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Please begin with an informative title:

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable; I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.

Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself" 52, Leaves of Grass

Now that I have some time to relax and write something new, after six straight days of NY-20 related diaries and then a pre-planned April Fool's Day prank that had to go out as close to midnight that day as possible (only to have its effect ruined by the DDoS attack on DKos that day), I want to reflect briefly on Markos's kicking me and people like me in the nads last Tuesday.

It's on.  Yup.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Note: If you didn't see this Open Thread on Tuesday, read down to the fourth bullet point: "Yup."


I suppose that I should first contextualize my response.  I like the vast majority of what Markos has to say; same with Chris Bowers, about whom he "Yupped" here.  True story: I was listening to NPR's All Things Considered a month ago, while picking up my youngest daughter, in a place with a lot of ambient noise; I could hear the words but hearing the vocal tones was hard.  I tuned in partway through and heard this fantastic interview, so unusual for that show these days that it stood out as, for once, representing my actual beliefs.  I shooshed my daughter as she got into the car and we sat there until I could hear who this was.  It was Markos.  So don't give me crap about being anti-Markos.

I should add that I have no illusions about Markos responding to this.  A lesser contributing editor might do so, probably on their own, but the standard practice here is not to respond to this sort of criticism personally.  So be it.  Once thing I love about this site is that everything not actively deleted is here for the record.  So: my yawp.

The last scud of day holds back for me;  
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on the shadow’d wilds;  
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I spent much of Tuesday making calls to get out the vote for Scott Murphy in NY-20.  (By the end of the day I was, to my surprise, the #1 caller on the DCCC website.)  I had spent much of the 2-1/2 weeks before that encouraging Kosters to make calls.  I had repeatedly, for the month before that, agitated for the campaign (or DCCC) to put up a national phone banking website so that I could encourage Kosters to make calls.

(The effort was modestly, but insufficiently, successful; I'll address that in a later diary.)

So, in the middle of the day, I see this:

Yup. I have no interest in raising a single dime for any Blue Dog wannabees. It's no longer "more Democrats". The biggest danger to a progressive agenda in the House isn't the irrelevant Republicans, but obnoxious Blue Dogs. It's time for Better Democrats.
My eyes almost popped out of my head.  I checked the "Yup" link.  It was Bowers over at Open Left -- which, unfortunately, I can't participate in due to what I've been told are some technical problems some people have with the site -- saying that he was opposed to helping out anyone who -- as Scott Murphy (from conservative, gerrymandered-to-be-Republican, NY-20 had done -- said that they planned to caucus with the Blue Dogs.
I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the runaway sun;  
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
Now Markos can do what he wants: raise money, not raise money, whatever.  But when he says "It's no longer 'more Democrats'," I think that he is taking his writing less seriously than I take it, and he is going to pull others in his wake towards this stupid conclusion.

Let's go back to Square One: what we want is the most progressive representative in Congress possible from each district.  It is entirely possible -- and I'd say likely -- that a Blue Dog type will be the most progressive representative possible from NY-20.  The activists from The Albany Project were certainly on board.  So was Planned Parenthood.  So was the SEIU, to the tune of over a half-million dollars.

(Need I mention that on the other side were atrocities like Mike Huckabee and Howard Kaloogian, who would be thrilled by our now abandoning people like Scott Murphy?)

I keep getting a 504 Gateway Error (new one on me!) when I try to open Open Left, so all I have to quote from them are snippets through Google.  But even that's enough!  This snippet quotes a diary saying "The piece on NY 20 fails to mention that Murphy has committed to joining the [Blue Dogs] ... I dislike the Blue Dogs because they are the Democrats opposed to EFCA."

Well, that's an instructive error!  Scott Murphy is for EFCA!  (Hence the SEIU money!)  And the lesson there is that Blue Dogs do not march in lockstep like Republicans.  There is plenty of diversity in the caucus.  And that is why we still do need more Blue Dogs rather than Republicans, because if a Republican has a 1% chance of voting with a progressive Democratic policy, and a Blue Dog has a 41% chance, then having Blue Dogs instead of Republicans substantially increases our chances of putting together a winning coalition on any particular vote.  With Murphy, I think we're looking at someone who would be with us much more than 41% of the time, using Gillibrand as our guide.  He wants to market himself to voters back home as a Blue Dog?  Fine, he can do what he thinks he must.  But a smart progressive will vote based on the product, not the package.

I should note, by the way, that for an apparently pretty progressive guy like Murphy to join the caucus in some respect changes the caucus, which is itself a good thing.  A less cohesive caucus is good for us.

I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;  
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.
That is why the Republicans are not "irrelevant"; they still have the capacity -- a capacity that will increase if Tedisco wins -- to put together winning coalitions to block given progressive initiatives.  That is why, while Blue Dogs may be "obnoxious" in theory, they may be pretty damned convenient in fact.

The problem with Blue Dogs is when they get into leadership or Committee Chair roles where they can block legislation.  They should not be in those roles; their parochial interests mean that they may stand to gain from backstabbing the party even when the party has the means to win if they weren't in the way.  They need to have seats on good committees, of course, but not the ability to veto.  If this saddens them, they can console themselves with the fact that they do have more power by virtue of being swing voters.  They should be satisfied with that.

Not understanding this -- making petulant and purist arguments that if it ain't my way it's the highway, without regard to the actual consequences of one's proposal -- is one reason that the netroots are taken less seriously than they should be.

This doesn't always mean moderation or echoing the party line.  I've said before and I'll say it again here: I want Evan Bayh to have a serious primary challenge in 2010, even if my saying so makes Harry Reid's intestines invert because Bayh whimpers to him about mean guys like me -- and I can easily foresee wanting to see a Republican beat him in 2010.  This is not because he is conservative, it's because he is, for his own misconceived and misbegotten purposes, seemingly intent on taking the Lieberman path of slamming the Democratic Party while wearing Democratic clothing, and that can't be allowed.  But this is a narrower, more targeted, and more thought through position than the totalizing one that Bowers spouts and Markos blithely endorses.

You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean;  
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,  
And filter and fibre your blood.
Now, I can imagine Markos or Bowers putting nuance on this position.  Markos introduces his paragraph by saying that he doesn't want to raise money for Murphy; that doesn't mean that he thinks no one should donate to Murphy (though as I recall that's what Bowers at least implied.)  And one can argue that, because money can be saved and time can't, it's reasonable to say that it's great that people should give time to Murphy but they should save their money for something else.  (That's possible, but I think it's nonsense.  The question is: should people do what they can to see Murphy in Congress.  If you really think that Blue Dogs are worse than Republicans, and that his intent to caucus with the Blue Dogs is decisive, then you don't want him to win.)

Beyond the possibility of approving of phonebankers  while disapproving of donors, Markos and Bowers may say that, while they don't want to support Murphy, they hope he wins.  Again, I think that this is nonsensical -- if you want someone to win and you have the means to support them (time, effort, or money), then you should: that is, or at least should be, part of the netroots ethos.

I note also that Markos has made no attempt to reconcile his position with the overall editrial position of the website, which has been admirably pro-Murphy.  (With the exception of Arjun, this has been more after it was too late for people to help him win than before, but it's still something.)  Given the endorsements of working -- or at least hoping -- for Murphy from Dana Houle and from Arjun (here and elsewhere), and the evident interest in the outcome of the race (once it was merely a spectator sport rather than something to try to affect) here and here and even from Markos himself here:

So is [the Republicans'] inability to seal the deal last night in a district in which they have a 70,000-voter registration advantage, while running the NY Assembly's minority leader against an unknown, mean that Boehner must admit that America isn't on their side?

Because it isn't, you know.

doesn't it seem that Markos should tell us whether he thinks that it is a good thing for potential Blue Dog (of some shade) Scott Murphy to beat definite obstructionist-in-waiting Jim Tedisco in NY-20 and, if he does agree, how he reconciles that attitude with his execrable "Yup" to Bowers?

Who are you rooting for, Markos?  Do you have a problem with those of us who volunteerted?  Do you have a problm with the "small donors" to Murphy that Bowers criticized?  Or is your only position that you -- as is certainly your right -- didn't want to put your money or time where your heart is this time, but for others to do so was just fine?  If that last position is yours, you should take the "Yup" back into your yap.

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;  
Missing me one place, search another;  
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.
Was Markos being a frakkin' idiot in echoing the sentiment that Murphy wasn't worth our time, money, and effort?


Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Doane Spills on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 11:37 AM PDT.


Your position on Scott Murphy in NY-20?

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