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August 05, 2009

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"Many protesters (along with many Republican/talk radio critiques) are just flat-out lying about what the coverage reform bills do. There's really no way to sugarcoat it -- they're lying. And the lies are going out in a coordinated way amplified by modern communications networks (blogs, 24 hour cable, email forwards, Drudge, talk radio, etc.)."

I don't watch TV much directly. Which coordinated lies are going out?

Sebastian, google "kill granny" and "obama euthanasia."

For example that the proposed bills will primarily benefit illegal aliens despite the bills explicitly stating the opposite (and containing requirements to check first that recipients are indeed at least legal residents and in many cases proven US citizens).
As for the organized protests, the stated goal according to the leaked instruction manual is to prevent any discussion while creating the impression that the majority is hostile towards reform. Clips on Maddow and Olbermann from those protests included choruses of "Just say no!" drowning out the speaker from the start and shouting down of participants asking actual questions.
FTR, this is wrong whatever side does it. Over here this tactic is primarily used by actual far leftists (Communists, radical socialists, Trotkyists, self-styled revolutionaries etc.). They usually also use all kinds of noisemakers, whistles, gas horns etc.

"But the mere fact that industry groups are organizing these protests"

Don't you mean, "mere allegation"? I mean, you jumped from "even assuming" to "fact" awfully fast there.

Who do you think hires Jack Bonner? The local ladies' auxiliary?

Ever heard of getting out in front of a mob, and yelling, "follow me!"? I'll concede that some of the protests are probably astroturfed. If you'll ponder the singular lack of success at astroturfing protests in the other direction...

Someone should take photos and check how often certain faces show up in different parts of the country at those protests.
Paid claques and hissing squads are nothing new (a favorite tool in ancient Rome for example). It's just a matter of how well one is willing and able to pay. And unlike the mythical vicious Soros SS it is well known that there are indeed deep pockets on the right to pay for such things*. In my experience leftists tend to protest voluntary without getting paid for it.

*although, unlike legal bribes of congressbeings it has to my knowledge not to be reported. Btw, are bribes tax deductible in the US? (they were in Germany up to the early 90ies).

This isn't mere "misinformation."

"And so here's the question -- can our media inform the public?"

By itself? Absolutely not. The culture of "she said, he said" stenography, both sides are equal, we just report what they say, we don't evaluate who is lying through their teeth, or what actual facts are, which is what the majority of professional "news journalism" is in Washington, can't do the job by itself.

And it won't place, save in occasional exceptions, exposes of the truth, when they're done, as they are rarely in such mainstream pages, further up than page 27.

So, the answer to that question is plainly: "no."

We already watched the way the insurance and health care industry paid the way to their goals against health care reform during the Clinton years. Without being able to overcome the same kind of opposition, despite some changed circumstances and different alignments, the same thing will, of course, happen again.

"Can our collective institutions inform the public this time around?"

Only the minority who pay attention. It's a much better situation in that regard than in the mid-Nineties, but it's still a distinct minority of citizens.

And there's this, specifically including this:

Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

Etc. This isn't about citizen democracy; this is about proto-brown-shirtism.

"Ever heard of getting out in front of a mob, and yelling, 'follow me!'?"

Ever here of *creating* a mob--especially over an issue that doesn't exist? Like telling people the government is going to *mandate* end-of-life decisions?

And that's assuming that there's even a "mob" to begin with. In many cases it's just a handful of people creating chaos at these meetings. That's all it takes.

"If you'll ponder the singular lack of success at astroturfing protests in the other direction..."

Which huge industry is pumping money into health care reform?

Brett:

Don't you mean, "mere allegation"? I mean, you jumped from "even assuming" to "fact" awfully fast there.
The lefty-commie Wall Street Journal:
Health insurers are facing renewed fire from President Barack Obama and Democrats, but are still mostly on board with the president's effort to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.

That's because the industry conceded months ago to key demands that Mr. Obama has just begun promoting. And insurers still have much to gain from an overhaul because they could get millions of new customers.

[...]

Insurance-industry executives are privately complaining that the administration's rhetoric is eroding the consensus they have spent months trying to build with lawmakers, one industry official said. Another point of frustration is that the Senate is moving toward taxing insurers on particularly generous health plans to help pay for expanding coverage of the uninsured.

If health legislation succeeds, the industry would likely get a fresh batch of new customers. In particular, many young and healthy people who currently forgo coverage would be forced to sign up and pay premiums that would offset the cost of insuring older Americans.

Insurers have focused their opposition on some Democrats' push to create a new public health-insurance plan -- an entity they fear will drive private insurers out of business. House versions of the legislation include a public plan, but the Senate Finance Committee is expected to opt for nonprofit cooperatives that would pose less of a threat to private insurers.

Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's main lobby, said the battle over the public plan has been "obscuring the consensus about insurance-market reforms." The group recently began airing national television advertisements trumpeting its support for not rejecting people based on pre-existing health conditions.

Still, insurers are pushing back against several proposals that lawmakers see as favorable to consumers. One proposal would prevent insurers from charging older Americans more than twice the rates charged to younger people. Insurers want to be able to charge older people as much as five times more.

Some insurers also are calling for a higher cap on consumers' out-of-pocket costs and are warning that waiving charges for preventive care will simply lead to higher costs elsewhere. "If you put too low a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, that could drive up the premium," said Alissa Fox, a senior vice president at the BlueCross BlueShield Association, which represents 39 independent insurers nationwide.

Meanwhile, insurers continue to wage an aggressive campaign against Democrats' proposals to create a public health-insurance plan. America's Health Insurance Plans has stationed employees in 30 states who are tracking where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.

Big insurer WellPoint Inc. has set up an online network where it makes the case against the public health insurance plan and urges consumers to contact their elected officials.

Not "allegations," Brett. Well-reported facts.

Newsweek:

[...] Pretty much every lobby with a stake in health care—big business, insurance, pharmaceutical companies, both political parties, among others—are planning a major blitz to try to shape the outcome of the bill. And that means you likely won’t get a reprieve from the back and forth over cost and the so-called public plan anytime soon. For lack of a better word, it’s going to be a total ad-pocalyse, along the likes of what we saw during the final weeks of the presidential campaign last fall.

[...]

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobby in Washington, launched a $2 million ad campaign a few weeks ago lobbying against a plan to include a government-run insurance option in the bill, which it plans to extend during the recess. Other conservative groups, including the innocuously-named Americans for Prosperity and Conservatives for Patients Rights, plan to spend millions on ads raising questions about how we’re going to pay for all of this. That message that will be echoed by the various GOP party committees, which plan TV hits of their own targeting vulnerable Dems up for re-election next year. On Wednesday, Rep. Pete Sessions, who chairs the House GOP campaign arm, announced they plan to target 80 House Democrats up for re-election next year—a huge number. Over the recess, they’ll go after Dems for endorsing “Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama’s government takeover of the healthcare system,” as Sessions put it. Pelosi and “government takeover”—those are words that are sure to motivate the GOP base—at least that’s what Republicans hope. But it’s unclear whether this will help the GOP make in-roads among independents and moderates, which is where the reform fight is really centered.

There are a bunch of links in the original I won't reproduce, so as to get this past Typepad.

publius: "In this sense, the importance of the health coverage debate goes far beyond health care. It will also determine whether American institutions are capable of dealing with important problems. Can the Senate with its malapportionment and filibusters solve a real problem? We're about to find out."

I keep forgetting how young you are: were you watching the health care battles of fifteen years ago as as closely as you are now? Because lots of us were, and we had all these same discussions on Usenet, linking to and quoting relevant articles at great length, etc.

If you were watching at the time, I'd think you'd have to ask here what's changed, and be talking about this year, specifically, rather than the question as if it's never come up before.

Gary, I've helped organize protests, in my younger days, that liberals insisted were astroturf. On some level you guys just can't seem to accept the existence of real, public opposition to anything you want to do. A really ironic accusation, actually, given the way huge swaths of liberal interest groups are almost entirely funded by Soros and Pew. (You'd be hard put, for instance, to locate a gun control organization that's membership based.)

There's astroturf, events and organizations which are wholly the creation of some outside organizer/funder.

There's sod farming, where the public opinion is there, and you just help it along.

And there are cases where genuine public activism co-exists with both of the above. I'd say that's what we've got here.

"On some level you guys just can't seem to accept the existence of real, public opposition to anything you want to do."

Brett, there's a difference between opposing something and lying about it. It's rather frustrating to see a bill that encourages people to make end-of-life decisions and then see it referred to as "kill granny" or "euthanasia."

"A really ironic accusation, actually, given the way huge swaths of liberal interest groups are almost entirely funded by Soros and Pew."

Again, there's a difference between funding interest groups and think tanks, and spreading fear and misinformation in a deliberate attempt to block honest reform.

"And there are cases where genuine public activism co-exists with both of the above. I'd say that's what we've got here."

It's reasonable to expect that people would be wary of any major overhaul of the current system. It's wrong, IMO, to drown out reasonable discussion with mindless shouting and lies, simply because you oppose the personalities *behind* the reform.

Brett, are you honestly endorsing the sentiments behind these "scripts" and "talking points"--not to discuss or oppose, but to disrupt and bully?

Gary, I've helped organize protests, in my younger days, that liberals insisted were astroturf. On some level you guys just can't seem to accept the existence of real, public opposition to anything you want to do.

Who are "you guys?" I wish you would decide once and for all whether people are individuals or simply members of groups, and stick to that decision, because this switching from one to the other on the basis of expedience is stupid. Are you talking to Gary, or "liberals," or "you guys," or what?

But the mere fact that industry groups are organizing these protests doesn't really bother me. Progressives should be countering rather than complaining about it. My anti-insurer cred is hopefully strong by now, but even the dread insurers can send people to meetings if they want.

Maybe Brett missed this paragraph.

Gary - the difference today is that we have 60 Dem Senators, plus a new President at the peak of his power. If it can't be done now, it can't be done. And that, in turn, raises some uncomfortable questions about why

"Gary, I've helped organize protests, in my younger days, that liberals insisted were astroturf."

Brett, possibly you haven't figured this out, but there's no contradiction between some organizations simultaneously running astroturf at the same time other (or even the same) organization(s) are running campaigns that genuinely attempt to get real people involved. In fact, this is typically what's done.

"On some level you guys just can't seem to accept the existence of real, public opposition to anything you want to do."

Who, me and The Vast Liberal Conspiracy? I keep missing memos. I can only speak for myself, and I'm entirely aware of how many issues the majority of the public and I don't agree upon.

"huge swaths of liberal interest groups are almost entirely funded by Soros"

Could you name a few of these, please? Thanks. Also, how come George Soros is considered good by conservatives when he's organizing against communism and for democracy in foreign countries, but bad when he does this in the U.S.?

"And there are cases where genuine public activism co-exists with both of the above. I'd say that's what we've got here."

I'm sure that's true, and I don't understand why we can't object to and point out the astroturfing part, or the parts where disruption of meetings and their agenda are advocated. Say, isn't that what conservatives get themselves in a tizzy about when they get all mouth-foamy about ACORN and Saul Alinsky?

On some level you guys just can't seem to accept the existence of real, public opposition to anything you want to do.

I'm used to better arguments from Brett. This sounds like he's talking about his own Libertarian-Authoritarian pov rather than a vague, center-left 'you guys'.

The fact is that the center-left (or centrist, depending) represented by the current US Democratic party is all too happy to accept opposition to anything it proposes to do. It's a big problem. But the shamefully exploited and diddled insta-hooligans at these rallies - people who are legitimately angry about *something* - oppose what *nobody* wants to do (i.e. kill grandma, etc.). The fact is, Brett, that large majorities *want* 'socialized' health care, and you are the one (among others) who can't accept. Tough rocks, buddy.

Too bad Obama has Biden, rather than a John Edwards-type (not HIM obviously)to get out there and counter. I also don't understand why the elected officials aren't starting out their townhall meetings with a statement like: 'Folks, there's an organized mob, recruited and paid for by a DC corporate lobbying firm, that's been going around to townhalls trying to disrupt them. That may happen tonight...' etc.

Can the Senate with its malapportionment and filibusters solve a real problem?

when the solution threatens big money, no.

Lies and shouting should be met with bigger lies and louder shouting.

Threats should be countered with threats.

Free speech and all that.

On the other hand, if Pat Buchanan believes that granny will be euthanized by the State, then free speech is not enough.

That's gotta be nipped in the bud.

That requires violence against the State by Mr. Buchanan and his brother Bay. Ruthless, uncompromising violence.

Notas lucrative of a gig aslying like snakes in the media, but more effective from a melodramatic standpoint.

I mean, it's O.K. if folks are euthanized by our current public/private mess of a healthcare system.

The response to that should be dialogue, acquiesence, perhaps a timid thank you as little mother is helped into the boxcar by low-level accountants at insurance companies who deny coverage, and a town meeting or two.

Personally, since we're engaging in free speech, my druthers are to fashion a healthcare system in which Pat Buchanan and his sidekick Bay and Arthur Laughter are euthanized by HHS immediately and their kidneys sold at a price that will pay off the effing deficit.

The problem the Democrats are having right now is that they're whining about the rules of the game instead of developing their own strategies to counter their opponents.

For the most part, the media isn't ideologically driven. They are certainly influenced by their own perceptions of world order (who isn't?), but what they're really looking for is ratings fodder. They want theater, not truth, and they'll gladly suppress truth if they think they'll end up with the kind of theater that brings ratings.

The way to deal with them is to give them what they want but bend it in a way that benefits your interest.

As an example, if the teabaggers are sucking all the air out of a meeting, give them the spotlight. Invite one of them up to the podium and ask them if they think our current health care system is the best we can do. Ask them for suggestions for improving it. Ask them if they have health care and if they're happy with it. Explain to them that if they're paying $200 a month now, if the rates continue to double every 10 years, in 50 years their children will be paying $6,400 a month. Ask them if they think that's a sustainable system. Ask them if they know that VA insurance and Medicare is government run. In other words, make your points through their mouths. If they shout down their own, that's going to make them look trivial and uncivil. Call their bluff. Give them what they want and let them walk right into it. The media will love it.

This isn't so hard to do. I'm just amazed (as usual) at the lack of coherent strategy demonstrated by the Democratic party.

i agree with this post 100%.

the only reason i'm concerned about the GOP's Astroturf Festival Of Lies is that it's completely obvious that the media is not capable of dealing with lies, and the GOP knows it. look at the 2000 election, the run-up to the Iraq war, the Swiftboaters, the full-blast firehose of pure bullshit that came from the right in the 2008 election and its continuation today - the media reflexively backs away from calling-out GOP lies. and the GOP knows this, and that's why they meet every challenge with outrageous lies - they know the media will takes months to get around to mentioning that maybe some of what its GOP mouthpieces were 'reporting' wasn't as true as it should've been.

we've all seen this before. we know how it will turn out.

publius: "Gary - the difference today is that we have 60 Dem Senators, plus a new President at the peak of his power. If it can't be done now, it can't be done. And that, in turn, raises some uncomfortable questions about why"

Too many Democrats suck and are compromised by big money. Next question?

"I'm sure that's true, and I don't understand why we can't object to and point out the astroturfing part, or the parts where disruption of meetings and their agenda are advocated. Say, isn't that what conservatives get themselves in a tizzy about when they get all mouth-foamy about ACORN and Saul Alinsky?"

And people say Republicans can't learn. It is amusing to watch the reaction to a political strategy invented by the left being used against them. I know, I was there when we used it in the sixties. The truth was not as important as the volume.

Old dogs learning new tricks, or remembering the old days?

Ah, yes, the mind hive that is "the left."

"It is amusing to watch the reaction to a political strategy invented by the left being used against them."

It would be amusing too to see the National Guard called out to maintain order at one of Steny Hoyer's town meetings.

Hilarity would be my reaction if Mayor Richard Daley called out Chicago's finest to protect Democratic politicans at today's town meetings from the mobs.

It would be Comedy Central if brooks brothers thugs surrounded me in a bar and shouted liar into my face repeatedy, hung me in effigy, and suggested loudly that I commit suicide to clear up a little case of prostate cancer.

Funny from a Bernie Goetz/NRA point of view.

Nearly everything that has come out of the Republican party about Obama's health initiative is a lie starting with the use of the word "socialism".

I don't think that it is a time honored traditionn to yell at COngresscritters. It is a time honored traditionn to ask questions, even pointed ones, but that's not what the astroturf events are for. The disrupters were specifically instructed NOT to engage in discussion but to interrupt, disrupt, make discussion impossible. That's a time honored tradition for thugs in league with totalitarians, perhaps, but not fundamental to democracy.

But as you say the real problem is the lazy, irresponisible Republican-from-the editors-up corporate media who will, with a few exceptions, treat the thugs as is they ahve a vaiid point of view.

To those who are defending the thugs, would you defend leftwing anti-war protesters who organized attempts to prevent Nixon or some other war supporter from speaking at a public event? I can remember when that sort of thing happened and I didn't like it at all.

Why is the knowing dissemination of lies a necessary price of free speech? If someone intentionally lies to you in order to get your money or property, it's called fraud and they face serious prison sentences. But if someone intentionally lies to you to get your vote, it's called free speech. Why? The upshot of this line of reasoning seems to be that your vote has no value, and therefore defrauding you of it does no harm.

Via digby, at least one Congressman is savvy enough to adopt Anna Blume's strategy above:

During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.

Well, (addressing Digby's comment) if they failed "to note the irony", then Rep. Green wasn't forceful or threatening enough in his delivery.

He should pick out some dumb-ass, blue-haired bitty in the crowd who raised her hand BOTH times and announce that the next time he hits the House floor, he's introducing a bill to deny socialized, or government-run Medicare, Veteran's healthcare, or Medicaid nursing home payments to dumb-assed, blue haired bitties whose preexisting condition of willful stupidity prevents them from recognizing irony.

When one of the loud-mouthed thugs objects to Green's tone, I hope his chin is close enough to the dias so that Rep. Green can kick him in the throat, in self-defense, of course.

Look, the right-wing is armed. They brag about being armed as the first line of defense against tyrannical government.

Liberal politicians should assume that where "tyrannical government" is part of the rhetoric, there are guns nearby and react accordingly.


"Why is the knowing dissemination of lies a necessary price of free speech?"

Because the process of sorting out truth from lies is the responsibility of the voter, not some external agent. Anyone who is willing to fully trust some other agency to perform that function for them has already surrendered their own little piece of the popular sovereignty. If enough people do that, we become a pro-forma democracy.

Our political problems today stem in part from the situation where a great many voters have done precisely this, trusting our news media far more than they should. Not only have these voters surrendered their autonomy, but also the individual players in our media are not forced to compete with each other on the basis of how accurate and trustworthy they are, if their readers/viewers are not actively judging them and holding them accountable. Instead they find some other basis on which to compete for market share, such as sensationalism.

Consider the justification(s) for the launching of the Iraq war. Much of our mainstream press performed in a manner that would have done Pravda proud. By now their credibility should be in tatters. Have the people involved been sacked en-masse? Have entire networks been driven out of the news business entirely, or forced to rebuild their brands from scratch, slowly and painfully rebuilding their credibility?

Heck no. Instead all the usual players are still at their posts and the media circus has scarcely missed a beat. Who is to blame for this? I'd say the viewers ultimately bear the responsibility. Insofar as media consumers = voters, these problems won't go away until a large enough group of previously naiive folks learn to be smarter and more demanding and discriminating consumers of information. That may happen over time as the decentralization of information on account of the internet leads to a renewed interest in issues of practical epistemology (c.f. wikipedia for example) but it is bound to be a very slow process that takes generations, not months or years.

What anna blume said.

Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.

Note that last phrase - 'failing to note the irony'. That's the whole point!! This is not a time for clever subtlety, people.

It is amusing to watch the reaction to a political strategy invented by the left being used against the

A) Basically, this is the "Johnny did it first!" argument. It's about as mature as it was when you were five years old.

B) This conflates behavior from all parts of the ideological spectrum from all times from all constituencies into an amorphous entity called "the Left" which lacks an discrimination or any cogent thought. I would suggest better work should be done in distinguishing fringe, mainstream and contemporary tactics. Behavior from more radicalized student groups from the 1980s should be distinguishable from organized progressive groups in the 21st Century.

"It is amusing to watch the reaction to a political strategy invented by the left"

Actually, I think it goes back quite a bit further than that.

jonnybutter: "This is not a time for clever subtlety, people."

American mass media is structurally at odds with overt subtlety, clever or otherwise. Covert subtlety, maybe.

The problem with your comparison, Marty, is that the Alinsky-ites grew up and turned to politics and commerce to get their way.

If this were a bunch of college kids carrying on it might be understandable. Instead someone has managed to convinced a bunch of retirees to act like their grandchildren.

I agree with Anna. But I think a lot of these guys were caught off guard by this and it'll take some time to regroup. Green's response echoes my own: "How many of you are getting Social Security? Who pays your medical bills?" But I had the luxury of "rehearsing" at my laptop. :-)

Hopefully they'll be better prepared in the next round.

Just to build a little on anna blume's comment:

To say the press - sorry, the media - is not particularly 'ideological' is like saying that a tiger which ate your baby didn't do it out of 'meanness'. The media worship power, particularly that of their owners, and they absolutely worship themselves. They also love spectacle. Since worshipers often secretly hate the object of their worship, they will viciously turn on power so long as there's no risk to themselves. This latter and Spectacle can be combined sometimes. As to whether or not it's ideological to not care about facts, that seems to be situational...

Democrats ought to see this as an *opportunity* rather than a problem. Most people - wisely - don't care about ideology, and that probably includes some of the brownshirts-'lite' we're talking about (you 'have to be very carefully taught' to care about ideology). This could be a great opening for the dems, actually. Polarize it.

"Gary - the difference today is that we have 60 Dem Senators"

Effectively, 58, for the record, except at such times as Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd can be dragged out of their hospital beds or be in good enough shape to be wheeled onto the Senate floor. There are no proxy votes in the Senate.

Setting aside that no Senator votes always strictly on a party line on all issues.

Our political problems today stem in part from the situation where a great many voters have done precisely this, trusting our news media far more than they should

and at the same time, many have given up trust in the MSM (for all kinds of reasons) and have turned to blogs and talk radio instead. and, unfortunately, there are 1,000 wild-eyed partisan Pam Atlases for every thoughtful, measured Daniel Larison. if a person doesn't like the stories he's hearing in one forum, he'll just find another that pleases him better.

facts and truth can't compete with emotionally-pleasing lies.

"To those who are defending the thugs, would you defend leftwing anti-war protesters who organized attempts to prevent Nixon or some other war supporter from speaking at a public event? I can remember when that sort of thing happened and I didn't like it at all."

It still happens on campuses today, and I don't like it at all when leftist groups try to shout down and prevent speakers from speaking, no matter how repugnant I find the speaker. Just for the record. Don't want to listen to the Nazi? Don't listen. Want to counter-protest outside to make your point, without stopping the Nazi (or equivalent) from speaking (or people from entering)? Absolutely fine. Want to demand equal time for your side from the authorities at a separate speaking engagement? Fine.

Shouting down a speaker so they can't speak? Not fine in my book; no matter who the speaker is.

(Someone may bring up the fine line of the tactic of joining the audience, and silently turning your back; I suppose that's acceptable, though I'm not all that enthused about political theater in general.)

"But if someone intentionally lies to you to get your vote, it's called free speech. Why?"

Because we don't have Martian neutral umpires to make rulings on which political statements are and aren't lies. Next question?

"Who is to blame for this? I'd say the viewers ultimately bear the responsibility."

For years I've denounced people who waste their time watching cable "news." I've never thought of it as advocating a formal boycott, but if anyone wants to characterize it that way, or organize it that way, I'm fine with that.

(Yes, this also gets us into ideological arguments where left/liberals will say "but Rachel Maddow is great!" or single out some other exceptions they like, but I'm still a fan of reading; to be sure, this is also a matter of how one processes information, and some people are simply neurologically better at getting information via hearing, or pictures, etc., so I have to admit to biological bias as well as other biases in this. Have I caveated enough yet?)

Russell: "Actually, I think it goes back quite a bit further than that."

No, I'm quite sure mobs were invented by dirty hippies during the Sixties, and The Left is to blame.

Probably someone should take up posting as The Left, now that norbizness has retired. The Left is so popular with The Right, after all.

"It is amusing to watch the reaction to a political strategy invented by the left"

Actually, I think it goes back quite a bit further than that."

Russell, you are probably right, not that much new under the sun. I don't like the tactic, I love the indignation over it.

"A) Basically, this is the "Johnny did it first!" argument. It's about as mature as it was when you were five years old."

This assumes I think it is ok, which I don't.

I guess the question is whether various parts of the "left" actually want this piecemeal reform to happen or whether they could care less because it's not a strong enough bill.

For instance, the lead stories on Democracy Now! has included items re single payer protests, but these town hall mob scenes may as well not exist. What is the real debate that should take place here? Is it between reformers or anti-reformers, or a difference in strategy/tactics/goals between various pro-reform people?

Marty: "I don't like the tactic, I love the indignation over it."

Why?

ThatLeftTurninABQ:

Because the process of sorting out truth from lies is the responsibility of the voter, not some external agent. Anyone who is willing to fully trust some other agency to perform that function for them has already surrendered their own little piece of the popular sovereignty.

So voters who don't have the time on inclination to engage in an independent research project every time a politician or talking head says something about an import to them to determine whether or not what was said was true is somehow less deserving of the benefits of democracy?

Sorry, I can't buy that.

As hilzoy used to note frequently, setting that standard puts the public at a grave disadvantage, and the liars at a great advantage, because nobody has the time to track down every such claim; not even just the really important ones. At some point, you have to outsource some of that to a trusted third party. Clearly, the MSM ain't it these days, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be or can't be, or that it's somehow all the voters' fault.

Why?

Because the indignation is coming from the same people who invented this tactic in the '60s! Well, not literally the same people, but you know, the kind of people you might at some point see in the same room as the people who invented the tactic, or who may once have had similar haircuts. And not literally invented, because it long predates the '60s. But if you kind of squinch up your eyes and ignore your higher brain functions, you can clearly see the irony here.

"Many protesters (along with many Republican/talk radio critiques) are just flat-out lying about what the coverage reform bills do."

No, they're NOT lying. Much worse, they are (cf. Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" bestseller from 5 or so years ago) bullshitting; meaning, they don't care, and may not know, whether what they say is true or false. All that matters is that it advances their agenda. Liars have to realize that what they're saying is false.

[Groucho]
I don't know what they have to say,
It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I'm against it.

Your proposition may be good,
But let's have one thing understood,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
And even when you've changed it or condensed it,
I'm against it.

I'm opposed to it,
On general principle, I'm opposed to it.

[chorus] He's opposed to it.
In fact, indeed, that he's opposed to it!

[Groucho]
For months before my son was born,
I used to yell from night to morn,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
And I've kept yelling since I first commenced it,
I'm against it!

Posted by: Hogan | August 05, 2009 at 05:12 PM had me going for a minute. I had to read it twice before I realized it wasn't Marty's response, and that it was a parody. (No offense to you, Marty. In fact, I only read it twice because I give you a degree of credit.)

"So voters who don't have the time on inclination to engage in an independent research project every time a politician or talking head says something about an import to them to determine whether or not what was said was true is somehow less deserving of the benefits of democracy?"

I think you are misinterpreting my argument. I'm not saying the voters don't deserve the fruits of democracy, rather I was pointing out that the locus of autonomy shifts away from the voters if they fail to critically evaluate their sources of information on a regular basis. Trust is like that - you let somebody else make the decisions for you. That works if your trust is not misplaced. Otherwise, oops.

"As hilzoy used to note frequently, setting that standard puts the public at a grave disadvantage, and the liars at a great advantage, because nobody has the time to track down every such claim; not even just the really important ones."

Just because something is unfair doesn't make it untrue. I don't like the way this works, but I'm think I'm being realistic about how things actually stand in our politico-media environment today. Do you really think that "the public [is] at a grave disadvantage, and the liars [are] at a great advantage" is an inaccurate description of conditions right now, as opposed to being an unfortunate one?

"At some point, you have to outsource some of that to a trusted third party. Clearly, the MSM ain't it these days, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be or can't be, or that it's somehow all the voters' fault."

Yes, I understand the need for shortcuts and heuristics in the way people consume info. I'm not advocating that every issue has to be a from-scratch research project. There is a wide middle ground between uncompromising cynicism and unconditional trust of the media. My point is that currently too many voters are extending too much trust to agents in the media who are at best deserving of conditional and provisional trust subject to periodic re-evaluation.

This is large part of the reason why our current MSM is so un-trustworthy - because they aren't having their feet held to the fire with sufficient frequency. You only get a semi-trustworthy MSM by making that trust provisional and contingent and periodically withdrawing it when warranted. Actions have to have consequences - otherwise extending unconditional trust to somebody is an excellent way to create incentives for them to break that trust without facing consequences (or at least not consequences immediate and direct enough to influence their behavior) and that's what too many of us in this country have done with our news media.

And also ditto what cleek said above about new media being slotted in to replace the MSM in an uncritical fashion because it gives us the thrill of reinforcing our existing biases. Peoples, UR DOIN IT RONG!

the loyal opposition is up to issuing death threats to congressmen over health care reform, now.

amusing!

"Peoples, UR DOIN IT RONG!"

It varies. Saint Hilzoy did a pretty job of doing it right.

Pam Gellar, not so much. And there are certainly lots of idiot leftist blogs; I just have trouble citing one immediately because I don't bother reading any. But I do run across some randomly, to be sure, so I certainly would never claim that right blogs all do it wrong, and left blogs all do it, er, right. I'd even praise some rightwing bloggers for at least some of the time displaying some fairness and balance. I've seen Ed Morrisey do it from time to time, to take someone who posts on a clearly rightwing site. (Note: some of the time.) I definitely wouldn't make any kind of claims that leftwing bloggers are all models of sense, or fairness, or intelligence, while rightwing bloggers are all lunatics.

But I've long publically made the observation that the blogosphere (even that word has become a polarizer) has been ever more politically polarized with each passing year since 2001, and with a very dramatic increase each year. I'm definitely against mindless "splitting the difference"-type reasoning or advocacy, but I can't say that I'd defend this ever-increasing polarization, either.

But on the third paw, it is ultimately up to individuals themselves as to what sites to bother to scan and read and check out, and how much of a "balance" of views to seek out.

Of course, lots of people should simply quit being so wrong in their political biases, and agree with me far more! That'd help everyone and everything immensely!

If enought people do that, we become a pro-forma democracy.

i think you might want to double check the verb tense there, abq.

"I don't like the tactic, I love the indignation over it."

I'm not indignant so much as I feel sad for the people who are suckered into shouting down something they don't understand and that might actually have some benefits for them.

ditto Grover.

it's obvious that a lot of these people don't know anything about what they're talking about - half their talking points are unquestionable lies. and that's what makes the FreedomWorks connection so appalling; these people are wound up over transparent lies. they don't know what they're fighting. they are, literally, useful idiots.

and as to Marty's to amusing tu quoque: who is the well-moneyed interest behind the left's protests ? is it Big Pacifist, Big Anti-Corporate-Influence, Big Anti-Imperialism ?

in 2003, did Big Peace tap into a groundswell of pacifism in order to further its own corporate interests ? all these people hated the Iraq war, and so PeaceWorks Inc. gathered-up its lobbyists and had them organize enormous marches throughout the country in order to express the public's surprisingly unnoticed disagreement with the Iraq war ?

as if.

"Why?

Because the indignation is coming from the same people who invented this tactic in the '60s! Well, not literally the same people, but you know, the kind of people you might at some point see in the same room as the people who invented the tactic, or who may once have had similar haircuts. And not literally invented, because it long predates the '60s. But if you kind of squinch up your eyes and ignore your higher brain functions, you can clearly see the irony here."

Why...because it is the favorite tactic of any number of people on this blog. Shouting down any seemingly threatening alternative view with tons of words, most not relevant, and drowning out the dissenting voice by the very loud chorus. Then, if that fails to shut them up, questioning the motive and veracity of the person positing the alternative as a last resort.

That's irony? I don't know, it is something.

Why...because it is the favorite tactic of any number of people on this blog. Shouting down any seemingly threatening alternative view with tons of words, most not relevant, and drowning out the dissenting voice by the very loud chorus. Then, if that fails to shut them up, questioning the motive and veracity of the person positing the alternative as a last resort.

The thing is, Marty, that this isn't a town-hall meeting where people are trying to speak. Here we can all type regardless of whatever anyone else has typed, so you can't be shouted down. I read your words very clearly. And I've seen plenty of arguments between dissenting voices here that went on and on and on in a reasonably respectful and logical manner. I would guess you have, too.

Go read a comment thread on Redstate if you want to see very loud choruses and people simply being kicked out of the discussions by the blog owners for simple dissent. Do you feel threatened with undue banning here simpy because you disagree with people?

"Why...because it is the favorite tactic of any number of people on this blog."

That's interesting. Can you name three such people, with cites, please?

Can you explain how someone is "shouted down" in writing, and prevented from writing back? I'd really like to know more about how people could do that: it sounds very intriguing.

Similarly, how, exactly, does someone become "drown[ed] out [of their] dissenting voice" by another person's writing?

This is all very interesting stuff. Do please expand on how these things can be done. I have to say that I have no idea how one person, or any number of people, can stop another person from writing, simply by responding to them in writing: how does that work?

Lastly, can you please cite some examples of people "shut[ing] [...] up" other people here? Please be specific, and point out the specific comments in which people have accomplished this.

Thanks so much.

In return, I might explain how to make the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and how to corrupt the youth of your city thereby. Fair trade?

"That's irony? I don't know, it is something."

Forgive me, please: I forgot to mention that I do believe you that you don't know what it is.

"And I've seen plenty of arguments between dissenting voices here that went on and on and on in a reasonably , respectful and logical manner. I would guess you have, too."

Absolutely, I have also seen the shouting and noise so loud that the person just sort of says never mind, it is really not that different "tactically".

"I have also seen the shouting and noise so loud"

One of two possible things seem to be going on here:
1) you have this site confused with YouTube.
2) you confuse map with territory, metaphor with reality.

There is, as it happens, no "shouting" possible on ObWi, nor noise, let alone "shouting" anyone "down."

Now, how being argued with logically, with facts and citations, feels inside your head, I can't speak to. Maybe it gives you the feeling of being overwhelmed, and unable to respond with corresponding logic and facts and citations, and this makes you feel as if you're being shouted down.

If this is the case, however, you are confusing psychological issues arising from being presented with logical, supported, argument, with actual noise and actual possibly being prevented from responding.

If that's the case, I'd look into why you are confusing these two things: the feelings inside your head, and reality.

Because, in fact, no matter what difficulties you may have in presenting non-fallacious, well-structured, arguments supported by links to factual citations, no one actually prevents you from instead arguing by assertion, making claims you can't support, not bothering to make citations, or in any way prevents you from writing whatever you wish, no matter how unpersuasive, unless you violate the posting rules and wind up banned.

But let's try some more. Here you present an assertion: "Absolutely, I have also seen the shouting and noise so loud that the person just sort of says never mind, it is really not that different "tactically". "

This is a simple assertion. You have seen a thing done here, you say. As it happens, all comments are time/date stamped, and can also be linked to. Please present three examples of what you assert has been done, being done.

Shouldn't be a problem for you: you say you've seen it. So point out three specific examples.

Thanks!

"Absolutely, I have also seen the shouting and noise so loud that the person just sort of says never mind, it is really not that different "tactically"."

Really, I think this is pretty overstated.

The stuff we're talking about in the context of the Congressional town meetings is an organized effort to prevent other points of view from being presented by force of volume and numbers.

First, that's not really possible online. The medium enforces a one-at-a-time model of discourse.

Second, as blogs go, this one is about as far from that as one could imagine.

Seriously, have you ever been prevented from presenting your point of view? Even once?

""Absolutely, I have also seen the shouting and noise so loud that the person just sort of says never mind, it is really not that different "tactically"."

Really, I think this is pretty overstated."

Russell, It is not overstated, it's really pretty understated. An observation on tactics in debate. It was not to be taken literally or personally. I have written perhaps 10 lines on it, annd gotten blasted with 50 well crafted meaningless challenging lines by Gary, who seems to disagree with me.

Each person has said, in some form, "our blog is better than those other blogs". I agree, I avoid "those" blogs. Doesn't mean the observation isn't accurate. It also belies the argument that you can't get drowned out, because the two arguments are not consistent.

So,sorry I brought it up. I was wrong to think someone might consider the point.

"It was not to be taken literally or personally."

Oh, well, I guess it's easy to misinterpret the phrase "any number of people on this blog." ;-)

"I was wrong to think someone might consider the point."

Consider what? That six out of sixty comments were responses to you, and the other 54 were directed to someone or something else altogether? Come on.

"It was not to be taken literally"

Translation: once again, I, Marty, have made a completely unsupportable claim, and am unwilling to acknowledge having dones so.

"or personally."

Translation: Once again, I have specifically tried to make a set of accusations of untoward behavior by specific people I have in mind, but once again I am completely unable to support the claims I have made. Poor little put-upon me.

"An observation on tactics in debate."

Nope, sorry, that's not what you claimed. See, when you do things in writing, we can still see what you wrote. They're right there, still: you can't go back and deny having said them.

To recap: I wrote:

[...] I don't understand why we can't object to and point out the astroturfing part, or the parts where disruption of meetings and their agenda are advocated. Say, isn't that what conservatives get themselves in a tizzy about when they get all mouth-foamy about ACORN and Saul Alinsky?
Marty responds that:
And people say Republicans can't learn. It is amusing to watch the reaction to a political strategy invented by the left being used against them.
Marty specifically claims that:
I know, I was there when we used it in the sixties. The truth was not as important as the volume.
So we're discussing:
a) disruption of meetings; and:
b) the truth not being important.

These are serious charges to make, which is why we're making them about the actual, real life, meetings of Congressional representatives, and the actual, real, memos by Republican activists actually discussing actual disruption of real life meetings.

Marty's response to our reaction is to write: "I don't like the tactic, I love the indignation over it."

I ask him why he loves our indignation over such real disruptions of in-person meetings with Congressional representatives.

Marty's response is that he "loves" our "indignation" because:

[...] Why...because it is the favorite tactic of any number of people on this blog. Shouting down any seemingly threatening alternative view with tons of words, most not relevant, and drowning out the dissenting voice by the very loud chorus. Then, if that fails to shut them up, questioning the motive and veracity of the person positing the alternative as a last resort.
So now Marty is directly saying that showing up with a bunch of people at a live meeting to actively prevent someone from speaking -- a very serious charge -- is: "the favorite tactic of any number of people on this blog."

This is a very serious charge to make about individuals.

Marty goes on to further explain that:

[...] Shouting down any seemingly threatening alternative view with tons of words, most not relevant, and drowning out the dissenting voice by the very loud chorus. Then, if that fails to shut them up, questioning the motive and veracity of the person positing the alternative as a last resort.
That is, Marty claims that a gang of people showing up at a live meeting of elected federal officials to, in their own words, disrupt the meetings and prevent the elected official from speaking, is exactly identical to being disagreed with in writing on a blog.

Mary claims that he is, here on Obsidian Wings, "shouted down" because he is a "dissent[er]" and that people here try to "to shut [him] up" by the vile and undemocratic tactic of disagreeing with him with written words. He claims that being disagreed with in writing is exactly the same thing as literally being shouted down in person, and that he is literally being prevented from speaking.

These are completely unsupportable claims. Now, either:
a) Marty knows they are unsupportable claims, and is deliberately lying in making vile accusations about people here at ObWi, or:
b) Marty is unable to tell what an unsupportable claim is (this is plausible); or:
c) Marty likes to get carried away with making vile and unsupportable charges, and doesn't like to back down on them when he's challenged (this is also plausible); or
d) other: I'm open to suggestions as to other interpretations of Marty's behavior and accusations.

I won't characterize how plausible or not I find possibility a.

Mary then disclaims all responsibility for making these vile accusations, and unsupportable claims, about people here, having been asked polite to support them, and responds that he's merely making:

An observation on tactics in debate. It was not to be taken literally or personally.
This is, to be sure, classic bullsh*t. He was quite clear that he was making, repeatedly, a literal comparison, and that it was about specific people here.

Now his method of taking responsibility for his words is to deny them.

Draw your own conclusions.

And, for the record, Marty, being disagreed with is not being shouted down, but if you're upset enough by being disagreed with, and realizing that people have backed up their points with logical argument and citations to actual facts and supports, while you cannot, have the courage to either stand by your claims about being persecuted, and try to support them, or, having once again made claims that are unsupportable, have the courage to withdraw your claims, and apologize for them.

Don't bother trying to claim that "it was not to be taken literally or personally" and simultaneously claim that your vile accusations of dishonest behavior by specific people here are "not overstated, it's really pretty understated."

Because:
a) you can't make logically make self-contradictory claims; and:
b) you're continuing to make bullsh*t nasty claims, while disclaiming responsibility for them.

Do better than this, or don't even try. There is no try.

Lastly, you claim "It also belies the argument that you can't get drowned out, because the two arguments are not consistent."

What this means is, as usual, unclear, but you are clearly claiming that your comments are "drowned out" and thus you can't be heard, because too many people respond to you.

Talk about being not consistent. Sheesh. While you're being "drowned out," Marty, by "well crafted meaningless challenging lines," do be sure to not drown yourself in your little self-pity party.

And I have to ask: how does one write a "well crafted" (thanks!) "meaningless" line? Are you familiar with the term "oxymoron"?

And here's a tip for you: it's not dishonest to ask someone to make supportable, truthful, claims. It is not dishonest to ask someone to support their claims. It is not dishonest to disagree with someone.

And if you want to engage in written discussions: try to learn to argue better, try to learn to support your claims, and try not to feel so sorry for yourself when people disagree with you, and bother you by asking you to support your assertions.

What really works well, I find, is making arguments that are convincing, and being able to support them with facgts and citations.

You, too, should be capable of learning to do this. You've improved your level of clarity in short order from completely incoherent to mostly coherent, while you've not advanced very far on accepting responsibility for your own words and claims.

I like to think you can do better in all these regards.

"I was wrong to think someone might consider the point."

Consider what? That six out of sixty comments were responses to you, and the other 54 were directed to someone or something else altogether? Come on."

Grover, I find that often the most discussed subject get the the least thought.

I would add that I never stated I was drowned out, I did use one thread(this one)as an example of how it works, after I was asked. I am not having a pity party, it isn't destroying my self image (I am pretty good there) having this discussion, it was a discussion on whther the "tactics" were good or bad.

I take responsibility for everything I write. But no matter how much Gary wants me to, I do not have to get someone else's opinion to cite to support mine every time I write something. I can actually have one of my own.

In this case I observed, actually at a pretty high level, that the behavior being objected too was essentially the same as a common behavior here. The blog and threads are here for aanyone to read and agree or disagree with me.

But no matter how much Gary wants me to, I do not have to get someone else's opinion to cite to support mine every time I write something. I can actually have one of my own.

We're not talking about your opinion about which ice cream flavor is best. You made specific factual claims about the commenters on this blog — claims that don't seem to correspond with reality. It's hardly unreasonable for people to ask you to back up your accusations (with evidence, not "someone else's opinion") or withdraw them.

Marty: There is a difference between deliberately bringing people to a town hall discussion with the specific intent to disrupt and distract the meeting by LITERALLY shouting over anybody who wants to discuss things, and posting on a blog where many people will disagree with you, sometimes passionately and at length. Sure, people can get dogpiled, or can decide it's not worth trying to argue with so many poeople, or get sick of discussing the same topic so many times.

Your comments are still there. People can still read them. You may not convince the people you're arguing with, but in many political discussions, that's not the point, the point is to convince the audience, the lurkers, the people not involved. Chances are you're not going to convince people on the "other side", that's often WHY they're on the "other side". But somebody saying they're not convinced is not the equivalent of taking a crowd to a town hall meeting (or, say, outside where votes are being recounted) and having them shout lies to prevent any real discussion.

"It's hardly unreasonable for people to ask you to back up your accusations (with evidence, not "someone else's opinion") or withdraw them."

Of course it is unreasonable to suggest those are the only two choices.

The third, in this case, is to evaluate the key point and decide whether you agree or disagree based on your experience in this forum.

I am not required to cite specifics, which I won't do as personal offense is not my motive. It was a mild indictment of the nature of some of the discourse here over time. It can add value if it causes a moment of reflection by some commenters or it is meaningless.

I am a little disappointed that the people here I respect the most (Gary, Russell, hairshirthedonist etc.) dismiss it as an insult rather than consider the possibility that,at times, the criticism has merit.

If you (and they) feel it has no merit then the discussion is essential done at that point, as opinions are either determined to be worthy of discussing or not, rightly so.

Gary Farber is exactly like those smelly hippies who threw dog feces at returning Vietnam veterans in the '60s, which may or may not have actually happened, but that's not important. And when I say "Gary Farber," I don't literally mean Gary Farber, I mean everybody on this blog. And when I say "everybody," I don't literally mean everybody, just the people who agree with Gary and disagree with me. And when I say "exactly," I don't really mean exactly, but close enough. Whatever. My central point still stands. Liberals are jerks.

Marty, do you read a lot of Jonah Goldberg, by any chance?

Awww come on Gary, you have to admit that Marty has a point. ObWings can be a pretty rough neighborhood for conservative commentors. Why on numerous occasions I've witnessed Publius using [long pause].. sarcasm!

He knows all the tricks: dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and...satire.

And that Eric Martin? [shudder]

[furtively looks both ways to make sure nobody is listening in]

[in stage whisper] 'es been known to nail peoples heads to the floor!

"Grover, I find that often the most discussed subject get the the least thought."

The most discussed subject here is the deliberate campaign to keep people misinformed about health care reform.

The *least* discussed subject (until it apparently wasn't getting enough attention and you had to amplify it) was your snark about finding that amusing.

You're certainly entitled to express your personal satisfaction that some on the "left" (whoever they may be) are getting a taste of their own medicine, but if you think that's the central point here, I don't think you can expect a whole lot of serious responses.

"The most discussed subject here is the deliberate campaign to keep people misinformed about health care reform."

This is not actually the point of the campaign, the point of the campaign is to create the perception, correctly or incorrectly, that there is a huge grassroots objection to the healthcare reform proposals.

I don't like how it is being done, it is purely political tactics.

"I am a little disappointed that the people here I respect the most (Gary, Russell, hairshirthedonist etc.) dismiss it as an insult rather than consider the possibility that,at times, the criticism has merit. "

I didn't read it as an insult, and in fact the criticism does have merit. It can be a royal PITA to take a minority position on a blog.

The only points I was trying to make were (a) as valid as your point is about the signal to noise ratio on blogs, I'm not sure it's a good analogy to the astroturf thing, and (b) as blogs go, ObWi is actually not so bad. FWIW.

My thinking on the first point is basically that you can actually speak your piece here, or on any blog, which is less true in the other situation, and opposing voices on blogs, regardless of how strident or annoying, are rarely part of a deliberate, organized, and well funded attempt to suppress debate.

They're just loud.

That's all I'm saying.

"The only points I was trying to make were (a) as valid as your point is about the signal to noise ratio on blogs, I'm not sure it's a good analogy to the astroturf thing, and (b) as blogs go, ObWi is actually not so bad. FWIW."

Both valid points, the analogy may be a bit of a stretch, it just struck me a certain way at the time.

I avoid many other blogs because that ratio is too high all the time.

As to this:

"are rarely part of a deliberate, organized, and well funded attempt to suppress debate."

I think, while clearly not well funded, it is sometimes deliberate. Although I think more often it is a reaction to someone challenging a strongly held view.

Thanks, Russell.


"I am a little disappointed that the people here I respect the most (Gary, Russell, hairshirthedonist etc.) dismiss it as an insult rather than consider the possibility that,at times, the criticism has merit. "

I didn't take what you wrote as an insult, either, Marty. I can certainly see that there are times when lots of people disagree with you (the general "you," not just you, Marty) and they all express their various disagreements, seemingly all at once and in unison. Sometimes people can even be a little insulting in doing so, even if unintentionally. I just don't think that's the same thing as what you wrote, so I disagree with what you wrote. But stick around, please, if you wish. (Not that I'm in a position to say that you should or shouldn't, but, if I were, I'd say you should.)

"Don't you think this "Freedomworks connection" is just a little overblown?"

This makes me feel a lot better. Although, I am sure talk radio is creating as much FUD as possible (I wouldn't really know since I don't listen to it).

"But stick around, please, if you wish. (Not that I'm in a position to say that you should or shouldn't, but, if I were, I'd say you should.)"

I will most likely remain a thorn in everyones side for the foreseeable future. :)

Why...because it is the favorite tactic of any number of people on this blog. Shouting down any seemingly threatening alternative view with tons of words, most not relevant, and drowning out the dissenting voice by the very loud chorus. Then, if that fails to shut them up, questioning the motive and veracity of the person positing the alternative as a last resort.

That's irony? I don't know, it is something.

Hey, Marty, chill! I remember when you first commented, you said you were a federalist, and I suggested you would run into a lot of contrary opinions here. There will be days like this, so get used to it.

The simple fact here is that most of the opinions suggest that the belief is that a simple majority should be sufficient to carry the day on any issue. Since we have a system where the vote of even the most uninformed mind is equal to that of the most sophisticated, knowledgeable, and informed in the election of their particular government representatives, it is no surprise that all sides use as much propaganda as they can muster in their efforts to prevail.

I have always been confounded by the purported support for free speech and academic freedom coming from the elite eastern universities and the resulting denial of that to staunchly conservative speakers who espouse controversial views.

I don't support this behavior in any case. But, I'm also not convinced that all the liars are in only one camp.

I remember when you first commented, you said you were a federalist, and I suggested you would run into a lot of contrary opinions here.

Are there really people here who oppose federalism? As in, people who say that we should abolish all state governments?

The simple fact here is that most of the opinions suggest that the belief is that a simple majority should be sufficient to carry the day on any issue.

What alternative do you suggest? Do you think that the threshold for voting should be more than 50%? Or do you think that some people should get multiple votes?

Since we have a system where the vote of even the most uninformed mind is equal to that of the most sophisticated, knowledgeable, and informed in the election of their particular government representatives, it is no surprise that all sides use as much propaganda as they can muster in their efforts to prevail.

This assumes that all sides in a conflict behave the same. While this is true in some cases, it cannot be assumed in general.

I have always been confounded by the purported support for free speech and academic freedom coming from the elite eastern universities and the resulting denial of that to staunchly conservative speakers who espouse controversial views.

Do you have first hand experience with this in the last few years? Because I attended an elite eastern university a few years ago and I did not see staunchly conservative speakers get denied anything.

I think, while clearly not well funded, it is sometimes deliberate.

Deliberate as in coordinated? Gary, Russell, Turbulence, TLTIA, and Jesurgislac have a conference call and agree to pile on your post?

"Deliberate as in coordinated? Gary, Russell, Turbulence, TLTIA, and Jesurgislac have a conference call and agree to pile on your post?"

Funny I left out coordinated, that concall is a daunting mental image though. :)



"Deliberate as in coordinated? Gary, Russell, Turbulence, TLTIA, and Jesurgislac have a conference call and agree to pile on your post?"

Actually I think it's more subtle, a sort of coordinated response based on shared environmental clues. The political equivalent of slime mold behavior - when the food supply runs low individual cells aggregate together into a fruiting body. They teach you that trick in the leftist indoctrination/re-education camps. Comes in handy every now-n-then.

that concall is a daunting mental image though. :)


Especially for the prospective participants, I'm sure. :)

TLTIABQ, STOP REVEALING PARTY SECRETS! THIS IS LAST TIME I AM TELLING YOU!

Marty: "Both valid points, the analogy may be a bit of a stretch, it just struck me a certain way at the time."

Or you could try saying "upon reconsideration, I was wrong in claiming that."

But if that's the best you feel up to for now, I've already said my piece about it.

"I will most likely remain a thorn in everyones side for the foreseeable future."

A thorn is an available choice, if you like. Or that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

To be sure, I would never claim to have no thorn-like qualities at any time, myself.

Neither do I have the least desire to drive you away from ObWi, Marty. I simply wish to encourage you to be as clear as possible, and make the best arguments you can, while avoiding making claims you can't support, and then trying to back away from such claims by denying you ever made them.

But even if you're not up to any of that, I have no desire to drive you away; I'll simply respond to you with praise or criticism, or lack of attention, as seems warranted to me; just as I'd expect you to do to me in turn.

GOB: "I have always been confounded by the purported support for free speech and academic freedom coming from the elite eastern universities and the resulting denial of that to staunchly conservative speakers who espouse controversial views."

What are you referring to?

"Deliberate as in coordinated? Gary, Russell, Turbulence, TLTIA, and Jesurgislac have a conference call and agree to pile on your post?"

Funny I left out coordinated, that concall is a daunting mental image though. :)

I think Turbulence, Jesurgislac, and I, deserve particular credit for what an excellent front we put up of ever seeming to have any disagreements or conflicts, if I do say so myself.

Speaking of not trying to drive people away, I notice that Jes hasn't been around in some days, and I hope she returns; I've never desired in the least to drive her away, either.

"The political equivalent of slime mold behavior - when the food supply runs low individual cells aggregate together into a fruiting body."

It's a shame I can't, at least in a quick search, find a video of the science fair "sciencical" song the kid in this episode of Leverage sings.

Who doesn't love a song about why we should love mold?

"Gary, Russell, Turbulence, TLTIA, and Jesurgislac have a conference call and agree to pile on your post?"

It's a mind meld thing, no phone call needed.

It's how we lefties do.

Don't you think this "Freedomworks connection" is just a little overblown?

Actually, I think I wouldn't click through to a link at the Weekly Standard if it promised me a for-real blowjob. It's right up there with Townhall, NRO and the WSJ editorial page in the category "People Who Simply Make Things Up and Generally Have No Idea What They're Talking About."

"It's how we lefties do."

It's the programming we got as Leninists in nursery schools that give us these powers.

After all, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

You can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

We like to think we're an an autonomous collective, but some say we're fooling ourselves. We're living in a dictatorship, a self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes -- oh, wait, there I am, bringing class into it again.

But, s'truth, we're an anarcho-syndicalist commune; we take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.

But all the decisions of that officer must be approved at a bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs.

In case you were wondering.

"Actually, I think I wouldn't click through to a link at the Weekly Standard if it promised me a for-real blowjob."

It actually makes what seems on its face like a reasonable case for the quoted memo being the work of a small-time blogger. How accurate or inaccurate that is, I couldn't say, but I can't from present information say that I know it's a snow job.

I'd only want the blow-job from the WS if it truly loved me.

And came with no paper cuts.

And came with no paper cuts.

This can be read a couple of ways.

I'd only want the blow-job from the WS if it truly loved me.

That almost made me pee my pants laughing.

If I may stray back on topic for a brief moment:

"I'm a bit torn about attacking the protests at the health care town halls, even assuming they're organized. I mean, that's sort of what democracies are about."

What I want to say, respectfully, is that this is horsesh*t.

There is no reason to be torn. The folks we are talking about, organized or not, are rude, thuggish bullies.

The callow self-styled lefty revolutionaries of the 60's who thought shouting down every other point of view was the way to go were rude, thuggish bullies, and the self-aggrandizing self-styled heartland Americans who run roughshod over public meetings held by Congresspeople are rude, thuggish bullies.

I live in a town that was settled in 1639, and which has been run by an annual town meeting for the last 370 years.

What democracy, and democratic debate, looks like is that somebody presents an issue and folks take turns stating their point of view. If you try to shout other folks down, you're invited to STFU. If you fail to do so, you're invited to leave.

Everybody gets a chance to say their piece. If you like, you can take a couple of bites at the apple, provided that you're not depriving other folks of having their say.

If it looks like anyone's comment, or the process as a whole, is going to go on interminably, or to no particularly useful end, the moderator cuts it short, typically by saying he'll allow one or two more comments.

That's the way democratic debate works.

If you need help setting the ground rules, there's always "Roberts Rules Of Order".

Shouting people down in a public meeting, telling other speakers they need to sit down and shut up, refusing to yield the floor, refusing to allow others to answer your questions, and generally bullying people who disagree with you has bugger all to do with democracy.

If these folks can't comport themselves with some reasonable bare minimum of respect for, if not the opinions of others, than the process itself, they need to stay the f**k home.

They're bullies, and I don't really give a crap if they're organized or not.

Robert Reich's piece about astroturfing with some mention of Freedomwords

"Robert Reich's piece about astroturfing with some mention of Freedomwords"

Well there's a non partisan viewpoint.

"If you need help setting the ground rules, there's always 'Roberts Rules Of Order'."

I once had them nearly memorized!

We had a lot of formal meetings at a couple of the more formal science fiction clubs, and in particular we used them at the annual World SF Society Business Meeting to run the Meeting, which writes the rules, including the rules for the Hugo Awards.

But I've not freshened up in a couple of decades.

Brett wrote "Don't you think this 'Freedomworks connection' is just a little overblown?," and linked to a Weekly Standard piece that makes a case that the memo that's been cited in the past week is the product of :

[...] Right Principles PAC was formed by Bob MacGuffie and four friends in 2008, and has taken in a whopping $5,017 and disbursed $1,777, according to its FEC filing.

[...]

Right Principles has a Facebook group with 23 members and a Twitter account with five followers. MacGuffie describes himself as an "opponent of leftist thinking in America," and told me he's "never pulled a lever" for a Republican or Democrat on a federal level.

Let's say that's perhaps true. Maybe it is.

But FreedomWorks is big and real. Their own pages explain:

[...] The organization is chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey and the President is Matt Kibbe.

[...]

FreedomWorks' aggressive, real-time campaigns activate a growing and permanent volunteer grassroots army to show up and demand policy change.

Their Board aren't nobodies.

Now, they're 100% entitled to their political views, and to fight within the system to see their views win. They're 100% entitled to have a mission of: "WE are looking for leaders to help us build our network in all 50 states: a grassroots juggernaut capable of going toe-to-toe with the unions, extreme enviros, and the MoveOn.org's of the world."

That's fine.

But they're definitely not small time.

Marty, I understand you are pouting about getting slapped about, but my cursory impression is that Reich's viewpoint is not necessarily the Democratic mainstream (cf here and here), but I'd point out you got in trouble trying to make this an us against them (or an us against you), and this is the same sort of trap. As someone who appreciates your effort in participating here, I'd recommend you avoid the kneejerk comments or you are going to get piled on again.

I should also add that I hope you won't construe this as a threat, just a friendly suggestion.

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Whatnot


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