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Sunday: Tipping the unParty

Me, before the accident

Me, before the accident

Last summer, just after Obama sold his soul on the FISA bill, Markos Moulitsas shook his tiny fists and wailed:

Like all retreats, this one came with a price. Much of his veneer as a transformational politician has faded. He’s a gifted and inspirational politician, no doubt about that, and he will make a great president. But at the end of the day, he’s a politician, with all the triangulating goodness that’s become a hallmark of our presidential candidates. That has cost him some intensity of support, some bad headlines, a new avenue of attack for Republicans (even though McCain didn’t even bother showing up for the vote), and … renewed energy and sense of purpose for the ridiculous PUMAs. That last one is really fucking annoying.

OooOOooo!  We f&(*ing annoyed him.  Well, I can die now.  I have fulfilled my mission in life.

Or have I?

PUMAs, we’re not done yet.  We came into being during this past election season and now that its over, there’s a bit of a lull.  It’s a perfect time to regroup and determine how to go forward.  We don’t have a lot of time though.  The mid-terms are only 2 years away.  Plus, we’re going to be plunged into an economic crisis the likes of which we, and possibly our parents, have not ever seen before.

But we have already laid the groundwork.  The reason Kos was so annoyed with us is because the concept of PUMA swept through the blogosphere like wildfire.  It was viral.  In a week, seven short days, we went from concept to media appearances from people we didn’t even know about.  Groups started popping up like mushrooms.  Joanniebone started her own little group in Washington,  Janet in South Jersey.  The time was right, the elements were there, the message was clear.  We “tipped”.

The Tipping Point, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, describes the phenomenon of social epidemics.  There are certain elements that need to be in place for a concept or product or message to reach that critical mass where it spills out of the local environment and into the mainstream.  Sometimes this happens in stages.  What annoyed Markos so much was that for the PUMA movement in early June, the tipping point was rapid and widespread.  It was astonishing.  To those of you who have looked on the past election with dismay that you were unable to influence it, give yourself some credit.  David Axelrod had already studied the nature of social epidemics before we got there.  And what he devised took him years and research while it came to us naturally.  His was contrived and was only saved by the incredible criminality and incompetance of George W. Bush.  Ours is organic, well intentioned, inclusive. We made noise.

Right now, we are an endemic.  But do not kid yourself.  There are a lot of potential PUMAs out there.  The Democratic voters who pulled that lever for Obama will give him a much shorter honeymoon than the media will.  He’s going to have to produce and quickly.  And don’t think they are not paying attention to the way women are being treated.  The Obamaphiles who sold every Democratic principle for Obama and who voted for the personality of Obama are a very small fraction of people.  The rest of the Democrats are up for grabs.  And don’t forget the independents and disaffected Republicans.

So, how do we get the unParty to go mainstream?  That’s where the book comes in.  I’m proposing a book club to discuss the concepts presented in The Tipping Point.  As you read it, ask yourself whether you are a connector, maven or salesman.  Think about what it is about PUMA that makes it “sticky”.  Think about structure, organization and size.  Think about the coolness factor.

Then, next Sunday, come back with your ideas and we’ll get this unParty started.

58 Responses

  1. Anybody agree with any of these?

    5 Myths About Obama’s Win


  2. I will go out, buy it and delve in–not too much chance that I’ll finish unless I stay off here!

    Thank you for your tireless efforts and leadership, RD.

    And by the way, old RD may look good, but NEW RD–Much hotter!

  3. Just ordered the book from half.com. Amazon has it also, of course.

  4. Get this party started?

  5. Will get the book this week; looking forward to next Sunday.

  6. I think the bigger Puma message is holding people accountable (and parties) for the crap they pull to get elected when no one else will… this is especially relevant now that the press just goes along with cool ideas like being embedded in unnecessary wars and thinking electing a multiracial candidates earns them a voice in history

  7. my first glimpse of fighting the koolaide was noticing I had an ally in Carolyn Kay who blogs for Make Them Accountable

  8. maybe we can change PUMA to People United to Make them ACCOUNTABLE

  9. What I find incredibly interesting is that this Kos guy really finds PUMAS annoying .. we obviously get under his thin cheeto skin .
    I think the fact that altho the cheetos got what they wanted ; which was bo in office, they did not really get what they wanted which was a far left liberal in office , and much to their increasing annoyance , bo is turning out to be Hillarys shadow , after all. Am ordering the book , and am already mentally comparing it to the 100th Monkey 😉

  10. I would hope we don’t drink some future koolaid and become what we loathe.

    That is what scares me, what if the bad behavior was done by a candidate we supported, would we see it?

    Would we just think it is a ploy to get elected and give them a pass?

  11. In!

    here was the book by another key player — the house that Dean built:


    your old friend was in on it all along, and so was the huffiest.



  12. dakinkat:

    People United Means Accountability

  13. dakinikat: would Carolyn be ok with that?

    I don’t think we can change how PUMA is perceived even if we change what the acronym stands for, might as well embrace it, but define the cause as clearly as possible.

  14. jjmtacoma, on November 16th, 2008 at 11:27 am Said:

    I would hope we don’t drink some future koolaid and become what we loathe.

    That is what scares me, what if the bad behavior was done by a candidate we supported, would we see it?


    Have you tried to answer that question for yourself? I have and it wasn’t pretty. However, I know that it would make me very uncomfortable to know that my “victory” had been gamed. Just as my loss was made unacceptable because of the gaming. OK, uncomfortable versus unacceptable – not quite the same thing.

    I’d still be for fairness in voting – one person one vote, all votes valued equally, count all the votes!

  15. Rd – I’m in – I have the book – great – quick read – and others of his.

    SOD – I agree with every word and can surely get behind the 30% solution and to eliminate sexism and mysogyny. Holding elected officials accountable is something I believe many can get behind.

    We were with friends last night and in discussion it came up that he voted for Obama – he didn’t like him but just couldn’t bring himself to vote Republican – this guy is very bright -but he’s a retired professor living in a 55 and older location -surrounded by Republicans – we hadn’t spoken in months and he just didn’t know where to go for good information and said “in reading the papers…” oy veh. 😯

  16. miq2xu: even better … i think the puma movement has been ultimately about accountability

  17. and we could invite Carolyn over for a discussion … i know she was a hillary supporter and she and I used to get beat up on the DNC national board continually for it

  18. Wonder what Oblahblah will do about this?

    — The Iraqi cabinet voted overwhelmingly Sunday to approve the security agreement that sets the conditions for the Americans’ continued presence in Iraq from Jan. 1 until the end of 2011.

  19. this one is for miq2xu — will you ever love this:


    The main problem is that Goggle was totally behind him, early on, as well as youtubed.

    it was basically paved from the start…

  20. P!nk – So What

    Another Pink song that spoke to me, you know when we were racist, bitter, traitors and dumped.
    All in good fun…

  21. vbonnaire:

    Some very powerful people decided to make Obama the nominee way back in 2006 – early 2007.

    He had way too much money and way too much media support from the beginning.

    He was getting his clock cleaned in debates and still raking in $25 million in each quarter of 2007.

  22. myiq2xu: it was those debates that really turned me against him, he looked like an absolute idiot and knew nothing about topics that any senator should’ve easily been able to answer … it made me think he wasn’t intelligent

  23. Why is it that I think the Chenster was one of them? He was.


    How scary is that lil commiekossie?
    you dumbass……….


    tell RD the minute that F-I-S-A thing went through dontcha know?
    who would want a thing like that?

    not a real Dem. not McC, nor Hillary….. this puppet is worse than the last.

  24. This is what really cracks me up. Mistah wholesome has some very funny friends. Not only dose he pal around with the San Fran Left ex hippie radical (now Williams Sonoma shopping set) — but he’s got the New Panthers, the Lib theologists, the far right anti-gay types, the weatherpeople who would like to destroy the place plus?

    and the media never bothered putting two and two together.

    now, even Biden/Powell is saying there is going to be an event on Jan 21-22.
    oh great. now what?

    who and what are running this show is the question…

  25. P!nk – So What

    Another Pink song that spoke to me, you know when we were r@cist, b!tter, tr@itors and dumped.
    All in good fun…

  26. Well, I think we’ll have plenty of support from the left soon if Oblahblah appoints any more Clinton and Bush insiders … if this is change, then i’m an eggplant

  27. This may be somewhat OT but I think it plays into why we do what we do and why we need to be prepared for the aftermath when the party falls apart.

    I think Obama syndrome is a human potential movement rather than a political one. The elements of Obama and followers saying it is about maximizing potential but never say how. It is stuck in how THEY feel, THEIR problems and how THEY need to feel good about themselves. This right out of Chicago politics and the education movement of Bill Ayers which never actually help anyone but themselves. Their hierarchy of needs is very different from those they purport to help and the actuality oftheir needs always coming first.

    Wikipedia has a really startling sentence in its discussion of these types of movements failure. “An extension of this criticism claims that this problem stems from a flawed foundation of the movement altogether — the focus on the individual’s own development as supreme, to the detriment of the consideration of others and society (i.e. victim-blaming, underestimating forces of oppression, or feelings of apathy towards large-scale social problems.) If this doesn’t describe the Obama supporters generally I am not sure what does.

    We need to be ready because this is going to bottom out when people realize that most of what Obama says is straight out of a freshman psychology class. This may be why so many young kids are into it and do not see the narcissism and that these types of movements actually hurt more than help.

  28. Ooooh, homework. I love it! Will definitely do it and report back.

    Looks like HoDo was behind this whole power grab by the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. To think I once thought he was a liberal!!! Jeebus!

  29. I’ll vote for People United Means Accountability so long as it encompasses what we’re really aiming for. I must admit that one of the most surprising things I learned this election cycle was that Democrats and Republicans (etc.) are private organizations that can’t be held accountable legally for overturning the results of primaries. So much for having my primary vote count.

  30. Michelle Bernard on MSNBO claiming Hillary will run a “parallel government if made SoS.

    Tweety defended Hillary! You have to be deep in Kool-aid dementia if Tweety is saner than you on the subject of Hillary.

    No link – are you kidding?

  31. jjmtacoma — I think it’s pretty usual for people to try to excuse the faults of people they support, and magnify the faults/bad acts of their opponent.

    Yes, we should definitely be on the lookout for that, but the Obots are of another order of KA altogether. Had Hillary voted for FISA I would have been deeply disappointed and said so. Not a single obot said that, instead they came up with increasingly bizarre reasons why it was a good vote.

    Most of us did not start out as rapid, no-holds-barred, no-criticism-tolerated fans of Clinton. We’re supporters, not followers or fans. Most of us can articulate the reasons for our support without using empty phrases and without checking in with tpm central each morning (what am I supposed to slavishly adore about Obama today!!?! I can’t wait to find out!!!). I never thought Clinton was the Second Coming; I thought she was best for the job.

    So I’m not soooo very worried about us becoming KA drinking ‘bots.

  32. Hey, guys, PUMA PAC stands for People United Mean Action. It’s Murphy’s group and she’s a real, honest to god, tax exempt PAC with a gen-you-ine title. It’s not up to us to change that, although that doesn’t mean that *informally* we can’t refer to ourselves by a different title.

  33. For Dakinikat and all those Conflucians who follow the Wall Street crisis closely;

    Michael Lewis (he of Liar’s Poker fame) wrote a spectacular piece in Portfolio a couple of days ago. This is absolutely a must-read:

    The End

  34. It must be inclusive and it must not just be another women’s movement. It must be national with local city and state chapters. It must be able to effect the primary and general elections.

  35. Common principles- good; favorite kool ade- bad.
    I am not of the kool aid persuasion. Never will be. But social epidemics do not have to be about kool aid. In fact, they can be about anti-kool aid if that is what makes them attractive to others. We are not into brain washing or cult-like behavior. We are into creating a culture where freedom to think freely is put into service for common goals.
    Does that make sense?

  36. myiq2xu: why would she have to run a parallel government … he’s appointing all ex-Clinton folks to positions …

  37. are there even any people of color mention for anything yet?

  38. I think that ultimately we must abandon the Democrat Party completely. Trying to fix it is going to waste our energy. We must focus our efforts on restoring our power over the federal government, and restoring its constitutional legitimacy, as well as bring both parties to where most of America is; in the middle.

    I am about to post the first part of a series that will address the former vis a vis the government. To address the latter I suggest we swell the ranks of unaffiliated voters. Currently unaffiliated voters are 30% of the electorate. If we get that number up to 50% both parties will have to come to us. We could be potentially setting the agendas for both parties. Wouldn’t that be something?

  39. There are any number of ways to conceive of PUMAs. But I think the one that promises to be the “stickiest” is as critics of the Obama administration from the progressive side, emphasizing policy over personality and style.

    I fully expect that Obama will become a center right President — the very sort of President and Democrat that in better days people who called themselves progressives — and most especially those who occupied the blogosphere — deplored as the grimmest of outcomes. And it was most hopeless because if the Democrats gave up on progressive reform, then it had no power base, and would never come about.

    And it is precisely such potential for criticism that, I’m sure, most annoys the likes of Kos. He has always pretended to be among those who cared about policy, who would give Democrats in Congress endless grief if they refused to hold up progressive principles. Yet he chose to back Obama with a mindless and even vicious zeal, brooking no criticism of Obama from his opponents and embracing any criticism, no matter matter how vile, of those opponents.

    Imagine how much caught out in his own phoniness and obtuseness and ugliness he will be if Obama turns out to be the very thing he has always said he abhorred: a calculating, compromising Democrat with no detectable principles.

    I think it is the main job of PUMAs to be the critics from the progressive side of Obama, because, among other things, that is our natural position from our inception and to this day. We never bought into the “change” ruse, because we could never see it in ways we knew to be meaningful: on policy that would affect people’s lives. We saw that on position on position, Obama took the most right wing stand. We saw too that there was nothing in the man that suggested that he would stick even to those policies he supposedly backed — a doubt about him that was only powerfully confirmed when he became the presumptive nominee and immediately took back any number of positions in favor of still more right wing views. And we knew that the Obama talk about “bipartisanship” and “unity” were codewords for the worst sort of compromising if he ever got into office.

    And, of course, we saw that in his acceptance of misogyny to further his ends, he had absolutely no real commitment to a central goal of genuine progressives: just and fair treatment of women in our society.

    We are, I think, all that is left of the progressive movement in American society and politics. The Obama movement is nothing but a corruption of progressivism in favor of style and easy symbolism.

    I think we are the only hope for genuine change going forward. And, given how marginalized we’ve been, it’s something of a depressing thought.

  40. Isolde, on November 16th, 2008 at 12:12 pm Said:

    This may be somewhat OT but I think it plays into why we do what we do and why we need to be prepared for the aftermath when the party falls apart.

    You are spot on, that is one of the reasons that the .com bust went as far as it did. None of these young people had ever earned money, and thus went on a spending spree without every producing anything and without any accountability.

    This is the second time my retirement disappears…

    They were into self glorification, just as the Obama fans are.


  41. My .02: I very much like the idea of accountability. It’s broad enough to include a number of different goals and affiliations. It seems to me that the strength of PUMA initiatives was their breadth.

    “Accountability” can allow for different goals within the movement. — those who are interested in taking back the Dem party or changing Dem leadership can do so, for example. Those alienated folks who have left the Dem party and want alternatives (heh, I would fall into that group) can also get on board.

    It also offers enough flexibility for media critique, too — media deciding our candidates has been one of the single biggest problems of this electoral season.

    Bottom line, very few voices are interested in accountability for our new overlords and my fear from square one was no checks and balance on a phony messianic celebrity figure — just a fawning media and empty sloganeering. I suppose it’s about figuring out where our hunger is now, and tapping into that. I’m yearning for accountability. Now, that would be some real change.

  42. Wowowowowowow! You people are amazing. So much enthusiasm and creativity. Aren’t we lucky??



    Accountability is vital. In order to have it, we must make government work for us again.

  44. I would also add: one of the things that made PB 1.0 successful in the beginning is that it had a vibrant research wing — folks who were doing the kind of commentary and heck, investigative journalism that the press had abandoned. Iraq, PNAC, Plame, attorney scandals, civil rights: there was more going on in the blogosphere than anywhere else for a time there.

    Now that the Big Blogger Boyz have sold their souls for a penny’s worth of cheap grace, that’s a hole that needs filling. I really appreciated myiq’s piece on the Jan 2007 pushing of BO — as he puts it well, powerful people had decided to push BO early in the game. That’s an interesting set of questions that should be asked. Connections to corporate power (eg Exelon) — also important questions that should be asked.

    The BO campaign used the more hysterical stuff online (eg. BO as crypto-Muslim) as a way to discredit any investigation into BO or his associates. They framed it such that any investigation was part of a r@cist, smear campaign against the Lightbringer. I hope their efforts don’t succeed. A research wing really helps with accountability issues.

  45. I like the accountability and the progressive criticism ides very much …how is this for a start……….
    Instead of this bit of asininity

    Obama makes a play for college football playoffs
    NEW YORK (AP) — It’s not exactly at the top of his agenda, but President-elect Barack Obama says there should be a college football playoff to determine a national champion. In fact, he knows exactly what he wants — an eight-team playoff.

    In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Obama addresses a subject college football fans have debated for many years, and says he will use his influence to create such a system.

    “If you’ve got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there’s no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system,” he tells CBS’ Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast Sunday.

    According to Obama’s proposed system, eight teams would play over three rounds to settle the national champion.

    “It would add three extra weeks to the season,” he said at the conclusion of a wide-ranging interview. “You could trim back on the regular season. I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

    Why not discuss getting great music and arts programs back in our schools
    They at least have been proven to increase a child’s intellegence…..
    Where are the proposals for those things

    What is on bos mind is not a good direction for education it would seem

  46. I think your idea is a great one. I just ordered my copy from Amazon. Can’t wait to read it!

  47. Last week I mentioned that we could become a force for integrity in politics.
    along with accountablity, integrity is needed.

    Also the 30% solution the female candidates need to be vetted . Just because a women is running is not a reason to vote for her.Look at McCaskill for example.
    PUMAs in each state can inform the rest of us about the history of candidates running in their state.
    We need true information about each candidate and we won’t get it from the disinformation networks

    Make PUMA a hallmark for any candidate to tbe able to claim that we back them.
    Accountablity and integrity should be the watch words of the PUMA endorsement

    Before I changed my e-mail I used to get a notice of how my representive and senators voted on bills.
    We need to know what they are doing and why.



  48. […] gave us a homework assignment: So, how do we get the unParty to go mainstream?  That’s where the book comes in.  […]

  49. I probably won’t have time to read the whole book, but I’m familiar with a lot of the psychological studies that Gladwell based it on. I have read quite a bit about about Stanley Milgam’s “six degrees of separation” study.

    I guess I’m a maven. I like to do research and make connections between very different ideas. I like to see the world through various psychological theories. I also enjoy learning about historical connections to present day events.

  50. The Wikipedia page is pretty good.


  51. Jessie Britton, on November 16th, 2008 at 12:31 pm Said:

    “It must be inclusive and it must not just be another women’s movement. It must be national with local city and state chapters. It must be able to effect the primary and general elections.”

    Just blurting out a visceral reaction here–I might be wrong–but it seems to me that this is not how women organize. Maybe later in the day (or week) I could expand on this thought.

  52. […] The Beast Obama UnleashedDrunken Rant Open ThreadHangover Open ThreadOpen Season On WomenSunday: Tipping the unPartyYou only get out what you put […]

  53. Okay, I’ll have to use the wikisummary version of the book but will try to discuss with you all next week.

    From the looks of it, I’m going to fall into the Connector category.

  54. markos is a mushy banana blogger boi and annoying him is gravy.

    PUMA should be about reforming the primaries and getting rid of the caucuses. If not for that mess, Hillary would be president elect and since she was the choice of the people that is how it should be. When did we become the James Baker party anyway?

  55. someone said the other day and Oblahblah is starting to look like the lead singer in a Clinton tribute band. I would love to see someone photoshop a pic to go with that theme.

  56. RD: I will take a book recommendation from you any day. I”ll pick it up tomorrow. I loved the book about conservatism. So any book suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  57. purplelfinn said this

    “That is what scares me, what if the bad behavior was done by a candidate we supported, would we see it?”

    During this election season that thought was in my mind a lot. I am a leftist. I used to listen and read whatever came out from the left. I never questioned any thing untill this year. I wonder now is it just the fact that I love Hillary and couldn’t stand the way they treated her that turned me. Don’t get me wrong I am still a liberal but I can’t stand their mouth peices. I don’t listen or read them any more.

    As for the assignment my thougts:

    – Don’t appologize or give any hints of that for any thing we have done so far.

    – Grass Roots HELLO PUMA is the ultimate grass roots organization. It is small in size now but the issues it takes are as big as they come.
    – Start membership I mean paying one. agenda well defined and all that jazz as quickly as possible

    I am expecting a lot of the Obamas to end up with us in the future, so be prepared
    I will come back with more

  58. BO won the BO bots over because of marketing. No matter how we dislike him, we have to look at some of the aspects to his campaign that were done really well. He knew how to use the Internet to galvanize the BO Bots and gave them the excitement that the other campaigns were not doing. Since most Americans don’t read beyond headlines and don’t hear beyond soundbites, his thin veneer of buzz worked like “magic.” BO proved to us that Americans want a “rockstar” as a president, not substance. McCain ran a 20th century type of campaign that was lackluster in excitement. Like it or hate it, we live in an American Idol / MTV world today. So in order to win against BO and to wake the BO Bots up (if that can be done), any campaign has to be just as sleek or better. We PUMAs or any political candidate has to win with marketing, not merely with facts.

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