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Saturday, April 15, 2006

These are mean times

Maryscott O'Connor

The Left, Online and Outraged
Liberal Blogger Finds an Outlet and a Community

By David Finkel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 15, 2006; Page A01


Outspoken and Uncensored

These are mean times.

"I just want to see these [expletive] swinging from their heels in the public square," reads a recent comment from someone named Dave in a discussion about the Bush administration on a Web site called Eschaton.

Crude times, too.

"Laura Bush Talks; No One Gives a [expletive]," someone who calls himself the Rude Pundit writes on his Web site, and he continues: "The Rude Pundit doesn't give a retarded dog drool what Laura Bush has to say about the Olympics."

Loud, crass and instantaneous.

"I feel like I'm being molested everytime I hear his voice," one person writes on the Daily Kos Web site while watching a Bush news conference.

What's notable about this isn't only the level of anger but the direction from which it is coming. Not that long ago, it was the right that was angry and the left that was, at least comparatively, polite. But after years of being the targets of inflammatory rhetoric, not only from fringe groups but also from such mainstream conservative politicians as Newt Gingrich, the left has gone on the attack. And with Republicans in control of Washington, they have much more to be angry about.

"Powerlessness" is O'Connor's explanation. "This is born of powerlessness."

To what, effect, though? Do the hundreds of thousands of daily visitors to Daily Kos, who sign their comments with phrases such as "Anger is energy," accomplish anything other than talking among themselves? The founder of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, may have a wide enough reputation at this point to consult regularly with Democrats on Capitol Hill, but what about the heart and soul of Daily Kos, the other visitors, whose presence extends no further than what they read and write on the site?

How about the 125,000 or so daily visitors to Eschaton? Or the thousands who visit Rude Pundit, the Smirking Chimp or My Left Wing, which is O'Connor's Web site?

Put another way, can one person sitting alone in a living room, typing her fingertips numb on a keyboard, make a difference?

"Rage, rage against the Lying of the Right" is the subtitle of O'Connor's Web site.

"If I can't rant, I don't want to be part of your revolution" is how she signs her comments, in the place other people might write "Sincerely."

"I was not like this before," she says. "I was riddled with empathy for everyone suffering in the world. Classic bleeding-heart liberal."


She signed petitions. She boycotted veal. She canvassed for Greenpeace. She donated to Planned Parenthood. She read the Nation, the New Yorker, the Utne Reader and Mother Jones. She agonized over low wages for overseas workers every time she bought a $40 leather purse.

Then George W. Bush was elected. Then came 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, the Patriot Act, secret prisons, domestic eavesdropping, the revamping of the Supreme Court, and the thought "It has come to the point where the worst people on Earth are running the Earth." And now, "I have become one of those people with all the bumper stickers on their car," she says. "I am this close to being one of those muttering people pushing a cart.

"I'm insane with rage and grief.

"But I also feel more connected than I ever have."

Mean times? You mean unlike the times they made fun of Chelsea Clinton? Yeah, right.

Well, I'm glad they're talking to us now.

Do we actually change things?

Yes. Ask the folks at the DNC.:)

posted by Steve @ 1:23:00 AM

1:23:00 AM

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