January 31, 2005

Right and left: my sad experience

I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a political moderate. More than any ideology, I care about rational discourse. In the year that I've been blogging I've taken a lot of different positions, some left and some right. What I've noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy, and don't even seem to notice all the times you've written posts that take their side. Why is this happening? I find it terribly, terribly sad.

UPDATE: My colleague Nina, a self-confessed "lefty," writes that she has been slammed from the right. And I'm reminded that I should say, I don't think all the irrational blogging is on the left. I'm just saying that I'm struck by the way the right perceives me as a potential ally and uses positive reinforcement and the left doesn't see me as anything but an opponent -- doesn't even try to engage me with reasoned argument. Maybe the left feels beleaguered these days, but how do they expect to make any progress if they don't see the ways they can include the people in the middle? If you look around and only see opponents and curl up with your little group of insiders, you are putting your efforts into insuring that you remain a political minority. I also want to add that the many lefties I live and work around in Madison are perfectly friendly to me. I get email saying, it must be terrible for you there, you must be the target of so much hostility. I always write back and say it's not like that at all.

But do read Nina's whole post. She goes on to agree with me about the problems of blogging in general. Here's an excerpt:
I, too, am saddened by so much of what I read in blogs, and comment threads are even worse. It's as if writers are grabbing the mike and running to the stage without having once practiced the song they are about to force onto the audience. At first it seems funny and then it just seems sad, desperate, irresponsible.

The blog is a stage and unfortunately anyone can grab the mike. And I admit, sometimes, in fascination, I log on and listen, mesmerized by the lack of restraint, a demonic pleasure derived from seeing someone so exposed, so childishly out of control. But the experience always leaves me feeling empty. Writing and ranting that is neither clever nor funny hardly qualifies as banter. And most often, it pushes the boundaries of meanness.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Poliblog weighs in on the subject. And here are two different emailers who say something very similar (and quite provocative):
As someone who made the move from liberal to conservative in his mid to late twenties, what I found is that conservatives were much more tolerant of me as a liberal, than liberals are now tolerant of me as a conservative. I'm speaking as a whole not to a person. Conservatives always wanted to reason with me, talk me out of it. Liberals question my intentions and decency. Out here in Hollywood when I would come out of the conservative closet, liberals were shocked because "I'm such a sweet guy" they had no idea. Those people remain nice to me but something changes. It's like having sex with a friend. You can't go back. And it's all awkward now. A shame really. Never had that problem with conservatives. And it's not that liberals are beleaguered. This was happening before the Republican take-over in 94.

[DIFFERENT EMAILER] I think that certain there is a certain type of "leftishness" that predicates its view of the world on some special insight into reality which one can only share or not. I think, for example, this was the principle informing such sixties talk as "raising one's consciousness," or such notions that one is "good" by virtue of mere sincerity or proper beliefs, regardless of one's actions. If one shares the insight or subscribes to it, one is part of the virtuous elect; if not, one is evil. Civil discourse by contrast, presupposes that one can communicate, persuade, and, importantly,be persuaded, which in turn requires at least some degree of modesty in insisting that one is right, that there is a possibility that one is wrong. This of course can appear on the right, but does not do so as much because, I believe, the presuppositions of civil discourse accord more closely with "rightish" values.
I have noticed that a good portion of people on the left proceed on the theory that they are the good people. Of course, there's a segment on the right that does that too. I have a big problem with all of them. Even if you are the good people, the policies you propose might still be bad. But politics should be about communication and convincing people with the quality of your ideas, not claiming to be a good person and demanding that others join you or they are not good. I steer clear of cultish people like that!

YET MORE: A reader emails: "I've heard it said that the Right is looking for converts and the Left is looking for heretics." Actually, it's probably more fun to be a heretic ... in a free country, at least.

AND MORE: Right Wing News weighs in here.

EVEN MORE: Baseball Crank responds. Here's a key insight:
I think a lot of liberals, particularly the more vocal ones on the internet who grew up in blue-state cities and went to blue-state colleges and got into blue-state occupations like the law or academia, just don't have the same formative experience of having had to reconcile themselves to political disagreements with people they otherwise like or respect, and it shows.
AND YET STILL EVEN MORE: Sissy Willis responds. She thinks there is something inherent in left and right positions that produces this different behavior. I am trying to reach out to the left and say: Behave better! Engage me! But I read her as telling me that's hopeless.


_ said...

I am baffled by your characterizations of left, right and moderate. But let us take your characterizations as given, since this is your blog.

Perhaps the different emotional responses of left and right that you perceive are partly a function of power. The right, having all the reins, can afford a veneer of amiable argument that spills over into condescension if one's return argument hits home.

Secondly, your personal sample does not fit with the data presented in the last election that, in general, 'lefties' voted facts whereas 'righties' voted perceived character.

These and other little logical oddities in your persentation lead me to a number of conclusions about you and your political prejudices, none of which would place you in moderate territory. Like most Americans, I consider myself moderate. The notion of a nation of self-proclaimed moderates is in itself a liberal idea, conservatives keeping, or conserving, the categories that served in the past.

Your positions do not do me justice, nor others I know whose experience is so different from yours.

TheShaz said...

Wow - Sudi. Now I'm not going to get into a flame war. But your comments....
Secondly, your personal sample does not fit with the data presented in the last election that, in general, 'lefties' voted facts whereas 'righties' voted perceived character.

It's the left's perceived notion that the last election had nothing to do with charater, when everything about the results point to the fact that it did.

I'm a conservative and proud of it. For the 1st time I actually participated in the election process by volunteering for the Bush/Cheney campaign. I worked the phones during the 72 hours leading up to the election and I drove a van ferrying people back & forth.

I love my country and still believe it needs a strong two party system. Right now the Democrats are the “Party of NO!” - No ideas, just bash Bush 24hours 7 days a week. When the Democrats lost the power the mainstream media gave them over the decades – the game was over.

I will say this, the GOP leaders in Congress, bless them but for the most part they are inept. I know that. But still the Democrats cannot capitalize on it.......and they know it. Right now the Dems are being controlled by the Michael Moores' and that will never win you a national election.

OK - off the soapbox

kevinwillis.net said...

I'm not sure sudi's notion of conservatives "conserving" categories that served in the past is accurate. Conservatives often advance policy positions and espouse ideology that is quite "radical"--that is, contrary to the status quo--and thus more than willing the embrace change if they believe it will lead to better results, and believe that it takes into account the real motivations and limitations of human beings and the institutions they create.

As a conservative, I did not vote based on character, which is difficult to know from such a great distance, but on policy. And, frankly, though Bush was not my favorite by a long shot, as many Republicans often aren't, I feel obligated to vote against the Democrats for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is their tendency to focus on the negative and what they are against.

The idea that conservatives ignore facts and vote on comforting emotional ambiguities like character may have a kernel of truth to it, but is mostly a pleasing fiction to assuage those on the political left as the continue to lose. If we grant that those on the left voted on facts, then I would insist we accept the idea that those on the right did, as well. We simply reached different conclusions about what constituted the best policies for the country, and who would be the best people to execute those policies. In many states where character issues--i.e., gay marriage, the supposed bugaboo of conservatives everywhere--were on the ballot, the same people voting for Kerry and Democrats in droves voted against recognizing gay marriage. How, exactly, does that square with the left voting on facts while the right voted on character?
By the way, as a liberal-to-conservative convert myself, I have to echo the experience of Ann's email correspondent in that conservatives were much more tolerant of my liberalism than were liberals of my conservatism. While for several years I tried to remain a true believer, it was the hostility I encountered everytime I had (or I witnessed somebody having) a disagreement with a much more dedicated liberal that got me listening to talk radio, reading conservative writers, and questioning dogma I had previously just presumed to be true.

While one explanation of the political right's amiability may be the fact they are in power--the Republican's in congress were hardly amiable during the Clinton impeachment--it does not explain the general difference in willingness to engage in dialog I encountered with rank-and-file conservatives and, frankly, outright hostility from liberals, when I wandered off their reservation. It may be tough to tell the difference between Jerry Fallwell's depiction of Bill Clinton and Michael Moore's depiction of George Bush, but my experience on the ground has indicated a big difference in terms of how those on the left and those on the right treat people who not only disagree, but people who just have questions about the accepted ideological dogma.

I tend to believe that, indeed, it does have something to do with how each group views reality generally. Thomas Sowell refers to it as the difference between the "constrained" and "unconstrained" visions--and, if you're really interested in the issue, Thomas Sowell's books on the subject, like A Conflict of Visions and Visions of the Annointed would be excellent places to start.

Ben said...

It's so funny to me that you would post this today. Two days ago over at the Corner, Jonah Goldberg linked to a post by Brad DeLong where DeLong had nominated Jonah as "Stupidest Man Alive" for an off-the-cuff remark Jonah had made during a talk at UW.
DeLong's co-ideologists quickly descended on his comments section, offering their dittos. When a few of us conservative types tried -- generally in a fairly civil manner -- to engage these folks and defend the basic idea of what Jonah had said with facts, DeLong behaved like a typical lefty: He erased the offending comments and banned the conservatives from the board as "trolls."

It's not like DeLong is some pimple-faced teen in his basement -- he's a [i]professor[/i] at UC-Berkeley, home of the "Free Speech Movement."

Neither DeLong nor any of his minions had any interest at all in debating the substance behind Jonah's jocular remark. Jonah was an idiot because, well, because he just was, and there was no debate to be had. Smug self-righteousness was easy to maintain once all opposition had been silenced.

Reading your post, it was almost as if you had used DeLong as your muse.

Sissy Willis said...

For some reason, I'm getting lots of hits for this old post linked here by Ann . . . Here's my latest response:

"I read her as telling me that's hopeless"

Ann Althouse said...

Sissy: It got linked here yesterday.

Robert said...

A possibly-related phenomenon: I run a news service that tries for a center-right perspective, but solicits writers from other viewpoints as well. It was very difficult for quite some time to find left-wing writers willing to participate - but once I had a few, additional writers have joined without any problem. I suspect that right-wing writers invited to post at a center-left site would have been a lot less hesitant and a lot more willing to be in a place where they aren't dominant.

Robert said...

Come on, Ann. You know very well there's no such thing as a "moderate"! If left and right are not clearly defined, how can "midway between" mean anything at all? I think "moderates" are really collectivist or individualist (the only real dichotomy), but they don't want to commit themselves. And that's not a position, it's an avoidance of reality. Life will, sooner or later, force you to choose.

Sissy Willis said...

Ann: And here today!

Nigel Kearney said...

Ockham's razor would suggest the explanation is you have a right-wing blog.

David said...

I teach at a small college in a blue state. I am stupid, lazy and ignorant, at least according to SOME of my liberal collegues. That said a reasonable fraction is willing to engage me in civil discussion and we find that we do agree on some things for the same reasons. Many of my students are all strips of conservative. All of them are respectful of my opinions even when we really, strongly disagree. Granted some may be a function of my relative position, but they come to my room to engage me.

At least at the blogs I read, the right is far more civil than the left, but I have to admit that there are some rightwing blogs I avoid as I don't like the bloggers tone.

Harkonnendog said...

Ann you must realize this defines you as a conservative:

"More than any ideology, I care about rational discourse."

On every political test I take I rank as a liberal, but I'm a conservative, too, because I feel the same way. This is why the left keeps losing elections. People who are otherwise liberal, but value rational discourse, are not voting for conservatives, but against the Kossites and their like.

It is counter intuitive but they are voting with their emotions, and they are voting based on character rather than issues, because they value rational discourse.


Dizzie Diva said...

I think it was Michael Totten who said it can all be explained with the theory that "Conservatives think that Liberals are wrong, while Liberals think that Conservatives are evil."

Much is explained by this theory, including Ann's experiences, the Left's willingness to slash tires to keep people from voting for Bush, and so on...

Unknown said...

MHarrington - Wow, I'd never thought of it that way, but I think you may be on to something. I do tend to think of lefties as naive or dumb, though I suppose to be fair I also think there are a number who are evil (or, at least, borderline traitorious).

Alandownunder - That's quite amusing. In an attempt to contradict her post, you instead provide evidence to support it.

DRJ said...

I'm with Sissy (and others) on this topic. Liberals and conservatives are just different.

In my opinion, and speaking IN GENERAL, conservatives want to discuss specific issues. They like to engage people who are interested in the same issue, whether or not they agree on what to do about the issue. Thus, conservatives like radio programs like Rush Limbaugh, where there is give and take on specific issues. The people who listen may vary from day-to-day as the topic of the day changes, but the common ingredient is that there is an issue-of-the-day.

Liberals are also interested in reaching out to other people, but instead of discussing specific issues they focus more on common goals. Websites like DailyKos allow liberals to touch base with like-minded individuals who reinforce their beliefs on specific issues. Much like an army that must act in concert or risk defeat, liberals know they can't reach their common goals unless they march together on every issue. Issues don't matter when compared to the importance of the common goals.

Berend de Boer said...

Blogging and commeting like grabbing a mike? I didn't know how apt that comparison was until after I listened to Radio America for a few days. It just leaves you sick and empty.

Jenney said...

I read blogs, but I do not write a public one. This is partly because I'm not a very articulate writer and partly because I don't have a lot of original material to add to The Argument. But if I were a blogger, I'd probably link to those posts which relate to and support my views.

If I believed lefties to be nasty, I'd link to some liberal vitreol to illustrate my point. Why link to a sweetie pie if my point is that 99% of them are creepy verbal thugs?

So, I'm wondering here if that might be the case for everyone who links to you. It's valuable to present both sides, but a lot of people blog because they don't feel that their personal side is being represented already. They aren't trying to offer all the reasoning behind multiple viewpoints--just their own to correct this perceived imbalance.

As to why some are snarky about differing viewpoints, well, I can't speak to that, but you would have a better idea about who is nastier in your own comment section than I would anyway!

Jeff Faria said...

"Democrats are also corrupt, of course, but they aren't so brazen about it as the likes of DeLay, Cheney & Bush."

Hear the guffaws? They're coming from Hudson County, New Jersey. Oh, some chortles from Louisiana as well...

Bruce said...

30 years ago, I'd be called a liberal. Today you'd call me a conservative. But mostly, I believe in rationality. I believe that people respond to incentives. I believe that social engineering is a far more complex undertaking than we realize.

I've lived in a very blue state area for decades and I tend to avoid stating my views unless I have a great deal of time, an audience willing to spend the time needed for rational discussion, and most importantly, a respect for the search for the truth through the application of rationality and the scientific method.

It amazes me when I hear people from the left claiming to not have a voice, to not have the microphone so to speak. For most people on the right, they constantly find themselves listening on the radio, watching TV, or movies and hearing only one side. And this is when they could easily rebut what is being stated or portrayed, but it almost never happens. So they sit there in silence wondering how many other people can see the same thing.

Ardsgaine said...

The people who cannot be reasoned with are the ones who don't believe in the efficacy of reason. That includes those who think that one's perception of reality is dependent on one's race, class, culture, etc; and those who believe that one's perception of reality depends on one's faith, or lack thereof. As far as they are concerned, you are either part of the group/one of the faithful, or you are not. If you are not, there's no point in carrying on a discourse with you, because you simply won't get it. It's an X thing, you wouldn't understand. If you show up on their radar, then you're a target that needs to be shouted down or brow-beaten into retreat.

Stephen C. Carlson said...

I'd like to second Kevin Willis's recommendation of Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions. For me at least, it explains fairly well the dynamic you're seeing here between the left and the right.

Abc said...


I don't know, I think Ann is pretty moderate. She's with the left on many social issues, for example. What, just because she supported the war in Iraq makes her a right-winger?

But leaving that aside, I think your claim still falls on deaf ears. Look at how the Kossacks and the Air America crowd treat self-avowed liberals who disagree with them on one or two positions. For example, pro-life Democrats, or Democrats who favor the war in Iraq.

Also, even if Ann is more to the Right, then wouldn't it behoove the Left to convince her she's wrong rather than just tell her how evil/stupid/dishonest she is? I mean, they're trying to win elections and the battle for ideas, aren't they? Look at the discussion a couple of days ago on here about the Muslim cartoon controversy where Ann disagreed with the "Right"-wing position of republishing the cartoons consequences-be-damned. Most of the people who were on the Right disagreed with her, but were quite respectful.

Even if Ann were Barry Goldwater incarnate, wouldn't it be a good idea to try to convince her otherwise? I guess I'm not understanding your point.

KA said...

For what it's worth, as a liberal turned centrist conservative (which means, translated to the mad, mad politics of the academy, if you are center right and a law professor, at least at my school, that places you in the minds of the faculty somewhere around facist) it seems like this. The conservative bloggers, despite having somewhat more than half the country with them, still feel, in any intellectual endeavor, like a counter-culture. If you're part of a counter culture, you get tired of always feeling like the counter culture. So you seek validation for your views. Your instinct is, gee, it's nice when someone agrees with me, because I'm not used to it.

If you are part of the left, you are used to being the folks who dominate in all these discussions - and you are terribly worried that you are losing your intellectual hegemony. Your instinct is not to seek validation - why, when you already have it? - but instead to maintain hegemony, de-legitimizing and stigmatizing counter-hegemonic views. Eventually that process has to seem, to frustrated liberals forever characterizing everyone who disagrees with them as wicked and/or stupid, as a little like herding cats, and I assume that ratchets up the invective.

John Stodder said...

Ann, are you really a "moderate?" Moderate seems more like a temperament than a political stance, and while I also think of myself as neither left nor right, I reject the term "moderate," because it connotes that I try to seek middle ground, compromise positions between the two poles. I don't. My positions are strongly held. Some of them would be called conservative, some would be called liberal, and some fit in neither category.

The real divide on the blogosphere is between fanatical Democratic and Republican loyalists. These are arbitrary formations based on the interest groups that drive both parties' policies and fundraising. And, as someone here has said, if you're within the circle, it's assumed you'll support the unrelated agendas of everyone else in the circle. That's why bloggers like DeLong erase comments from those he calls "trolls." He wouldn't invite a Republican to his Democratic strategy meeting, and he doesn't want their opinions, well-reasoned or not, on his blog. It's his party and, you know, he can cry if he wants to.

At the same time, conservatives aren't much better. The leading conservative sites that I respect all have the same policy: No comments. What is up with that? If the leftists unleash an obscene assault, those comments can be barred or removed. But why won't Hugh Hewitt or Michelle Malkin let people disagree with her?

You are not a partisan hack. You are a writer, so you don't have to play along with that game. I love your blog, and I see it as a place where truthful, authentic observations are provided, and quite stylishly. If either liberals or conservatives shun you, it's only because they can't topple reasoned arguments, and intellectual failure puts them in a bad mood. If they make fun of your writings about personal or pop-culture matters, it's just because they're jealous.

Kurt said...

Your experience has been similar to mine. I went from being a left-leaning, self-described moderate to a right-leaning one gradually over the past 15 years or so. I have always cared about rational discourse, and I have always loathed it when extremists of either the right or the left resort to personal attacks rather than reasoned, well-informed arguments. But in the last five years, it seems to me, those on the left don't know how to make their case in any other way. And the closed-mindedness in their approach is both baffling and depressing.

I like the passage you've quoted from Baseball Crank above, and I think that's definitely true. But, to complicate matters further, many of today's bright, young conservatives grew up in the same environment and attended the same blue state colleges. But instead of assuming that everyone agreed with them (as most of their blue state brethren do), they learned how to make a case for their ideas in an environment where they were in the minority. Let's face it, even conservative Christians learn how to communicate persuasively with "liberal secularists" in order to proselytize.

Very few of those on the left ever learn these skills. Furthermore, they increasingly segregate themselves among like-minded people. When they assume and believe that all smart or decent people agree with them, they don't know what to do other than to fly into a rage that their cherished beliefs have been questioned.

AST said...

I like this blog, along with others I read, because it's civil and makes one feel like his ideas are welcome. I don't expect to be agreed with or to agree with you all the time, but I can't read any lefty blogs because they're invariably full of profanity and name calling. There's no "It seems to me . . ." there. Only a bitter, hungry need for power.

If the Democrats ever want to get back in with the mainstream, they need to get over 2000 and George Bush and get rid of the attitude that everybody who didn't vote for them is a pinheaded, inbred hillbilly. It wouldn't hurt either if they could act like they give a hoot about the good of the country instead of just getting back into power. If someone thinks George Bush is more malevolent than Osama bin Laden, how can he be taken seriously?

I don't get many comments on my blog, but the critical ones basically try to insult me rather than make a point.

[Redacted] said...

The most important lesson I've learned from political blogs is the group mentality that permeates conservative politics today. Conservatives will defend a Republican politician's worst mistakes as if their personal honor is on the line; in contrast, the rest of us tend to grudgingly accept the politicians who most closely represent our views, and even then, we are more than willing to admit their flaws.

When I used to try to participate in bulletin board debates (back when I thought the blogosphere was supposed to be about facilitating debate), I would post factual information in a bulletin board debate (say, a Dick Cheney quote about pre-war intelligence taken from "Meet the Press"), only to have it: 1) denied completely - as if I was lying - even though I would post the link to the mainstream/government source; or 2) rebutted with personal attacks against me, "the Democrats," or "THE LEFT" (why do conservatives love all caps so much?). When I would persist, and point out that the conservative bloggers had said absolutely nothing to contradict the evidence I had presented, they would just say something like "Well, the Democrats aren't going to convince anybody as long as they're running people like Kerry."

I can't understand this way of thinking at all. I don't support any politicians to point that I would lie for them on my blog - and most people I know wouldn't. I just don't have that "GO TEAM" mentality that conservatives have, where you pull for your team at all costs, and bitch at the refs for being "biased" whenever they call a foul. Moreover, I wouldn't try to counter a claim about a specific statement a politican made just by bitching about the other party. That doesn't accomplish anything, and it doesn't even constitute a response.

As for why more conservatives than liberals link to Althouse's site, one thing to consider is the fact that conservatives tend to be much more wrapped up in conspiracy theories about media bias than the rest of us are (notwithstanding numerous examples which demonstrate that the media is far from liberal, such as the NY Times' central role in hyping Chalabi's WMD claims). As a result, conservative blogs often tend to be much more geared towards commentary - whether that commentary is of a thoughtful nature, as Althouse's tend to be, or the usual whining about "THE LEFT."

Paul Deignan said...

I think you may be making an assumption that is not supported by the facts. Rationality is not a mental imperative equally distributed to all. Some people are less intellectually mature than others. In our quasi-welfare society (such as academia) and in politics, that needn't be a handicap.

Since we are free to migrate and since children are heavily influenced by their surroundings and parents, we have a developed a characteristic separation in our society along these lines. Witness the red-blue divide. It corresponds to population density. The more dense the population, the more specialized the workforce and the more likely it is that an individual will be able to eek out a living by fanciful means. Ahhh, to be young and on the dole!

Is there such a thing as a conservative street artist or a liberal realist? How do you account for your own contribution to society? I will wager it is not entirely the result of tangible goods, but also in intangible relationships not designed to be purely productive.

Viva le differrance! But lets also keep our heads about things. Fools and poets make poor kings, but they are invaluable members of the retinue on occassion.

Tom Grey said...

Thad A, I think you have half a reasonable point -- conservatives like Powerline often defend Bush vehemently. But the Harriet Meiers disagreement shows it IS possible for conservatives to disagree; and many often do. Instapundit usually disagrees on stem cell research, for instance.

Your example of "some Dick Cheney quote" isn't fleshed out enough, but most conservatives are very familiar with "gotcha" quotes taken out of context and spun by Leftists. Most conservatives are familiar with their own words rephrased into straw man monstrosities.

But I usually try to look at the policies -- the good and the bad of the actual policy, as well as the alternative.

I do not see Leftists looking the policy alternatives. Nor are they willing to accept the bad consequences of their own policies, when the policies are followed.

The choice in Vietnam after 1968 was
hard. More war or letting the commies win. Being against the war logically meant favoring commie victory, and thus the Killing Fields.

What is so terrible is that Leftists think the only moral choice was leaving. {60s music was great though.}

[Redacted] said...

Tom Grey -

I know that many Americans see opposition to any war as being the same as opposing all wars, and/or that one who opposes Iraq is somehow linked to the Vietnam protestors who spat on troops. A major reason for this is that the most active/visible critics of the Iraq war, at least for the first year or so, were the pacifist anti-war (and not just anti-this-war) crowd.

But I was born in 1977! It's just not fair - somehow I have to carry all the negative baggage that accompanies 60's Vietnam protesters, without getting any of the good things that era had to offer (most notably, things like catching Hendrix or Keith Moon play live, or getting to see Paul McCartney sing on TV without some hack from Lincoln Park drowning him out). Anyway, I can assure you that I would never, ever, ever spit on soldier, and even the most liberal people I know here in New York wouldn't do that.


To paraphrase Justice Scalia: What is the moderate/centrist postition on the Constitution? Interpret it broadly half the time and originalist the rest?

Dr. Tufte said...

It's been my experience that the deepest thinkers on the left - the sort who are open-minded enough to recognize that Clinton was to the right of Nixon and Ford on many issues - are less inclined to name calling. The opposite occurs on the right, where the most hard right people are most inclined to name calling.

The Scrutinator said...

You're documenting a very interesting watershed.

But is it fair to say you're being ignored when not overtly engaged (i.e., linked to, commented on, etc)? Aren't you still being read? Isn't that the first purpose of writing?

And (in my unbiased opinion ;-) you seem to be more carefully read by the right than the left, based on your description.

submandave said...


I think you took Tom's Vietnam example off mark. His point was that in the "liberal" mind of 1968 the only moral choice was withdrawal, without any consideration of the deeper consequences. The only analogy that can logically be drawn with the Iraqi campaign is that, again, there are many on the left who position themselves as if the only moral position is withdrawal and damn not only th econsequences but also any who are not equally moral to see the truth. I saw no mention by him about "the Vietnam protestors who spat on troops" so I was somewhat confused that you seemed to take his general comment personally.

Perhaps such a tendency to internalize and view legitimate discussion as a personal attack is, itself, revealing to this topic. Might some of our friends on the left be misunderstanding what we offer as logical debate and answering with what they see as an in-kind response?

somercet said...

About the canard that the '04 election was about facts, not character: it was about both, of course.

And let us remember some good that came out of Napoleon's mouth: the moral is to the physical as three is to one.

Kagehi said...

"The people who cannot be reasoned with are the ones who don't believe in the efficacy of reason. That includes those who think that one's perception of reality is dependent on one's race, class, culture, etc; and those who believe that one's perception of reality depends on one's faith, or lack thereof. As far as they are concerned, you are either part of the group/one of the faithful, or you are not. If you are not, there's no point in carrying on a discourse with you, because you simply won't get it. It's an X thing, you wouldn't understand. If you show up on their radar, then you're a target that needs to be shouted down or brow-beaten into retreat."

Exactly. And the key problem is that the current "in power" conservatives have one single focused agenda, which includes insane nonsense like appointing a college drop out journalist major to NASA, to promote changes in their PR that promote a purely Christian religious agenda, while then turning around and claiming its atheist who are starting a war on Christians. Nope, its evangelicals and fundimentalist that think they can ignore 2,000 years of church history and proclaim that the Bible is literal, so everyone needs to either conform or shut up that are starting it. First shot in any PR war is to intentionally incite some conflict, claim the other side shot first, then continually expound on this lie over and over until even reasonable people start to think it might be true. That is the problem with the right, while it claims to be interested in discussion, it has a single core thread of ideology running through it, which lends itself to the old Soviet Russia tactic of appointing people to positions to make sure everyone follows the master plan, so they *can* ignore things they don't like.

The lefts problem is, as someone else pointed out, that anyone who is rightly scared of how easilly the right can get sidetracked into some variation of fascism only have really one direction to run in. They all head left. This leaves you with the exact reverse of the right, instead of a minority of nuts, who will lie and distort facts to get what they want, and a majority who can, if you push the right buttons, be duped into not seeing it, you have a majority of lunitics, none of who can necessarilly even agree on what color the sky is, with a smaller minority of reasoning people that are considered "less" credible because they refuse to believe in every crack pot theory. If someone ever successfully produced a third party dedicated to reason, and managed to keep some other ideological group from torpedoing it, both parties would implode over night.

As someone hated "equally" by the right *and* left for not kissing the feet of their god(s) or giving into every insane idea conspiracy they hold dear, I very much believe this is the case. There can't be 50% of the population so stupid to jump to the side Pat Robertson represents because they believe in the Bible and the other 50% all jumping to Michael Moore, because they are, in the words of one conservative idiot, all secretly atheists with materialist agendas. Most people are reasonably sane, if often handicapt by clueless idiots that teach ideology to them in schools, instead of facts. Unfortunately, even the term "fact" gets obfuscated by some people, like one side that likes to define "fact" as, "the religious experience I heard me aunts second cousin supposedly had that disproved gravity", while the other side has nuts that define it is, "what ever nonsense I can come up with about why we never landed on the moon, while ignoring half the evidence".

I am not impressed by "either" argument. The problems is, people get dragged into the lunacy of held by the more radical people on both sides, precisely because those people have power or position, which allows them to take kids, who don't know any better, feed them gibberish, then, worse, *teach them to never think about or challenge what they where told*. And if they do? There are 10,000 other nuts, with no qualification beyond already being brainwashed, who are selling books that sound reasonable to people that never learn the facts in the first place, ready to lead them merrilly down the path of conspiracy and happy fuzzy thoughts to make them feel good about their ignorance.

Sorry, bit of a rant there, but still.. We might have been better off if we never left the caves, at least local nuttery back then had a harder time migrating to every fool willing to spend five minutes justifying their own assumptions, who would never spend the hours, if not weeks needed to figure out why they are *still* wrong. Its like the sledge hammer method of car engine repair, if hitting it doesn't make it work, don't *learn* how it actually works, just abandon the car and find someone to sell you what they claim is a better one. Drives me nuts seeing this kinds of people show up on blogs, especially science based ones, from *both* sides. If one isn't claiming its impossible because the Bible doesn't say so (like the Bible describes 99% of anything we do in science), some other nut is claiming space aliens implanted computer code in our DNA to make tomatoe worms turn black instead of green when their eggs get colder than normal before hatching. I just want a party where the moment you mention some random idea X, doing so doesn't cause half the brains of half the people in the party to turn off and have them repeat some gibberish they picked up from the National Equirer or the 700 Club. Is that too much to ask?

Kagehi said...

Yeah Stubby, exactly my point. Just like all the nuts that will insist that the country is in danger from evil immoral atheists because they don't pick and choose which part of the mythology they want to follow to justify something, then a day later insist that atheist are just in denial about God. So... Which is it, "they are evil because they don't believe", or, "just confused but secretly believe"?

Some people want everything both ways. Its OK for them to justify moral relativistic BS based on twisting their religion into a pretzel, but not for people to try to come up with a flexible moral standard that considers the "situation", instead of trying to shoehorn every situation into a tiny box. You can't win against that kind of logic.

But just try to claim that Iraq isn't the horrible disaster that the left, the media and the terrorists all advertise it to be and you will find yourself in a bad Resident Evil style horror, with everyone crying, "riiiiggggghhhhtt wiiinngggnut!", like some bizarre hippy want to be zombies.

I definitely know the feeling. Though, unfortunately I think for all practical purposes the drug legalization ship has sailed. The only way it would noebe feasible is if they found a way to prevent the addiction of the nasty ones and found a way to undo the damage they do. If they hadn't created the problem in the first place by starting with relatively safe marijauna and stuff like acid, it could have been done. The later btw, and other alkaloids like peyote seem to have *no* addictive effects or cause any detectible damage. The problem with them is simply that they are highly emotion dependent. If your stupid enough to take on while amgry, depressed, etc, the result will be an amplification of that state. At least according to stuff I have read about it recently. Don't touch the stuff myself. I don't think something that alters my brain to create more delusions than the human mind is already prone to is a good thing, even without the real and imagined damage they might or might not cause during use. lol

Kagehi said...

"They found that activists were characterized by weakened self-esteem, injured narcissism and paranoid tendencies. They were preoccupied with power and attracted to radical ideologies that offered clear and unambiguous answers to their questions. . . ."

Wait, this is evangelical Christians right, not liberals? Because frankly, this is exactly the same crap I see driving lunitics like Pat Robertson, Ken Ham and apparently who ever pulls most of Bush's strings... Inflexible ideology is the bane of human existence, the left has simply proven that you don't need a religion to become a dictitorial fascist, though it helps, since you start off with a ready made base of half ignorant people that don't know you are delusional, paranoid and scared to death of your own ability to think. Find me someone on a blog that proclaims God is his only salvation and I will show you someone that *actually* thinks they would become a raving lunitic if they where not scared to death of offending him/her/it. The only saving grace of the left in this regard is that they *don't* have a a holy book and a solid base of mostly ignorant people that have never truely read it, or been told from birth that its undeniable and unquestionable. Herding the right is like herding sheep, herding the left is like herding blind cats. One follow each other over cliffs, secure in the belief of great reward, the other fall, jump or shove each other off, depending on which sub-group they belong to.

I wouldn't mind this so much, if both sides didn't have an unfortunate habit of grabbing peopel from the side lines and dragging them over with them. :(

Maybe the airforce project that some guy who watched too much Star Trek came up with to try to actually develop warp drive will actually work and we can pull a Kathy Mar's "The Wild Geese":


Well. I think we can leave out the mystics actually and the idea of not actually settling any place, but I think you get the point. lol It might be the only relatively bloodless way to escape the fools on both sides that refuse to make an effort to "think", instead of just believing stuff that makes them feel good.

Kagehi said...

" President Bush has fought it as well as can be expected and we all think that he has done better than any Democrat would have."

Hmm. Lets see, telling the CIA to not plan for riots after the major fighting was over, ignoring warnings that a significant number wouldn't welcome us, an inexplicable and continual failure to get across the the public that we are succeeding, instead of just repeating more or less verbatum speeches about how we need to stay the course, etc...

Sorry, but there is either sufficient incompetence here to be a serious problem *or* if one was paranoid they might think they are intentially failing to tell the press anything useful, so they can distract us from attempts to rewrite standards for national parks that promote corporate usages and remove inconvenient words, like "qualified individuals" being required for scientific studies in them, never mind appointing complete imcompetents to NASA, ignoring scientists that tell him things he doesn't like and making blanket statements about things like cloning and medical chimera, which imply both a complete lack of understanding and total incomprehension about what kind of research is actually being done. That's if you are paranoid. I am not there "yet", but...

Katrina - Everyone screwed up, starting with 100 years ago when they should have found better solutions in the first place, instead of just letting the river rise 20-30 feet. The jury is still out on this one as to who screwed things up the most, but Bush doesn't deserve any where near the level of credit for screw ups that some people insist he should. It still didn't help that instead of promoting some serious consideration of safety in the country, he has been cutting funding to things needed to just maintain it.

Economy - Yep. No one likes this. As for safer... I am sure Russia was *safer* under the Soviet system too in many respects, that doesn't mean personally appointing people to positions that have no qualification other than supporting Bush's ideology is something we should be doing "here". I am not at all sure we are safer with him than without him. My worry is that under him we may lose more than we think, in trade for far to little safety. Someone made a comment about that a a while back, I think their view on the subject is "still" fundimental to our nations real values.

In any case, you right, stick me in a room with a fundimentalist or evangelical and there is no way in hell I am going to get along with them. We don't even speak the same language as near as I can tell, even if they do use the same words. And even much of the Republican party itself is showing signs of realizing that in some respects, such people don't speak the same language as them either. You assuming apparently I am talking about everyone in the right, I am not, I am talking about people whose entire universe begins and ends with an ideology that makes them uncomfortable dealing with people that don't go to the same church (or any) and would rather ban you or delete your posts, than let you post anything that conflicts with their views.

Heck, one person tested this a while back with 48 conservative blogs. All she did was sign up, mention she was an atheist and ask them what they knew about a particular subject. 47 of them deleted her posts and banned her, before she so much as ever even had the chance to try to argue with them. One actually let her stay and talk. I ask you the same question, if the first reaction of 98% of self proclaimed Christian blogs and site delete and ban anyone that shows up and even mentions they don't happen to believe, how the hell do you have any kind of useful conversation with them?

Oh, and several of the people prone to banning or deleting the posts of anyone who doesn't agree with them have "no" problem at all coming to some blog they disagree with, spending 5-6 posts making statements that repeat what they post on their own site, then complain that people who *don't* do what they do and summarilly delete them, are being unfair because they refuse to listen to someone that won't even spend five minutes reading one damn post explaining the subject they came to rant about, let alone allow anyone to explain it to them on their own blog.

Both side have some echo chambers, where nothing but their views bounce around the walls, but I am willing to bet there are fewer sites dedicated to pure ignorance and the deletion of anyone contradicting them on the left. I don't think the right is stupid or evil, but I do think they have an extraordinarilly bad habit of believing the fallacy that the number of people that believe something determines how likely it is to be right. Its rarely the case and quite often the exact opposite.

Most people are simply operating on too little information and it is also human nature to ignore contradictions in ones "own" view, while spotting every one of the other side's:


Anonymous said...

Conservative bloggers link to you to say they agree. Liberal bloggers link to you to say they disagree.

What is the simplest explanation that would explain these two observations?

You claim to be a moderate, although at other times, you proudly run to be voted "conservative blog diva".

How would Occam characterize you?

ModNewt said...

All these self-righteous comments about how the other side is closed-minded make me laugh. ElitistJohn mentioned this, but I think the notion deserves further inspection.

People who agree with you seem open minded because they are willing to let you blather on and on; it reinforces their opinion. People who disagree with you are intolerant of you because they think your position is wrong.

If you are finding that right wing posters seem rational while left wing posters seem wack-a-do, it probably means you are closer to the right than the to the left. It works vice-versa too but the trend of ignorance on this point, on this blog at least, appears to be with people on the right. Maybe that's because they disagree with me.

Col. B. Bunny said...

Sudi, you wrote:

"These and other little logical oddities in your persentation lead me to a number of conclusions about you and your political prejudices, none of which would place you in moderate territory."

Two of Ms. Althouse's logical [sic] oddities to which you refer are her supposed unwillingness to agree (1) that the emotional responses of right and left are related to who holds the reins of power and (2) that the left votes facts, etc. You state there are others as well.

Thus, someone who states that the emotionalism stems from one group being in power and one being out of power is not guilty of logical oddity and someone who disagrees with this is logically odd. By the same token, not agreeing that leftists vote facts is also proof of being logically odd.

Just disagreeing with you is the sure sign of being logic challenged.

I look forward to your next book wherein you will straighten us all out. Those of us who might disagree with you, that is.

With luck, this book will also connect the dots between the logical oddities you've unearthed and how you decided Ms. Althouse's thinking fails to place her in "moderate territory."

To date, how you reached your conclusions is quite the mystery.

Captain Kirkham said...

Alas, as someone frequently on the left of a debate I have had an exactly opposite experience. Some conservatives disagreeing with me have been extremely unpleasant and personally insulting. It would appear that people on the right of a debate have had a similar experience from the other direction.

I'm afraid I tend towards the analysis of other commenters - if you are generally getting insult from the left and approval from the right, then it is far to say that you are more "right" than "left".

This does not excuse such behaviour from either side of course. Personal attacks are rude and unnecessary. They are also counter-productive; if your aim is to persuade someone of the correctness of your argument, then telling them how evil/stupid they are is hardly likely to make them warm to you.

Captain Kirkham said...

I suspect this may be regional/national. It seems to be the other way around in the UK to what you guys are saying about the US. So perhaps my observations are not applicable here.

Nevertheless, I think it is valuable to remind both sides that they both have some belligerent b*stards spreading the word.

lumberjack said...

As a moderate-conservative, I, too, find it hard to have rational discussions when the other side assumes right off the bat that I'm evil. Good news is that some of them only assume I'm stupid. I've yet to be swayed by either approach.

kevinwillis.net said...

njoriole related a story of being attacked and banned because of worrying that having prominent liberal bloggers speculate that Karl Rove is planning to detonate a nuke might be bad for the Democratic party. In trying to argue the issue reasonably, njoriole got banned.

While I'm not familiar with the policies of democrats.com in regarding dissenting posts (many conservative and liberal blogs have little patience with what they consider "talking points" arguments from the other side, and have policies that warned you are going to get banned if they don't think you're arguments are sincere and constructive), I would certainly like to see the post that would even be tolerated on RedState.com that speculated John Kerry or George Soros was trying to detonate a nuke in order to the blame the Republicans. Where is the mainstream conservative blog that indulges in that kind of parnoid speculation?

ManFromAntiquity says that liberals simply attack his humanity "with never a thought to coherent, cogent counter-argument on the idea(s)." Now, my experience has run counter to this, as I've often had extended discussions with liberals and lefties on a number of issues, in that I have gotten cogent counter-arguments from liberals on ideas, but I've had to make them do it. Rarely has it been the first response. The first response has been to attack my character, my intelligence, my humanity, or make blanket statements about the evil/greediness/stupidity of conservatives. When I've challenged them on such nonsense, or responded with the often disarming: "Will, naturally, all that is true, but are there any reasons not to do x (or to do y)other than the fact that Republicans and conservatives are evil and stupid?" Or ask them if a liberal came up with the same general sort of plan, if maybe it could be trusted in the specifics? Or what sort of compromise plan one might be able to offer for something like social security privatization? Not that you would do it, but if you did, what would be fair? How would you do it?

And suddenly I find out that they have some good objections, and some that aren't based in reality, and can't help but think that compromise could work if those folks would tend to lead with that, rather than lead with, "You're trying to steal the food out of the mouths of poor children you seal-clubbing polluters!"

Nigel kearney said: "Ockham's razor would suggest the explanation is you have a right-wing blog."

Well, Occam's razor might also suggest that liberals lump folks who disagree even on a few issues into the right wing. And tend to punish them for their dissent.

It's just as simple an explanation, thus fitting the criteria. It's also more likely, because "right wing blogs" tend to be embraced as such by conservatives, and they don't either conceal it or try to hide it. Indeed, folks proud of their apparent moderation are by definition not right wingers, as solid, right-leaning conservatives are proud of their positions and ideology and like to share.

david wrote: "At least at the blogs I read, the right is far more civil than the left, but I have to admit that there are some rightwing blogs I avoid as I don't like the bloggers tone." This has been my experience as well. One community aspect on the right is that outright attack (and paranoid conspiracy theories) don't play well. Certainly, I'm not the only conservative who cringed over Jerry Fallwell's "Friends of Bill Clinton" video.

mike said that he has "come to the conclusion that 'lefties' have few facts and multitudinous opinions, theories, myths and Murphyisms".

My experience has been that they have real facts that seem to, inexorably, lead to other "facts" that do not follow in a completely objective way. But one has to understand that these "facts" are as objectively factual to them as the law of gravity. So arguing on the facts with liberals is delicate business, because when you simply say something isn't true when, to them, it obviously and self-evidently is, of course their first instinct is to dismiss you. You don't even know that the planet is getting hotter! A fact that all scientists and every smart person in the known world agrees with. Point out that, actually, no survey of climatologists has ever had a majority of them respond that they believed global warming was real, and you're just crazy. That can't be true, it must have been faked, they must all work for big oil.

Yevgeny Vilensky distills it all day with the following: "Also, even if Ann is more to the Right, then wouldn't it behoove the Left to convince her she's wrong rather than just tell her how evil/stupid/dishonest she is?"

How precise and to the point. Motivational speaker Brian Tracy often relates the story of how he learned to win any argument and always come out on top, how to always prove he was right, and soon found himself without anybody to talk to. In the case of the left, it may be that they are finding themselves without anybody left to vote for them.

ka says that the left has been in control, so their "instinct is not to seek validation - why, when you already have it? - but instead to maintain hegemony, de-legitimizing and stigmatizing counter-hegemonic views." While I don't disagree that that is their process, I don't believe it has anything to do with their past control of the media and the academy, except perhaps in their brazeness. Again, I think it's the world view (Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions and Vision of the Annointed being excellent texts on this subject) that tends to lead toward the viewpoints and behaviors. If you take the constrained position that human beings are inherently fallible, limited, and imperfectible, you're less likely to see disagreement on policy issues as a challenge to your near-perfection, because you know you are not. You recognize that there can be better ideas (even if you don't think these are it) and so there very idea that somebody disagrees with you on tax policy or the Patriot Act is not morally repugnant.

thad anderson projects: "The most important lesson I've learned from political blogs is the group mentality that permeates conservative politics today. Conservatives will defend a Republican politician's worst mistakes as if their personal honor is on the line; in contrast, the rest of us tend to grudgingly accept the politicians who most closely represent our views, and even then, we are more than willing to admit their flaws."

I find this interesting as it is the exact opposite of my experience. I find conservatives willing to jump on any Republican they feel is doing the wrong things. Just witness the huge arguments over Harriet Meyers and now over UAE taking over the ports. Most conservative blogs were very unhappy over the Armstrong Williams deal. I was highly opposed, as were most conservatives, to the wood and steel tarrifs Bush imposed, and most of us were yelling about it from the rooftops. Then there's Bush signing Capaign Finance Reform, which he said he wouldn't do, and many folks on the right were livid, and said so. And the Education Bill. And the borders. And on and on and on and on.

Referring back to Occam's razor, I think the simplest explanation for your position is that you don't actually spend as much time reading conservative blogs as you think you do.

that anderson also said: "(why do conservatives love all caps so much?)"

I can't answer that. It generally hasn't been my experience. But it might have something to do with the large number of liberals who apparently haven't realize that there's a shift key on their keyboard. Or that regular punctuation helps with the coherence of their message.

dr. tufte said: "It's been my experience that the deepest thinkers on the left - the sort who are open-minded enough to recognize that Clinton was to the right of Nixon and Ford on many issues - are less inclined to name calling. The opposite occurs on the right, where the most hard right people are most inclined to name calling."

While it's certainly true that Clinton was to the right of Ford and Nixon on many, many issues, my experience has been that the deepest thinkers on the left are not hard left. Probably, most of the deep thinkers on the right are "hard right". Indeed, the folks on the "hard left" not only call names but slash tires and fire guns into Republican campaign headquarters, activities that aren't exactly "deep thinking".

If you're trying to suggest that folks on the right call names more than folks on the left, I have to disagree.

kagehi sees a Christian war on atheists, writing: "Nope, its evangelicals and fundimentalist that think they can ignore 2,000 years of church history and proclaim that the Bible is literal, so everyone needs to either conform or shut up that are starting it."

Whose doing that, exactly? Where's the State of the Union speech with the "shut up and conform" sound bite? I'm afraid I missed it.

kagehi also wrote: "The lefts problem is, as someone else pointed out, that anyone who is rightly scared of how easilly the right can get sidetracked into some variation of fascism only have really one direction to run in. They all head left."

Then why are the number of people who self-identify as conservatives going up, while the folks who self-identify as liberals going down? Why do these crazy right-wingers keep winning elections at the local, state and national level? Something doesn't add up, there.

kagehi also said: "This leaves you with the exact reverse of the right, instead of a minority of nuts, who will lie and distort facts to get what they want, and a majority who can, if you push the right buttons, be duped into not seeing it"

Well, that certainly explains it, then. Conservatives and Republicans are stupid and gullible. Thanks for clarifying.

Back of Occam's razor, a more simple explanation would be that as the left and their political party of choice, the Democrats, have become dominated by the fringe left, classical and moderate liberals have moved towards the right and started identifying as independents or Republicans in terms of party affiliation.

kagehi then said: "Wait, this is evangelical Christians right, not liberals? Because frankly, this is exactly the same crap I see driving lunitics like Pat Robertson, Ken Ham and apparently who ever pulls most of Bush's strings..."

Pulling Bush's strings? Explain to me all the similarities between Bush and Pat Robertson--oh, no, I'm sorry, Pat Robertson and the puppet master mind-controlling the Bush-zombie in the Whitehouse.

Better watch out. Them Christian's and church-goers are gonna get you, boy. They might be waiting outside your house right now. No, don't look! That's how they get you and take you to church and put water on you and make you sing songs of contemporary worship! Oh, the agony!

megan said: "I'm still looking for someone to *rationally* defend:
Bush's deficit economy
Bush's handling of the war in Iraq
Bush response to Katrina"

The deficit economy . . . what defense for it? Beltway politicians, including Bush, aren't prone to cut, and Bush has had an unfortunate tendency to want to prove he's a nice guy, thus we get the boondoggle of the prescription drug benefit. However, what sucks money out of the economy and the federal treasury is spending, graft, and corruption, not tax cuts. All of which tend to be bipartisan although Bush has been an exceedingly, alarmingly big spender.

The war in Iraq? If you want a defense, there's plenty of it out there. Google "iraq" and "mass graves" and then look for Blogs by Iraqis, in Iraq, about what's going on over there. However, if your yardstick is perfection, then, yes, pretty much everything is going to suck.

The response to Katrina was bad, but was also constrained, and is not unique to any one administration. Bureaucracies aren't the best method of providing emergency relief. And never will be, I'm sorry to say. Until the law is changed so that declaring an area a disaster area means the military can come in and take control of the problem, irrespective of what the local government thinks, disasters will continue to be enormously impacted by the local government and infrastructure. Florida and Mississippi got hit, too. They have been hit worse. They didn't, and don't, fall apart the way New Orleans did (especially given the state and local government, as was their right, continued to ignore warning and offers of aid from the Federal Government before and during the disaster).

"If Bush is a good president, then what would a bad president look like?"

John Kerry? Or Richard Nixon?

kagehi notes the obvious: "In any case, you right, stick me in a room with a fundimentalist or evangelical and there is no way in hell I am going to get along with them."

Dude, hate to tell you, but that's your problem. You can get along, yet disagree, if you choose to. The fact that you choose not to does not reflect upon them as much as it does on you.

kagehi also would not make a good gambler; "but I am willing to bet there are fewer sites dedicated to pure ignorance and the deletion of anyone contradicting them on the left"

I think you will lose that bet.

elitistjohn writes: "and that tax reductions increase revenue (No, history actually doesn't support that assertion with empirical data at all."

Actually, over time, it does. Even if there isn't a direct causal relationship, there is clearly no causal relationship in the other direction. Tax revenues doubled between 1980 and 1988, after the Reagan tax cuts. They were down for two years. And the went up and up . . .

Bush recently cut taxes, and tax receipts are higher than they've ever been in the history of the country. While it might make you feel good to call it a "laugher" curve, the fact is that historical data tends to support the conclusions of the Laffer curve. And, certainly, every time it's been tried, tax receipts have ended up increasing over the life of the tax cutm often at rates in excess of increased revenue during times of economic prosperity that also included tax hikes (ala Bill Clinton).

Perhaps there's just some general moral objection to cutting taxes. Maybe it's just bad on principal, no matter how it actually impacts tax receipts.

d. moore writes, in regards to tax revenues going up with tax cuts: "That may very well have been the case at the beginning of Reagan's presidency, when tax rates were MUCH higher than they are now." Actually, tax revenues went down for two years, then sprang up rapdily, doubling from the levels of 1980 by 1986. And you don't have to say "may very well have been" because it's a matter of public record. However, it's not an ideal example, because the stimulation of the economy is one of the reason that you cut taxes, and Reagan signed off on an increase in the capital gains tax along with the lowering of top marginal tax rates that almost certainly acted as an economic depressant.

A more contemporary example would be the exploding tax revenues we are enjoying now, higher than ever in the history of the United States, after George W. Bush's draconian tax cuts. And with no offsetting tax increases, the rate of increasing revenues has actually been higher, suggesting that Reagan agreeing to raise the capital gains tax hurt tax revenues rather than helped them.

And you don't have to constrain your examination to Republicans. John F. Kennedy also cut taxes dramitically, and the stimulus to the economy, and the corresponding increasein tax revenues was quite remarkable.

And even in regards to the Clinton economy, there were cuts in spending forced on him by the evil Republicans. And Welfare Reform. Plus, the budget surplus (like so much of government accounting, then and now) was more of a projecting accounting trick, not unlike the mark-to-market accounting that helped get Enron in so much trouble. So there's that.

Terri said...

I came of age in the Carter years. And they were a mess. The first president I was able to vote for was Reagan. And he didn't disappoint me.... I voted for Bush I, but he was no Reagan. I voted for Clinton twice, and Gore in 2000. Then something happened. I still believe, and you can argue with me until the end of time, that Al Gore did not do this country any good.... he should have conceded and let the country heal. Everything that has happened since has been ugly. And I did not vote for president in 2004. I voted in every other category except for president. Neither candidate was deserving, in my opinion. Politics is an ugly mess, and seems to me they have forgotten that we are one country. All they see are 'red and blue'. No one cares about the greater good, only what's good for THEIR party. And that is a crying shame. I have no party - both parties have forgotten about compromise. They cater to all their fringe elements way too much. And I try to keep up on it all, but every time I visit places like Kos, I am horrified by the unhealthy hatred. I cannot read for more than a few minutes. My sons both played sports, and I always taught them that winning was not the most important thing. Seems to me that politics has become the ultimate in bad sportmanship.... I fear for our country's future.

Jeff Faria said...

I heard a leftist political consultant and a moderate political commentator on TV a few weeks ago. Wish I could remember their names, but anyway, the exchange went like this: The leftist consultant, clearly spoiling for a fight, attacked the moderate (who he called a 'right winger') by challenging him on George Bush's spending habits. The Democrats, he asserted, would spend far more conservatively. The moderate said, well, if we have Democrats who honestly want to cut the budget, great! I'd like to work with them, and a lot of people like me would, as well. The leftist, taken somewhat aback (he expected a counterattack), responded that he wasn't sure Democrats would WANT the help of moderates such as this fellow. The moderate said something to the effect of, well, that's no way to build a consensus.

And that's it, really. For the left, it's not about building a consensus, it's not about getting something done, it's not about goals. It's about purity of rhetoric. Pragmatism would only get in the way. Progressive? No, achieving progress is far too messy for the Kos crowd.

Elmo said...

Can anyone help me please. I'm having a hard time understanding what Democracy means, does it mean freedom or something?