Archive for May 25th, 2007

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WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

May 25, 2007

I had an idea (strange, huh?). Originally I thought it would be neat to add political WordPress.com blogs in a special section of my blogroll, and create my own little community of amateur pundits that use the service. In a way, ALL WP.com bloggers are part of a community already, but I thought I’d start a club just for those who like to talk politics.

Most political bloggers will have blogs from other services in their blogroll.  Not everyone uses WP, after all.  There are advantages to staying within the community, however. One advantage would be ease of commenting. Once you’re logged in, you can hop from blog to blog without having to enter in tedious email info and quickly drop a comment (nice to have avatars too), and all discussions can easily be kept track of through the “my comments” section of our dashboards.  Another advantage: you don’t have to do a lot of work to ping these blogs.  All you have to do is link to a post, and it pings them immediately (leaving a pingback in the comments section).  With other blogs (or blog services), you may have to copy/paste trackback urls, and that can be a bit of a crap shoot.  It can work real slick for some blogs and not work at all for others (or at least I’ve discovered). Yet another advantage is how easy it is to search for tags within the community, but that is less special because services like technorati seem to be dialed into it as well. Anyway, you get the idea….

So, every so often, I’ll click on the WP ‘politics’ tag and check out what people are posting.  If I stumble upon a blog that I haven’t seen before, I’d just add it to the blogroll.  I’ve been adding a couple a week since I started it.  I’m sure there are more, so as time goes on this list will grow in my sidebar (under “wordpress political blogs”)

Then I started thinking. What if we formed some semi-formal alliance? A ‘club’ made up exclusively of WP.com political bloggers (right, left, and center) who could regularly exchange ideas and comment on others’ posts. So far I haven’t seen anything like that. Maybe it’s worth a shot?

I whipped up a ‘club’ button that we can put in the sidebar. You’ll have to forgive my photoshopping skills, but here goes:

wppoliblog1.jpg

If you want to add the button to your blog (it links back to this post), here is the code (with border):

<a href="https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/wordpress-political-blogger-alliance"><img src="https://chenzhen.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/wppoliblog1.jpg&quot; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

…and without a border:

<a href="https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/wordpress-political-blogger-alliance"><img border="0" src="https://chenzhen.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/wppoliblog1.jpg&quot; alt="WordPress Political Blogger" /></a>

WordPress Political Blogger

Update 11/2:  The alliance has become interactive!  The lowdown:

What I’m attemping to create here is a tool that we can use to make our blogs more lively and entertaining.  I’m not really forcing any obligations on anyone, so I don’t want you to get the impression that going along with this means that there’s going to be a whole list of expectations (beyond etiquette).  You don’t have to respond to every ping.   Just so you know.  

If you want to participate, there are just a few details…

  1. In order for this to work smoothly, everyone needs to create a page that can be pinged.  It took me about 2 min. to make mine: https://chenzhen.wordpress.com/wp-political-blogger-alliance/ .  And I need to know the link so that I can consolidate them, so just post it in that thread or respond in email once you’ve whipped it up.  That’s really the only requirement.  A handful of you already have done this, and the pings work beautifully.  The idea here is to compose a code that is easy to paste in your post that allows you to ping everyone in the alliance at the same time.*
  2. I don’t really like the idea of any one blogger “abusing” the tool by using it to try to dominate the discussion.  In other words, if you’re calling out and pinging the alliance 3 times a day it might get a little annoying.  Sure, it’s easy enough to just ignore such a thing, but nevertheless I think it would be akin to blog whoring just for the sake of blog whoring.  It’s kind of a fine line, and we’ll probably tweak the guidelines as we go forward, but for now I’ll stick with a rule of 1 per day max.  No minimums, since some of you might prefer to comment only.  And, it probably goes without saying, but we don’t want to double up on a topic either, so try to make sure that a story or headline hasn’t already had pings sent by someone else first.  If it has, and you’ve got your own unique analysis that you just spent like 2 hrs on, just link to that thread in your post instead.  We’ll see it.  Make sense?
  3. Be somewhat civilized.  This might be the hard part, ’cause a) there’s a very diverse crowd being pinged and b) it’s the internet.  In debate, you win by attacking the argument or idea, and you lose once you resort to attacking the person (there is a difference).  Keep that mindset, and we’ll be fine.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good blog war.  This will be a bit of a free-for-all, so I hope people are relatively thick-skinned when it comes to having  logic, facts, position, etc. challenged.  We’ll just have to see how this goes, cause I’m not sure if anyone has really tried anyting like this before. 
  4. This is about “politics”, so use the “politics” tag/category when you post, and only send the pings when you post about “politics”.  You might have a cool car, for example, but please don’t ping the whole group to show off the latest pics you just posted.  Also, consistent use of the “politics” tag in general means more views from the wider wordpress.com audience.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy as individuals to block urls and IP’s if #2 or 3 becomes a problem for someone.

* The up-to-date code can always be found in my sidebar (——>): 

Founder of the

WordPress Political Blog Alliance

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Simply copy the “WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance” and paste it at the bottom of your post. Once your post is published, it will send a ping back to everyone in the alliance.  Easy!

Update 11/4: A tag (category) specifically for the alliance:

WordPress Political Blogs

Create the “WordPress Political Blogs” category and add it to your alliance-oriented posts.  In2thefray and I have already added the RSS feed for this tag in our sidebars, so we can see the latest offerings right on our blogs:

RSS WP.com political blog alliance

Even better, if everyone uses the tag consistently, the above link will provide a great chronological record of the posts within the alliance. In addition, you will have a record of your own contributions to the alliance in your sidebar (assuming you have added the “categories” widget).  Remember to use “WordPress Political Blogs” exactly (alternate spellings and abbreviations will be a different tag, technically)

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We Won The War, But Are Losing The Battle Against The Insurgency

May 25, 2007

It seems like a relatively novel concept, but I just thought I’d throw it out there.  Why?  Well, all too often I hear journalists*, bloggers, and pundits refer to our (the U.S.’s) military involvement in Iraq as “the War”.  I think there needs to be a distinction made here.  The thought came to me when I saw this story:  US urges Sadr to play ‘positive’ Iraq role (Hat Tip: LGF.)

The United States on Friday urged radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to play “a useful and positive role” in Iraq after his dramatic return to frontline Iraqi politics.

“Now that he’s back from four months in Iran, we hope he’ll play a useful and positive role in the development of Iraq,” said White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Sadr called for national unity and the withdrawal of US troops in his first speech in seven months and the first since US commanders and Iraqi officials said in January that he had fled to Iran.

I know many bloggers and pundits have questioned the US’s tolerance of al-Sadr, and have wondered why we haven’t just taken him out, especially when his Mahdi army has been responsible for attacks on our forces.  This is where the aforementioned distinction becomes relevant…. 

In a war, the goal is to beat the enemy into submission, capitulation, or surrender.  This was easily done back in 2003, highlighted by Bush’s famous declaration of the end of major combat operations.  From that day forward, our military has been engaged in the reconstruction/nation-building efforts of Iraq, which has been severely complicated by a very persistent insurgency.  The reason why we haven’t ‘bombed al-Sadr’ is because fighting an insurgency is very different from fighting a war

If you read anything about counter-insurgency, you’ll see that effective tactics aren’t as black-and-white as just “killing the bad guys”. It is a complex and organic problem that constantly forces you to adjust and react. In fact, most of the effective counter-insurgency tactics don’t involve killing anybody. It’s more about winning ‘hearts and minds’, political maneuvering, and building alliances with the locals.  Killing someone with al-Sadr’s popularity would be extremely counterproductive to these efforts.

I suggest all visitors read David Kilcullen’s Twenty-eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency (pdf).

Kilcullen, incidentally, is one of the of the guys that was brought in late with General Petraeus (some people say too late), to fix the problems our old pal Rumsfeld has created.  Namely, the fact that our troops are trying to win ‘hearts and minds’ in an environment where -4 years in- 51% of the Iraqi population approve of the attacks on Coalition forces (or more).  Some might call that an impossible mission, or, that we have already lost this battle.  Nevertheless, that is the mission they have right now, and is the correct way to frame what it is we’re doing over there.

Unlike other bloggers, I don’t see this in terms of ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’.  From a certain point of view, we already ‘won’ (Saddam is dead, WMD’s are gone/never found, and sovereignty established), and ‘lost’ (our window of opportunity for a successful reconstruction outcome has passed).  The debate should be whether this really is an impossible mission at this point, and whether it’s in our best interests to continue to pursue it.  I think the current domestic political scene is missing this by a longshot.

*A few news outlets will frame news on the conflict under the heading “Battle for Iraq” or something similar (which I consider accurate).