Thursday, June 19, 2008

Raising Kaine: Rage Against the Machine

One of the most influential political blogs in Virginia if not the country is beginning to take some heat from within the very Party and movement its creation was predicated upon.

It seems that though the creation of Raising Kaine back around 2005 was dedicated in large part to the elevation of Tim Kaine (D) to the office of Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia it has morphed almost four years later into quite something else.

Raising Kaines predecessors in the blogosphere here in Virginia are slim to none in terms of the impact. It quickly became the bastion of political strategy for the Jim Webb campaign by 2006 has it circled the wagons of the Virginia Democrat Party to unseat George Allen (R) in the Senate. It was in this period that RK began to change. The race for Governor was behind them and Tim Kaine was safely seated at the head of the Democrat Party following Mark Warner's adminstration. The Executive Mansion was secure and RK focused on the U.S. Senate seat in 2006 and was a driving force providing opinion and spin on the race.

It became a means to an end for the campaign for Senate by Jim Webb as it so happens that the race happened to fall right in the middle of the explosion of the blogosphere. RK capitalizing on its name and "brand" from the Kaine campaign began to recognize it was accumulating significant power both as a disimilator of information as well as a medium where it could mobilze those seeking to contribute to campaigns. Hence "Draft James Webb" and others like "Draft Wes Clark" were flanking elements within the movement and strategy devised to place Kaine in the Executive Mansion.

The movement has thus become a "machine".

While some see RK as a great medium of news relevant to the present, much of this "news" is filtered through the prism of the "Progressive Voice of Virginia". One has to realize that this machine is about its own vision and ideology when it comes to Virginia and national politics and its mission is to align those interests and exploit the shortcomings, no matter real or fabricated, of the opposition in Richmond and Washington. This blog becomes the mechanism or storefront of the ideological campaign that sets Northern Virginia in dark contrast to much of Virginia from a politcial perspective.

In fact Raising Kaine some months back actually likened Virginia as the next Maryland in an attempt to subvert and leverage how Northern Virginia has more in common with Maryland then say the rest of the Commonwealth. This small glib on the political radar has not sat well with most Virginians. Again, the folks at RK know their audience and they know it all too well.

In recent weeks, there has been some real discussions (fear mostly) that the britches over at RK have simply gotten too big. While this may be very true, do not expect an implosion anytime soon. Lowell Feld and many of the contributors behind Raising Kaine have dug in and are battle hardened.

The problem though is this battle is being taken up by Democrats not Republicans. The GOP currenlty has nothing of the power of RK in the blogosphere in terms of Virginia yet, but there are signs that the foundations are being laid for the future. Many Republicans in Virgibnia realize that the battle has turned in the favor of the Virginia Democrats after a long period of Republicanism. The Virginia GOP will have to quickly learn to fight as the Democrats did for so long as the underachiever and underdog. I would not underestimate the Virginia GOP in this regard in that the best thing for it to re-mobilize in Virginia is for the Party to "center" itself and wait for the results to follow. The results are what will put blogs like Raising Kaine on the defensive after long being the sword of the Democrats against Republicans.

Results? Once Mark Warner is elected, Virginia Democrats will have control of both US Senate seats and the Executive Mansion in Richmond. The single one thing that can rebuild the Virginia GOP ranks is a turn for the worst under Democratic leadership. It will soon become Raising Kaine job not to be the "sword" but the "shield" of Virginia Democrats.

We are seeing this shift already occur. Raising Kaine, while self-professed as "progressive" does not seem to take true progressivism to heart in terms of opinion. If there is one single issue in the current debate that demonstrates this is the environmental movement.

Many of the contributors at Raising Kaine hold this issue as the High Water Mark of policy. They are inflexible on the issue of climate change or global warming. While it may seem to the average Joe that the "progressive" thing to do currently would be to drill on the continental reef area within the Continental United States. RK is opposed to such action.

Raising Kaine instead employs the notion that such drilling and tax relief are "gimmicks" being proposed by the opposition in such a manner to play on citizens emotions in a time of economic downturn. Problem is many of those citizens are Teamsters or union workers which typically sit right in the middle of the Democrat camp. Truckers are being hurt the most and in fact diesal gasoline has outpaced unleaded gasoline in terms of pricing even though it is considerable less to produce. RK contributors will have none of the arguements behind supply and demand functions of a free market economy that they themselves have been integral proponents by supporting U.S. entaglements in things such as NAFTA. RK constantly wants to place the blame for rising fuel costs on our actions in the Middle East when many economists, seen as alarmists, were addressing this potential even before the geo-politcial blunders of the Iraqi policy.

RK fails to want to impose the same standards on foriegn governments as it would on our own economy. It will support windfall profit taxes on our companies but not foriegn energy companies. Its supports not only increased regulation but the complete termination of all coal based energy solutions. It denies the successes of liquid coal in places like Africa and China where it is being imployed in areas as an alternative. In fact, the Chinese military is undergoing this change in response to the fact that it is accumulating the coal on the world market where coal prices as well have soared. Needless top say RK is not a supporter of anything coal-related as demonstrated in its recent falling out with no other than Gov. Tim Kaine over the proposed Wise County plant by Dominion Resources.

Raising Kaine has it stuck in their heads that Dominion Power is simply an example of yet another "evil" corporate entity set on destruction of the environment and the rhetoric is taken to such levels as to imply that all the employees of Dominion Power are the problem. You see, this is often a tact of the "sword" as RK goes after employees of companies whose measures they oppose and this was further demonstrated in the 11th Congressional District Democrat Primary where RK took it upon itself to go after SAIC employees in like manner over the fact that their opposition in that race was associated with that entity.

I say "opposition" because it just so happens again RK found itself sprouting away from its roots. Gov. Tim Kaine had endorsed Gerry Connolly over Leslie BYrne in that race while RK but its "machine" behind Leslie Byrne. RK aggressively attacked and attacked Connolly not so much on issues as over old personal run-ins and rivalries. This is where they at RK lose whatever objectivity they may have. I had not seen the level of divisivness against Connolly since George Allen. In the end, Gerry Connolly would win the Primary by some 20% over Leslie Byrne. Laughing no doubt behind closed doors. Evidently the Governors "sword" is a bit sharper than that of Raising Kaine.

So while the Governor continues to unimpress RK over Wise County and now the Pollution Control Board, RK seems quite comfortable with drawing a truce for now to go after Presidential hopeful John McCain (R). The "machine" is beginning to kick it into overdrive in an attempt to swing independents in Virginia over to the side of Barack Obama. Of course, there is a problem and most people know or at least think they know John McCain and much of the rumblings of RK fall along the lines of little substance and alot of "George Bush 3" prayers.

The thing not getting much report is the fact that Lowell Feld, who RK claims is "one of the nations pre-eminent local bloggers" actually was a supporter of John McCain in 2000. Lowell remains suspiciously quiet about his previous allegiances to McCain and while RK moves to mobilize Virginia into Obama's camp can only muster that McCain is simply Bush in another suit. If that were true I wonder why then Mr. Feld sought to support McCain in 2000 over Bush.

Instead Raising Kaine seeks to use its proven tact of aggressive non-issue Doberman strategies. Which is interesting given the failure against Gerry Connolly.

RK dismissess the fact that John Mccain is a "maverick" or "independent" though of course this is certainly why Lowell Feld embraced McCain in 2000 but in typical fashion simply label him with "McSame" "Bush 3" or my favorite code word "OLD".

An example of what you will get a dose of is how McCain "dumped his disabled first wife". Issue driven dialogue of course.

So while the debate gest formatted, we have to realize that the prism or filter behind Raising Kaine is simply put proponents of the newly formed, modernized "Nanny State" of progressivism.

They are set on destroying the Tobacco industry and the lessor covets of smoking bans, destroying the Coal Industry but offering no endorsement of alternative energy save Solar and Wind, and of course tackling and bringing down the Automobile and Oil companies. They support the "Nanny State" ideals of demanding Government obstruct markets and require regulation as they see fit to bring about their agenda. They believe we all should be mandated to drive less, consume less, only be afforded to opportunity to buy electric, hybrid cars which of course are not Hummers or SUV's, they think that seatbelt laws and smoking bans are required to protect the individual who has to have government look out for them. They want the country to wean itself off of foriegn oil and yet will not support the project proposed by McCain for the creation of new nuke power. RK and the environmental wing claim its due to safety reasons but fail to answer any qustion when posed about our aircraft carriers which for decades have had reactors and have disposed of waste without issue and yet RK completely backs away from the observation that France has 80% of its energy supplied by these plants.

Fact is, if you read many of the diaries at RK you will find that they seem to be fine with the rising prices of oil and its impacts on the country. The result feeds right into their agenda. They seek to require alternative energy requirements and what better way then to fail to address the current economics of oil and the neccesity of drilling with simply sitting back and observing the pain for political gain. If only technology could catch up with RK rhetoric. So while it see drilling as a "gimmick" and tax relief as a"gimmick" it appears quite ready to endorse the raising of Virginia gasoline taxes for transportation upon the Commonwealth.

Remember, Raising Kaine was the driving force behind the repeal of the "abuser fees" which was endorsed by Governor Kaine last year to address transportation funding. Instead of having abusers fuel the funding, RK would rather have the entire Commonwealth pay for it through increased taxes right in the middle of potentially the worst turn in Virginia's economy since the quarters following 9/11.

Which brings me to something that really unnerves me. Raising Kaine always seems to reference 9/11 as an attack on Washington when in fact it was an attack on the Commonwealth of Virginia. They spin it as a way of removing Virginia's economy from the dialogue over the transition from Jim Gilmore to Mark Warner and the issues facing the Commonwealth. They blame Gilmore for Warner having to raise taxes and again called Gilmores car tax relief a "gimmock" when it was the faltering economy of 2002/03 that had greater impact on the revenues than the car tax relife to the State budget. No one could have predicted the shortfalls that would result but of course someone has to be blamed, eventhough the taxes were raised on the Warner's watch.

So while it would sem that Raising Kaine has given the GOP enough to make it a target of its own, but lately it is Democrats from within that are taking the blog to task for its actions. It was be pointed out that RK is also a PAC and raises money for Democrat causes, but in light of Barack Obama apparent indifference to PACS there is some question as to how that will all shake out.

Raising Kaine is not simply a blog. Contributors have access. Contributors have power. Recently, they were provided access to conference calls by Senator Jim Webb (Va) regarding current issues. Lowell Feld worked for the Senators campaign in 2006 after creating the "Draft Webb" campaign. Now, the bloggers have been selected to attend the Democratic Convention in Denver and work the floor of the Delegates and blog from the Convention.

Apparently, many Democrats are beginning to take issue with this embedding. Of course, Raising Kaine has been a huge supporter of Barack Obama and managed to provide a platform for attacks against Hillary Clinton in the Primary that just may have peeved quite a few Virginia delegates. Again, no apologies from RK.

Just the simple promise of coming togther behind the nominee. Funny, I wonder what the posts would be like had Clinton pulled it off. Its always funny how the coming together always seems to be from the perspective of their position and no one elses.

I liken these to years of praise for John McCain being the one Republican , and later Sen. John Warner (R), would would back climate change and support campaign finance reform and be praised for rejecting two rounds of George Bush tax cuts. McCain was praised for his appraisal of political and military failures in Iraq and the requirement for a shift in policy, only to get hit because he was in favor of a remedy that RK and the left opposed; the surge. Evidently, McCain got it half right I guess. But of course he is no "maverick", but simply a cronny of Bush.

But alas, John McCain is the now the opposition and regardless of the fact RK creators such as Lowell Feld supported him in 2000, he must now be treated as the enemy and at the end of the day by doing so the RK contributors appear determined to re-create the Webb/Allen dynamic not through constrcutive political debate and dialogue but through divisive and rather baseless rhetoric aimed personally at a man who many once supported.

I guess people like Lowell Feld and contributors at RK have forgotten that 2000 Primary John McCain had to endore against George Bush. In fact they will not even address how it was John McCain who went into 700 Club territory during the Virginia Primary in 2000 and called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "divisive conservatives". So while many contributors embrace the point, they will never see their way to giving McCain the credit that in 2000 they undoubtedly felt he deserved.

Whether or not some Democrats will be successful in its attempt to see that Raising Kaine does not represent Virginia on the floor of the Democratic Convention in Denver, there is hope for the kind of change in politics that Barack Obama has been speaking to in the last few months.

The only problem is that hope cannot be found at Raising Kaine. Apparently, they refuse to change and are simply falling back on the tried and true of yester-campaign.

The "machine" keeps rolling, for now.


Bill said...

I moved from the 11th Congressional down here into the 7th a few years back but veryone was aware of th strongarming tactics and downright personal attacks levied on behalf of candidates being endorsed or supported by Raising Kaine.

These bloggers cut their teeth against George Allen and waged the same campaign recently against Gerry Connolly who had worked on behalf of Democrats at the local level for years before RK was even Lowell Felds dream. RK has continued to stress that thye will not work "hard" for Connolly as it needs to focus on other races. Mind you this was a seat that Tom Davis (R) had held and RK set their sights on Davis and his wife years ago. They contrive rumor as news and then diary as if it is relevant and in the end it is simply rantings. The only other person in Fairfax they despise more in Ken Cuccinelli, who beat them last Fall at their own game by showing how RK quotes were being used by his opponents campaign literature.

George BUrke who you did not reference directly in your post is the 11th District Committee Chair and is seeking that DNC revoke Raising Kaines status on the floor at the Convention.

Since Obama won the nomination I doubt this will happen because RK has been an advocate and vehicle for the Obama campaign in Virginia. They got access just recently with his visit as well. They are highly infleuential but pretend not to be and yet are on the "A" list.

Raising Kaine seeks to create an environment where the Democrat Party of Virginia flows through it and have to answer to it.

Lowell Feld has a local George Soros chip on his shoulder and will leverage his netroots in the form of a power grap of the Party.

This is why George Burke efforts are vital. RK and Northern Virginia liberals do not speak for all of us Virginia Democrats. Most of us are conservative Democrats and do not endorse the agenda of negativism and race baiting and sexist undertones as expressed by RK during the Democrat primary.

I hope Virginia wises up to the true nature of what is happening within the Party itself. We should see the example of the leslie Byrne defeat and learn that attacking for attacking sake is not only distasteful but rather un-Virginian.

Oh yeah, Lowell Feld is actually from CT. By the way Alter of Freedom, Lowell worked for the Energy Department and yet does not believe in the value of drilling here in America and yet states our dependence on Middle East oil is dictating policy and yet we get more oil from Canada and Mexico than the Middle east.

We should not worry though, China is drilling in the Gulf of Mexico now so I guess in about ten years we can simply just buy from them right? Why not, most of Lowell Feld's and Raising Kaine bloggers support the wholesale destruction of our manufacturing indsutry and steel industry being relocated to China and India given they seek to end coal furnance creation which is required to create steel for construction.

sadly, RK feels it is appropriate for the USA to have to buy all of its steel from China, even that which is required by our military to protect those soldiers in the Middle east they say they support. Not a year goes by that these people do not endorse something that in the end will make our country weaker to one extent or another.

Not all Dems support Raising Kaine. Some of us actually live in the world of reality where jobs and people actually matter.

Lowell Feld, new age digital plantation owner of the highest order.

Anonymous said...

I had a run in downtown in Richmond when many Raising Kaine advocates where out against Dominion Power.

The people at Raising Kaine never talk about or post what Dominion does that is positive. It has announced a 600 million dollar investment in smart grid technology as well as making committments to alternative energy sources to drive down the costs associated with electricity generation and you can bet you will never see any of it on the blog.

I agree with Alter. They are great at being a sword but rarely do they ever offer up any solutions, just criticisms.

In part, the bloggers there are responsible for the transportation gridlock and complete waste of time last year dedicated to the abuser fee measure because of their opposition. They seem perfectly content on the government spending revenues on what they endorse and in fact seek to increase those revenues by increased taxes.

Who I wonder will they blame this tax increase on?

Anonymous said...

Ah, you give RK way too much credit. I urge you to take a look at the stats for RK and then tell me they are as influential as they would like you to think they are. RK is a legend in their own minds.

And they certain;y do not speak for this Democrat.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Anony. RK is a powerful medium at the State level. The play a large role in NVA politcis and raise money with the PAC. They nearly defeated Ken "Couch" who is virtually the lone Republican in Fairfax now...a County with some 600 thousand registered voters.

The power and the infleunce may be with the insiders and the Party structure but nonetheless its there. They come down on the other side of others such as Vivian Page, who always seems a heckuva lot more rational but rival Not Larry Sabato and Ben Tribbett. Rivals so it seems Ben and Lowell Feld go toe to toe with the movers and have both worked within the campaign structures of both local and statewide campaigns. They continue to play the game in NVA.

As Alter has pointed out countless times, as NVA goes so will Virginia either in the races for Governor or Senate and now for President.

It will be interesting to observe Alter's premise that RK will now have to be the "shield" as NVA will most likely lose one maybe two Congressional seats to Democrats.

They are however still going to unsheath that sword against Bob Marshall dont you worry.

Trouble is, Bob's a fighter and not the baffon George Allen was.

Anonymous said...

Lowell Feld or one of the other guys up there behind Raising Kaine wrote a diary sometime back about:

"Only Northern Virginia matters" in Virginia. Or something to that effect anyway.

Talk about regional crap. Its become a bastion for bi-polar liberals.

Anonymous said...

The Leslie Byrne and Gerry Connolly primary put on display the very worst of the Northern Virginia blogs in both NLS and RK. The attacks on Connolly were of the most personal nature in quite some time.

They both attempted to portray Gerry Connolly as a closet Republican and even so much has implied Tom davis was supporting him.

In the end though they both got served a cold plate. In fact Frank Wolf will serve them naother dose when RK princess Judy Feder will meet the same fate as Leslie Byrne.

NLS and RK just do not get that going negative to such levels turn people off and motivate the base of the opposition.

James said...

If you review the blog closely you will find that though the blog has a large hit count, most of the posts are replied to and commented by the same people on each post. While there has been increased diaries by other bloggers than Lowell Feld in the last year, it appears as though the same people comment over and over.

There are exception of course. But to call it a "Community" is overstated. Its more like a club. I have neve experienced another blofg where the moderator of the post is the diarist and if something is challenged or stated contrary to the posts view, well then the very person who wrote the diary actually "troll" rates people.
Its like the movie director reviewing his/her own work.
If you are an independent or Repubulicans (they call them Repugs at RK) you can expect to be trolled off, especially if you ask any hard questions regarding issues.

In typical fashion the usual response to any chanllenge is simply "Republican talking points" when in fact the entire agenda of RK environmental view is simply rehashed liberal talking points of their own.

If RK spent half its energy on evaluating failed government programs a they do attacking corporations and industries maybe we could actually see some change that they say the support in Barack Obama but the fact remains they are not interested in real solutions and the "change" they seek is merely one of power.

Lowell Feld will not even acknowledge factual data concerning economies under Democratic leadership in the 80's and 90's when both the White HOuse and Congress were controlled by Democrats. They such spin everything onto the shoulders of George Bush. They fail to recognize nor concede any misjudgment or miscalculation regarding the impacts of the global economy or NAFTA by Bill Clinton nor where we would be today had Clinton approved a real Energy policy in the mid-90's.

You see Bill Clinton failed to act on this front as well. Instea they blame oil and energy companies like Virginia's own Dominion Power who play by the rules set by Washington and Richmond.

Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy regarding RK and McCain. They loved him when he was co-sponsoring and working with Democrats like Kennedy and Feingold and now they simply throw him under the bus and attack his character and integrity.

RK should take a look in the mirror. Its not proposing solutions but simply enlarging the divide between sides and seems perfectly content with doing so.

I doubt Gerry Connolly will be getting an apology any time soon and would it not be fitting for him to go to Congress and actually represent those that "supported" him and did not try and destroy his good name.

J.D. said...

Alter, like you I to grew up near Fairfax County. The County has seen tremondous growth and with that has brought considerable change. Not only are they experiencing the pains of growth they are also dealing with the impact of such growth from a political perspective.

Fairfax was not always the liberal bedroom of Washington it is today. It is a direct result of political sprawl frankly.

Gerry Connolly and his opposition and rather negative portrayal by Raising Kaine and contributor "The Grey Havens" is a direct result of the fact that he has been a moderate voice. Raising Kaine has little love for moderates such as Connolly or even those like Hillary Clinton they perceive as being too moderate on issues. (ie the War)Simply review the posts by Grey Havens and Green Miles.

Whether or not Connolly can make the leap to Congressional politics is still unknown and of course he will have to win the seat in the Fall, but many are talking about the ways and means these blogs are contributing (or not) to the overall political environment. So far the talk has not been very good. The insiders love these blogs like RK because they provide a means to get info out that thye would not normally even think of doing in a media buy. Think "macaca" usued against George Allen. They use these blogs to get the info out first in the hopes mainstream media picks up on the buzz about an issue and then they get some free press with complete coverage of deniability.

There has been great criticism that blogs like RK are shills but that is probably a stronger than I am willing to go. They do however represent interests and are not a news forum in the tradtional sense anyway.

I liken it to your portrayal of events in Chesterfield but while you view things through a policy perspective, RK seeks a more personal and national campaign approach to its approach. These people are insiders and elitists who have been involved in campaigns for years. They have been trained to smear with dirt not finger paint and they never wear gloves.

In this respect they do great disservice to the traditons of Teddy Roosevelt and the like who were true progressives.

Raising Kaine uses the "Progressive" mantra because they know that the "Liberal" label is been fully defined by the other side. Fact is they are one in the same; big government, increased regulation, larger welfare, universal healthcare, cap and trade, higher taxes, rejection of standards like no child left behind, pro-choice, and the biggest a multi-cultural America rejecting traditions of the Founding Fathers.

Throw in reducing the American military and punishing corporation in the Defense and Aerospace as well as the Oil and Energy companies coupled with subsidizes farmer in a time they to experience record profits spells liberalism under the guise of progressivism.

Anonymous said...

Talk about feelin some pain.

Raising Kaine cannot be too happy with Tim Kaine, then Gerry Connolly and now, opps Senator Jim Webb.

Webb is about to endorse or even co-sponsor a drilling bill to drill for oil off the Atlantic seaboard within Virginia and back up John Warner (R).

We must remember that Raising Kaine is against any drilling for oil, in fact they would just as well like to leave it in the gorund along with all the coal in Appalachia. Now another one of the guys they profess to love abandons them and Barack Obama on the issue of energy.

I guess Jim Webb is another "maverick" ey Lowell. Webb supports exactly what John McCain is proposing.

I doubt now there will be too much noise about "Draft Webb as VP" coming from Raising Kaine this weekend.

Even the faithful know the position of Lowell Feld, Green Miles and others is radical and extreme. No oil, no coal? What next, no water?

Oh I forgot they need water to clean up their precious little ethanoyl fiasco. Hey RK, whats the price of ethanoyl these days? Genius.

Prince William County "repug"

Anonymous said...

I agree with your point with regard to ethanoyl. Taking 30% of a staple crop and turning it into an alternative fuel source is turning out exactly with what was planned I guess. But then very few things that liberals feel are good to do are thought out long term. Now food prices are soaring independent of fuel prices because of supply and now with the floods in the Midwest farmers can expect very high prices for feed for cattle and such as much of the fields are under water.

The Jame Webb point is interesting. It seems that Webb and Kaine do not share the radical extreme views of Raising Kaine and especially diarist Green Miles and Grey Havens behind most of the posts on the blog.

It will be interesting to see if they criticize Webb as much as they have Kaine over the potential Virginia drilling bill.

FYI, Barack Obama decided not to vote on a bill in 2007 regarding drilling offshore in Virginia. Obama has typically used the "Not Voting" even before he declared his candidacy.

You have to know going in what you are going to get at Raising Kaine. If your looking for objectivity one most avoid DailyKos, Huffington and Raising Kaine for they are simply agenda driven machines as Alter points out simply seeking the approval of those in power.

These blogs are like 365 days a year 527's on behalf of liberal propaganda.

Buyer Beware.