Tag Archives: chris bowers

The Logic of Clinton’s Rightist Rhetoric

Chris Bowers of MyDD, a liberal pundit as smart as all get-out, notes that Hillary Clinton appears to be running as a Republican:

Open Left:: Who Are The Elites?
It fits into a larger pattern where Clinton is using right-wing conceptualizations of elitism to attack Obama. Now, for example, she is sending out direct mail attacking Obama for being an elitist who wants to take away rural people’s guns. That is a pretty stark right-wing turn for Clinton in this campaign.

A true nightmare scenario for progressives is when the leader of the Democratic Party participates in, gives credence to, and “closes the triangle” on the centerpiece of conservative ideology over the last forty years: the Great Backlash Narrative against civil rights and “liberal elites.”. While Obama has engaged in some right-wing talking points of his own on “Hillarycare,” a social security “crisis,” and the rather absurd notion that the Clintons are ultra-partisan super lefties, Clinton is stepping into far more dangerous territory here. Her arguments border on holding liberalism and progressivism itself in the same sort of narrative contempt that conservatives have long done through the Great Backlash Narrative. This very much reminds of me when the DLC was dominant in the Democratic Party in the 1990’s, and it is not a place to where I long to return.

Christ is right.

Clinton did poorly enough between Super Tuesday and Virginia that merely putting in a good show would result in her losing. Rather, Clinton needed to demonstrate that Obama was a uniquely incompetent candidate who would surely lose to McCain in a general election. Her strategy for doing this was to run as John McCain in the Democratic primary, demonstrating that if Obama cannot even hold onto Democratic partisans, he has no shot in November.

Not only is Hillary Clinton’s advertisement titled Kitchen

nearly identical in tone to John McCain’s “624787 “

McCain could use Clinton’s attack ads as is, simply searching-and-replacing her name for his

The reason is to drive one point home: If Barack Obama can barely win Democratic Party elections against John McCain in the spring, how can he defeat John McCain in the Fall?

Chris Bowers of MyDD Finally Goes Too Far

Things I Hate About The Progressive Blogosphere,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 22 June 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/6/22/171859/138#readmore.

After making some good points on what is wrong with the (liberal) blogosphere

I hate comments to the effect of “we’re all doomed / none of this matters unless we fix the voting machines.” I suppose the voting machine conspiracy explains why we have made significant gains among Governors since 2000. It probably also explains why we have gone from a minority in state legislatures seats nationwide to our current majority. It probably also explains why we gained in the House in 2004 outside of Texas redistricting. As someone who supports comprehensive election reform and a verifiable paper trial, what really bothers me about comments like these is how they postulate conspiracies that require such a small number of people to carry out yet are still be viewed as all-encompassing in control of our nation. It is really an amazingly simplistic explanation for our problems: nothing is holding progressive back except for being prostrate before an all-powerful clique that control the voting machines. It is also a perfect explanation for lack of action: way bother doing anything else until we fix the voting machines? Seeing these comments really sets me off.

On a similar note, I hate it when people conflate your belief or non-belief in such conspiracies as the primary way to determine how “left” you are. Even though I agree with around 90% of the Green Party platform, I have been surprised to learn on a number of occasions that I am actually a moderate because I don’t think voter fraud swung the 2004 election. I have been equally surprised to learn that I am ashamed to be a Democrat because I don’t believe things like this.

“Woot,” one might say. Or even “w007 yeah!! — that’s a l337 p05t!” But then:

On a similar note, I lament that comments like “woot!” “yeah!” and “fuck yeah!” have become not just acceptable, but actually the standard form of comment found on many major blogs. It’s like Democratic Underground has taken everything over. This was always an issue on blogs, and it might not in fact be any worse now than it was three years ago. Perhaps now that I am a blogger it irritates me more than it did in the past. Still, sometimes I worry that we have reached a size where it is not possible to functionally maintain the cohesion of our community.

That’s going too far. Bowers is an anti-wooter. Case closed.

Oh well, at least he bitch slaps reckless bloggers and Senators

Sometimes, the casual references to Republicans, the Pope, or whoever as Nazis and Democrats, bloggers, of whoever as “Vichy” make me want to quit politics and live in the woods. Who are the ignorant assholes that use such terms casually anyway? The Nazis killed twelve million people, half of whom were Jewish, in concentration camps or other mass executions. Their armies killed another forty million. The Vichy government in France helped them. It is nice to see, however, that so many people on the blogosphere have no problem conflating something like a vote on the bankruptcy bill as the equivalent of these ghastly deeds. Calling everything the same thing is to call everything nothing. Calling everything the worst thing is to exonerate all those who are guilty, no matter what they are guilty of, as it flattens out the important differences between them.

Blogosphere Analysis (Vital Information for Bloggers)

Aristocratic Right Wing Blogosphere Stagnating,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 12 June 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/6/12/17357/3049.

Remember when I said Chris Bowers is a genius? He proves it again. If you have a blog, read this

As I have always been prone to do, I spent much of the morning looking at the Blogads traffic rankings. Adding up the 200 blogs that are concerned with politics and either identify or have been identified with Democrats / liberals or Republicans / conservatives, I found 87 blogs that general fit into the “liberal” category and 113 blogs that fit into the conservative category. However, despite the greater number of conservative blogs, the liberal blogs totaled nearly ten million page views per week, while the conservative blogs managed just over six million. I have been tracking the comparative audiences of the two blogosphere off and on for the past nine months, and this is the largest lead for the liberal blogosphere that I have ever found. In September, the margin in favor of Democrats was 25%. In winter, it was 33%. In the spring, it was 50%. Now, it has risen to 65%. This is particularly amazing, since less than two years ago the conservative blogosphere was at least twice the size of the liberal blogosphere.

So the liberal blogosphere is beginning to pull away from the conservative blogopshere in terms of audience size. At the same time, there appear to be more conservative blogs than liberal blogs. In fact, when it comes to total number, new Republican / conservative blogs might even be outpacing new Democratic / liberal blogs. What could be the cause of this?

Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Café, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls. By comparison, there are no community sites among the top twenty-four conservative blogs. None, zip, zero, nada. This is particularly stunning when one considers the importance of the Free Republic community to the conservative netroots. While it would appear that there are hordes of Glenn Reynolds wannabe’s among conservatives in the netroots, Redstate.org sticks out as the only success story for a community oriented blog within the conservative blogosphere. In fact, of the five most trafficked conservative blogs (over 200,000 page views per week), only one, Little Green Footballs, even allows comments, much less the ability to actually write a diary or a new article.

The nine liberal community sites I listed in the paragraph above have accounted for the bulk of the exceptional growth of the liberal blogosphere over the past two years. In the summer of 2003, Dailykos was roughly equal in traffic to Atrios, and had less than half the traffic of Instapundit. However, starting with a large growth spurt following the introduction of Scoop in October of 2003, now Dailykos has grown to three times the size of Instapundit and four times the size of Atrios. Over the past year, Scoop sites Dembloggers, MyDD, and BooMan Tribune have risen from miniscule traffic numbers to top forty, even top twenty, blogs. Over the past two weeks, the traffic at Talking Points Memo and TPM Café has risen to a combined 1.3 million, making it easily the second most trafficked political blog (comfortably passing Instapundit). In fact, the introduction of the community oriented TPM Café has more than doubled the traffic at TPM of late. Overall, while both the right-wing and left-wing blogosphere have seen growth in traffic, the truly exceptional growth of many community sites on the liberal end of the blogosphere has made the difference that catapulted the liberal blogosphere from half the size of the right-wing blogosphere in July 2003 to more than 60% its size in June 2005.

Anyone who spends a significant amount of time on Scoop blogs should not have any difficulty figuring out why this is the case. Because of Scoop’s diary feature, it is possible to become at least a semi-famous blogger without having a blog of your own. An entire generation of popular liberal bloggers grew out of the Dailykos diaries and comments: Billmon, Steve Soto, Steve Gillard, Melanie, DemfromCT, DhinMI, Theoria, Tom Schaller, Meteor Blades, DavidNYC, myself, SusanHu, Jerome a Paris, lapin, Maryscott O’Conner, NYCO, Mariascat, and many, many more. I believe that the wave of new talent and fresh voices that the comments and dairy options bring to a blog has been the key factor in the liberal blogosphere outpacing the growth of the right wing blogosphere. Every day brings more reasons to read the highly trafficked liberal blogs. Every two weeks or so brings a new liberal blog from someone who has already become famous as a diarist. Community moderated blogging platforms such as Scoop have provided us with an excellent means of finding new voices, and these are the voices that are generating the accelerated growth in the liberal and progressive blogosphere when compared to the right-wing blogosphere.

By comparison, right-wing blogs have pretty much only one means of finding a new voice in the blogosphere: when someone starts a new blog. The inability to operate within a community must be the primary reason behind the large number of conservative blogs in the second, third and fourth quintiles of the Blogads traffic rankings. In fact, of these 120 blogs, 77 of them are openly conservative / libertarian. There are swarms of new conservative voices looking to breakout in the right-wing blogosphere, but they are not even allowed to comment, much less post a diary and gain a following, on the high traffic conservative blogs. Instead, without any fanfare, they are forced to start their own blogs. However, because of the top-down nature of right-wing blogs, new conservative blogs remain almost entirely dependent upon the untouchable high traffic blogs for visitors. In short, the anti-community nature of right-wing blogs has resulted in a stagnant aristocracy within the conservative blogosphere that prevents the emergence of new voices and, as a result, new reasons for people to visit conservative blogs.

Unless right-wing blogs decide to open up and allow their readers to have a greater voice, I expect that the liberal and progressive blogosphere will continue its unbroken twenty-month rise in relative traffic. Conservative bloggers continue to act as though they are simply a supplement to the existing pundit class, without any need to converse with those operating outside of a small social bubble or any need to engage people within the new structure of the public sphere. In the formulation of Stirling Newberry, they view themselves existing on top of a pyramid rather than in the middle of a sphere. At least when it comes to the national blogosphere, liberals are leaving conservatives in the dust. By comparison, conservatives seem all too happy to continue to cogitate from atop their lofty and increasingly irrelevant perch. That’s fine by me. I hope some things never change.

Update: Courtesy of Simon World, Matthew Yglesias looks at the differences between the liberal and conservative blogospheres. Very informative reading.

Chris Bowers on Political Demography

The Future of the Electorate, Part Two,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 11 June 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/6/11/19592/2804.

Chris Bowers of MyDD runs the most intelligent, honest, self-critical partisan blog I know about. Earlier I mistook his frankness for strategic despair. It is not. It is a straight attempt to diagnose problems with the unsuccessful Democrat Coalition in order to fix them.

The latest bad news for Democrats..

Reading this piece led me to wondering about he age breakdown of the Latino vote. While we all know that Republicans gained among Latinos from 2000 to 2004, we also know that Democrats gained among younger voters from 2000 to 2004. Considering this, I thought that if Democrats had gained among young Latinos, which seemed reasonable considering their gains among other young voters, that they might actually be gaining among Latinos where it counts. It has become something of a truism around these parts that an individual’s voting patterns are fairly well locked after participation in three election cycles, so if Democrats were gaining ground among young Latinos and the Latino population itself was incredibly young, then it really wouldn’t matter if much that Republicans were gaining among Latinos overall. However, NAES quickly burst my bubble:

Latino Swing By Age
Dem Margin 2004 Dem Margin 2000
18-29 +22 +40
30-44 +6 +20
45-64 +28 +34
65+ +22 +38

While Democrats still won Latinos by a healthy margin in 2004, the greatest Latino shift toward Republicans actually came within the 18-29 age group. This is horrifying news, and must be rectified immediately.

Another interesting observation from our partisan demographer…

As a side note to this piece, I would also like to point out that over the past fifteen years, the population of the Unites States has increased by roughly 48 million people. I have previously documented the rise of non-Christians in the US, which have accounted for roughly 75% of our population growth since 1990. If Latinos have also accounted for more than 40% of the population growth in the Unites States since 1990, as the census bureau claims, that means demographic groups that are both Christian and non-Latino are actually experiencing a combined negative growth rate. This must especially be true for white Christians.

So if the Republican Party is gaining among Latinos, the religious right PMP/4GP hybrid network is threatened by a shrinking white Christian population. To oversimplify, this means that the Religious Right needs to grow in absolute terms among non-whites at least as fast as its white component is shrinking?

Can they pull it off?

My money is on the 4th Generation Crusaders.

Size and Direction of Structural Republican Majority in the Senate

The Structural Republican Edge in the Senate,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 6 June 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/6/6/141541/7458.

One measure of power of structural majority — the “default” amount of power a group has, and structural bias — the “default” extra reach a group has on top of “fair” results. Chris of the MyDD blog looks at both of these in terms of Republican control of the United States Senate

To start with, a “fair” election would give the Republican party equal power with the Democrat party, and provide no bias

Frustratingly, in the one hundred elections used to determine the current one hundred Senators, the Democratic candidates in those elections actually received more votes than the Republican candidates. The Democratic advantage, however, was slight, and if proportional representation had been used, it would have resulted in a 50-50 Senate. Since a split popular vote actually resulted in a 55-45 Republican Senate, according to the popular vote there is a five seat structural bias in favor of Republicans in the Senate.

But the Senate is geographically based. If voters would vote for Senators of the same party as their Presidential candidate…

According to my partisan index scale and not including D.C., right now there are thirteen “safe Dem” states (DNC +7.0 or more), 14 “swing states” (between +6.9 DNC and +6.9 RNC), and twenty-three “safe Rep” states (+7.0 RNC or more). This is a huge structural advantage for Republicans, since they are given twenty extra seats from their base of safe states even though the Democratic base of safe states has almost eight million more people in terms of total population. Further, there are not many more gains for Democrats to make from their base, as they already control twenty-three of the twenty-six seats in the safe Dem states, and the three holdouts are the famously moderate Chafee, Collins and Snowe. By contrast, Republicans control thirty-five of the forty-six seats in the safe Republican states, and also hold seventeen of the twenty-eight seats in the swing states. Were Democrats and Republicans to sweep their base states and evenly split the swing states, Republicans would control a 60-40 edge in the Senate. This translates into a ten-seat structural bias in favor of Republicans.

So the Senate has a strong Republican bias. But what is the direction — will the results become more or less tilted towards the GOP?

One way to tell is to determine if the difference between the number of states won by the Republican candidate and the number of Senate seats won by Republicans has been diverging (becoming more different) or converging (coming closer together). If we divide the number of Senators by 2 — so there is a maximum of 50 — and use averages for the Presidency in off years, we get

medium_senate_president_differential_nominal.jpg
Years Across, Size of Victory on the Side
Blue Bar: Number of States Won by Republican Candidate
Red Bar: Number of Republican Senators, divided by 2
Pink Bar: The Difference between GOP Strength
in Presidential and Senatorial Elections

If instead we use the absolute difference — so negative five would just be “five” — the trend is clearer.

medium_senate_president_differential_nominal.2.jpg
Years Across, Size of Victory on the Side
Blue Bar: Number of States Won by Republican Candidate
Red Bar: Number of Republican Senators,
Pink Bar: Difference between party strength
in Presidential and Senatorial Elections

The number of Senators a party has is coming closer and closer to the number of states won by a party’s presidential candidates. This means that the structural Republican majority in the Senate is growing stronger.

Update: According to the U.S. Senate Statistics and Lists page, three of the five longest serving Senators ever are Democrats in the U.S. Senate right now. The last survivors of a dying age.

MyDD and the Democrat Implosion

More Self-Hating Democrats,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 28 March 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/3/28/104751/322.

A Bigger Problem For Democrats Than Lieberman’s Loyalty,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD, 28 March 2005, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/3/28/14355/5543.

2004 was a great year for American Tory Democrat unity. The left really, really, really didn’t like President Bush, so they put aside a lot of differences to unite behind Senator Kerry. Not that such unity could last forever.

Virginia’s Democrat favorite for Governor criticizes Senator Kerry

Speaking of loyalty problems, would it be too late for Virginia to pass a law allowing Mark Warner to run again, as he could in any other state? You would think that the new Democratic nominee, LG Tim Kaine, was running for governor of Alabama, not of swing state Virginia. Consider these recent comments:

I think that John Kerry demonstrated much more comfort talking about windsurfing and hockey than he did talking about his beliefs,” says Kaine, admitting that he does have a limited amount of sympathy for the Massachusetts senator’s reticence.(…)

The second thing that Democrats have to do better on is not attacking the `religious right,'” he said. “I think that has been a standard bogeyman that Democrats have often used in campaigns, including campaigns in Virginia. If somebody advances an idea or position that’s wrong, then attack them for having a bad idea. But they are not wrong because they are religious.

“When Democrats kind of cavalierly attack the religious right or go after Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, our candidates have sent the signal to a lot of religious people, `Well, I guess they are not interested in me.’ And I think this includes a lot of people who would fit very naturally within the Democratic Party.”

This is, um, not exactly what Democrats need in the only southern state that is moving in our direction. How can we hope to build the party in Virginia, and make it a true swing state, when our new standard bearer in that state happily spouts off some of the worst Republican Noise Machine lies about Democrats? Further, he said these things in an interview with the American Prospect for crying out loud, not exactly hostile territory for Democrats.

Meanwhile, the grassroots turn on the 2008 Leadership

It would be easy to dismiss the Biden revival as a cheap stunt by a discredited party hack with all the national appeal of the streptococcus virus, except for one thing. Biden’s “national security” camp includes all four of the expected main contenders for the Democratic nomination–Biden himself, Hillary Clinton, Indiana senator Evan Bayh, and John Edwards. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, another outside contender, is also a member of this camp. We are going to be hearing a lot about “National Security Democrats” in the next three years.

However, Tabai’s slander aside, I have had enough of Democrat hawks consistently wailing about our “credibility gap” on national security and foreign affairs. This is epitomized by a group of Democrats coming together under the unofficial term “National Security Democrats.” Let’s see–what is the first thing that labeling yourself a national Security Democrats would serve to differentiate yourself from? Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that it is other Democrats. If some Democrats are called “National Security Democrats,” a Richard Holbroke term, this simultaneously labels the rest of the Democratic Party who do not join their group as not-National Security Democrats. This thereby perpetuates exactly the same lie that the Republican Noise Machine has worked for decades to construct: that Democrats in general are neither interested nor very good at National Security.

Gotta love strategic despair — when it is on the other side.