Blogs

The Presidentials Land at YearlyKos - Hillary Clinton Edition

| Sat Aug. 4, 2007 1:48 PM EDT

The secret service cars are out front and the mainstream media has shown up in force, so you know it's time for the big boys. Hillary Clinton, who is up first, provides the most compelling story lines here at YearlyKos. As Kos himself admitted in a press conference a few moments ago, "Her negatives in this community are fairly high." She isn't seen as a true progressive, nor as someone willing to stand strong for her principles when it is politically inexpedient. But as Kos admitted, Clinton has moved strongly in the last year to engage the netroots and bring down those negatives.

Will she get hit for being the most moderate of all the candidates, or will she get kudos for trending in the right direction? Or, as has the case been throughout this convention, will the crowd be polite, respectful, and almost bland? Stay tuned…

Update: Half an hour into HRC's speech. The senator is continuing the netroots lovefest started yesterday by the mainstream media. "Let me start by saying something unexpected," she said. "Thank you. You have built the modern progressive movement in America. What you have done in a real short amount of time is fight back against the right wing noise machine."

"We have suffered from a real imbalance in the political world," said the senator, and that doesn't just mean the right has more organizations, think tanks, and media outlets than the left. The right actually runs what they have better. "The fact is, they were better organized, more mission-driven, and better prepared," she said. The netroots are remedying the problem and giving the left a chance.

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Kos: "We Are in the Mainstream of America"

| Sat Aug. 4, 2007 1:04 PM EDT

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, known to webbies and the folks here in Chicago simply as Kos, doesn't have a direct connection to YearlyKos. Though the event bears his name, it was started by followers of his website, DailyKos.

Because of his high-profile spats with Bill O'Reilly and others, Kos is often the center of attention on the blogosphere, but he's remained mostly out of sight here at the McCormick Center. In a press conference today — one of his few ventures into the spotlight; a speech tonight will be another — Kos specifically pointed out that the focus is the 1,500 folks in attendance, the "super-engaged activists" that are rapidly changing politics and campaigns.

"This really is democracy in action. This is regular Americans using technology to get engaged in politics," said Kos. Never one for understatement, he continued, "And anybody who attacks that, I think, hates democracy. I think it's that simple."

While fiery rhetoric like that won't keep Kos out of the spotlight for long, what's far more important is opening up the system, he says. "For those who want to engage, [the blogosphere] is the ideal medium. Before, if you wanted to be engaged in politics, you were limited to writing a check, or watching a 30 second political spot, or voting on election. Maybe you got to lick envelopes. Now people are realizing that they have a say in politics." And it's probably most important for those that live in deep red or deep blue states. "[The political establishment] would only pay attention to you is if you were in a battleground district. You had activists nationwide who wanted to engaged, but were shut out of the process." Now, through Politics 2.0, the people are a part of that process.

Democratic Party Bails on Simply Unable to Attend YearlyKos

| Sat Aug. 4, 2007 10:07 AM EDT

Four of the Democratic Party's heavies cancelled their much-anticipated group session this morning at YearlyKos. Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel are unable to attend, we're told, because voting has been held open over the weekend on an energy bill in the House. Question: Don't Pelosi and Emanuel schedule things like voting on bills? Pelosi is the Speaker of the House, after all.

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid are unable to attend for unspecified reasons. Such a shame. The establishment and the netroots got along so well at yesterday's Time party.

Update: I just spoke to a House staffer in DC who tells me Pelosi and Emanuel's absense here in Chicago is entirely legitimate. The energy bill, with important renewables amendments included, needs to be passed immediately, because congressmen are slowing drifting out of DC for the August recess. Pelosi could pass the bill today, or perhaps not at all. No explanation on Schumer and Reid.

Second update: Word on the street is that Reid and Schumer were in session until late last night and couldn't make their travel arrangements to get to Chicago. Kos, the man behind DailyKos, just mentioned at a press conference that he doesn't mind the lawmakers being absent to hammer out bills. "That's more important than for them to be here. The Democrats are the party of governing, the Republicans are the party of obstruction, and that's playing out right now." I'll have more from Kos' presser later today.

Bob Loblaw's Blog Blog

| Fri Aug. 3, 2007 8:20 PM EDT

mojo-photo-gangstarr.jpg

Blogs are so hot right now.

  • This Recording takes on the "inane" David Denby New Yorker piece about the recent shift in gender relationships in romantic comedies.

  • Kids Pushing Kids explores the Elastica-M.I.A. connection, and the Elastica-and-bands-they-ripped-off connection.
  • The Guardian's Music Blog wonders what it would have been like if the Beatles had been women; makes up unfortunate alternate-universe name of (shudder) "The Sheatles."
  • WFMU rounds up a whole mess of songs about beer, offers some mp3s of these songs about beer, and a picture of guys drinking beer, but no actual beer.
  • The Smoking Section reminisces about Gang Starr's "comeback" album, Moment of Truth back in 1998, calling it a "weird year for rap," partially because of the "shiny suits."
  • YearlyKos Attendees: Normal!

    | Fri Aug. 3, 2007 6:24 PM EDT

    Want to point you in the direction of two bloggers who have made good points about the atmosphere here at YearlyKos. First, Matt Yglesias:

    ...it's not even totally clear to me that's there's an especially logical or organic connection to bloggers and blogging in play here. Obviously, that's the causal origin of the gathering. But bloggers are interested in the issues, and an awful lot of what's going on here is just around issues -- foreign policy, telecom policy, education, church/state issues, whatever -- issues that activists care about whether on- or off-line.

    That sounds completely right to me. Some events and seminars here are about blogging, but just as many, if not more, are just about policy, the realities of politics in the world today, and various social issues.

    The other, Hendrik Hertzberg:

    I was expecting this crowd to look weirder. Not hippie weirder, though I did expect a bit of that, but nerdy weirder. So I was surprised at how extraordinarily normal everyone looked. The left, if I may use that radioactive word, sure has changed since "my day," i.e., the nineteen-sixties and early seventies... No chaos at YearlyKos. No "sweet smell of marijuana," as the straight papers used to refer to it. No demands for revolution. No denunciations of bourgeois democracy. The Democratic National Committee Chairman is listened to respectfully and cheered enthusiastically.

    Yup. People are a bit pudgy, a bit bald, and a bit odd: just like most Americans, dare I say. The group here is less diverse than America at large, and much less diverse than Democratic voters as a whole, but that's the only substantial observation to be made about the crowd here in Chicago.

    Insurance Companies Continue to Screw Katrina Victims

    | Fri Aug. 3, 2007 6:20 PM EDT

    Victims of Hurricane Katrina have been screwed so many times. First it was by the local government, then by the federal government, and finally by insurance companies that have been weaseling out of their obligations to policyholders from the start. Yesterday, insult was added to injury when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that insurance companies, including some of the big dogs like Allstate and Travelers, don't have to pay for losses caused by flooding. The policies only cover wind and rain damage.

    The shady dealings are sort of fuzzy. Apparently, many of the homeowners were assured that their policies provided full hurricane coverage. Also, some of the houses and businesses were destroyed by wind and rain hours before waters breached the levies and flooded New Orleans. Katrina victims may still have a chance for mercy. The case will head to the Louisiana Supreme Court next, and there are several similar civil suits waiting in the wings.

    —Celia Perry

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    Reno's Makin' Mix Tapes

    | Fri Aug. 3, 2007 5:48 PM EDT

    When Song of America, a three-CD, 50-track journey through centuries' worth of American music hits record stores in September, it comes with a stamp of approval—and an executive producer credit—from former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

    No, seriously. Reno put together a bona fide, red-white-and-blue mix tape. To learn more about Reno's music compilation, read the rest of this post on our Arts & Culture blog, The Riff.

    Reno's Makin' Mix Tapes

    | Fri Aug. 3, 2007 5:16 PM EDT

    When Song of America, a three-CD, 50-track journey through centuries worth of American music hits record stores in September, it comes with a stamp of approval—and an executive producer credit—from former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

    No, seriously. Reno, along with producer (and nephew-in-law) Ed Pettersen and Grammy-winning co-producer David Macias put together a bona fide, red-white-and-blue mix tape. Reno, a big fan of Johnny Cash, Tex Ritter, Mahalia Jackson, and Verdi, told Mother Jones that she stayed as far away as possible from the recording studio on this project. "I belong in the music studio even less than on the dance floor," Reno joked via email. "But [these songs] can take your mind off of work or school and help you relax after a long day."

    Be warned. This CD does not rock. It saunters. There are songs in here that I haven't heard since elementary school. Or Sunday School. Or ever. The box set includes contemporary versions of songs like "Yankee Doodle," "Trail of Tears," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Home on the Range," and the World War II anthem "Over There" performed by the likes of Janis Ian, Marah, Martha Wainwright, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bettye LaVette, and Old Crow Medicine Show. Don't worry, I've never heard of most of these performers either.

    Reno wraps things up with some juicier tracks like "What's Going On," "I am Woman" and "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," and concludes the disc with John Cougar Mellancamp's rendition of "This Land is Your Land." This predominantly country-folk compilation would seriously buzzkill any legitimate house party, but I wouldn't be surprised if this thing is booming from speakers at the RNC and the DNC in 2008.

    Cute Knut Under Pressure to Shed Lbs.

    | Fri Aug. 3, 2007 5:07 PM EDT

    fatty_knut.jpgHey, remember Knut? He was the high-profile, environmental poster-bear who made an appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair with Leonardo diCaprio during "Knut-mania," a time when Europeans flocked by the millions to see him in his Berlin zoo. He was so hot that a neighboring animal died and no one noticed.

    The appeal of "Cute Knut" was in his miniature size; he was a cute little white fuzzball who romped around with his keeper. But, times are changing. The paparazzi attention has subsided and the chubby cub has been asked to slim down. It's all summed up in a Der Spiegel headline: "Fatty Knut Put on Strict Diet."

    Knut's caretakers claim he weighs 132 lbs, but they're not sure because their scale only goes up to 110 lbs. Apparently, they're keeping a vigilant watch on him to ensure Knut doesn't steal scraps from the kitchen table while his meals are being prepared.

    Critiques of his appearance, tales of bad behavior—Lindsay Lohan could have told him such is the life of a media darling.

    Cute Knut Under Pressure to Shed Lbs.

    | Fri Aug. 3, 2007 5:06 PM EDT

    fatty_knut.jpgHey, remember Knut? He was the high-profile, environmental poster-bear who made an appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair with Leonardo diCaprio during "Knut-mania," a time when Europeans flocked by the millions to see him in his Berlin zoo. He was so hot that a neighboring animal died and no one noticed.

    The appeal of "Cute Knut" was in his miniature size; he was a cute little white fuzzball who romped around with his keeper. But, times are changing. The paparazzi attention has subsided and the chubby cub has been asked to slim down. It's all summed up in a Der Spiegel headline: "Fatty Knut Put on Strict Diet."

    Knut's caretakers claim he weighs 132 lbs, but they're not sure because their scale only goes up to 110 lbs. Apparently, they're keeping a vigilant watch on him to ensure Knut doesn't steal scraps from the kitchen table while his meals are being prepared.

    Critiques of his appearance, tales of bad behavior—Lindsay Lohan could have told him such is the life of a media darling.