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August 14, 2008

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can being gay possibly be a worse threat to the family than allowing parents to legally kill their children?

Since gays destroy the family and if there were no families there would be no children to abort, so gays are the more badder. Or something.

To understand Republicans you need to understand preadolescent boys. They play video games like Grand Theft Auto and Medal of Honor and Halo and Warcraft and so on. So murder, prostitution, crime in general, ok. One thing they never play though is Grand Theft Sex-with-other-guys. Despite talking about it all day. I guess this is more of a description than an explanation. Try Alan Dundes or somebody.

the 2004 GOP platform comes out against gay marriage in much stronger language, IMO, than it does against abortion. it endorses an Amendment defining marriage as man+woman, but doesn't say anything about outlawing abortion. they're OK with being flexible with abortion.

so... maybe it's this:
votes for being flexible on abortion vs. votes for being flexible on the "definition of marriage"

which nets more ?

I'm more than happy for McCain to waste his VP slot on Ridge. PA is out of sight for him, he might lose some of his base, and it's just all to easy to make fun of Ridge as the color-coded warnings guy, especially since there is now document evidence that the abused those warnings for political gain (which I guess I should have linked to, oh well).

And maybe McCain is just a befuddled old man. It would explain a lot more than this particular contradiction.

From a contradiction, anything follows.

I live in Pennsylvania. Ridge was (and still is) and idiot. He didn't leave office with some great aura of competence surrounding him. He was lackluster, at best. Same with his color-coded performance at DHS.

My favorite Gov. Ridge story occurred when Ed Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia. Rendell worked out a deal to bring a ship builder into the old navy yard, using a mix of local, state, and federal incentives. Ridge, of course, felt the need to get his fingerprints on it and jumped in with changes to the requirements at the last minute. Some of the requirements he added from the state were actually in conflict and illegal per the federal rules. The ship builder said forget it and walked. DOH!

I'm almost certain I will regret saying this, but I can think of a more logical explanation for this seeming contradiction.

The GOP is showing some acknowledgement of political reality in the US w/ respect to majority public opinion. Like it or not, legal abortion is currently the law of the land and will remain so until the SCOTUS decides otherwise, and a large fraction of the US electorate (including the much coveted Independents) do not want that to change because doing so would involve taking away something which they currently enjoy as a right, at least hypothetically.

Gays on the other hand are a small minority who can be picked on (at least in a dog-whistle fashion) without a majority of Americans thinking "hey! they are talking about taking away my rights".

This is "they came for the communists and I did not speak, because I wasn't a communist" logic at work in the electorate, which the GOP has a reasonably good grasp of.

See also: Muslims, GWOT.

This makes sense if you only look at it as a Ridge v. Bloomberg matter, not in any larger sense. What McCain is saying is that Ridge might be a problem on one front while Bloomberg is a problem on multiple fronts. Plus, there's that whole "Bloomberg isn't a Republican anymore" issue. I think you'd see the same kind of argument if Ridge (or some other VP candidate) were anti-choice but pro-gay rights. Bloomberg is separated by the right-wing orthodoxy on multiple fronts instead of just one.

I still think McCain is going to be under a lot of pressure to pick a running mate who is beholden to the far right. They just don't trust him right now. If I were a praying sort, I'd be praying for Sam Brownback.

This is about identity politics, abortion has never been the priority of the right-wing elite; however other issues that are not as popular (taxes, right-wing statist stuff) get to hide behind these issues.

Why anti-abortion activists allow themselves to be used this way, is beyond me, yet I think most of the leaders know if abortion and “family” issues get pushed off the table they would have no jobs and the Republicans would get less support.

The gay is the new black. I suspect, for most right-wingers, blacks and gays scare them more than the mass death of dead babies. Watch how readily these folks rally around the mass death of Middle Easterners, I suspect most of these folks believe “the right-to-life” is a highly subjective and relative moral imperative.

Why anti-abortion activists allow themselves to be used this way, is beyond me

I think you could insert just about any minority political group in that sentence and the answer would be the same. For example, "why progressive activists allow themselves to be used this way is beyond me." Progressive activists realize on some level that they're a part of a larger coalition, because they don't have the power to change everything on their own. They're trying to work within the system, and occasionally they take a pound of flesh in a primary. Their real goal is to move the Overton window.

Anti-abortion activists know, on some level, that if they leave the Republican party, they lose irrevocably, because a third-party with abortion as its main focus won't win anything. So they stick with the party and try to get what they can out of it.

Actually it makes perfect sense if you realize that most "pro-life" types don't really care about "life" as much they care about punishing women for having sex. And as bad as women having sex with men is, it's not as bad as men having sex with men or women having sex with women.

LFC: "And maybe McCain is just a befuddled old man."

Maybe?

Incertus,

It would seem most progressive sub-organizations, get much more bang for their buck, with the coalitions they make.

Right-to-Lifers have made gains in the South. But considering abortion is supposed to be legal genocide, those gains are tiny.
This is supposed to be a "holocaust" (their terms) and not just the mismanagement of tax-payers money, they are strategizing like folks trying to get rid of a pesky government program, and not like folks trying to save millions of innocent lives.

I suspect they still view abortion as a necessary evil, like most Protestant churches did for years after Roe V. Wade, and found a cash cow in the way they could mobilize folks…folks they could never get to work with them, otherwise.

Moralist conservatives are opposed to SEX. The reason gays disturb them so much is simple: you can control heterosexual sex by the simple expedient of separating men from women; that approach is not available against homosexual sex.

Sure, the moralists prattle prettily about 'unborn children' and so forth. But they're no fans of contraception, either. It won't be long before they carry their theo-biology to its logical conclusion, start championing the rights of 'unconceived children', and come right out against Onanism.

-- TP

Help! - playing Grand Theft Auto and Medal of Honor has turned me into a pre-adolescent Republican boy who condones murder and crime in general.

OT, strictly speaking, but I have to vent and this is campaign related:

W. T. F. is going on with every media outlet on earth treating Swift-Boat smear artist Jerome Corsi as a Serious Author? NPR??? What the hell gives?

I think ThatLeftTurn has it about right in that it's to do with the current legislative landscape. Choice is the current status quo, more or less. Having a pro-choice running mate isn't a threat in the same way as having a pro-gay running mate is because he can't really make things worse (from their perspective). A pro-gay running mate, however, might agitate for gay rights, which would represent a move in the wrong direction (in their minds).

For how many people is it an indicator of greater, rather than lesser, credibility when the letters "Ph.D." are prominently displayed after the author's name at the top of a book cover?

And aside from the Corsi extravaganza, am I missing something, or are our media overlords bound and determined to make a "Democrats divided" PUMA-exaggerating story out of the shocking fact that there's going to be a perfectly normal roll call at the Democratic convention?

Nell: W. T. F. is going on with every media outlet on earth treating Swift-Boat smear artist Jerome Corsi as a Serious Author? NPR??? What the hell gives?

From the 'thank heavens for small favours' file, at least the Politco has outlined why Corsi is the Alex Jones of movement conservatism.

I think there's a chance the McCain Braintrust is merely running this up the flagpole. They might get shouted into picking an anti-choice Veep, but either way, McCain gets to point to this Mavericky Moment. Don't worry, Chris Matthews et al noticed. The wankers.

Hilzoy: Sometimes I think I will never understand today's conservative movement.

Today’s? Me neither.

Short version: Say whatever you have to in order to suck up to the religious right, but leave enough wiggle room to convince the folks in the middle that you are not actually sucking up to the religious right.

Lie. But say it with a straight face. Demonize your opponent at every opportunity. Abortion! Did I mention Abortion! And teh Gays! They want to marry and adopt your children! Abstinence works – no teenagers will ever have sex if you just tell them to wait. They won’t do drugs either if you just talk to them.

A**holes.

I wish there was an OCSteve movement.

W. T. F. is going on with every media outlet on earth treating Swift-Boat smear artist Jerome Corsi as a Serious Author? NPR??? What the hell gives?

there's a widely-linked interview with Corsi and a guy from Media Matters on Larry King. King is polite, but clearly thinks Corsi is full of shit. and the guy from Media Matters did a good job of knocking Corsi around - and Corsi spent the whole time with his face turning various shades of red, and blustering. King even brought out Corsi's FreeRepublic comments.

so, not everybody's buying it.

I wish there was an OCSteve movement.

Dude - this IS it!

;)

For how many people is it an indicator of greater, rather than lesser, credibility when the letters "Ph.D." are prominently displayed after the author's name at the top of a book cover?

my first reaction is "of what" and "from where".

i've seen the Wizard Of Oz. i know that a degree doesn't mean you're smart. oh wait... yes it does.

the sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy!

"I wish there was an OCSteve movement."

Me too!

Speaking of the right wing, I forgot what I was watching last night, channel-surfing when I decided I had watch just a wee bit too much of Olympic volleyball, but the speaker was blathering how Obama's vaction is making him look bad.

The guy tried to make a big deal out of the fact that Obama didn't cut his trip short when the Georgian-Russian crisis broke out.

Never mind that President Bush spent the whole weekend in Beijing (and I say good for him, cajoling with athletes is one of the few things he does well).

Never mind that these are the same folks who thought Obama overreached with his overseas tour.

Amazing.

FWIW, I think this respite was a smart thing on his part (only wish I had the means to join him).

Speaking of the right wing, I forget what I was watching last night, channel-surfing when I decided I had watched just a wee bit too much of Olympic volleyball, but the speaker was blathering how Obama's vacation is making him look bad.

The guy tried to make a big deal out of the fact that Obama didn't cut his trip short when the Georgian-Russian crisis broke out.

Never mind that President Bush spent the whole weekend in Beijing (and I say good for him, cajoling with athletes is one of the few things he does well).

Never mind that these are the same folks who thought Obama overreached with his overseas tour.

Amazing.

FWIW, I think this respite was a smart thing on his part (only wish I had the means to join him).

I think that the symbolism that the acts evoke is more important than the reality of them. Most citizens will be aware of an associate that has had an abortion, but woman moving to...and men sticking their...it's more alien to many.

Respectfully,

Ben (who has shamelessly pilfered this point.)

Never mind that these are the same folks who thought Obama overreached with his overseas tour.

never mind that McCain is now trying to play Ambassador to Georgia / chief antagonist to Russia, trying to restart the cold war.

who appointed him Bizzaro Secretary of State?

the speaker was blathering how Obama's vaction is making him look bad.

And he's having the vacation in an "exotic" locale. (There was a time when a reporter would have been severely reprimanded, if not fired, for such a comment. Sigh. At least Rene Montainge showed a little backbone when she questioned McCane. No more BBQ for her!)

There was a theological argument in the middle ages that "sodomy" was a worse crime than anything else, up to and including murder, because by biblical precedent it could provoke God into annihilating your entire city. Whether anyone ever seriously believed that, or whether anyone believes it now, I dunno.

"To the Point" on NPR gave air time to Will Bower of PUMA (fortunately not just him) and endless speculation about chaos at the convention and the possibility of Clinton stealing the nomination, despite lacking any evidence that even one PUMA sympathizer is a delegate to the convention, and despite the fact that Clinton herself will be casting her superdelegate vote for Obama.

In the runup to the Republican convention, will the media give nearly as much coverage to, for example, Ron Paul counterconvention as they have to the supposedly huge numbers of disgruntled Clinton supporters who are such a problem for Obama (despite their inability to prevent him from leading in the polls)?

Further infuriating the already-seething Republican right-wing base, John McCain is has been dropping the name of Tom Ridge as his vice presidential running mate. Tom Ridge? The abortion-rights supporting former ex-governor of reliably Democratic and blue collar Pennsylvania?
Let's get a rundown on the guy who might inadvertently tip the scales for Barack Obama: http://www.236.com/news/2008/08/14/i_want_to_be_number_two_tom_ri_8288.php

I didn't think the NPR story on the Corsi book was actually that bad; the reporter basically rattled off a string of false statements that were in the book, and explained how every one of them was false.

interloper, it did not actually end with the middle ages. Under John Paul II. highranking catholic officials e.g. declared contraception to be worse than murder and that there could be just wars but never just contraception. Except for Onan (who did not masturbate but practiced coitus interruptus) there is to my knowledge no mention of contraception in the bible at all (and abortion only indirectly by setting a price on involuntary abortion), while there are several verses that, if taken literally, put (male) homosexuality extremly high on the list of grave sins. Church law through the centuries left loopholes for early abortions but never ever for homosexual acts. I have read that the "life begins at conception" (or even at ejaculation) became quasi-dogma as a result of the mariological dogmas and the nonsensical thought experiment of "what if Mary had aborted Jesus" (or had taken the pill [or God used a condom?]).
According to Roman catholic (but only some protestant denomination) teachings, aborted fetuses go to hell, making abortion a "larger problem" for catholics, less for most protestants. So for the typical religious right abortion might be only murder in the flesh but not in the soul, while teh gay poison not just their own souls but infect all that come in contact with them. I think more people believe in the existence of "the homosexual agenda" trying to convert people to become homosexual than in the idea that pro-choicers want to persuade people to have abortions for abortion's sake (i.e. becoming pregnant in order to have an abortion opportunity).

For how many people is it an indicator of greater, rather than lesser, credibility when the letters "Ph.D." are prominently displayed after the author's name at the top of a book cover?

I suppose that depends on the amount of exposure to academia one has enjoyed and could be boiled down to this simple formula: the higher the exposure the less it impresses and vice versa.

Wait a minute, John McCain actually speaks about gay rights using the term gay rights? Not perversion entitlements? sodomy privileges? Not even gay marriage? Karl Rove must be embarrased.

Regardless of whether some criticisms of the Corsi book are being made, the fact that the "liberal" media are giving it wall-to-wall coverage on virtually every news program is a problem. How many of these programs interviewed Cliff Schecter or talked about The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don't Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn't?

ThatLeftTurnInABQ is right, and ed probably as well. From the quote, McCain appears to be pointing out simple political expediency in choosing a running mate. Nowhere does McCain state anything about the moral degrees of abortion and gays.

It's actually quite annoying to see the venting and bloviating going on here about the "conservative movement." OCSteve throws out a critical comment and the adulation predictably flows forth based, I think, on the assumption that he is the rarest sort of conservative.

It may make everyone feel good here thinking that the "conservative movement" equals religious neanderthals looking to condemn all of mankind while holding the Bible. But as one typically enjoys coming here and seeing how my fellow citizens think, it's posts and comment sections like this that I find annoyingly tedious (is that redundant?). Just my two cents.


BC, the tedious commentary will probably end if we ever see at time when Republican candidates stop kow-towing to the Neanderthals -- perhaps acting more like McCain 2000 than McCain 2008. You can pretend that the Neanderthals have nothing to do with you, but as long as the political reality doesn't match you'll continue to be annoyed.

There is pretty much no conceivable way that I would vote for McCain (Obama turns out to be a robot who is remote controlled by Putin???) but I'd be happy to throw in two cents or so about the dynamic here.

First, McCain has never been all that pro-life in the sense of taking it as a serious issue. He votes pro-life, sure, but I've never gotten the impression that he cares about the issue. For HIM it isn't about murder. It is about getting the votes of people who think it is.

Second, we (Americans?) are strongly conditioned to the idea that 'the new' is more important than the old. Abortion has been talked 'round and 'round for decades. Gay marriage is new and exciting (both in the idea of having it and the 'need' to oppose it). This factor tends to produce all sorts of weird priorities in all sorts of areas of life.

Third, rhetorically there should be a third, but I think that is most of it.

There was a theological argument in the middle ages that "sodomy" was a worse crime than anything else, up to and including murder, because by biblical precedent it could provoke God into annihilating your entire city.

Well, except that "sodomy" was not the sin of Sodom"

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.--Exekiel 16:49

As stated above, this is all about another phony McMavericky moment. His instinct is to pander in this manner because it has worked for him for decades.

What is remarkable about it is how tone deaf he is regarding the probable effect of the comment, even as a pandering throw away comment -- one far more likely to sour his base than win undecided voters. This tactic may still work to some extent with the media (even though he picked that Neanderthal Huckabee for vp, we know he still favors bipartisan moderation!), it is hard to see how it works with voters.

"..... they did not help the poor and needy."


God's campaign strategists:

"Look.... over there ..... sodomy, I say! Helping the poor and needy leads to increased sodomy among the poor and needy. Ivory tower elitists want to help the poor and needy because they want the children of the poor and needy to engage in sodomy. They teach it in the schools for crying out loud, when they oughta be teaching the poor and needy to squeeze oil from trees."

interloper: There was a theological argument in the middle ages that "sodomy" was a worse crime than anything else, up to and including murder, because by biblical precedent it could provoke God into annihilating your entire city. Whether anyone ever seriously believed that, or whether anyone believes it now, I dunno.

In the Middle Ages, the "sin of Sodom" was thought to be gluttony - greed, inhospitability to strangers. For that sin, your city could be destroyed.

I don't think anyone really believed it then, and certainly no one believes it now.

It may make everyone feel good here thinking that the "conservative movement" equals religious neanderthals looking to condemn all of mankind while holding the Bible.

The conservative movement is, I think, a creature of some parts, of which religious neanderthals are only one.

And, of course, the liberal community does in fact include annoying, self-absorbed people who live in big cities and who dine on rare cheeses and French wines, and whose hearts bleed for poor unfortunates who they would never think of sharing a cab, let alone lunch, with.

So, you know, whatever.

I'm sure there are honest, worthy conservatives out there, quietly living their lives and doing their part to make the world a better place.

Unfortunately, all of the conservatives in public life appear to be of that other kind.

Somebody out there voted for these creeps. It's getting harder and harder to find folks who will own up to it, and nowadays everyone wants to run away from them as fast as they can, but as recently as a couple of years ago, folks couldn't line up fast enough to vote for these incompetent, criminal scoundrels.

It sure as hell wasn't me.

If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. If you don't want to be criticized for basing electoral strategy on pandering to religious bigots, then don't base your electoral strategy on pandering to religious bigots.

You can't have it both ways, man.

Thanks -

It may make everyone feel good here thinking that the "conservative movement" equals religious neanderthals looking to condemn all of mankind while holding the Bible. But as one typically enjoys coming here and seeing how my fellow citizens think, it's posts and comment sections like this that I find annoyingly tedious (is that redundant?). Just my two cents.


Bc,

KCinDC (11:45am) and russell (12:41pm) have already covered the "elections have consequences" part of what I was going to say, so I hope you don’t mind if I take your comments as a starting point for a digression about politician philosophy more generally.

First of all, I do very much appreciate the efforts made by conservatives (and classical liberals, per von) of all stripes to comment here in a reasoned manner without engaging in ad hominem attacks or tedious rehashing of the talking points of the day, recognizing that the center of gravity on this blog does seem to have shifted to the left over the years and thus may feel like opposition territory from a conservative point of view.

I agree with you that it is unfair to characterize all conservative opinion using the most extreme and publically visible elements of the religious right as a synecdoche for the whole. With respect to the public realm of political campaigning (ads, stump speeches, media talking points, etc.) I do admit to enjoying a certain amount of schadenfreude seeing the same techniques which were used to beat down Democrats and turn “liberal” into a dirty word (using the more lunatic elements of the left) over the last 3 decades turned around and applied to its practitioners. Chickens, coming home to roost, etc.

Despite that, I do think it would be better in the long run if we could all grow up a little bit and try to work towards a state of dialog in this country which recognizes that the spectrum of political opinion in the US is by global standards (and measured against other periods of history) more remarkable for its ideological narrowness rather than its breadth, and that the polarization which divides us is rather silly and counterproductive considering how much we agree upon.

Certainly the sort of conversations which take place on this blog are a good start. A little less tribalism and a little more cooperation across ideological boundaries seems to me to be both appropriate and necessary at this point in our history, because we have a lot of challenges to deal with and somewhat less in the way of surplus resources with which to meet them, than we have enjoyed in the past.

IMHO the sun appears to be setting on the period of time when it could be said that “God takes care of fools, drunks, and the United States of America”, and I for one have grown tired of living in a society which seems determined to recreate the atmosphere of l'affaire Dreyfus France on a regular basis, just because it benefits the TV networks and the people who have figured out how to make money by yelling and screaming (or the print equivalent).

One of the things which strikes me about the “conservative movement” from the viewpoint of someone outside looking in, is how ideologically fractured it appears to be. Given the serious disagreements and/or differences in priorities apparent between paleocons, neocons, theocons, fiscal conservatives, libertarian conservatives, and other flavors of conservative, I’ve been surprised at how well the machinery of the conservative movement has managed to work – like a car that hasn’t had an oil change in over 100,000 miles yet somehow still manages to keep running.

The other thing that strikes me is that I have a sort of bimodal reaction to different parts of the conservative movement. Some of them seem like very decent people in person, who are pleasant to be around and really do mean well, while holding beliefs that I personally find to be implausible or in some cases (homophobia for example) repugnant, and which have consequences from a public policy standpoint that are strikingly divergent from the generally benign atmosphere of the households which support those policies. There is a sort of disconnect between private and public worlds which is disconcerting, IMHO.

Then there are other branches of the conservative movement, generally the fiscal conservative and libertarian parts, with which I find myself in broad philosophic agreement at the level of abstract ideas (balanced budgets and limited govt. are a good thing, for example) while recognizing that in practice these wholesome sounding ideas have frequently been used as political camouflage by a long parade of crooks, liars and charlatans who have talked the talk but not walked the walk.

I’ve grown tired of hearing rhetoric about how we have to reduce the size and power of the federal govt. only to find that the practical effect of electing people who say that is to expand the size and power of govt. while shifting resources into the more authoritarian and militaristic branches, and/or making it easier for private parties to profit from poorly supervised contracting opportunities. To me “smaller govt.” and “looting the public treasury” are not synonymous!

So on the fiscal/regulatory side it is not so much that I wish there were fewer conservatives, but rather I wish there were fewer people pretending to be conservatives who in practice seem to be nothing of the sort.
If there were a political party in the US which was socially liberal but fiscally conservative, and emphasized prudent realism in foreign policy, I would be very comfortable supporting that. From where I stand some branches of the Democratic party come much closer to that ideal than anything in the GOP right now, but YMMV.

annoying, self-absorbed people who live in big cities and who dine on rare cheeses and French wines

Well, annoying and self-absorbed are subjective evaluations, but I certainly live in big cities and love French cheese and wine. I've even been known to live in French cities on occasion.

Applause from the peanut gallery for ThatLeftTurninABQ. I don't know how much more sanity I can sustain the impact of in one day.

If you hear about that 3rd (or let's say new) party, let me know.

It's rare cheeses for me, and I don't even live in a big city. Not even in a small one, really. Actually, it's barely a village....

My cheese comes not with French wine but with a helping of guilt and worry about my high cholesterol.

Clearly, it's Friday afternoon.

My cheese comes not with French wine but with a helping of guilt and worry about my high cholesterol.

You're really doing it wrong, then :)

But seriously, cheese is the greatest thing in the universe. A political party that mocks cheese deserves to go the way of the dodo.

You're really doing it wrong, then :)

It, among other things.

Life is a work in progress, though, so there's hope. ;)

It, among other things.

Life is a work in progress, though, so there's hope

maybe Ernest Borgnine can help.

russell:

So, you know, whatever.

No I don't. I think it matters a great deal that there each side cannot be blanketed with one description. Not that you do . . .


Unfortunately, all of the conservatives in public life appear to be of that other kind.

. . .at least not all the time. :).

I think electoral strategy is fair game. But the gist of the post was conservatives think gay rights are "worse" than abortion by orders of magnitude.

That Hilzoy's interpreted the comments the way she did and condemned the entire "conservative movement" in the process says much by itself. It wasn't really about an electoral strategy.

ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

Certainly the sort of conversations which take place on this blog are a good start.

Up to this point, all I have to say is: word.

the rest of what you say: almost all word.

But word on HOW you express your disagreement.

My main point is that the conversation here is not always the "good start" you and I long for. When the majority get into "pile on" mode and "rah rah" mode it gets tedious.

Recently, there have been several posts where commenters say "Excellent post!" and "great job!" with little critical thinking applied. It doesn't do anyone any good if we don't each critically consider our own positions. I do that every day here. That's WHY I'm here. (And for the Thullen comments.) But it's hard for me to do that if the "conversation" is of the "pile on" or "rah rah" variety.

And in being critical of overgeneralizing I realize I am in part doing the same thing. Certainly you and Russel, Hilzoy and many others want to engage and do so in a way that I find valuable even if we disagree.

Cleek, I just saw that clip too. It was sweet!

Seeing the reference to "Marty" (which I must have seen as a fairly young child)reminded me that there's an exchange in it that has popped into my head countless times over the years. Marty (Borgnine) and his friend are talking about going out that night and it goes something like this:

"What do you want to do, ____?"

"I don't know, Marty, what do you want to do?"

And they go 'round and 'round. I can't count how many times in my life I've said or been tempted to say, "I don't know, Marty, what do you want to do?"

Sometimes I find myself saying "Rocky" instead of Marty. I am not proud of this slip of the tongue. :)

Maybe I'll watch the movie again one of these days.

bc,

Thank you for the kind words – something that I appreciate very much. To the extent that I’m able to maintain an even and reasoned “tone” in my comments, the credit for that really belongs to everyone here who makes a group effort to do so. It is one of the things that is distinctive about this “place”, and which keeps me coming back. That, and the Thullen posts (and the other very distinctive voices as well. Y’all know who you are so I won’t name names).

I had a thought about this part of your comment:

My main point is that the conversation here is not always the "good start" you and I long for. When the majority get into "pile on" mode and "rah rah" mode it gets tedious.
Recently, there have been several posts where commenters say "Excellent post!" and "great job!" with little critical thinking applied. It doesn't do anyone any good if we don't each critically consider our own positions. I do that every day here. That's WHY I'm here. (And for the Thullen comments.) But it's hard for me to do that if the "conversation" is of the "pile on" or "rah rah" variety.

I empathize with you about this. I wouldn’t particularly enjoy reading what are essentially “go team!” comments on a blog where I was in a position of opposition with respect to the prevailing majority consensus.

On the other hand, perhaps you are over interpreting these comments a bit, as being directed at you, or at political viewpoints you sympathize with, when that may not really be how they are intended by their authors, or understood by at least some of the audience.

I’m not in a position to read minds, so first I’ll admit to being as guilty of writing these basically content-free (or “semantically lightweight” if you prefer) comments as anyone else here. In my case, these sorts of comments are really meant to convey the message: “Carry on. I’m here, and I don’t have anything particularly profound to add just now, but I just wanted you to know that somebody out there is listening”.

The other reason I write comments like this is that since my analytic commentary is almost always critical of something or somebody, it tends to take on a rather negative tone if not interspersed with more upbeat musings, so I feel a need to add some sugar from time to time, to balance out the vinegar. Being a grouch all the time gets tiresome.

These types of comments are the written equivalent of the non-verbal auditory clues (“Uh-huh”, “yeah”, “mmmkay”) which are common in face to face conversation. They are part of the social rather than analytic function of a virtual community, and one that is quite common in my experience with other virtual communities going back almost 2 decades.

So when I make comments like that, they aren’t intended to be directed at you or any of the other participants in the community as if you were targets, and these comments are most certainly not intended to create a hostile environment, or to discourage diversity or participation from others who disagree with me. If they seem political, that is because they are taking on coloration from the prevailing topics of analytic discussion here.

I have no idea if others here feel the same way, but from my standpoint at least please don’t feel that a pile-on is the effect being aimed for, or that social exclusion of dissenters is what I’m trying to achieve with “rah, rah” comments. In my mind “the community” here is everyone who participates in a constructive manner regardless of viewpoint.

JanieM: have you ever seen the Warner Brothers cartoon in which the same exchange takes place between a couple of vultures? (It's probably from the later '50s; I don't recall who the actual protagonists were.) I saw that cartoon long before I saw "Marty".

Jim Parish -- I don't remember seeing such a cartoon, but I wouldn't be surprised if I had, decades ago, and just forgot it as a separate instance of that conversation.

I looked up Marty on IMDB earlier today... I'm not much of a movie person, so in not re-watching Marty all these years (it came out in 1955; I was 5 years old), I hadn't remembered that it was about Italian-Americans. That may be another reason why bits of it have stuck in my mind: it would have resonated strongly with the world I grew up in.

I think it matters a great deal that there each side cannot be blanketed with one description.

Actually, that was sort of the point I was going for with the rare cheese and french wine comment. Although I actually do like rare cheeses and french wine.

Not as much as Richard Perle, though. He lives over there half the time.

Not that you do . . .

Unfortunately, all of the conservatives in public life appear to be of that other kind.

. . .at least not all the time.

I'll admit that I don't follow these things as closely as perhaps I ought to, but at the national level the only conservative I can think of who strikes me as something other than either a criminal or a nutjob is Chuck Hagel. Unless you want to include Jim Webb, who seems pretty conservative to me, and I don't mean that in a bad way. But most conservatives are reluctant to claim him because he's not a Republican.

So, the bench looks pretty thin to me. If there are other folks I should be noticing, clue me in.

It's really not my intent to poke you in the eye here, but my honest and candid opinion is that the Republican party has become a profoundly and criminally corrupt organization, and that many to most other conservative institutions -- AEI, Cato, the Federal Society -- are so profoundly ideological that they've lost the ability to engage in constructive, practical ways with the actual problems we face.

It's a tough time to be a conservative. Your guys are letting you down. You really need some fresh blood and some fresh ideas.

Believe me when I say there is no personal animus intended toward you, or anyone here, in any of what I've said here.

Thanks -

bc: OCSteve throws out a critical comment and the adulation predictably flows forth based, I think, on the assumption that he is the rarest sort of conservative.

Perhaps you are thinking of John Cole? I can’t maintain that level of outrage or I would blow out an artery. I don’t think I’m rare these days. Maybe just more outspoken. Certainly more willing to stick around a 98% lefty blog and slug it out on occasion.

I’m never going to be a Democrat. I think they are wrong on so many issues. Personally, I know many and they are great people. I very much like most of the die-hards here. But as a group I think they are whacked – just wrong on so many issues.

But I can’t be a Republican any longer either. Put aside the Iraq war and Gitmo and torture and executive privilege and FISA and all that crap. They come back time and again to abortion and gays. They pander to the extremists. And frankly I think those people are just plain nuts.

Look – gay marriage. I’ve thought long and hard about how a same sex couple getting married could possibly affect me in any way. I came up with exactly one thing. If my employer wants to cover gay couples for health insurance, our group rates are going to go up a little. The coverage type “husband and wife” becomes “spouse and other” or some other nonsense and the rate goes up. I’ll pay a little more because underwriters think that lifestyle carries more risk. Whatever. I’m for universal coverage so that should go away. But there is no reason I can understand that it should be an issue at all, much less a central campaign issue.

I really don’t think I am that rare.

"First, McCain has never been all that pro-life in the sense of taking it as a serious issue. He votes pro-life, sure, but I've never gotten the impression that he cares about the issue. For HIM it isn't about murder. It is about getting the votes of people who think it is."

You don't read my blog, Sebastian.

I said "I don't know, what do you want to do, Marty," this afternoon, when my sweetie and I forgot to check if Hellboy II was still at the theater it was at yesterday, and found it wasn't. I say it a lot.

But, then, we're both old movie fans (her with far more direct knowledge, since I've mostly not had cable in the past twenty years).

hilzoy wrote:
how could a disagreement about abortion rights be just a disagreement, while a disagreement about gay rights is somehow orders of magnitude more serious?

I don't get it.

OCSteve wrote:
But there is no reason I can understand that [same-sex marriage] should be an issue at all, much less a central campaign issue.

I am torn.

I want to believe both of you, but I can't.

To me it is blindingly obvious that the arguments over same-sex marriage and abortion are over gender roles. Both of you are smart grown-ups who should know how to recognize a gender role issue when it's in front of you.

And yet, you profess yourselves baffled and at a loss to understand, and manage to talk about it without saying anything about gender roles or why (and whether) they are public policy issues.

I'm not saying that I expect either of you to agree with people opposed to same-sex marriage -- far from it. But I do expect you to have some idea of where they are coming from, and not claim to be continually non-plussed by their existence.

As I said, I'm torn: I don't know whether you're just rhetorically "baffled" by anti-feminism, trying to expose its absurdities without saying the dread f-word, or if you actually don't see the gender role lines until they're pointed out to you.

Doctor Science, I don't understand. Hilzoy's bafflement isn't about how they can be issues, but about how gay rights can be a hugely more important issue than abortion. How does the recognition that both issues relate to gender roles explain that?

KCinDC:
I think elle (above) explained it:

as bad as women having sex with men is, it's not as bad as men having sex with men or women having sex with women.

Even if elle isn't correct, any explanation -- or discussion -- of the issues IMHO *has* to include the word "women" (woman, etc.), which hilzoy's post does not.

KCinDC: Doctor Science, I don't understand. Hilzoy's bafflement isn't about how they can be issues, but about how gay rights can be a hugely more important issue than abortion. How does the recognition that both issues relate to gender roles explain that?

Women can have legal access to abortion without tearing up the set gender roles that anti-feminists hold are more important than anything else. (And in practical humanity, while you pretty much have to be anti-feminist to be pro forced pregnancy, it doesn't follow the other way: a person can believe firmly that women and men ought to be legally unequal, without believing that means women ought to be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against their will.)

Same-sex marriage, however, follows directly on from equal marriage - if a bride/groom and husband/wife are legal equals and have legally identical responsibilities and rights in marriage, there is no legal or logical reason why two men or two women can't marry.

Same-sex marriage is the visible and threatening sign that gender roles in marriage are neither fixed nor mandated: it is much more threatening to people who are fervent anti-feminists than merely being mildly against forced pregnancy.

OCSteve: Look – gay marriage. I’ve thought long and hard about how a same sex couple getting married could possibly affect me in any way. I came up with exactly one thing. If my employer wants to cover gay couples for health insurance, our group rates are going to go up a little. The coverage type “husband and wife” becomes “spouse and other” or some other nonsense and the rate goes up. I’ll pay a little more because underwriters think that lifestyle carries more risk. Whatever. I’m for universal coverage so that should go away. But there is no reason I can understand that it should be an issue at all, much less a central campaign issue.

You have to figure that homophobes feel about people who are openly gay/lesbian - and about all the manifestations of LGBT equality, such as same-sex marriage and the right to serve openly in the military - the way you feel about Muslims. You have an irrational fear/hatred/contempt such that you support kicking 6 innocent imams off a plane because they scared some Islamophobic passengers by being openly Muslim: homophobes support kicking LGBT people off the marriage plane out of the same kind of irrational fear/hatred/contempt. Neither view is rational or sensible - that's what being a 'phobe means.

"...the way you feel about Muslims. You have an irrational fear/hatred/contempt...."

There's no way you know what OCSteve feels.

It's just not something you're able to know.

I'm with Gary.

I think that went over the line too Jes. People deserve the benefit of the doubt, and Steve has more than earned that deference.

Me, too.

If this was an April Fool comment from OCSteve, then I was over the line.

If it wasn't, and he really does believe that the six imams who were kicked off the plane for flying while Muslim were "let off way too easy", then I wasn't over the line: I was accurately describing what OCSteve has made clear he feels about Muslims, to illustrate OCSteve's non-understanding of what homophobes feel about LGBT people.

You're not getting it, Jesurgislac. OCSteve didn't say anything at all about Muslims in general. Just these particular guys, in this particular situation.

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