Crossposted from MY LEFT WING
I always get a chuckle out of it when I remember it, so it cheered me up immensely this morning to go over to Ted Kennedy's site to see the link to My Left Wing.
There's something terribly thrilling about seeing your home site on TEDDY KENNEDY'S BLOGROLL!!! Even if he does list everybody under the sun. (Ahem... not that there's anything WRONG with that...)
But I'll have you know, there WAS a time when I was one of only SIX sites listed there. And no, the day I saw that, there was NO talking to me. Preening Queen Maryscott, indeed... Not that I actually fancied he read us himself. Dude probably shuns everything but newsprint.
Still, considering his instant classic, fire and brimstone schooling, honest-to-god SMACKDOWN of the Republicans re: their indefensible, immoral, grotesque "filibuster by amendment" of the minimum wage increase a couple weeks ago, being on the blogroll of one of my personal AND political heroes goes a long way toward making up for the big, orange shaped hole left in my back yesterday.
Um, in case anyone could POSSIBLY have missed it, that was snark. My feelings are not hurt. This is business. This is the business of professional bloggery, this is politics, this is courtesy and lack thereof. I am in new territory and approaching it from several angles.
No, I am not taking my bat and ball and going home with a GBCW diary, though the little snotty bitch in me oh-so-desperately wanted to do so yesterday. But this is bigger than that. This blogroll thing...
Yeah, I got me a little shock when I returned to blogging to find myself summarily dismissed from Markos's blogroll (and, not incidentally, instantly devalued on Google and every other search engine out there) -- ostensibly because he's streamlined the blogroll to include only electoral and state democratic blogs and "blogs he likes to read."
Leaving aside for the moment the total lack of an attempt at even the barest politeness --('Sorry, Maryscott, I don't read your site, never have, never will, don't know why I bothered blogrolling 'My Left Wing' in the first place') -- I'm just wondering if ANYONE has had a discussion with Markos or Atrios or any of the other Big Boys of Blogging about this pulling UP of the ladder, as it were, this CLOSING of the gate behind the big boys once they're in. I know I've tried to have said discussion and been blown off twice now, privately in email and semi-publicly in a larger email sense. So let's try an outright public forum.
Egalitarian this "Blogroll Amnesty" is not. I understand that we, the A-List, B-List, C-List and nonentities of the blogosphere have different values and mindsets and goals. Yet not even a year ago we spent 4 days in Vegas celebrating our diversity and unity. Markos publicly and loudly the growth of the blogosphere, said how much he welcomed the outgrowth of new blogs, et cetera.
Surely the bigger bloggers know how important being on their blogrolls has been and continues to be to the lesser lights in the blogging firmament? The success of My Left Wing has been in NO small measure due to having been linked to the Daily Kos blogroll. By being delinked from that blogroll, Markos has GUARANTEED me a loss of traffic by at least a third. That's not just an ego thing -- that's an actual advertising rate drop. An actual loss of actual income.
Markos doesn't owe me a thing, and I don't hold him responsible for my income or lack thereof, and I'll do just fine, thanks. But I know people who need that supplementary income a hell of a lot more than I do.
You know what? I'm so sick and fucking tired of hearing that "it's his blog if you don't like it leave it" line. Yeah. It's his blog. And my blog is my blog. I DID create my own blog. And I'm one of the lucky few - the VERY few -- who had a ready-made audience for that blog, due again to having had a singularly popular platform from which to draw that audience.
(Though let us not give Scoop and Markos ALL the fucking credit -- I've watched scores of people start their own blogs after leaving here and they didn't succeed as I have. I have SOMETHING to do with my own success, and anyone who wants to tell me I'm NOTHING without Markos can kiss my ass. There's a reason I built a big enough following to create a successful enough blog to even HAVE an income from it to complain about having curtailed, and that reason is me.)
And when push comes to shove, I do what I want. But I try very hard NOT to shove, because I didn't create the damned thing to have a fucking fiefdom -- I created it to have a microcosmic liberal community of sorts, and I'm not interested in telling anyone (or HEARING from anyone), "Don't like it? Go start your own blog. I'M the king of the castle here." What I AM interested in is creating a harmonious and successful venture -- in this case, an interactive community blog, whose creator and administrator listens to her membership/readership and tries to adapt to its needs and wants and desires and whims, insofar as those do not conflict with her own needs, wants, desires, whims, principles, whatthefuckever.
So, back to this bullshit Blogroll Amnesty thing, which seems designed solely to relieve the BBB of the burden of having to consider the lesser beings in the blogosphere for their blogrolls, and stick with the insular, circle jerk, no-room-at-the-Inn mentality that seems to have cropped up in direct proportion to the level of their increasing success (in the areas of finances and public relations, credibility in the "real worlds" of politics and media, of consultants and access)...
What happened to helping each other out? What happened to throwing the ladder back down? Seriously -- what does it COST the bigger bloggers to expand their blogrolls? Inches of space on an infinitely long page? Because it sure as hell costs the smaller bloggers to have been disappeared from those front page blogrolls.
In a brief email exchange with one of the more successful bloggers, wherein he expressed surprise at the outrage among those smaller bloggers, and outrage himself at the presumption that any of them would make anything like a DEMAND on the Great and Powerful Markos to do ANYTHING for them that he didn't want to do, I responded:
This blogroll thing took you by surprise because you're big enough not to need it. You probably don't benefit all that much from being on any one particular blogroll. The same cannot be said of most people. And as you say, you may doubt that it makes a difference for a tiny blog to be included on a voluminous blogroll if it's got hundreds of other sites on it -- but you're one hundred percent wrong. People stroll through blogrolls all. day. long.
And a blog with a readership of, say, 10 visits a day? Just, you know, accidental drop-in visits to a placeholder. Watch what happens to that tiny little blog if Markos Almighty Moulitsas of Daily Freaking Kos puts that tiny blog on his blogroll.
I can tell you, so you don't have to set up a shell site to do the research: that tiny blog's readership increases by five hundred percent in an hour and continues to increase exponentially until it settles comfortably -- and I'm talking an EMPTY SITE with NOTHING GOING ON -- at about 3oo hits a day.
Now, imagine there happens to be an excellent little blog, with three or four regular contributors (writing for the joy of it) in addition to the intrepid proprietor, passionately posting quality material on varied subjects of interest to a great many people? And Markos links to THAT little blog? Well that tiny little blog just might garner enough of a readership to warrant a blogads sponsor. And the proprietor of that blog might find herself making a little dough. Maybe enough to pay her light bill -- maybe more, maybe her kid's tuition, maybe even replace her bullshit beater car.
Now, imagine this hitherto working-poor blogger has settled comfortably and gratefully into this new existence, amazed at her great good fortune at having been so blessed as to have been blogrolled by a site with such a huge readership that its drivebys alone were enough to provide her with enough of a supplementary income from advertising on HER site to change her standard of living from working poor to... working poor with a ray of light.
And along comes AMNESTY DAY.
Oh joy. I'm sure she's THRILLED. Free at last.
Believe me or not, it's your choice, but I have personal experience here: inclusion on even a blogroll as massive as my own, with traffic even as limited as my own, dramatically affects a tiny blog with tiny readership levels. I've seen it, and hear about it every single day. my blogroll has to be one of the longest in frigging history, and some of the sites listed have NO traffic -- except the people who see it on my blogroll and click that link out of curiousity, wondering why I have it there. And lo, I get an email asking who the hell I am and why they're getting so many hits from some site called myleftwing.com.
I lashed out in anger yesterday about this on my blog and in some comments elsewhere; my anger was, I think, justified. At first, though, it was on my own behalf. Now -- not so much. Ego-wise, sure -- I feel like I just got told by the stars of the blogosphere that I'm not good enough for inclusion in the club. I feel like I'm pressing my nose on the window outside the restaurant now and that pisses me off, too, bruises my enormous ego.
Just what DOES it take to earn enough credibility with these guys? What, we all have to like each other? For some reason, I thought this was about more than smoky backrooms and who knows whom and you scratch my back. Or is it the possession of a cock that really matters, here? Jane Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith got a special dispensation for being extra fucking brilliant, but that's it, no more females need apply? No, that’s probably not it, even though sometimes it feeeeels like that's it.
We have different focuses, to be sure -- but I seem to recall, Markos, for example, laughing me off his front page a year ago because I was cheerleading for Al Gore -- whom he has now just touted in the pages of Rolling Stone as "all but unstoppable in the primary should he choose to run." For over a year, Markos refused to include him in straw polls because -- and I'd find the direct quotes if had the fucking energy -- he didn't consider him viable EVEN IF HE DID RUN. So what happened? I was prescient enough a year ago to be saying something Markos only recently started saying -- surely my worth as a political blogger isn't completely nonexistent, if I could see Gore coming a mile away when the Great and Powerful Markos was blinded by the Common Wisdom? Guess not... Certainly NOT worthwhile enough for Markos to keep on his blogroll, let alone bother to read.
Booman. Dropped. The Rude Pundit -- dropped. WTF? These are legitimate sites with longstanding audiences and membership. So... Wait a minute. Is this a question of being an EMBARRASSMENT with the more Establishment types with whom you now consort, having successfully crashed the gate?" Are we now your embarrassing cousins? Sure, you'll be happy to glad-hand with us at the YKos family reunion, but QUICK, hide the nutty aunts when there's company around?
This Amnesty bullshit and what it represents is much bigger than it looks. Markos and the Big Boys of Blogging are marching toward the Rubicon, if they haven't already reached or crossed it.
As it is, they hopped on the Irony Express to Slippery Slope Valley a looong time ago, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, pick up a copy of Crashing the Gate --
~~~ and by the way... Gate? There's only one way in?~~~
and read just about any passage from "The Gravy Train" or "Civil War," two of the most powerfully accurate and scathing chapters in the Armstrong - Moulitsas tome.
So, what’s it gonna be, boys? Values, principles, ethics, morals, ideas, solutions -- or WIN WIN WIN? Because when I RE-read Gate, I get the creepy-crawlies every fucking time you reference the Republicans's methods, strategies and results ADMIRINGLY.
It is not enough to win. It is NOT ENOUGH for me to win a seat in the House if the person we put there is NOT REALLY A DEMOCRAT.
You know the acronym: DINO -- Democrat In Name Only. (And of course, the Republican doppelganger, the Republican In Name Only -- but fuck them, let them figure that out themselves.)
So now we come to it: What do YOU think a Democrat is? How do you recognise a Democrat? There must be some rock solid values, definable features, no? You CAN'T just CALL yourself a Democrat irrespective of your political, social and moral beliefs,... CAN you?
Well, if you can't -- and let's just say, for argument's sake, that there IS a difference between a Democrat and a Republican and that they are readily distinguishable by at least, say, three policy stances, be they social, economic or both.
Okay, then, what ARE these distinguishing features of a Democrat, these beliefs or philosophies that set her apart from a Republican? Has anyone ever actually agreed on a single one? A... deal breaker, if you will? That's the phrase I've used in recent years, and one many also use. Let's agree on that to start, shall we?
What are the deal breaker stances that define a Democrat? Well, if the most recent mid-term election is anything by which to go, it most certainly is not reproductive freedom. An admitted anti-choice Democrat named Bob Casey won a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, thanks in no small part to the staunch support of the centrist "netroots" power base -- read: Markos Moulitsas & Friends -- not my definition, someone placed those laurels on that handsome pate long before I even knew there was such a thing as "netroots," and that it wasn't a plural term, which still bothers me, by the way...
Anyway, Casey isn't the only anti-choice Democrat out there -- more and more of them are popping up in the hallowed halls of the United States Congress, much to the dismay of many of us with ovaries -- especially in South Dakota. But we're here now, no use crying over spilt breast milk, right? Let's just cross reproductive freedom off that list and ready ourselves for that ludicrously redundant fight when it comes back, like corsets or foot binding or leaded face paint.
How about the economic front? Surely there must be some stark difference between a Democrat and a Republican when it comes to matters of economics, taxes, labour, wages... something? Well, don't tell Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- the man has voted with the Republicans virtually every time there's been a vote to be MADE, I can't imagine he veered left suddenly when it came to a vote to give the rich another fucking buck. And Ben ain't alone when it comes to that "votes with the scum every goddamned time" thing, either. There were some shockingly consistent traitors over the past few terms. And by "traitor" I mean "one who betrays one's country, a cause, or a trust"...
A perfect example of a political traitor, who has betrayed a cause, a trust: Senator Joseph Lieberman. When he served as Senator of Connecticut and undercut his own Party at every turn, it was an iffy call; you could argue he was voting his conscience. But when he lost the Democratic primary, having been a member of the Democratic Party for the entirety of his career, and instead of accepting the results, chose to betray that Democratic Party by running against the winner of the primary as an Independent, Joseph Lieberman became a traitor.
What has this to do with Markos, the "blogroll amnesty" brouhaha and me?
Despite my huffy huff puffery about the blogroll brouhaha, cooler heads prevailed on me to stop and think before typing a single word in ANY post with the letters GBCW or GBCK in its title.
They were, of course, correct. Besides, for most intense and virtually all purposes, I've been committing slow suicide, sprinkling arsenic on my powdered sugar doughnuts every morning, just like The Grandmother taught us (obscure reference to tacky, salacious novel series to which I and every other 7th grade girl in my class were addicted -- but I SERIOUSLY digress, man...)
I will not be committing Dkosiside. At least, not with a GBCW or GBCK diary...
I am, however, here to voice my thoughts on this blogroll development, as well as a more egregious turn of events. Markos, who merrily scoffed away over a year ago (and continued to until very recently) at those of us who passionately believed that Al Gore would win the primaries and the Presidency if he campaigned and ran -- this self-same arrogant "Gate-Crasher" and Rahm Emanuel admirer can now be found quoted in Rolling Stone:
... and Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos, is equally unabashed in his support of Gore...
-- excuse me while I choke on every dismissive post he ever made about Gore and every time he refused to include Gore in a straw poll --
"More than any Democrat over the last four years, Gore has actually delivered," says Moulitsas, one of the Internet's most influential organizers. "If Gore enters the race, it's his nomination for the taking.
And yeah, you bet your ASS that's my emphasis up there, because that's exactly what I said to MARKOS, each time I goaded him about including Gore in his 2008 straw polls. He refused, insisting that Gore was not a "real" candidate, because he had not declared. Of course, at the time, I believe the only actual DECLARED candidate for the Democratic primaries at THAT time was a 51 year old psychic part-time cashier at Wal-Mart in Biloxi, but no matter. When THAT discrepancy was pointed out, Markos demurred, saying that he didn't consider Gore a genuine candidate, referring to Gore's repeated denials. Like, say, the repeated denials of so many OTHER candidates over the past 2 centuries.
I cannot WAIT to see what happens if Hillary Clinton IS the nominee. Is this one-time DLC-loathing "gate-crasher" (ah, christ, that title, the whole fucking book, what a painful, cruel joke to read it now) going hitch his wagon to Hillary's tree stump and do the little "Gotta Work with the Candidate You've Got, Not the One You Wish You'd Got" song and dance? Like he did with Casey? And the others too numerous to mention?
You know, the candidate you COULD have got, if you'd got your ass in gear when it really counted, when you were busy making back room deals for one failed centrist skeevy anti-choice DLC DINO after another in race after race, then turned your attention to the sure things in the Presidential race, the electable ones, the money guys and gal, the anointed ones, the Presidential versions of Gray fucking Davis?
Nonpartisan has called bullshit on those of us who have called bullshit on Markos's Blogroll Amnesty.
While I deeply respect Nonpartisan, and see his points and their validity in his realm of logic, I would like to take the opportunity to respond with my own points, just to a few of his.
MSOC blogrolls BHD because she wants to, not because she owes them any kind of loyalty.
No: I blogroll BHD precisely because I do owe them "a kind of loyalty." I don't actually WANT to blogroll them, you know; they hurt my feelings very badly, and, in fact, I would characterise it as having betrayed and capitalised on me for their own gain. But I blogroll them nonetheless, because I still owe them loyalty for the relationship we once had and what it once was.
I hope that's clear and doesn't sound too bizarre; sometimes my principles seem odd to some -- in fact, the founders of BHD seem to have divorced themselves from me precisely because they did not agree with some of my principles. Nevertheless...
Your stat about hit counts is misleading, I think.
MLW does, in fact, get about a third of its external visits from Daily Kos. At least, it did until Markos dropped it from his blogroll. In dropping MLW off his blogroll, he has effectively sliced MLW's traffic by a third -- and consequently MLW's traffic rates will affect its advertising rates, which directly affects my income.
MSOC's writings helped grow Kos' site? So did those of plenty of people who have been banned, most notably Madman in the Marketplace. The key is that dKos helped grow MSOC's blogosphere presence far more than her writing helped his site.
My writing helped grow Markos's site in a very different way than many others did and, I would submit, in an almost equal measure as he has helped me. Perhaps that's overstating the case... I say it because the degree to which Markos benefited from my participation at DKos is far greater than the degree to which My Left Wing has been aided by Markos's inclusion of one link to MLW on his blogroll. Certainly he has done NOTHING else by way of helping me to grow MLW; he has never once linked to MLW on his front page, for instance, when that would have been a huge boon to its traffic, as it always is to ANY of the sites he references. but Markos tends to stick to a select number of sites -- usually the members of his inner circle, the BBB, as I term them. The ones who don't need the help anyway...
But back to whether I am at all responsible for the success of Daily Kos and whether Markos owes me anything, even something so minor as a link on his blogroll...
I arrived just after he instituted the Scoop system, and it was not long after my arrival that I began "collecting" a "fan base," for lack of a better term. I was among the very first people to get 100+ comments. Then, when he added the Recommended Diaries list, I became an institution on it -- and the first to get 300+ comments, then 500+, and the then-jaw-dropping 1000+ comments, which shut down the site.
And I think if you were to ask Markos, and if he were to be honest about it, he would tell you he was QUITE aware, from the first, of the impact my presence on Daily Kos had on his traffic, his page views, ergo his advertising rates, ergo his income.
Most people may not remember it, but I certainly do, because it was ME doing it, writing those dairies that had that impact -- and I was in awe of it. I was also sort of afraid of the Cult of MSOC that sprung up; not the admirers, who merely rated my tip jars and praised my work, but the bizarre followers who tended to email me obsessively and troll rate anyone who dared criticise me at all, who slavishly composed odes of adoration -- yeah, that was a little fucking creepy.
I also recall the near-CONSTANT pleas and recommendations that I start my own blog. I saw no reason to; I wasn't in the blogging game for anything but the instantaneous response to my writing, the sheer visceral joy of having found a giant community of people who thought and felt as I did, politically and philosophically.
But the time came when I did decide to start my own blog; ironically, Markos's own actions drove me to it. Matters not now which actions, but had he been more answerable to his community, had he been more like, say... ME (heh) in terms of responsiveness to the desires of his membership when it came to features and aesthetics, I would probably still be there, blogging away for fun and for free.
But here we are. And in moving on to my own site and growing to believe in myself as an independent political thinker, increasingly I find myself at odds with the Big Boys of Blogging, who turn out not to be so "left-leaning" as they're described in the corporate media, after all. They are, in fact, just about as conservatively centrist as you can get. And Markos leads the pack, not only in name and profile, but in philosophy and action, as well.
Which makes his decision to strip his blogroll of all but the safest of editorial-free blogs a no-brainer, when you think about it... but unconscionable, nonetheless, given his constant claims of being "people-powered" and "netroots" and all that pseudo-populist drivel that never did make much fucking sense to begin with.
...the man is on his way to something truly great -- a true fusion of blogosphere activism with political leadership.
The innovation Markos can be credited with is political blogging. And that is truly a wondrous thing. But as for political activism and leadership? Sorry, no sale, man -- the day he threw Paul Hackett under the bus at Rahm Emanuel's bidding was the day I knew Markos was just another DLC in training. "Nice try, live to fight another day, we're going with the anointed one" -- what a bunch of fucking BULLSHIT.
And then came Casey and Duckworth and on and on and on -- one after another the truly PROGRESSIVE, LIBERAL candidates were shoved aside because the ESTABLISHMENT Democrats, in the form of Schumer and Emanuel and Clinton et al, put their imprimatur on the safe, solidly centrist-to-conservative candidates.
And even when the cabal agreed to dump Lieberman, their cowardice in failing to rein him in and forcing him to drop his outrageous switch to "Independent" status on the ballot, my GOD, these are the people from whom Markos takes his cues. This is not a political leader, he is a follower. And he is following the wrong fucking people, for the love of god, he is following the SAME PEOPLE who have been leading the Democratic Party further and further into the wilderness of spinelessness, of cowardice, of dishonesty, of obeisance to polls and bullies and liars and fools.
Turns out, I'm not too terribly conflicted about being unceremoniously removed from the blogroll at Daily Kos; I'll hurt from the lack of traffic translating to the lack of advertising rates/dollars... but hell, I'm already hurting from every politician's advertisement I reject on principle, too.
I'll live without the link from Daily Kos. Hell, that one goddamned blogroll link is the only acknowledgement the motherfucker has EVER given me or My Left Wing. You know that?
When I was profiled on the front page of the almighty motherfucking Washington Post? Not one fucking peep. Not a congratulations, not a critique. NOTHING. I think I pretty much knew where I stood with the Big Boys of Blogging that weekend.
So, I'll go from one-link obscurity in the eyes of the Big Boys of Blogging to no-link obscurity. At least I won't have to explain why I'm taking ads from fucking EXXON.
I have not read any but the first 70- comments.
But my only complaints so far are the usual ones:
Many people do NOT read the entire thing. And IF they do, their reading comprehension leaves a LOT to be desired. I mean, seriously, a lot of people get the point completely reversed and then tear me to shreds for making a fucking point I did NOT fucking MAKE. This type I call Utter Idiots.
Then you have the standard Snakes in the Grass who always show up when it's clear I've posted something that's controversial enough to make it safe for them to come in and hiss their vicious nastiness at me without fear of reprisal. They know full well the comments are coming too fast for any significant number of people to stop short and CALL them on their assholery, so they're free to act out all they want, safe in the knowledge that even if a few people DO stop to troll rate their indefensibly cruel comments, it won't be enough to do them any TU status damage...
As for Hunter's charge that this diary is total "Kos-bashing:" I haven't seen the comment, but he's free to think and say what he likes, of course. I can't completely refute the charge; the post pulls no punches. I have been critical of Markos in the past, but I don't believe I've ever gone this far before, been this confrontational before. I disagree with the term "Kos-bashing," though. I have always had a strict NO Kos-bashing policy at MLW, and only withdrew it yesterday, because I was so goddamned disillusioned. I'll be reinstating it, I'm sure -- but not just yet.
I can't say for sure, but I am inclined to remain mostly nonresponsive over here. First, I have other shit to do, and would rather spend the time I DO have for blogging tonight at MLW, where I belong, and where I don't have to deal with ... well, hostility. Sure, I can take it, always could, always will -- but the fact is, I don't WANT to take it and I don't HAVE to take it. I just spent two weeks in a psych ward and yeah, I'm still a little fucking fragile, okay? Fucking sue me.
Besides, I told you in my very first comment (my thus far troll rating-free Tip Jar) that I preferred to have any conversation about this diary at My Left Wing, in any case.
(By the way... Diary? Post? Piece? Essay? Article? Missive? Composition? Column? Offering??? WHAT THE FUCK SHOULD WE CALL THESE THINGS? Okay, subject for another time. But let me go on record as saying that I am as confounded by this lack of an appropriate term as people have been for decades when fumbling for a title for the sexual life partner of a, say, a 51 year old gay woman.)
Aaaaanyway. Back to life. Have to go to the grovery store, pick up a few missing ingredients for dinner, come back and MAKE dinner, serve dinner, eat dinner, clean UP dinner, clean up one of the diners... Said diner, by the way, has picked a lousy fucking day to be a total little PILL. Had a litlle fuckin' tantrum over the Playstation ; he didn't approve of the technique (or, to be, well, as honest as I can be about this 7 year old bullshit) with which his playdate pal was mangling their ongoing (on-going over MONTHS, understand) "Call of Duty 3" game..
I mean it, now. back to life.
Except for this one, VERY important note: Remember up there, where I said Markos isn't a leader, he's a follower? Well, I haven't been back to DKos to read the comments, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts SOMEONE'S taken offense at that, on Markos's behalf. And I'd just like to take this opportunity to REMIND you all that when I say Markos is not a leader, I'm simply reiterating something Markos himself has declared vehemently, passionately and even sometimes plaintively.
"I am not a leader."
-- Markos Moulitsas Zúniga