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May 31, 2007

Comments

Those are my italics, btw in the quote from the EU. Sorry.

@Charles: I'm glad you read my comments, especially as they represent a substantial percentage of the comments in this thread addressing the post topic directly (as opposed to meta and civility issues).

However, to clarify -- I referred back to my comments about the Chavez administration having only arrested/prosecuted a very small number of the most senior people who incited violence and participated in the coup not in order to make some point about Chavez' benevolence or failure to capitalize politically on the coup, but to show that you were making a false inference when you argued that RCTV must not have been inciting violence because they were not arrested.

Virtually all the privately owned TV, radio, and papers were openly supporting the coup; RCTV was not alone in encouraging citizens to take part in toppling the government by extra-electoral, extra-constitutional means. This included encouraging viewers to fight Chavez supporters in the streets, and to help shut down the community radio stations and papers in neighborhoods where Chavez had support.

They also all published the lie that Chavez had resigned, and then refused for a full day to give any coverage to Chavez' return to being in control of his office. In the next several years, none of the executives of these media were arrested, or charged, or prosecuted.

(During the coup, one RCTV executive resigned in disgust at the network's activities. He went to work for the Chavez administration.)

Thanks, Nell, and Randy.

I should have emphasized that the piece I previously linked is very much worth reading by everybody. I'd certainly be curious as to Charles' reaction.

Randy, thanks for the point about Venezuela's responsibilities under the IADB, which come into play whether or not there are free speech protections in the Venezuelan constitution.

I criticized in an earlier comment the government's immediate conversion of the broadcast frequency; the new information in your EU quote is that the Chavez govt had made promises about an award process.

I brought up the McElwee article not to say that I think the RCTV nonrenewal has nothing to do with free speech, but to counter Sebastian's overheated characterizations with a demonstration that there are questions to discuss.

The CPJ claims to be concerned only with the lack of process, something I criticized in my first point. True, my criticisms were pragmatic and tactical; I just can't muster much principled moral outrage on behalf of Sr. Granier.

On the Latin American demilitarization front: let's start with Colombia.

Now that both the destabilization/coup and referendum have failed to bring down Chavez, and with the U.S. establishing bases in most other oil regions, how crazy would Venezuelans have to be to demilitarize?

1. What Catsy said, except in bold, italicized capitals.

2. This, I think, is incorrect:

As for banning policy: My personal perception is that ObWi has been far too lenient to improperities on the left, while quick to ban those on the right. This is in part because we are a left-wing blog.
. Just about every major banning I can think of, with a couple of notable exceptions (i.e., Trevino), was of someone who would be perceived as left-wing. Consider, for example, how often and how quickly Don Quixote has been banned over time; whereas bril has, until yesterday, essentially been permitted to call Katherine and hilzoy traitors at will for about a year with no repercussions.

Nell,

I really don't think it would be crazy at all. Despite the fervid rantings of the Miami anti-Castro amen corner and the end of the Soviet Union, no invasion of Cuba has taken place, for which I am grateful, my distaste for Castro notwithstanding. I see absolutely no reason to believe that any attempt would be made on Venezuela (the tacit support granted to the 2002 coup mongers aside). The American public's distaste for unilateral interventions and a healthy skepticism of our leaders' unfounded claims may be the silver linings in the cloud known as Iraq.

Much of the money from demilitarization could be spent on infrastructure, and there is no shortage of infrastructure needs in Venezuela and most of Latin America.

Perhaps I'm slow today; how does the bringing-up of that quote prove, indicate, suggest, or otherwise evidence that Charles is making an argument dishonestly?

Now, it just might suggest, etc that Charles is being inconsistent, but I don't think you're drawing a conclusion regarding bad faith that's supportable. What's worse, the conclusion is presented more or less as being foregone.

Possibly one of us is mistaken about what constitutes a bad faith argument, though. As always, it could be me.

Im saying that I found Charles's two positions to be close to incomprehensible as nonpolitical expressions of a general speech/press right. I admit, I started with the tentative conclusion that Charles's positions were ideologically determined- but I don't think that's unreasonable, since Im still at a loss to come up with a rationale that justifies blowing one station up but doesn't even allow the other to not have it's license renewed.
By posting the quote, and by trying to provide hypotheticals and probe at boundaries, I think I was giving Charles ample opportunity to clarify his position & demonstrate that he had, in fact, arrived at these positions consistently. I made several attempts at this, but I was met with only one attempt at a response (ie invoking the 1st amendment), and that didn't make any more sense to me than the original distinction.
I would've liked to have gone further- since Charles couldn't reasonably mean that foreigners ought to act by the technical details of our jurisprudence (eg 'joking' death threats are Ok), presumably he meant that there were underlying principles that he could elucidate.

Instead, I got what I consider to be arguing in bad faith. Leaving aside questions of who escalated what when, the arguments Charles presented were IMO intentionally non-responsive. eg distorting what RCTV was alleged to have done, raising the weird distinction between hating Chavez and hating his policies, and accusing me of saying he wanted to bomb the station.
I may step over the politeness line, but I don't think I can reasonably be accused of not responding to points, or being misleading.

Now, if he doesn't want to talk to me at all, that's fine. But to post voluminously & yet never really address the points being discussed, and then finally claim that the discussion is going nowhere- to me, Im left with my original tentative conclusion that Charles does not have a coherent position on speech or press rights, and is stating a political preference rather than one based on general principles. In fact, my conclusion was strengthened somewhat by Charles's circular logic (assuming Chavez is authoritarian and hostile to speech rights in order to 'prove' he was) and his misrepresentation as to RCTV's actions. Fudging the data to support conclusions is the action of someone who wants to reach those conclusions, not the action of someone dispassionately applying a set of principles.

I don't think it's necessary to approach discussion without having formed tentative conclusions; lacking that, we'd not really be able to get discussion off of the ground. I was, and am, perfectly open to the idea that Im mistaken about Charles, but I can hardly be persuaded if he refuses to substantively address the points being made.

Let me offer a counterexample from this thread here. Despite Gary's explicit statement to the contrary, Seb construes his statements as being of the "yes, but" variety. Seb doesn't take Gary at his word because Seb feels he has a justifiable position on the matter.
Im not saying anyone was right or wrong there, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable exchange- but it did involve someone not taking someone else at their word as to what they meant. Gary was given an opportunity to clarify, and both he & other commenters did so.

Possibly I committed some harm to Carleton...

Seconding matttbastard, I've got no complaints at all. Naturally I think Im not the only one, but I was certainly crowding the line if not stepping on it.

I see absolutely no reason to believe that any attempt would be made on Venezuela (the tacit support granted to the 2002 coup mongers aside)

There is the example of the contras as well; we don't have to intervene directly, or even overtly, to cause serious military issues.
That and, while things are quiet today, they might be ugly a decade from now. Since they can't build a military overnight, they'd need to be ramping up to be prepared for reasonable threats, even if those threats don't appear likely today.

I mean, who would've thought in 1980 or 1985 we'd be at war with Iraq in 1991?

Cuba isn't sitting on a big fat oil reserve.

Also, the U.S. support for the destabilization campaign and coup was a lot more than tacit.

On the other hand, I don't have figures to hand on relative size and expenditures of Venezuela's and Colombia's military -- all I'm absolutely sure of without a lot of research I can't do right now is that Venezuela pays for its own mil expenditures, while you and I are not only subsidizing Colombia's, but supplementing them with mercs in planes and helicopters. Another difference between the two countries would be the mining and other companies' contribution, through their private security forces/paras.

But no matter what, until we have in place a U.S. administration that renounces preventive war, I won't feel in a position to recommend to any government in Latin America how they should change their security arrangements. In fact, I don't think I could do that in good conscience, period, unless my own government had started to cut its obscene military expenditures.

Good. It wasn't my intention to drive you away, Carleton.

I was all for banning bril, but he provided for some occasional comic relief, and God knows we get all too little of that here. I haven't exactly been actively involved here, through my own choice, and possibly that could change some, but the long and short of it is that I've been not doing any maintenance, banning, etc at all until very recently. I figured that if hilzoy took offense, or if bril ever came back to defend himself, he was out of here. And he is, sort of, except when he foils the next layer of our pathetic defenses, here.

I really don't think it would be crazy at all. Despite the fervid rantings of the Miami anti-Castro amen corner and the end of the Soviet Union, no invasion of Cuba has taken place, for which I am grateful, my distaste for Castro notwithstanding. I see absolutely no reason to believe that any attempt would be made on Venezuela (the tacit support granted to the 2002 coup mongers aside). The American public's distaste for unilateral interventions and a healthy skepticism of our leaders' unfounded claims may be the silver linings in the cloud known as Iraq.
Yet we did sponsor a failed limited invasion of Cuba in 1962, and only swore of repeating the effort because it was part of the deal made with Krushchev over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the context of the relatively historically recent invasions of Panama and Grenada by the U.S., which is in the context of over a century's worth of U.S. doctrine overtly starting our right to militarily intervene in the Western Hemisphere, which itself is in the context of the Mexican-American War, as we've been reminded in another thread, and not to mention our history of "covert" action south of our border, I can't say that I think it's particularly crazy for a country that isn't prepared to march in lock-step with the U.S., or all of its neighbors, to hesitate to completely de-militarize, either, noble an idea as it is, and as well as it can work out in various -- but not all -- circumstances.

But to try to be clear: I'm not attacking the notion that demilitarization could work, and I'm not saying it isn't a reasonable thing to advocate.

I'm just defending the notion that it might not be the only defensible position to take.

Gary, that was a thoroughly unsettling article. I've suspected or intuited a lot of it, but to have it laid out by someone who seems to know what they're talking about is, well, not so good. Thank you for the link.

Catsy's said exactly what I think needs to be said right now about politics across the American spectrum. One of the genuine mysteries of this decade for me is why people like OCSteve and John Cole stand out so much rather than being two among hundreds of thousand or millions publicly voicing disgusted dissent and doing something about it. There never has been a Democratic administration so far removed from the moral center of America since Andrew Jackson's, but whenever the Democrats have strayed into their own vice and weirdness, there've been challenges. The Republicans seem in the grip of a machine more effective than any since the dawn of the 20th century and more thoroughly vile in more ways than just about any of its predecessors, and the continued acquisience by the rank and file in this strikes me (and others, I'm sure) as puzzling and then infuriating.

If this means that I too am part of the problem and should go, then I will.

Cuba isn't sitting on a big fat oil reserve.

Really?

Gary,

It's worked fine for Costa Rica, which resisted the Reagan administration's pressure to reëstablish their military.

It's also worth noting that most of those militaries have played a pivotal role in US supported coups. The role of the military in Latin America has tended to be more like Praetorian Guards than defenders of the nation. I'm not saying it should be done tomorrow, but a phased demilitarization would be good.

"It's worked fine for Costa Rica, which resisted the Reagan administration's pressure to reëstablish their military."

Yes, I'm quite aware, which is why I wrote But to try to be clear: I'm not attacking the notion that demilitarization could work, and I'm not saying it isn't a reasonable thing to advocate.

"I'm not saying it should be done tomorrow, but a phased demilitarization would be good."

And I agree. I'm simply noting that one can also defend not doing it tomorrow.

I've remarked previously on what Catsy said above, but since it's worth repeating -- especially as eloquently as he did -- well, me too.

von: Worse, the standards to which folks on the right are held are unimaginably higher than those on the left: all the lefty assumptions that support a Hilzoy post, for instance, on subject X are shared by the vast majority of the commentariat and thus go unchallenged.

Then challenge them. I know, easier said than done. The problem that I have with this observation is that -- no offense -- most of such challenges I've seen here are either weak or premised in things which are just plain wrong. This isn't to say that better challenges don't exist, mind, just that I rarely see them here.

[It's basically for the reasons Catsy noted, btw, which doesn't make it a whole lot easier on anyone, I know.]

A tiny country resisting U.S. pressure to militarize is one thing.

Posing a giant challenge to U.S. interests, self-funding that challenge with the country's own resources, bordering a country in which the army, paramilitary, and guerrillas are armed to the teeth and in an active state of war... It's not exactly Costa Rica.

Randy, if you have figures to contribute, this is an issue I'm interested in. But it's not at all an issue that can be usefully looked at in isolation. A U.S. government that wants to encourage demilitarization without being laughed out of the room is going to have to take some serious steps to clean up its own house.

Nell,

Costa Rica borders Nicaragua and Panama and I surely don't need to tell you that in the 1980's those were strategic borders it held: a civil war taking place in one country and a drugrunner controlling the other. I believe that the comparison is apt.

The problem is that the US government doesn't want to encourage demilitarization in Latin America. I certainly do.

Von: It has to do with the fact that ObWi is no longer, by any stretch of the imagination, a place where left and right and meet on equal terms. Whether recognized by the left-leaning commentariat or not, the comment threads on this blog are hostile territory. It's not one person; it's not five; it's not ten. It's a tone that gets picked up and emphasized by different folks at different times.

Yup. Agreed. And all the rest of what you said. I consider myself a moderate, but some days here, I may as well be eating babies, or whatever it is conservatives are now readily accused of. There are exceptions of course – and that is the only reason I come back. There are good people here, period, without regard to ideology.

Von: Thanks for your participation here of late. You seem to come by in spurts, then disappear for a while, but I think your timing is good when you do come by.

Charles: I’ll state for the record that:
1. Your posts have been very moderate of late.
2. You still get piled on to a degree I find disconcerting.
3. You (mostly) engage in comments reasonably.
4. See # 2.
5. I am impressed that you bother.

Anarch: The problem that I have with this observation is that -- no offense -- most of such challenges I've seen here are either weak or premised in things which are just plain wrong.

That is a little bit too general I think.

"...but some days here, I may as well be eating babies, or whatever it is conservatives are now readily accused of."

Supporting George W. Bush. It isn't the same thing?

;-)

"His comments don't devolve into attacks, they start there.

Would you be willing to enumerate some of these attacks?"

Sure, Carleton's first entry on this very thread did not even mention Venezuala. His entire first entry on this thread was centered around questioning the motive of "Charles The Fighter For Freedom Of The Press?"

And here I am going to equate him to bril directly which I did not do before--like bril he thought that having a post which did absolutely nothing other than question the motive of the messenger was an appropriate way to begin the conversation.

His second entry on the thread was directed at me. It began with:

I'd have thought it was obvious enough for a retarded Irish Goose to grasp, but Ill spell it out 'specially for you:
Charles is not an advocate for free press in general. He is an advocate for it when it suits his purposes. In other circumstances, he is an advocate of exercising willpower and doing whatever is necessary for victory.

Here he continues his attack on Charles, while resorting to brilliant and witty, at least by the measure of the second-grade, slurs for me. The nice thing for the 'context' of this particular thread as it has developed is that he specifically admits that he intended the attack on Charles which others here now seem to overlook.

He continues that comment with only the mildest pretense of addressing anything in the post:

That doesn't bear directly on whether or not Chavez is right or not. It does bear on whether the arguments that are being made are being made in good faith. Me, I don't think Chavez should've done this, but he does face a difficult situation: the lone world superpower funded groups who attempted to overthrow his government. Several major media players co-operated with the coup (eg there's good evidence that they misrepresented video footage of Chavez supporters in a manner that could only incite more violence).
This is not a 'difficult situation' to Charles though, because he hates Chavez. So he tries to claim the moral high ground- but he'd already pissed on the moral high ground in advocating the killing of 'unfriendly' media.
Ergo, having a discussion about whether Chavez is right or wrong with Charles is pointless- to Charles, Chavez's *existence* is wrong, and anything that supports that existence is wrong. It is not a real post about or discussion of press freedom; it is propaganda by someone who couldn't give a rat's butt about press freedom.

At least he finally gets to the 'yes, but' argument to vaguely link his attack to something in the thread. Like bril, he sometimes at least remembers which thread he is posting on when making his character attacks. Also like bril, he won't even the most humble of concessions to his enemy's (I won't say opponent's) good faith, instead extending the deficits he notices or projects onto them nearly ad infinitum.

He doesn't go back and forth through a tough set of comments and then eventually fall into attacks. That would be a regretable but all too human thing for hot-headed debaters. We all do that.

He starts there, and continues there, and ends there. Internally he appears to make a virtue of it with his pearl clutching: "Perhaps my offense is not relenting when pointing out the mistakes of posters. If bringing up Charles's previous posts when I think they're not consistent with his current views is out of bounds, I dont know that Id want to be here in any case. If front-pagers can practice unprovoked ad hominem and gratuitous insults but cannot even handle having their own words quoted back at them, then there are some beams that need to be cast out of some eyes."

Oh, the pain you must feel to have the burden of being right so often.

Oh. The. Pain.

Oh, the pain you must feel to have the burden of being right so often.

Oh. The. Pain.

This may not, perhaps, be the best example of a non-ad hominem, substantive, comment, leading to a higher quality of discussion, with a blog-owner showing us such an example of what sort of tone should be set.

The quoted portion comes in the context of a much larger comment.

I had pointed jabs about 'context' in the context of this thread typed three or four times but I won't share them, because those would definitely not be in a spirit of comity.

Suffice to say, if you disagree with the substantive portions of the comment, I invite you to address them. If you believe my description of Carleton's defense is inaccurate, please feel free to disagree.

I will however admit that Carleton inspires the nastier side of me--a side which I don't particularly like, and which is an unfair reason for me to dislike him.

So you may not be entirely wrong about that.

[deep breath]

Sebastian: From my point of view, Carleton is dealing with a particular problem the only way I really know to deal with it. Charles makes a lot of claims in absolute terms - this is right, that's wrong. But in practice he doesn't actually hold them absolutely. They are subject to modification - this is right except when it conflicts with that need, this is generally wrong but useful in these circumstances.

Now, I don't think that Charles wakes up and thinks anything like "Ha ha, I'm gonna snow 'em again with my principles that are actually negotiable." A self-conscious con man would do things Charles doesn't, and wouldn't do a lot of things Charles does. But Charles is also very strongly resistant to examining his claims when others see signs of possible inconsistency; he gives me the impression of having a very great deal of sense of self tied up in being a person governed strongly by principles, resisting the whim of circumstance to hold fast to a constant course. I'm sure, based on my own experience, that it's not fun for many people to be told "here are reasons to believe you're being inconsistent in this virtue you champion", but more so when that consistency is such an important part of self.

In such a situation, I don't know any way to usefully communicate the important message "this doesn't add up to me" without the kind of thing Carleton and Gary do. It would be much less necessary if more of Charles' posts came with caveats like "I support freedom of the press except when it threatens vital national interests or supports our enemies" - which would cover both trying to suppress domestic dissent via market means and destroying the physical plant of enemy-supporting broadcasters abroad. Likewise with something like "I think people are entitled to self-representation except when our vital interests are at stake", and so on. It would be possible to discuss the guidelines and the specific cases more separately, but not when Charles insists that there simply aren't any contradictions or changes at work.

At least this is my own frustration, and may be others' too.

That is a little bit too general I think.

Depends on which challenges you're thinking of, and there's a very good reason I used "most" instead of "all". YMMV, natch.

"From my point of view, Carleton is dealing with a particular problem the only way I really know to deal with it. Charles makes a lot of claims in absolute terms - this is right, that's wrong. But in practice he doesn't actually hold them absolutely. They are subject to modification - this is right except when it conflicts with that need, this is generally wrong but useful in these circumstances."

If that is Carleton's intention, he isn't doing a good job of it. If that was the intention you could easily ask to distinguish the RCTV/Globovision cases from the al-Zawraa case. Or you could argue that they were the same. Carleton doesn't do this (IMHO because it looks rather ridiculous on the actual facts to directly equate the two) instead he merely throws it out there.

Second, why is it necessary IN THIS POST to do so anyway? What is it about THIS POST that REQUIRES it to be reconciled? When bril comments on hilzoy's torture posts, he would say things about how bad various organizations are. These things are only relevant IF TORTURE WERE ACTUALLY EFFECTIVE AT COMBATING THESE BAD ORGANIZATIONS. Talking about whether or not they do so, could be a fruitful contribution to the conversation. Raising it with the assumption that torture is effective isn't.

Likewise, raising the contradiction without a point is not constructive. Does Carleton believe that Chavez is justified? (We find out much much later, that the answer is kind of 'no'.) Ok, so does he believe the situations are analytically identical? His initial 'argument' suggests yes, though we find out that isn't really true either. But if you want to have an a useful conversation you have to raise what you feel are contradictions AND say how they apply to the situation at hand. If you don't, like Gary's amorphous pleas for context, it lends the appearance of either just attacking the author, or defending Chavez.

Sebastian, this is the post at hand. As I understand it, the essence of Charles' post is "Here's another reason Chavez is bad and should go - look at what he's doing to the media." Given that, the question of what Charles thinks about other media situations seems really, really oviously relevant to me. If I tell you "don't vote for Bob, he's going push for national health care" and you remember that I'm in favor of national health care, producing my earlier statement to that effect seems like a useful and focused thing to do. And I don't see that it's really necessary or even necessarily all that helpful to add anything much beyond "But Bruce, last week you said this."

"As I understand it, the essence of Charles' post is "Here's another reason Chavez is bad and should go - look at what he's doing to the media." Given that, the question of what Charles thinks about other media situations seems really, really oviously relevant to me."

I'm not sure I buy that this is the essence of his post but let's say it is.

Relevant in what way? You aren't voting for charles, you are talking to him. What do YOU think about media situations? Unless you are going to doubt the truth of the situation, doesn't what you think govern?

Carleton's approach is a gotcha approach. He didn't try to analyze or explore how the situations were different or similar. He doesn't even ask Charles to do so. He merely asserts that they are similar enough for a slur.

Bril, you were banned. I haven't seen you ask for permission to return. Your post was deleted for that reason.

And here I am going to equate him to bril directly which I did not do before--like bril he thought that having a post which did absolutely nothing other than question the motive of the messenger was an appropriate way to begin the conversation.

Speaking of not giving people the benefit of the doubt- several people seem to have grasped the nature of my point. I spelled it out pretty clearly- Charles's argument depended on a premise that I thought was questionable, and that IMO he himself had not supported in a different case.
If you want to say I was unnecessarily nasty about it, I can see that. But claiming that quoting someone is attacking them, I just don't see it.

Like bril, he sometimes at least remembers which thread he is posting on when making his character attacks.

Love to see an example of me posting something wildly off-topic. I really hope it's not this: Carleton's first entry on this very thread did not even mention Venezuala.
Thread is about press freedom in Venezuela. I post something about press freedom someplace else. Again, you might object to the tone, but to object in principle to posts about non-Venezuelan press freedom is not even slightly reasonable.

Oh, the pain you must feel to have the burden of being right so often.

Gary already pointed this out, but you're not exactly pouring water on the fire here- more like gasoline. Well, I guess you get the last laugh on this one since I can't respond in kind.

Second, why is it necessary IN THIS POST to do so anyway? What is it about THIS POST that REQUIRES it to be reconciled?

Obviously, nothing is *necessary*. Bruce (thanks again) did an excellent job of stating the basic case, though, as to why Charles's earlier comments are interesting and relevant.
You might have found my tone out of line, but this whole routine about my comments being inexplicable or nonsensical is weird- like you need to make me into a boogeyman in order to justify your actions.

Carleton's approach is a gotcha approach. He didn't try to analyze or explore how the situations were different or similar.

Well, my first post didn't; I assumed that the context made the meaning clear. When you became confused about how this related to plants, I spelled it out it great detail and asked repeatedly for clarification. I even created several hypotheticals for that purpose. Of course, at that point perhaps the conversation was too poisoned, but you certainly can't claim I didn't try.
So, if your terrible accusation here is that my first post was not as clear as it could have been- well, Im [email protected] to heck for that one.

No, your first three posts were very clear. They are why I said you weren't interested in a discussion.

The only thing you have spelled out in great detail is that you think Charles is a hypocrite. You don't express interest in the Chavez situation EXCEPT AS TO HOW YOU CAN USE IT TO SHOW THAT CHARLES IS A HYPOCRITE. You don't even express interest in the al-Zawraa case EXCEPT AS TO HOW YOU CAN USE IT TO SHOW THAT CHARLES IS A HYPOCRITE.

You aren't expressing interest in the underlying issues at all, except to use them as tools to try to hit Charles for whatever personal reason you have. That is rather ironic considering that your main recurring charge against Charles is that he slants discussions of topics to further his political ends.

Hey SH, think I agree with you here without having gone over the above unpleasantness again - but you seemed stressed out and I'm going to urge you to have a libation and send me the bill - or better yet, send it to John Thullen, who I blame for not being around to distract us.

I will frankly to confess to not caring a lot about the Venezuelan situation. I mean, yes, I wish for peace, justice, and happiness there, as I do everywhere. But it's low on the list of things I actually give a lot of emotion too, particularly at a time when my own government remains by far the most active threat to peace, justice, and happiness worldwide. (China could be a bigger threat if its leaders chose to be. Maybe Russia, too, depending on just what the status of its Soviet legacy of weaponry is. But neither actually is at this point mounting unjustified wars with reckless abandon or busily making some other kinds of mess.)

Yesterday was my father's birthday, the first since he died last year, and I spent part of yesterday and today very much literally in tears as I thought about what the Republican machine and its collaborators in politics and the media did with the legacy of men and women like my Dad. Dad fought in a war in which the enemy was known to be bad because (among other reasons) the enemy launched unprovoked wars against other nations and tortured its captives. Now such things are the fodder of good cheer and levity for one of the two major parties. As a nation, we suck. I'd like us to suck a lot less than we do. But I don't see how earnest dudgeon about other nations doing much lighter stuff than is our own nation's policy actually helps us suck less. It seems like a distraction from our own job.

I can't be the only one who ever worked on a job with someone who was full of everyone else's business, constantly poking and prying, and who ended up neglecting their own so much that others had to bail them out. Posts like this one of Charles' frankly feel much the same way to me. Maybe I'd take it better from someone who didn't keep pushing the fortunes of the party that's responsible for our current disasters quite so much, or who seemed to be doing anything about them. (This is one of the reasons I respect OCSteve so much, by the way: Steve's practical. He votes in ways that can't be comfortable or fun, but with an eye on where he wants us to be going, and he doesn't le the fact of it being uncomfortable and un-fun stop him if it seems right in the bigger scheme of things. I like to think that I approach my civic obligations the same way, but I'm sure not going to claim that I'm perfect at it.) It feels...irrelevant, like fretting about the neighbors' malnourished hedge while our house burns down.

Since you seemed to wonder, Sebastian.

The only thing you have spelled out in great detail is that you think Charles is a hypocrite. You don't express interest in the Chavez situation EXCEPT AS TO HOW YOU CAN USE IT TO SHOW THAT CHARLES IS A HYPOCRITE. You don't even express interest in the al-Zawraa case EXCEPT AS TO HOW YOU CAN USE IT TO SHOW THAT CHARLES IS A HYPOCRITE.

1)mindreading foul
2)your theory doesn't explain why I went through all of the trouble to construct those hypotheticals, probe for differences, etc. Except maybe I was covering my @ss, anticipating that my nefarious mission might be revealed.
(Of course, the fact that you have to limit yourself to the first 3 comments shows that you recognize that I was, in fact, trying to draw distinctions etc. Being inconvenient to your theory, these posts are ignored).

Why were my first 3 comments slanted? Well, the first one was the intro- as I said, maybe I didn't spell things out clearly enough & came on too hard. The next two were responses to your outpouring of bile- if they weren't further expositions of the topic, I believe that you'll find the reason for this looking back at you from your bathroom mirror.
My 4th comment was in response to Charles who, while he did accuse me of various bad acts, at least confronted the actual question and made a response. Not a particularly useful one, but *he* tried- and got back a deeper probe into the question.

And you want to complain about my bad faith?

I dunno. Maybe I don't believe in the viability of cross-spectrum dialogue anymore, or maybe it's just that I don't believe honest discourse is possible while trying to maintain that the administration and its party aren't monstrous. I'm going to take some time off and think about it.

If anyone wants to ping me in the meantime, I take e-mail at [email protected] and occasionally post now as a token non-liberarian at Jim Henley's place, Unqualified Offerings.

"Yesterday was my father's birthday, the first since he died last year"

That's very hard. It's very painful. I wish I could do something more useful to help, or find some helpful words of comfort, but none spring to mind this moment, and it's not the sort of thing that bears waiting, but I wanted to acknowledge that while we all respond to these things in our own manner, and according to our own circumstances, that I've been through my own version of such losses, and have some vague possible approximation of how hard it can be, and that, well, I'm sorry I don't know how to code virtual hug-packets, or proper empathetic particles, or whatever might otherwise best transmit anything at all that might help.

Best I can do is say that eventually it tends to get less raw. Hang in as best you can, but also take time off whenever it's too wearing.

"Maybe Russia, too, depending on just what the status of its Soviet legacy of weaponry is. But neither actually is at this point mounting unjustified wars with reckless abandon or busily making some other kinds of mess."

I was going to nitpick about Chechnya, but another time.

Gary: Thanks. (And yeah, I should have said "as many wars". What with Chechnya, the ongoing occupation of Tibet, and all, it's not like they're paragons.) As for grief, I still don't know much better than the way Neil Gaiman put it in Sandman, with the lord of dreams talking to his son:

MORPHEUS: You should have gone to her funeral.

ORPHEUS: Why?

MORPHEUS: To say goodbye.

ORPHEUS: I have not yest said goodbye to Eurydice.

MORPHEUS: You should. You are mortal: it is the mortal way. You attend the funeral, you bid farewell. You grieve. Then you continue with your life. And at times, the fact of her absence will hit you like a blow to the chest, and you will weep. But this will happen less and less as time goes on. She is dead. You are alive. So live.

That seems to be the way it goes. Mostly I'm trying to do things that would make Dad feel I'd learned the best of his lessons and put them to good use.

...and one of those things is "don't batter your head against a wall just because the wall is there", hence the disengaging for a while.

"Why were my first 3 comments slanted? Well, the first one was the intro- as I said, maybe I didn't spell things out clearly enough & came on too hard. The next two were responses to your outpouring of bile- if they weren't further expositions of the topic, I believe that you'll find the reason for this looking back at you from your bathroom mirror."

The first post was most certainly not an 'intro' you didn't post again for hours and when you did you just continued as before. And the second and third in response to outpouring of bile? Are you refering to my 1:06 post? Be careful to note when your posts were made before answering.

"Of course, the fact that you have to limit yourself to the first 3 comments shows that you recognize that I was, in fact, trying to draw distinctions etc. Being inconvenient to your theory, these posts are ignored"

No, I picked the first ones because my thesis is that you start out with attacks and only if sorely pressed bother with anything else. But having read through the entire thread, I haven't found many posts that were substantive. Since you seem impressed by them, lets go through them one by one.

June 1. 12:40 The "Charles The Fighter For Freedom Of The Press?" post. Attacks Charles.

2:03 "I'd have thought it was obvious enough for a retarded Irish Goose to grasp, but Ill spell it out 'specially for you" post in which you specifically say that you aren't interested in discussing the Dhavez situation but want to attack Charles for being a hypocrite. We could also call it the STFU post I suppose.

2:28 "Sure, you're slow today, I don't mind helping out. How about:
How dare such a network exercise its right to free speech.
In general, the indignation about the violation of speech rights." In which you take one line from Charles' post, and frankly a not all that odious line, and use it to justify your attacks. No substance so far.

2:36 You use the Chavez assertion that the stations assisted in the coup--never mind that he didn't bother to go after the individuals and you have to use a rather loose definition of assisted. You say "I can barely imagine the state of your pretend indignation if Chavez had *blown up* the offending station" which is rather funny since Chavez has done worse--he took the station AS HIS OWN AND HAS BEGAN BROADCASTING HIS PROPAGANDA WITH IT. There is the inkling of substance finally.

2:39 You make the same error you accuse Charles of making with analogies.

7:36 You talk about getting banned

9:23 Insulted by being compared to bril, still no substance

June 2

6:07 Comment about tongue in cheek, still no substance.

6:55 A rant about Charles, but after six long paragraphs you finally have some substance:

These two situations (Iraq and Venezuela) actually appear very similar to me. You've drawn the post-facto arbitrary line about "incites violence", but IMO a media outlet that calls for violence and a media outlet that outrageously misrepresents events in the middle of a coup are not very different. They are both functioning as the advocates for destabilizing criminal activity, without acting directly.
In a stable environment, those sorts of activities could be dealt with without infringing on speech freedoms. For example, we allow Ann Coulter to jokingly suggest murdering Supreme Court Justices (ie we respect the fiction that she's kidding), because our society is robust enough to handle it. Venezuela and Iraq may not be, so they (again IMO) have a reasonable argument for suppressing media that are disrupting an already unstable society. (nb I've already said I don't agree with Chavez's actions).

If you had started with that, we could have mentioned things like: "Chavez didn't shut the station down during or immediately after the coup, or a year later, or two years later, or three years later, or even four years later." and drawn distinctions based on that. Or we could have mentioned that part of the 'pro-coup' charges that Chavez had against the stations was that they were attempting to televise the anti-Chavez demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people on April 11, 2002 instead of broadcasting the 24 hour a day propaganda he demanded between the 9th and the 11th.

We could have noted that the idea that suggesting, as Chavez did, that the documentary about the assassination attempt on the pope (which is not flattering to the assassin) can be easily read as support for killing Chavez is a rather nutso idea.

We might have discussed that having a station member accused of helping the coup outside of the station doesn't make for a great excuse to do anything other than remove him or jail him.

We could have had an interesting discussion about the differences and similarities between the two cases. Of course we couldn't do that before, because this is the first time you bothered to lay out your position rather than snidely snark.

10:51 There isn't much substance here either, though at least you are sort of trying to actually address things in two of the paragraphs though you avoid particularizing the discussion with "Im not really interested in re-explaining it or hunting up links, since you aren't really interested in debating the issue."

June 3

2:43 back to the completely ignoring any substantive issue and attacking Charles

2:58 Finally the substantive hypothetical. Almost two full days later.

4:29 more nothing

12:56 Still no substance, now just a defense of why it is ok to be nasty and sniping over the definition of ad hominem.

After this the whole discussion is very meta.

So let's see. Out of the first 14 posts, it takes you until the 9th one to even approach a discussion of the topic. If we are very generous you have 3 or 4 total comments that are fairly substantive and two of them are still rather filled with bile.

I would say that the evidence suggests that you are far more interested in attacking Charles than discussing the issues raised by Chavez shutting down opposition television stations.

Sebastian - I have no problem with your critiquing Carleton this way (or with him responding in kind, as he has done and doubtless will do again). There's plenty of bile and wretched excess to go around.

Where I get a little hinky is over the act of banning. I can see you (or CB) in a huff saying, "You're Dead To Me!", and refusing to communicate further with him, an arrangement we are already familiar with on ObWi, if I'm not mistaken. (This may be paraphrased as, "Tell Jesurgislac I'm not speaking to her!")

But the power of some - but not all - of us to silence others entirely is one that should be used rarely, and IMHO none of what you have cited really warrants this.

Of course I'm not the one making the decisions.

I'm with rilkefan on this, it is clearly Thullen's fault.

"Where I get a little hinky is over the act of banning. I can see you (or CB) in a huff saying, "You're Dead To Me!", and refusing to communicate further with him, an arrangement we are already familiar with on ObWi, if I'm not mistaken. (This may be paraphrased as, "Tell Jesurgislac I'm not speaking to her!")"

I banned bril, not Carleton and him after a long period of warnings. I would suggest that a recurrent pattern like this would be worthy of banning, but while I have the vague impression that this is a pattern, I'm not going digging through the archives.

The only reason I went over it in depth, is because he seems to believe that this is desireable in the kind of conversation we want.

It isn't.

I understand occassionally nasty things being said at the end of a long and ugly comment thread. I'm human, I understand that. That isn't what this thread shows.

Absolutely nothing that Charles said in this post was worthy of the bitter sounding attacks that Gary gave at the beginning and that Carleton has maintained throughout.

You say "I can barely imagine the state of your pretend indignation if Chavez had *blown up* the offending station" which is rather funny since Chavez has done worse--he took the station AS HIS OWN AND HAS BEGAN BROADCASTING HIS PROPAGANDA WITH IT.

Assuming that the station is occupied at the time, I cannot agree that blowing it up is not at least an order of magnitude worse than commandeering it for propaganda purposes. YMMV.

FWIW, one of my first negative interactions with Charles came at the old Tacitus site, when he was in high dudgeon over Nipplegate, and wanting the FCC to do something about the scourge of Janet Jackson's nipples. I asked him what harm was actually done to his children by this event, to which he responded that he was going to "toss me on the moron pile." How this plays into the question of Charles vis a vis press freedom and Charles generally is left as an exercise for the reader.

Not that I support summary moron-piling for those who disagree with me, Phil, but there is a nontrivial difference between Freedom of the Press and Freedom to Say Whatever You Like In Blog Comments.

But this has been hashed, rehashed, served with the leftover hash, etc to the point where we'd just be recycling thrice-used (if we're lucky) arguments.

Slarti, I haven't read new comments since yesterday morning, and I'll get through them. The "jerkoff" was reference was to the person's comments, not the person. That's not "name calling", it's an opinion of a collection of verbiage the person has made. It's a harsh opinion, but it doesn't cross any lines. Had I referred to him as an unbending intolerant ideologue, then that would've been name calling. So your admonishment is duly noted and duly rejected, and quite frankly I'm a little surprised that you didn't see the distinction.

Basically, I'm completely fed up with being the brunt of Wu's unfair attacks, thread after thread, particularly when my intellectually integrity and character are being impugned by his foisting unpalatable views onto me that I don't ascribe to, as well as him using the lazy and dishonest practice of mindreading toward the same ends. When I've answered and rebutted his attacks, his responses have been to slip and slide the goalposts so that he can repeat the same dubious charges all over again. And all the while, his tone and tenor throughout the thread has poisoned the level of discourse in this thread, in my opinion.

For some reason, it appears that Wu mistakenly believes that "taking it as he sees it" somehow trumps the posting rules, particularly the one about "consistently abusing and vilifying for its own sake." No one should operate under such a notion.

If I seem a little short-fused about this, it's because Wu has been pulling this crap on at least two threads prior to this, starting with this post. It needs to end.

continue to think ObWi should bring in another 2-3 conservative or libertarian bloggers, Von; I've consistently and repeatedly urged this, time and time and time again. (I imagine you won't have seen at least four-fifths of my comments on this.) I urged that this be done before any thought was given to bringing in another non-conservative or libertarian blogger. Over and over and over again.

That's actually more difficult than it seems, Gary. We need to find someone(s) who are (i) acceptable to all of us, (ii) willing to venture into hostile territory, (iii) have at least some common ground with enough of the commentariat so as not to have to endure constant cries of "X is ruining the site and should be cast out!", and (iv) if already established as a blogger, willing to take the hit among their conservative bretheren for association with, what is perceived (I think unfairly) as a radically left-wing blog. No one wants to be a sell-out.

We're fortunate to have Charles and Sebastian, and Andrew Olmstead was an excellent addition as well. Who else is out there? (And, yes, feel free to submit names.)

"Absolutely nothing that Charles said in this post was worthy of the bitter sounding attacks that Gary gave at the beginning and that Carleton has maintained throughout."

I've been trying really hard to not further discord, and to step back, and let you set an example, as a blog-owner, of the sort of tone that should exemplify ObWi, Sebastian.

I can't congratulate you on doing a good job, so far, but you still have the opportunity to get over your ax to grind with Carleton, and do better, if you care to, although, of course, you may not care to at all.

However, you've been endlessly repeating your opinions about Carleton, and what you feel are the pointless and substanceless criticisms I and others made of Charles' post. That's fine, but it would be very helpful if you noted that your opinions are opinions, not objective facts, and while you're perfectly entitled to your views, if you confuse them with objective facts, you're going to wind up in communications difficulties with all the rest of us who happen to have different views than you do of Carleton's style, and substance, and the validity of his critiques.

"Absolutely nothing that Charles said in this post was worthy of the bitter sounding attacks that Gary gave at the beginning and that Carleton has maintained throughout."

You're entitled to think so. But you might want to take note of the fact that numbers of your readers have disagreed, and have stated that they found considerable value in the various points brought up by critics of Charles' post. Or you might not. Perhaps we're all wrong, and thus our opinion is ridiculous, being so wrong, and should just be ignored.

But that still won't convince said people that they're wrong.

I don't see much point in spending time trying to reply to your proofs of Carleton's lack of substance, etc.; I simply register my profound difference of opinion and interpretation. If that simply registers with you as incomprehensible, or as proof of my lack of good faith, or whatever, that would be a shame, but there's only so much I can do about that.

"Not that I support summary moron-piling for those who disagree with me, Phil, but there is a nontrivial difference between Freedom of the Press and Freedom to Say Whatever You Like In Blog Comments."

Slart, Phil didn't say anything about "Freedom to Say Whatever You Like In Blog Comments"; he said, in context of discussing Charles' views of press freedom, vis-a-vis Chavez' actions, that his, Phil's, first experience with Charles was Charles attacking the tv network that broadcast the Super Bowl for not engaging in censorship.

My impression is that you missed his point, which had nothing whatever to do with "blog comments." (You're free to argue the relevance of his actual point, of course.)

I asked him what harm was actually done to his children by this event, to which he responded that he was going to "toss me on the moron pile."

Phil, I don't remember having said something about the "moron pile". Maybe I did. But FTR, I never had the banning keys at Tacitus, so if you think that was a threat to ban, then you would be wrong. And what Slarti said.

Also, what Sebastian said, and thanks to him for his efforts at cataloguing the series of offending comments.

Virtually all the privately owned TV, radio, and papers were openly supporting the coup; RCTV was not alone in encouraging citizens to take part in toppling the government by extra-electoral, extra-constitutional means. This included encouraging viewers to fight Chavez supporters in the streets, and to help shut down the community radio stations and papers in neighborhoods where Chavez had support.

Nell, if you have sources which demonstrates that RCTV or others incited violence, I'd like to hear about them. You've supplied some pro-chavista links, so for the sake of context, here is an eyewitness account of the April 2002 coup from an anti-chavista. The private TV stations behaved poorly to be sure, particularly after Carmona was installed. Chavez also behaved poorly, with this Plan Colina and his shutting down of TV stations for a period.

I'd certainly be curious as to Charles' reaction.

After having lived under a long string of strong rulers, no surprise about the sentiments from those politicians, particularly the Salafist, Gary. It certainly affirms why the factions are having so much trouble coming to an agreement on the national stage.

"Andrew Olmstead"

Andrew Olmsted, even. Whom I suggested in the first place.

It's kinda silly to put the onus for finding conservative/libertarian posters on your liberal readers, though, von; I don't read all that many such folks who aren't either a) bloggers I like who are already successful on their own sites; or b) apparent lunatics.

Presumably you read a lot more such people towards your own ideological predilections, than I, or most other liberal types do.

Moreover, you complained that "[s]imply put, it is difficult to be a righty, even a moderate one, on a blog of the left."

So, do something to change that. Stop putting the blame on others. Find a couple of non-left bloggers and make this less of a blog of the left. Just do it.

I suppose it might clarify my previous comment if I note that I read Phil's being tossed on the moron pile as Charles banning him.

On second reading, though, that's not quite as much of a slam dunk as it first looked, though, so please disregard.

The first post was most certainly not an 'intro' you didn't post again for hours and when you did you just continued as before. And the second and third in response to outpouring of bile? Are you refering to my 1:06 post? Be careful to note when your posts were made before answering.

my first post: 12:40pm
your first response to that post, where you pretend to wonder what this all has to do with starving children in Africa: 1:06pm
my reponse to that: 2:03pm
your response: 2:12pm
my reponse: 2:28pm

If you think that 1 hour, 23 minutes is
a)well-characterized as "hours" or
b)such a significant gap that I deserve some sort of criticism
I don't know what to say in response.

So, I've carefully noted when my posts were made. At first, it looked as if you were implying that I 'responded' before your insulting, whats-this-got-to-do-with-anything post. But that's not the case, so your point- should there be one- is unclear.

2:39 You make the same error you accuse Charles of making with analogies.

This is exactly the sort of erroneous pedantry that makes talking with the likes of you or Charles challenging.
You see, analogies are useful. But they aren't exact copies of the situation that they're being compared with, so once an analogy is introduced it ought to be criticized by examining the similarities and differences.
Charles complained that the analogies weren't identical. That isn't a legitimate criticism of an analogy.
What I did was to compare the two situations and draw what I thought would've been a more appropriate analogy in the second. The goal of this was to illustrate that my new example and the original analogy were obviously far apart.

That is to say- analogies aren't wrong just because they aren't perfect. But they aren't right just because they exist. If I had said "this isn't right because I've never said anything bad about hilzoy" Id be guilty of Charles's error.

But you don't seem interested in the distinction, perhaps because you're sole role on this thread has been to get Charles's back. Maybe the problems that right-wingers experience at OW are now in part self-generated; you anticipate and magnify any hostility you see.

We could have had an interesting discussion about the differences and similarities between the two cases. Of course we couldn't do that before, because this is the first time you bothered to lay out your position rather than snidely snark.

Again, other folks (eg Bruce) were able to deduce what I was talking about from the get-go. If you're slow on the uptake, don't blame me; you could've asked rather than going on your insulting rant. Again, I take responsibility for the initial tone, but you're pretending that the initial comment was just "F#^% Charles" is not correct. Now, you *responded* to it as if it were, and things got uglier- but again, if you want to see one of the reasons things spiraled downwards, look in the mirror.

That's my source of frustration now; from the get-go, my tone was off. But rather than asking me to tone it down or (since you didn't bother to understand) ask what I meant by my comment, you started attacking. Heck, even Charles *understood* my point; even if he felt it was tangential, attacking, and a bad analogy, he knew what I meant, and responded.
I can take responsibility for my mistake, but now you're off in la-la land trying to pretend Im a troll rather than examine your own behavior.

Slarti, I haven't read new comments since yesterday morning, and I'll get through them. The "jerkoff" was reference was to the person's comments, not the person. That's not "name calling", it's an opinion of a collection of verbiage the person has made. It's a harsh opinion, but it doesn't cross any lines. Had I referred to him as an unbending intolerant ideologue, then that would've been name calling. So your admonishment is duly noted and duly rejected, and quite frankly I'm a little surprised that you didn't see the distinction.

So, let's get this straight for everyone on how the posting rules work
OK:"Your post is pathetic and sad. It is filled with inane gibberish. It is worthless and beneath contempt."
Not OK:"You are not always a nice person."

Do I have that right?

PS For anyone who had trouble following along, my point is that allowing strongly pejorative comments about other people's posts is a backdoor to personal criticism and attacks. My sense of the posting rules is that "Your comments are stupid" is not just bad bc it's not advancing the discussion, it's also bad bc it's a personal attack, albeit via the fiction of attacking their words only.

Slarti: Not that I support summary moron-piling for those who disagree with me, Phil, but there is a nontrivial difference between Freedom of the Press and Freedom to Say Whatever You Like In Blog Comments.

The Super Bowl halftime show -- and you may not be aware of this, so thank me later -- is not actually a blog comment, but is in fact a television broadcast.


Charles:Phil, I don't remember having said something about the "moron pile". Maybe I did. But FTR, I never had the banning keys at Tacitus, so if you think that was a threat to ban, then you would be wrong. And what Slarti said.

If I were more clever than I am, I would give you a Karnak award, but rest assured that I thought nothing of the sort. I just thought it was an interesting reaction to what I, at least, at the time, thought was a legitimate question re: Nipplegate. That is to say, rather than answer the question and examine your premises, you -- again, at the time -- retreated into defensive hostility. Still, it was some time ago and I hardly care now. I just found it interesting at the time and thought it might have some relation to Carlton's observations on your opinions about press freedom.

And this, Charles, is a line of argument that's beneath you:

The "jerkoff" was reference was to the person's comments, not the person. That's not "name calling", it's an opinion of a collection of verbiage the person has made. It's a harsh opinion, but it doesn't cross any lines.
It's the Internet equivalent of "I'm not touching you." Collections of verbiage can't be "jerkoffs"; "jerkoff comments" are, presumably, made by jerkoffs. Please at least own your own words.

The fact that you didn't get to substance until the next day is uncontroverted. Are you conceeding it?

Is the 1:06 comment the one you are taking such deep offense to? You are amazingly thin-skinned for someone who insists on using such a sharp tongue. That comment is:

Interesting Carleton, how do you think your 'context' applies.

Do you agree with the post on al-Zawraa, and therefore want to use it as a counter-example showing that repression is OK?

Or, do you disagree with it, suggesting that the the Chavez move might be bad?

Or maybe you want to analogize or distinguish the Venezualan case from "However, in cases such as this one, where speech is used exhort Sunnis to kill Shiites, Iraqi government officials and American forces, shut it down." Perhaps you believe that negative portrayals of Chavez are similar or different from attempting to foment revolution and actually attempting to incite particular acts of violence.

Like Gary, you mention an interest in context but in fact provide no such thing. What context are you attempting to provide when you raise the facts you raise?

Are you aware that people are starving in Africa? Do you know that plants photosynthesize? Did you know that malaria is spread by mosquitos? Are you aware that Al-Qaeda is EVIL?

If you don't link the information to the discussion, you aren't actually providing 'context'.

Yes, many Venezualan people are poor. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

Yes, Chavez doesn't like the US. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

Yes, Chavez is admired by many for the limited fact that he is willing to use left-wing economic ideas (his tactics are of course regretable). What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

He attempted to engineer a coup and had a failed one against him. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

He is attempting land reform in almost exactly the same way and with the same results as Mugabe. What does that have to do with shutting down two opposition stations?

Actually the last question is easy--he thinks that enacting his ruinous policies will be easier if no one can call him on it. But that is the expected context of shutting down opposition TV stations, so I don't think it was the insightful 'context' Gary was talking about.

In the first four paragraphs I ask the questions you want me to ask. I show that your point is not clear and ask you to clarify it. You don't bother until almost a day later, after much complaint.

Paragraphs 5 and 6(which I think is the one that set you off the deep end) shows extreme cases where raising a topic doesn't explain why one thinks the topic is relevant or helpful to the discussion at hand.

The rest was an attempt to see how the 'context' raised was or was not important to the question. For the most part it looked unimportant. It would have been better perhaps in my 6th and 7th paragraphs to say something like:

Venezuela has a population of X, its area is Y, it has a GDP of Z, its general weather patterns are A, B and C.

If you don't link the information to the discussion, you aren't actually providing 'context'

I wanted to use something that was not obviously related to the discussion (to strongly illustrate that complaining about a lack of context is not remedied by merely providing information). But quoting random facts about Venezuala is the same effect.

"Maybe the problems that right-wingers experience at OW are now in part self-generated; you anticipate and magnify any hostility you see."

I don't think it is necessary to magnify, when your first three references to right wingers in this thread (and in three separate posts, not in one accidental slip in tone like you now suggest) were:

Charles The Fighter For Freedom Of The Press?

...

I'd have thought it was obvious enough for a retarded Irish Goose to grasp, but Ill spell it out 'specially for you:

...

and

Sure, you're slow today, I don't mind helping out. How about:

Like many of your statements, there is the slightest germ of truth in "Maybe the problems that right-wingers experience at OW are now in part self-generated". Certainly I'll cop to 'in part'. But your tone is unceasingly a combination of dramatic, condescending, and outright insulting--the response TO YOU doesn't require that.

The 1:06 comment was largely substantive (the substance of which you largely have ignored throughout the thread). The insulting part was not even intended as an insult, merely an illustration of the need to explain, and even if broadly drawn as insulsting is nothing compared to your first three references. So I find your complaint perplexing.

You end with "But rather than asking me to tone it down or (since you didn't bother to understand) ask what I meant by my comment, you started attacking."

I specifically asked you to clarify in my 1:06 comment. You didn't until at least a day and 6 comments later. And for you to take the middle of the 1:06 comment as an attack, while your first 3 much more vicious comments aren't, is inexplicable.

For anyone still interested in the actual topic of this post, here's an article about Venezuelan media at Counterpunch. It seems more balanced than you might expect, given the political leanings of the website, but it is, as you'd expect, sympathetic to the Chavez side--

If I seem a little short-fused about this, it's because Wu has been pulling this crap on at least two threads prior to this, starting with this post. It needs to end.

Those are also good examples of what Bruce was talking about above. It's almost like you perceive this interchange as a bargaining encounter- if you start far enough away, you'll end up where you wanted to.
For example, you surely *know* the case against RCTV by now. You may not agree with it, you may even think it untrue, but when you pretend that all they were accused of was showing some riots and not others- well, that's not the case, and I find it very difficult to believe that you've read everything you have about Venezuela without knowing that.

It's like you've leaped directly from what you wish were true or what you believe to be true to what you're going to state as the facts of the situation. In the process, you spread misinformation to your readers, who aren't privy to the facts that you're eliding.

Why is this important? Look at hilzoy's DDT thread- some bright people (eg OCSteve) had some bad information about DDT. When good people get bad info, they make bad decisions and support bad policies. So, I think I've got a responsibility to correct that sort of misrepresentation in a public place. Not for your sake- Im sure you're already aware of what RCTV was accused of, even if you don't want to admit it or talk about it.

I have no problem trying to change my tone, but Im certainly not going to stop pointing things like this out.

I'm having trouble with links. I'll try again.

link

"You are amazingly thin-skinned for someone who insists on using such a sharp tongue."

Interesting.

Sebastian, is there some thesis you're trying to prove, that you'd like us all to take a vote on, or something? "Resolved, Carleton Wu is a troll," or "Resolved, Charles and I have been wronged by nasty lefties who attack us for no good reason," or, well, put it however you like. Can we cut to the chase? Because if your theory is that there's a significant audience of ObWi readers eager to engage in close line readings of Carleton's past comments, in an attempt to prove such a thesis, while it's entirely possible that I'm utterly wrong, I'm a little doubtful of that theory.

And while I claim to speak for no one but myself, I'd personally like to see you cut to the chase, and then invest your energy, and admirable skills, in a topic of more general interest than your great anger with Carleton. Of course, since you also keep using me as an example of substanceless harassment of Charles, or somesuch, I certainly can't claim to be free of bias or interest, myself, to be sure.

But if there's a set of people eager to hear more "proofs" of the sort you've been providing in this last series of comments, perhaps now is the time for them to speak up, cheer you on, and give us all cause to better understand that this sort of thing is what ObWi is really supposed to be about.

Alternatively, perhaps you could consider summarizing -- and taking a vote if you like, or not -- putting forth a resolution of censure or condemnation of some of us, if you like -- and then moving on.

Thanks for any consideration.

The 1:06 comment was largely substantive

If you require 13 paragraphs to say "Im not sure what you're getting at or how this is relevant, please clarify", then yes. Otherwise, no, not really.
Again, even Charles understood my point, although he disagreed with it. Only you 'failed' to see it, and were forced to respond with 13 paragraphs that can be boiled down to 'wtf are you talking about? Africa and staving children?'

Apparently we're not getting anywhere- you don't want to face up to your part in escalating this, fine. Sleep tight.

Do I have that right?

Such is the culture of ObWi, Wu. I've read countless comments that fall under that "OK" column. While they may not be constructive or helpful, I don't respond to them, and they don't cross the line of the posting rules, unless a fella is doing it repeatedly ad nauseum. Phil himself has written things about past posts that are not far different from your "OK"
example.

Phil, a person can have a loving wife, great kids, go to church, be a great employee, say nary a contrary or inflammatory thing to anyone in the community, then step into the Internet and write sheer nonsense and vitriol. Having met and privately corresponded with various bloggers of various stripes, I'd like to think that I'm speaking from some level of experience. No matter what Carleton says to me in a thread (or you for that matter), it would be no surprise in real life that he is funny, loquacious, humble, mild-mannered, and well-esteemed among friends and family as an all-around good guy, etc. I don't presume that a person who makes nasty and inflammatory comments is a nasty and inflammatory person.

Gary:

"Absolutely nothing that Charles said in this post was worthy of the bitter sounding attacks that Gary gave at the beginning and that Carleton has maintained throughout."

You're entitled to think so. But you might want to take note of the fact that numbers of your readers have disagreed, and have stated that they found considerable value in the various points brought up by critics of Charles' post. Or you might not. Perhaps we're all wrong, and thus our opinion is ridiculous, being so wrong, and should just be ignored.

You wrote: "However, your post is so wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest, no mention of any genuine grievances of the rural and poor population, no mention of the historic lack of balance and political fairness in Venezuela before Chavez, no reference to the politicized nature, and anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations, and on and on."

Finding a generalized "considerable value" from further discussion is not at all the same as butressing the charge that the post was "wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest".

None of the things which came later justified that. The fact that Venezuala has a rural and poor population with grievances certainly didn't. That observation doesn't obviously link to shutting down opposition stations at all. Chavez's positioning as their alleged champion doesn't alter the act Charles reported on any more than if he had been positioned as the champion of David Duke style racists.

The historic lack of fairness in Venezuala, doesn't either. As Randy Paul pointed out, this is a departure even from the icky Venezuelan norm.

Reference to the politicized nature, and anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations is an odd phrasing. The anti-free-speech record of Globovision and other "opposition" tv stations is unestablished even in the explicitly pro-Chavez links that Nell provided. The politicized nature of the stations is undisputed, and was mentioned by Charles as the reason why they were shut down.

Further information was interesting of course. I didn't initially know that on April 9 through the 11th before the coup, Chavez attempted to order all the television stations in the country to continuously broadcast his propaganda.

But nothing that came out later contradicts what Reporters Without Borders wrote (and Charles quoted as the piece unifying his post): "Directly or indirectly, President Chávez now controls almost all the broadcast media. RCTV’s closures is not, as he would have people believe, a mere administrative measure. It is a political move designed to reinforce his hegemony over the news media."

Nothing that came out later justified your attack of: "your post is so wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest..."

This was a post that was moderate in tone, avoided the rhetorical excess that you have deplored in the past, and which was modest in its conclusions. It avoided that which caused complaints about Charles in the past, yet you still gave as your very first reaction an extremely hard slap in the face.

"None of the things which came later justified that."

"Nothing that came out later justified your attack of: 'your post is so wildly off-balance, with no nod to context in the slightest...'"

"...yet you still gave as your very first reaction an extremely hard slap in the face."

Sebastian, you've made your opinion on this entirely clear, over and over and over again, more times than I care to add up.

You are utterly entitled to your opinion of my opinion.

And I'm utterly entitled to my opinion. I do not require that you agree with the opinion I wrote of Charles' post, and I do not contest your opinion.

But so far as I am aware, all that I need to "justify" my posting of that comment is that it is my opinion. If you feel that that that comment was a violation of the posting rules, please say so. If not, I believe you have made your own opinion clear. I repeat: do you have some further resolution you wish us all to vote on? What desire do you seek to now have fulfilled, and what is your point, by your continued repetition of your opinion of my opinion of Charles' post?

You feel that my statement was "...an extremely hard slap in the face." Noted. And? Is there a possible end-point to this topic anywhere on the horizon? I ask because, you know, you've been going on on this topic for five days in a row now, so I don't feel I'm being precipitous in trying to draw you out as to what further goal you're trying to accomplish, beyond repeating yet again your views on Carleton's evil nature, and the horrifically offensively unjustified nature of my vicious and unjustified attack on Charles' most excellent post.

Because I really do get that that's your opinion. I'm willing to bet that most people get that.

"Apparently we're not getting anywhere- you don't want to face up to your part in escalating this, fine. Sleep tight."

You keep using the idea of 'escalation' you began with a very nasty tone and very direct name-calling and maintained that throughout. There was no escalation. You were going full-bore from moment one.

And apparently your objection to my 1:06 post was that it was long winded, not that it was insulting to you. I'm certainly willing to admit to being unecessarily long-winded. My point, even though inartfully made, is that providing facts without bothering to explain why you believe them to be important is not providing context. Mentioning al-Zawraa did not provide obvious context to the situation of why Chavez should shut down a television station and why he should threaten another one. (Especially since the charges of coup-support are weak in any case, but NOT equally strong against both stations). The context it provided in trying to attack Charles for being a hypocrite was obvious. How YOU THOUGHT it applied to the Chavez situation was not. That is the difference between attack commenting and discussion. You neatly avoided commiting yourself to a position that could actually be argued for almost an entire day while poisoning the well all along.

I'm still mulling my own situation, but in the meantime, I strongly urge everyone still following this at all to re-read the whole thread, starting with Charles' post and actually reading each comment.

Calling something an 'opinion' doesn't make it a 'non-attack'. I could publically make all sorts of unflattering statements about my opinion of someone's character or argument, and I might still be attacking them. If you are going to retreat purely to the "it was purely my opinion of the post" than your attacks were unjustified attacks.

And this retreat to "was it a violation of posting rules?" is obnoxious. If we are forced to get rules-lawyerly about it we've completely lost obsidianwings.

If you want to know why we have trouble recruiting and keeping people like Mr. Olmsted, I'm trying to show you. He left before the military made him stop blogging and I practically begged him to stay.

It isn't because of the left-wing attack trolls like Don Quixote or Jade. They can be ignored and if they get too pushy, banned. It is because the 'moderately left' members like you think that it is appropriate to attack even moderate and non-reaching posts.

When I first started posting here, I thought the best way to deal with it was to ignore it. I figured: 'these people generally have good faith arguments, so let it slide'. But eventually they began to multiply. So I tried another tactic: treat the arguments as serious. Sometimes that worked, or it at least got to whatever was really bugging them. But then the number vastly increased, such that on nearly every post you could count on one of the regular lefties to make a hard jab even on posts that didn't come close to warranting it. So I started calling people on it. But I hated calling people out on the left because it had the appearance of objecting to style on the basis of a real objection to substance. So intially I encouraged others on the left to engage the arguments with "is this common" type arguments, but that was perceived as unfairly lumping people together. And from time to time I would let the snide part of me react, and that didn't help either.

I realize that it is probably hopeless for obsidianwings to return to the interesting cross-pollination of left-right discussions that we had at the beginning. The only reason I'm on here at all anymore is that I hate to see a thing I loved die and I'm ridiculously stubborn trying to hang on to it while there is the slightest shred of hope left (I'm sure that the stubborness comes as a complete shock to you).

If I were invited to come on now and post, I certainly would not choose to do so. The only reason I have a thick enough skin for it now is because my stubborness about abandoning it completely doesn't let me just let the whole thing go. (And now I'm stupdily tearing up while typing, argh.)

I read this post from Charles with worry because his posts seem to bring out what I hate most in the ObWi comments. But when I finished the post I thought "he didn't draw unwarranted conclusions, he didn't make rhetorical flights, he kept things to the facts, this is a good thing".

But the comments didn't reflect that. You and Anderson had already gone into attack mode. It was just so completely unnecessary.

Oh but I will note that a major failing was not banning bril earlier. He certainly didn't help the conversation any.

How YOU THOUGHT it applied to the Chavez situation was not.

You're the only person who's claimed it wasn't clear.

And apparently your objection to my 1:06 post was that it was long winded, not that it was insulting to you.

I was ready to leave it alone, but I have to mention that I've said the opposite several times. How that makes it apparent that I mean the opposite in your mind is a mystery.
Perhaps it will help if you are made to understand that "long-winded" and "insulting" are not mutually exclusive. In fact, endlessly belaboring a point can be insulting.

Again, you can continue to twist things around so nothing is your fault. But have the decency not to claim I said something when I've clearly said the opposite. It's almost like you're trying to bait me to keep this up so you can finish working off your guilty conscience.
In that case, then by all means let's keep going. Id hate to think of you taking out all of this hostility and frustration on the mailman.

"I strongly urge everyone still following this at all to re-read the whole thread, starting with Charles' post and actually reading each comment."

Umm, no thanks. Gary can't be bothered to be substantive in the second comment, Anderson is past civility in the fourth, then it's a mess.

My two cents: this blog tilts strongly left now, and it behooves those of us on the tilted side to do our utmost not to worsen the situation by harsh rhetoric, even when it would ordinarily be justified. I think everybody here knows how to disagree substantively and constructively - why not do so? If poster or commenter Z annoys you to the extent that you can't disagree in that way, let it go - someone else will take up your side of the issue. Argue the post, not the poster, or this site will really be just hilzoy.blogspot.com, yet another excellent wonky lefty site read by lefties.

RF, ditto.

I've actually read the whole thread - more fool me! - and want to avoid, if I can, taking sides on the substantive issues AND most of the rhetorical skirmishing . . .

. . . except to make one point, specifically for Charles. Perhaps because I (like Gary?) have done a lot of editing, I try to be sensitive to nuance, which is useful when the discussion is tone.{*} And I have never seen "jerkoff" used as an adjective on its own; its immediate connotation, therefore, is "something said/done by a jerkoff [person]." (Contrast "foolish," which is generally understood NOT to imply, necessarily, that it is something said/done by a fool.)

IMHO, therefore, to argue that this is not "personal" is tin-eared at best, disingenuous at worst. If I were the Great Banner Of The People (and thank the lord I'm not, sir!), it would not earn you a ban, but probably a warning. More to the point, since you are one of the GBOTPs, it behooves you to avoid such language, even when provoked (which you surely were). Remember: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

My opinion, as always, is worth exactly what you paid for it.

{*} E.g., in the MS I've just been refereeing, one author marred an otherwise acceptable paper by a sideswipe at two intellectual opponents, otherwise off-topic, implying strongly that they were racists, though not directly calling them that. ("[Scholars] . . . from A [who really was a racist!] to [X] and [Y] would not lack in reminding us about the intimate link between one's race and one's capacity . . ." - when, so far as I know, neither X nor Y has ever used any such language or categories.) I recommended to the press that they not include this paper unless this phrase - possibly libelous - was removed.

dr. ngo,

"If I were the Great Banner Of The People"

You would likely be hanging in the Great Hall of the People.

I read this post from Charles with worry because his posts seem to bring out what I hate most in the ObWi comments. But when I finished the post I thought "he didn't draw unwarranted conclusions, he didn't make rhetorical flights, he kept things to the facts, this is a good thing".

Hmmm, this seems a tacit admission that unwarranted conclusions, rhetorical flights, and fact-free commentary have been common ingredients of Charles' posts in the past. I agree that he's gotten much better in those respects lately, but after spending much of his history here pushing liberal's buttons, it's unsurprising that people read his posts with an eye for that. It doesn't help that Charles isn't exactly averse to the personal attack himself, as in the "jerkoff" comment above, followed by his utterly risible defense of same. I'm not saying that Charles sucks and is ruining the site, just that it's silly to judge the reaction to him without taking that history into account.

On a related note, "liberal commenters suck and are ruining the site" arguments are equally tiresome. As Gary noted above, the onus would seem to be on conservatives to bring more conservative voices on board. I tend to agree that things are tough on conservative front-pagers with the commentariat being pretty strongly left-ish, so any prospective new right-leaning poster is likely to feel much as Andrew did/does. But where are the conservative commenters to balance out the liberals? Without more of them the comments are always going to seem like a pile-on to the conservative wing. I can count the regular righty commenters here on one hand. Hell, my grandpa could count them on one hand, and a few episodes of mixing beer and power tools have left him with a severe case of innumeracy. I read enough righty blogs to know that most righties aren't exactly shrinking violets, afraid to mix it up with the nasty mean lefties here. If the conservatives among you can persuade some of your compatriots to comment here, maybe that would help to make the environment more congenial for righty front-pagers. Otherwise I think we keep sliding down that slippery slope towards the echo chamber.

If the conservatives among you can persuade some of your compatriots to comment here, maybe that would help to make the environment more congenial for righty front-pagers.

I’ve tried before without much luck. I’m not sure why. I think maybe folks who would tend to comment also tend to have their usual hangouts. So while I’ve probably encouraged a few people to at least check it out and maybe lurk a bit it never seemed to “take”.

And frankly as cranky as it’s been around here of late I wouldn’t pester anyone to come by right now. Kind of like having your friends show up at the front door when your family is yelling and screaming and crying at each other in full meltdown mode. If things chill out maybe I’ll try to round some up later in the week.

"If I were the Great Banner Of The People"

You would likely be hanging in the Great Hall of the People.

Believe it or not, that's kinda what I had in mind (and why I was not anxious for the job):

Comrade Hu Jintao's "July 1" important speech emphatically points out that the "three represents" important thought is a scientific system which comes down in one line with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory and keeps pace with the times, and which is the latest achievement of Marxism in its development in China. The "three represents" important thought runs through the red line of Marxism and has enriched and developed Marxism in many major aspects. The banner means orientation and image.

Comrade Hu Jintao's "July 1" important speech emphatically points out that the "three represents" important thought is a scientific system which comes down in one line with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory and keeps pace with the times, and which is the latest achievement of Marxism in its development in China.

A profound understanding of this important thesis is of extreme importance to our holding high the banner of the "three represents" important thought, persistently upholding this important thought as our Party's guiding ideology, dearly treasuring it as a valuable asset and consciously applying it as a scientific theory.

Since the Fourth Session of the 13th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in June 1989, the modern Chinese Communists represented mainly by Comrade Jiang Zemin, have held aloft the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory, accurately grasped the characteristics of the times and scientifically determined the historical bearings of our Party. Centering around the theme of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, they have pooled the wisdom of the whole Party, conducted theoretical innovation with the courage of the great Marxist theory and gradually formed the scientific theoretical system of the "three represents" important thought.


rilkefan: Umm, no thanks. Gary can't be bothered to be substantive in the second comment, Anderson is past civility in the fourth, then it's a mess.

Huh. Pretty thankless work, this commenting business. I haven't been around here all that much lately, but this is a topic on which I had something to contribute and believe that I did. But I think I'll join Bruce in taking a break for another good while.

yet another excellent wonky lefty site read by lefties

rilkefan, I'm assuming that was just shorthand, yes? You realize Hilzoy's not a leftist or even a lefty, and that this isn't a left site. Everything to the left of von isn't "left", and certainly isn't "the left."

This is a site, firmly within the mainstream spectrum of opinion in this country, that leans heavily to the liberal side of that spectrum.

I'd like to second the, er, second part of Nell's comment.

And this is what happens when you start talking about Chavez.
THE END.

Nell, I had in fact written a sentence pointing to your comments above as an example to follow, but I reread your second sentence above and decided it would be complicated to add a caveat for it.

Note that I didn't say "leftist" - if you have some ideological paradigm in mind where it matters whether one is a liberal or progressive or on the left in view of which hilzoy is to the left of center in the great majority of her views but not of the left, then that wasn't so much shorthand as simple ignorance. I would for example find it perfectly natural for her to win a Koufax for best lefty blogger. [And I certainly think of von as well right of center.] I take it you mean by "the left" left-of-center people with views outside the mainstream?

"I take it you mean by "the left" left-of-center people with views outside the mainstream?"

I think that's what she means. It's a common distinction. "Liberals" are within the American mainstream--Edwards is a liberal. "Leftists" are outside the American mainstream--Kucinich is a leftist.
The Nation straddles the border between liberal and leftist. The Progressive is leftist, Z Magazine and Counterpunch are far leftist (though Alexander Cockburn in the name of idiotic contrarianism takes rightwing positions on occasion, most recently on global warming.) TNR is at best liberal (more like neoliberal and sometimes they pride themselves on their contrarianism so much they end up being conservative). The American Prospect is liberal.

Ron Paul's statements putting some of the blame on US foreign policy for our terrorism troubles were praised by lefties--lefties and some libertarians see eye-to-eye on the evils of American imperialism. Liberals tend to shy away from such talk, or at least the "serious" Presidential candidates do, in both parties.

Kucinich is a leftist

To be fair, that bill was rewritten without the odd provisions against chemtrails and mind-control lasers, or whatever.

Well, Kucinich is also a bit peculiar, though maybe in leftish sorts of ways.

"Edwards is a liberal."

I still think of him as a social centrist with more of a populist than a leftist POV on trade and poverty, and a current move to the left since Obama and Clinton are filling up the centrist liberal niches.

I don't know what Edwards really is, but he's painting himself as more antiwar than HRC or even Obama, and he has that rich and poor rhetoric going on (which I approve of, or think I would, if I were paying closer attention). So he seems like the most liberal of the top three, or that's my impression. Reality may be different.

OC,

I’ve tried before without much luck. I’m not sure why.

No reason to wonder any longer... Nell answers your question.

You realize Hilzoy's not a leftist or even a lefty, and that this isn't a left site. Everything to the left of von isn't "left", and certainly isn't "the left."

This is a site, firmly within the mainstream spectrum of opinion in this country, that leans heavily to the liberal side of that spectrum.

Someone appears to be having a problem finding their left. How can one lean heavily and still be in the mainstream of any spectrum?

Is this the voice of moderation? I think not. The liberal posters are no where near moderate... they lean heavily to the liberal side of the spectrum.

The conservative posters are far more moderate. Even Charles is closer to the center than the regular posters here.

I recently had a conversation with a Canadian. He was happy that Wolfowitz was getting his due. He kept going on and on about how the money he got his girlfriend was tax-free. "It was tax-free. Can you believe that?" I sat there wondering, "Who cares? What's the difference between a $150,000 straight up and $200,000 tax free? Either it was wrong or right. The fact it was tax-free was irrelevant."

If that same conversation was at Obsidian Wings and someone like Charles ignored the tax-free part the entire thread would be about how Charles' post was stupid because he left out the tax-free part. They would act as if it would have all been good if only it had been taxed. The right or wrong aspect of the post would be irrelevant. The minor detail would be the focus.

That's what happens if the poster isn't heavily in the liberal spectrum. Who wants to get attacked over irrelevant details?

There is no room for dissent. Von and Sebastion both complain about this. Ironically, the posters here behave in the exact way they believe George Bush does. The stifling of dissent starts at Obsidian Wings, not the Whitehouse.

There is no reasoning with some who are so extreme, but believe that extreme is near the middle.

Bril was banned because he wonders why Hilzoy is constantly attacking Bush and not the enemies of the United States.

Is that really such an unreasonable question to ask? It is at Obsidian Wings.

Wow, that was like some hitherto unobserved double play. Unnamed Canadian to the commentators at ObWi to Bril. I'm thinking 2-4-7.

Well, we've got to fit Karnak into that play there somewhere. Who else would know exactly what we {*} would say if Charles posted on Wolfowitz and left out the "tax-free" bit?!

{*} We actually doesn't include me, because I actually know what I would say about this burning issue.

Nothing. Nada. Nil. Zilch.

I simply don't care about the tax-free bit. Maybe I didn't read the fine print on the back of my "Liberal" card.

Or maybe - just maybe - it's actually Faux Karnak?!

Or even Karnak's evil twin brother, Skippy?

Whoever or whatever grungeboy is (again I ask - who was that masked man?) he has certainly caused me to think. But probably not what he was hoping I would think.

I recently had a conversation with a Canadian. He was happy that Wolfowitz was getting his due. He kept going on and on about how the money he got his girlfriend was tax-free. "It was tax-free. Can you believe that?" I sat there wondering, "Who cares? What's the difference between a $150,000 straight up and $200,000 tax free? Either it was wrong or right. The fact it was tax-free was irrelevant."
That's what I would think, too. I have no idea why it would be a "liberal" idea to think otherwise.

Hey, look, an actual victory for press freedom:

If President Bush and Vice President Cheney can blurt out vulgar language, then the government cannot punish broadcast television stations for broadcasting the same words in similarly fleeting contexts.

That, in essence, was the decision on Monday, when a federal appeals panel struck down the government policy that allows stations and networks to be fined if they broadcast shows containing obscene language.

Although the case was primarily concerned with what is known as “fleeting expletives,” or blurted obscenities, on television, both network executives and top officials at the Federal Communications Commission said the opinion could gut the ability of the commission to regulate any speech on television or radio.

Cue Nelson Muntz: "Ha ha!"

As Gary noted above, the onus would seem to be on conservatives to bring more conservative voices on board.

Like with OCSteve, I wouldn't take that onus, Larv. The tone and tenor has to change before new conservatives would step into these waters. The only other solution is an infusion of a gang of conservatives. I keep coming back to those words in the banning policy: "Unlike many other blogs, the success of Obsidian Wings depends upon a balance of authors and a balance of commenters. When the site begins to falter, it's almost always due to an unbalance one way or the other."

I am not sure about conservative posters being necessary, but conservative commenters are needed. Taking away the trolls, there are only 4-5 regulars from the conservative side.

Unfortuanetly there are some from the other side that appear to enjoy the piling on.

A part of the problem is that on many of the issues today (torture, Iraq, abridgement of rights) there is a lot of similarity of views where the differences are in the details. I think this brings out the more emphatic types of responses when there is a perceived difference.

In terms of recation to CB, I do think some of it is knee-jerk. Even Seb and Slarti and to a lesser extent von get the same reception. It is unfortunate, particularly when there is a post like this one which, on the whole, is just a straight forward reporting. IS there context that can flesh it out? Yes and that was provided. Can legitimate comparisons to other situations be made? Yes, definitely.

Does that require personal attacks on one's good faith (from either side)? No.

Charles, I think it's important in this discussion to separate political position from tone. 'Moderate' and 'balanced' can apply to both qualities.

It would be wrong (and impossible) to expect commenters to change their political perspective and where they stand on particular issues. It's absolutely fine to insist that commenters of all stripes moderate their tone, avoid personalizing discussion, etc.

In this context, a 'gang' is probably not the best recommendation for increasing the number of conservative posters -- the connotations of uniformity and thuggish behavior are exactly what's not wanted.

Replace "gang" with "group", Nell, because that's really what I meant.

This thread is likely nearing the onset of rigor mortis. But before you zip up the body bag, Charles, I suggest you (and others who are interested) check out this this American Prospect article, which provides some additional--ahem--context relating to the shut down.

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