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The conclusion of an incredibly self-indulgent diary series, which had been conceived as a single diary but had to be broken into three parts so it would load.  I repeat most of the introduction below.

When posters have complained about a lack of reader response, about never making the Rec List, and so on, I've sometimes suggested that they take the word "diary" literally.  A traditional diary may one day be published, or may serve as grist for a memoir, but it is foremost written for ourselves, to memorialize our own thoughts.  (We just happen to do so out here in the open.)  If we're lucky and so disposed, a diary may also change others' thinking and perhaps the world.  Regardless, it has value in its being written and being ours.

And so: here is part 3 of an easy-to-read annotated list, from latest to earliest (in proper blog form), of every diary I have written here at Daily Kos as Major Danby.  Thanks to Markos, the CEs, and my friends and readers for helping me generate, publish, refine, defend, and now compile the work described below.  Without you, there would have been nothing.

Like all of the others listed below, except where indicated with a "CA-42" designation, this diary is not affiliated with any candidate or campaign.

Diaries marked with a "+" after the number of comments are ones that I feel represent my best writing or are otherwise notable.

This was originally intended to be one huge diary, and indeed it turned out so huge that it would barely load.  I've decided to break it up into three more manageable chunks.  They're of unequal size; the first two each contain 78 diaries of the 222 listed; this one contains the final 66, from the July through December of this year.  As with the other diaries, I'm posting them at a time when I expect to get little commentary; these are more "for the record" than to generate discussion (though the latter is welcome, of course.)  I'm adding a few thoughts -- original content! -- towards the end.

(222) My next diary (? comments)

(221) 222 diaries, part 3 (from summer to winter of discontent) -- part three (and last) of the series, much of which is spent getting kicked in the head for trying to stave off Democrat-bashing, but there were good times too (28 comments)

(220) 222 diaries, part 2 (post-election fights to impeachment) -- part two of the series, from when I was spending way, way too much time here (as opposed to "way too much") (8 comments)

(219) 222 diaries, part 1 (Sept. 2005 to the 2006 election) -- part one of this series, listing diaries written when I was just a sprite (30 comments)

(218) On the "Yossarian & Major Danby" dialogue in Catch-22 – explaining why I love Catch-22, why the brilliant dialogue of the last chapter illuminates debates within the progressive movement, and why I chose Major Danby as my handle (84 comments) +

(217) Unruly Kosters will love this book on the Constitution – reviewing a National Book Award-nominated history book by Woody Holton, my old leader in the 1994 fight against Oliver North’s Senate campaign (22 comments)

(216) What advice do you have for my new stepdaughters? – as I prepared to meet my new stepdaughters in the Philippines, I asked for the wisdom of the DKos community to guide them and me.  I don’t know if it ended up seeming sweet, but that’s how it was intended (72 comments)

(215) 2008 Elections, Part 2 of 2: Meet President Mulligan – offering my preferences among the Democratic candidates (still uncommitted, but in order: Edwards, Dodd, Obama, Clinton) and explaining why I thought that the times may lead Hillary to adopt liberal policies as the path to greatness that eluded her husband (12 comments) +

(214) 2008 Elections, Part 1 of 2: Bush pratfalls, Hillary Ensues – putting my 2008 election predictions down for posterity: even though it looked bad for both at the moment, I called it as Hillary beating Romney (63 comments) +

(213) The elite political commentators find solace in nihilism – William Safire’s buddying up to Chris Matthews sent me over the brink, and I explained why Matthews wanted to believe that his opinions were just for show (33 comments)

(212) Newsweek writer blames Dems for continuing Iraq War – taking Markos to task (without mentioning his identity) for his first Newsweek column bashing Democrats for not following a path re Iraq that Markos argued would obviously be safe and popular, something about which I was unconvinced (235 comments) +

(211) POLL:  Who is Newsweek's anti-Kos? – silly diary inviting guesses on which GOP opposite number Newsweek had hired to write a column to balance Markos.  It turned out to be Karl Rove (62 comments)

(210) The Mukasey vote: wrong, but not world-ending – arguing that people should retain some perspective after the Mukasey vote, and not do what Bush wanted and assert that that vote was approving of torture.  Controversial (221 comments) +

(209) On the real class shown by CA-44 Dem candidates – congratulating CA-44 Dems for their handling of a troll diary accusing one of sponsoring the diarist’s spurious attack on the other for supposedly protecting a child abuser (14 comments)

(208) What Democrats should do before the Mukasey vote – suggesting that Democrats should demand Mukasey acknowledge the illegality of waterboarding, and a little else, as the price of approving his nomination for AG (66 comments) +

(207) CA-42: Santiago fire update (it's not over yet) – last diary updating situation on Ron’s firefighting; subsequent updates were kept to comments (23 comments)

(206) CA-42 -- Santiago fire burns thru Cleveland Natl Forest – second of three diaries reviewing events with the last fire left burning in Southern California’s horrible October 2007 (25 comments)

(205) CA-42: Ron's OK & helping protect Silverado from fire – first of three diaries updating people on Ron Shepston’s status as the canyons surrounding his home burned and he worked to save his home canyon (28 comments)

(204) CA-42: Meet Ron Shepston in Chicago tomorrow night! – drumming up people to attend what turned out to be a fun event with Dan Seals and others.  Contained a "claimer" (17 comments)

(203) A middle plan for Al Gore: become Super-Enviro-Veep suggesting that Gore consider accepting a spot on the ticket if given Cheney-like power over environmental issues (14 comments)

(202) Someone on this site is in trouble and needs work – just trying to help out someone on this site who needed and deserved it.  A critic on a sneer site accused me of trawling for work.  Actually: no, this was legit (122 comments)

(201) FEC: approve one pair, but not von Spakovsky + 1 Dem – fairly simple proposal for a political gambit that I hadn’t seen proposed elsewhere.  For all I know, someone who might have taken this advice read it (18 comments)

(200) "We have no friends" is OK. "We have no allies" is not.   – continuing on my suicidal and lonely Dem-leadership-defending beat by arguing that even if we did not treat Congressional Dems as fast friends, we would be smart to treat them diplomatically as potential allies (107 comments) +

(199) "More and Better Democrats" in bitter times (by request) – Meteor Blades suggested that I expand a sidebar on why this principle was most important when times were bleakest.  I can’t turn the likes of him down (85 comments) +

(198) On the sad anniversary of "More and Better Democrats" – briefly, it appeared that perhaps I had coined this term and forgotten about it.  No, but I did popularize it here after appropriating it from Atrios (13 comments)

(197) Clear, succinct, and devastating: How Bush helped Iran – publicizing Salon article by Amb. Peter Galbraith on how Bush screwed up our policy options re Iran and why no military solution would change that (22 comments)

(196) "Repeal the laws of math!" and other doomed cries – arguing that while one may fairly attack Democrats on defunding or impeachment, it makes no sense to blame them for not being able to surmount Republican obstructionaism (72 comments) +

(195) What letter did you send with MoveOn's petition? – promoting MoveOn’s effort to defend itself from attacks on its Petraeus ad (45 comments)

(194) BREAKING: NYT is giving us back our free KRUGMAN! – a rare "Breaking!" diary of mine, but it was just so nice that Times Select was gone (87 comments)

(193) I am no longer a vegetarian – parody of Recommended diary announcing that because the Republicans are so bad, yet Democrats failed to stop them, the author would no longer be a Democrat.  Nasty fun (310 comments) +

(192) Slate: California Electoral College initiative is unconstitutional – highlighting convincing (to me, anyway) article making the above point (27 comments)

(191) If Juan Cole is right about 2010, then what about 2008? – noting that if the Democrats will be hammered for withdrawing from Iraq after 2008, it stood to reason that they would be hammered for doing the same thing before 2008, and doesn’t that matter?  So ended my week of intense participation in Open Left (96 comments) +

(190) Shooting down the "Battered Democrat Syndrome" insult – challenging bloggers on their macho insults that those who don’t agree with the riskiest course of action are wimps, scared, or "battered women" equivalents.  Also gave some of the actual data on BWS (154 comments)

(189) The Pros and the Cons – explaining to the press how it should have evaluated Petraeus and Crocker’s testimony on our options in Iraq, leading up to a closing pun on the title (29 comments)

(188) How to be a more effective irrational pressure group – more defense of the Democratic leadership, which by now had become my almost exclusive beat as a diarist.  Arguing that you try to move what can effect change, and by themselves Reid and Pelosi cannot (454 comments) +

(187) Ask pols & others this question for Constitution Day (9/17) – another "throw it up the flagpole and see who salutes" suggested action item pushing pols to prioritize defending the Constitution.  Few saluted (30 comments)

(186) Bush wishes Jews a Happy New Year -- a week early – snarky diary pointing out Bush’s mistake (first noted elsewhere) of giving out Rosh Hashanah wishes a week early (75 comments)

(185) I promised you the moon (warning: photo intensive) – posting some cool deep full lunar eclipse photos (35 comments)

(184) An Open Letter: Spill It, Senator Craig – suggesting that Larry Craig’s best approach to save his hide was to slowly spill the GOP’s dirty secrets until they backed off from attacking him.  I wanted to hear the dirt, but sadly he chose another path (59 comments) +

(183) How to win the defunding debate – in response to Armando’s column in The Guardian, discussing hurdles that defundamentalists must clear to win the battle, and attacking setting up criticism of Democrats when they don’t do as urged.  Introduced term "piloerectile politics" (76 comments) +

(182) CA-42: Riverside Fwy TRAFFIC -- open house TODAY – discussion of traffic problems in LA and trawling for someone to attend an open house (67 comments)

(181) Foreign aid: what are we doing to help Jamaica now? – arguing the benefits of robust foreign aid, unfortunately without much advance analysis of the matter at hand (36 comments)

(180) Three paragraphs from the NYT about the FISA revision – quoting a good Risen & Lichtblau article led to a good discussion (159 comments) +

(179) DKos must STOP making fascism pay off for the GOP –behaviorist psychology explains why rewarding Republicans by bashing Democrats when things go wrong makes Republican obstructionism more likely.  Controversial.  Side controversy on the proper use of the word "fascism" (626 comments) +

(178) Rove did succeed -- in maiming our political system – arguing, contra a Cenk Uyger diary, that Karl Rove wasn’t a failure, but a successful vandal of our political system (30 comments) +

(177) Declare your Presidential campaign affiliation on Dkosopedia – this went nowhere; more’s the pity.  Some people were highly affronted.  I think we’ll miss having had this info someday (100 comments)

(176) Hey, it's a great day to repost "Huckabeeyond Belief"! – what, you don’t like summer re-runs?  If he wins the nomination, run this one every week! (22 comments)

(175) Had I been writing Hillary's speech for YKos.... – suggesting how Hillary could have done a better job of answering the "lobbying money" question at the YKos debate by emphasizing the need to win without being bought off (26 comments) +

(174) An inexpensive hotel for YearlyKos -- $59-$69/night – letting people know that there was an inexpensive alternative for lodging in the poor part of town not far from the convention center.  We stayed there without incident, and the food was good (48 comments)

(173) SPOILERS! It's time: Harry Potter 7 discussion diary! – now that I’d finished Harry Potter 7, it was OK to discuss it on DKos, though only behind a curtain with spoiler warnings.  Fun diary (559 comments)

(172) Dredging a dead-diary discussion into the daylight – and interesting argument with conservative Koster Drgrishka1 over the limits of Presidential power.  Very telling as to what people were thinking at this historical moment (247 comments) +

(171) Here's how it could all play out: 2009 preconsidered – arguing for a rapid deployment of interviewers just after a new Democratic President was inaugurated as part of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to set perjury traps for people who covered up Bush Administration crimes  (281 comments) +

(170) CA-42: On YearlyKos, anger, and dreams – rerunning occams hatchet’s diary in our campaign rollout series, because that’s when I had originally scheduled it, dammit, and the schedule rules all!  And don’t call me a control freak (9 comments)

(169) CA-42: The DCCC knows us, reads us, and likes us – recounting a good early meeting with a rep from the DCCC (112 comments)

(168) Harry Potter and the Deathly Serious Threat Against Spoilers – the final book came out while I was busy at Democracy For America training.  I threatened anyone who spoiled it on DKos with terrible consequences (118 comments)

(167) CA-42: You have got to see this screenshot! – celebrating strong early netroots fundraising (187 comments)

(166) "My apologies to students who took my U.S. gov’t class" – at one time I had a great sig line.  This diary is where I retired it for the duration of the campaign (99 comments)

(165) CA-42: I'm managing a netroots U.S. House campaign – announcing my managing of what the following day was revealed to be Ron Shepston’s campaign for Congress (202 comments) +

(164) How Sylvia Mendez got her parade back – celebrating, with pictures, Huntington Beach’s decision to honor a civil rights pioneer at its 4th of July parade (15 comments)

(163) Why Bush can't pardon anyone for inherent contempt – I gave one argument as to why Bush couldn’t do so; others came back with even betters ones.  Good example of strong discussion in the blogosphere (333 comments) +

(162) The link between Sara Taylor and Scooter Libby – how the "get out of jail free" card given to Libby made it easy for Sara Taylor to decide not to testify (219 comments) +

(161) How Fred Fielding may gum up the subpoena machine – explaining while delay (leading to eventual destruction of evidence) was Bush’s ally, and how procedural impeachment could defeat that prospect (21 comments) +

(160) Pro- or anti-impeachment, read this diary RIGHT NOW! – promoting Patriot Daily’s diary doing the legal grunt work to show that my minimalist impeachment agenda was a viable plan.  Read this diary only for the link to hers (37 comments)

(159) Bush’s Libby commutation: investigate the COVER-UP – suggesting that Congress should investigate the Libby commutation, to see if it was a quid pro quo payoff in exchange for his silence (38 comments) +

(158) I am sad – my final diary (with my shortest title ever) promoting the reinstated YKos auction, this time wielding a truly icky-cute attention-grabbing graphic (53 comments)

(157) "They live longer than we do..." (upon seeing SiCKO) – speculating, after seeing SiCKO, that one reason white Americans might not be impressed with statistics showing that other countries like longer that Americans is that they assume if you excluded minorities the statistics would favor us (94 comments) +

I have written more diaries than these -- a few I deleted, I wrote a few (and even a few good ones) under my temporary Greg at Carter for Nevada account, I have a few under the temporary group Ron Shepston for Congress account, and of course some of those listed here are reposts and the like are probably shouldn't really count at all -- but I'll take this list as being as good as any for a diary of my diaries under the primary name I've used.

= = = = =

One odd aspects of writing on DKos is that after a while one sometimes develops one or more "beats."  I had expected, when I began, that my "beat" would be the interaction of psychology, politics, and law -- my three professional avocations, if you don't count my employment in campaign management since August 2006, which derives from my decision to take the preservation of American democracy more personally than I had before.

Looking over my diary list has emphasized for me how "my beat" here has become a fairly unhappy one: defending the Democratic leadership, either with respect to specific choices (even some with which I disagree) or at least more generally.  This is about as No Fun as beats get.  On days when the word leaks out (most likely as an act of political sabotage, but perhaps with some truth behind it) that the likes of Nancy Pelosi -- whom, if you'll pardon my saying so, had done more real good for the country even before becoming Speaker than all but a handful of members of the netroots could ever hope to achiveve -- may have been complicit in acceptance of waterboarding back at the zenith of Republican power in 2002/2003, well,  at times like that it becomes almost unbearable.  And so I want to say a small bit, hidden down here after that long list, about why I have persisted.

Politics is much harder than people here in the netroots depict (and perhaps even understand) it to be.  For one thing, it's not simply a clash between forces of opposing ideological interests, but one in which a large third group -- ambitious people who are "in it for themselves," with fingers in the wind when it comes to ideology -- often hold the balance of power.  And aiming their influence directly at those people (as well as elsewhere) are the forces in our society that aren't part of the formal political system: corporations, churches, media owners, wealthy people with axes to grind.  Unions also, of course, though with less influence than before, as well as many academics protected by tenure and entertainment figures who do well by reflecting the views of those members of the mass public who don't hold opinions for personal profit.  Broadly speaking, the former lean conservative and the latter liberal.  You can't understand out political sstem without taking into account what these actors do, especially the force they exert on people who are involved in politics for reasons of power rather than ideology, and their power to reach the public -- not necessarily convincing the public that they're right about certain tasks, but by hiring political hit men to destory their opponents over character and extraneous issues.

Hunter wrote a FP story earlier this week exocriating Democratic leaders for not leading.  This was on the day I was preparing to leave for the Philippines, from which this is posted, so I didn't have a chance to take part in that discussion, but there was one admission in the diary that I thought was critical: that he didn't have the answers as to what we should do.  That's right.  But to me, not having the answers -- the recipe -- should be the starting point of analysis about how one should deal with present-day politics, rather than an aside.  The overwhelming truth about politics today is that there may not be any real answer to how to get our leaders to do as we want; we may be in a situation where, despite our present tactical advantage in 2008, we have to play a long game in order to achieve the sort of real reform we generally know to be necessary.

That reform, if and when it happens, will be led not merely by John Conyers and Russ Feingold and Barbara Lee, but by the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and yes, Rahm Emanuel and Dianne Feinstein, and maybe even Steny Hoyer and Ben Nelson, if we can't elect enough "More Democrats" to render their opposition irrelevant.  Our leaders know this -- they know that reform will come from a progressive (or progressive-friendly) Congressional majority sending legislation to a progressive President -- and they unlike us, do not have the luxury to ignore this.  They, unlike us, cannot pretend that politics is simpler than it is.

Our trump against such leaders is supposedly that the public is on our side.  This is not so much wrong as it is incoherent.  Sometimes the public is on our side, sometimes not, and more often the public merely has the potential to be pushed to one side or the other, by fair means or foul, by the forces listed above.

Our leaders know this.  Many of them cut their political teeth at around the time I did, during the Carter Administration, when we were given a strong lesson that not only those "non-partisan" powerholders in the federal government would not lift a finger to help Democrsts -- contrast Fed Reserve Chair Paul Volcker letting the Carter Administration twist in the wind while he strangled the inflation out of our economy with Alan Greenspan keeping the pedal to the metal to hide the consequences of Bush's economic follies earlier in this (still namesless) decade -- but that the public simply would not tolerate being made to feel weak at the hands of especially Muslim opponents.  Look at polls after the Iranian hostage crisis began and you see almost all you need to know about how Reagan got into office and changed American politics for the past 28 years.

They know this, and they are afraid of it happening again, and as much as I disagree with aspects of their pusillanimousness I don't disrespect its underlying motivation, which is to keep the Republicans out of office before they can further destroy our system of government.  The counterargument to that -- often and too easily made on our pages, is that the public is on our side.  And their response, and mine, is "not necessarily, no matter what the polls say now."  We cannot assume that the public will be hard enough and long enough on our side to win decisive battles, including the 2008 election.  So while we need to press our leaders to consider that we may well have an advantage, there is a world of difference between doing so as an advocate who wants our leaders to do better, and doing so as a sarcastic ranter who likely as not leaves readers alienated to our party.

Know that we are playing a long game, in which we both have to convince our leaders that we are right and convince the public that our being right is more important than whatever our irrelevant, distorted, or downright false crap that opponents will throw in the public's face in order to maintain their grip on power.

Know that we are playing a long game, and the consequences of our representatives not falling into line behind one or another "bright idea" -- on Iraq alone, that could be defunding or permanent withdrawal of all forces or partition or immediate withdrawal without waiting -- becomes less important.  Yes, there are arguments to be made that we have the better of the political argument -- but let's be a bit humble: there are also arguments to be made against most assessments of prospective public opinion, not that you often see it acknowledged on the netroots.

I participate here because the potential for change is so powerful -- sometimes the politicians I defend above do need a fire lit under then, and sometimes they need to be reminded that one or another issue is not open to compromise -- and because we are so often right.  So while I cover that unhappy beat in which, above all else, I ask us to have a little humility with respect to our leaders, I also am happy to convey to them how much they should be listening to the best of what we write.  It is, as is so much else in politics, a balancing act.

= = = = =

Finally, I should add this from my profile.  Danby is talking to Yossarian after the great dialogue about which I diaried a few days ago:

"How do you feel, Yossarian?"

"Fine. No, I'm very frightened."

"That's good. It proves you're still alive."

This small corner of the site has been my only personal blog since 2005.  As I look through this list, I feel that my time here has largely been well spent; the thanks I offer above is genuine.  I've long wanted to write a book about society, politics, science, and culture.  Apparently, in a way, I have.

Originally posted to Major Danby on Wed Dec 12, 2007 at 10:48 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  222 diaries -- and almost 16,000 comments (16+ / 0-)

    If you ever see me attempting to try to make some systematic sense of the latter, you'll know I've gone completely around the bend.

    If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

    by Major Danby on Wed Dec 12, 2007 at 10:49:29 PM PST

    •  Aw man, you're beating me. I'm only at 15,091. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, Major Danby, Marcus Tullius

      After this one.

    •  The horror ... the horror ..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Major Danby, Brahman Colorado

      The Philippines isn't (aren't?) anything like Saigon, is it?

      Thanks for your rational perspective, Major.  A large group of idealists needs at least one realist to tell them they can't have the world, at least not anytime soon.

      •  I haven't been to Saigon (0+ / 0-)

        but I understand that there are similarities.  Being an American here, integrating into a family from the vanishing Philippine middle class, is a real trip, but so far not much like anything out of "Heart of Darkness."  I'll hope to keep it that way!

        I hope it's clear that I'm not dissing idealists -- I am one myself.  And I think that realists need idealists just as much as or more than vice versa.  But ultimately, I can about results more than whether or not I'm going to heaven by refusing to be sullied by political associations.  I'm much less oriented that way than many people who make politics a permanent career -- I won't compromise about all sorts of things, and I'd vote for a clean Republican before a mafia-tied Democrat, for example, though I'd defend both on practical grounds.

        If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

        by Major Danby on Thu Dec 13, 2007 at 04:46:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks, Major... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Major Danby
      Thanks for all those 222 diaries and over 16,000 comments. I've learned a lot since then. Hope all is well in the Philippines, and I look forward to seeing what you'll do next. :-)

      Don't blame us... We're turning "The OC" (Yes, that one!) blue at The Liberal OC! : )

      by atdnext on Wed Dec 12, 2007 at 11:07:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  in my short time here i have seen (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Trix, atdnext, Cato come back

    many self-indulgent diaries, but this takes the cake.

  •  If I've said it once, I've said 3 times... (6+ / 0-)

    Get. Your. Own. Fucking. Blog.


  •  Safe journeys. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby

    One more traveling tune.

    Before you ask me why I TR'd your tip jar, ask yourself if you've just been the author of a stupid fucking hit piece.

    by Marcus Tullius on Wed Dec 12, 2007 at 11:01:40 PM PST

  •  I missed part two, damn it! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby

    I'll go back and give it a look.  I think I was laughing to hard when that women I payed to hit me with a shoe, hit me with a shoe.

    Bah! Clintobaward will devour all other candidates!

    by o really on Wed Dec 12, 2007 at 11:20:06 PM PST

  •  dear diary, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby

    i'm still having problems with that cute rec list. i try to be its friend, but it doesn't seem to notice me at all. sometimes, i think it doesn't even know i'm alive. if i could only find some way to get its attention, i know it would like me. i just don't know what to do.

    sorrowfully yours,


    •  I'd take that plaint seriously from many people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Turk, but not from you, with your value as a writer being increasingly recognized both here and on The Left Coaster.  Happy holidays to you!

      If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

      by Major Danby on Thu Dec 13, 2007 at 04:51:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is important to stay in touch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby

    with the common people. Most of the "first tier" blogging elites never get down with the unwashed masses, just like the media, political,social or many academic elites never do.

    I find that so curious.

    I like the diarists who roil with the masses even when it's moronic or ugly although I prefer a lively intelligent discussion.

    No one could ever accuse you of that MD. Continue to be true to yourself and the thoughtful long term provocations that you bring to the table and you'll always have a group of people who appreciate it.

    I know I do.

    Tu es responsable de ta rose Le Petit Prince

    by Brahman Colorado on Thu Dec 13, 2007 at 12:16:54 AM PST

  •  You really think we're morons, don't you? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby


    •  Linking to a diary at (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Major Danby

      Docudharma.  I made a comment there about this diary, and it was a bit harsh, so I think it would be best if I linked to it, in case you want to respond.


      •  Don't worry, LC -- I have thick skin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and I know that your comment is coming from a decent critical vantage point.  It's a pleasure to argue with you, as usual.  I'm on sort of a jerry-rigged system here in the Phils, so I'll respond here rather than in DD to save me minutes of waiting for it to load; feel free to port it there.

        The two responses that come to mind are that if the people from the netroots that I criticize do understand the forces at play in our political system, that knowledge by and large is not evident in their analysis.  I acknowledge that there's a good reason for that: being too reasonable about the limitations on our leaders, especially on days as depressing as today's "cave-in" news, may seem to make it too easy for them to cave in further.  Somewhere on this or a previous list is a diary on "being an unreasonable pressure group" that speaks to that issue and our distinct role here.

        Today's developments about the Dems cave-in -- which tear at my heart, not only for the fact of its happening, but for the unspeakably and inexplicably stupid way in which they have done it, making public pronouncements that they will never cave in shortly before doing so, who the hell is advising these people????? -- make it really hard (and No Fun) to take an understanding position towards the leadership.  And yet, some questions occur to me that I simply don't see aired on the netroots, the foremost one being "what do they know that we don't?"  Do they, as spoon suggests on the Rec List as I type, just want the situation to be as bad as possible before the election?  I don't think so, simply because that is dumb and our leaders are not.  If they want to orchestrate a public perception that they are fighting their asses off for what is right, but in the end valiantly failing because they just don't have that final measure of power that the public can give them in 2008 -- well, they could do it far better than they are doing it right now.  It seems more likely to me that what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid know that we don't is that we don't have the votes right now to do what is right -- the conservative Dems are not sufficiently on board -- and that the insipid strategy you see now is in response to that fact rather than a before-the-fact embrace of it.  Nothing this stupid is planned to be such; this is what happens when you fail and try to make the failure look less ignominious than it is, and you try to hold the spirit of your troops and supporters together to fight another day.

        With that perspective, is it any wonder why I feel more sympathy than others here for Pelosi and Reid?  I see them primarily as victims of a caucus that is too conservative, which is itself a function of the fact that the voting population has not been as much behind us in the past as it should have been.  So part of the price of Pelosi's and Reid's ambitions is that they have to backpedal just as fast as they can run.  Sucks to be them, but at least I think they're trying for better.  At a minimum, no one has convinced me otherwise.  (People have expressed the view that they should turn on their own caucus, if the caucus is the problem, but I haven't heard anyone know knows much about internal Congressiona politics offer such a plan.)

        A lot of what I end up objecting to, in the final analysis, is tone: and don't tell me tone isn't important.  The tone of one's criticism is what invites the reader to take away either a grim determination to keep on fighting on a given point even in the face of the failures of our leaders (that's good activist writing) or a desire to dismiss them, wash one's hands, and declare that something that everybody knows won't happen (like the replacement of a 90th percentile progressive like Pelosi as Speaker with a 95th percentile one like Obey or a 99th percentile one like Conyers) is the only reasonable response.  That, to me, is bad, self-indulgent, reckless activist writing.

        We are in the business of keeping our representatives honest, yes, but we are also in the business of keeping ourselves activated -- and the sarcastic, "pox on both houses" stance that seems increasingly celebrated on the netroots since the last election in my opinion undercuts our efforts.  It is just too much fun to stand around in a circle slamming the Dem leadership in lugubrious and scatalogical terms.  And if I thought it would really do any good, I might well join in rather than -- in areas like FISA and subpoenas, where they bitterly disappoint me most of the time -- just stating that they're wrong and committing myself to keep fighting.

        Docudharma is great at the former approach, as increasingly is the left column of DKos.  And while I guess I'd miss it if it weren't happening -- in which event people like me would have nothing to point to and say to public officials "see what you're doing!" (which I realize is part of the point in this game in which we all have our roles) -- I sometimes feel that people no longer understand that our responsibility, like our reps, is simply to do the best they can and hasten the day when we can do much more.  That perspective gets short shrift here; that shrift will be shorter when I leave.

        If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

        by Major Danby on Thu Dec 13, 2007 at 05:24:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the response. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Major Danby

          I think the contrast between your view, as presented here, and spoon's is interesting.  Spoon thinks that the congressional leadership is not making mistakes, and you think that they are; but at the same time you argue that the best evidence that they are smart is that they are making mistakes.  I wonder if you aren't looking for reasons for optimism.

          The suspicion that the Democratic caucus is too conservative for the goals the Dem leadership, and the netroots, would like to accomplish is worth considering.  I am sure there is something to it.  But, again, this leads me to question the prowess of the leadership: surely they know and knew the political posture of the 110th Congress when they alternately promise big and then fail to deliver.  Their own people can't be surprising them at every turn.  

          At this point in the argument, you say you'd rather hear a response from someone who knows internal congressional politicking better than the average Kossak, and I certainly do not . . . so I'll point you to Kos, and his "capitulators" post from today.  You can here point out, if you wish, that Kos has a readership to maintain, which explains his rhetoric, and that's fine.  But again it seems that we're looking for auxiliary explanations at every turn.

          As for tone, and the benefits of supportive tone, I see your point.  I do wonder what would be substantively different about the 110th had the blogosphere been more consistently supportive.  One thing I do think about this is that the blogosphere has not figured out a function, what it is supposed to do, on off-election years.  Maybe you have noticed that when the blogosphere has a clear goal, it rallies, and lacking one, it "devolves" into infighting.  I put "devolves" in quotes because I am not sure that infighting is not good -- perhaps infighting clarifies.  Even if individual exchanges seem to get nowhere at the time, it is often the case that people alter their views after the fact.

          I am not sure that the "pox on both their houses" is entirely sarcastic.  There are people in the blogosphere who will not stick with Dems beyond 2008, and their percentage is higher off of DailyKos than on it.  Perhaps losing some passionate supporters will do nothing but benefit the Republicans, but that can't be helped -- except of course the Dems could help, by acting in ways that will keep supporters in the fold.

          The 110th could have done more to engage the blogosphere.  More congressmen and women could have hired a staffer to engage the blogosphere, or even collectively hired one staffer to do it.  The Dem leadership attitude to us has been schizophrenic, attending YK2007 and then ignoring us, Pelosi promising occasional drop ins and then not doing it, Obama posting and then calling us predictable.  

          In off-election years, we don't know what to do with them, and they don't know what to do with us.  They see us as a hinderance, and that is a failing indiciative of fighting the last war, in the eternal criticism of generals.

          Well, this response got off track; sorry about that.  Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my less than engaging original comment.

          •  Engaging the internet (1+ / 0-)
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            God save them from that.  Over the past year or so, I’ve probably been the person here writing most from the mindset, although not from the station itself, of a progressive Democratic Congressional leader, and I think that so long as they are not ultimately going to deliver on their promises, for whatever reason, engaging the blogosphere is a fool’s errand.  All the increased interaction does is provoke people.  If and when they can deliver, it’s wonderful, but for some reason they can’t or won’t.

            The part I cannot explain or justify is the playing "Lucy Holding the Football" with progressives.  I don’t know why they’re doing it.  It does not make sense from my "they just don’t have the votes" perspective; in that case, the leadership should be organizing and calling for public support for their positions, before announcing that sadly it was not enough.  It does not make sense from spoon’s "Political Kabuki Theater" perspective either, because it’s such palpably bad theater.  No drama, just rising expectations being dashed, work-oneself-into-a-lather and repeat.  If Reid brings up the wrong bill on FISA on Friday, I won’t have the words to defend it.

            Am I just seeking optimism?  I don’t think so, but if I am, at least that’s a good strategy for political survival.

            I look to Markos for great information about campaign strategy.  I look elsewhere – to Kagro X, among others – for information about Congressional machinations, and I’m comfortable looking to myself for guesses about how things play with the public.  All I’m pretty sure of is that our calling the Dems "capitulators" makes public adoption of that frame more likely.  And if it must be said, I’d say it more in sorry than in anger, and more in anger than contempt, because contempt – the Official Emotion of the Blogosphere – simply places the writer-reader pair above the subject being discussed; it’s a cheap way to maintain esprit, but it comes at a cost in ultimate political success that I’m not willing to pay.

            That’s what I mean by "tone" – not that it’s necessarily supportive at all, but simply that it’s not destructive.  My guide of how to behave is pretty clear: look towards what movement conservatives, who have had a lot more practice pressuring their politicians than we have, say about their leaders, and figure out which comments make us, their opponents, happy and which do not.  When some conservative says that the whole GOP delegation isn’t worth a sack of shit because they can’t deliver on XYZ bill, it makes me smile.  When they rededicate themselves to the task of bringing them to heel, with grim determination rather than sardonic quips, it makes me nervous.  I don’t want my opponents to smile; I want them nervous and upset.  So I want to mimic the latter approach rather than the former, because I care more about what ultimately happens in 2008 and beyond than quipping myself to heaven on a blog.

            Your predictions about the "pox on both your houses" crowd – about whom I feel roughly as those Spaniards fighting Franco and French resisting Hitler felt about their neutral countrymen – may be correct.  But this, I think, points to some of the differences I have with my fellow bloggers.  Many people write to their political representatives, who by and large show little sign of listening, telling them what they should do.  Sometimes I do the same.  But more often I write to challenge my fellow bloggers, who are listening, as to what they should do.  And this is an example of what they should not do.

            You have a funny diary on the Rec List today, by the way; I’ll comment on it there, but here I’ll say that if I had any part in inspiring you towards that good work, I’m happy for that.

            If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

            by Major Danby on Fri Dec 14, 2007 at 03:07:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow. This is quite a claim: (0+ / 0-)

              Over the past year or so, I’ve probably been the person here writing most from the mindset, although not from the station itself, of a progressive Democratic Congressional leader,

              •  Nominate someone else, Laura (0+ / 0-)

                You're substituting dry ridicule for argument.  I would have liked more competition for that position, and I'd love to know who else has been most loudly arguing against the demonization of Pelosi and (though on this day I can barely stand to say it) Reid and their cohorts.  Any of the CEs?  The evidence for my claim is in this list and the one preceding it.

                Those who might once have made the challenging case for trying to balance progressive ideals with the real limitations imposed by our political system and our manipulable electorate are by and large gone now.  Once the smoke from the primaries have cleared, what will be left besides those who slam Congress as collaborators and knaves, without wishing to give up their position in party activist politics, and those who go the inevitable step further than the first group would claim and say to hell with the Democrats, to hell with electoral politics?

                Yeah, it's quite a claim.  I wish I didn't have reason to think it's true.  But go ahead and rebut it, if you will and if you can.

                If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

                by Major Danby on Fri Dec 14, 2007 at 02:44:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  P.S. I linked to this exchange in the (1+ / 0-)
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          Major Danby

          DD diary, in case anyone over there wanted to see it, for consistancy's sake.

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