtesy, and so far as I know there’s no exception for this site.

The Netroots and Iraq

Someone just pointed me to this radio interview of John Stauber by Bob McChesney (it is the 8/19 interview) on the Netroots (especially Move On) and the Iraq issue, and I think it is excellent.

I’ve discussed this issue often, see here and here, here and here. In the Guardian, I wrote this:

In fact, the entire netroots’ performance opposing the Iraq war during 2007, and especially the performance of MoveOn, has been nothing short of pathetic. For example, MoveOn , seconded by such netroots stalwarts as Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller, then of the blog MyDD, and the Daily Kos blog, tried to rally support for the Democrats’ utterly inadequate Iraq supplemental spending bill. Predictably, the effort ended in disaster for Democrats.

But no matter, at least for MoveOn, which decided that this failure would be a great jumping off point for a political campaign to challenge Republicans in the 2008 election. MoveOn is still in the middle of that campaign. What we do not see from MoveOn or any of the leading left blogs are any attempts to pressure Democrats into taking action immediately to end the Iraq war. Every plan, every project, seemingly every post, is focused on how to exploit Iraq as a political weapon against Republicans in the 2008 elections. Very little thought is brought to bear on how to pressure Democrats to use the power of congress to end the Iraq war now.

MoveOn and many of the leading left-wing blogs have become nothing but appendages of the Democratic party – defending every initiative, no matter how wrong-headed, cowardly and obviously ineffective. And since the Iraq supplemental fight, where the netroots did such a horrible job, the discussions of what congress should do to end the Iraq debacle are practically nonexistent in the leading left blogs. They have seemed intent on confirming Bai’s view that the netroots are more interested in being kingmakers than in dealing with the issues. A review of the leading Left blogs shows very little coverage of Iraq issues and what congress should be doing. Instead, they are obsessed with 2008 presidential horserace blogging.

Stauber is not someone I am going to agree with a whole lot on a wide range of issues (for example, he is a big impeachment proponent), but I thought Stauber was especially good in this interview. Take a listen.

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