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We died, and no one even told us!

We’re dead. It’s all over, our time here on Earth is up. Chris “Creative Class” Bowers says so:

Only five years ago, the progressive political blogosphere was still predominately a gathering place for amateur (that is, unpaid or barely paid) journalists and activists unattached to existing media companies and advocacy organizations. Those days are almost completely over. Now, the progressive blogosphere is almost entirely professionalized, and inextricably linked to existing media companies and advocacy organizations.


That didn’t take very long. The progressive blogosphere really first emerged onto the political scene in late 2002 over fights like the run up to Iraq, the 2003 Democratic primaries, and Trent Lott’s comments at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. In less than eight years, it went from a loosely knit, rag-tag network of amateur outsiders into a fixture in the world of professional political advocacy and media.


It was, really, inevitable. Avant-garde, “outsider” developments which prove to have real support are invariably co-opted by any successful, institutional establishment. At the same time, these avant-garde movements are often willing to be co-opted, since established institutions usually have vastly greater resources than the independent, shoestring distribution networks of the avant-garde. Before I became a blogger, I was an ABD graduate student in English, and I was going to write my dissertation about this phenomenon in 20th century American poetry. I am quite thrilled that instead of writing that dissertation, I was able to participate in a real-life example of it.

Anyway, kudos to Nate Silver, and RIP to the amateur progressive blogosphere.

Poetry? He was going to write his dissertation in fucking POETRY??

That explains a lot.

Anyway, the big bloggers have all sold out, and the rest of us are wasting our time. Of course they don’t think we exist anyway.

Q: What did the English major say after graduation?

A: Do you want fries with that?

154 Responses

  1. If only he had written that dissertation in poetry.

    • Poetry comes out the big winner here having been spared Bowers’ limited and self-satisfied analyses. To borrow a phrase from Robert Frost the A-listers are “neither out far nor in deep.”

      They cannot look out far.
      They cannot look in deep.
      Btu when was that ever a bar
      To any watch they keep?

    • Well, at least he’s honest. Selling out buys more arugala than poetry.

  2. Well, she’s not an A-lister, but Susie Madrak provided a link to these photos recently taken of the poor suffering birds of the Gulf Coast. They are terrible to view –and without the C-listers many would never have seen them.

    From the Boston Globe, “Caught in the Oil.”

    • There are terrible pictures of birds covered in oil and , according to Anderson Cooper, “gasping for breath” on CNN’s front page.
      And I am going to lose my shit!

      • It made me physically ill to see that. And there is literally no end in sight.

    • Maybe this will fuel some outrage. (no pun intended).

      We need outrage. We aren’t getting much.

  3. What is the word I’m trying to remember (I’m old) that describes a person who professes one thing, in order to build a following, then is willing to sell out everything they stated they believed in and all their followers, to get a pay cheque? I know the word….. somebody help me here.

    • Opportunist

    • {{{does best Ahnald Horeshack imitation}}} ehw! ehw! I know!!


      • Both answers are good, but I was thinking more along the lines of prostitution – the art of selling the only thing you have going for you – body and mind

        • Blanche is ‘Abhorred’ :

        • The analogy is insulting to prostitutes. Bowers not only sells himself, but others — as for example in imposing a news blackout on single payer coverage on his blog (although he wasn’t alone in that).

        • As opposed to media whore, I like the phrase “blogger whore.” I could mention a few other names to include (not just Bowers), but I’d get in trouble again.

          Anyone who joined in the “Clintons are racists” just to win a primary, for me, is a complete whore.

          Guess he realized he couldn’t make a living writing poetry—-everybody has their price, eh?

          • At the risk of being misunderstood, I’ll add names like Jerilynn and Digby……NOT anyone on this blog.

          • Calling them “blogger whores” is an insult to real whores. Unfortunately due to the English language most of the really powerful insults are sexist or otherwise bigoted in nature. The remaining few are related to excretory functions or make comparisons to animals.

            We really need to come up with some new “non-bigoted” insults for our language.

          • Dingbat is a typesetting term for weird characters.

          • MYIQ,

            I agree. I try to insult people creatively so that I can avoid accidentally using sexist language or likening contemptible people to body parts that I’m actually quite fond of. I’d rather call the guy a foul, opportunistic, manipulative ulceration, or a chancrous infection of a man.

          • I know a little Korean, and there is a common one that means, offspring of a dog who would borrow food to eat. I think these curses are interesting cultural mirrors. Believe that one speaks to the decades of abject poverty following the Japanese occupation and the subsequent civil war orchestrated by the Russians and Americans.

      • Hey, Bowers! Up your nose with a rubber hose! :mrgreen:

    • Huffington? Moulitsas?

    • hypocrite? turncoat? liar?

    • Sell out

    • pimp

    • POTUS?

  4. The “progressive blogosphere” was co-opted by outside interests seeking to destroy the left. This always happens to independent movements. It happened to PUMA too. This is why forming a third party is pointless.

    Let’s hope TC remains as is: the voice of reason in a reasonless world. *shuffles off*

  5. After watching the final episode of LOST I just might be dead afterall). Just roll those dead carcasses out of the way so I don’t have to step over them, m-kay?

    • Beginning to rot? Those asshats have been rotten for a couple of years now. 😉

    • When did we become “progressives?” Maybe *they* are dead progressives, I’m still a living, breathing Liberal.

      Well, I never voted for Bush, so I guess that makes me a liberal.

    • Thank you – I’m a Liberal too, and I’m tired of that being vilified and/or co-opted for political purposes. LIberal is not an evil thing, it is not a “Progressive” thing, it is a deeply held set of beliefs that involves caring about the environment, caring about those less fortunate, caring about leveling the playing field for all humans, not just those of the male persuasion. Liberal is a label I wear proudly,
      Progressive? What does that mean and what the heck have they every done?

    • Maybe I missed something, but I never saw a progressive movement anywhere. I saw a lot of blogs that supported Democrats. That is not the same as supporting a progressive approach to politics.

  6. But what’s gonna happen when Obama stops paying them?

    • They can always go back to their original heroes on the other side of the aisle. From the word on the street, those cats are gonna be flush with greenbacks in no time.

    • Then they’ll just have to move on to a new john.

    • Live off the trust funds? I ask you, who else can afford a PhD in avant-garde American poetry but some spoiled trust fund baby?

    • Pre-cisely. I believe the underlying message is that Axy better be prepared to pony up more or they’re selling themselves to Rove.

  7. Over 9 million hits…rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated.

    • This is a great place to gather good information. 9 million hits is just the beginning.

  8. I really hope their version of a “Progressive” movement is dead. It lived far too long and did way too much damage already.

  9. I am old enough I remember when they were calling themselves the “reality based community”. That was before the money started to come in…

  10. No sh!t. Most political bloggers get paid? I’m proud to be an amateur and still a fu*king newbie at that. How else do you get people’s unadulterated opinions.

    • Yup, you could have been making big bucks by having your website available to exalt The One during the primaries, and now you’d be singing: “We’re in the money”.

  11. Bowers is ABD in poetry (criticism)? So I assume as a grad student he had some TA responsibilities?

    No wonder Johnny can’t read — his teacher can’t write.

    Seriously, Bowers is unbelievably inept at stringing coherent sentences together, nevermind his problematic political analyses.

    It astonishes me to think of him grading student essays.

    (I write and publish formal poetry. Really: consider my mind boggled by this tidbit of news.)

    But the news also explains his severe lack of grounding in political theory (not true, for instance, of Paul Rosenberg at Open Left.)

    • Given your penchant for poetry, is the handle a reference to Dandelion, the Canadian literary magazine?

    • I made the mistake of reading the comments on that linked article. It contains a bunch of leaden jokes about Big Dawg being the baby’s father. 😦

      Between the stupidity of our politics in the Reagan and post-Reagan era, the stupidity of British politics in the Thatcher and post-Thatcher era, and the stupidity of Communism, the Germans and Japanese must scratch their heads and say, “How did we lose to those people?”

      • And then the Germans and Japanese get depressed when they realize what that says about them. 😛

  12. “The report of my death was an exaggeration” — Mark Twain.
    I think it’s another exaggeration.

  13. Progressive bloggers are war protesters, and that’s all they really ever were. War protesting was important then and it is important today. But pretending these progressives ever gave a crap about anything else or more importantly had experience or expertise about anything else say like the economy is a laugh. Progressives today are a war protest movement meets oh sh!t we need to make some money but how impulse. Obama used them well to get elected, because let’s never forget that Hillary is the War Monger the War Criminal.

    The other interesting thing about progressives is that most of them know next to nothings about the Middle East where the wars they have chosen to protest exist (there are people dying all the fu*king time in other places in the world of course). That why people like Scahill, Greenwald, Hedges who have knowledge are like gods to progressives, and don’t think they don’t know it. There are no dimensions or complexity for them. They offer no solutions, just the same drumbeat of informed whinging which sells well. We need more solutions. And yes we need peace, but generally in the world peace does not come cheap.

    • A lot of the progessives were outright war cheerleaders, or else fell into the camp of “whether this is justified or not, nobody who’s anti-war will ever have any credibility.” Granted, lots of them turned against the war later, and blamed Mommy for making them do it, but even then most of them continued to insist they weren’t wrong, it was Bush’s fault for not prosecuting the war correctly. Many exceptions, of course, but overall I’d hardly call them war protestors, personally. In fact many of them mocked the hell out of the actual protestors. They don’t believe in protesting, that is so 60’s old politics yechh.

      • Who would be an example of a progressive war cheerleader, then or now. Not asking rhetorically, because I trust you implicitly Seriously. 🙂 As I’ve said before, I was out of the country for much of the past two decades, so I’m still catching up. And don’t get me wrong. I think we should be out of Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday. We should never have been in Iraq, and we should have been out of Afghanistan after 3-6 months. I’m going out for a bite now. Bbl.

        • No, I am not a truther, or any other politics of delusion to rationalize which side I’m on. Reality is enough for me, as an agnostic. Now that’s a bit of the tequilla working.

          • The left in this country has no leadership, and that is profoundly saddening. Left to a smattering of revisionist fantasists. Fu*king tragedy if you ask me.

          • Ron Paul truth-ers. Ralph Nader truth-ers. There are a million and one economic reasons to be a populist activist. But nooooo, no solutions or movement there. It’s got to be about 9-11 conspiracy theories. And we wonder why there are no populist movements being taken seriously in Washington today. Too easy to write them off as wackos, or fools as Krugman calls them, or idiots as Rahm calls them. No reality based anti war movement. No reality based fair economic policy movement. Whether it’s hippies or anyone else, reality based anti government movements might have more traction. Tax the rich!! Tax the corporations!! Save our homes!! We want jobs!! Where is our bailout!! That would be something.

        • My memory isn’t great, so somebody correct me if I mischaracterize anybody’s position (or if I’m totally misremembering pro-war progressives) but Hitchens, Beinart, Yglesias, Ezra, Sully (as an ex-Conservative, ex-Repub Obot I guess he’s a “progressive,” they seem to embrace him as one of their own), various commenters every which-where. Kos was anti-the Iraq war, but I remember him doing this piece to carefully distinguish himself from being anti-war, being quick to point out he’d supported the war in Afghanistan and burnishing his creds by explicitly differentiating himself from the hippy dippy peaceniks.

          • As I recall, Markos and Arianna supported the war , too (at first).

            So did Chris Matthews, big time. Remember his adulation of Bush in the flight suit, and how his “manhood” was pronounced? Sheesh

  14. OT: BP’s cutting pipe efforts is now releasing 20% more oil.

    Good to know Obama’s letting the experts handle this.

    • Woo Hoo! Yeah for experts!!

    • my what great judgment he has.

      • He’s cool and analytical too!

        • Better someone who fails unemotionally than suceeds as if s/he actually gives a damn.

          • Yes I think the Clintons care. A billion people in the world are hungry. More people than ever in history, but a lower percentage of the whole than in the past.

    • I’m honestly not surprised that BP’s “efforts” have made things even worse. They are complete idiots. The American people can come up with better ideas to solve the leak than BP and the White House combined.

  15. As we say around here, Chris Bowers is full of himself.

    As for that oil pipe thing, the SOP is to cut way the distorted part of the pipe so you can clamp a section with a shut off valve on it. Once the valve is solidly clamped in place you close it. If the pipe was bent or kinked cutting off that section will allow an increase in flow. Hopefully the pressure isn’t that great that it overcomes the clamping force of the valve section.

  16. Douchebag outs his racist self :

    This evening in an interview with Pub Politics, state Sen. Jake Knotts (R-SC) — who is supporting a different candidate — slammed Haley by using a racial slur:

    We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.

    What a fucking asswipe.

    • These moron bigots don’t realize that airing their prejudices only helps all us hyphenated Americans get into the White House and the Governor’s Mansion. Meanwhile to the so-called left we’ve got hypocrites like Harry Reid pretending to be the leader of the party that champions minorities, while talking about Obama’s light skin and optional Negro dialect.

      Both parties are completely bankrupt
      None of the Above 2010/2012

      • Waiting to see how many progressives think it’s fine to call her that because she asked for it, being a Repub–self hating, no self respect evvvilll, etc.

        • Knotts directed his racism at Obama too so the faithful can’t just ignore this. I wonder how the thinkproggies would have reacted if the slur was only directed toward Haley.

      • I fell in love with South Carolina as a kid, we used to spend our summers there. Lately, not so much.

      • And please don’t forger our VP with his “clean” remarks about B0 that were whitewashed with the speed of light. Makes one wonder how early in the game he has been picked as VP?

    • She was raised in the Sikh faith? That’s interesting.
      I certainly hope she wins….

  17. Senator Knotts sounds like a charming and intelligent man. (BARF)

    • There’s a picture at the link. He’s gross from the inside out.

    • He came back with a half-a$$ed non-apology, saying he still believes she, like O, is “pretending to be something she’s not.” They’ve got Torquemada on standby to get to the bottom of her belief system.

      • Worse, he tried to pass this off as a “joke” he made during a “local political version of SNL.”

        • He’s too, too obvious in his ignorant hatred to pass anything off. imho

          • Yes, his flaming idiocy makes El Rushbo look like a master of nuance. He’s Mr. Saturday Night Nativism.

          • The state Repub party is calling on him to step down.

          • Or, possibly the state Dem Party. The article’s wording and punctuation makes it unclear, but someone wants him out. 🙂

          • Both parties should be asking him to step down.

            At first I was just in disbelief, but now I’m saddened remembering the Sikh man and others who were murdered after 9/11. Sigh.

          • I’m so sorry.*hugs* Hopefully, everyone will stand together against raci st scumbaggery and send an unequivocal “no tolerance.”

          • Gah! I don’t know why we haven’t evolved. Squirm.

        • Yes, it was meant in jest and taken out of context. So many, many contexts where it would be fine.

          According to Politico, Barrett’s campaign considered her religion their ace-in-the-hole and shopped it to cbn:


          Politics at its finest, makes me feel all hopey and changey inside. These rival campaigns certainly have nothing in common with Obama.

          • Ack. Well, I don’t really trust anyone these days. Puffy faced bigots are way down on my list. But, anyone who panders to the Christian faction is immediately suspect. I’m really so concerned about the wildlife in the Gulf, I can’t think of anything else.

          • Yeah!

          • Ack, I think I phrased my post in a completely incomprehensible way. I didn’t mean to imply Haley’s pandering to Christians, I meant that even the guys running against her who aren’t having their surrogates attack her with full on racial slurs are smearing her with down and dirty old school nasty religious and race baiting. That CBC piece that one of her rivals allegedly planted is one of the cheesiest things I’ve read in a good long while.

  18. I saw the pic. Yep. As you say.

  19. Over at Corrente a former TC frontpager has the threadwinner:

    Some days I wonder
    By madamab on Thu, 06/03/2010 – 8:12pm

    If “Chris Bowers” is Barack Obama’s pen name.

    • Obama did write some poems.

      • From one of Obama’s poems:

        What to do with me, a green young man
        Who fails to consider the
        Flim and flam of the world, since
        Things have been easy for me;

        • Doubled up with laughter. Ha!

        • Isn’t that the one he wrote about the local pedophile his grandfather was always making him hang out with? Grandpa seems like quite a piece of work. Was that for school, because it’s very disturbing. If he showed it to anyone and there was no investigation, they dropped the ball IMO.

          • OMG. That wasn’t an act?

          • Seriously, I read something like that during the election but I was never really sure the accuracy of the info or what to make. It was published in Occidental’s literary journal.

          • Oh my. Sure is personal.

          • Library of Congress:

            When asked to comment on the merit of “Pop,” Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale University, described it as “not bad—a good enough folk poem with some pathos and humor and affection…. It is not wholly unlike Langston Hughes, who tended to imitate Carl Sandburg.” [1] Obama’s poetry, Bloom makes clear, is much superior to the poetry of former President Jimmy Carter (Bloom calls Carter “literally the worst poet in the United States”).

          • Spam filter won’t let the blockquote through but here’s a tinyurl to the Library of Congress information on the poem.

          • Kinda creepy.

          • Wonk–yeah, don’t know. This friend of Grandpa’s apparently wrote a novel under a nom-de-plume where the protagonist has sex with a 13 year old, allegedly claiming the novel was based on real-life experiences. But then again, not necessarily his. Without further evidence, impossible to say–but that poem is extremely disturbing.

          • Gawd. I certainly hope that’s not the case.

          • The Frank Davis character right? I remember seeing that stuff on the blogs during the election and finding it bizarre/hard to follow just like the birther crazy train. So I dunno.

            I agree there’s something off, but the Yale prof’s description of O’s poem from the LOC link is as follows: “not bad—a good enough folk poem with some pathos and humor and affection…. It is not wholly unlike Langston Hughes, who tended to imitate Carl Sandburg.”

          • The London Telegraph claims there’s “an autobiographical fragment” from this guy, but not sure they’re a reliable source, either. The “alleged communist” thing suggests not, 🙂 but they go into great detail about this alleged fragment–though without ever actually sourcing it. 😉


          • The Frank Davis character right? I remember seeing that stuff on the blogs during the election and finding it bizarre/hard to follow just like the birther crazy train. So I dunno. Anyhow, I agree there’s something off about the poem, but the writeup in the link doesn’t acknowledge the disturbing undercurrent. Again, not really sure what to make. Just thought if C Bowers is Obama’s pen name, maybe the flim and the flam all makes some kind of sense.

            (sorry for duplicates, tried to post a snippet from the link again but it wouldn’t go through.)

          • Believe it was that summer after the poem was published that Peter Geithner connected BO with the late brilliant Edward Said at Columbia.

          • Yeah, sorry for the derail there, Wonk. I stepped on your joke. That poem just straight up skeeves me out and reading it again reminded me of all this backstory.

          • Seriously, I appreciate your radar. This kind of stuff needs to be out there for all the world to see.

          • Seriously, It’s no problem at all, you didn’t step on anything. I’m just sorry that I triggered all that crap for you.

            I didn’t bring it up as a joke. More an observation about the creative class overlap.

            I think there is an undercurrent of “hello? boundaries? wtf?” to the word choice of Obama’s poem, but I’m not sure about the narrative.

            Maybe it is about that Frank mentor dude and it is something far more sinister. I’m not saying it isn’t. But for some reason, even though the word choice did set off red flags for me initially, it just seems to me like it may be Obama’s figurative attempt to express his turmoil over being abandoned by his black father and having to settle for his white grandfather. It’s not stated outright like that, but there seems to be some kind of weird emotional shapeshifting (from himself to seeing himself in “Pop” or something) and I wonder if that’s where all the bad vibe is coming from. It is still very off word choice. I share your concern about foul play and whether there was ever any kind of investigation. But, it seems like he wrote this while he was in college and not in gradeschool where a teacher or some other adult could have intervened and looked into what the hell was going on there.

          • Ohhh, that makes a tremendous amount of sense. I think I’m too literal for a career in poetry criticism. 🙂 I don’t care what Ravelstein says about it, though, that other poem is just stupid. 😉

          • The one with the fig? That’s a mushroom trip.

          • Wasn’t that an olive? I’m confused.

          • Well Harold Bloom likes the second poem better. He thinks Obama was trying to express some repression. I think he was just getting wasted.

          • I don’t outright hate Pop. It’s weird, but it’s also got some texture.

            The fig one puts me to sleep.

          • Neither of them really say much to me, though.

            I actually think that one sample we got of his journalistic prose (“Breaking the War Mentality”) was a better glimpse at his writing.

          • Cold, workmanlike for such a topic at college age. Prefers to put forth other people’s convictions to proxy his.

      • Heh. Obama really does seem to inspire. Remember Kid Oakland, and the “casual poetry” of the Obama campaign? Good times….

        • Ha!Ha! at those good times.They never really got it, did they?
          I remember in B0botland someone suggested back in January 2008 a purge of all not-Obama people. Silly me I thought it was a joke, sarcasm. I was dourly corrected and put in my place. It was a few months till that suggestion got implemented, gradually.

  20. Why can the people see right through the BS of Tony Heywood and allow the same type of nonsense to go unscrutinized from Obama? Heywood saying that BP will restore everything back to it’s original state. And then Obama saying how we will hold BP accountable and make them do what they have to do. Words from both of them mean nothing. Saying them does not make it so. Each is as big a con artist as the other. Yet, everybody let’s Obama off but they can easily see the fool in Tony Heywood of BP. Go figure.

  21. I mmust confess: I wrote my dissertation on poetry. Robert Lowell, to be specific. Does this mean I’m in trouble? :O

  22. I saw the “progressive” nonsense taking hold in 2000 as an excuse to vote for Nader and sneer at 8 years of peace and prosperity. It was then that I decided to be a liberal instead.
    The goings on of 2008 and after only proved me right.

    • Brought us Bush followed by Obama. Great track record. Honestly don’t remember what Nader was running on in 2000 except general paranoia. Protesting is essential, but don’t run unless you have a genuine interest in governing.

      • In Florida he was running against the supposed drilling in Everglades that neither Gore nor Clinton ever contemplated. But the Force in CDS was running strong, they believed everything – cuz they were…progressives.

      • Nader was right about there not being enough of a difference between both parties (and I was glad to have his voice out there to challenge both parties, even though I was for Gore). But, Nader was wrong about the difference between Bush and Gore as individuals.

  23. Now that BP failed the “Operation hide the oily birds” too, time to update the Obama logo again

  24. From zerohedge – the head of the Dallas Fed is talking sense. Wonder how long he’ll last? He’s definitely off the Bernanke/Geithner reservation:

    In a speech before the SW Graduate School of Banking, Dallas Fed’s Richard Fisher comes out swinging, blasting his boss Ben Bernanke and his policy of globalized moral hazard: “Let me make my sentiments clear: It is my view that, by propping up deeply troubled big banks, authorities have eroded market discipline in the financial system. It is not difficult to see where this dynamic leads—to more pronounced financial cycles and repeated crises.” And just in case listeners missed the point, he followed up: “Just this morning, the Washington Post summarized the impasse that inevitably blocks treatment of the TBTF pathology. In an article on preparation for this weekend’s Group of 20 talks on bank reform, it was noted that “some” participants “remain hesitant to lean too hard on banks they consider vital to their national economies.” This hesitancy only perpetuates the problem: The longer authorities delay the process, the more engrained behemoth financial institutions become; the more engrained they become, the less extricable they are. And so the debilitating disease of TBTF spreads. What appears “vital” becomes “viral” and grows ever more threatening to financial stability and economic stability.”


    • Oh, meant to add this part of his speech. This is the hazard that doesn’t get talked about much ; the forcing out of business of the smaller, non-politically connected banks who may have actually had a better business model and investing strategy.

      Big banks that took on high risks and generated unsustainable losses received a public benefit: TBTF support. As a result, more conservative banks were denied the market share that would have been theirs if mismanaged big banks had been allowed to go out of business. In essence, conservative banks faced publicly backed competition.

    • Now there’s some sense talking. Too bad he doesn’t sit on the Board of Governors or the FOMC.

  25. OMG, Seriously you still around?

    Digby posted on the Knotts slur of Haley and not once said the word “ra cist” or “ra cism”

    GRR. And, (citing some drivel from Kathleen Parker from April) …… she makes this about “ordinary Americans” being like Knotts!

    Sally Quinn Lite indeed.

  26. I have a take on the Bowers essay — it ignores the contributions of women, people color and LGBT people who blog! http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2010/06/openleft-announces-death-of-amateur.html

  27. Yes, well, Chris “Wow! We nominated the black guy!” Bowers was one of the first seller outers.

    Carolyn Kay

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