Progressives Unite!

There is something strange going on in the progressive blogosphere these days: instead of uniting against Republicans, progressive bloggers like Matt Stoller have decided to declare war on every Democrat who they consider not to be progressive (read anti-war) enough. Seemingly frustrated that there are actually Democratic Congressmen that do not necessarily always vote along party lines – but make up their own minds – they have decided to ask their readers to make profiles of so-called “Bush Dogs” (Blue Dogs and New Democrats) as to be able to target them in the coming years, and to replace them with progressive, left-wing Republicans.

An example of a so-called Bush Dog they are targeting is Brian Baird. Baird opposed the war against Iraq from the get-go but believes that since the US went ahead and attacked anyway, it should persist and be successful. He believes that the surge might be paying off, at least to a degree, and that – therefore – the troops should not be withdrawn soon. So, Open Left and Daily Kos have decided to target Blair – they are writing negative posts about him, etc.

Of course, Baird is not the only victim. Once one pays attention to what is happening, one also sees that they are targeting Hillary Clinton. Obviously not to replace her, but instead to make sure that she does not win the nomination. Besides attacking Hillary straight on, the left-wingers of the Daily Kos, Open Left and MyDD, also seem to have declared Bill Clinton their enemy. Their new best buddy? Al Franken.

Those who dare support non-Democratic candidates for president – like Independents – have to be put away as well well. As a result of all their actions, Chris Bower believes that “progressives are moving closer to Democratic Party control.”

This prospect should – as far as I am concerned – scare the hell out of everybody who thinks that some independence of thought is actually a good thing. We have seen some of this being done by conservative bloggers and activists, but never on the scale as we currently see (it being done by progressives). The intention is clearly to stifle all dissent, and all debate. Whether one is a Democrat or not, and whether one is more progressive than conservative, and left-of-center is irrelevant to these people. Nor do they seem to care that the voters voted these people into office in the first place. They have decided that they are enemies of the Democratic Party (even though they are Democrats themselves) and therefore enemies of the people.

The most important issue according to the progressives? Iraq. it is all that matters. In this instance they decide not to go after someone for not being progressive enough on certain issues, because this person opposes the surge. In other words, one might argue that it is not so much about progressive vs. less progressive, but about anti-war vs. open-minded. Make no mistake about it however: once these people get their way regarding Iraq, they will target politicians who they deem not progressive enough on other issues.

And so, slowly but surely, these people are destroying the Democratic Party. The average American does not favor truly progressive policies nor does the average American think highly of the anti-war crowd (led by Kos and Stoller). They might have their fair share of groupies, but so did other totalitarians in the past. These people are totalitarians because they do not accept any dissent. It is not as if policies are up for debate: they have made up their minds about certain issues, everybody else must agree. If they do not, they have to be targeted. More, Chris Bowers, Matt Stoller and “Kos” are now even making themselves unpopular among local Democratic activists. These activists basically tell Stoller and Bowers to bugger off. They know what is happening in their districts, they know what to do. National activists, they argue, do not have any idea what is going on in certain districts and / or states.

Of course, these concerns are easily dismissed. Indeed, one could argue that these bloggers have to be careful: otherwise they may be targeted soon as well. The Minnesota blogger has already turned against Bower et al.: instead of going ahead and endorsing other, more progressive candidates, he has decided to actively support the person (so-called Bush Dog) his more totalitarian thinking colleagues are attacking. The Ohio blogger I link to basically did the same thing by asking fellow Democrats to donate some much-need money to the two Ohio Representatives who Stoller and Bowers labeled “Bush Dogs.”

The centralization aspect of the campaign is quite interesting to see as well. One could argue that Stoller et al. believe that the centralized government knows best, or at least does not know less than the governments at a state level. The result is that they want to centralize politics as much as possible. This does not only reveal itself in their politics, but also in their campaigning. In essence, they want to centralize local campaigning with the goal of making every Democrat – in whatever district – a copy of every other Democrat – in other districts thus with different constituents.

When the Ohio blogger wrote that his reps. are targeted, Stoller told him that they are not targeting them (yet) and that he was free to write a positive profile of his Reps. The only problem with that is, of course, that they are already forced to play defense. If they do not, one can count on it that the Reps. from Ohio will be targeted – soon and aggressively. O, and then there is also the fact Stoller already labeled them “Bush Dogs.” I especially liked a comment from someone who supports the initiative: ‘You have no damn business telling the rest of the country to leave your “candidates” alone.’ Of course they do not: the ‘centralized and big campaign’ (governments) knows best.


The Minnesota blogger wrote: “Chris, you’re not the DSCC, and this revolution wasn’t about creating an online movement that would be as abusive as the old system.”

Quite right. But this is the result of the political theory people like Bowers adhere to. To them, any and all dissent should be destroyed. That is how they think and that is how they (now finally) act. It has been said for a long while already, but these people reflect totalitarian movements more than they reflect the spirit of liberty and diversity.

Author: michaelvdg

  • Dave Schuler

    Historically, the Democratic Party has been characterized from a technical standpoint as a “catch-all” party as has, to a somewhat lesser degree, the Republican Party. The progressive wing of the party (as I predicted three years ago) is attempting to capture the party apparatus. There’s evidence both ways as to how successful that is. So, for example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a a member of the progressive wing but, on the other hand, the engineer of the Democrats’ 2006 electoral victory was Rahm Emmanuel, a member of the DLC—part of the other wing.

    It isn’t just war on Iraq on which the progressives demand an oath of fealty. There are programmatic positions on everything from abortion to healthcare reform and I see no reason they’ll be more tolerant of dissent in one arena than in another.

    If they’re successful, they’ll drive the party into irrelevancy.

  • Lynx

    I agree with the general sentiment of the post, but I question a couple of explicit and implicit ideas in it.

    1. When you say:

    The average American does not favor truly progressive policies nor does the average American think highly of the anti-war crowd

    Uhmm, that really depends what you mean by “progressive policies” and “anti-war crowd”. If you strictly mean that the majority of Americans aren’t total adherents to Kos philosphy I agree, otherwise… A majority of Americans think that the government should guarantee health care for all Americans. A majority of Americans are worried about Global Warming and environmental issues in general. Though a majority oppose Gay marriage, virtually the same margin favors civil unions. A majority of Americans also agree with upholding Roe v. Wade. Gee, this strikes me as being rather, I dunno, progressive don’t you think?
    Now, if you asked most Americans if they are liberal or progressive they probably would say no, because the demonization of those words has been so effective, but if you go down the issues, your assertion doesn’t hold, or at least can’t be simply said out of hand.
    As for the anti-war crowd, again it depends. Yes, almost no one is left in the Cindy Sheehan camp, but the number of people who oppose the Iraq war and support withdrawal grows daily, so it could also be said that the “anti-war” camp grows, though the crazy-camp stays much the same.

    2. I question the power you seem to ascribe to Kos and his kind. I’m not entirely sure of course, but my feeling is that, since he really doesn’t represent all the party, he probably has more hype than make or break power. If the liberal blogosphere had that kind of power, Kerry would NOT have been the Democratic candidate, trust me (I inhabited one such blog at the time). That doesn’t mean that I agree with their tactics or that they are more right, just that they might not be as dangerous as you might think. Issue by issue I probably agree with a majority of the things these blogs do, but I obviously don’t like their tactics. Liberals especially are supposed to EMBRACE differences of opinion, that’s part of the point! I’ve always thought that communists and fascists were essentially the same people. Different symbols, different (though not SO different) stated goals, same strategies and mentalities.

    I think what they are attempting is the Karl Rove strategy of party discipline that gave the Republicans so much power. This has two fatal flaws. For starters, the Democratic party really is supposed to be the big tent party, able to accommodate people of many ideological stripes, if it becomes totally restrictive it may simply cease to exist. The other problem is that Rove’s strategy worked great…until it didn’t. Voter frustration with Republican bobble-heads came back to bite them in the end, it’s not a long-term strategy.

  • Tom

    Lynx pretty much said what I was going to say. So I’ll just add one comment:

    The hammer and sickle? Isn’t that going just a bit over the top?

    What have you been smoking? Been hanging out in the coffeehouses again? 😉

  • Davebo

    If only Republicans had done the same. I sense a lot of projection in this post.

    And anti-war is an idiotic term to use to describe this. Anti clusterf@ck would be much more accurate.

    Additionally I’m curious. I’m in America, but I don’t think I’m qualified to pontificate on what the average American thinks. What do you base your claim on?

  • Davebo

    Also, what the heck is this?

    This prospect should – as far as I am concerned – scare the hell out of everybody who thinks that some independence of thought is actually a good thing.

    Independance of thought is fine. Does that mean you can’t campaign for a non incumbent because you don’t agree with the incumbent?

    If that truly scares the hell out of you I’m frankly amazed.

  • domajot

    The stridency of the far-out wing of the progressives is worthy of harsh criticism.

    I couldn’t fully read the post, however, after seeing the ‘hammer and sickle’ symbol on top.
    Talk about crass and offfensive!

    This symbol represents oppression implemented by torture, death and enslavement. For many, only a skull and crossbones could instill more fear and revulsion. This symbol is in my family’s nightmares and in the nightmares of many around the globe.

    The use of this symbol in a political discussion in the US is highly infalmmatory That this symbol was chosen by one who boasts of his scholarly knowledge of history, can only mean that the symbol was chosen purpsefully, in order to hurt, and insult.

    So much for the exchange of ideas.
    Bring on the hate and loathing!


  • kimrit

    I don’t like fanatacism from either side, but I would question your assertion that progressive activists are attacking moderates to a greater degree than conservative groups like the Victory Caucus, Grover Norquist’s group, Focus on the Family,
    or Club for Growth have attacked members in their party who didn’t play ball. Extremists in both parties try to control the soft middle, and being more active politically than the average American, often succeed. The result ends up dividing the party and eventually destroying it, as well as driving politicians who do try to maintain some independence of thought, out of office.

    Right now we are seeing a mass exodus of congressional Republicans- at least 6 so far have chosen not to run for reelection- if Daily Kos is successful, the same may occur in the Democratic party with the next cycle.

  • mw

    “There is something strange going on in the progressive blogosphere these days: instead of uniting against Republicans, progressive bloggers like Matt Stoller have decided to declare war on every Democrat …”– mg

    Just as a matter of historical accuracy – In the modem political era (post WWII) Democrats fighting Democrats is the rule, not the exception.

  • jdledell

    Michael – Yes, there are many liberals who are pushing their points to the extreme. Daily Kos, amoung others, is illustrative of this point. However, even on Daily Kos there are voices of moderation. Add to that there are literally hundreds of progressive blogs which push their point of view but are not dogmatic about it.

    As everyone knows, America is predominately in the middle. The liberalls are trying by force of anger, volume and tone trying to shift the center of gravity to the left a bit. The right is trying to do the same thingin the opposite direction. Have you read the points of view in LGF, Powerline, Lucienne etc? Are they as extreme as Daily Kos? You have Bill Kristol, Poderantz, AEI, Weekly Standard etc fighting for a never ending war against the muslim world and maybe others.

    Have you seen the ads that Ari Fleischer’s group is spending $15 million on targeting mainly republicans for not being behind Bush enough?

    Whether we like it or not, politics in America has become a deadly game of winners and losers. Until that changes, if ever, a person has to fight for their ideology as if their life depended on it because it just may.

    So Michael, until I hear a call for the right to moderate it’s positions, I will continue to fight tooth and nail for mine. If I don’t, the right wing of America will roll right over me, crushing everything and everyone I hold dear. Are you suggesting that us liberals unilaterally surrender to whatever the right wing wants to do? If our voices are mild and gentle, the right wing chorus of “War, Kill, Treason” will drown our words to the detriment of this country.

  • Michael van der Galien

    John: have you read Pete’s letter? Some Republicans agree(d) with you and have decided to do something.

  • Jason Steck

    until I hear a call for the right to moderate it’s positions, I will continue to fight tooth and nail for mine. If I don’t, the right wing of America will roll right over me, crushing everything and everyone I hold dear.

    Those calls have been out there for a long time. The fact is that they are ignored because it is much more fun to keep using the BushHitlerCheneyNeocon boogeyman as an all-purpose tool of ideological enforcement used to beat up everyone who dissents even in a small way from the Required Thought.

    And as long as you (liberals generally) continue to believe that anyone who disagrees even a little about anything is in the same vein as Kristol, et al, you will continue to alienate those who might otherwise be your potential allies. It might surprise you to know, jd, that we probably agree on a lot of things about social policy and even some areas of foreign policy. But it is impossible to talk about those when I constantly see good people who I know to be conservatives that are NOT in the mold of Kristol or Cheney constantly being SLANDERED by the people around here that I would be talking to.

    I have found that the constant misrepresentations from liberals of ALL conservatives as being indistinguishable from the worst of the extremists has made me actually become more sympathetic towards conservatives than I was before I started writing in the so-called “political blogosphere”. When every single time I write anything that criticizes a liberal or takes a slightly non-liberal point of view on an issue, I wind up getting lumped in with Kristol or Cheney or Robertson, well, it should be no surprise that I backlash. I think a lot of other people react to that treatment the same way. Or they just leave.

    And because I was bullied as a child, I react defensively on behalf of individuals that I perceive as being bullied. Around TMV and the “political blogosphere” more generally, those people are moderate conservatives. Moderate conservatives can rarely get a word in edgewise without a mob of liberals throwing a “neocon” in their face.

    You claim that your stridency is the consequence of “neocons” who cry “war, kill, treason”, but you seem completely unaware of how the constant cry around here of “BushCheney, racist, neocon” is causing the exact same thing.

    And unlike the anti-liberal boogeyman rhetoric that you complain about, the anti-conservative rhetoric that I am complaining about actually exists around TMV in significant, even dominant, quantity.

    All the liberal commenters around here should stop holding moderate conservatives responsible for extreme conservatives’ crimes committed in a totally different forum.

    I wonder how the liberal commenters around here would react if the few remaining conservatives around here started actually behaving in accord with the stereotype that is used against them all the time.

  • George Sorwell

    Are you kidding me????

    Just two days ago, Joe Gandelman put up a post, right here at The Moderate Voice, called Republicans Now Targeting Republicans!!!!

    This is par for the course. People from both sides–including extremists from both sides–try to influence politicians.

    And I’ve read the previous comment pointing that out. Pointing out a $15 million advertising campaign targeting mostly Republicans!!!! What I’d especially like to add is that Gandelman didn’t feel the need to illustrate his post will any Nazi symbols!!!!

    Honestly, Michael, whoever is encouraging you to do this type of thing isn’t helping you.

    I hope all that HTML works.

  • Michael van der Galien

    O please stop complaining about the symbols. Already replaced the image, so I guess we can stop being upset now and actually respond to the post and not just by saying “but they does it too”

  • George Sorwell

    In my previous comment, I made reference to Nazi symbolism because this post was originally illustrated with a Communist hammer and sickle.

    Apparently, there will be no acknowledgment of that change in this post.

    Just as there will apparently be no update acknowledging that Republicans are spending $15 to target Republicans.

  • Michael van der Galien

    Well, you just made yourself look silly, didn’t you?

  • George Sorwell

    Well, I see the decision has been made to acknowledge the change in symbolism all the way down here in comment #14.

    I think you ought to consider whether your reflexive impulse to use that kind of symbolism is just.

    And I don’t see why pointing out “but they does it too” isn’t a valid response to the substance of this post.

    And I’m perfectly willing to let anyone who reads this post decide who looks silly, Michael.

  • domajot

    My experience at TMV has been the exact oppostie of Jason’s. I find myself moving to the left in response to strident posts, comments and outright attacks aimed at the left side of the political spectrum.

    The use of the hammer and sickle heading this post , for example, absolutely pushes me in the opposite political direction. Use of this symbol is just one way of calling some progressives ‘commies’ ,while avoiding responsibllity for using the actual word,

    Curious how few sensitive souls worrying about “moderates’ found that offesive
    I guess it’s different if someone else is getting bashed.


  • Michael van der Galien

    That’s because you already were left when you came here Doma.

    And: TMV has become the center of people who are progressive, there is no need for right-of-center posters and commetners to take it easy on them.

  • kritter

    MvdG- aren’t you doing the exact same thing that Jason just complained about in his comment? There are moderates and centrists here, but they all get lumped in with the DailyKos crowd.

    You have written a lot of posts bashing the “Left” without balancing it out with examples of how the right behaves in kind. I, too, think that that is a one-sided tactic.

  • domajot

    “That’s because you already were left when you came here Doma”

    You don;t know me at all, MVDG. I’ve always been a cross patch. left on some issues, right on others, always looking for the golden median. It’s getting much harder to maintain an equlibrium, though. And certain people who post and/or comment push me, absolutley push me away.


  • jdledell

    Jason and Michael – I would agree there is a differentiation among conservatives, just as there is among liberals. I should not “tar and feather” all of you. I too was bullied as a child because of my polio made it impossible to defend myself. School was a nightmare for me. That is the reason I immediately jump to defend the weak among us.

    However, I took Michael’s post as an indictment of just the progressive wing. He could have cited an equal number of situations where the conservatives were “spitting” at each other. When he did not, I lept into the fray to cite the Ari Fleischer example and could have done others. If Michael wanted to present a “balanced” discussion of the issue, he would have had my whole hearted support and agreement.

    However, he chose not to and only skewered the progressives. As a consequence, I have to skewer the other side. Whenever the two of you write something, I feel I have to present and equal but opposite position EVEN THOUGH I DON”T AGREE 100% WITH WHAT I WRITE.

    Joe is the only real moderate on this site. His essays usually present both sides of an issue. It’s one of the reasons his postings generate relatively few comments. It’s hard to disagree with what he writes. Michael, Jason, and Shaun on the other hand present mainly one side of an argument and thus generate a ton of comments as a result.

    I consider myself a moderate(slightly left of center)and that is why I am on this site. On a political level I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. From a foreign policy standpoint, I consider myself to be a world citizen, not an American. For 30 years I lived primarily outside the US in a dozen different countries. My own children live in Hong Kong, Brussels, and Bangalore with my siblings living in Israel. From experience I have learned that the “American way” is not always the best.

  • Joe Gandelman

    I have to go to LA right now and willn ot be around to read the site, but I hope the discussion here keeps centered on the issue raised by michael’s post and people lay out their best cases as to why they think he’s right, wrong, or waht they think is happening into the two parties. Don’t let it evolve into yet another \ discussion of how many of conservative versus liberal comments are on the site or how many posts fit what category. We have a HUGE NUMBER of posts — so huge we may soon move part of the archives off of tmv onto another page. NO JOKE. Even if you look at today’s site there are different interpretations from differet viewpoints. The issue is the issue in the post. As far as the symbol, ALL OF US here at tmv have run or thought of running graphics and then we looked at them and thought “well, maybe someone will take it the wrong way” and we changed it. I’ve done it dozens of time (and did it last night on a post)

    Blogs really deteriorate when they become provincial and and lose sight of the big picture issues raised by actual posts. We have some 20 people signed up to coblog on tmv and it’s their decision whether they want to post and offer their views. And anyone can post comments. I just wanted to add that because I’m getting ready to go and see things veering away from the issues michael raised.

    MY TAKE: basically in both parties there are efforts to dump people who don’t fit a more ideological mold sought and demanded by partisans in both parties (conservatives in the GOP and with this ad campaign by Ari Fleisher’s group GOP senators who are straying on war support; and by some progressives on Democrats who will support the White House on some key votes).
    If these efforts succeed the shrinking, more moderate portions of both parties will shrink even more. Which suggests the trend to polarization will continue — but it could also eventually lead to some kind of third party candidate in the future (probably after 2008). Again, you all may disagree and think I’m full of baloney. And as long as you disagree say so. If you think I’m full of baloney on this say, so. If you want to say I’m full of something BESIDES baloney, that is what does not belong in comments.

  • Michael van der Galien

    I remember the first time you commented here and you were already progressive.

    Kim: again not true – I have also criticized Republicans. Then again, they do it too is not much of a defense, I would think that you all would have learned that by now.

  • Tully

    I have found that the constant misrepresentations from liberals of ALL conservatives as being indistinguishable from the worst of the extremists has made me actually become more sympathetic towards conservatives than I was before I started writing in the so-called “political blogosphere”.

    Amen, Jason. I once achieved the signal distinction of being called an extremist wingnut by both liberals and conservatives for the same post. I wear that as a badge of honor.

  • domajot

    “I remember the first time you commented here and you were already progressive. ”

    And I remember the first time you started giving me political labels when I disagreed with you.
    In fact, it’s the labeling of people and ideas into neat categories that antogonizes me most.

  • Tully

    To come back to topic, I think Joe’s last two paras are quite relevant, though I disagree with his conclusion. Our structure actively works towards a two-party system, and third parties can really only “succeed” in it in two senses, and only one of them is long-term.

    The first is that they can swing enough votes off of one party that the other major party wins the election. We saw that with Perot in ’92, and again in a smaller fashion with Florida in 2000, where Nader cost Gore the state. The result is that the winning party is a plurality party, and not a majority party. The majority falls back, crippled by internal dissension.

    The other way a third party can succeed, and the only long-term way, is to completely supplant one of the two major parties, as the Republicans did in the antebellum republic when they filled the vacuum left by the Federalist/Whig collapse. That will only happen when one of the major parties is so moribund that it’s dying anyway, and we’re not there yet.

    The efforts of Stoller and others to purge the Democratic Party of what they perceive to be heretics leads directly and inevitably to the marginalization and diminishment of the party. In a two-party system, the majority party will always tend to be the party that best captures the middle ground, and excluding the dissenting middle from the tent on an ideological basis is a guarantee of minority status.

    We’re just not structured to be a parliamentary/coalition multi-party nation, as so many of the Euro-democracies are.

    The problem with attempting to impose that kind of uber-party control over candidates once they reach office is that we are indeed a very diverse nation, and the primary obligation of an elected official is NOT to their party, but to their constituents. And not just to the constituents of the same party. In anything resembling a true swing district the electorate will be diverse, or the district would not even be in play. Those “heretics” are thus by definition from districts where pure ideologues will be consistently beaten by less-ideologous more-centrist candidates. Force them to be ideologues, and lose the district. DUH!

    I’ve hit on this hard elsewhere.

  • Joe Gandelman

    My last comment is one I will eventually put in a post. People on both sides have no idea how they can drive someone in the middle to the OTHER SIDE by demonizing them. I used to work on the San Diego Union newspaper, which has a conservative editorial board stance (some of its top former editors had worked for Richard Nixon including one who I liked very much Gerry Warren, who used to be on the Lehrer-McNeil report).

    About a year ago a local Air America station talk show host invited me onto his show to talk about issue and my blog. But he DID NOT WANT to talk about issues. He asked me how ANYONE could be moderate. I answered and he asked if moderates actually exist. I said they most certain do and there’s a great book by John Avlon that talks about the American political center throughout history (Avlon worked for Clinton, was with Giuliani and has since joined Giuliani’s staff).

    He then said noted that I had talked to him once before and asked me to tell listeners. Yes, I had interviewed him when I was a reporter at the San Diego Union. it was clear as it went on that his implication was that since I worked at the Union I MUST be a conservative Republican or at least not a moderate. (That idea by the way shows absolute ignorance of how reporters are hired by newspapers who have separate reporting and editorial page staffs who usually look down one each other.)

    He again asked me how anyone could be a moderate and each time I started to answer he and his sidekick would talk over me saying “…a MODERATE cup of coffee…” “….a MODERATE case of cancer.” and this wen on and on with them talking over me and mocking me because I was not PURE ENOUGH to be a progressive Democrat like them or was not inaccurate to “confess” was really on Karl Rove’s payroll.

    How did I feel? I stopped listening to this guy who I had listened to for many years (including on his earlier show on another channel when he was not a proud, self admitted progressive). I now listen to Bill Handle on KFI in the morning…who is more conservative.

    So by demonizing me, I stopped listening. Literally.

    And people on the left and on the right who insist on demonizing those who dont’ totally agree with them will find the same thing in elections. You LOSE your ability to change minds when you lash out and demonize. Then you’re back to the Karl Rove formula of 50 plus one. That’s also the danger if Democrats go after and try to defeat other Democrats. And Republicans goig after Republicans. If you go after someone and try to DEFINE THEM in a way that is negative you lose them and people who are in the same camp.

    And, yes, as Tully notes, yours truly has been blasted in the same week as a conservative and as a liberal. But the more time goes on, the more I’m goig to focus on DOING POSTS and discussion issues and if people want obsess ove sticking on labels and demonizing, they can do their thing (but I can give them the name of a great hypnotherapist to go to that can help them with their problem).

    FOOTNOTE: When I vote as an independent, the people who pointed out where they believe are wrong are people whose comments I listen to. Not the people who called me a liberal (as if that is inherently a virtue) or conservative (as if that is inerherntly a virtue) or “mushy” because I don’t totally agree with them (as if that is accurate)

    And I’m off to LA…………………..

  • Ksully

    I know this was one of the earlier comments, but i just want to point out how I think Lynx ws using a typical neo-progressive tactic when this type of discussion comes up.

    Well, party discipline can b excused, because WE know what the people want. For example, they all want “the government should guarantee health care for all Americans.”

    However, if you actually read the NYT piece linked off to, it in fact says the following of this one CBS/NYT poll:

    “Americans showed a striking willingness in the poll to make tradeoffs for a better health care system, including paying as much as $500 more in taxes a year and forgoing future tax cuts. But the same divisions that doomed the last attempt at creating universal health insurance, under the Clinton administration, are still apparent. Americans remain divided, largely along party lines, over whether the government should require everyone to participate in a national health care plan, and over whether the government would do a better job than the private insurance industry in providing coverage.”

    I think this is relevant, because I see it quite often from the “progressives.” There can be no debate over what “the people” want, so the only discussion left is “well why don’t some Democrats want progress?” Then comes the purging on behalf of the people.

    This isn’t progressive, it’s autocratic.

  • Lit3Bolt

    If I was Superman (or preferably, Charles Xavier) I would do everything in my power to destroy both the Democratic and Republican parties.

    The American experiment has been dead ever since the two party system arose. We complain that today’s politics are hyper partisan, but they still pale to the specters of the past. This post goes to show that idealogical group think and playground bullying are much more important in today’s poltics than intelligent discourse and debate.

    Personally, I never really had that much of a problem with the Iraq war…but the sheer incompetence of the Bush admin caught everyone off guard. Now, I am truly torn, as I don’t know which screeching idealouge has the right course of action. Both have merits, because this situation is turly FUBAR. My crew coach died in Iraq. My cousin is still in Iraq. I really honestly don’t know what to say, do, or who to vote for. I guess, like many Americans, I’m waiting for the other (10th?) shoe to drop to see if there’s something to salvage from this mess.

    Cross your fingers for sane choices in the 2008 election (Barack and Ron ftw!).

  • Tully

    That’s also the danger if Democrats go after and try to defeat other Democrats. And Republicans going after Republicans.

    Absolutely this is not just a DNC/left phenomena just because the most recent manifestation is. The Club for Growth did it in the AZ 8th, pushing a hard-core conservative through the primaries over his moderate opponents for Kolbe’s seat, in an absolutely moderate swing district. And the moderate Dem easily swept the general, whereas either of the GOP moderates could have held the seat for the GOP. We’ve seen it here in Kansas as well–note that my 2 to 1 GOP state has a Dem governor and a Dem attorney general–in both cases because the state GOP pushed hard-core-right candidates through the primaries, and the moderates simply weren’t buying it.

    Same thing with the CfG and Chaffee’s seat in the Senate. You purge your party moderates and centrists in moderate and centrist districts, and the party loses the seat to the other side’s moderate/centrist. This isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense. Something dedicated ideologues are often lacking.

    I used to work on the San Diego Union newspaper, which has a conservative editorial board stance…it was clear as it went on that his implication was that since I worked at the Union I MUST be a conservative Republican or at least not a moderate.

    Joe, you also used to work for the Wichita Eagle. Thus you’re also a flaming liberal, right? 😉

  • Lynx

    Ksully, did you entirely miss me saying that these demands for “party discipline” are wrong or just didn’t bother reading that far?

    I mentioned several different views held by Americans to show that Michael’s statement that “the average American does not favor truly progressive policies” is hardly uncontroversial. I personally don’t agree with it, though I can certainly see where someone could. In any case it has nothing to do with my views on shutting down dissent within any party. I clearly stated that I don’t approve of it. Even if I think that a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade and I personally think it’s the right decision, I don’t approve of witch-hunts against those who aren’t ideologically pure enough.

    Again, it’s two different debates. Even if I thought that every single American was a progressive (which would require some pretty serious drugs) I still would disapprove of ideological witch-hunts.

  • Jason Steck


    I used to try to give both sides in the essays that I write. If you go back into my earliest online writings, I think you’ll find much more of a mixture than you would expect. And I am distinctly left-wing in my posts about immigration as well as mundane issues like infrastructure. I even backed Shaun up explicitly on one recent issue.

    Trouble is, none of that mattered. Whenever I talked about both sides, I was attacked for not ONLY talking about the evils of the right. Over time, the constant carping about how ONLY the right could be criticized made me want to focus more and more on proving how not ALL bad things resided on the right. I don’t want to talk for Michael, but my observation is that his posts have followed a similar line — he used to be much more a mixture of conservative and liberal criticisms, but since he has always been attacked when he posted criticisms of liberals and ignored when he posted criticisms of conservatives, he has backlashed by focusing on criticism of what seems to be the overrepresented, under-examined side around here. Like me, he seems increasingly frustrated by the fact that few other TMVers even recognize the problem, let alone care to take even the very minor personal actions (i.e. refraining from pasting labels and stereotypes on the few conservatives that do post here) necessary to ameliorate it.

    Also, when conservatives do something bad, there is usually already not one but multiple posts and comments critiquing it already up by the time I get to it. Yet when liberals do it, there are usually zero posts or comments about it until and unless Michael or I write about it. The skew in raw numbers IS relevant to the overall perception of the site as well as to the willingness of people from the minority side to actually participate. TMV right now is becoming as homogeneous as explicitly partisan sides like DailyKOS. The nastiness of the tone isn’t quite there yet, but it is rapidly trending in that direction.

    Its really easy to say, “hey, we just focus on the issues and don’t worry about counting posts from left or right” but its a poor fig leaf for covering up the massive imbalance in which issues get covered and how much. The skew in agenda is exacerbated by the massive skew in tone — any conservative who posts or comments on TMV can expect to be ravaged by commenters comparing them to Bush, Cheney and “neocons”. Liberals may face an occasional nasty comment, but they enjoy a mostly supportive base among the other commenters.

    Don’t you agree that conservative people will inevitably react to such an environment by either becoming angry about it or simply leaving? Do you think it is really fair to just ask them to ignore the abuse and the BDS thread-hijackings and keep on keepin’ on with issue-focused posts and comments?

    You can’t override human nature by fiat. And it is in human nature to become offended when one’s views are constantly, perpetually caricatured and misrepresented.

    Bottom line: If people around here really want conservatives to continue to post and to calm down about non-conservatives, maybe a couple of months of giving them a break from ALL lumping in with Bush, Cheney, “neocons”, or other demons would help, as would explicit (and long-term) recognition of the fact that not all conservatives or conservative issues are the same. If that were to happen, then I’d be willing to make a greater effort to be more even-handed in the posts I make. In short, when the mob puts down their guns, I will put down mine. But I won’t be a rhetorical patsy again by doing it unilaterally.

    Personally, I’ve been very, very close to completely quitting TMV this week. The fact that I know that would be considered “good news” by quite a few of the commenters is honestly a major reason to go ahead and quit. I guess I’m using this thread to talk about it because I don’t want to use an actual post and because this thread gives a pretty good demonstration of the problem as I perceive it. I know for a fact that several former TMV contributors have either quit or stopped posting because of exactly this problem, so it’s not just “all in my head”.

    At the end of the day, the ideal of ignoring the commenters and “just focus on issues” is unobtainable. It is not within my personal capacity to continually ignore people who ignore what I do say so as to replace it with demonic caricatures. And if that is really the kind of TMV that the commenters here WANT to have, then I can’t stop them.

    But I can refuse to participate in it.

  • Nick Rivera

    I don’t even know where to start with this post.

    First of all, the Hammer and Sickle that was previously at the header is a curious choice for a symbol for this topic. The Soviet Union was a particularly militaristic country, so it’s odd that you would could to use it to represent anti-war Democrats as opposed to the Democrats and Republicans who have supported this misguided war.

    I grow sick and tired of people linking anti-war to socialism or communism. Being anti-war is an anti-government position. Socialism and communism are both pro-government positions. The majority of libertarians also oppose the Iraq War (and much more strenuously than most liberals). Perhaps we should use the Hammer and Sickle for libertarians as well?

    Second of all, I for one, am glad that there are at least some liberals/progressive who are willing to stand on principle and call out BOTH Republicans AND Democrats whose positions they disagree with. A number of Democrats pretend that this war is only the fault of Republican Party and continually criticize President Bush and Republicans without asking for the Democrats to take any responsibility for this war. These are the Democrats who repeatedly criticize President Bush for starting this war but are always making excuse for Hillary Clinton and the rest of the pro-war and Blue Dog Democrats.

    The liberals/progressives who are criticizing Democrats are taking a less partisan stand by spreading the blame across both of the two major political parties. And for this, you criticize them?

    Thirdly, I believe your faith in and/or admiration for Blue Dog Democrats for the simple fact that they don’t agree with the rest of the Democratic Party or because is not warranted. There are a number of issues on which the Democratic Party is dead wrong and which we need more Democrats refusing to tow the party line (I myself find the Democratic Party’s platform on fiscal/economic issues troubling). However, there are also a number of issues on which the Republican Party is dead wrong, and Blue Dog Democrats deserve NO PRAISE for standing with Republicans on such issues.

    How is it that the recent Republican-sponsored FISA Bill passed through both Houses of Congress despite the fact that Democrats hold majorities in both houses? It’s because a large number of Blue Dog Democrats sided with Republicans to pass this piece of legislation. This piece of legislation is unconstitutional. Civil libertarians have concluded it’s unconstitutional. The Libertarian Party has concluded it’s unconstitutional. The Green Party has concluded it’s unconstitutional. Even leading conservatives such as Bruce Fein and members of the right-wing Constitution Party have concluded it’s unconstitutional.

    However, a majority of Blue Dog Democrats supported this piece of legislation. For this, they should be condemned.

    Fourthly, I don’t why you’re so quick to rush to the defense of Democratic Senator Brian Baird, if for no other reason than to applaud Democrats who are willing to pursue Bush Administration policies that the rest of the public disagrees with. Senator Baird originally opposed the Iraq War and voted against the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq. He continues to believe that going to war was a mistake, yet he argues that we must remain in Iraq.

    This position makes no sense. Why would you argue to continue a policy that you believe was a mistake to be enacted in the first place? In some ways, this position is even less defensible than those Republicans who supported the war. Why would you support continuing a policy that is killing 800 American soldiers per year and spending 100 billion dollars per year if you believe that it was wrong to implement this policy?

    The American people have had enough of this war. They were misled by the Bush Administration before the war:

    Dick Cheney, August 2002: Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

    : We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

    And they were misled by the Bush Administration throughout the war:

    Dick Cheney, June 2005: The level of activity that we see from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

    And they’re the ones footing the bill for this misguided policy. Any politician that supports continue the Iraq War should be held to the same account as any politician who would support any other misguided government program.

    Let’s stop pretending that the Iraq War is a left-versus-right, “progressive” versus “conservative” debate. Currently, the Democratic Party supports withdrawal from Iraq. The Libertarian Party supports withdrawal from Iraq. The Green Party supports withdrawal from Iraq. The Constitution Party supports withdrawal from Iraq. A growing number of Republicans support withdrawal from Iraq. It’s mostly partisans within the Republican Party who support a continued presence in Iraq (i.e. nation-building), and this can HARDLY be considered a “conservative” position (at least when compared to the conservatism as laid out by Robert Taft and Russell Kirk).

  • Cernig

    Shorter Jason Steck – The liberals made me do it. (With thought-control rays, presumably.)

    Shorter Michael Van Der Galien – Totalitarian Lefties! (Just don’t mention Totalitarian Righties.)

    The actual story – a couple of progressive bloggers who like to think they’ve become big cheeses in the Democratic establishment (but are just money and free labor sources to the real big cheeses) have gotten too big for their britches and haven’t as yet been slapped down. Shock, Horror. Wait a few weeks.

    Regards, C

  • Jason Steck

    Cernig’s comment is an excellent demonstration of the problem here. Note that what Michael or I actually said is ignored in favor of his “shortened” caricatures which are both inaccurate and sneering in tone. Instead of responding to actual quotes, he builds a strawman and then smugly smashes it.

    The fact that this kind of treatment has become routine is a very good reason to just quit.

  • Nick Rivera

    I apologize for the bad links in my previous comment. Rather than reposting the entire comment, I’ll repost the links:

    Democratic Senator Brian Baird

    >Dick Cheney, August 2002: Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

    : We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

    Dick Cheney, June 2005: The level of activity that we see from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

    Robert Taft

    Russell Kirk

  • jdledell

    Jason – Thanks for taking the time to putting some “meat” on the bones and portraying who you are. It gives me a better understanding of what your words really mean. For example, I know you are a teacher and you probably live somewhere in the vicinity of Plymouth, Wayzata or Minnetonka. Usually folks there are not wild eyed conservatives. You grew up in a time when the DFL was truely liberal and Republicans were really, really moderate and I suspect that your true self is more like those old time Minnesota republicans Elmer Anderson and Al Quie.

    Since you were open and honest about your position, I will “pledge” (ie will do my best) to post comments which are not incindiary or reactionary. Again, my sincere thanks for writing about your feelings. DON’T QUIT!!!!!!!

  • Jason Steck


    Thank you for your willingness to make that pledge. And you are correct about where and when I grew up, though not where I live or work right now.

    Unfortunately, just one commenter alone won’t be enough to change the tone around here. Given the large numerical advantage that liberals enjoy on TMV, it will require several of the most prolific liberals on TMV willing to at least recognize the legitimacy of conservatives’ concerns before I think it will be possible to rebuild an environment where passionate disagreements can be sustained without being constantly hijacked by the haters.

  • Michael van der Galien

    Jason: great comments, you worded the problem quite well. John: thanks for that comment to Jason. I know he doesn’t hear that too often, to say the least, here.

  • Nick Rivera

    Cernig’s comment is an excellent demonstration of the problem here. Note that what Michael or I actually said is ignored in favor of his “shortened” caricatures which are both inaccurate and sneering in tone.


    MvdG originally had a Hammer and Sickle at the beginning of his post. How else are we to interpret the inclusion of that symbol other than a blatant comparison of anti-war progressives to communism, Stalinism, or any other form of left-wing totalitarianism? It would be like associating conservative critics of the government with the swastika.

  • Jason Steck

    How else are we to interpret the inclusion of that symbol

    I perceive it as an act of frustration resulting in a decision to give back in-kind the kind of treatment that conservatives receive every day on TMV.

    Michael took it off eventually, but the slurs pasted on conservatives almost never get taken back. Is that difference relevant? Yes, I think it definitely is.

    It would be like associating conservative critics of the government with the swastika.

    Or burning crosses. Or Matthew Shepard. Or endless war.

    Yet those comparisons are daily fare here. And you’ve never complained about THOSE comparisons, Nick.

    When abusive comparisons result in equal complaints when they are pasted on either conservatives or liberals, then we’ll have a fair environment. Of course, the haters (from either left or right) will never completely go away. But it falls to the majority (which on TMV is made up of liberals) to decide whether to allow the haters among them to dominate or not.

  • Michael van der Galien

    Nick: perhaps it was a means to make people think about the totalitarian aspects of this strategy? Evervyody understands that Bowers is not a second Stalin as such. BUT: he point is, he does seem to display certain totalitarian tendencies – not in line with true liberalism.

    Furthermore, it was deleted. So what’s your point? Stop complaining about it since it’s not there anymore.

    And people should also stop saying “but the repugs do it too!”

    I criticize them for it as well, and I even endorse a letter by Pete very actively to change things. I cannot do more as a foreigner, except for to assist those I sympathize with.

  • Jason Steck

    I cannot do more as a foreigner, except for to assist those I sympathize with.

    Ah ha! So you’re one of those foreigners who is trying to coopt and corrupt the American political system. I heard about you people over on Malkin’s site. :)

    (That’s a gesture for the people who think I never criticize the far right.)

  • Michael van der Galien

    haha i’m not sure it’s enough Jason.

  • Cernig

    Jason, it was a comment. When I want to write a blog post I write a blog post. Try here.

    (And I thought we’d already established in a different venue that when it comes to ad hominem attacks you’re as guilty as I, but maybe you still don’t see the glass house you’re throwing stones from.)

    Regards, C

  • Nick Rivera

    Or burning crosses. Or Matthew Shepard. Or endless war.

    Yet those comparisons are daily fare here. And you’ve never complained about THAT, Nick.

    Wrong, Jason. Just plain wrong.

    Remember when Marc Schulman posted the post Facism—From the Horse’s Mouth, in which had a picture depicting a Brownshirt with a rand band with a GOP symbol on his arm, a red flag with a GOP symbol flying behind him, and the message “IT’S NOT FASCISM WHEN WE DO IT.”?

    Who was it who wrote this?

    I’m reluctant to use words such as “communist” or “fascist” to describe the views of any American or any particularly party since these terms have very specific meanings–meanings that become lost when we use these terms to describe people who’s political positions we don’t like.

    I think it is much preferable to use the term “authoritarian” since it is much broader in scope and can be used more objectively. Policies that delegate a large amount of power to the federal government and diminish the individual and economic freedoms of Americans are authoritarian. Individuals can support authoritarian policies every once in a while without necessarily being authoriatarians. It’s people who have a pattern of demanding that we give up certain civil liberties and delegate increasing power to the federal government who strike me as authoritarian.

    Also, after having read Marc’s post, it’s my impression that he was not personally labeling the Republican Party as supporting fascism but was merely trying to broach the subject of “What constitutes fascism?”

    Or, remember when Robert Stein posted the post Supreme Court Racist: Free At Last in which Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was labeled an “Uncle Tom”?

    Who was it that wrote this:

    You’re entitled to your opinion, of course, but it’s comments like this that I feel lowers the level of discourse here at TMV.

    We ought to be able to criticize people’s points of views without asserting they “disdain” an entire group of people.

    In recent years, the term “Uncle Tom” has become a kind of shorthand to demean any African-American who happens to have conservative views–as if they were some of of traitor to their race. But the very use of the term “Uncle Tom” unnecessarily injects race into an issue where it need not apply.

    Are the views of Clarence Thomas particularly offensive to you because he happens to be black person arguing conservative views rather than a white person arguing the same conservative views? Or is term “Uncle Tom” meant to imply that Clarence Thomas is a hypocrite–arguing against civil rights laws that he, himself, benefitted from?

    Or what about when Holly posted the post UPDATED: Letter to My Congressman on LLEHCPA (H.R.1592) Hate Crimes Prevention Act?

    Who was it who dedicated a nearly 3000-word reply in defense of those who opposed Hate Crimes Legislation (which can also be found here)?

    Or what about when Shaun Mullen posted the post When a Blogger Jumps the Shark, in which he took Captain Ed to task for his argument against Hate Crimes legislation?

    Who was it who defended Captain Ed and others who don’t support hate crimes legislation in this comment:

    I think we did a pretty good job of covering this issue the other day in the comments section under Holly’s post. I also covered it at my blog. I haven’t read Captain Ed’s post that Shaun’s referring to, but I can assure him that not everyone who opposes hate crimes legislation is a right-wing conservative who someone who think’s “it’s okay to beat up on gays.” One can oppose hate crimes legislation on purely libertarian grounds–that is–that that the role of government is to criminalize the violent offense itself and not the motives that led to the crime.

    Frankly, Jason, your attempt to argue that I have some type of different standard on this matter falls flat. I have criticized (as demonstrated in my Hate Crimes legislation post) the NAACP for running the ad against George W. Bush implying that he was some kind of a racist simply for opposing hate crimes legislation. I have repeated taken fellow bloggers to task for implying that George W. Bush “doesn’t care about black people” during Hurricane Katrina or otherwise arguing the somehow George W. Bush was responsible for the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

    This Democrat-verus-Republican, progressive-versus-conservative, left-versus-right mentality that pervades the mainstream media and the blogosphere is poisonous. There are not two positions (progressive-versus-conservative) on every issue, nor are there even three positions (progressive-versus-centrist-versus-conservative). There are libertarian positions and there are communitarian positions.

    Sometimes libertarians agree more with liberals, and sometimes they agree more with conservatives. I’m growing tired of hearing people associate the anti-war position with a far-left position just as I oppose people associating opposition to hate crimes legislation with far-right positions.

    Linking the anti-war position to communism, Stalinism, or any other form of totalitarianism is wrong, and I’ll someone on it EVERY time I see it.

  • Orson Buggeigh

    Jason Steck and Michael van der Galien are the primary reasons I keep reading Moderate Voice. I have to agree with Jason, that the level of vitriol aimed at the conservative viewpoint greatly exceeds that directed toward liberals. My take on this is that a forum like this should encourage thoughtful discussion of differences, not simplistic shouting matches. Heck, if that’s all you want, go to your favorite echo chamber on either the left Kos will do nicely) or right (LGF will do nicely) and scream about Bushitler or commie baby-killers to your heart’s content.

    Good example – Angela Winters’ pieces on Michael Vick and the culture of no sntiches offered good openings to look at the serious questions about how does culture evolve away from such behaviors. Or the issues about assimilation into a more child nurturing culture, or the role of family in larger society. Instead, we got the usual comments deriding her basic premise, and complaining that the bigger problem was something else. Why not respond to the original post’s point, instead of arguing that somehow it must all be due to the awful administration in power? Now THAT would have been much more interesting than many of the posts that were offered.

    I apologize for not posting much this summer. I’m in the middle of a big home improvement / remodel that I need to wrap up before the start of the academic year.

  • Jason Steck


    If it would help break the endless cycle of recriminations and harassment, I will be happy to plead guilty to the fact that I have often fallen short of my own preferences for a better state of discourse. I do not agree that the level and frequency of abuse has been the same from left and right, but I’m willing to put that particular dispute aside in favor of the goal of moving forward with a renewed commitment on all sides to try to be more respectful towards those individuals who may disagree.

    Are you? Or do you prefer to endlessly bring up a previous conflict on every single thread you comment on, as you have been doing for the last couple of months, both here and at another site?

  • Jason Steck


    I apologize if I failed to accurately recall your record on the question of even-handedness in criticizing over-the-top discourse. And I would note that you now must know how frustrating it is to have your actual record of posts ignored in favor of an easy caricature linked to a stereotype about an entire group of people — a situation that conservatives on TMV face with virtually every single post they make.

    Yes, I can be as guilty of it as everyone else. But that doesn’t excuse it.

    (P.S. to Nick: I specifically recalled your objection to the automatic association of “anti-war” with “left” when I was writing my latest post. As such, I removed that association from the draft before I posted it. So I am trying to avoid the easy caricature when I am aware of its existence. My concern is that some people know (or should know) that they are using an abusive caricature and do it anyway. When that group of people is large enough to dominate an entire site, I think we have a serious problem maintaining a sustainable atmosphere on that site.)

  • Nick Rivera


    Our entire foreign policy frustrates me. I have always been skeptical of nation-building. Back in the 1990’s, when Clinton was president, the media considered that a “conservative” position. Yet now, with Bush as president, that same position is labeled by the mainstream media and the blogosphere to be a “liberal” position.

    I don’t get it. My positions and principles have remained fairly constant. Meanwhile George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and a number of Democrats and Republicans have completely flip-flopped on their positions. Why do we give these politicians a pass, while criticizing a consistent anti-war position as being “too liberal” (or “too progressive” or “left-wing”)?

    I don’t see how this war can be considered “conservative” in any way. It’s costing us $100 billion dollars a year. It furthers the extent of the welfare state. It’s just that in this particular case, the welfare state happens to be Iraq rather than the United States.

    When you consider the fact that libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul has been the most outspoken critic of the Iraq War and who favors withdrawal and has spoken against both Democrats and Republicans, MvdG’s argument makes much less sense. If one considers nation-building to be a “liberal” position, as many Republicans did back in the 1990’s, perhaps it’s the anti-war progressives (who sympathize with Ron Paul’s position) who are the true “conservatives” and pro-war Democrats and Republicans who are the true “liberals.”

    In the end. Labels meaning nothing. It’s the position that counts. If someone believes that a war is wrong (as Senator Brian Baird apparently does), then he/she has the responsibility to end it. Bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship (i.e. Democrats siding with Republicans, or Republicans siding with Democrats) is no way to run the government. Our foreign policy should reflect what’s in the best interest of the people of the United States.

    At this point, evidence that continuing the war in Iraq serves that interest is lacking.

  • Jason Steck

    If someone believes that a war is wrong (as Senator Brian Baird apparently does), then he/she has the responsibility to end it.

    This blows right past the question of HOW to “end it”. Some ways of ending it might cause even more damage while other ways might at least mitigate some portion of the damage.

    Think of it like a person sinking into a hole of sticky mud. Sure, we have to pull him out. But if we tie him to a Jeep with a rope and stomp on the gas, we might pull him out of the hole while ripping his shoulders out of their sockets. You’ve got to pull him out a bit more slowly to avoid exacerbating the damage.

    Same with pulling troops out of Iraq. Even many of those who agree that they should never have gone in recognize that now that they are in there, we’ve got to be smarter about pulling them out then we were about putting them in in the first place.

    Put more simply: Two wrongs don’t make a right. And those who take such a position should not be demonized as “neocons” for doing so.

  • Cernig


    do you prefer to endlessly bring up a previous conflict on every single thread you comment on, as you have been doing for the last couple of months, both here and at another site?

    As I’m sure you’ve been told a million times, don’t exaggerate. This is the second time I’ve mentioned it and on both occasions it was pertinent to your accusations towards others. Be that as it may, thanks for the admission at last. I’ll drop the subject now.

    Regards, C

  • Nick Rivera

    Note to all: In my previous posts, I said Brian Baird was a U.S. Senator. This is incorrect. Brian Baird is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

  • Kevin Hayden

    The intention is clearly to stifle all dissent, and all debate. Whether one is a Democrat or not, and whether one is more progressive than conservative, and left-of-center is irrelevant to these people. Nor do they seem to care that the voters voted these people into office in the first place. They have decided that they are enemies of the Democratic Party (even though they are Democrats themselves) and therefore enemies of the people.

    For a moderate, that seems like a pretty extremist statement.

    I now of no-one trying to stifle all dissent and debate.

    What’s occurring is the ‘middle’ has been moved so far to the right that conservative Dems are claiming they are moderates. So liberals are needed at the edge to tug the whole spectrum back to a more moderate center.

    It’s an ongoing process and is healthy imho. The analogy I use is that MLK Jr was viewed as a radical till Malcolm X came along. Then MLK was viewed as more moderate with more moderate solutions. Without X, who knows if the CR movement would have its successes? Each was integral to the outcome.

    And I’d add that when wars are fought for questionable rationales and tens of thousands (at least) are perishing, it’s fairly human for many to get upset about it and take more hardline positions.

    Much in politics has an ideological tinge and it’s a push-pull game. But in life-and-massive death matters, it’s really not about partisanship and ideology. It’s about being human and wanting elected officials to represent a level of civil ethics that is quite above the political frat.

    As a liberal, I respect that moderate and conservative Dems may hold differing views on a host of issues. But when it comes to war, the real extreme ae those that can overlook and accept mass murder by government based on theories about outcomes.

    That’s really what it boils down to. Iraq will be a mess that will never begin to heal while people propose courses that run counter to Ethics 101 based on an indifference to the value of life.

    If conservative Dems want to throw in with Bush on that one, I reserve the right to mock their tender sensibilities mercilessly. And if they whine, well, good. They endure far less than all the people, Iraqi and American, who suffer far worse.

    Moderation in defense of perpetual murder is no virtue.

  • Kevin Hayden

    Third paragraph, above:

    “I know of” instead of “I now of”

    Sorry for not proofreading before I posted.

  • Jason Steck

    Moderation in defense of perpetual murder is no virtue.

    And neither is lying about what other people believe.

    Few of the people being targeted have “thrown in with Bush”. Most of them simply have grave reservations about what the outcome of a hasty, ill-thought, “wash our hands” withdrawal would be.

    And no one — certainly no one here — has made a “defense of perpetual murder”. That kind of outrageously over-the-top characterization is exactly why so many people have left TMV.

    I now of no-one trying to stifle all dissent and debate.

    Well, someone who characterizes everyone that disagrees with them on any issue, even one as important as war, as making a “defense of perpetual murder” certainly appears to want to “stifle all dissent and debate”. I can’t think of any other way to read such an extreme interpretation of others’ views. I mean, who would want to continue a discussion under such conditions?

  • Nick Rivera

    Few of the people being targeted have “thrown in with Bush”. Most of them simply have grave reservations about what the outcome of a hasty, ill-thought, “wash our hands” withdrawal would be.

    But Jason, you will concede that the overwhelming majority of the people now opposing withdrawal from Iraq also supported the invasion of Iraq in the first place, won’t you?

  • Jason Steck

    No, I won’t concede that. Living and working in a graduate political science department with a “foreign policy community” dominated (contra Greenwald) by staunchly anti-war people, I was struck by how many of them acknowledge the very real problems with a “wash our hands” withdrawal. Once in to a war that they opposed, they would prefer that we not make it even worse by getting out as poorly-planned and poorly-executed as we went in.

    IMO, far too many people on both sides of the issue treat it as an “all or nothing” situation.

    The President and his supporters represent the “all” option, where both the invasion and the continued occupation are absolute goods upon which no compromise is tolerated. Those who dissent are “unpatriotic” advocates of “cut and run” who “want the terrorists to win”.

    And purists in the anti-war movement represent the “nothing” option where the war and the occupation are absolute evils where no good news is ever acknowledged and where no option short of immediate, unconditional withdrawal is tolerated. Those who dissent are “neocons” and “warmongers”.

    The moderates (both pro-war and anti-war variants as well as those who switched from a pro-war position to a critical position as they saw how disastrously the war effort fell apart) always get caricatured and shouted down by both of these groups (both of which insist on their own absolute moral purity and the other’s absolute moral evil even while they both use the exact same techniques of name-calling and demonization), but there are an awful lot of them with an awful lot of expertise.

  • Elrod

    Getting back to Michael’s post, I think you are painting this with too broad of a brush. There are conservative Democrats who represent conservative districts. There are principled conservative Democrats who represent moderately liberal districts. There are Democrats who take conservative positions because they are cold and calculating and heavily funded by corporate interests. It strikes me that Stoller and co. are going after the latter. They may also be going after the second group, which is unfair and will only tend to polarize politics on both sides. What angers me is when they target the first group.

    I live in Tennessee, which, despite its “red state” reputation has a majority of its Congressional delegation in the Democratic column. And these Democrats will never be defeated unless they get involved with scandal. One is a genuine liberal and represents solidly liberal Memphis; Steve Cohen, in fact, represents his constituents better than the ultimate triangulator Harold Ford ever did. But Bart Gordon, Jim Tanner and Lincoln Davis represent rural, white, Southern districts that the national imagination identifies as solidly Republican. Why? Because they are conservative Democrats who represent both the partisan tradition of those districts and the ideology accepted there. They are an asset to the Democratic Party not only because of their regional perspective, but because of the ideological brakes they can put on when the party veers too far to the left. But theirs is a tough road to hoe. They don’t gratuitously bash “liberals” in the party leadership. But they do quietly distance themselves from Pelosi when necessary. Pelosi returns the favor by appointing them to committees that serve their districts.

    Many of the new Democratic reps fall into this same camp. The three new reps from Indiana, Shuler from NC, Carney from PA, and McEnerny in CA all represent conservative districts. Progressives should lay off these folks or else we’ll see the return of jerks like Charles Taylor, Richard Pombo, and John Hostettler. Nothing is to be gained for progressive causes by purging folks like these.

    I have no problem going after self-serving Democrats who bash their party in hostile quarters; Lieberman deserved to be primaried not for his conservatism but for his obtuseness. Hillary Clinton must watch this as well, as her mangled terrorism comment recently suggested. There she was revealing her cold, calculating self and reinforcing largely outdated prejudices toward the GOP on matters of national security. There’s a reason progressives don’t trust her.

  • DavidTC

    So let me get this straight.

    Democrats win in a record-setting election because people are tired of the Republicans being Bush’s rubber-stamp. And the Republicans ignoring health care. And, basically, ——– this country up to an unheard-of amount.

    Democrats take office. They…do nothing to oppose the president. They…do nothing about health care. They…do nothing at all. Yes, they’re ‘opposed’ by Republicans, but they don’t actually seem to make it clear what’s going on, and they don’t fight anywhere near as hard the Republican did.

    Their ratings start sliding, then plummeting, and now they’re about as popular as the president. I wonder why?

    Meanwhile, certain Democrats do things like passing FISA.

    Democratic-supporting bloggers (Which Kos explicitly is, remember), outraged that Democrats aren’t doing what they said they’d do, and worried sick that the Democrats are going to manage, once again, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by being too far to the right, start opposing this.

    The recap of this:

    Progressive bloggers are evil because they expect actual things to happen. Progressive bloggers are evil because they expect Democrats to actually do what they said they would do, and were elected to do.

    I really have two words for this author, but as we are not supposed to make personal attacks here, I am required to merely think them at you. There. I hope you got that message loud and clear.

    The reality:

    Americans are amazingly progressive, and amazingly antiwar. Period.

    It’s not even vaguely debatable. Something like 60% of people would be willing to pay higher taxes to cover other people’s medical expenses, and another 30% are only on the fence because they have bought the lie that national health care would cost more to them. 55% of Republicans support it, again presumably while still believing the lies about the cost and lines and stuff.

    The battle is well past won, all the soldiers are dead or have already gone home and the losing general is running around holding their flag in the air, convinced if he can keep it from touching the ground, and saying ‘The battle is not over’, he’ll win. We’re entering ‘delusional’ territory at this point about national health care.

    Likewise with the war, except using a ‘war’ metaphor there would be rather bad taste. People want out.

    Huge historical elections don’t just randomly happen by themselves. It happened for a specific reason: Americans are fed up with the right. The right has demonstrated, while it can complain about governing when it’s not doing so, it cannot actually govern when it’s in power.

    Attempting to convince people otherwise is, yes, working on the Democrats, because a large amount of elected Democrats are complete and utter cretins, apparently. Maybe it’s something in the DC water supply.

    So those people will have to be replaced. We would have replaced them last election if they were up and we knew about them. We did replace Lieberman, although the Republicans managed to win that election, at least he can’t wander around calling himself a ‘Democrat’.

    The real question, the most important question here, is ‘If those people are destroying the Democratic party…why are you complaining?’ Isn’t that a fundamental rule of war, never interrupt your enemy while he’s making a mistake?

    No, I think you know quite well it’s not a mistake, and I think you see exactly where it’s leading. At some point, pretending it had continued for several decades, yeah, it would be some sort of mistake, almost exactly like the one the Republicans are making right now with their purity drives.

    But requiring some sort of ‘You must be this progressive to enter’ is not an unreasonable requirement, especially if that bar is set at ‘You must be at least as progressive as the US population is on average’, which I think is a reasonable requirement for a party on the ‘left’.

  • Jason Steck

    With tolerance and respect for disagreement like you show in your comments, DavidTC, I can see why you can criticize the Republicans for being intolerant and abusive. You certainly made me want to embrace the “progressive” cause, there, and to entrust your mentality with the power of governance. Not.

  • Michael van der Galien

    I stopped reading after the first few sentences of that comment so yeah, he persuaded me as well.

  • Nick Rivera

    Nic: But Jason, you will concede that the overwhelming majority of the people now opposing withdrawal from Iraq also supported the invasion of Iraq in the first place, won’t you?

    Jason: No, I won’t concede that.

    Let me get this straight, Jason. You disagree that the overwhelming majority of people opposing withdrawal from Iraq also supported the invasion of Iraq in the first place?

    Let’s get this straight right now.

    A majority of the American people support a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, while a minority of the American people oppose a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The exact numbers vary with each poll, but here’s the most recent poll that I could find.

    Do you think the United States should keep its military forces in Iraq until civil order is restored there, even if that means continued U.S. military casualties; or do you think the United States should withdraw its military forces from Iraq in order to avoid further U.S. military casualties, even if that means civil order is not restored there?

    7/18/07 – 7/21/07
    Keep forces: 39%
    Withdraw forces: 59%
    Unsure: 3%

    Only 39% of the American people oppose withdrawing troops from Iraq. Given that roughly 40% of the American people also believe our government did the right thing by invading Iraq, I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s a significant overlap between the people who oppose troop withdrawal and the people who continue to believe that our government did the right thing by invading Iraq.

    Moreover, when you consider that about 70-75% of the American people originally supported the war, the likelihood that the 39% of those opposing troop withdrawal were original supporters is even greater.

    I’m curious. Of the 39% of Americans who oppose troop withdrawal, what proportion do you think are people who originally supported the war? You seem to imply that a significant porportion of the people who oppose troop withdrawal are opponents of the war.

    I argue, however, that of the 39% of Americans who oppose troop withdrawal, only a small minority are people who originally opposed the war. The rest (the overwhelming majority) are people who originally supported the war.

    I’m curious to know what you think.

  • DavidTC

    Ah, yes. Just call me intolerant without, you know, actually pointing to any example of that in my post, or any way that I’m actually, you know, wrong.

    However, I am, indeed, pretty intolerant of politicians were elected to do one or two specific things and then don’t appear to be trying very hard. Intolerant merely means ‘Do not tolerate’. Not tolerating someone of a certain skin color sitting next to you on the bus is not quite the same thing as not tolerating a half-cooked pizza or not tolerating your political party running people who don’t reflect the policies of the voters. It’s not ‘intolerant’ in any negative meaning to say ‘I think this person would make a better elected officer than that person I voted for last time.’

    But I like being called intolerant on a discussion that started out by calling me a communist, though, the irony tastes great.

    And, incidentally, ‘all or nothing’ is a complete strawman. Most people who elected Democrats to get us out of the war expected us to be near finished withdrawing now, because we would have, I dunno, spent six damn months doing so, instead of screwing around for six months to give the President’s idiotic plan time. (Six months? Almost eight now, isn’t it?)

    Absolutely no one is saying, or has said, ‘Let us leave tomorrow’, they are saying ‘Let us say, tomorrow, that we are leaving, period, and then start doing so over a reasonable period of time’.

    Well, they were. Now they’re saying ‘We should have said that six months ago, Congress is a bunch of idiots.’. And they’re setting backup plans into motion to challenge incumbents if this sort of insanity is still going on at the end of this year to replace the elected Democratic cretins who couldn’t find their ass with both hands and a map, and think their job is to hang out slightly right of center to balance out the people hanging out far right of center.

    The real question is: Why does the right care that certain people on the left are trying to move the Democrats to the left? In RightWorld, isn’t the left already ‘too far to the left’ and ‘out of touch’?

    Won’t moving leftward just make the left increasingly irrelevant, just like it did the last election?

  • Jason Steck


    I think that there is ambiguity in this conversation about who exactly we are talking about. By “Americans who oppose withdrawal” do you mean those who oppose immediate withdrawal or do you mean those who oppose any withdrawal?

    If the former, then I do not agree that an “overwhelming majority” of that group is constituted of original war supporters. There are a LOT of very intelligent, well-read, well-credentialed people who oppose an immediate withdrawal because of the chaos that would ensue in the aftermath of such a withdrawal. I also think it is a slander on many of these people to conflate them with blind war supporters, because many people who oppose immediate withdrawal either opposed the war from the beginning (i.e. my professors and colleagues as well as several of the Democratic presidential candidates) or grew to oppose it after learning that it was a mistake and badly executed (i.e. me as well as several other Democratic presidential candidates and even several high-profile Republicans). I also think that the only possible purpose of conflating all opposition to immediate withdrawal is to taint the more reasonable opponents of the immediate withdrawal position by lumping them together with a group that is widely seen here as unreasonable, and that amounts to an ad hominum attack by proxy.

    If the latter, however, then you may be right. But in that case I also don’t think that we are talking about a group of people who’s opinion I care about either.

    To rip off from Barack Obama, there are a lot of people who do not oppose all withdrawals, only dumb ones.

  • Nick Rivera


    Perhaps my original question was a bit ambiguous. When I speak of withdrawal, I basic have in mind what the poll above has in mind.

    We all agree that our soldiers are going to be withdrawn from Iraq, whether it’s four months, four years, or four decades. But there are people who believe that we should withdraw, even if stability is not achieved in Iraq. And there are epople who believe that we should withdraw only after stability has been achieved in Iraq. According to the poll above (which is about a month old), 59% of Americans support the former position while 39% of Americans support the latter. And it is my contention that the majority (the overwhelming majority) of the people in the latter group (oppose withdrawal until stability is achieved) are people who originally supported the invasion of Iraq.

    And here’s another point. If you listen to the most adamant critics of withdrawl from politicians and pundits, theses critics OVERWHELMINGLY were people who originally supported the war. It’s not even close.

    Think about all the people in the U.S. Congress who are arguing that we must not withdraw from Iraq.

    Think about all the people on the cable news networks who are arguing against withdrawal.

    Think about all the bloggers in the blogosphere who are arguing against withdrawal.

    The OVERWHELMING majority of these people originally supported the invasion of Iraq.

    People like Democratic Congressman Brian Baird, who voted against the resolution authorizing force in Iraq and continues to believe that invading Iraq but nonetheless believes that we cannot withdraw any time in the near future…he is but a slim minority of the people arguing against withdrawal. The overwhelming majority is made up of people who originally supported the invasion of Iraq.

    I can understand (though I do not agree with) the position of those who believe the war was wrong but don’t want to withdraw from Iraq prematurely

  • Nick Rivera

    Also, referring back to MvdG’s original post, I think I’ve found what I perceive to be an incongruity in MvdG’s criticism of Democrats and liberals.

    Previously, MvdG wrote a post in which he criticized Democrats for trying to have it both ways on the war–that is, criticizing Bush for war while they themselves do absolutely nothing to end it. I largely agree with MvdG on this issue.

    However, when progressive bloggers target those Democrats who support continuing the war, MvdG criticizes them as well.

    I don’t get it. It’s a damned if you do…damned it you don’t type scenario. If Democrats and liberals continue to criticize Bush for the war but do nothing to end it, they’re partisans and hypocrites. Yet if they put pressure on those Democrats who are opposing withdrawal, then they’re extremists and purists.

    Frankly, I agree with some aspects of Barry Goldwater’s quote “Extremism is defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of freedom is no virtue.” There are matters on which Democrats and Republicans should compromise on for the sake of the common good.

    But when it comes to prolonging an unnecessary war waged on false premises, one shouldn’t support the continuation of a policy that they believe was the wrong policy to be enacted in the first place.

    Also, I say let’s not pretend that it’s only the anti-war left that is being “purist” on the war issue. Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party have been far outspoken in their criticism of the war than just any Democrat has been and consider the Democrats to be no better than the Republicans. There are also a number of prominent paleoconservatives (some of whom served in Ronald Reagan’s administration such as Paul Craig Roberts) who have opposed the war and criticized Democrats and Republicans alike for refusing to end it.

    If it’s alright for paleoconservatives and libertarians to criticize Democrats who refuse to end the war, why is it wrong for progressives to criticize these same Democrats? Is there some kind of double standard here where criticism of withdrawal opponents is only tolerated when it comes from non-progressives? Or does it reflect a refusal to acknowledge that some of the harshest criticism of the war and withdrawal opponents comes from libertarians and paleoconservatives?

    Dennis Kucinich is about as left-wing as you can get. Yet there’s a reason why Republican Congressman Ron Paul is friends with him…it’s because unlike other Democrats, Dennis Kucinich has stood his ground on Iraq and criticizes both Democrats and Republicans alike for the war.

    I would think that a progressive criticizing a Democrat for the war (rather than criticizing only Republicans) are the principled ones. Conversely, those progressives who criticize Bush and the Republican Party for the war but give Congressman Baird and other Democrats a free pass are the ones being partisan.

  • Jason Steck


    Like anyone else, I am only legitimately responsible for what I advocate. I am not responsible to defend, explain, or justify what others may or may not advocate.

    Thus, when you say,

    It’s a damned if you do…damned it you don’t type scenario. If Democrats and liberals continue to criticize Bush for the war but do nothing to end it, they’re partisans and hypocrites. Yet if they put pressure on those Democrats who are opposing withdrawal, then they’re extremists and purists.

    I think that doesn’t apply to me. I don’t criticize the Democratic presidential candidates who have begun to grapple with the difficult issues of what withdrawal actually means in practice. Rather, I applaud them for it. I shows that they are preparing to actually govern rather than taking the cheap and easy 2006 method of criticism without a realistic alternative.

    And I should not need to remind you again that I do not equate “anti-war” with “left” and I have on several occasions now gone out of my way to rephrase in order to accommodate your objections in that area.

  • DavidTC

    The thing that really gets me about all this is that progressive bloggers are the sole reason any politician is even talking about withdrawal. I don’t want to dis the Libertarians (At least not for this, I’ll dis them for other things when we return to a normally functioning political system.:) ) and various other people who were right from the the start, or right earlier. Good for them. The problem is, none of those people actually appear to have any political power.

    It’s progressive bloggers who made this an issue in the 2006 election and it’s the anti-war left, lead by Dean, that managed to step in in the ‘ 50 State Strategy’ that led to the huge power shift in Congress. There may be almost as many people against the war on the right, but they have managed to elect almost no one, and can do nothing at all.

    So then critizing them for putting pressure on the people they elected to do the things they elected them for seems a bit absurd, considering that no one else has managed that. If anyone else has an idea on how to stop this war, they should feel free to go ahead and do that. Meanwhile, anti-war bloggers will continue to do the only plan that even vaguely looks like it has a chance of working: Pressure the people elected to end the war into ending the war.

    And the only way I know how to pressure politicians is to threaten to incite their voters against them, and then actually do so. If someone’s got some other way to pressure them, then they should feel free to do that instead.

    Considering that this plan actually appears to be working, and would have worked already if not for a) people not up for election last year and b) the Republicans in unwinnable states. As there is not an election before 2009, the only way to end this war before that is pressuring politicians who are up for election at that time, by threatening their reelection chances.

    Hey, here’s an idea: The left can treat their anti-war elected officials how they want, and the right can treat their anti-war elected officials how they want. How’s that sound?