Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Occupation: Activist

Whiskey Bar says Kos has been "Swiftboated," and I don't think he means that in a nice way:
The campaign against Kos, which I'd originally dismissed as just another pissy TNR vendetta, is starting to look more and more like a coordinated effort: a Swiftboat operation. At the very least, it's snowballing into a more systematic media attack on Left Blogistan, which makes it my fight as well as Kos's.
Let me start, Mr. Whiskey Bar, by telling you that you have been misinformed. It was not TNR's Zengerle, but NYT's Chris Suellentrop, who first called attention to the party-line patterns of the DailyKos/Political Technologies LLC.

Suellentrop was miles ahead of everybody else on this story, but in fact Democrats -- real "netroots" progressive Democrats -- have been suspicious of the Armstrong-Zuniga operation since back when the MyDD Dynamic Duo were paid consultants to the Dean Machine. (A fact that Suellentrop reported in January '05.)

It was a Paul Hackett supporter, "BuckeyeState," who in October '05 blew the whistle on this Molotov-Ribbentrop deal whereby DailyKos went from pro-Hackett to pro-Sherrod Brown in about 48 hours -- right after the Brown campaign hired Jerome Armstrong.

Mullah Moulitsas can scream and threaten and cry like a baby, but he cannot erase his Hackett-Brown flipflop. And if there's a plausible explanation of that switch which does not involve the influence of Armstrong -- a man whom Markos himself called the "blogfather" -- I'd like to see it.

Given Suellentrop's report that the Security and Exchange Commission took action against Armstrong because of accusations that he was a crooked stock tout on RagingBull.com back during the dot-com bubble, is it not a reasonable suspicion that Armstrong might be doing a similar hustle now -- except instead of getting paid to tout loser stocks, now he's getting paid to tout loser candidates?

You've come in late on the story and then missed the entire point of it.

Mr. Whiskey Bar, the reason you think "Kosola" is about who e-mailed what to who is because that's what Markos and Jerome want you to focus on, rather than asking yourself whether the whole "people-powered movement" is a hustle in which the blog bosses get paid while the "netroots" get played.

But no: Markos starts yelling about "Lieberman-worshipping neocons" and the entirety of the online Left immediately rallies round the flag. "It's about the Movement!"

Brilliant. For all your talk about "nuance," you lefties are the most naive and simplistic chumps on the planet. You remind me of those foolish old ladies who send their Social Security checks to televangelists.

*UPDATE 1 p.m. *
This is Whiskey Bar on the ethics involved:

Daily Kos is a web site for Democratic Party activists. Not a newspaper. Not a foundation. Not a think tank. What section of unwritten SCLM code of ethics forbids Kos from endorsing candidates that Jerome works for? Or, for that matter, that Kos works for?

Exactly. But this is still missing the point. The constant drumbeat at Daily Kos is "support Candidate X, who is really a winner in the 49th District," etc. Kos is the #1 political blog, on the one hand promoting issues and sharing the latest news, and on the other hand attracting a hard-core partisan audience that has proven a lucrative source of campaign cash for Democrats since the passage of the McCain-Feingold bill.

So: Candidates want favorable treatment by Daily Kos, and they want to tap into the "netroots" fund-raising honey pot. But the success of Daily Kos is dependent upon Moulitsas' reputation as a sincere and insightful provider of information.

If Candidate X hires Armstrong and then suddenly Kos starts hyping that candidate, how do the Kossacks know that they aren't getting scammed? Answer: They don't.

If Candidate X is paying Armstrong, and Kos' readers are giving money to Candidate X -- who may also be advertising on Kos' site -- then what should the Kossacks make of DailyKos' backing of Candidate X?

The point, however, is this: Armstrong earns his living as a Democrat. That's how he pays his bills. He is a professional activist. If he went Green or Libertarian, he would no longer have the #1 audience in the political blogosphere. And having the #1 audience is what gives him the #1 ad revenue.

This would be cool -- perhaps a bargain to the Democratic Party -- if Kos had a solid record of wins. But he doesn't. He's a loser. Before you get all indignant about that fact, I remind everyone once again that we are now just a little over 4 months from Election Day.

By Nov. 8, dear Moonbats, you'll either be winners or losers. But remember that Markos gets paid even if Democrats lose: It's a win-win for him and Armstrong.

They got paid by Dean in 2004. So even though Dean was a loser, Armstrong-Zuniga LLC was a winner. And they've since parlayed that win into two (entirely separate) careers, Armstrong as Political Technologies LLL and Moulitsas as Kos Media LLC.

What is missing from DailyKos is any suggestion of caveat emptor, any hint of skepticism about the nature of the transaction. Think about the reaction of Kos to recent criticism -- "It's an attack on the Movement!" You must believe. To doubt is betrayal.

Anybody up for a game of three-card monte?

To borrow a phrase from George Lakoff:
Don't think of a scam.

-- McCAIN