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July 17, 2007

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Quite frankly, I'm not drinking enough.

*pours you a large glass of Chardonnay*

If you happen to run into Billmon while you are out, tell him hello from everyone in here and let him know we all really do miss his writing. Take care of yourself and write if you get word.

I miss Fafblog. But you'll be missed too Von.

I rarely comment, but have always enjoyed the contributors to this blog, included yourself.

I miss Fafblog. But you'll be missed too Von.

I rarely comment, but have always enjoyed the contributors to this blog, included yourself.

So, and where do I get to read reasonable conservatives now?

von: I'm sorry.

where do I get to read reasonable conservatives now?

Balloon Juice

Aren't we supposed to get some meta before the GBCW? Sorry to hear you're leaving.

The meta is here, knock yerselves out.

Thanks for the blog theatre!

OK, seriously, good luck Von and here's hoping you find what you are seeking and return with your normally great commentary.

Aw, drat. I really started reading and commenting here after you'd cut way, way back, but in the last few months it seems as if you've been around more, and it's been refreshing to read someone who's not broadly in agreement with me (that is, not what I'd think of as inside any kind of liberal consensus), but where there is a substantial chance I'd agree with you on issues I think of as important. If that comes out to make any kind of sense.

Anyway, enjoy the drinking.

You contributed a lot, von. Sorry to see you go.

Von or somebody in his pack is supposed to do the meta before the GBCW, and it's supposed to be on this blog. Or at least I thought so - Emily Post hasn't written the blog etiquette book yet. Speculations on another blog don't really count.

Yoicks! I hope this turns out to be a rest break, but in any event, all the best.

Von, I'm sorry you're going. Despite my having passed reasonable objections on policy to outright hatred for Bush early in 2000, I get tired of all the blogs I read agreeing. You pointed out things that made me think. Thank you.

"Quite frankly, I'm not drinking enough."

Hey, me neither.

I'll miss your posts & look forward to kicking you around in comments.

Von, I strongly urge you to reconsider, or at least cutting your bender short. In the meantime, I'm pouring out a little of my 40oz on AmFoot.

Man, I take a few days off, and all kinds of silly blogdrama erupt. I think I see where von comes from; dealing with one bril can be amusing, but dealing with a hundred of them every time you post must be tiresome.

Hope to see you back, von. Always enjoyed your perspective, even when I didn't enjoy it.

yeah - i hope you reconsider too. take a few days off, go on a bender, and then come back refreshed.

i too enjoyed having different perspectives around here, and you will be missed (if you actually go, which - again - you shouldn't).

I suppose I should add to the chorus. . .conservatives who are smart & reasonable enough to force me to actually look around for evidence before I disagree seem to be uncommon.

But yeah, a rest is a good thing.

I don't understand, Von. I thought that drinking and blogging were complements.

Best of luck to you on that drinking thing. Have a few dozen for me.

Shane! Shane! (er, Von!). Don't go!

(rides into the sunset, slouched over the saddle, a bottle of Jack Daniels in his fist)

new to the blog here, but i have read all of the bloggers here with appreciation including yourself.

best of luck.

Von, I wish you wouldnn't go. You know what's best for yourself, of course, but I wishh you wouldn't.

Aw, goddammit - does this mean no more punk-themed posts?

Have a shot of Maker's Mark for me, von. BTW, I meant to post this on one of the 'class war' posts, but then things got kinda ugly, so...

(Also, 'asshole'. Wanted to say that before the posting rules are once again tightened up. Ahh, sheer decadence.)

Sorry von. It must be hard to keep writing when you know your audience is mostly people with completely opposite opinions and therefore almost all the responses will be unfriendly.

Umm, dang.

von, it's a sad thing to see you step aside. On the other hand, I know how these things go and it's a tough path, posting in an environment where you're more likely to be misinterpereted, or taken as a representative of some other clas of belief that isn't around to defend itself.

Kind of amazing to watch again and again as the honest conservative segment of this blog (thankfully the only kind it seems to attract) are insulted and seemingly willfully misinterpreted in thread after thread and then, when they say that perhaps dealing with that isn't the best use of their time, everyone jumps in with how they'd like them to stay.

I'm left with the image of a pimp telling his beaten ho 'Aw, come on baby, you know I love you...'

Hey Moo. Read the names. Those arguing most strenuously for Von to stay were not the ones "dog piling" on him in the previous two threads that he's written. And I use the term "dog piling" loosely. It is a big site.

[Deletes a fair amount of meta that serves no useful purpose.]

Von, good luck in whatever you choose to do next.

Double dang, with a side of I know exactly how you feel. Come back if you feel like it, von. Or, give me a ring if you should happen to be in Orlando and possessed of a free hour or so.

Double dang, with a side of I know exactly how you feel. Come back if you feel like it, von. Or, give me a ring if you should happen to be in Orlando and possessed of a free hour or so.

Uh...pesky cable company.

Sorry to hear it! Makes me wish I had bothered to write in that I thought you were basically right about your last Kevin Drum snark. Now I feel like that one little show of support might have kept you around. Ah, well. It's been good having you around. Be well.

If you can stand it, Von, please continue fighting the good fight in the comment section over at Redstate.

I'm going to miss your posts here.

And I think Moo is right. I mean, i know Charles Bird isn't the most popular guy around here, but both him and Andrew Olmsted left for the same reasons. Are all three of them crazy?

Sorry to see you go.

No clapping hands here.

I mean, i know Charles Bird isn't the most popular guy around here, but both him and Andrew Olmsted left for the same reasons. Are all three of them crazy?

I think it's that people are choosing their realities and it's getting harder and harder to straddle.

Republicans and democrats are more and more simply not living in the same world. They have basicly different assumptions about how the world works, and they can't talk to each other except on a superficial level -- if they try to talk too much the fissures show up. Like having a pleasant conversation in a pleasant grassy meadow, and suddenly the earth splits open and they're on the other side and you look down and the fires of hell are glowing below, and they're on this overhung ledge that still has grass growing on it, and you watch them backing off into the safer distance. Growing horns and barbed tail is optional....

And it's all increasingly hard to discuss. It's hard to watch people who seem at first like perfectly reasonable individuals start to explain how they disbelieve in evolution, and they disbelieve in the moon landings, and they believe every word Bush says and can quote him at length.

It's like -- this girl had an arab boyfriend, and one day he was talking with his friends and they started talking about the end times, and she asked about it, and they explained to her that when the end times came it was their duty as good muslims to kill as many infidels as they could. She asked her boyfriend, "But you wouldn't kill me, would you?" and he looked away and wouldn't answer her. Like that.

At some point when you're been discussing things with people who just don't get it you have to walk away. They just don't get it. I've been watching something like that on Winds of Change. They have all these weird ideas I have trouble wrapping my mind around, and I have to remind myself not to challenge them more than necessary, stick to just a couple of points that might be debatable, and today somebody explained that it's really a liberal blog, too liberal for him. I didn't say anything. Entirely different worlds, except we vote in the same elections and post to the same blogs. How can politicians hope to get by like this? There's no middle ground at all. If you declare for one side and then say something the least bit conciliatory to the other side, to your supporters it sounds like you've gone completely crazy. Try to bridge the gap and you're dangling over the fires of hell and nobody on either side likes you.

I don't see any possible resolution until the world changes so drasticly that both sides see they've become irrelevant.

J Thomas: I think that there are different variants of that, and that it's important to keep them very, very separate.

On the one hand, there are genuine differences in belief that come, I suppose, from getting news from different sources. For example, when I posted on the idea that Rachel Carson had killed millions by advocating a ban on DDT, a lot the liberals said: people say that? and -- well, some, at least, of the conservatives said: that isn't true? That's completely amenable to argument; in fact, I think it's really, really important to actually argue out those differences without anyone on either side jumping down anyone else's throat and saying: only an idiot would believe that!

Then there's the completely different phenomenon of holding beliefs not in good faith, but in the teeth of what look, for all the world, like obvious reasons not to. For instance, I find it hard to see how one could explain Bill Kristol's op-ed "Why Bush Will Be A Winner" as written after an attempt to form his views based on a dispassionate view of the evidence. -- I mean:

"What it comes down to is this: If Petraeus succeeds in Iraq, and a Republican wins in 2008, Bush will be viewed as a successful president.

I like the odds."

-- ???

I think there are people who write this sort of thing -- we're winning in Iraq, it's just defeatists in Congress who are going to spoil it all, etc. -- without anything like conscious insincerity, just as I think that there are people who have actually convinced themselves that Bill Clinton's lies to a grand jury were impeachable but Scooter Libby's ought to have been pardoned. I just think they're arguing in bad faith -- not really trying to form a coherent view, and to let the evidence lead them where it may.

Those are the ones it's hard to argue with, for reasons that Tim Burke has explained as well as anyone. But the people who disagree with me in the first way -- they accept a lot of facts I reject, and vice versa, but that's because we get our news from different places -- are the people I want to argue with the most. And I think it's really worth trying not to jump down their throats.

I look forward to your next post, Von, however later or sooner (preferably sooner), whenever you feel moved.

My own suggestion would be to go with substantive issue-oriented posts, rather than angry rants insulting other bloggers, since what one offers tends to be what one gets in return, and we all know you can do a fine job when you're in the mood and have time and interest. I'll be looking forward to that, anytime you feel like it.

Meanwhile, good to know you'll be in comments. I wish you the best, as always (whether you realize it or not, and whether I otherwise make it clear or not).

"I mean, i know Charles Bird isn't the most popular guy around here, but both him and Andrew Olmsted left for the same reasons."

Charles is in Iraq? I hope he realizes it.

Von, I'm very sorry to see you go, as it was nice to see some contrasting points of view around here.

I suppose I should point out here, for the sake of accuracy, that I did not officially leave because of the environment. I left because I was not in the mood to damage what is left of my Army career by blogging when it could be construed as in violation of certain regulations.

I think it's that people are choosing their realities and it's getting harder and harder to straddle.
I think I speak for a lot of the regulars here when I say that the above comment shouldn't apply to von. On the contrary, he and the other relatively conservative voices here have repeatedly engaged and discussed substantive issues in an honest an intelligent fashion.

Implying that they just can't take the cognitive dissonance is unfair; realistically, they were in ideologically unfriendly territory in the comments section and it can get very, very old having to engage eight to ten separate spin-off discussions (or be muttered at as 'unwilling to respond'.)

ObWi has one of the most explicitly, intentionally open-minded rosters of posters around, and that bleeds over into the comment section. But it take hard work to listen to those with differing views -- and differ respectfully. Posters are at an inherent disadvantage to commenters in terms of the work/reward ratio, I think. :-)

It would seem that Daniel Patrick Moynihan's infamous dictum no longer holds. All sides do believe they are entitled to their own facts, and most attempts to even discuss the issue quickly become too emotional to reach any consensus. Worst of all, everyone involved really does (with perhaps a few exceptions) believe what they're saying, and most of them suspect that the other side 'knows' that what they're saying isn't true, so claims/suspicions of duplicity quickly further muddy the waters.

I submit that the remaining proprietors should consider setting aside the original purpose of ObWings as being no longer practical, and instead continue to forge ahead into a position as one of the best left-liberal blogs in the blogosphere. There are far worse positions to occupy.

The only hope for our nation's future is if both sides can start to listen to each other, or at least quit screaming when the other one is speaking. Maybe even stop having two sets of facts. I hope this site can still be what I thought it was, a place where people can bring up differing points of view in a respectful atmosphere. And that I can start to figure out what the heck the other side is thinking, because I sure can't ask my relatives!!
;-)

It's hard to watch people who seem at first like perfectly reasonable individuals start to explain how they disbelieve in evolution, and they disbelieve in the moon landings, and they believe every word Bush says and can quote him at length.

Can you honestly name anyone posting or commenting here (outside of a troll or two) that even comes close to that description?

On the one hand, there are genuine differences in belief that come, I suppose, from getting news from different sources. For example, when I posted on the idea that Rachel Carson had killed millions by advocating a ban on DDT, a lot the liberals said: people say that? and -- well, some, at least, of the conservatives said: that isn't true? That's completely amenable to argument; in fact, I think it's really, really important to actually argue out those differences without anyone on either side jumping down anyone else's throat and saying: only an idiot would believe that!

Then there's the completely different phenomenon of holding beliefs not in good faith,

Except that after exposure to the evidence, it is bad faith to continue to believe that Rachel Carson killed millions by advocating a ban on DDT. And that idea is asserted in bad faith to undermine all legitimate efforts to have reasonable discourse on environmental policy.

There is a bigger point here, and that is continuing to hold beliefs in defiance of reason and facts, and that behavior is what really infects our discourse.

I can understand why people form the belief about Carson initially since there is so much ugly hateful propoganda out there masquerading as fact. People who stick with this belief after exposure to the facts simply prefer to reason from a premise of prejudice and anger. And at that point, it is important to bluntly point out that such thinking is badly wrong and reflects a blind prejudice.

There is clearly a cost-benefit analysis in deciding what should be done about something like DDT (one that Carson herself made, as she advocated a ban on DDT for broad uses precisely because it would undermine its utility in fighting mosquitoes).

But someone who, after knowing the evidence, claims Carson killed millions is simply urging people to reject environmental ideology based on hateful and false rhetoric. They have no interest in thoughtful discourse on the subject. They just hate the environmental ideology and will engage in any false rhetorical device to undermine it.

I think this is the bigger dynamaic at work here in so much of our current political discourse. Another example of this is people who stick with the "stab in the back" concept that the Viet Nam War was lost because funding was cut off in 1974 (something Charles advocates). Such rhetoric needs to be denounced for what it is. If you are uncertain of this, realize that the same evil dynamic is at work again with Iraq, and will infect our discourse on that for the next 30 years.

Sometimes you just cannot make nice with some ideas, which also means that you are going to have to be rude to people that insist that we make very important decisions that profoundly affect all of us based on evil notions such as "Rachel Carson killed millions."

hilzoy:

Thanks for the link to Tim Burke.

I was once told, emphatically, by my wife's aunt, a woman smart enough to command a six-figure salary, that it was a proven fact that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attack. This was a year or so ago, well after that notion had been thoroughly debunked. How do you respond to that?

"You're wrong"?
"Nuh-uh"?
"Are you insane?"?
"WHAAAATTTT?"?

I think I just started talking to myself. It's difficult.

I was once told, emphatically, by my wife's aunt, a woman smart enough to command a six-figure salary, that it was a proven fact that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attack. This was a year or so ago, well after that notion had been thoroughly debunked. How do you respond to that?

I am glad that your job with the six figure salary has nothing to do with national security.

Can you honestly name anyone posting or commenting here (outside of a troll or two) that even comes close to that description?
Steve, I think this is something that deserves naming: the message board scapegoat phenomenon. Maybe 'the inverted straw man' or something like that. ;) Somewhere out there, there are real people who believe something insane. Maybe even lots of people! But they aren't involved in the discussion, so the pent-up ire gets directed at the person who everyone considers closest to them ideologically.

It's frustrating not having an 'appropriate target.'

I am glad that your job with the six figure salary has nothing to do with national security.

Unfortunately, this could not also be said to the person most responsible for putting forth the previously mentioned notion.

Can you honestly name anyone posting or commenting here (outside of a troll or two) that even comes close to that description?


OCSteve,

I don't think J Thomas' comment was meant to be applied to conservative commenters here; I think he was talking about general trends in the country and claiming that the problems that OW faces are a special case of those general problems. I suspect he constructed an example that was so over the top and crazy that all sides could empathize with it; I mean, your reaction to such a person would probably be the same as mine...


Although I've never seen anyone here espouse such ideas, there are over 30 million Americans who do, and they vote.

OCSteve, Turbulence said what I would have. I think better than I would have.

I wasn't accusing Von or you or anybody here of those particular beliefs. I was coming up with an example of beliefs that I *have* run into, that I consider an obviously separate reality.

LOL!1! Im denyin yer evolution and votin in yer elections!1!

dmbeaster: "Another example of this is people who stick with the "stab in the back" concept that the Viet Nam War was lost because funding was cut off in 1974 (something Charles advocates)"

Something Charles once advocated, and renounced a few months ago here, albeit only explicitly in the comments, after I asked him. You doubtless missed that.

There is a bigger point here, and that is continuing to hold beliefs in defiance of reason and facts, and that behavior is what really infects our discourse.

A perfect example of this is the recent WSJ graph which hilzoy discussed. That the WSJ -- which absolutely has to assume that some largish portion of their readership is familiar with functions and hyperbolae and best-fit lines -- expected people to simply accept that graph uncritically almost certainly means that they really do believe they are entitled to a different set of facts.

"Steve, I think this is something that deserves naming: the message board scapegoat phenomenon."

I've written about this several times over the years, on various blogs, including here, since at least 2002 (later than 2002 here, obviously), usually referred to it as using other commenters inappropriately as cardboard ideological stand-ins for the people they really wanted to yell at.

See here, and here for example.

dmb: I agree about people who go on believing things after seeing the evidence. But I think there's an important set of issues on which people just haven't seen the evidence, necessarily, and that it's important to keep those disagreements separate from the bad faith ones.

I picked the DDT case for a reason. It's actually pretty hard to find the evidence, especially not if you don't have access to scientific journals. It's doubly hard since there are actual organizations out there that look authoritative, but lie. And I can't imagine how many people -- ordinary citizens, not professionals, would bother to do the sort of fact-checking required to see that about a story that, after all, doesn't affect them personally. Nor do I think that after you've read the ninth or tenth story in an allegedly reputable place, you're epistemically at fault for believing it.

When people get paid to muddy the waters, they do it by making exactly this sort of case: easy to soundbite, hard to disprove without doing an amount of legwork that, to a normal person, really is disproportionate to the importance of getting it right. Which is why I think there is a special circle of hell devoted to people who use their professional expertise to darken counsel and sow confusion.

When I started reading Obsidian Wings, the posters were Katherine R, von, and Moe Lane. Katherine and Moe haven't posted here for a long time, and the other posters who have joined have kept ObWi an interesting place. Still, it felt like there was some significance to one of the original trio still being around.

Obsidian Wings hasn't been what it was originally for a long time, but I feel like it's just lost a connection to its beginnings.

"Katherine and Moe haven't posted here for a long time"

Half-true. (Although Katherine continues to not post with her own name on the bottom of her posts, which bothers insanely anal-retentive, borderline Asperger's me.)

"Obsidian Wings hasn't been what it was originally for a long time, but I feel like it's just lost a connection to its beginnings."

If Moe, Von, Sebastian, Slartibartfast, Charles, and Andrew all were able to and chose to posting heavily and regularly at once, as well as recruiting four other good conservative/libertarian/center-right bloggers (Dave Schuler would be one fine choice), I daresay the balance of the tone of the blog would change.

Or maybe we should have a merger with a large blog along those lines -- Winds of Change, or Tom Maguire, or The Forvm, or name-your-tune -- and see what happens in a "fair fight." I'm willing to go for odds that the current commenters here can punch above their weight in numbers. :-)

I suspect a merger would only have the effect of further inflaming the comments section. We live during a time where emotions run high. Those emotions will translate into our relationships, especially those that revolve around the events sparking those emotions. Trying to bring more right-wing posters into the fold is akin to throwing gasoline on a fire.

Every nominally conservative poster has chosen to walk away or observe radio listening silence on the front page. Whether that's because conservatives are inherently unable to face rigorous debate, ObWings draws only tempermentally weak conservatives, or the commenters simply aren't treating the conservatives fairly (please note I am only attempting to cover all the bases here and am not endorsing any theory), the end results are the same: conservatives don't do well here. I recall someone pointing out that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Isn't that what the site would be doing by importing yet another conservative frontpager?

In retrospect, further inflaming is inaccurate, I think. Please edit the above to omit the word 'further.' Thank you.

[or] commenters simply aren't treating the conservatives fairly (please note I am only attempting to cover all the bases here and am not endorsing any theory)
There's another possibility: The political leanings of the commentariat have leaned MUCH more strongly to the left than the front page posters. That means any front page poster interested in having a discussion rather than interjecting hit-and-run info-dumps must commit to carrying the burden of dozens of (relatively) intense conversation threads.

Those threads don't even have to be mean or personally hostile for the sense of fatigue to set in. I've had it happen to me on other sites.

Gary's suggestion of teaming with Winds Of Change is an interesting one. The commentariat there leans about as far right as OW's leans left.

There's no potential for the far right and the far left to have a constructive dialogue. They have no common set of accepted facts to build their arguments on; they live in two different universes. The discussion never gets beyond repeated invocation of the same talking points.

Good point, Jeff. I misspoke myself; I meant I was attempting to cover the range of possibilities rather than suggest, as I did, that my list was exhaustive.

There's no potential for the far right and the far left to have a constructive dialogue. They have no common set of accepted facts to build their arguments on; they live in two different universes. The discussion never gets beyond repeated invocation of the same talking points.

I agree that left and right currently lack a common set of facts or assumptions. However, there is a possibility for dialog.

The possibility for dialog lies in the two sides trying to talk anyway, and realizing that their opposite party are not demons, and are at least talking in some kind of good faith, even if apparently in some kind of bizarre moonman lingo.

That is, you can talk with someone and find that nothing they say makes any sense to you at all, yet still be able to see that they are not evil, and that they desire a recognizably good end.

I don't think that's out of the question yet.

Von, vaya con Dios.

Thanks -

There's no potential for the far right and the far left to have a constructive dialogue. They have no common set of accepted facts to build their arguments on; they live in two different universes. The discussion never gets beyond repeated invocation of the same talking points.

If we assume so, then it will be so.

I choose not to assume so.

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