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December 31, 2004

Comments

Am I actually the first commenter? Well hello! I'm kind of new to this blog. I am attracted by the indepth (as opposed to trading one-liners) dialog. Thank you for the autobiography. Coicidentally i also live in Washigton state, although I am not a native. Would it be out of line to raise the issue of our governor's race?

Welcome -- and hi, and happy (almost) new year! (As a result of a typo, and my usual lack of previewing, I almost entered 'happy new ear', which I hope you don't (have to) have.)

I'm not much of a topic nanny, lily. I think Rossi's making a mistake in calling for a revote. He should concede, call for an independent audit and help fix the electoral problems in the state legislature.

Calling for a revote is stupid. If you want to investigate anything, it should be the fact that heavily Democratic counties kept discovering caches of uncounted votes whenever it looked like things were winding down in Rossi's favor.

Thanks, ilzoy (oops!).

"with a 13-year old son and 9-year old daughter to my credit. "

Congrats!

Oh, also congrats on the gig.

Bird Dog is ruining the site!!!

I smell trouble.

Well, Bird Dog can't ruin Tacitus anymore, so I figure he's going to have to find /some/ site to ruin. To fail to do that could put the entire blogosphere at risk, as BD's intense and powerful site-ruining energies would then radiate outwards without direction or focus. This could inadvertently result in the ruining of sites like Political Animal, or Wonkette, or even dKos and Redstate (although in fairness, I don't think BD could do much to really ruin Redstate that Redstate isn't already doing).

So allow me to extend a heartfelt welcome to Mr. Bird, and thank him and the ObWi staff for their selfless sacrifice. ObWi might be ruined now, but that sacrifice will allow the rest of the blogosphere to rest easy, secure in the knowledge that BD's site-ruining powers are safely contained.

Bird Dog finally unmasked ...

Welcome to, and may I be the first to say that Bird Dog sucks and is ruining this site!

You may be surprised, but I agree on almost all political points -- except with a heavy dose of "yeah, but" to each of them. For example, yes, representative democracy tends to result in more freedom and freedom tends to result in less fighting, but not always, and in any case war is a very costly and uncertain way of building representative democracies. For this reason I'm much more reticent to use force and am very much a believer in "war as an last resort in the face of a clear and present danger". However, I'm in agreement that the WMD threat was a farce and that the only real rationale for going into Iraq (nation building) was only discovered after the invasion had begun.

I thought that Kerry was much maligned as being "soft on national defense", when actually he acknowledged the "high risk, high reward" nature of Iraq, and only fell too much on the side of caution. As I would have, btw. But going forward, his Iraq plan was identical with Bush's -- he only was claiming that he could execute it better.

I agree with you about communism and state-planned economies, but I can only go with you so far in praise of the free market; I believe the best economy is something like what we have now, which is a balance between the free market and government regulation.

I believe anti-American sentiment is in some part due to our position in the world, but also in larger part because the current administration stokes the fires of anti-American resentment -- sometimes deliberately to gain political points at home, and sometimes inadvertently as a result of not caring.

Damnit ... I wanted to be first, but me and my long-windedness made me the third "BDSAIRTS" welcomer.

A warm welcome Charles (it will take a bit of time to curb the urge to write "Bird Dog").

Thanks for the carefully considered position on the hot-button topics of the day. I look forward to learning from you as much as I disagree with you.

A warm welcome from me as well!

Will Wings ever be the same? Bird Dog this is a much better fit than Red States.

Von and Eddie excellent choice, now how about Harley? Harley would round out the site and add alot more giggles.

Yes, definitely Harley! Then we can turn ObiWi into a Bird Dog-and-Harley freak show, just like Tacitus has already become!

Interregnum = regime change = turning ObiWi into tacitus clone ...

Actually the gensis of Wings was a tac clone, Moe, Von, Eddie all regulars and two of the three were posters.

Eh, but if you don't want Harley, if Harley is so offensive to you, bring it up with Von and Eddie.

Hmm the problem with tacitus.org (at the end) what that it fell into the trap of political point scoring, rather than debating the issues. (Hey X supports Y they are all Nazis! Hey Z supports ~Y they are all Commies!)

At the time when ObWi broke off this kind of debate was not so prelevant, and thus ObWi went along it's own path of development. Which ended up turning it more leftish. But also tracking the leftish wandering was a downturn in the quality of the debate.
I'd put it down to article submitters that are seen to have unfairly characterised their political opposites.
This riles up those opposites, which fire back with their own offensive statements, then is reciprocated by the other side in equal tones.
What you get when alot of this happens is the end stage of Tacitus.

And I'm sure that nobody wants that for ObWi.

If ObiWi is going to add another leftist voice, I would prefer to see someone clearly to the left of the present, I think, moderates fighting the good fight on this site. ;-) While I like Harley, and wish I were so clever, I do not think his positions are sufficiently different from the present commentators. Charles, will add a new dimension here. Another voice should do so as well, and what is missing is a clearly leftist viewpoint.

Well I have to speak up for Wasington state here. They didn't keep finding stashes of Democratic votes. The hand count, which was watched by monitors from both parties, found uncounted ballots in nearly every county. The newspapers reported the new counts and in most places the new votes went to Rossi. Neither party contested any of those results. There were two bunches of contested votes from King county, one batch being found votes. Gregoire won (by ten) without those votes. The decision on whether or not to count the votes went to the state Supreme Court where Republican SOS Sam Reed argued in favor of counting.
I agree with Charles that an independent audit would be a good thing. I don't think fraud occurred but it would be healthy to either but rumors to rest or uncover fraud if it happened.

243: It's odd, I have been thinking for some time that I have not actually said much of anything to reveal the left part of left/moderate me. Partly, I think, this was because of the election, in which it seemed to me very important to make certain points about Bush's actual track record on, say, homeland security. Partly it's because I really think that the deficit is such a disaster that I have put various ideal policies of mine on hold for the moment. But I have been meaning to rectify this.

My point is not to disagree with your suggestion, but just to muse out loud.

hilzoy, just a helpful metric on debt, the best measure of debt is Annual Federal Debt/GDP. The historical ratio should give you some comfort.

Happy New Years, hilzoy.

Since we're discussing politics and ambiance, just a thought: before you post (and by 'you' I mean everyone who posts), consider how a reader would feel who disagreed with you.

One stellar ability of Tacitus, no matter what else you think about him, is that what he writes is readable even if you disagree with him. Mainly because he goes through the work of defending his positions and because he seems to actually make an effort to convince you, rather than simply use you as a straw punching bag. The main reason I stopped going to T.org, and I suspect many other non-Bush supporters, was that a majority posters not only disagreed with what I thought (which is fine), but also demonstrably had no interest in what I thought about their contribution, or even better, wanted me to not like it.

Making your political detractors see red every time you post is probably good for driving up the post count short-term and 'livening' the debate, but in the long run it trashes the site. Just to be clear, this isn't an ideological complaint. BD was, I thought, particularly guilty of this (ruining the site!!!), as was Harley, and I think Edward slips into it here.

If your post irritates 50% of your readers, you're not in good shape.

Mainly because he goes through the work of defending his positions and because he seems to actually make an effort to convince you, rather than simply use you as a straw punching bag.

This is a unique perspective. My own take is that Taci states his position(s), refuses to defend them, then spends the bulk of his effort telling those who disagree why they're uneducated/anti-American/mentally deficient/etc.

Of course, very few disagree with Taci because you generally get an amen chorus if you kick out those who dissent.

Eh, I'm speaking mostly in the past tense. Things may have changed now that he's no longer on a site where he's disagreed with much.

the best measure of debt is Annual Federal Debt/GDP. The historical ratio should give you some comfort.

I don't see why this ratio should be comforting. The on-budget deficit for 2004 will be 5.9% of GDP. The only worse years since WWII were 1946 (7.6%) and 1983 (6.0%). The postwar average is 2.1%.

BD was, I thought, particularly guilty of this (ruining the site!!!), as was Harley, and I think Edward slips into it here.

Might be because I cut my blogging teeth on Tacitus with BD, Harley, etc.

I'll take this into consideration and see what effect it has on my blogging in the New Year!

I'm heading out again, for real this time.

Wishing all a Happy, Prosperous, Peaceful New Year!!



An excellent addition to this blog!

Happy New Year, Edward and all!

Well, I'll be darned. Real glad Mr Bird will be around the modoblogosphere. With only a complimentary intention, I will say I enjoyed his growth as a thinker and a writer at Tacitus...he just got better and better.
With Tac scarce for so long, BD was the main reason for my visits. I don't why some writers generate conversations, but Mr Bird knows the tricks now.

There is no better choice, and Congratulations to the blog.

Welcome to Mr Bird, and it looks like we need to welcome Mr. Wonder Dog as well. Can Harley and Macallan be far behind?

I've resisted commenting on Tacitus since the advent of Redstate or thereabouts, but here we go again .... which is a good thing;)

But I'm tired already.

A couple of thoughts about Tacitus and my time there. I like posting my thoughts and did it once or twice a day on average for about a year. There were 15 other guest posters who had keys to the site and any one of them, including Josh, could have written something at any time. I regret that the offerings from the left-of-center section were sporadic at best. A small part of my motivation for writing at the frequency that I did was to keep the site going, but if some issue struck my fancy or if I wanted to learn something, then I put it in a post. I've never had a set plan for post-writing; usually my topics involve current events or whatever thoughts are floating around in my head at the time.

There is no question that some of my writings had a partisan edge to them, and the election season exacerbated some of those tensions. Maybe Josh would've worded some things differently but we're pretty close on the political spectrum and I'm not sure that his posts would've been any less controversial. Some of his pieces at Redstate are quite a bit more incendiary than what I've written. Also, I'd like to think that over the past year or so my positions and work have evolved, and that I'm more cognizant of the liberal side of the argument. I'm not as right-wing as I was a year ago and I'm not quite as hardboiled as some on the left think. In either case, with Moe in blogtirement, I think the idea for my inclusion here was to add some balance to the OW force. I probably won't be posting here as much as I did at Tacitus, and the other writers here are pretty consistent at knocking out new posts.

Hilzoy, please post what and where you feel the need. Not that it should matter but your posts, as well as Edward's near infinite patience are what keeps me coming back here.

My greater point is any addition to the staff should complement the existing POVs not simply reinforce them. I think Charles (is CB OK?) fits this criteria, although I worry he may a bit too prolific.

Happy new year everyone!

All kidding aside, my main worry dovetails a bit with what has been said above: far too frequently, BD's posts on Tacitus seemed not to generate conversation or productive debate, but to indulge in cheap point-scoring or $hit-stirring. This, as observed, increases activity and lively argument, but at the cost of unnecessarily inflaming emotions and burning people out. And it doesn't really generate useful discussion.

I know he's capable of writing well-reasoned, honest arguments. I've seen him do it. But as the election progressed and more and more evidence of the Bush administration's incompetence appeared, I saw his ability to write about partisan subjects without taking cheap shots or blatantly ignoring facts that indict the administration take a hard dive.

I'm hoping that now that the election is past, the rancor can be left there too, and Charles can get back to writing things with which I vehemently disagree but can respect.

Frankly I was unhappy about the Bird Dog speculation, in view of some things that made me stop reading tacitus.org, but now having forgotten them I welcome Charles Bird. I think it's excellent that there's a strong Republican-esque voice among the posters here.

"I favored the removal of Saddam. There is now no other palatable choice but to defeat the "insurgents" and bring democracy to Iraq. If a theocracy takes hold, I will consider our efforts a failure. I disagreed with how the administration sold the war, using WMDs as the primary rationale, but was in favor of toppling the dictator at the time we did it. This was a high-risk, high-reward undertaking, but if we succeed, freedom will be planted in the heart of the Middle East."

Charles, not clear from the tenses in the principled statement above is whether you would have advocated going to war if you had known we would reach the current situation. Aside from my likely much more pessimistic view of the probability of a good outcome in Iraq, as a liberal interventionist it pains me that other dictators deserving a toppling are sleeping sounder.

Also, I'd be interested in your opinion of the loose nukes danger and how the admin is doing on it - that's the issue that most worries me. And while I'm presuming on your generosity, I'd appreciate ditto for the long-term deficit situation.

I agree with Catsy. George Bush is a vile, dispicable human being, we all know that. The purpose of this blog is to repeat that over and over and over until our heads explode. What's the sense of bringing in another point of view when we all know it's wrong from the outset regardless of what new facts and sites he introduces. This is just so unfair. And, oh yeah, no offense intended. Tee hee!

Someday, blogbudsman will respond to what people actually say instead of what he wants them to say. That day will herald a new era of productive discussion, but stocks in the lucrative strawman market will plummet.

rilkefan,
Charles, not clear from the tenses in the principled statement above is whether you would have advocated going to war if you had known we would reach the current situation.

The reasons for going to war should have stood on their own regardless of the present status. I knew that our post-war presence would not be easy but wasn't sure what form it would take. There's no doubt that our planning and execution of the post-war was wanting. But there are never any armed conflicts that are fought to perfection, so its reasonable that margins of error should be factored in to any post-war assessment. Mistakes are always made in war. My weaselly answer is that it's too soon to judge. Elections need to happen, the "insurgency" needs to be destroyed and a decent permanent constitution needs a draftin'. We're in one of those situations where we have to apply our sustained will to see this come to fruition. The important thing, also, is to see this ten years down the road. Provided we succeed in bringing Iraq to a non-theocratic democracy, it will be worth it. Right now, there's too much fixation on daily reports and not enough strategic thinking or vision.

As for nuclear proliferation, that's a tougher nut than Iraq. With North Korea, we're not even sure Kim is in charge, so it's a sticky situation. I'm in favor of the multilateral talks since NK's neighbors all have a stake in this and we need China to exert its influence on whatever regime is there. The multilateral approach also allows us to play the "bad cop" in negotiations. But any treaty still boils down to "trust but verify". If we can't get that, any agreement will be wasted paper. The one advantage with NK is geography, since there aren't many (or any) terrorists running around Pyongyang.

Iran is no easier since the multilateral agreement is so watered down as to be meaningless. If we're serious about preventing proliferation, full scale precision strikes on their nuclear facilities may have to happen.

As for the deficit, I'm in favor of slowing the rate of spending growth and letting the economy grow us out of a deficit. I remember back in '96 when Jack Kemp said that very thing, and I thought he was nuts. Turns out he was prescient. There is no reason history cannot repeat itself, and it's up to Bush to really govern as a conservative in this regard.

Welcome Charles. I stopped reading Tacitus when I felt it lost its ability to really debate issues - I hope ObiWing manages to keep that ability and I understand that adding voices from all sides of the spectrum helps.

Since I am from the Netherlands I usually try to stay out of the pure American issues and stick to more international ones. Being a slighly left leaning centrist in my country makes me a radical lefty for most Americans, so it is safe to assume that I disagree with most of your points of view ;-)

Marjolein

I have to admit Catsy... I agree with blog.

I could write your posts for you if I wanted. They are pretty predictable.

smlook opined: I have to admit Catsy... I agree with blog.

I could write your posts for you if I wanted. They are pretty predictable.

Perhaps you should give it a shot. Self improvement is always a worthy goal.

I have to admit Catsy... I agree with blog.

In other shocking news, Ann Coulter thinks liberals are bad.

I could write your posts for you if I wanted. They are pretty predictable.

But you don't--instead, you deliver a steady stream of vapid punchlines and strawmen that suggest to any thinking person that you're not actually reading what they're writing, just looking for openings you can use to snark.

Come to think of it, no wonder you agree with blogbudsman. I think I'll stick to writing my own posts for now; why don't you offer to help him with his?

Join in smlook. Lord knows I could use the help.

dutchmarbel,
What do you think of this piece by Christopher Caldwell?

Darn, late to the blog again, and a raft of Tacitus alumni have beaten me to the punch to
A) Welcome the "new" BD/CB to ObWi,
B) Make the expected "Bird-Dog-Sucks-And-He's-Ruining-The-Site" joke,
C) Comment on the last years' trends at Tacitus.org (which I would mostly second), and
D) (most important) express thanks and admiration for laying out for us that concise precis of some of your philosophy(ies) - the blogosphere is too full, as it is, of mere opinionators - it is good to see that at least one them has enough respect for his "audience" (and the good sense) to flesh out the blog-persona a bit, and not just put up a straw man (straw dog?) on a webpage.
Anyway, Happy New Year!
(and more of the same to ALL the folks at ObWi!)

Echoing dutchmarbel I, too, stopped reading Tacitus when it seemed to be nothing but endless shouting matches. Welcome, Charles Bird.

Like some others, I have reservations about this addition. (Jonah Goldberg???)

I hope they are dispelled and that Charles turns out to be a serious advocate for conservative viewpoints.

Happy New Year to all.

George Bush is a vile, dispicable human being, we all know that. The purpose of this blog is to repeat that over and over and over until our heads explode.

Yeah, and yet where are all the exploded heads? I mean, really...stop holding back Blog. How much more unwarranted Bush hating can we be expected to drudge up? You're holding back, clearly...just relax your skull and think of "President Hillary Clinton"...we're getting tired.

;ppp

Charles Bird sucks, and he's ruining the site.

A comment and a question:

1. CB, welcome, and all the best in the future, but please - if you have two consecutive posts up, wait for someone else to post one before you post again. I know, I know, WTF am I to tell you what to do, but seriously, think about adopting that rule of thumb.

2. Where the heck is Slartibartfast? When's he gonna post something?

I think Slart is remodeling his house or something.

dutchmarbel,
What do you think of this piece by Christopher Caldwell?

That is a *long* piece you ask me to comment upon ;-).

The short of it: it is a mixture of facts and distortions, with a number of things quoted one-sided, wrong or out of context. For instance, it says " The weekly magazine Contrast took a poll showing that just under half the Muslims in the Netherlands were in "complete sympathy" with the September 11 attacks". That suggests that almost half approved the attack. In reality the poll (from 2001) said that 47.7 *understood* why they attackes took place and 5% approved them.

The article is filled with leading statements and assumtions like that; to refute them all would really take up more space than the article. Maybe I should concentrate on what he has rigt.... eh...... Geert Maks book is very good for instance ;-)

However, the jest of the article is that there is a problem in the Netherlands and I think that is correct. IMHO the current fashion of polarisation is one of the main courses, as well as the incomplete reporting. I happen to read a very good (religious based) non partisan newspaper and I frequently find that counterarguments or facts are reported only in my newspaper and not in the more popular press. Which leads to great popularity of people like Wilders.

Take for example the incident quoted in the end of the article, where the conservative immam doesn't want to shake hands with our female minister of integration. That has been widely reported in all the newspapers as a sign of what's wrong with the islam too. Without realizing (let alone reporting) that conservative jewish or protestant groups have similar rules. And definately without anybody remarking about the fact that it is rather impolite to transgress those religious rules, especially for someone who is supposed to be in charge of integration.

I could talk for hours about the subject, be forewarned ;-0

Just out of curiosity, does the 'he's ruining the site' joke make some reference that I'm not getting, or is it just all you great minds thinking alike?

It's a reference to the shock and dismay with which Sir Charles was initially greeted when he began his career as a Tacitus.org bomb-thrower. He's grown on many of us since then, no doubt a product of the erudite liberal education he received in response to his posts.

Ah. That's what I get for being apparently the only person in the world who did not read Tacitus.

'he's ruining the site'

Just a short sharp retort on Bird Dog's post(s) which didn't violate the Posting Rules, had running bets on how quick they would appear. It ended when the conservatives over used the phrase to heap scorn on...well hilzoy you get the picture.

Let me add my voice to the choir -- welcome, Mr. B. Looking forward to your posts after such a promising introduction.

It's sort of an in-joke amongst Tacitus regulars, hilzoy. It's not meant in any way disparagingly; on the contrary, it's usually invoked to trivialize someone else's otherwise legitimate doubts about the value of a given poster/commenter's contributions to discourse.

In my case, should it need clarification, I was offering a tongue-in-cheek but honest welcome to Charles. And being a bit silly in the process.

It's not meant in any way disparagingly, actually when the phrase first reared its ugly little head, it was a disparaging comment which was ultimately turned around to disparage those who used it.

First things first:

Welcome, Charles. I fully expect you to suck and ruin this site, but it could be that you'll say something, and then someone will comment on that, and conversation will ensue without people injecting irrelevancies such as what a rotten human being Tacitus is*. You never know; you might get lucky.

I think Slart is remodeling his house or something.

Or something. We've had company over since before Thanksgiving, almost continuously. And my mother is visiting next weekend. I have to say, I'm ready to not entertain any more family for at least another year.

*Disclaimer: this does not represent the point of view of the author.

CB, welcome, and all the best in the future, but please - if you have two consecutive posts up, wait for someone else to post one before you post again.

I didn't intend to do two in a row and it will rarely happen again here. In the case at hand, I thought I'd introduce myself and then jump right in with a post that I thought would be representative of the writings I'd like to put here.

I didn't intend to do two in a row and it will rarely happen again here.

Well Bird Dog, sorry Charles, if you have something to say why not, why not three or four in a row if you have some interesting issues. Then again, if you don't have anything to say don't post at all.

"such as what a rotten human being Tacitus is"

Hopefully people here know that Tacitus make a money-where-mouth-is contribution beyond the blogosphere; they certainly know what he's like from the threads he has participated in here, such as the recent one - threads which with curious consistency ended unattractively; or from threads elsewhere in the sphere, which (at least on the center-left or leftish sites I read) tended with curious consistency to end unattractively.

CB, I appreciate your frank reply to my questions. I disagree with most of the views stated (esp. about the likelihood we'll grow our way out of debt, and NK, and, well...) but let's save the arguments for topical posts which circumstances will surely summon.

We've had company over since before Thanksgiving, almost continuously. And my mother is visiting next weekend. I have to say, I'm ready to not entertain any more family for at least another year.

My sincere condolences.

Incidentally, I think Brooks is a hack.

Rilkefan: I don't know whether or not to thank you for making me break my vow never to read David Brooks yet again, but know this: if I blog this later, it will be your fault. :) God, that was dreadful.

Then again, if you don't have anything to say don't post at all.

That's a given, Timmy. I've got plenty of stuff percolating, just treating the timing of it a little differently here. BTW, I still go by Bird Dog since it's an old college nickname. I also answer to Charles, Chas, Paul, Birdman and even Larry (mostly from my basketball-playing buddies).

hilzoy, at least he didn't blame the Swedes.

Sorry if that came off snarky - it wasn't meant to. It's just that you are so prolific over at Tacitus that your output tends to move other posts down and off the page rather quickly. As you noted somewhere, a lot of that was due to a relative dearth of posting over there. I just kind of like what happens over here when the same post stays up for a little while. In the end, like I said above, you were given the keys, not me, and you can do what you like.

Oh, and Slartibartfast - I feel your pain; we just saw off the last holiday guest this morning.

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