Bloggers as Partisan Activists

Four years ago, liberal journalist Garance Franke-Ruta (now at the Washington Post) wrote at The American Prospect that "right-wing blogs openly shill, fund raise, plot, and organize massive activist campaigns on behalf of partisan institutions and constituencies", and "instead of taking these bloggers for the political activists they are, all too often the established press has accepted their claims of being a new form of journalism. This will have to change -- or it will prove serious journalism's undoing."

Ironically, her description of the Rightosphere is now pretty much an operating formula for the Leftosphere.  Two recent posts encapsulate that dynamic.   At Daily Kos, diarist msblucow wrote of her eagerness to get marching orders...

Tuesday night I was on a conference call with Organizing For America, what the Obama campaign structure has morphed into since the campaign. I, along with thousands of other former Obama campaign volunteers, expected to get our marching orders, told who we should telephone, e-mail, visit, blog about - whatever it took to get the best possible stimulus legislation out of Congress.

Open Left's Chris Bowers also hoisted the team flag and asked how he should wave it.

I really want to help pass the stimulus package at its current size, but I honestly don't know how to do that right now. It is very frustrating when you want to help, but you don't even know if that help is wanted, or exactly how you could help even if it was wanted. If President Obama would let us know which side he was on--the center-right Senate coalition's or the Democratic congressional leadership's--and urged people to take specific actions to help that side, everything would be a lot clearer.

Now, let me be clear: there's nothing really wrong with advocating, fundraising, plotting and organizing to pursue political, even partisan, goals. But I don't think it's ever been as overt on the Right as it has been on the Left.  Heck, I did new media outreach for the Senate Republicans, and I can tell you we never had the benefit of this kind of organized, energetic "tell us what to do" atitude from the Rightosphere.  As far as I've been able to tell, neither House Republicans nor the Bush White House did, either. 

For the most part, this is because the Right has been growing more and more alienated from its base, and especially from the more fiscally conservative/libertarian Rightosphere.  Meanwhile, the agendas of the Leftroots and the Democratic Party have increasingly aligned as the Democrats gradually re-gained political momentum.

But it's an interesting dynamic, and we will see more and more of this sort of organized blogging advocacy and message coordination in future policy fights.  Perhaps somebody with the Washington Post might cover that. 

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Comments

Sad but true

While most of this is spot on, and I'm glad to hear you say it, there is one point I would like to make.

[T]he agendas of the Leftroots and the Democratic Party have increasingly aligned as the Democrats gradually re-gained political momentum.

Nope.  Not even close.

The Leftosphere is, by far, dominated by the far Left, the Radicals.  It is understandable that their delusion might cause them to believe themselves mainstream, but we should not take those delusions seriously.

Frankly, the Rightosphere is much more open to discussion, a place where libertarians, paleocons, and fiscal conservatives go to feel that their voice is heard.  The Leftosphere is far more concerned with enforcing ideological purity.

And that will be their downfall.  Those purity movements never seem to work out as planned.

I hope this illustrates a point well.  I know of a power plant scheduled to go online in 2010.  It will be one of the 10 cleanest (as to emissions) in the nation when it is completed.  It was held up in the courts for 3 years due to lawsuits from environmentalists.

The point is that they like to view themselves as pragmatic problem-solvers, almost MacGyver-like; when the fact is that they hold a very lopsided view of the world.

But since Obama won, and now "technology" appears to be foremost on Republicans minds, let me remind you of a few things:

John Edwards was Kos' hand-picked man.  Didn't do so well.

The huge feud at DKos between Obama supporters and Hillary supporters.

The Leftosphere is far more organized at the state level.

 

It's really that last one that concerns me.  I think it's ridiculous to see Boehner and McConnell masquerading as fiscal conservatives.  The Congressional leadership needs to step aside, and we need to develop candidates at the state level.

Exit soap box. 

 

because a coal miner from Colorado

and a stay at home mom,

and an Army vet

are all frothing mad liberal radicals. Umm.... sure.

I rather have the impression that you haven't read about Polyphemus, or about Fly Ash,.or the gazillions of Flu Preparedness articles on Kos.

You really can learn a lot on SundayKos, even if you aren't a liberal.

And I think I saw a Republican reclisted again...

From what I can see, Redstate has a policy of banning anyone who sounds the least shred liberal. repeatedly, and then siteblocking them. I'm glad kos doesn't have that policy, as I learn a lot from the Republicans who post there. What have you learned from the Democrats posting here?

Lotta libertarians on kos.

There really wasn't any huge feud on Kos between Obama and Hillary supporters. Because there WEREN'T many hillary supporters to begin with.

This is like trying to say that Redstate had a huge feud between Paulites and ... Romneyites.

My experience

Here's a list of sites that have deleted my comments or banned me. I was banned by Kos in April 2003 after I correctly pointed out that a picture came from a different source than he claimed. Then, after posting almost 75 diary entries (i.e., blog posts and not comments) to RedState, I was banned in 2006. The only explanation they ever gave was due to a temporal ambiguity in something I posted quoting someone else. The real reason is because I was bashing Bush, a position that in retrospect turns out to be rather correct.

umm...

Have you ever posted on usenet?

What you're doing there... keeping a list of how/when you were banned, does not reflect highly on you.

because it's been a while I can't go and look at kos to see if you were being a really big f-in jerk (like one of the other characters on here), or whether you were truly a victim of "unjust banning". I tend to believe the former, however, from someone who keeps a listing of how they were banned...

Thanks for tying me up for two minutes

It's hard to see what happened back then because Kos' archives have strangely disappeared. However, my commenting style has remained basically the same, and I was banned simply for pointing out how he was wrong, as were others for the same offense.

yup. what you write seems considerably more confrontational

and hostile than what most republicans on Kos write.

a selection of what one republican writes on DailyKos: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

David Brin

Wow.  You think he is a Republican?  I guess for Daily Kos he passes as one.  One look at his blog reveals that he is no conservative, that is for sure.

liberal republicans do exist, particularly in california.

he's registered Republican, so he's republican. If I lived where he does, I'd probably register that way too. I figure getting a vote in a close election that determines the eventual representative is a far better bargain than hidebound "i'm in the party I like the most"

yeah, right

Just like you refuse to believe that this was an e-mail:

Flag this messageRe: The Fund DriveThursday, March 27, 2008 7:32 PMFrom Daniel Schultz Thu Mar 27 17:32:16 2008Return-Path: <pastordanschultz@gmail.com> Authentication-Results: mta198.mail.re3.yahoo.com from=gmail.com; domainkeys=pass (ok) Received: from 72.14.220.152 (EHLO fg-out-1718.google.com) (72.14.220.152) by mta198.mail.re3.yahoo.com with SMTP; Thu, 27 Mar 2008 17:32:17 -0700 Received: by fg-out-1718.google.com with SMTP id 22so3921157fge.21 for <rex_irae@yahoo.com>; Thu, 27 Mar 2008 17:32:17 -0700 (PDT) DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=gmail.com; s=beta; h=domainkey-signature:received:received:message-id:date:from:sender:to:subject:in-reply-to:mime-version:content-type:references:x-google-sender-auth; bh=SrXrZIt1HFZ/ZStEXBQvUpGm5dllHbtnZyihlO8jM/g=; b=Gk6Qf6qUBASzjpdhkdAXWlDlS6cGiWdqgmfGSZ4dwH8/1PHZk3irKKpDa/NE+LtucnmasZTFayU5pPU9U9DuRz+rVYq5fC5YH2N2NqFwqJO3/+xOOPL7R+3Pxk8KpkWLAjGet8A8uO6SX3Y7u8kPeEk44CsgkJqzwQI2BdJU02w= DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; c=nofws; d=gmail.com; s=beta; h=message-id:date:from:sender:to:subject:in-reply-to:mime-version:content-type:references:x-google-sender-auth; b=b/Vu0v388hJpj7p3l9Szv1n8mtgZkbncMc3Ouqhlv8KAPg90KJMILn8uurisYRIPF0Qv6CCJlyrldy6l8W1TM47QYy0nSVxsWg82kfkPz0PwcLSRCzP7fklOKE0wDO2thllsnEJ5zcHFTAmGFOvFVDQZkqQIv0dSNr1KJSavFzE= Received: by 10.82.146.10 with SMTP id t10mr5119257bud.6.1206664336685; Thu, 27 Mar 2008 17:32:16 -0700 (PDT) Received: by 10.82.145.10 with HTTP; Thu, 27 Mar 2008 17:32:16 -0700 (PDT) Message-ID: <854ebcaa0803271732j4ec35280x35e297de1425af7@mail.gmail.com> Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 19:32:16 -0500 From: "Daniel Schultz" <dan@streetprophets.com>  Add sender to ContactsSender: pastordanschultz@gmail.com To: rex_irae@yahoo.com Subject: Re: The Fund Drive In-Reply-To: <112229.58542.qm@web31008.mail.mud.yahoo.com> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="----=_Part_4979_14713065.1206664336433" References: <112229.58542.qm@web31008.mail.mud.yahoo.com> Content-Length: 2180 Compact Headers-----Inline Attachment Follows-----Not a hope in hell. 

sounds like you caught angry pastor

seriously, I'm not saying that I'm doubting that e-mail. nor that i am confirming it -- as I don't want to bear false witness.

I just really don't care.

Most excellent

I would ask that you aptly demonstrate your non-caring status and shut your fucking mouth. 

Oh give me a break

Just the other week, DKos had a recommended diary that was bashing Kos and other front-pagers. In fact, you point out the hypocrisy of your statement in your own post!

First, you say "the Rightosphere is much more open to discussion"... then you list the huge feud on DKos about Obama and Hillary.

It also depends on what you mean by ideological purity. Is it always a bad thing? Are you totally pro-life? Or would you allow abortions in the first trimester? I'm sure there's other things that you feel are benefited by ideological purity as well.

Journalists v Activists

Look Jon, I think the bottom line is that Franke-Ruta failed to grasp the multi-dimensional nature of blogging when she wrote that. The reality is that the liberal side of the blogosphere caught up and eventually surpassed the right in terms of both integration with partisan activities and respect within traditional media outlets (See: Markos Moulitsas paired with Karl Rove and not a conservative blogger in Newsweek).

But I think you're confusing a few things when getting on to the nature or attitudes of entire political movements. Yes, the Kos diarist msblucow is a pretty clear example of someone who wants marching orders so they can be ground level activists for Obama. But no one has ever probably asked that random diarist to be a source for reporting. Nor should we expect them to be.

Chris Bowers, on the other hand, is saying something very different. He's been critical of Obama's work on the economic recovery and has been dissatisfied with Obama removing himself from the fray. As a result, you've seen a number of front pagers on Open Left be in opposition to the recovery bill, while simultaneously seeing others attack GOP obstructionism to the plan. Bowers is merely seeking clarification on where Obama stood to enable a better activist response, not to detail the specifics of what that response would be. The nature of Obama engaging in the House vs Senate Centrists questions is too narrow for there to be anything but a clearer picture to emerge.

Lastly, I think this is a less interesting question than you do. The liberal blogosphere is vast and it contains multitudes. You can't pidgeon hold millions of people based around one Obama supporter's diary on Daily Kos and a snapshot response from a prominent liberal blogger. No matter how you cut it, though, Garance-Ruta's criticism in the past of the right rings just as hollow today of the left.

it was a blogger that broke the Tulza story.

since there is such a low barrier to entry, you will see both serious journalism (Fly Ash articles) and serious activism, along with "meta-articles" that should seem like fluff pieces.

Difference in Rightosphere and Leftosphere

The main difference I see is that the Leftosphere tends more towards "tell us what we need to do to help you" and the Rightosphere tend more towards "let me tell you what you need to do to help us."

Of course there are both types of folks in each camp. But I think the elected leaders on the left feel that the foot soldiers are disciplined troops ready to follow orders. Whereas the elected leaders on the right look at their websites and see a bunch of frustrated generals issuing orders no one cares to follow.

We on the left might be highly idealistic in our hopes and dreams, but we are far more pragmatic than the righties on an electoral level. Whoever won the last election, that's who we are going to work with. We might not like them, but we aren't going to chastize them as DINO's and marginalize the power they earned at the ballot box. And all that working together is directed towards getting more votes in the next election. We are more than willing to compromise if it means 2% more at the ballot box next cycle.

The Rightosphere sees compromise as a failure. They would rather stick 100% with their principles and lose votes, rather than settle for a bill that is 75% OK, that gains votes. Politics is the art of the possible. The "Trillion dollar three" are not clueless freshmen. All of them have won tons of elections and governed for decades in a manner that made those victories possible. If you can't respect that, it's no wonder they pay your blogs no attention.

The main difference

The main difference is that the left blogosphere is actually willing to do things. Both mostly consist of partisan hacks, whether they know it or not. Whatever minor disagreements they might have, when presented with the proper false choice they always come home to either the Dem Party or the GOP.

There are very few activists in the rightwing blogosphere; almost all of them are simply content to sit on their couches and whine without actually coming up with a plan to get what they claim to want.

For a real example, see this thread. I have a very effective plan to block the stimulus, which I posted about in #7 at that thread. All the subsequent comments could have been posted by brainless chickens. In #81, I reiterated my plea. Someone in #83 picked up on it, but all the remaining comments are worthless. Things like that start with the blogger. If all they do is run around screaming without being able to come up with a plan, all they're doing is putting on a show.

If someone came to most r/w bloggers and asked them to build a bridge, all they'd do is sit around complaining about the bridge without ever being able to come up with a plan to actually build the thing.

complaints

Well, your first mistake was asking Ace of Spades participants to become activists.  I'm convinced that no fewer than half of them are functional alcoholics.  (And this is coming from a guy who actually likes the place!)

But I do think you're right that conservatives tend to complain a lot more than act.  Part of this is inherent, though, as we tend to favor individualism way more than those on the other side.

Kos, Redstate, and learning from liberals

The very few times I have glanced at the pages of Kos, I have found the articles to be full of snark against Republicans, and the comments to be mean, nasty, filled with obsencity, and downright frothing.  Who knew that Colorado stay-at-home moms used such filthy words, but there they are.  So I don't really care how many meaningful articles there may be on fly ash or flu preparedness - any positive value they may bring are overwhelmingly negated by the INEVITABLE stream of comments on these articles blaming Republicans for these problems in the filthiest of terms.   Why aren't we prepared for the flu pandemic?  It's Bush's fault - because he deliberately wants to murder sick babies and devour their flesh!  That is why I will never again visit Kos.  I have no desire to use my free time to deliberately raise my blood pressure, it's high enough as it is.  So I question the mental health of the type of Republican that would choose to participate at a place like Kos.  He must be suffering from severe self-esteem issues if he's willing to take that level of abuse of his own free will.

To those of you who are down on Redstate: they don't just single out liberals you know, they single out the disrespectful.  So they banned a whole lot of Paultards during the primaries, and rightly so - the Ron Paul supporters wanted to threadjack every blog post to go on and on about tinfoil hat conspiracies and the gold standard.  Respectful libs aren't banned and get to participate.  The problem is, the vast majority of libs who visit Redstate simply aren't that respectful - they come there with an axe to grind, an agenda to troll or piss off conservatives, and they get what they deserve.  We see that on this website with commenters like "GWMustGo" who, evidently, hasn't yet met a conservative he can even tolerate.  BTW Redstate's standards are quite a bit more tolerant than those of Democratic Underground, which explicitly states that they reserve the right to ban non-progressive commenters, respectful or not.

What have I learned from liberals on this site?  To be quite honest:

1. I've learned that the liberals here tend not to be terribly concerned with the long-term consequences of the policies that they propose.  In particular, I have yet to see any liberal here fret about the immense amount of power that is being transferred from the individual to the state.  Has no liberal here read 1984?  Do you think Orwell was describing only socialist states?  Honestly, what I see instead are liberals advocating policies on a crisis-by-crisis basis, using government as the blunt instrument of recourse.  We have a health care crisis?  Then we must expand government's role in health care to make sure more of it is delivered to the poor.  We have a poverty crisis?  Then we must expand government's role in the economy to make sure more food stamps and money are delivered to the poor.  But nowhere do I see any liberal delineating when government expansion has gone too far.  And because I don't, it only suggests to me that liberals don't really have any limits, in principle, to government expansion, which I see as only leading to totalitarianism in the end.  So I see modern-day liberalism as the slow, steady march to socialism - and I mean real, authentic, state-ownership-of-the-means-of-production socialism.  If a liberal here would care to refute any of my contentions, I would welcome it, because I don't really want to believe that a good 1/3 of the country are proto-Marxists.

2. I've also learned that what liberals mean by 'libertarian' is quite different than what a conservative means by 'libertarian'.  Who knew that a 'libertarian' could be someone who supports government nationalizing banks, nationalizing health care, and spending 25% of GDP on Keynesian stimulus.  I am still trying to reconcile these divergent views with what I consider to be the essence of libertarian thought - that is, a support for individual liberty in all spheres of life, be it personal, political, or economic.  No right-libertarian would EVER advocate government spending 25% of GDP on ANYTHING, except maybe in the most extreme circumstances of a desperate war of survival.  So it would be helpful if the left-libertarians here could explain how these vast expansions of government in the economy are consistent with libertarian philosophy.

I have to disagree.

RedState's afraid of words.

I got banned there when the story broke about that black dude who carved a B in what's-her-face's face and I didn't start sobbing in remorse over my plans to throw in with the Thugocrats -- any failure to equate all Democrats, everywhere, with some sort of angry Negro uprising meant they didn't have a use for you.

I later got unbanned... because it turned out it didn't happen that way after all. You know what? Not the point.

After a lefty blog linked here, I stopped tracking RedState. You've still got some RedState front-pagers, but there's none of the sneering "write me an essay because you're ignorant and banned" noise from the moderators.

(One of my favorite RedState stunts is watching the admins strut around and make sure everyone knows they COULD threaten to email the employers of a given post. Behold the power and integrity of the conservative voice.)

wow. that's just sad.

I know one of the guys who helped catch that crazy girl. The police were NOT amused. And she did NOT know the city well. I heard it -- Bloomfield? I knew she made that shit up the minute I heard it! [bloomfield's the italian part of the city]

rofl. I agree with you!

I wouldn't bother reading frontpage comments -- and generally don't. mostly a full-fledged echo chamber, with people trying to be funny.

The smaller diaries tend to have helpful and coherent comments. Someone posts photos of a spill, other people discuss the fish kill, and the beryllium and other heavy metals that will continue to pollute Harriman.

I tend to read the frontpage articles (particularly on sundays). Have a sample:

(the writer of this one is the Medical Director of the Pediatric Inpatient Unit of Danbury Hospital) http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/2/8/22165/08497/592/695030

just a few from Devilstower...

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/2/9/01244/95631/561/695061

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/2/5/83825/39198/181/693415

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/2/3/9514/08358/216/692371

You really should see what he wrote about credit default swaps, that one is priceless.

But those are just the frontpage authors. They do a good job.

Ah, Brin was in one of those diary-rescue thingummies! (he's the Republican, bravely bearding the lion -- by proposing innovative ideas and trying fervently to end the culture war).

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/2/2/18391/66555/409/692178

I don't think I've ever seen David Brin take one word of abuse on the site. And he posts quite frequently. I think it's his persistence and ability to be so far outside the box that people can't help but consider what he's saying.

(having not read Democratic Underground, on your sayso, I will plan not to. I do not blithely propose that only the Republicans are quasi-fascistic -- to mean that they only wish to associate with people of their political stripe, nothing more).

With Redstate, I happened by on the day they were talking about Petraeus and that banal Move-On ad. I waited patiently until someone brought up the idea that it was okay to use cheap shots on Kerry while it was not okay to use cheap shots on Petraeus because in Kerry's case they were using the soldiers own words. I merely pointed out that the words they were using for Petraeus were also used by soldiers (not surprising, that. juvenile nicknames are just that).

Got banned for it.

In a later posting, I introduced myself as being a liberal who rather likes Adam Smith. My advice from veteran commenters was to stay off the front page, and beware of Moe. I've always been a rather mouthy bitch, so needless to say, I got banned shortly thereafter for not following their advice. I don't especially regret it, but I do find Moe Lane's attitude something that I regret experiencing.

--continued in next reply--

 

 

I think you have my philosophy wrong.

It's not a blind advocation of more government, all the time. It's an acknowledgement that systems that have hit an unpalatable stable equilibrium need a Big Shock to get them out of there, and into a better place.

Yes, I am a temporary advocate for Government Health Care. I feel that is currently better than our current system. I feel that the 1992 system we had was better than either. If you can give me a way to get back there that does NOT require Gov't Intervention, so much the better. As it is, I'm in favor of letting the government get in there, fix what it can (electronic health records among them), and then letting the Republicans go on their holy crusade to reprivatize (with a very strong BUT -- I want NO money going to republican campaign contributors. that's just plain bribery). I believe if the market won't regulate itself, then it can deal with larger scale regulation -- "if you get too far out of hand, we WILL revoke all your money, and leave you flat broke."

Hmm... in terms of poverty, I think government will have (or has, if you can make the case) gone too far only when private donations are already covering the rest of the poor. Okay, that's hard to parse. I believe that government should be the poverty help of last resort, and I'm willing to work for Free Loan Societies, and other private remove-people-from-poverty things. Government becomes bad when it literally sucks money out of these programs to do it's own version, which is probably less effective if definitely more comprehensive.

My views on national security are very very different from yours. I believe that the current bankruptcy of our financial system presents a very large national security crisis. The solution is to nationalize, and then reprivatize at first convenience (aka when people want to buy back the banks, they can do so).

I think we've proven that state-ownership of means of production doesn't work well (if china's a counterexample, refute me). Also, state pricing of goods works extremely inefficiently, and centralized economic planning is really DUMB. That's what Russia and Polish Pride have taught us.

But these may all seem like fuzzy limits, more on the vein of "it's okay for a limited time only." From a liberal-libertarian, this is a committment. That we will raise money, and help change the system through all legal means -- helping it revert back to a more conservative ideal of "the way things were".

As a sidenote: an opposing shock to the system in terms of welfare might be a way to get people to rely on their neighbors/other institutions more and government less. Sounds like something interesting to explore, at any rate. I have some reservations on overwhelming the capacity of charities, but I'd certainly be willing to contemplate a "welfare reduction" in better economic times (particularly in the summer, when it is presumably less necessary for everyone to sleep indoors every single night).

 

The primary divergence between a left-libertarian and a right-libertarian is in what they see as the largest threat on liberty.  A right libertarian will always say government, invariably. A left-libertarian will look at both corporations and government. For example, how much economic liberty can you have, if you are chained to a particular company to get health care? Even Adam Smith would have spat bullets about that one!

As to the GDP issue -- you're right, spending that much isn't terribly libertarian. it's also not terribly advisable, at least anymore. It's rightly understood as a Hail Mary pass -- the only viable solution, and risky as fuck. The sort of thing that the GOP should get the hell out of the way of (both for political and financial reasons). Just walk the hell away -- let the designated GOP traitor take the lashings from the base.

Left-libertarians often make decisions based more on the idea of efficiency -- "what is the best way to restrict my freedoms", and are more interested in civil liberties than right -libertarians, as far as I can tell.

Then again, I do swear I heard a left-libertarian make an argument for paying every man woman and child in America a living wage (the same bloke who says that having an 'age of majority' is idiotic. then again, he took his first online job at the age of thirteen) -- on the assumption that cultural forces would be enough to have most of them get off their duff and create something useful!

science-libertarians are all in the "leave me alone and let me tinker" school. they're willing to throw a lot of money into the "leave me alone" bit of that, simply because money isn't their big thing. I know a guy who gets superbowl tickets every year. every year he gives them away. same thing with the star wars sneak preview tickets, etc.

left/right libertarian

Yes, I am a temporary advocate for Government Health Care.

There is no "temporary" government health care.  Once it is nationalized, it is nationalized for good.

I believe that the current bankruptcy of our financial system presents a very large national security crisis. The solution is to nationalize, and then reprivatize at first convenience (aka when people want to buy back the banks, they can do so).

Things that are nationalized almost never are subsequently reprivatized.  I'll bet $100 that Fannie and Freddie never leave their "conservatorship".

The primary divergence between a left-libertarian and a right-libertarian is in what they see as the largest threat on liberty.  A right libertarian will always say government, invariably. A left-libertarian will look at both corporations and government.

True, right-libertarians look at government as the biggest threat to liberty, since they have the monopoly on the legal use of force, but it's not like they ignore corporations altogether.  There's a school of thought among anarcho-capitalism that corporations as legal entities shouldn't even be allowed to exist, after all.

For example, how much economic liberty can you have, if you are chained to a particular company to get health care?

The only way a person can be truly "chained" to a company is by government decree.  If there is no law forbidding a person from leaving the company, then the person has all the same liberties as before.

Left-libertarians often make decisions based more on the idea of efficiency -- "what is the best way to restrict my freedoms",

Umm...what?  What is the best way to restrict my freedoms?

and are more interested in civil liberties than right -libertarians, as far as I can tell.

Nonsense.  Right-libertarians are less selective about which civil liberties they are willing to advocate.  For example, right-libertarians believe in both the 2nd and the 8th amendments simultaneously.

they came awful close to "privatizing" social security

... aka handouts to Wall Street (the cynic in me knows who paid for that campaign).

I think health care is more likely to be vulnerable to reprivatization -- if only because government health care isn't some magical "goodies are here" sparkly place. It's real choices writ large.

It's not like America hasn't had a history of privatizing things... everything from private schools, to privatizing our phone systems, to privatizing utilities, to toll roads, to the TVA.

The last time anything in America was nationalized, in terms of banks, was the S&L crisis. And they did return to private ownership within four years.

Only in America is the government's monopoly on the use of force actually applied consistently. In Japan, Sony is known to send tanks after people (afterwards the claim is "there was a training accident" or some baloney).

I should read more on anarcho-capitalism. it seems intriguing. Thanks!

If staying with a particular company is a matter of life or death, then the person has no economic liberty.

Restriction of freedoms is a necessity in life. Traffic laws, if nothing else.It's great to be on the side of perfect freedom, but there will always need to be compromises made.

I'll advocate for the 2nd amendment all day long -- I just happen to have a different conception of what it should entail. And most of what I think it should entail happens to be "too dangerous" to be legal. Poppycock and Balderdash! I think the 8th amendment should apply to the folks at GITMO, too. [though, legally speaking, that's probably not how to say it]

privatization

I think health care is more likely to be vulnerable to reprivatization -- if only because government health care isn't some magical "goodies are here" sparkly place. It's real choices writ large.

OF COURSE government health care is "goodies are here" health care - because the cost of it all is then completely concealed from the consumer.  Why do you think socialized medicine systems have to even contemplate rationing of care - if people didn't overuse health care, i.e., treat health care as if it were a goodie that they can take advantage of whenever they like regardless of cost, there'd be no need to ration!

It's not like America hasn't had a history of privatizing things... everything from private schools, to privatizing our phone systems, to privatizing utilities, to toll roads, to the TVA.

Private schools: They are not public schools that have been privatized, they are schools that are created and operated entirely in the private sector.  Bad example.

Phone systems: They were never public in the first place.

Utilities: Still mostly public.  Only in very few places is there actual competition in utilities.  And your favorite party, the Democratic Party, is the one consistently advocating against such deregulations.  Does not bode well for your suggestion that Democrats will think about privatizing the banks after nationalizing them.

Toll roads:  Still mostly public.  Only maybe a handful of exceptions to this.

TVA:  It still exists and it is owned by the government.

The last time anything in America was nationalized, in terms of banks, was the S&L crisis. And they did return to private ownership within four years.

And S&L's have now all but vanished.

Your argument in favor of nationalization-then-privatization isn't going too well.

i don't see any new system being 100% free to taxpayers.

more likely, you still have copays and the cost of pills on your own head. I'm sure if you looked into it, the cost paid to pharm companies is a lot more than the cost of most doctor's visits (and they're working on cutting down on doctor visit costs, whereas pharm companies actively try to increase pill payments through greenbacking and other tricks).

All that really needs to be dealt with is "end of life" care. If the decision is "we'll help you, but only until you have a terminal illness" then fine. by then, the cost of care may very well outweigh the individual's continued existence (in which case, let them pay for it themselves!)

Unregulated systems such as the S&L one tend to vanish, either in a puff of regulation or in bankruptcy -- like the current derivative market, which Roubini is predicting to fail utterly.

Really?

Honestly, 1984 is my favorite novel. But just as many Republicans are afraid of handing over purse strings to Democrats, so have Democrats cried out against claims of 'state secrets', executive privilege, warrantless wiretapping and telecom immunity. Don't you think those are all part of the same package? Yet many Republicans supported all the latter.

As well, I've rarely seen Republicans state where is too far in scaling back the government. Centerfire has stated he'd like only courts and the military funded, but that's probably on the extreme scale. Where are the Republican ideas on what is essential to leave to government, what is good to leave government, and what should be states rights?

I would say that many 'liberaltarians' are fiscally liberal and socially libertarian. That seems to be the pattern anyways.

money and liberty

But just as many Republicans are afraid of handing over purse strings to Democrats, so have Democrats cried out against claims of 'state secrets', executive privilege, warrantless wiretapping and telecom immunity. Don't you think those are all part of the same package? Yet many Republicans supported all the latter.

I have little faith that Democrats are as genuinely interested in these precious civil liberties as you claim they are, especially when (a) your leader voted in favor of all of these controversial programs and (b) Democrats didn't seem to mind them so much when Clinton did much the same things (e.g., Carnivore, extraordinary renditions).  I think it had a great deal more to do with electoral politics.

But I'm not going to get into this game of equivalence with you between the two parties, because they are not equivalent when it comes to individual liberty.  If you set aside courts, public safety, and the military, which are fundamental prerequisites for having any system of ordered liberty, and for which there is about 99.999% agreement that these should be provided by government besides, all else being equal, the party that advocates growing government is a bigger threat to individual liberty than the party that advocates shrinking government.  This really is not terribly controversial, in my mind - to grow government by any amount, regardless of purpose or benefits, means a bigger, more powerful state, and THE WHOLE REASON we have things like the Bill of Rights, division of power, and an independent judiciary, is to restrain the power of the state from tyrannizing the people.  When the state acquires more and more power, it wiggles further and further out of its restraints. 

Plus - and here's the part that many left-libertarians don't seem to get - any government program requires tax money that must be collected from people.  This tax money is money that could have been spent by individuals to pursue their own liberty if it had not been collected by government to fund this program.  In other words,

MONEY IS THE PRIMARY VEHICLE BY WHICH A PERSON EXPRESSES INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, AND BY COLLECTING MORE TAX MONEY, THE STATE DIMINISHES THE INDIVIDUAL'S CAPACITY TO PURSUE HIS/HER LIBERTY.

You can attempt to justify the government program however you like, but the essential truth of the above statement remains.  To increase taxes while at the same time profess a love of individual liberty, is analogous to restricting the supply of bullets while at the same time professing an individual right to keep and bear arms.  They are contradictory positions.

So, let me ask you directly: what amount of government intervention constitutes too much?  When is the tax burden too high, when is the government's share of GDP too great?  When have we sacrificed enough liberty to the state?

Chemjeff, I thing you have

Chemjeff, I thing you have said some justifying things. I don't always agree with you, but it justifies why the republican party exists. But various things went awry over the last 8 years and there were no adjustments to fix various problems. And therefore the American people voted the other way. It happens with both parties. I suppose adjustments should have been made and fixed during the last administration and they were never adjusted. The price is the other party comes into power. And if Pelosi and Reid carry on with their left wing ways, the republicans will regain power again.

I think you're wrong

Money isn't liberty.

Personal action is liberty.

Which do you suppose is a greater infringement on liberty:

Paying to tag each deer you down; or

Defining a certain time as "bow season" or "rifle season."

That $30 tag isn't nothing.

 

money != liberty

No, money is not the same as liberty.  Money is the means by which liberty may be expressed.  It is fuel for the car's motor.  What good is owning a car if you are forbidden from having gas?

No

Liberty is action.

Spending money is only one form of action.

How free is John Gotti when he can order anything from the commissary that he pleases?

 

In regards to Clinton

I can only speak for myself, Chemjeff. I am only 27, and it seems many people MY age are libertarian on civil issues. Older generations of Democrats do seem to support the D's  more out of 'tribal' reasons. And you'll see that many younger Democrats absolutely ripped on Obama for his votes on FISA, and his recent state secrets argument. Look at Glenn Greenwald's blog. He's in no way 'right-wing' but he absolutely rips Obama for that, and for good reason.

As far as who advocates what, what does it matter if they do the same thing while in power? If the federal government grows because of military action, instead of social programs, does it  not still grow? I have no belief that either side is going to limit federal expenditures. So, I would rather vote into office those who will at least agree with me on social issues.

How would you justify further spending on the military? Would you say it's absolutely vital? I'm sure many Democrats are saying the same thing about the possibility of an extended economic spiral downwards. (Note: I lean towards 'against' on the stimulus, but it is only leaning because I am no economist.)

You know as well as I know that there is no 'strict' limit on when taxes are too high. Could you give me a number in the opposite direction? The exact point where taxes would be "too low"? Of course not. So let's not be silly, and try to come up with useful policies instead, shall we

ordered liberty

And you'll see that many younger Democrats absolutely ripped on Obama for his votes on FISA, and his recent state secrets argument. Look at Glenn Greenwald's blog. He's in no way 'right-wing' but he absolutely rips Obama for that, and for good reason.

He doesn't rip Obama.  He rips Ambinder and Sullivan, and he mildly criticizes Obama.  To "rip Obama" would be to imply darkly that Obama is using the state secrets privilege to cover up his illegal activity, a la the left's ripping of Bush for 8 years.  I am honestly a bit surprised to see anyone on the left even mildly criticize Obama, so perhaps there is a ray of hope for Greenwald.  I'll know he's serious on wanting to keep Obama accountable when he starts publishing blog essays accusing Obama of supporting torture by refusing to end extraordinary rendition.  I won't hold my breath though.

As far as who advocates what, what does it matter if they do the same thing while in power?

In a practical matter of course it doesn't.  But if you actually believe that government power should be reduced, then you are best to cast your lot with Republicans, who, as a group, are more amenable to the idea, rather than Democrats who don't mind so much huge government.  It's up to us, the hardcore, to keep their feet to the fire, of course.  I hope that the Republican Party finally learns this lesson.

If the federal government grows because of military action, instead of social programs, does it  not still grow?

Well yes, but it makes a huge difference in terms of individual liberty.  The thoughtful libertarian will acknowledge that if a society is to have a system of ordered liberty, it must have a just system by which to adjudicate disputes, and most will come to the conclusion that a publicly funded independent judiciary and police force is the best way to accomplish this.  (Only the really hardcore anarcho-libertarians will say it should all be privatized.)  In the absence of these, there is no ordered liberty, simply anarchy.  So reducing funding for the courts is actually a reduction in ordered liberty.  Same idea with the military - without a way for a nation to defend itself, all concepts of ordered liberty are meaningless.  Of course, like all things, it is possible to abuse public funding for the courts and for the military, and I'm not attempting to justify the abuses, merely the concept.

How would you justify further spending on the military? Would you say it's absolutely vital? I'm sure many Democrats are saying the same thing about the possibility of an extended economic spiral downwards. (Note: I lean towards 'against' on the stimulus, but it is only leaning because I am no economist.)

I'm sorry, I'm not going to play this equivalence game with you.  I don't care how many Democrats say it's "vital" to spend money on The Porkulus, it's not equivalent to Republicans (typically) when they say it's vital to spend money on the military.

You know as well as I know that there is no 'strict' limit on when taxes are too high.

No I don't. 

Could you give me a number in the opposite direction? The exact point where taxes would be "too low"? Of course not.

Sure I can: Taxes are too low when they are insufficient for securing ordered liberty.

So let's not be silly, and try to come up with useful policies instead, shall we

Useful policies are good, but I'm not goint to accept the purely pragmatic point of view.  Pure pragmatism, aka utilitarianism, asserts that we cannot place any a priori limitations on any policy recommendation, that each must be judged on a case-by-case basis.  And, I'm sorry, I reserve the right to dismiss well-intentioned and completely pragmatic policies that violate core principles.

Responses

Greenwald, I doubt, will accuse Obama of supporting torture, as Obama has explicitly said his administration wouldn't do that. However, he certainly called Obama out for suggesting that there may be cases where waterboarding is acceptable. (Ie. CIA interrogations).

Even today, he has a post supporting the bipartisan agreement to reduce the state secrets privlege that Obama invoked. If anything, he is against executive power.

And yes, I did play an equivalence game, but only as a matter of course to show that I'm sure there are some people who feel that the economic strength (as measured by any number of factors, let's saw, the DOW) of the US is equal to its military strength.

Sorry for being facetious on the tax thing. How would you know when taxes are too low to be insufficient for securing ordered liberty? A realistic goal of the military should not be to prevent all attacks, so what are good metrics?

I won't argue the high tax comment, because A) I don't think taxes should be raised as high as they can go and B) I honestly can't think of a comment that could justify it as you did with your low tax comment. Chemjeff 1, LnGrrrR 0.

I agree with you on your core principles point.

I'm all for being flexible.

Privatize what works, publicize what's been broken, then reprivatize later when we've shot the idiots.

Please, please don't use dow jones! Use standard and poors if you must use the NYSE! Broader market means a better indication of overall performance.

socialize risk, privatize reward

Privatize what works, publicize what's been broken

This is the "socialize risk, privatize reward" model that we've become accustomed to under Bailoutpalooza.  How about this instead: Privatize what works, and let what's broken fail?

no, it really isn't. it's called putting shareholder stock to

zero, firing the bastard CEOs, and then waiting until someone can buy the damn bank back.

HOW many banks have been nationalized this year?

FDIC is already doing this behind your back, if you aint' watching the financial news. The thing is, the FDIC is bankrupt (doesn't have enough money to nationalize the big players, as it's supposed to be freaking insurance, not something to have to bail out every man woman and child in America up to 100k). So what do you do when half the top 14 banks in the country need to fold and go under, and yet refuse to mark to market their level three assets?

The government has a vested interest in keeping around some financial structure in this country.

taxes and ordered liberty

Greenwald, I doubt, will accuse Obama of supporting torture, as Obama has explicitly said his administration wouldn't do that.

Hmm I seem to recall Bush saying about a billion times, in public, that he doesn't support torture either.  Didn't seem to stop the Greenwalds from accusing him of torture anyway.  And I understand that Greenwald won't accuse Obama of supporting torture becaus (a) Greenwald's a leftie, (b) Obama's a leftie, and (c) as we all know, lefties have pure motives.  Right?

How would you know when taxes are too low to be insufficient for securing ordered liberty?

When real crimes (e.g., theft, murder) can't be prosecuted, and real criminals can't be tried, for lack of funds.

I won't argue the high tax comment, because A) I don't think taxes should be raised as high as they can go and B) I honestly can't think of a comment that could justify it as you did with your low tax comment.

And this is what scares the hell out of me as a conservative.  You don't think taxes should be raised through the roof yet you can't give me any criteria whatsoever on how high the roof should be.  So why shouldn't I conclude that there is, in fact, no roof - no limit in principle to the maximum tax rate?  Let me just throw out a number for your consideration.  If the total tax rate (not marginal tax rate, but simply taxes paid dividied by income) were, in the aggregate, greater than 50%, would you consider that too high?

other lefties who ain't greenwald have been reaming Obama

about extraordinary rendition. It's a dumb policy to have on the books (if something like that must be done, do it in secret). But since Obama has played it smart, and said that "he's going to take a look at" a lot of stuff, many are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I'm going to attempt to give you a more fudgy criteria.

1. Any taxes should go to something that benefits the general welfare (i.e. is as efficient and effective as possible, and doesn't represent a guvmint handout to EITHER people or corporations -- particularly campaign contributors!)

2. One of the things that has made America great has been the Entrepreneurial Spirit. It is very possible that there exists a tax rate high enough to strongly discourage folks from starting their own businesses (bear in mind that most businessowners make less than minimum wage when starting their business. so it's possible that there really doesn't exist a tax rate high enough to stop people from trying to control their own future).  I should not like to see us reduced to France's level of entrepreneurism. The good thing is that this is all quantifiable.

This is a government should not cut off its nose to spite it's own face argument -- and something I think I could get any liberal to agree to (true socialists, maybe not). Yours is certainly strictly valid, I just don't like it.

maximum tax rate

1. Any taxes should go to something that benefits the general welfare (i.e. is as efficient and effective as possible, and doesn't represent a guvmint handout to EITHER people or corporations -- particularly campaign contributors!)

Please give me a clear, unambiguous distinction of spending that "benefits the general welfare" vs. spending that is a "guvmint handout".  In particular, would you claim that something like, e.g., PNGV was "general welfare" or "guvmint handout"?

2. One of the things that has made America great has been the Entrepreneurial Spirit. It is very possible that there exists a tax rate high enough to strongly discourage folks from starting their own businesses (bear in mind that most businessowners make less than minimum wage when starting their business. so it's possible that there really doesn't exist a tax rate high enough to stop people from trying to control their own future).

Beginning entrepreneurs who work for very little money at the outset can presumably only afford to do so if they have some other form of income (e.g. a regular job) or some sort of nest egg to meet their otherwise unrelenting financial necessities.  So it's a plainly ridiculous argument to suggest that because some entrepreneurs work for peanuts, that high tax rates won't change their incentives.  High tax rates will make it less likely that they will have that auxiliary job or that nest egg in the first place, thereby inhibiting even the thought of forming a new business.  It's all interconnected you know.

This is a government should not cut off its nose to spite it's own face argument -- and something I think I could get any liberal to agree to (true socialists, maybe not).

In my experience, liberals won't advocate cutting government programs if they think its purpose is to "help people", regardless of how much taxes it consumes or how poorly it is run.

Yours is certainly strictly valid, I just don't like it.

Why thank you.

So let me ask you: is a total tax rate in excess of 50% in the aggregate too high?  Why or why not?

I'm doing things empirically.

and judging by the Prius, which implements most of the research findings from that Partnership, and its subsequent commercial success... plus the numbers of technical advances made...

Yeah, that's government working for us.

Things that are emphatically not government working for us are Santorum's "lets privatize the USWS by forcing it to charge money for forecasts" so that it would get into a price war with AccuWeather (which has sucky forecasts, by the way).

It's quite probable that welfare and soup kitchens and stuff aren't working for the general public in the most efficient way possible. Unless the plans for welfare etc involve actual plans to scale back services when the economy is booming (while retaining capacity for recessions), the government is doing something wrong.

Prisons are a prime example of the government not working for the general good. We have this "get tough" policy which ignores the fact that rehabilitation pays 6 to 1 dividends for every dollar invested.

Hmm... to a more formalized definition...

Well, there are certain things that we expect a government to contribute meaningfully to: health care, criminal justice, schooling (I do, at least), and the economy.

In some of these things, we see relatively consistent, predictable demand -- for something like schooling (or banking regulations or scientific research), say. Benefitting of the general welfare here means educating the most kids the best way possible, even if that means buying each one of them a computer and giving them video games to play for 12 years straight.

In most of the other things, we are likely to see relatively inconsistent demand -- which is an area where government is particularly suited to function. I don't see many corporations who would be willing to say that in a downturn, they would turn into soup kitchens. However, a government could conceivably lease a soup kitchen to an entrepreneur in good times (with the terms of the lease being that he could be kicked out in the event of a local downturn in the economy), and turn to a soup kitchen later. The same could be said for hostels versus places for the unemployed to sleep. This particularly changes during the summer versus winter, and surprise surprise, isnt' the summer when most kids travel?

There's way more that the government could be doing to avoid inefficiency.

 

You've obviously never started a business.

1. most businesses get a loan from the bank to start. no nestegg required.

2. i didn't say that they weren't making enough for a house. the difference between regular work and self-employment is that self-employed set their own hours. And small businessmen work unrelenting hours.

Maybe I'm not as liberal as you might think. But I am definitely interested in preventing shadow governments like Hamas in America. And to do that, you need to prevent people from involuntarily becoming entirely dependent on non-governmental agencies. It would be a mistake to think that all religious groups wish America good, and wish democracy to continue (speaking in particular of the Moonies, as they're pretty public about the whole thing).

I'm taking an empirical view. Maybe if we put it up to 50%, I could tell you. Personally, if most of that is collected from the ultra rich, it's no big deal. They don't start businesses, anyhow -- no incentive to, if you're already that rich. Flat tax would be a really bad deal.

Strawmen

Cmon Chemjeff, you can debate better than that. I just said above that Greenwald was critical of Obama.

Bush can say what he wants, but if he signs anything that authorizes techniques that have, in the past, by OUR NATION, considered to have been torture (ie. waterboarding), then yes, I would say that constitutes authorizing torture.

You say that taxes would be too low when real crimes can't be prosecuted. Are you saying that we must have enough funds to process every crime committed? As well, I'm sure you'd apply this comment to national defense. How much national defense is too much? Can we ever be "too safe"?

I've said it before, I'm no economist. Would I think that 50% is too high? Sure, most likely. Though I already am getting free health care. Someone who is paying out the nose for that probably would say otherwise.

For me, I think government should be involved in defense, a court system, some sort of emergency infrastructure, transportation, and limited 'safety-net' programs. (I say the latter because, due to my limited comprehension, it is better for society to provide a temporary blanket to support someone rather than letting them collapse completely, in order to keep wealth higher. Akin to Bankruptcy but for an individual.)

Additionally

There is a chance that Republicans would spend less, but as I see it, it would not be significantly less. As well, if I had to place myself on the side of the culture wars, I'm much closer to the Democratic side than the Republican one. (Though both parties espouse things I dislike, like needing 'Christian values' and fearmongering about terrorists, it seems that Republicans are much more apt to partake in these activities.)

Is it your contention that libertarians are only worried about monetary libertarianism? Or just that that far outweighs civil liberties?

umm. weird.

following your argument, inflation is just as much an infringement on people's liberties.

So much for Friedman's bullshit economy, eh?

Central Organization

 

 

My personal belief is that the difference is in how the left has embraced the blogs more.  There were actually left bloggers at the Press Conference last night.  Apparently Huffington Post even sent a high school intern to ask a question ( at least that is what he looked like to me ).

My personal, humble opinion is that the new GOP under Steele needs to work to embrace the blogs and work to keep them on message.  Conservatism has managed to dominate the radio format, and can do so online with direction and support.  That is my opinion anyway from my little wordpress blog world.

 

 My personal, humble opinion

 

My personal, humble opinion is that the new GOP under Steele needs to work to embrace the blogs and work to keep them on message. Conservatism has managed to dominate the radio format, and can do so online with direction and support. -- FederalistBlogs, Central Organization

 

 

Radio format has similarities to TV (comapre Rush and Hannity shows) but blogs are vastly diverse and are a fundamentally different model; they are organic not central, evolutionary not static or simplistic and perhaps ironically progressive not conservative.

Here's my bet: the possibility of conservatism to dominate online by the next GE is same as the probability of Left dominating the radio waves in 2010.   

 

In my state Michigan Liberal

In my state Michigan Liberal and Right Michigan are mirror images of each other - both are partisan mouthpeices for the state D's and R's, respectively. Both are bankrolled by interests very closely aligned with but not identical to their parties. Both execute "We're at war with Oceana, we have always been at war with Oceana" editorial about-faces without blinking an eye. There is little or no substantive public policy discussion (not surprising, when what's good and what's bad can reverse overnight with shifts in what's expedient for the party or the caucus.) The Dems also have Blogging for Michigan, another party house organ for all practical purposes.

I don't think this is at all healthy.