If somebody put a question to you regarding Rob Stein and long term progressive funding, would you have an effing clue what they were talking about? A lot of last night’s session by Kos and Jerome Armstrong went right over my head. But the context was there for a common understanding between the macro market blogging poli-strategists and the local yokel.
Elizabeth D. was there. Elizabeth writes a weekend feature at the daily Kos called â€œWhatâ€™s your fucking problem?â€ The raw power of Kosâ€™ enormous hit count has hundreds of comments piling up beneath an Elizabeth D. post, most of them fading way off topic, but all generally pointed at that liberal-qua progressive chatter that is the mark of the party politics junky. Iâ€™ve had some idea of the weight of the community interactions in that end of the powah curve, but just cruising in to see whatâ€™s up on a Saturday night at dKos tells you a lot about the mass media concentration of attention thatâ€™s built into the -what? Whatâ€™s at the other end of the long tail? The short neck? Wherever you put that many people together you get a lot of short-neck, knuckle-dragging mouth breathers. You get some interesting conversations intertwingled in there too, and Iâ€™m guessing you get some serious flameage, but maybe not so much. My sense was that Kos keeps it all pretty well moderated.
I asked Jerome Armstrong about whether net neutrality was being addressed by the combined weight of MyDD and dKos. Although he was able to answer truthfully that there is support for the concept, there are people like Matt Stoller wrapping some energy around the issue, the question seemed to make him uncomfortable. Issues orientation is anathema to the big power guys. You canâ€™t easily pull a party unity platform together around issues, and I sense that Kos and Armstrong are about nothing more and nothing less than building a monolithic power bloc of left/progressive voters to win presidential elections. Jeromeâ€™s horse in this race is Governor Warner. While the â€œcoalitionsâ€ of blogger support for network neutrality are building at MyDD, Warner and the party leadership remain mute, unwilling to risk a misstep in these early days of the 2008 race.
Which brings me to the matter of Zephyr Rain, and her oil and water relationship with Markos. Major projection coming hereâ€¦ First of all, let me say that the description of issues (see page 114 cf. in Crashing the Gate) around Markosâ€™ and Jeromeâ€™s reimbursement for work during the Dean campaign were of little interest to more than a thin sliver of politics junkies. â€œZephyr Who? Daily What?â€ This was echo chamber stuff at itâ€™s most trivial. Nobody cared, in a broad sense. Only a few insiders knew there were any feelings hurt, any dispute at all around this matter, Kos was totally a legend in his own mind. He touched a broad base of bloggers, all of whom stuck up for him against any smear from the right. Zephyr was ingenuous at best in her description of the engagement of these young political techno-operatives and what they and the campaign hoped to gain from it.
But as Denise Howell points out, there are emerging economic interests in the blogosphere that will be served. Markos has a business model, as does Jerome. And while Denise is right that on the live web there is no center, that the mass of users is enormously distributed, still there are concentrations of users in the short neck that create conditions remarkably like the mass media markets we have left behind. These masses rally to the right or the left, and they form â€œa demographicâ€ that the techno-operatives seek to manipulate for the greater good of the party.
I thought the old Reds, Solidarity, the Trots, the Old New Left, the New Old Left, the wobblies here in Madison were remarkably polite and restrained in their exchanges with these young Democrats last night. But as the tension in 2004 between Teachout from the Dean campaign and the techno-operatives demonstrates, the left will have its cannibalistic rituals no matter what.