Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Progressivism Goes Mainstream?

Sometimes I ask myself "why"?

Why worry about the likes of Markos Moulitsas and the angry hordes of the hard-left blogosphere? These folks can't genuinely threaten traditional decency and order. They're nothing more than an extreme fringe, unnoticed by the great silent majority of Americans, to be tolerated, even indulged once in a while, right?

I'd say yes, but for the life of me Kos and others like him get a lot of attention, and their bullying totalitarianism gets results.

It turns out that the
Austin American-Statesman has repudiated and removed from its website a front-page story on last week's Netroots Nation convention at the insistence of Daily Kos.

An article, critical of the netroots radicals, was written by Patrick Beach, a "featured writer" at the paper. In turn, Greg Mitchell,
at Daily Kos, attacked Beach as writing an "opinion" piece instead of hard news:

The new newspaper trend - even extending to boring old AP - of encouraging reporters to not merely report but opine in their "news" pieces reared its ugly head again this morning by way of a front page story in the Austin American-Statesman on Saturday's Netroots Nation events.

Patrick Beach, a feature writer at the paper who once described himself as a "raging moderate," repeatedly described the gathering in stereotypes that better fit the aging Old Left of years ago than the much younger Netroots of today. I mean, how many of you have ever read much of Chomsky...?

What was Beach's sin? Hitting a little too close to home, I'd say. Here's a sample:

Name-dropping Al Gore and his call for a switch to clean, renewable energy within 10 years was enough to pull whoops of approval from the 2,000 or 3,000 marauding liberals gathered for Netroots Nation at the Austin Convention Center on Saturday morning.

So when the former vice president and Nobel Prize co-winner made a surprise — and cleverly scripted — appearance during U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's talk, it looked like the conference might turn into a faint-in.

Talk that Pelosi (who is arguably so left-leaning that her parenthetical should be D-Beijing) would have a Very Special Guest had been buzzing about the conference of liberal bloggers, pols and media types since it began Thursday (it concludes today). But it wasn't clear to attendees that something was afoot until a schedule change handed out Saturday morning indicated the speaker's talk would last 45 minutes longer than previously indicated.

Not that Gore's appearance was necessary to whip up the troops.

From the beginning, it was clear these people were convinced the electoral map would be repainted with a brush sopping with blue paint come November.
Perhaps the piece is a bit satirical, but it's not unlike what's published routinely on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, which includes an offbeat news story at the bottom of column three every morning, or the Los Angeles Times, which features "Column One" daily, with many of the feature stories comprising fun-loving takes on the quirks of life.

No matter ... the
newspaper caved:

Readers expect front-page stories to speak directly and clearly about events and issues. Eliminating the possibility of misunderstanding from our work is a critical part of our daily newsroom routine. When we communicate in a way that could be misinterpreted, we fail to meet our standards.

Our front-page story Sunday about the Netroots Nation convention included doses of irony and exaggeration. It made assertions (that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might find herself at home politically in Beijing, for example) and characterizations ("marauding liberals" was one) meant to amuse. For many readers, we failed.

In trying for a humorous take on the Netroots phenomenon without labeling it something other than a straightforward news story, we compromised our standards.
I guess that's it then. No more room for irony in serious journalism. I somehow doubt Jonathan Swift would be amused.

But there's more:
Katherine Seelye reports that Markos Moulitsas - again - has announced that his progressive movement's the new mainstream:

Back in the early 1990s, with the rise of talk radio, conservative commentators derisively dubbed newspapers, magazines and broadcast television as the “mainstream media.” More recently, with the run-up to the Iraq war, liberal bloggers joined in, abbreviating the term to MSM.

But now the Internet has overtaken most newspapers and broadcasts as a source of news, and some on the left say the lingo ought to reflect that.

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the DailyKos Web site, the biggest liberal hub online,
wrote on Monday that the heretofore “mainstream media” should be called the “traditional media.” Calling it mainstream implies that the Internet is fringe, he said, when in fact liberal bloggers, at least, are “representatives of the mainstream, and the country is embracing what we’re selling.”
Seelye notes, thankfully, that Moulitsas' megalomania hasn't gone unnoticed:

As you might imagine, not everyone agrees that Kos now represents the mainstream, and some have been mocking him (“If Moulitsas’s netroots were truly the mainstream, why would they attack a MODERATE Democrat who rarely strayed from the party line?” one asked, in reference to his debate Friday with Harold Ford, chairman of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.)
That's fine, although leftist hopes are indeed high that the long-awaited proletarian revolution's coming in November.

Ezra Klein, a prominent left-wing writer in attendence at Netroots Nation, asked of the event's political significance, "
Is Social Democracy A-Coming?"

It turns out that Klein's vision of this coming millenarian social democracy includes
the elimination of meat from the diet. That's right: Meat's the new Marlboro, a socially incorrect health hazard that should be phased out of American diets to save the environment (meat production leaves a larger "carbon footprint").

This is the kind of
progressivism that the netroots hordes want to ram down Americans' throats. But let's be honest: While perhaps the netroots hordes aren't up on Chomsky, they're certainly right at home with the kind of drastic change called for by '60-era ideology.

Indeed, Moulitsas has a new book forthcoming that offers a manifesto for today's netroots progressivism,
Taking On the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era. Here's the product description:

The Sixties are over and the rules of power have been transformed. In order to change the world one needs to know how to manipulate the media, not just march in the streets. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, otherwise known as "Kos," is today's symbol of digital activism, giving a voice to everyday people. In "Taking on the System," Kos has taken a cue from his revolutionary predecessor's doctrine, Saul Alinksy's Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, and places this epic hand-book in today's digital era, empowering every American to make a difference in the 21st century.

There's some sheer hypocrisy - if not irony - inherent in this blurb.

Markos Moulitsas, who proclaims himself a digital revolutionary in his new book, sponsors attacks on news coverage of the very radicalism of his own movement - with the desired result achieved in the capitulation of the Austin American-Statesman to the left's totalitarian thought police.

But lest readers forget: Daily Kos is the blogosphere's top portal for the left's secular demonology of hate. Not only are moderate Democratic Party officials savagely attacked, the most extreme racist, anti-Semitic essays are published regularly on the blog.

Moulitsas himself is not above attacking John McCain for his teeth. As I've noted before:

The Kos page still hosts the rabidly anti-Semitic entry, "Eulogy before the Inevitability of Self-Destruction: The Decline and Death of Israel."

Kos himself recently attacked John McCain's physical appearance, ridiculing the Arizona Senator in a post entitled "McCain's Teeth."The "teeth" post is particularly egregious, considering that the McCain's teeth were broken off at the gumline by his North Vietnamese captors in 1968.

I think people really need to step back and think about this.

Kristin Power argued recently that the Kos kids hardly represent mainstream Democrat voters, people who are more concerned about paying their mortgage or securing health insurance than about FISA wiretaps.

And she's right, but incomplete. Moulitsas is onto something when he makes the case that the revolution's gone online, at least in the sense that the radical left bloggers are the "squeaky wheel" of the current Democratic Party policy base. Sure leftists lost on the FISA domestic surveillance bill, but look at the left's gleeful triumphalism this week on Barack Obama's world tour.

An Obama administration will restore 1930s-era pacifism as "mainstream" American foreign policy. Obama has said
he'd consider war crimes trials for Bush administration officials - a main quiver in the leftosphere's Jacobin agenda - upon taking power. Obama's proposed dismantling America's nuclear arsenal. He reportedly had no problem with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Palestian terrorist cell, providing security for his visit to Ramallah on the West Bank. And he's on board the radical global warming agenda, pushed by the Al Gore-faction of the Democratic Party left.

And that's just a sample in foreign policy! Domestically, from affirmative action to taxes, Barack Obama's a radical's dream.

So, while folks can quibble on whether or not Moulitsas represents the mainstream, the big picture suggests that should Obama be elected to office, he'll be pulled even further left than he already is. Call it a realignment or a revolution, but it's a direction in which many traditional Americans would not rather not go.