Letters from the Center
Sunday, August 14, 2005
  Daily Kos - The Many Democratic Parties

> The point is Mark, we can win in PURPLE states. We can find a message
> that works in purple AND blue. And, to be frank, it is basically a
> negative message about the extremists that run the GOP. It is Lincoln
> 1860.

This is interesting -- I've been long complaining about a lack of
specific counter-proposals or clear message for the Democratic party.
And I've thought this is a weakness; I figured it was a necessary
characteristic for a leader to have a plan B if they disagree with plan A.

However, it seems you're proposing quite the opposite, that a necessary
and sufficient reason to be a Democrat is to simply not be a Republican.

Surely I'm over-simplifying things. I desperately hope I am. But I
don't see how. I'm no historian, so I don't know what your "Lincoln
1860" codeword means. But to me it sounds like your strategy is "if we
whine loud enough, they will come".

Is that what we've become? And is that the grandest to which you can


Monday, August 08, 2005
  Daily Kos - Extremist Conservative Legal Reasoning on Abortion Rights

> A few weeks ago I skewered NRO's legal analyst Ed Whelan for trying
> to spin Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas as being "neutral" on the right
> to choose.

You "skewered" them? Is this your objective, unbiased view? Or your
self-promoting, overconfident view?

I know you think you're great; please try to leave it to the reader to
decide if they think so too. Otherwise you just sound lame, to your
supporters and detractors alike.

Again, I generally agree with your views. I just generally disagree
with how you communicate them.


Saturday, August 06, 2005
  Daily Kos -- Military Performance in Iraq

> We understand that it is not the fault of our troops that they have
> been sent to this Debacle. It is Bush's fault, to his everlasting and
> historic disgrace. He misled us to this war and critically damaged
> the global alliance against terrorism, causing mayhem, death and
> chaos. He has made us less safe, less prosperous, and less secure in
> our future. He is the worst President in the history of the nation.

Ok, this starts out a little over the top (Worst President in the
history of the nation? At best this seems premature; but at worst it
seems downright whiny), but I think the rest of the article is excellent.

I totally agree with that the insurgent force appears to be improving in
effectiveness. Whether it's due to growing numbers, increasing
sophistication, or some weakening on our part -- I have no idea. But it
does seem like they're getting more deadly, and that our words are
ringing increasingly hollow.

I'd love to hear more analysis of why you believe this is the case, and
what we can encourage our representatives to do about it. Most
importantly, I'd love to hear your overall plan -- repeated again and
again on a daily basis -- for what we should be doing differently.

It's old news to hear yet more ways that we're screwing up. What I want
to hear are specific proposals that will enable us to do better.


Friday, August 05, 2005
  Daily Kos - Fighting Dems

> Ed, this is simply not true. And once you realize that, you will see
> why we are right and you are wrong.

Sigh... Do you even realize how petulant and arrogant you sound? Do you
understand that the one uniting theme across Bush critics is his
righteous arrogance? If so, why do you follow his example?

If I could summarize the Daily Kos voice, it would be "whine". Billmon
would be "despair". Power Line would be "confuse". Why can't any of
you guys just talk? Like real people do? Like adults do around a
dinner table?

It sounds like you're using the same tactics of the brat kid who yells
until his parents buy him a candy bar. Yes, the tactics work in some
circumstances. But don't you see the long term damage you do to your
position to ostracize centrist, moderate voices with such bullshit? I
mean, you're treating one of your fellow Democrats like an idiot; what
hope can I have that you'll even remain coherent when in the same room
as an actual Republican?

For many people, it's not about the issues. There are simply too many
of them, and they are all too complicated. It's about trust. And
whining doesn't engender trust.

I agree with much that you say. I just disagree, vehemently, with how
you say it.

I heard it said once that "The only people who Kos despises more than
Republicans are centrists." At first I thought it was silly. After
all, where do you think you'll get your votes if not from us? But I
can't help but see this statement echoed in your posts, and it depresses
me. You're the best liberal voice on the web. Why can't you do better?


Wednesday, August 03, 2005
  In the Red Zone - Steven Vincent RIP


I'm horribly saddened to hear about Steven's murder. Steven was an
incredible journalist and his writings have had a powerful effect on my
understanding of Iraq. There is simply no replacement.

Furthermore, I've read that Layla was injured, but thankfully not
killed. I earnestly hope she recovers quick and well, and finds some
way to press on in Iraq.


Monday, August 01, 2005
  Chrenkoff - Fighting words from a German

Arthur wrote:
> As I've written many times before, at the root this attitude is the
> belief that Al Qaeda is essentially a reactive force, with no agenda of
> its own, except to oppose certain Western actions (if, among other
> things, the existence of the state of Israel can be termed a "Western
> action") - hence, if only we did, or stopped doing, X or Y, everything
> would be fine, since "these people" have no quarrel with us per se ,
> just with some of our policies.

I'm frustrated by your selective interpretation of the opposing
position. Yes, there are certainly those who fit into the
isolationist/appeasement category you paint above. But the degree to
which you focus on them -- in near exclusion of all others -- frustrates
me as so far as I can tell, numerically and politically, that category
is a minority.

It's my impression that most centrist and liberal folks recognize
extremist terrorism is a real problem and needs dealing with, and not
hiding from. But there are many ways to deal with it other than (or in
addition to) the current approach. And thus rather than rehashing why
we shouldn't put our head in the sand (a position that few actually
take), I'd like to hear your views on what we *should* do differently
than right now.

- For example, I'd like to hear more about how *you* propose we deal
with military recruitment problems, or your theories as to why we're
having them in the first place.

- Likewise, liberals believe the perception of America as a nice guy is
a strategic asset -- accumulated over generations -- that we're spending
at a frantic pace. Do you disagree with this? Do you think we're
spending that currency wisely? How could we spend it better, or even
earn more?

Neither of these complaints equate to "pull the troops now!" or "appease
the terrorists!" Rather, it's "let's do a better job fighting
terrorism!" If you want them (ie, us) to listen to your reassurances,
it'd be a huge help if you took seriously our concerns.

What I'd like to hear more about from you is less how the small minority
of stupid people truly are stupid, and more about how the large majority
of concerned citizens are legitimately concerned, and what we can do
about it.


I'm what you might call a "radical centrist" and these are my letters to bloggers, journalists, and politicians -- left, right, and center -- where I implore them to pull away from the edges and back to the mainstream. Come read if you like, but I'll keep writing either way.

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David Barrett
May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / March 2006 / April 2006 / August 2006 / May 2007 /

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