Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Tar Heel Tavern #105

Welcome to the 105th edition of the Tar Heel Tavern, coming back home after a looong time. I've been sick all week, thus in no strength to do a very creative tavern this time around, but I got a few nominations and added a couple of "Editor's Choices", so here we go:

David Kirk of See One, Do One, Teach One asks Is niche blogging a myth? (Small isn’t the new big.) and looks at a big local industry in North Carolina Dying from Pork.

Etbnc of Another blue puzzle piece wrote a philosophical piece about the Tip of the iceberg.

Laura of Moomin Light reports on the local school's effort to learn about the Greensboro sit-ins. I know all about it because my daughter was in that classroom and told me all about it in the afternoon.

Steve Emery of Color Sweet Tooth explores the beuaty and perfection in photographic art in John Rosenthal and Composition.

From Ron Hudson of 2sides2ron comes A Tribute to Women in the Early Days of AIDS.

Billy and his friend see albino animals: Ghost Deer Roams Blogsboro.

Do you have an old bottle of wine sitting around? If so, you need to open it right now, says Abel PharmBoy. Also: Why don't well-credentialed scientists get these TV gigs?

I was uncharacteristically unproductive this week on my main blog, A Blog Around The Clock, but I noted the resolution of a mystery in Hairless Grey Foxes in North Carolina and a simple explanation for another non-mysterious mystery in The Reducible Complexity of John McCain.

Next week, the Tavern goes to Slowly She Turned. And I am going back to bed.....

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Friday, February 23, 2007

The Tar Heel Tavern - last call for submissions

The 105th edition of The Tar Heel Tavern will be right here, Science And Politics, with no particular theme or topic. Just send your week's best by Saturday night to: Coturnix AT gmail DOT com

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Tar-Heel Tavern

The 104th edition of The Tar Heel Tavern is up on Freelance Writing for Nonprofits. The theme is 'paying tribute'.

Next week, the carnival will be right here on Science And Politics, with no particular theme or topic. Just send your week's best to: Coturnix AT gmail DOT com

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Tar Heel Tavern - last call

Kivi is hosting The Tar Heel Tavern tomorrow, so send your entries ASAP:

I am also hosting The Tarheel Tavern this weekend, the premiere carnival of North Carolina bloggers. My theme is “Paying Tribute.” Since we are close to President’s Day, and nobody I know actually honors our presidents on the day, I suggest we honor a person in our lives or history who really does deserve an extra bit of love and respect from us, via our blogs. NC bloggers can submit a post to me by Saturday night at kivi AT

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My Last (I promise) on Donohue, Bloggers and Edwards

After writing her side of the story in Salon, Amanda Marcotte is quite busy in the media these days, making various apperances on radio, including NPR's DayTo Day next week. She will also be joining TPM Cafe and has a post up on Huffington Post: Think Tanks, 503s and Rush Limbaugh--What's The Real 'Soft Money'

Now, Melissa McEwen published her take on the whole affair in Guardian: My life as a rightwing target. Check the comments and tell me that the Rightwingers are not delusional, dangerous psychopaths. And they are in the White House right now. (Oh, and if anyone thinks that Amanda and Melissa were wimps for quitting, you should read this)

I think that Donohue has jump-started their careers. And what they will do, now that they have more prominent soap boxes, is reveal to everyone how the Rightwing sliming machine works, how it is financed, and how it can be counteracted.

What Donohue has done successfully is make the story of Amanda and Melissa be framed as Bloggers vs. Edwards. And it pains me to see how many on the Left bit that bait (and hook and sinker). It is a multi-faceted story about the Rightwing sliming machine and how it works. It is also a story about the way the Party Establishment (both Left and Right) resists the democratization of the political process (it is the old-Millennium, dinosaur, computer-illiterate campaign managers who, I guess, wanted to get rid of the bloggers in the first place until Edwards stepped in and said No). It is also a story about the way Media resents the citizen journalism and the many-to-many conversation of the new media unrestrained by the he-said-she-said tropes. It is a story about the Beltway protecting their turf against the "rubes."

If this is the future, we are now in the middle of the war between the powers of the Old-Way-Of-Doing-Things that tends to protect the old power sturucture, and the New Way that gives the little man a say and overturns the old power structure.

Check out this Salon editorial as an example of this turf-protection. It is all about silencing the people. As I stated before, the netroots ARE the grassroots. It is the same people who knock on doors and donate money. Except, this time around, they do not just take orders and write checks, they have the means to talk back and tell the campaigns what to do (or to shove it). Of course the campaign managers used to the old way of thinking are afraid of the new world.

Here is another example from ABC: Loose Lips in the Blogosphere Don't Sink Presidential Ships

I hate the subtitle - what do they mean by "even Edwards" when everyone (including the techies with no political axe to grind) agrees he is the leader on the use of Internet and netroots: his website is by far the best, he announced to the bloggers first, then by video on YouTube, then by Video and post on his own website, and only the next day announced to the MSM dinosaurs down in New Orleans. He hired and (stood by in spite of calls for their heads) two of the most outspoken and popular feminist bloggers. He is prominently present and active on all social networking sites, not just MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook, but also the second-tier places, like Gather.

There are 199 Groups on Facebook for Edwards. The two biggest ones have 2,126 members and 1,849 members respectively - the rest are smaller, mainly due to being geographically restricted. Barack Obama has more than 500 groups, with the biggest one having 5,002 members and the others being small, local chapters. So, even including the overlap (people joining more than one group), there is not such a huge advantage for Obama on Facebook as the Media likes to point out. Edwards is right behind.

And he is the first candidate on Second Life. Yes, on Second Life! If you have no idea what that is, or if you want to know what techies and politicos think, follow the links here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Also, note that in fundraising, Hillary Clinton is expected to raise $100 million from the Beltway power-mongers and Holywood, Obama somewhat less, from the same sources, while Edwards is expected to raise about $50 million mostly from small online donations. He is killing all other candidates together in such donations through ActBlue ($860,861.35, compare that to Richardson's two separate funds at $284,916.57 and $10,154.85 and Obama's $16,885.56).

Oh, and if you do not believe Edwards stood by his bloggers and does not understand the netroots, I hope you watched the Situation Room earlier today (there should be a YouTube clip of it here soon). Listen to his defense of the bloggers and phrases like: "I stood by them," "new brave world with the net and the blogosphere," "a powerful world which will have a huge effect," "grassroots politics at it's best," etc. Here is the clip:

As for the bloggers, Jude, aka Iddybud, has an excellent take on the bloggers saga and Dave Neiwert takes another look at the 'Christofascists' who are Unhinged indeed. Also read important posts by Ampersand, Jeffrey Feldman and Richard Cranium.

And finally, let's look again at the posts for which Amanda got so much flak from Donohue and his ogre minions. They are about Plan B. Here are Part I and Part II.

She is not the only blogger explaining Plan B and why the opposition to it by wingnuts (including but not only Catholics) is bad politics and bad public health. For instance, Ema of Well-Timed Period blog wrote at least two posts on it here and here. PZ Myers of Pharyngula wrote about it here, here and here. DarkSyde of DailyKos wrote about it here and Bitch, PhD wrote about it many times, most recently here.

Is there any difference between these posts? They all get the facts about Plan B right. They all demonstrate that the opposition to it is hypocritical and based on mysogyny. And they are all written in typically blogospheric colorful language. Yes, those who deserved to be insulted got insulted. Now, tell me. If any campaign hired any of these bloggers to work on the technical and esthetic parts of their campaign blogs, don't you think Donohuse and his basement monsters would not come out against them? Of course they would - their goal never was to destroy the careers of Amanda Marcotte and Meilissa McEwen. Their goal is to undermine a Democrat - any Democrat - running for President because their job (for which Donohue is paid $300,000) is to go on TV and lie for Republicans. It has nothing to do with these two bloggers, it has to do with silencing the voices of the people who are actually telling the truth as it is, as opposed to The Truth as the conservatives want "to create" for themselves.M

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 'Bloggergate' and related links

Under attack, Pandagon has been down all day. But you can see here (and re-posted here) what scum of the Earth resides on the political Right in this country. This is a good time to read this again. And please find time to read all ten parts of this series on eliminationism in America. Sensing a long-term, if not permanent loss, the wounded beast of the Right is lashing at everything in sight and they are not shy to use physical force if needed.

Also on the topic, three must-read posts by Liza Sabater: Hell hath no fury like a feminist scorned, Aldon Hynes: In praise of Icarus, and Kagro X on DailyKos: Getting separated from the herd.

Two important and thoughtful posts by Chris Bowers on MyDD: Politics and the Inhuman and Why Attacks Against Bloggers Fail

Interesting discussion in the comments on this post on DailyKos: Has anyone seen Pandagon?, on Ezra's blog: Competence Matters and on Pharyngula: Edwards for President!. In all three cases, the comments are much more informative than the original posts.

Dave MB: Amanda Marcotte's Departure.

And if you haven't already done so, you can read my takes on the initial response by the Edwards campaign - On Edwards, Bloggers, and Religion, and on Amanda's resignation - Amanda now free to expose the Donohue creature

Also today, Shakespeare's Sister posted her Announcement:

I regret to say that I have also resigned from the Edwards campaign. In spite of what was widely reported, I was not hired as a blogger, but a part-time technical advisor, which is the role I am vacating.

I would like to make very clear that the campaign did not push me out, nor was my resignation the back-end of some arrangement made last week. This was a decision I made, with the campaign's reluctant support, because my remaining the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign, and making me increasingly uncomfortable with my and my family's level of exposure.

I understand that there will be progressive bloggers who feel I am making the wrong decision, and I offer my sincerest apologies to them. One of the hardest parts of this decision was feeling as though I'm letting down my peers, who have been so supportive.

There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.

This is a win for no one.
[bold mine]

First reactions are by Benny on MyDD: Shakes Decides to Be Shakes and Sinister Rae on DailyKos: Shakespeare's Sister Resigns From Edwards Campaign.


Majikthise: Blogger Marcotte resigns from the Edwards campaign and Edwards' netroots coordinator Melissa McEwan resigns

Donna Bogatin: John Edwards: Be my MySpace pal!

Matt Browner Hamlin: More Potential Catholic League IRS Problems

Ed Cone: Talking about religion

This guy will run for Congress next time here in NC - Marshall Adame: Why America needs John Edwards as our next President

Phoenix Woman: Sow The Wind, Reap The Whirlwind

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Night Links

A bunch of new links on the Basic Concepts and Terms in Science list.

Bitch PhD has a new (paying!) gig at Suicide Girls News Blog and starts out with a post explaining the Plan B: How Does This Plan Work?

Revere on Effect Measure: Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: the Edwards blogger dust-up

Ezra Klein, in an op-ed in The Guardian (online only): We want a divider, not a uniter, and more on the topic on his own blog: More Shamefaced Obama Skepticism

Chuckles1 puts it even better: The OTHER Abraham Lincoln

A comment by Elizabeth Edwards - Response to a Rhetorical Analysis - on the MyDD diary: The Problem with John Edwards' Urban Radicalism (Or you can see the same Diary and the same comment in the context of different other commenters on DailyKos)

Catchawave: The Man Who Saved Bill Clinton's Ass, An Anniversary 2/12/99

Kos: 'I Was Wrong'

Digital Journal: John Edwards Blog Has A Very Refreshing Hands-Off Policy

Neil the Ethical Werewolf: Welcome Chris Bowers!

David Neiwert on Orcinus: Donohue and the Jews

Chris Bowers on MyDD is on a quest:
This Isn't Over
Keep Piling On The Pressure
Donahue As An Example of a Large Problem
First Democratic Campaign Disses Edwards

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Friday, February 09, 2007

On Edwards, Bloggers, and Religion

Ah, why do I have to be so busy on a news-filled day (no, not Anna Nicole Smith)? I barely saw the computer today. I'd get home, have about 5 minutes before I have to go out again and so on. NPR did not mention Edwards until 4pm or so (that I heard in the car), so when I first got home I only had time to open e-mail, scan about 50 new messages, home in to the one that had the news, open it, get the links and quickly post without more than a quick skim of the statements by Edwards and others, let alone any time to add commentary (except for what the title implied I felt at the time). And then there were comments I did not have time to respond to. And all the other blogospheric responses I was missing...Ah, well. The family is asleep so I'll try to catch up now.

First, Lane Hudson puts the whole case as clearly and succintly as possible, so if you do not have time and patience for the rest of my post or other links, this is the one to read: Anti-Semite Bigot is Loving to Hate John Edwards

Also very worth reading to understand how the campaign handles netroots, read this: Elizabeth Edwards on "the Sieve"

I'll add a bunch more links on the bottom later on. Now I'll try to be as systematic about this as I can.

Personal History and The Disclaimer

Just to put everything clearly up first before any questions arise:

I am not working for the Edwards campaign in any capacity.

Back in Raleigh, the Edwards' lived a few blocks away from where we lived. Soon after we moved to Chapel Hill, the Edwards' also moved to Chapel Hill. They are my neighbors. I cannot claim we are best drinking buddies, but we've met a few times. I followed John's political career since he announced his run for Senate against Lauch Faircloth. In summer 1998, when I became the US citizen, one of the questions on the "test" was to name the two current NC senators and I answered "Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth, but hopefully not for long". A few months later I voted in my very first US election and the first vote on the top of the ballot was for Edwards for Senate.

After a few Usenet years in the early 1990s, battling anti-Serbian trolls, I mostly went offline for a while, focusing on grad school and my research instead. But in 2003, disgusted with the GOP rule, the 2000 electoral debacle and the Iraq war, I went back online and researched all the apparent Democratic candidates for President. I liked several of them, but I liked Edwards the best - and by following him for a few years I knew more about him than about the others. In September 2003 I started commenting on his campaign blog. A year later I started my own blog and wrote mostly about politics until after the 2004 election when I switched my blogging focus to science.

Again this year, I like several of the potential candidates, but still believe that Edwards is the best, for a number of reasons. So, I am openly his supporter and have never hidden that. After all these years, I know a number of people associated with the campaign and they know me. That does not mean I know anything about what is happening behind the closed doors although I live about a 100 yards from the HQ. I do not have my "spies" inside the campaign and if I get some news early, that usually means 30 minutes before it is all over CNN, not hours or days ahead.

Would I accept a paying job with the Edwards campaign if offered (unlikely, of course)?

No. I cherish my independence too much. I am pathologically anti-authoritarian in real life (which is not always good for me). I can't even tell myself what to do without incurring rebellion! I always found it difficult to work for others (my PhD advisor excepted, but I have such huge respect for him and he was never trying to push his authority on me, he earned it through his wisdom). The biggest mistake I make is announce here that I will blog about something. That almost guarantees I will not post about it tomorrow (bye-bye, amylase post). In six months perhaps, more likely never. After all, who am I to dictate to myself what to write about and when!? So, when I write anything on this blog, it is because I want to at the time I want to. I have the deepest admiration for people who are capable of writing on deadline, with an editor approving topics. That is also why I will never be able to work for a political campaign - while I understand the importance of campaign discipline, I am incapable of following it myself.

Why Edwards?

I have opinions on many issues, as does everyone else. There is not a single person in the history of the planet with whom I agree 100% on everything. This is a truism that applies to everyone, of course. Likewise, there is not a single person in the history of the planet with whom I cannot find something, however banal, on which we agree 100%.

We do not pick our friends and enemies by evaluating how many things we agree or disagree on, but on how we stand on a handful of issues that each one of us finds important.

There are perhaps ten people currently considering running for President for Dems and about ten for GOP (plus probably a couple of third-party candidates). That is a very small pool to choose from who to support. Out of that pool, I find I agree with Edwards on issues that are important to me. Plus, I am pragmatic enough to know that he has a reasonable chance to actually win.

What is important to me is going to be biased by my own personal history. While outraged by the Iraq war, that issue is very low on my list of priorities: it is a part of an overall Republican mode of governing and not an isolated issue. Furthermore, the US foreign policy as a whole is very different from what I'd like to see and I am unlikely to see a candidate of any party coming even close to me on this issue, though I trust that any Democrat if elected would pull out of Iraq fast. So, Iraq is off the table for me. It does not incense me with any kind of strong emotional pull as it does some other people for whom the war is the one and only issue in this election.

I guess if I was black, or a woman, or gay, the issues of race, gender and sexual orientation would be #1. I am not. I also see those as parts of general Enlightement principles that can be taken care of once conservative ideology is defeated and marginalized enough so that we can raise new generations of enlightened children. I explained recently why I think Edwards is the man for this bigger-picture job.

I am unemployed and poor, so the issue of poverty as a part of a general issue of the way economic system is set up in the USA is important to me. While I harbor no illusions that the system will be changed any time soon, the way Edwards approaches the issue of poverty and his just-announced health-care proposal, are, IMHO, the best moves in the right direction that can potentially pave the way for more systemic changes further down the line. Yet even that is just a part of the bigger picture of trying to move the country towards modernity.

I was born and raised an atheist. I did not have to go through the painful process of self-doubting and losing my religion. Thus, I am not a fervent atheist - it just comes naturally to me and I cannot imagine being anything else. This is why the issue of religion is lower on my list than that of many US-born atheists who had to go through such a process. As long as the wall between the church and state is kept standing and the fundamentalists are kept on the margins, I have no problem with people believing whatever myths they want to if that makes them happy or feeling more secure.

Now, the anti-atheist sentiment in this country is the result of direct fundamentalist sliming over the centuries and can be addressed by ridiculing and marginalizing the fundamentalists. Part of this ridiculing effort also involves explaining why religious beliefs are irrational and silly. Part of this effort involves exposing all the evils perpetrated in the name of religion over the millenia, including today. But many people have a deep emotional need to believe in something bigger than themselves, and as long as such a need is channelled towards doing good, and not manipulated by Priests of various religions for their own aggrandizement or whatever other political or financial gains, I am fine with that. If the marginalization of fundamentalism happens and thus people understand what atheism is and isn't and being an atheist is not being a second-order citizen, the rest of the society will slowly secularize itself over the generations as well. More on this, in the context of the Edwards/Marcotte/McEwan saga, below.

Political blogging: personal vs.professional

A blog is a piece of software.

Thus, a blog can be used for various purposes. The word means different things to different people. Many erroneously lump personal political blogs together with campaign blogs and call them all "political blogs".

Many people who call themselves political bloggers write and read only personal blogs and rarely if ever go to campaign blogs (or big blog-communities like DailyKos). This is how they understand political blogging.

Many people who call themselves political bloggers write and read only posts and Diaries on DailyKos, almost never venturing out to personal or campaign blogs. This is what they think political blogging is.

Many people who call themselves political bloggers write and read only a campaign blog and almost never venture out to personal or community blogs. This is what they think is meant by 'political blogging'.

The three are very different form each other. My blog is my home - you enter and I hope you are nice to my wife and do not swear in front of my children. A frat-guy's appartment will have a different tone. A retired schoolteacher's home will have a different tone yet. DKos and such are public venues and the discourse is fast and harsh. The campaign blogs are businesses - disciplined effort to get a candidate elected.

Many, during the recent Edwards bloggers saga either do not understand the distinction, or purposefully muddied the waters for their own nefarious purposes.

Let me see if I understand the roles Amanda and Melissa are supposed to play.

The way I understand it, Amanda was not hired to move Pandagon over to JRE'08 blog. She was not hired to advise Edwards. She was not hired to be his spokesperson. She was not hired to write opinion pieces. She was not hired to write the campaign blog. She was hired to manage the campaign blog. To take care of technical and visual aspects of it. To try to somewhat control the campaign message there and steer the conversation in the direction favourable to the candidate. She will be dealing with the "campaign blog" type of political bloggers. She is supposed to write an entry every day saying something like "...our candidate gave a speech here today and here is the video of it and here are some media reports on it and links to some blogs on it. Discuss." It's a job for which she is eminently qualified.

The way I understand it, Melissa was not hired to move Shakeapeare's Sister to JRE'08 blog. She was not hired to advise Edwards. She was not hired to be his spokesperson. She was not hired to write opinion pieces. She was not hired to write the campaign blog. She was hired to serve as a communication link or liasion between the campaign and the "personal blog" type of political bloggers. Someone who can e-mail people like me with a 30-minute heads-up on the news, so if I am inclined to blog about it because the news excite me, I will, otherwise I will not. Likewise, if I have something to ask or say or suggest to the campaign, she is the person I can contact. It's a job for which she is eminently qualified.

For either one of them, what they said on their personal blogs in the past, or even what they may still write there in the future, has nothing to do with their new jobs. I would not submit one of my blog-posts about science to Nature and I would not expect most of my readers to enjoy reading a dry-scientese paper on this blog. Those are two different jobs I perform - the only connection being they both have something to do with science. For Amanda and Melissa the only connection between their blogs and their new jobs is that they both have something to do with politics.

The Rumor Mill and The Wait

Many have complained about the long time it took the campaign to issue any kind of statement. In the meantime, many people swallowed the Salon rumors about firings as true. We need to remind ourselves that we, the bloggers, live not on a 24-hour news cycle but on a 24-second news cycle. We want instant gratification immediatelly pronto right now. The Marcotte/McEwen issue was really big for us, for legitimate reasons (see all the links I posted yesterday for some excellent coverage), but it was not so big if you step back and look at the big picture. There wasn't barely anything in the MSM about this - after all, Anna Nicole Smith died, and there is trouble in Iraq, and there is Libby trial.... There is another year before Iowa, almost two before the General election. We reacted to a brief AP article that found itself in the NYT and WaPo - something that almost 300 million Americans did not read.

I have no idea what went on in the campaign during the past day or two. But I can imagine, so let me indulge in it for a minute...

I think that some people have this notion that John Edwards and all of his campaign managers and staffers sit around the HQ all day and eat pizza. I've been to his HQ a number of times during 2003/2004 bid as well as the current race. There are a few staffers there, extremely busy doing their jobs - crunching numbers, fundrasing, calling people, etc. There are preumably others doing their, somewhat different jobs up in D.C. Others are likely stationed in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina doing their jobs there. Edwards himself is travelling around the country giving speeches and attending fundrasiers a couple of times a day, with some of the staffers travelling with him.

When the hiring of bloggers provoked the silly outrage on Right-wing blogs, they probably - and wisely - decided to ignore it. When the Pickler hit-piece and the Salon rumor provoked all the outrage on the Lefty blogosphere, they probably felt they had to respond somehow. So, I can imagine that a few people were pulled from their normal jobs and assigned to work on this. They were probably not even all in the same part of the country at the time, so they communicated by phone or e-mail. It took them some time to do all this - far longer than our impatience could stand. I can imagine internet-savvy staffers trying to explain that bloggers are not some strange animals but the core supporters who, for the first time in history, can talk back to the campaign as well as to voters, other activists etc. I can imagine the old-time campaign managers being uneasy about being talked to by the bloggers, but they bring enormous campaigning experience they accumulated over many campaigns over decades. Sometimes, this experience suggests that patience is the best course of action.

Then, I guess at some point, they had to call Edwards and tell him what they think. He probably talked to Elizabeth, to Amanda and Shakes, and to his key campaign personnel. But this was a side-show for him today. He had a big event in South Carolina which was much more important than the question of bloggers. Who knows, perhaps some of the last-millenium types suggested firing due to ignorance of the new media landscape. But Edwards understands the Internet and the importance of bloggers/activists/supporters. I have no doubt that, at some point during the day when he had a few minutes to devote to this, he did not have to ponder too long about the decision. It was just a matter of crafting the message that will make everyone happy - excluding the Wingnuts who are irrelevant as they are not potential voters. So, he wrote a statement of support for his bloggers. And he wrote it in a way that calmed down the religious supporters who are many, and just as important for the campaign. I may not like the tone, or even the subtance of it, but that was the most politically savvy message he could make.

The Religion Question

As someone who spent enormous amount of time on his campaign blog back in 03/04 I can tell you that majority of his supporters (just like majority of Americans) are religious. Hundreds of comments and diaries were posted by people who stated that they supported Edwards because his message resonated with what they consider to be their personal religious beliefs. And I respect that even if I believe their progressivism came first and religion is just parasitically riding along, i.e., they are interpreting religion through the prism of their liberal worldviews, just like fundies cherry-pick their beliefs according to their conservative worldviews. Edwards cannot diss them - that would be politically suicidal.

It is unfortunate but true that the doctrines of organized religion (as opposed to the personal, emotional need to believe something) are still respected on this planet and this country. Atheists are the last discriminated against minroty in this country. Thirteen states have explicit laws precluding atheists from seeking elected positions.

A hundred years ago, women were fighting for their rights. It is still not completely equal, but compared to today, situation a century ago was akin to slavery.

Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights movement, often bloody, resulted in elimination of official seggregation. While racism and seggregation are still alive and well, the comparison between today and half-a-century ago is stark.

The gays are fighting that fight right now, and slowly winning by winning the hearts and minds of the next generation. Even Young Republicans are not as homophobic as their parents are.

The next fight will be over religion. Atheists will need to speak up and stand up for themselves. So many people have no idea what the word 'atheist' means except that it has something to do with eating live children. But many of the same people think the same about Liberals. I hope that in 10 or 20 years I can go to a campaign blog of an openly atheist presidential candidate who has realistic chances of winning with nobody batting an eye-lash, and not finding the word 'atheist' in scare-quotes in someone's comments, like this: "atheist".

But that is the future. Today, we have to play in today's playing field. And Edwards is a masterful player in this field. Moreover, he has so far been the most courageous candidate, breaking a number of taboos. Talking about poverty. Hiring feminist bloggers. Not firing them under presure from both Left and Right. That takes guts. But it does not mean being unrealistic and unpragmatic about the business of winning elections.

Perhaps I am closer to Kucinich on issues, but Dennis has no sense of how to play to win. And we'll all have to swallow some of the rhetoric we do not agree with in order to depose the GOP and win. Then change the country and the associated rhetoric with the aid of a Democratic President and Congress. Another small step towards the ideals of Enlightement. It does not happen overnight. It does not happen by swinging at the windmills. It does not happen by foolishly attacking everything at the same time. You have to be savvy to pick your battles and change the world one generation at the time.


Some more good (or important) links:

Chris Bowers: This Isn't Over
Matt Stoller: Game On
Chris Bowers: Keep Piling On The Pressure

Chris Bowers: This Isn't Over
Edwards STANDS UP UPDATE: War is declared
Breaking: Edwards Stands Up and Keeps Amanda and Melissa
Edwards Does The Right Thing
The line between work and blog

Ed Cone:
Stay of execution (read the comments)

The Pandagonians:
Chris Clarke

The Shakespearians:
Melissa (read the comments)
Melissa (read the comments)

Hilzoy on Obsidian Wings:
Double Standards

Sara Robinson on Orcinus:
Silencing the Netroots

Talking about the Edwards blogger brouhaha with Taylor Marsh
Who is Amanda-basher Bill Donohue?
Official statement from Edwards: Amanda and Shakes not fired!

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:44 AM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Amanda and Shakes rock!

[Placed on top for updates...]

I think that the whole brouhaha that the extreme wingers are raising about new Edwards bloggers will have a) no effect on Democratic primary voters a year from now, b) no effect on national voters two years from now, and c) negative effect on the wingnutosphere as they are getting more and more obviously unhinged, and thus marginalized.

Edwards did a fantastic scoop with these hires and the outcry from the extreme Right was surely expected. He has now positioned himself as more woman-friendly and more netroots-friendly than Hillary and Obama combined. And the fact that this has touched such a raw nerve on the edge of the Right abyss just confirms that this was a brilliant move.

I suggest not to bother actually going to myriads of inconsequential Wingnut blogs (like Malkin or Protein Wisdom) to defend the hires there (though a sharp letter of rebuke to WaPo, NYTimes and ABC for publishing the atrocious AP hit-job by the certified nutter Nedra Pickler may be in order). Let them enjoy their own echo-chamber. Instead, join the growing chorus of smart bloggers who are coming out in support of Edwards, Marcotte and McEwen, for instance:

Major Danby on DKos
Kagro X on DKos
Expo on DKos and on JRE08
Chris Clarke on Pandagon
Sadly No
Misty on Shakespeare's Sister
Tom Watson


Alex Koppelman and Rebecca Traister posted another hit-job with unnamed sources and nasty speculation. The Right wing must be very worried.

Check the comments.

Also see commentary by:

Media Matters
Chris Bowers
Chris Bowers
Wilbur on DKos
Liza Sabater
Phoenix Woman
Phoenix Woman on DKos
Thirdestate on DKos
The Heretik
Paul The Spud
All Spin Zone

...and the Diaries on the Edwards blog:

There has been no message from the campaign yet so all rumors are unfounded until they say something, and they promise to say something later today. Stay tuned....I hope they do the right thing and use this opportunity to hit the slimeballs back and hit them HARD!

And some more:
Glenn Greenwald
Pam's House Blend (also here)
The Carpetbagger Report
Corrent Wire

Even more....

Kevin Drum
Ed Cone
Ed Cone
Ed Cone
Ed Cone
Ezra Klein
Ezra Klein
Mike the Mad Biologist
Mike the Mad Biologist
Mike the Mad Biologist
Abstract Nonsense
Matt Stoller (not him, but the commenters)
Deborah Lipp
August J. Pollak
Think Progress
Culture Kitchen
Jill (Feministe)
Mcjoan on DKos
Scott Lemieux
Scott Lemieux
Ilyka Damen
First Draft
Sadly, No!
Crooks and Liars
Crooks and Liars
Crooks and Liars
Crooks and Liars
Crooks and Liars
Punkass Marc
The Liberal Avenger
Hugo Schwyzer
Echidne of the Snakes
Echidne of the Snakes
Rising Hegemon
The Heretic
Josh Marshall
Steve Gilliard
TPM Cafe
Garance Franke-Ruta (not him, the commenters)
Ilyka Damen
Thoughts From Kansas


Ilyka (in that last link) puts in words what I've been thinking throughout this two-day saga. This is an effort of the power elites: politicians, old-timer internet-illiterate campaign managers, and MSM to eliminate bloggers from teh conversaiton and influence. Not just Amanda and Shakes but ALL bloggers, Left or Right. All the Rightwing bloggers who jumped on this story with glee are, due to partisan blindness, underminining their own cause.

The way the MSM is framing this is as if bloggers are ALIENES!!!!

Somebody did a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation of the traffic of the blogs linked in this post - together they reach over 20 million people. The operative word is PEOPLE!!!!!!

The bloggers, the commenters (some of those posts have several hundreds of comments!), and the readers.

They are people. Flesh and blood. Every single one of them.

Almost all of them are American citizens. Eligible to vote.

Almost all of them are voters. People who exercise their right to vote.

Almost all of them are Democrats. People who vote in primaries.

Almost all of them are party activists. People who travel to Iowa in January to knock on doors.

Almost all of them are 'influentials' - people who are hyperiformed about politics and cannot keep their mouths shut about politics when talking to everyone they meet.

Almost all of them are internet savvy and can influence many others through their online writings, exponentialy increasing their influence.

A concerted and persistent efforts of bloggers has before, and will in the future, force MSM to take up stories or to change their tone.

You can't just nonchalantly dismiss all those people.

People will not be dissed.


posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 1:38 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tar Heel Tavern

Slight changes in the hosting line-up for the Tar Heel Tavern:

Next Host: Scrutiny Hooligans
  • TTHT #104 (18 February 2007) Host: Writing for Nonprofits
  • TTHT #105 (25 February 2007) Host: Science and Politics
  • TTHT #106 (4 March 2007) Host: Slowly She Turned
  • TTHT #107 (11 March 2007) Host: Scrutiny Hooligans
  • TTHT #108 (18 March 2007) Host: ?
  • TTHT #109 (25 March 2007) Host: ?
  • TTHT #110 (1 April 2007) Host: Scrutiny Hooligans
  • TTHT #110 (8 April 2007) Host: ?
  • TTHT #111 (15 April 2007) Host: ?
  • TTHT #112 (22 April 2007) Host: ?
  • TTHT #113 (29 April 2007) Host: Writing for Nonprofits

  • Let me know if you want to host!

    posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:35 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

    Why am I for Edwards and not for Obama (or Clinton for that matter)?

    People ask me that question often. Many assume that it is because Obama constantly invokes God in his speeches, while Edwards never does. But I know that religiosity is important in American politics today. Hopefully one day it will not be, or even better, overt religosity will become a handicap, i.e, being viewed by voters with suspicion. But that is not the reason why I made my choice the way I did.

    My response to people who ask me this question is to explain how the GOP over the past 20-30 years systematically moved the entire political discourse in the USA to the Right. What used to be the Center is now called "Left". What used to be the Right is now called "Center" and what used to be unthinkable depths of almost-fascistic ultra-right-wing ideloogy is now called a "Respectable Right".

    Obama, by appealing to "compromise" and "purpling" and "bipartisanship" is playing straight into the conservatives' game - he is letting them shift the discourse further to the Right by redefining the new center. The Right has no intention of ever making a compromise: their definition of "compromise" is "you shut up and do as we say and smile". Obama does not understand this. He is still naively giving them a benefit of the doubt that there is a trace of human decency still somewhere to be found in them.

    This strategy is often called "triangulation" but the average person I meet does not know or understand that word, so I feel compelled to explain it the way I just did above.

    On the contrary - and this is the biggest difference between the two of them (and Hillary Clinton is similar to Obama in this regard) - Edwards is aware (by being more experienced than Obama, or due to growing up in the South, or Elizabeth's influence...) of the trick and is trying to counter it and to move the political landscape of the country back to the left, so the Left is Left, Center is Center and Right is Right again.

    I do not dislike Obama personally, and I do not dislike Clinton personally either. Most of their policy proposals are fine, and very similar to Edwards'. I am just worried about the future of the American politics if they are elected. They are liable to leave conservative ideology intact and within the domain of respectable, thus giving it a space to breath, to recuperate and, down the line, attack again.

    I don't think Edwards will let that happen (and I would have no problem with Obama for Veep - he can learn on the job - though my personal favourite for VP is Richardson). He will go as far left as he can to still be able to win. Who knows how much more left he will go if he actually wins and has a Democratic Congress to work with? Perhaps this country can join the modernity of the civilized world in a few years after all.


    posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:33 AM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    JRE links for today

    Jeff Jarvis in the Guardian: Why YouTube gets my vote for political punditry
    Letters to the Editor of N&O: Building a case for and against Edwards' place, page 1 and page 2
    Tom Watson: Woman, Know Thy Place

    posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 12:10 AM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    The Tar-Heel Tavern

    The very first blog carnival, the Carnival of Vanities was invented here, in Chapel Hill.

    The very first state-based blog carnival, the Tar Heel Tavern was invented here, in Chapel Hill. There were about a hundred editions of this weekly carnival so far and the Second Anniversary is approaching fast.

    The latest edition was posted last night on Moomin Light. Next week, the carnival comes back home, right here at Science And Politics. Send me permalinks to your best post (or two) of the week by Saturday night, at: Coturnix AT gmail DOT com.

    Also, let me know if you want to host a future edition of the carnival. Let the tradition continue - meet the NC blogging friends, old and new, every week in a different virtual tavern.

    posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 7:02 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

    Friday, February 02, 2007


    On Iran:

    Ezra Klein gets the interview and comments on it. Breathe a deep sigh of relief.

    The House:

    Elizabeth explains and Sam Spencer defends. Nature Preserve and a Green House, not a McMansion.

    Gay Marriage:

    Better honest and open than wishy-washy, says the LGBT community.

    posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 6:39 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Big Plans for NC (and Triangle) Blogging in the New Year

    So, whats' cookin' in the local blogging world? Quite a lot, actually.

    First, our little group, BlogTogether is growing, growing. Instead of being just a little Anton's sideproject, we are thinking of turning it into a non-profit organization - so if you have experience with founding non-profits please let us know ASAP.

    Also, apart from Anton, several others (including myself) are now able to post there. This will make the blog much more active and interactive this year than it was ever before. We are also looking for a nice-looking logo for it so we can slap it on side-bars of all of our blogs. If you have talent, give it a try!

    Second, we are much more ambitious with meet-ups this year. We plan on having, each month, one virtual meet-up (here). We'll continue with our regular two meet-ups (at Milltown at 6:30pm) where we sit down over coffee or beer and chat, usually starting with a particular topic (see here for some topics we are planning for February and March), before it becomes a free-for-all. Even if you are not a blogger - come by and within minutes you'll have a blog of your own as we'll help you set one up in minutes!

    Once a month we'll have a more active meet-up, actually doing something fun for a change (and get our butts off the comfortable chairs). This month, we'll go bowling (hey, the place has wi-fi, so you can liveblog!). In the past, we've had between four and eight people normally showing up at meetups (unless a celebrity comes by - then everyone shows up). Let's try to have a greater attendance this year. After all, now that both Pandagon (with both Pam and Amanda living here) and Panda's Thumb are Triangle-based blogs (should our logo have a panda on it?!), the epicenter of power-blogging of the world is somewhere in the RTP area, I'd guess. So come by and meet the blogging stars!

    We are already planning the second Science Blogging Conference (and the anthology to go with it) for early 2008!

    In the meantime, think about joining us for the FoodBlogging series of events (if eating, drinking, eating, drinking and repeating it all over again can be called 'events') this summer. Sure, click on that link and salivate! What great places to eat and drink with fellow bloggers and blog about it!

    Anton is hinting about some major activity on the StoryBlogging front this year as well.

    And there are more ideas floating around (a design conference, perhaps an EduBlogging Conference, etc.)

    Finally, and very importantly, the Tar Heel Tavern #102 will be hosted at Moomin Light this weekend. There is no theme, so send whatever you'd like to: songfinn AT yahoo DOT com by Saturday evening..

    Once again, the Tavern was closed last weekend for the lack of a host. Will #102 be the last Tarheel Tavern? It's up to you - no one is signed up to host after this weekend. Do you want to host in the near future? Let us know. Do you want to get more involved in managing the carnival (as Laurie, Erin and I are both too busy with other stuff to do so full-time)? In any case, let us know at: coturnix AT gmail DOT com (me) or lponeill AT att DOT net (Laurie).

    posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 4:34 PM | permalink | (2 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink

    JRE links for today

    The Way Down South: Johnny Populist & The Born Fighter:

    In short, Moser's new article (part of a series on Southern Politics) debunks the myths perpetuated by the DLC and national pundits, skewering John Kerry's "anti-Southern strategy" and Thomas Schaller's "Whistling Past Dixie" and advocating a new Democratic Populism to win back not only large sections of the South (not to mention the industrial Great Lakes states).

    Former NC Senator John Edwards to Walk In Our Shoes:
    Edwards Is First Presidential Candidate to Accept SEIU Challenge to Spend a Day in the Life of a Working Family
    Former Senator John Edwards has agreed to be the first presidential candidate to spend a day on the job and at home with a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

    Hybrids and Light Bulbs and Action

    The day the independent inspector came to evaluate the house, we were on pins and needles while he tested our home's energy performance. As he packed his equipment, he gave us the good news: we are an Energy-Star home!

    Edwards wrapping up the left blogsphere & Obama's got the Millennial's

    This is a interesting angle of hires from the netroots for Edwards. Shakespeare's Sister and Pandagon are blogs that I think would be characterized as 'ideologically-centered' as oppossed to being 'big-tent' democratic blogs. This is actually the first move by the Edwards campaign in the netroots that I find ground-breaking.

    Women on Top at the Edwards Campaign

    However, not being familiar with these websites, what I liked from both was they were not centrist, mushy, can't we all get along blogs. They are clearly left of center, with strong and witty writing. I like that Edwards seems to be pushing both the presidential agenda AND hopefully his blog and netroots outreach leftward.

    The Most Fantastic Blogospheric News of the Day (or longer)
    The Most Fantastic Blogospheric News of the Day (or longer) - Part Deux!

    posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 3:08 PM | permalink | (0 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink