Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Kos-a Nostra

"What? You're not staying for the candidates? Hillary? Obama?"

The nice, sincere woman, whose name I didn't catch, seemed truly perplexed that I would leave Chicago and YearlyKos before catching Hillary and the gang LIVE! ONSTAGE!, courting the blogger vote.

I confess the thought occurred to me. After all, how many times will I get a chance to see, in the flesh, those who presume to rule us? But I had already checked out of the hotel, since the Kos people only paid for one night, so sticking around would come out of my pocket, and I didn't feel like paying for the privilege to be pandered to.

The woman above was one of maybe a half dozen people who had seen my panel the day before, and were incredibly supportive of what I, Juan, Manan, and John expressed and tackled. Even the Kos diarist, Cosmic Debris, liked what I said, and gave me a self-published book of essays and art by other Kos diarists.

There was love in that lobby. Who says I'm a bitter old sectarian?

Well, plenty of people, that's who. As is usually the case when I post something critical about liberals or Democrats, I receive mail informing me that I'm a rightwinger, a Naderite, a racist, a self-righteous purist, etc. When I deign to answer some of the more literate critics, I ask them how many years have they put in toiling for the Dems? How many envelopes have they stuffed? How many doors have they knocked? How many phonebanks have they worked? Because my experience on that front goes back to 1980, my first presidential campaign. I've worked I don't know how many unpaid hours trying to elect Dems over the past quarter century, so I feel completely comfortable blasting the mule party for what it actually is. I've seen it from the inside, at various levels, and know a little something about how Dems think and operate.

Oh, but this year is different. This time around, the netroots are pushing the leading Dems into the Correct Direction. Because, when you lay it out, libloggers carry much more weight than, say, AT&T, or Reynolds American, or Goldman Sachs, or General Dynamics, or Honeywell, or Aflac. Who needs corporate cash when Digby and Atrios have your back?

I won't say that all of the YearlyKossacks are this deluded. Despite their general conformity concerning the Dems, we are talking about a diverse group of people and different levels of awareness. Still, there was the air that somehow, some way, libloggers are making a difference -- perhaps not a large difference, but that some kind of online momentum is building to '08 and beyond. I'm sure there's some truth to this. The top prez candidates came to court them, after all. But in the larger picture, libs who blog on behalf of Dems are a sweat drop in the big corporate tank. They help with the party's propaganda, maybe flog a serious issue here and there, but that's about it. Meanwhile, the corporate gravy train plows right over them on its way to finance Hillary, Obama, or whoever big business thinks can advance its private interests.

Indeed, if anything was missing at YearlyKos, it was anti-corporate agitation and awareness. Which is not surprising, given that the major liblogs rarely go after the companies that help keep their beloved party solvent. For without those big bucks and the various interests tied to them, the Dems pretty much cease to exist. Fine by me, but sadly, that's not going to happen in my lifetime. The Dem elites will continue to gorge on corporate money and favors, assuming, quite correctly, that most of their voting base will look past this piggery in the hopes that some crumbs will fall to the ground.

About the harshest criticism libloggers will toss at their rulers is that the Dems have no spine or simply capitulate to GOP wishes without really knowing what's at stake. I heard this from several people at YKos when word of the FISA vote spread around. "What's wrong with them? Don't they get it?" Oh, they get it all right. They understand exactly what they're doing. They wouldn't be in the position to authorize expansive, domestic wiretapping if they "didn't get it." The Dems have a spine: it simply curves rightward when the imperial state needs bolstering.

When faced with this stark, unflinching reality, libloggers avert their eyes and pretend that the Dems suffer from some weird, personality defect. Hey, I suppose it's better than dealing with the harsh facts of corporate capitalism and state power. But for sheer dizziness, few libloggers can match the spinning mind of Glenn Greenwald. In his Salon piece tsk-tsking the Dems for, once again, caving in to Bush (will they ever learn?), Greenwald lets fly a real howler:

"There are many mythologies about what are the defining beliefs and motivations of bloggers and their readers and the attendees at Yearly Kos. One of the principal myths is that it is all driven by a familiar and easily defined ideological agenda and/or a partisan attachment to the Democratic Party. That is all false."

Of course there was no "partisan attachment" to the Democrats at YKos. That explains why there were so many Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and Birchers present, flacking their varied ideologies. So what's the Real Truth behind the convention?

"The common, defining political principle here -- what resonates far more powerfully than any other idea -- is a fervent and passionate belief in our country's constitutional framework, the core liberties it secures, and the checks and balances it offers as a safeguard against tyrannical power. Those who fail to defend that framework, or worse, those who are passively or actively complicit in its further erosion, are all equally culpable."

With amber waves of grain, from sea to shining sea. Children, if you want a career writing for the corporate media, read Glenn Greenwald as often as you can. Few do it better than he, hand over heart, moist eyes fixed on Old Glory. Sniff.

Coming Next: The people you meet, or don't meet, at a liberal gathering.