The liberal blogs

I’m always fascinated, when visiting my favorite bloggers, to see the things they find on the liberal blogs. I’ve never had any success reading some of the most popular liberal blogs, though. Many are written in a kind of shorthand that reminds me of the bulletin board at my high school. That was the one where the cool girls would post for all to see that “The short dude with the backhand was playing hard in the Pit last night with Roller Girl.” While these cryptic comments conveyed volumes of information to those in the know, they left me confused and bewildered. Today, to see if my past experiences hold true, I made another foray to visit a handful of the top liberal blogs. Along with news snippets, which are always of moderate interest, commentary on a couple of blogs today was limited to things like this:

From Wonkette:

*In the mixed-up world of Connecticut politics there’s one thing Joe Lieberman can count on. [Corrente]

*How many naked Libertarians can you fit in the back of a squad car? [AP]

*The drunker the President gets, the safer we are. [Bring It On!]

*Durty Jerz is about heritage, not hate. [Four Four]

*The American military is like the Green Lantern, dependent on willpower and unable to fight yellow things. [Matthew Yglesias]

*Johnny Deep is really just a better looking Jerry Falwell, puffy shirt notwithstanding. [Collective Sigh]

I know it’s me being uncool, but I don’t understand any of that — and nothing is sufficiently interesting (or intelligible) on its face to make me want to bother with the links.

From Crooks and Liars:

Matt Stoller was on “To the Point” and did a great job of explaining that the Lamont/Lieberman race is much more than just about the war.

Click hear to listen to the debate.


The funny thing is that for Lieberman supporters it is all about the war. –Oddly the wanker Chait seems to think this is about obtaining power – that supporting Lamont is some sort of power grab by the netroots, and he worries we’ll take over the Democratic party. It’s a weird view of things. I really don’t have much interest in being a kingmaker, and I’m too lazy to run much of anything. I do what I do because I actually give a shit about stuff, not to glorify myself (though just in case George S. is reading, I’m happy to be enriched.) Giving a shit seems to be alien to too many beltway pundits.

I started blogging because I wanted my voice to be heard. I knew that if I introduced video into the blogosphere it would have an impact in some sort of way. I knew that seeing what people say is much more powerful than just reading the text. I do what I do because I care– which is why most of us do this blogging thing. And also Sauron told me to write this…

I’m a lazy reader — I like to have things spelled out, rather than having to guess at their meaning. To one with my boring, old-fashioned sensibilities about organizing essays and sentences, the above is simply too disconnected for me to make immediate sense of it, and not interesting enough for me to work at making sense.

Not all of the top liberal bloggers employ “in the know” shorthand. Some of them write traditionally, but I just have a problem with what they’re saying. For example, Think Progress has a good post taking on a mistake in Newsweek regarding President Bush’s position on global warming:

The most recent Newsweek has an article called “The President: Shades of Green,” examining the President’s environmental record. Newsweek reports that Bush has conceded human activity is responsible for global warming:

And on global warming, the most controversial part of his green scorecard, Bush acknowledged back in June 2001 that the National Academy of Sciences believed climate change was “due in large part to human activity.” The dispute is what to do about that warming.

Bush did say that in June 2001. (In the next sentence he says “we do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming.”) Since that time, however, he has said there is a “dispute,” not just about the solution, but about whether human activity is responsible. For example, on June 26, 2006 Bush said:

I think — I have said consistently that global warming is a serious problem. There’s a debate over whether it’s manmade or naturally caused.

So far, so good. Where I part ways with Judd, the post’s author, is in his blithe conclusion:

Bush is describing a debate that doesn’t exist. There is a scientific consensus that global warming is real and the human activity is largely responsible. This is reflected in the most recent report by International Panel on Climate Change, which was vigorously reviewed and accepted by thousands of scientists, and every peer-reviewed journal article since 1993.

In fact, global warming is still being vigorously debated.  It’s an important debate, because it touches not just upon whether it’s happening, but whether we’re causing it, whether we can stop it, whether it matters, etc. As always, it’s worth pointing out that, in the early 1970s, those of us old enough to remember were being told that we were heading into a deadly cycle of global cooling. History buffs are also fond of pointing to both the mini-Ice Age and the year without a summer as examples of recent climate change that had little to do with us. Frankly, I get much more panicky when I think of the fact that the earth’s core is getting demagnetized, which is a truly undisputed fact, but one that’s not getting a lot of press. A demagnetized core means that we lose entirely our protection against cosmic rays. Now there’s global warming with a vengeance.

I also visited Atrios’ Eschaton blog and found this:

Yglesias has a good post about how conservatives (and certain senators named Joe) see foreign policy. It’s truly twisted for a variety of reasons over and above its prima facie stupdity. It’s the animating force behind the 101st Fighting Keyboarders. It’s what gets Andrew Sullivan through the day, imagining that he’s someone fighting a noble war. It’s the belief that what differentiates them from those who aren’t so thrilled about sending other peoples’ kids off to die is their personal courage, when in fact it’s nothing more than rank cowardice. It animates the “wishes are ponies” views of Friedman and the gang. It’s what has caused the prominence of the Tinkerbell Approach.

It allows weak people to imagine they are strong in the comfort of their homes. I’ll leave the pop psychology to others, but these people creep me out.

It’s rhetoric, all right, but it’s not substantive. If I understand the core argument, it’s that nobody can believe in a just or appropriate war if s/he doesn’t actually engage in combat personally. That’s a ludicrous argument. The concept of an entire nation carrying the war with it, with the political leader being the same person as the battle leader, pretty much went out with Ghengis Khan and his warriors as they swept down the plains — and even in that case, I imagine there were some women, kids, and old people minding the home front.

The logic behind this argument also eludes me. Since 9/11, something more than a million troops have been deployed, which certainly seems like a big number on its face. However, with the U.S. population just shy of 300,000,000 people, my terribly bad math tells me that only 0.003 of our population has gone to war (and, incidentally, went on its own volition). Are they therefore only ones who should have a voice in the war, with the other 99.997 of the population silenced? Just stating the proposition reveals how silly it is, but it would have one virtue regarding the current war against the Jihadists fighting us. My understanding is that our volunteer American forces are enthusiastic about fighting this war and believe that they’re doing important work in both Afghanistan and Iraq to protect American safety and freedom. If there’s was the only vote, I think we’d still be doing what we’re doing.

I also learned through perusing the liberal blogs that Markos “Kos” Moulitsas served in the United States Army. I wonder what his experiences were there that turned him so virulently from a Republican to a Democrat. It really is the opposite trajectory of so many people who go the other way politically. Indeed, Churchill, who made this journey himself, recognized this more common pattern when he said “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.” My father, less poetically, used to say when John Anderson was running, “Never trust a young conservative or an old liberal.”

I’m really rambling here, with no useful conclusions to draw. A lot of conservative blog writing is too eliptical and jargon-filled to have meaning. What’s well written — and there is definitely well-written stuff out there — reaches conclusions with which I might once have agreed, but that I can no longer support. A lot of the arguments strike me as bootstrapped, with the foregone conclusion providing the basis for the preceding argument. Consistently, there’s more obscenity, crudity and personal invective than one finds on the major conservative blogs (including Michelle Malkin, who enjoys her ad hominem attacks, but doesn’t engage in obscene or crude writing). Democratic politicians would do well to think hard before embracing this demographic as the litmus test for all their initiatives.