Reports from the YearlyKos LoveFest in Vegas

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Reports from the YearlyKos LoveFest in Vegas

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 10, 2006 6:22 pm

Spinning Zarqawi

BY RYAN SAGER
June 9, 2006
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/34207

LAS VEGAS - As left-wing bloggers and activists congregated for the first-ever YearlyKos conference (named after the phenomenally popular Daily Kos Web site) in Las Vegas yesterday, the Bush administration had just won a major victory - and the conferees' movement had just suffered another defeat.

That is, the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

While the right-wing routine of constantly questioning the patriotism of those opposed to the Iraq war is more than a little tired, and a cheap way to try to shut down dissent to boot, even lab rodents eventually learn to stop pressing the button that delivers the electric shock.

Daily Kos denizens? Not so much.

As the news broke yesterday morning, bloggers on Daily Kos were busy emphasizing the negative, and readers were expressing extreme displeasure with an American victory in the War on Terror. "Has anyone mentioned that the President could have killed Zarqawi before the Iraq War but chose not to? Or that he was caught and then released to kill again by an incompetent Iraqi government?" a blogger on the site wrote.

Many of the commenters on the site, meanwhile, were completely unhinged.

"My God, doesn't anyone remember that Zarqawi was largely a creation of US military psy-ops aimed at the American public?" one commenter wrote. "Bush's idea of justice is bombs falling out of the sky?" another wrote. "Why is he dead again just now? I wonder if Karl's getting indicted tomorrow," yet another wrote.

Meanwhile, out of cyberspace and in the real world, the press room at YearlyKos, where a group of liberal bloggers had congregated, burst into a discussion of how the Left could deflate the morning's news.

There was a broad recognition that anything anyone on the Left said that was negative would feed right into the "Republican narrative" that Democrats were hungry for defeat in Iraq. However, there wasn't even the first inkling of an idea as to how to deal with that fact.

"We are constantly bashed on the Right for not supporting the military," one blogger said.

"We can't say 'yes, but'," another said, as in, yes it's good Zarqawi is dead, but ...

Another suggested the question: "Why have we not gotten Osama?"

One blogger suggested trying to paint the killing of Zarqawi as being a victory, but having nothing to do with Iraq. "Zarqawi is not about Iraq," he said. Zarqawi was on our radar because of the USS Cole bombing, and we didn't have to invade Iraq to kill him.

This was rejected by others, however, because, in the words of one: "We're talking to the 98% of the unwashed who don't know what the Cole is."

Lastly was suggested simply minimizing the accomplishment: "If you keep looking for someone long enough, you'll find him."

The idea of simply celebrating a victory - even a small or incremental victory - and leaving it at that somehow seemed never to occur to anyone. Just accepting that President Bush might have a good news cycle - and that they risked doing more damage to themselves than to their enemies by trying to dampen that - was a completely foreign notion.

Here at the YearlyKos conference, a serious new political movement is getting on its feet. It's probably not too much of a stretch to compare this gathering to the Conservative Political Action Conference, a right-wing gathering started in the early 1970s as a networking event for the conservatives who would eventually take over the Republican Party, and then the country.

But, as the conservatives once did, the YearlyKos conferees have a lot to learn about political savvy and a lot to decide about what their movement means and what it believes. Do they believe that the only way to engage in politics is to be destructive, or do they want to provide a positive, constructive alternative to the Republicans they so hate?

As one of the more sane commenters put it at Daily Kos yesterday: "Come on, the guy did exist, blew lots of stuff up (mostly Iraqis), and we finally killed his murdering ... a--. ... Much more importantly, the Iraqi Parliament approved people for the Defense and Interior ministries. So could we quit being negative for one day at least?"

Mr. Sager is author of "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party," forthcoming from Wiley.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:20 pm

Top politicians pay homage to king of bloggers

Presidential hopefuls woo Las Vegas convention

Paul Harris
Sunday June 11, 2006
The Observer

For many, they are the nerds of US politics: laptop warriors, with brains full of statistics, no social life and devoting too much time to arcane policy details.

But last week the political blogger - someone who runs an online journal - emerged into the mainstream and shed the stereotype in the glare and glitz of a Las Vegas casino. At their helm was former soldier Markos Moulitsas. At the age of 34, Moulitsas has progressed from private policy nerd to one of the best- known public voices in Democratic politics, described last week on Time.com as 'the left's own Kurt Cobain and Che Guevara rolled into one'.

Thousands of bloggers gathered last week in the Riviera to exchange ideas, debate and plot their steady takeover of journalism and political debate from newspapers, magazines and television.

Anyone who thinks blogging is over-rated should have looked at the guest list of power players who followed the blogging herd to Las Vegas to woo and be wooed by these latest additions to the political scene. Reporters and columnists from all the main newspapers showed up, as did Democratic strategists. Even potential Democrat candidates for the 2008 presidential election pitched up to network and sell their political wares to the online community. Although the event was meant to appeal to all parties, its guest list was overwhelmingly liberal.

Mark Warner, a former Democratic governor of Virginia, was there. So was Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader. Former Democrat presidential candidate General Wesley Clark was there, too, as was Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico.

Richardson is a hot tip for the 2008 race, because he governs in a traditionally Republican part of America and has a Hispanic background, which could see him scoop up the votes of one of America's most powerful ethnic minorities. 'I see you guys as agents of advocacy,' Richardson told the bloggers.

Reid also heaped praise on the blogging community, saying it had played a vital role in some Democratic political victories in the past year. 'They [bloggers] have the ability to spread the truth like no entities I've dealt with in recent years. We could never have won the battle to stop privatisation of social security without them,' he told the New York Times

No one better illustrates the rise of the blogger than Moulitsas, founder of the hugely influential left-wing blog The Daily Kos and the person whom the Yearly Kos 2006 Vegas convention was named after. He started his blog several years ago as a personal project, but his fan base has turned him into one of the most influential voices of the left.

The Daily Kos rose to prominence during the doomed nomination campaign of Howard Dean in 2004. Dean's campaign was the first to recognise the growing importance of the internet for raising money and debating ideas and the Daily Kos became an important forum for his supporters. Though Dean lost to John Kerry in the nomination battle, the impact of the bloggers remained important.

Moulitsas has even written a best-selling book offering advice to Democrat bloggers on how to win back America after two terms of Republican rule. He arrived at the conference with his own media advisers in tow and was greeted in a manner more befitting a rock star than a political analyst. He was mobbed for his autograph and people crowded around to have their photos taken with him.

Moulitsas now has more readers than many large American newspapers. His website gets about 20 million unique visits each month, a figure that dwarfs many global media organisations. This has made him a genuine power in politics. His views are sought out by political journalists and he has appeared as a pundit on television.

However, despite the triumphant arrival of the bloggers in the heart of the American political system and plans for the convention to be a regular stop for politicians, the bloggers had not entirely left behind their humble roots. Maureen Dowd, writing in the New York Times, described the scene: 'They blogged, BlackBerried, texted and cell-phoned - sometimes contacting someone only a few feet away. They were paler and more earnest than your typical Vegas visitors, but the mood was like a masquerade.'

But it was a modest masquerade: the Riviera was chosen not for its glamour, but because rooms cost only $99 a night.
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/st ... 01,00.html
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:39 pm

This reminds me of the Dems fascination with radical black groups back in the late 60s and early 70s - they are irresistably attracted to a "burn the thing down" activists who eventually grow up and go into barbeque sauces. Like Marshall Whitman wrote in May, these are the McGovernites reincarnated. Let's all recall how far those people got in real politics, as opposed to juvenile daydreaming.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:07 pm

I saw a smidgin of Kos on Meet the Press. The transcript is probably available by now on MSNBC website. Byron York had been sent by NR to scout out what was going on there and he churlishly noted that while Kos is hailed by the Dems as a "king-maker," none of the candidates he and his organization have backed have won and the group is so unhinged (my word) by Bush hatred that they are even willing to attack a solid Democrat like Joe Lieberman. Russert then ran an ad for Lieberman's opponent in the upcoming primary Ned Lamont, in which Kos figures prominently. In the clip he rushes in with his sign toting rabble and embraces the guy and displays his tee shirt with Lamont's name. Russert then began to press Kos on why they would assault a sitting Democrat, who after all was Gore's handpicked running mate, and risk losing the seat to a Republican.

I was shocked at Kos' answer: Lieberman hurts the Democratic Party and Harry Reid's efforts to exercise hegemony over the Dems in fighting Bush. If he said Lieberman hurts the party once he must have said it at least a half dozen times. Seems to me that is the very thing the Dems complain about De Lay: his ruthless discipline of party members. Seems to me if Reid can't discipline his members, it ain't Lieberman's fault. Look at the number of votes in the Senate where Democrats have defected. Seems to me if he ought to be angry at anyone it should be Reid, who let's face it, has the personality of fence post and hasn't a clue about how to lead anybody anywhere. Ah, the hazards of minorityship.
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