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'Cause in this sleepy London town
There's just no place for a street fighting man
No!- Mick Jagger

We have recently seen people take to the streets in Kiev, in Mexico City, in Bishkek, in Tashkent, in Beirut.  Sometimes they have been effective.  More often, they have not.  Whether the demonstrations aimed to overthrow a tyrant or merely attempted to question the legitimacy of a recent election, they had one thing in common: they terrified the powers that be.  Americans, liberal bloggers most certainly included, tend to see street protests through the lens of the Vietnam era demonstrations.  There seems to be something emerging, almost a consensus among bloggers like Jane Hamsher, Chris Bowers, and Markos Moulitsas, that street protests no longer have the same impact that they had in the Vietnam era.  

There is a surface merit to this analysis.  For example, it's impossible to picture George W. Bush inviting student radicals into the White House, as Nixon did on August 5, 1970.  It's impossible to picture Bush going down to the Lincoln Memorial to talk to the protesters, as Nixon did after Kent State.  And it's true that the media expends very little energy covering street protests, downplays the numbers, emphasizes the most unpopular participants, and prefers to cover non-stories like Terri Schiavo or Lindsay Lohan.  But this analysis only holds on the surface.  Things today are not really that different from the way they were when our soldiers were bogged down in Indochina.

Take, for starters, Chris Bowers' complaint about the lack of message discipline in modern protests (this one, from Chicago in March 2004).

First, the speakers were extremely disorganized, self-contradictory, far more radical than the crowd itself, and totally lacking in message discipline. They ranged from Jesse Jackson stirring the crowd in a speech about how the 2000 election was stolen, to an old militant who promised a violent overthrow of the government, to a woman who harangued the crowd for the racism of the anti-war movement (she was part of the program, not someone who broke onto stage), to another speaker who told us we were not really opposed to the war unless we actively helped the Iraqi insurgency. Can there be anything less motivating than holding an anti-war march where the speakers tell those in attendance that they are not really opposed to the war?

I don't dispute that this lack of message discipline is frustrating and counterproductive.  But it isn't new.  

Hunter S. Thompson talked about the emerging campus radical movement in a 1965 article for The Nation.

The new campus radical has a cause, a multipronged attack on as many fronts as necessary: if not civil rights, then foreign policy or structural deprivation in domestic poverty pockets. Injustice is the demon, and the idea is to bust it.

We call it the 'Sixties protest movement' for a reason.  Protest was in the air and Vietnam was but one of many grievances.  Hunter tried to capture the flavor of the era in his famous wave speech:

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

If there is a distinction between the protests of the Vietnam era and the protests of today, it isn't so much that the message is different or less disciplined, or that the media is less hospitable.  The distinction is that this generation has not come to 'a head in a long line flash'.  For many if not most on the left today, they have not been radicalized by the civil rights movement, or the women's rights movement, or poverty, or rival ideologies like communism.  They have been radicalized by the administration's reaction to 9/11.  Therefore, the (new) New Left tends to bristle when Iraq War protests are co-opted by people with side issues.  They don't feel themselves as part of a truly revolutionary movement.  Things don't seem all that out of whack.  If we could, say, just get back to the policies of the Clinton era, end torture, restore habeas corpus, amend the Patriot Act, and pull our troops out of Iraq...then the job would be mostly done.  

Again, this is a surface kind of analysis that fails to take into account the fundamental similarities between Clinton's and Bush's foreign policies.  It also badly underestimates the damage to America's Empire done by the Bush era.  It doesn't understand that Clinton's policies led to the blowback the 'Global War on Terror' was launched to quell.  And it doesn't ask whether it is either possible or desirable to go back to those policies.

It's easy to overestimate the reforming effect of the netroots and online activism generally.  But I will say that online activism is to the early 21st century what campus radicalism was to the 1960's and early 1970's.  Except, the netroots doesn't want to get too far out in front of the public.  Rather than pushing a radical platform, the netroots seems bogged down in the mechanics of elections.  How do we 'frame' things?  How do we get more progressives elected?  How do we win in the south?  

We don't see calls for impeachment.  We don't see calls for a palace revolution.  This is, again, a distinction, a generational distinction.

Hey! Think the time is right for a palace revolution

'Cause where I live the game to play is compromise solution. -Mick Jagger

The people that took to the streets over the bombing of Cambodia and Kent State didn't win in 1972.  But they won in 1974.  And it is the Battle of 1974, once thought to have been decided in our favor, that is being waged anew today.  Take a look at Dick Cheney's comments yesterday on precisely this point.

Wolffe: President Ford, his recent funeral—did it put you in a reflective mood about that period? Do you draw any parallels to now?

Cheney: I was delighted to see the outpouring of tributes to his leadership ... and praise for the tough, tough decisions he made—in particular, for example, the pardon. I reflected back on where we'd been 30 years ago when he made those decisions and, obviously, suffered for it in the public-opinion polls and the press, and how history judged him 30 years later very, very favorably because of what he'd done. He had displayed those qualities of leadership and decisiveness, steadfastness, if you will, in the face of political opposition.

Cheney has waged an unremitting war against all of the post-Watergate reforms.  And it is this war, more than the specific war in Iraq, that really distinguishes this administration from Clinton, Poppy Bush, and Reagan.  And for the (new) New Left, this assault on the reforms we grew up taking for granted is truly galvanizing.  But we don't seem to understand that we have been charged with re-fighting the war of our mothers and fathers.  We resent seeing those tired faces (Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Jesse Jackson, etc.) co-opting our message.  We are tired of them and we are tired of their tactics.  But the new leaders, the new spokespeople, are not visible.  They're hiding behind screens and screen names.  They think they can blog their way to revolution and they think they can gather the critical mass for their limited reforms without associating with unsavory radicals that step on the reasonable message, the majority sentiment.  

As evidence for this, they look at the November elections.  They certainly were effective and, therefore, our tactics must be working.  And if Bush is not persuaded by the drubbing of the midterms, what good can street demonstrations do?

How will these protests serve as a means of changing US policy in Iraq? If the answer is "not at all," which it very well might be, then you can count me out. I am not interested in protesting for the sake of protesting anymore--that is, simply letting my personal dissent on the war be known far and wide.- Chris Bowers.

Let me respond this, first, with something of an obvious point.  If one of the reasons street protests are ineffective is that the media doesn't give them fair and properly amplified coverage, it would seem counterintuitive for bloggers to add to the problem by being dismissive and refusing to amplify the message.  Second, the real power of street protests was never the coverage they received in the press.  The real power was the fear induced by an assembled mob on the steps of Congress or the White House.  It's the same power that led to the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, or that led to the fall of the Eastern Bloc and the Berlin Wall, at the end of the Cold War.  Protests may be peaceful, but they have the potential for revolution.  The more revolutionary the rhetoric, the more fear inspiring the protests are.  

There is another very important reason to assemble en masse in the capitol.  The rest of the world is watching.  They have seen Mexicans in the street.  They have seen Lebanese in the street.  But they haven't seen enough Americans in the street.  And they take that silence as assent.  It's true that the world can find plenty of evidence of dissent by surfing the liberal blogs, but the reach of the liberal blogs is limited.  The people of the world need to see a visible manifestation of our dissent.  They need to see more than clever snark and sagging poll numbers.  The world sees Guantanamo and extraordinary renditions and Haditha and Abu Ghraib and they don't see Americans doing much of anything besides voting to set things right.  We owe it to our image and our legacy to make our dissent known, and to make it known in a way the rest of world understands.  Liberal bloggers may have concluded that mass protests are ineffective, but the rest of the world knows that mass protests are the absolute prerequisite to revolutionary change.

And this gets me back to where I always seem to wind up.  This administration cannot be allowed to take us into a war under false pretenses, lose that war, and then preside over the aftermath.  No country has ever allowed something like that to happen.  If you went to the protest in Washington DC this past Saturday, and you got down into the crowd and asked them what they thought of impeachment...you would have found near unanimous support.  In fact, a plurality would probably have said impeachment is an insufficient corrective.  But you would never know how powerful the consensus on impeachment has become in the anti-war movement if all you did was read the liberal blogosphere.  

Hunter Thompson talked about San Francisco in the late 1960's:

You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...

That sentiment is lacking today.  We have been winning ever since we lost in November 2004.  But there is no universal sense that whatever we are doing is right.  Instead, there is a sense that we should not push too far, too fast.  There is a sense that we can win the 2008 election, perhaps with a Clinton restoration, and that things will be hunky-dory.  Perhaps this attitude is a legacy of the failure of the highest aspirations of the 60's generation.  Perhaps we are too cynical to fall for the same false hopes.  Hunter looked back at the dying dream in 1972.

And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

I don't want to look back five years from now and see the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back was in December 2006, when we realized we had won great victories and decided to consolidate rather than push on for greater and more meaningful change.  

If all we wanted was power and a restoration of some kind of pre-Bush normalcy, then we would embrace Obama and Hillary Clinton with open arms.  But, we are seeing instead, a profound sense of dissatisfaction with the Clinton/Obama twin-headed media created beast.  They have no flavor.  We need to add salt.  The netroots movement is a like a shark...it needs to move forward or it will die.  Rather than trying to calibrate a message that will get us 50+1 in the 2008 elections, we need to push the wave out.   We need impeachment, we need to cut off funds for the war, we need to roll back the imperial executive, we need to get the intelligence agencies under control.  This is what our mothers and fathers accomplished.  We should aim for nothing less.  

Originally posted to www.boomantribune.com on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 10:41 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I wish I could triple recommend, Booman! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alohaleezy, trashablanca

      Superb diary and eloquently composed.

      Did you attend this time?  If so, I'd like to add a link to your diary in my currently recommended diary.

    •  So love me I'm a liberal (0+ / 0-)

      A few lines updated:

      I read all the right liberal blogs
      And I put down the TNR
      I love Howard and Barak and Russ
      I hope every progressive becomes a star
      But don't talk about revolution
      That's going a little bit too far

      So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

      I cheered when Kerry was chosen
      My faith in the system restored
      And I'm glad that the lefties were thrown out
      From the patriotic DLC board
      And I love all of the immigrant Mexicans
      As long as they work for me for four dollars an hour

      So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

      I vote for the democratic party
      They want the U.N. to be strong
      I blog on DKOS all day
      I used to give MaryScott nothing but fours
      And I'll send all the money you ask for
      But don't ask me to come on along

      So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

  •  fuck yes. (10+ / 0-)

    We don't have time for short-term thinking.

    by Compound F on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 10:50:10 AM PST

  •  Your diary presumes that the netroots and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fladem, standingup, dennisl

    opponents of the war in Iraq share your ideological perspective.  

  •  Food for thought. (7+ / 0-)

    Though I've questioned the efficacy of demonstrations in effecting political change, I recognize their symbolic importance and support them in principle, as well as in presence.

    You raise good arguments here which deserve discussion and debate.

    And kudos for offering that famous Thompson quote. Those lines haunt me still. Like you and I'm sure many others, I hope we're not reciting them years from now in reference to these times.

  •  Which Clinton policies? (0+ / 0-)

    It doesn't understand that Clinton's policies led to the blowback the 'Global War on Terror' was launched to quell.

    The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. - John Adams

    by tipsymcstagger on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 10:59:27 AM PST

    •  Well for one (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity, missreporter, JanL, esquimaux

      nobody gave a shit about Afghanistan after the Soviet Union fell and the former "freedom fighters" that we armed and trained became today's Taliban and Al Queda. The US-backed war against the Soviets left several decades worth of humanitarian crisis there, a few million land mines, and a lot of ammo. Nobody cared. We used them and left them to rot.

      •  Bush Sr. (0+ / 0-)

        withdrew support from Afghanistan in 1989.  The Americans had supported the mujahedin in their effort to repel the Soviets, who were trying to prop up an enormously unpopular proxy government that had been removed from power by the Afghan people.  

        Clinton took office in 1993.  It seems to me a tad bit unfair to pin the rise of the Taliban on him.  

        The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. - John Adams

        by tipsymcstagger on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:46:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It goes on everyone (0+ / 0-)

          The UN was begging for help and resources to relieve the ongoing humanitarian and political crisis in Afghanistan from 1993 onwards, precisely the period in which the Taliban actually won the military battles. Clinton didn't give a crap. Republicans did not invent or patent bad American foreign policy. It's more than a tad naive to believe otherwise.

        •  Also your history is off completely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tipsymcstagger

          Brzezinski and Carter funded the radical Muslim freedom fighters from before the USSR invaded. He (Brzezinksi) proudly boasted of having helped lure the USSR into that war.

          Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

          Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

          Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

          Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76

          •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

            I didn't know that.  I'm not sure that it makes my history "completely off" since there isn't anything in my post that seems to have been rebutted.  But I always appreciate learning something new.  

            I think Carter did the right thing.  I'm still hard-pressed to pin the rise of the Taliban on Clinton, since I'm skeptical that he had the international and domestic backing sufficient to put in place a force capable of restraining their spread to Kabul.  

            The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. - John Adams

            by tipsymcstagger on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 04:05:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I was highly energized by the rallies (15+ / 0-)

    on Saturday.

    They may not be perfect, and they may be only part of the picture, but a lot of us do see them as important.

    I had a strong sense of a tide turning, which will not be stopped by sarcastic dismissals by Tony Snow.

  •  "They're hiding behind screens and screen names." (9+ / 0-)

    Very true, and this one of the stark differences from the era you describe. Like Molly Ivins said, we should be out in the streets pounding pots and pans (paraphrased) to show our contempt. It does make a difference.

  •  Sidebar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bearpaw, old wobbly, Russ Jarmusch

    http://songwritersnotebook.Radical troubador David Rovics has a pretty comprehensive rundown of the supression of mass (and not so mass) protest over the last 8 years at blogspot.com/2007/01/first-amendment-good-when-you-can-get.html

    Democratic Candidate for US Senator, Wisconsin, in 2012

    by ben masel on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:09:15 AM PST

  •  BooMan (8+ / 0-)

    First, everyone looked great on C-Span.

    Second, if the real power [of street protests] was the fear induced by an assembled mob on the steps of Congress or the White House does it really make sense to disempower yourself by having permits for protests and having streets blocked off for marches and, in short, having all the legalities that go along with street protesting today?  Wouldn't it be more effective to have a flash mob protest?  And all get arrested?  And be WILLING to get arrested?  

    Third, you're welcome.

    Matt Blunt believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Let's overturn him.

    by maryb2004 on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:11:06 AM PST

    •  Sometimes. (5+ / 0-)

      There's a place for both. No way to get the same numbers for an instant demo.

      Democratic Candidate for US Senator, Wisconsin, in 2012

      by ben masel on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:15:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm with you MaryB, when things are so contained (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      missreporter, Russ Jarmusch

      and politically correct why would the media pay a whole lot of attention to another Tupperware Party?  A protest that actually speaks has to cross some lines and I'm prepared to be arrested.  I will repost a video I found today thanks to Michelle Malkin who of course finds it extremely offensive but I found extremely encouraging. SDS and friends stormed the west wing and the police were not authorized to strike back.  Where and when should these sort of things ever cross the lines I do not know...I fear it's a place and space that exists and is only inhabited regularly by angels and occassionally by very courageous people when they can hear their higher selves speaking to them very clearly in their own stillness.  Some have even died listening to that voice, but never in vain.

      In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

      by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:25:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sort of (12+ / 0-)

    I think part of the problem here is that we all assume (me included) that because the current events are called "protests" that they are the same kind of affair.  They are not.  

    But the issue I was addressing in the piece that Bowers referenced was not whether one should or should not attend a larger anti-war protest, but whether or not the large anti-war protest was the best way to have an impact in the current political context.  Bowers, I think (and I'm not sure why), kind of turned the analysis into a very two-dimensional critique a la, "...so, I'm not going."

    Let me be clear, here:  to be as direclty effective at changing policies with an anti-war protest as the Left was in the 60s, we are wasting our time to stage large rallies.  To be effective in that way,  we should be thinking smaller--one, ten, maybe 50 people at most in focused, visual, and creatively staged events.

    So that leaves us asking a very new question:  What, then, is  happening in the large events?

    My answer is that the large events are something new by themselves:  a highly politicized form of social event whose goal is to encourage broad sections of the public to participate--sort of like a one-day massive convening of civic space.  Sure, they take on  some of the forms of familiar protests (e.g.,  signs, chants,  walking a "route," etc.), but they are different kinds of events.

    For starters:  they are mostly "fun" for the people involved.  And why not?  That's not a bad thing.  Political participation is supposed to be satisfying.

    Second: They are mostly not about direct action.  And why not?  Why should the only people at a rally be those who get arrested?  That's not a bad thing.

    Third:  They are (as you point out), starting points for political participation, not gatherings of seasoned vets.  And why not?  Why can't a rally be a place to start participating in politics--like being a lurker on a group blog?  Of course it can, and it's a valuable angle.

    So, what the critique does is not simply condemn the event such that we all decide to stay home.  It (1)  forces us to look again at the large scale events, (2) allows us to see that power of those events has been relocated to smaller affairs, and (3) opens our eyes to the new possibilities in the big events as they are.

    Bottom line:  I went to DC--and I learned a great deal. And that is a good place to be for any movement, I would say.

    ---
    Check out my new book!! Pre-order Framing the Debate, today...

    by Jeffrey Feldman on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:12:21 AM PST

    •  Excellent Points (4+ / 0-)

      And I agree that the critique doesn't in any way make it seem like you're saying that everyone should just stay home.  It makes a powerful argument for going.  

      But imo it also provides a counter to those bloggers who would say that any blogger who has the ability to go should go -- from which a reasonable reader might infer that there is something wrong with those bloggers who choose to stay away from these types of events and exert themselves in other ways towards reaching the same goals.

      Matt Blunt believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Let's overturn him.

      by maryb2004 on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:21:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yep...exactly (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maryb2004, Silverleaf, highacidity

        At the time I thought it was important to provide a balance against the idea that absence from a large protest was somehow a betrayal of the anti-war movement.  If I could get people to see that the most effective anti-War protest to date involved, essentially, only one person "showing up" (e.g., Cindy Sheehan) and then the rest of us doing our part elsewhere--then we might have a better sense of how to achieve our goals.

        I'm glad to hear it still has that impact...

        ---
        Check out my new book!! Pre-order Framing the Debate, today...

        by Jeffrey Feldman on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:25:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wanted to go but I didn't want the real left (0+ / 0-)

        to beat me up in real life.  It's been unpleasant enough in the blogosphere.  I still like to stick to my agenda and goals and one of those isn't to have Michelle Malkin have video of the "real" left blogosphere being abusive to others at a peace rally.

        In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

        by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:29:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What? (0+ / 0-)

          Did something happen Tracy?

          Frodo failed....Bush has got the ring!

          by Alohaleezy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:34:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Other than the shit storm that took over my (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            trashablanca, Russ Jarmusch

            husband's office when soldiers read things that were said to me at Bootrib when I had my "breakdown", no....nothing since but damned if I'm going to tempt fate after surviving that and all the crap from other soldiers and their families for being a part of Bootrib.  It's why I don't write diaries anymore.  I asked Booman to erase any diary except for a few hoping that the people we live with would understand that I don't desire to be part of a wholesale sell out of who they are and what they do and really stand for.  I know that soldiers have done bad things in Iraq but I don't think that people realize that the only reason why we often know about those things is because some soldier complained.  It isn't always the case but it is often the case.  Not every soldier is evil scum.  I don't hate recruiters either, they are poor bastards who got handed a really crappy MOS right now.  I am firm with them though about soliciting my children and I don't want them in my schools, I don't believe they are evil incarnate either though.

            In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

            by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:42:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Had no idea (0+ / 0-)

              that happened.

              Frodo failed....Bush has got the ring!

              by Alohaleezy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:48:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's been awhile back (0+ / 0-)

                I couldn't believe some of the things that were written in one diary I posted and I went in and erased it.  It was funny because the abusers thought that I had erased it so that nobody could read some of my responses to them when I was redhot so mad my hair was on fire, but I took it down so that no soldier doing his job with integrity would read the things they wrote and so that the wingnuts in my husband's office would stop sending the link to other wingnuts because the last thing I desire to do is empower those buttheads.  Also because once Iraq is a done deal I think those same people will come upon a day when they would have been ashamed of what they had written.  I try to understand how frustrated they are while honoring how frustrated I am but it is a tough rug to weave every now and then.  

                In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

                by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:57:54 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hmmm... (0+ / 0-)

                  this must have occurred when I was sick? Not paying much attention. I do remember a dustup when people were asking that you be banned. Is that what you are referring too? I mean, I know you went away from Booman fro a long time but noticed this past month you are posting there again. Are you no longer afraid of what people might read that you have written here or there? Just curious. I want to make sure I have it all straight.

                  Frodo failed....Bush has got the ring!

                  by Alohaleezy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:32:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That was when some people were asking for my (0+ / 0-)

                    banning.  I was never afraid of what people might read that I had written, even people in the military who disagree with me.  I'm okay with that.  I used to promote Booman Tribune though and encourage soldiers to come and read the stuff there, my husband used to have daily debates with soldiers he works with over all sorts of issues and I think that all of them learned a lot through doing that. I just needed to take a backseat though and sadly stop promoting Bootrib to other soldiers because I was being viewed as a soldier hater.

                    In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

                    by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:45:59 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  please (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maryb2004, sayitaintso, Militarytracy

          don't make any decisions in your life based on what Michelle Malkin will or will not do or say.  That's a guaranteed formula for disaster...

          ---
          Check out my new book!! Pre-order Framing the Debate, today...

          by Jeffrey Feldman on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:41:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Of Course Present Protests Are Less Effective (6+ / 0-)

    than the 1960's LABOR REVOLT BY THE DRAFT POOL.

    We could put a million in the streets and it doesn't necessarily cost the military a single recruit.

    What we have today is simply citizen protest against government policy that does not threaten them personally.

    There is virtually never mass citizen protest over such indirect circumstances. Seen that way, what we have is a tidal wave.

    But of course in terms of power, of course it threatens nothing in an immediate way as a half million draft pool protestors would do.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:16:21 AM PST

  •  Significance of marches (3+ / 0-)

    If large peace marches are not very significant or effective, then I wonder why they are so symbolic of the Vietnam war in the sixties.

    "War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it." -- George Orwell

    by joanneleon on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:18:49 AM PST

  •  great essay (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem In VA, Russ Jarmusch

    throws some cold water on imminent divorce of netroots and grassroots.

    in truth, if money were all "progressive" candidates needed to win districts, netroots will lose the war against the machine. ya don't need a crystal ball to predict that.

    surrender it the strategy.

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by MarketTrustee on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:23:07 AM PST

  •  The protests do show, however... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Russ Jarmusch

    ...that a lot of people own hand drums, and are not afraid to use them.

    I'm all for protesting, but, to me, the pix I've seen make it look more like a party than angry people voicing a grievance.

    •  Did you see my diary, twalling? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alohaleezy, twalling

      Not to many drums in sight, but I cop to joining a few drum circles.

      •  Yep, I did. :) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        keirdubois, Dem In VA

        I find the mention of drums to be ubiquitous in reports of protests...  I honestly don't understand the phenomenon too well.

        Like Bush's advisors are listening and saying, "Oh shit--They're playing in 5/4 time now!  They must be really pissed!"

        Don't get me wrong, I was a longhaired freakyhippie type for quite a few years, and I have seen more than my share of drum circles... I just don't see their point in a protest.  Makes it look, to me, like a bunch of Deadheads groovin' than it does a "protest."

        •  its about making noise (4+ / 0-)

          and unity...i think people playing drums, making noises, chanting, coming together to create some harmony and rhythm and melody is a great aspect of protests.

          on your party point...i agree with you...i have fun, and that's great. but i don't see much anger. i also find it depends on the weather. when it's really beautiful outside, it's hard to be angry. i went to a much smaller protest last February, blogged about here and the weather was awful, and the mood was much gloomier. But there were drums there too.

          Drums help keep the crowd moving along. It's kinda boring marching to no beat, y'know?

          "I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things."

          by missreporter on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:02:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  5/4, pshaw (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dem In VA, twalling

          The real freaks do it in 9/8, maaan.

          ;-)

    •  Not a party... (5+ / 0-)

      ... and it sounds funny to say we 'had fun.' But, it was uplifting and inspirational. It warmed my soul to see so many ordinary citizens, of all ages, colors, shapes, sizes, and from far-away places. There were lots of smiles, friendly hugs and supportive attitudes. I met some great folks, learned a lot about issues that concern me.

      Maybe large scale marches aren't the end-all and be-all. Maybe they only have a minimal effect on the media, and no effect whatsoever on Bush. But, we were there. We represented. We showed up. And that didn't go unnoticed.

      Today, I'll continue to make calls, write letters, send emails, listen, learn, and share what I've learned. I'll continue to plug into as many resources as time will allow.

      Today, I'll try to change one more mind, open up one more heart, and influence one more life.

      Then, I'll get up tomorrow and start over.

    •  you have a point n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things."

      by missreporter on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:00:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have been very empowered in the past (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twalling

      by going to protests, but it has been very stressful being part of a military family right now and I really needed what I found there and what was offered to me.

      In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

      by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 12:06:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If there were a draft, we'd see mass protests (4+ / 0-)

    Taking to the street is a direct measure of popular will. Blogging is a recreational activity from the comfort of your home, while protesting is a statement that something is more important than our daily routines.  Small protest numbers only mean that not many feel directly involved.  The administration has gone to great lengths to insulate America from the cost of its fiasco.
    But the tipping point is at hand, where Americans are discovering the hidden costs and are moved to take action beyond cyberspace.

  •  One of the differences between the 1960's (0+ / 0-)

    and now is the lessons each learned about elections are completely different.

    In the 60's war opponents came to believe that elections were irrelevant.  This was in part a reaction to the closed nature of some of the caucuses.  There is a passage from Gitlin's book The Sixties that is instructive in this regard.  It mentions a strike and demonstration the day after the 1968 election.  He notes not one speaker mentioned the election that occurred the day before.

    The lesson we have learned is completely different.  If the 60's protestors ridiculed the two major parties, our generation ridicules those who minimize electoral politics in general and third parties in particular. This generation has had it's core the belief the idea that elections are the primary means for change, a belief that can only have been strengthened in the aftermath of the '06 elections.

    Because these two movements differed on the important placed on winning elections, it is not surprising that they would differ in tactics.

    •  The 1968 election, like 1968 itself (4+ / 0-)

      was unique. The parties were ridiculed after RKF and MLK were murdered. There was great hope before these events, but then a choice between HHH (johnson's VP) and Nixon offered little to the people behind the movement. But do not minimize the changes in the "rights" movement. Civil rights, womens' rights, and the anti Viet Nam war movement were all about change. Changes that led to Roe v. Wade, the elimination of the draft and advancements in civil rights. I think RFK would have been elected, but after his death we were left with a piss poor choice.

      •  Gitlin makes that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        esquimaux

        point well.  

        Beyond the strange election of '68 (and McCarthy was the left's champion, not RFK )- I think there is an ideological issue at play as well.   Much of the "movement" subscribed to an ideology that said elections could never matter.   It taught that the only way to stop the war was to bring the War home.

        But in the case of the Iraq War, had Gore been elected we would never have invaded.  

        In '68 the elections validated the left ideology that elections don't matter.  In 2003 the very idea of a left that could sit out from elections was invalidated by Nader's role in 2000.

        Different generations, different lessons.

        •  Minor quibble (0+ / 0-)

          McCarthy was the anti-war candiadte in '68. RFK gained the support of many leftists because his agenda included civil rights and other issues in addition to the war.

          To move back to the center, the country must move left.

          by slatsg on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 01:36:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yes! Yes! Yes! (6+ / 0-)

    This is one of your finest essays to date Booman. This piece so touched me because I felt your passion and your commitment in my gut. This is what we need.
    I feel also that we on the left have become cynical and all but gave up until 06 elections. It was as if all of our efforts, whether they be protests in the street to letter writing campaigns went for not. Hang in there folks. The tide is turning and we have the power to do something now. It may take another election cycle but please start lining up progressive candidates in your area for 08 and threaten the incumbents to do the right thing. Impeachment should never be "off the table" Before we had the majority the excuse was the vote would never pass. I don't believe we are quite there but almost. This last move of arrogance by Bush/Cheney and the surge and basically telling congress to go eff themselves hopefully will be the last straw. We are not on the streets to convince BushCO folks. We are there to convince our reps.

    Funny, at the rally/march here in San Diego a man around 70 yr. old said "you people need to quit being so nice and get personal." I truly believe he is right.

    Frodo failed....Bush has got the ring!

    by Alohaleezy on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:31:54 AM PST

  •  Fear & Loathing (4+ / 0-)

    By coincidence, I just finished reading "Fear & Loating in Las Vegas" again today; I was waiting for your use of the "high-water mark" money-quote.  Later on, Thompson describes the actual moment:

    Sonny Barger never quite got the hang of it, but he'll never know how close he was to a king-hell breakthrough.  The Angels blew it in 1965, at the Oakland-Berkeley line, when thy acted on Barger's hardhat, con-boss instincts and attacked the front ranks of an anti-war march.  This proved to be an historic schism in the then Rising Tide of the Youth Movement of the Sixties.  It wast he first open break between the Greasers and the Longhairs, and the importance of that break can be read in the history of SDS, which eventualy destroyed itself in the doomed effort to reconcile the interests of the lower/working class biker/dropout types and the upper/middle, Berkeley/student activists.

    Nobody involved in that scene, at the time, could possibly have foreseen the Implications of the Ginsberg/Kesey failure to persuade the Hell's Angels to join forces with the radical Left from Berkeley.  The final split came at Altamont, four years later, but by that time it had long been clear to evrybody except a handful of rock industry dopers and the national press.  The orgy of violence at Altamont merely dramatized the problem.  The realities were already fixed; the illness was understood to be terminal, and the energies of The Movement were long since aggressively dissipated by the rush to self-preservation.

    Ah; this terrible gibberish.

    Damn I miss that man.

    "...And bunnies would dance in the streets, and we would find life on Mars." -Peter Singer, Brookings Institution

    by zentiger on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:39:02 AM PST

  •  Well put, but I have one minor quibble... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alohaleezy, Russ Jarmusch

    You said:    

    It doesn't understand that Clinton's policies led to the blowback the 'Global War on Terror' was launched to quell.

    I was not a huge Clinton fan and didn't vote for him either time, but I don't think you can place the blunt of the blame for this on his administration.  Reagan and Poppy Bush were the ones arming and training the mujahadeen (sp?) during the Soviet occupation, and I think most of the blame for blowback falls on them.

    The meek shall inherit nothing. -F.Zappa

    by cometman on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 11:47:48 AM PST

  •  Ah, Hunter Thompson... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BooMan23, Russ Jarmusch

    ...thanks BooMan!

    Now pass the salt!

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