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September 03, 2008

Comments

On conservative posters:

You're not going to find anyone who is (1) an authentic conservative and (2) willing to write for ObWi. ObWi, like 99.44% of the blogosphere, is not a blog of ideas. It's a blog of parties -- in ObWi's case, the Democratic party. Every argument is ultimately framed in partisan terms. Hence, if you're not a Democrat (or supporting one at the moment), it's not going to be very interesting for you to write for ObWi. You'll have to self-censor yourself too much.*

Maybe that will change after the election year; maybe not. It is very difficult to debate ideas without becoming partisans. God knows that Moe, Katherine, and I tried. We didn't succeed.

von

*As Gary notes, the "conservatives" that have been mentioned above are not conservatives. I'm a classic liberal/squishy libertarian, and although it's difficult for y'all to distinguish classic liberal from conservative, it's not hard for conservatives to do so. I get roughly the same reception as RedState as I get here.

I got the sense from Andrew (and get the sense from Sebastian) that they apply roughly the same framework as I do, but emphasize different issues and, on occasion, reach somewhat different results. But neither is truly a conservative. With respect to Andrew, it also happened that he was also a truly amazing (and disarming) blogger .... and impossible not to like. Me, not so much.

Obama's cheerleaders in the media

the GOP's old/new blame-the-media tune resonates with the base, i see.

It's a blog of parties -- in ObWi's case, the Democratic party. Every argument is ultimately framed in partisan terms.

I think you're massively underestimating the extent to which normally disparate groups have coalesced around the anti-Bush -- and thus anti-GOP -- platform. If the only realistic options are 1) Democrats or 2) batshit-insane near-psychopaths, you're gonna get a lot of people identifying as Democrats that would not normally do so.

I get roughly the same reception as RedState as I get here.

I get the impression that you are treated as a fellow traveler over at Redstate, but here, as part of the (loyal?) opposition, though I haven't followed Redstate. I think that gives you a different reception, even if the sentiments sound basically the same.

I also think that authentic conservatives does not equal bush supporters

I get roughly the same reception as RedState as I get here.

Surely Redstate is a Republican blog, not a conservative one, or are those the same thing by the definitions you're using?

von: Hence, if you're not a Democrat (or supporting one at the moment), it's not going to be very interesting for you to write for ObWi. You'll have to self-censor yourself too much.

Well, that, or - y'know - actually be able to intelligently justify supporting McCain and other conservative policies. If you can't do that, I agree you're better off just posting where you'll get other conservatives giving you supportive noises about how terrible it would be to have a black Democratic President who isn't reliably pro forced pregnancy.

There is a shortage of blogs with a far wider spread of views where people can reasonably debate.

Well, there is a shortage of many many things, so I must ask: why do you think blogs with a far wider spread of views would be better? If you don't think it would be better, then why are you bringing up the concept? Is having a "far wider spread of views" a virtue in and of itself? If so, why?

I mean, if I said, boy, there is a real shortage of restaurants that sell pickled anchovy chocolate ice cream, I would be totally correct. But, um, the mere presence of a shortage does not mean that the shortage is a bad thing.

Gary, I wrote this:

I'm really curious about what specific benefit do people think a conservative front pager would add.

You then responded by writing this

True, several more are called for. The benefit would be to get ObWi back to what it was, and what it was intended to be: a place where a spread of political views are put forth and respectfully debated.

Now, I, being of limited mental abilities, assumed that when you claimed that several more conservative front page posters were called for you meant that such a thing would be a good idea. I did not think that you sought the destruction of OW and were thus recommending bad ideas. Thus I was very surprised to read your later comments where you wrote:

Since "better" is a subjective judgment, I don't know how it would be measured; feel free to put forth suggestions for a metric to be used to as regards this idea that ObWi would be "better," that you're inventing, and which has nothing whatever to do with anything I said.

Quote me anything I said that had anything to do with ObWi being "better."

I think that saying that several more conservative front pager posters are called for an that they would "benefit" (your word) OW by "getting it back to what it was" does constitute making OW "better", but perhaps there is some non-obvious reading of your original comments in which you are not talking about making OW "better" that I just can't see. Of course, I'm only interested in readings of your comments that make sense.

Is there any evidence that OW would be better in any measurable way if I addressed the other questions in your previous comment? Or are you just assuming that?

Hee hee, this is funny. You can be so cute when you get confused about what you just wrote.


Well, there is a shortage of many many things, so I must ask: why do you think blogs with a far wider spread of views would be better? If you don't think it would be better, then why are you bringing up the concept? Is having a "far wider spread of views" a virtue in and of itself? If so, why?

For two reasons, the first prudential and the second instrumental: (1) diversity in opinion and viewpoint is the safety net you need in case Mr. Groupthink comes to the neighborhood, and (2) Quality opposition spawns better arguments. Sloppy thinking, logic errors and factually challenged statements thrive in an ienvironment where ideas are either not challenged or are only challenged from one direction. You need a whetstone to keep a knife sharp.

ThatLeftTurn, thanks for your two very informative comments. I appreciate your willingness to actually specify some detail.

Maybe the front pagers should just start recruiting folks from amconmag?

von: "ObWi, like 99.44% of the blogosphere, is not a blog of ideas. It's a blog of parties -- in ObWi's case, the Democratic party. Every argument is ultimately framed in partisan terms. Hence, if you're not a Democrat (or supporting one at the moment), it's not going to be very interesting for you to write for ObWi."

Being pretty new to the blogosphere, it would be disheartening if that 99.44 figure were on the money -- maybe I should have stuck to newspapers, magazines and TV.

While Hilzoy, Eric and Publius may be left-leaning, they manage to post material that challenges this Democrat to give issues a more thorough examination than I normally would -- especially, most recently, during the Russian-Georgian conflict and "Support the Troop" threads.

And as far as ObWi not being a blog of ideas, Gary, LeftTurn and others can address than better than I.

---

Gary: "What I will say is that this only makes sense if you look at blog posts as put forward as a planned political campaign, rather than impulsive responses to news that comes along."

One reason this blog attracted me was that it doesn't put forth material that is, as Gary said, "put forward as a planned political campaign."

Rather, most of what I read and partiicpate in here seems like honest-to-goodness conversation, where it would therefore be natural if someone posts once, twice or 18 times on a particular thread.

It's also refreshing that many regulars recognize their own flaws, as I am discovering I may be more sexist than I'd imagine.

---

I wonder what Peggy Noon is saying this morning.

von: "ObWi, like 99.44% of the blogosphere, is not a blog of ideas. It's a blog of parties -- in ObWi's case, the Democratic party. Every argument is ultimately framed in partisan terms. Hence, if you're not a Democrat (or supporting one at the moment), it's not going to be very interesting for you to write for ObWi. You'll have to self-censor yourself too much."

We never asked anyone to self-censor. We never expected anyone to. It is of course true that the commentariat is overwhelmingly liberal, and thus that conservatives will get more pushback than liberals. I regret this, which is why I've spent ages looking for a decent conservative commenter.

On the other hand, when people defend McCain apparently just for the sake of doing it, e.g. saying that his claim that we need a stimulus, but we need to cut spending first, or saying that his vetting process was actually just fine, or saying that when he says that his cap and trade policy doesn't involve a mandatory cap, that doesn't mean that he doesn't understand his own legislation, it's hard to just treat those arguments as perfectly natural interpretations that happen to be wrong. And when one has enough respect for the person who makes them to think: surely that person knows better than this, it can lead to a certain level of frustration.


On conservative posters:

You're not going to find anyone who is (1) an authentic conservative and (2) willing to write for ObWi. ObWi, like 99.44% of the blogosphere, is not a blog of ideas. It's a blog of parties -- in ObWi's case, the Democratic party. Every argument is ultimately framed in partisan terms. Hence, if you're not a Democrat (or supporting one at the moment), it's not going to be very interesting for you to write for ObWi. You'll have to self-censor yourself too much.

von,

I agree with your point about many of the examples previously cited not being conservative (John Cole for example sounds about as conservative as Harry Truman of late). But I don't think that invalidates the point that a little more ideological diverstiy would be welcome at ObWings*, be it conservative, libertarian, anarchist, or be what you may (within the bounds of civil discourse - no racists, etc). I guess "conservative" is a synecdoche for "not liberal/progressive" in this case.

With regard to the partisan character of current discussion, as others have pointed out this is a consequence of the polarization of the Bush years and the urgency of the current election. By this time next year we'll be complaining about what a sellout Obama is and gnashing our teeth about how he was never a real progressive, etc., etc.

I am genuinely puzzled by "You'll have to self-censor yourself too much"?

Why? Are you saying that the kitty will strike down a top-level blog author who is too conservative? Will the commentariat make rude noises? What exactly is the terrible retribution that will be rained down on a conservative who [shudder] goes too far because they did not self-censor? Are we really that mean? Are conservatives really that thin skinned?


*Turb - thats another answer to your question: why? Not because we can prove it would make this blog "better", but because that is what multiple commentators are asking for.

Peggy Noonan: "I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives --"

I always wondered if Noonan truly was a prim-and-proper pundit or just played one on TV.

I mean, the lady, even off camera, asked to be excused for tossing in a "bullshit."

On the other hand, and this may have been discussed upthread, I thought she had built her career on political narratives.

"By this time next year we'll be complaining about what a sellout Obama is and gnashing our teeth about how he was never a real progressive, etc., etc."

Or we may be complaining how McCain's State of the Union put us to sleep and how that damn Sarah Palin is essentially a co-president running domestic policy.

TLTIA: I sort of expect already that this will happen from the left, once the partisan battles of the election have cooled and the messy details of governance come to dominate discussion. I think one reason you aren't hearing much anti-Obama dissent from the left just now is that after 2000 and 2004 virtually everybody on the left is convinced that this is the most important election evah, and so ranks have closed.

Should you be thirsting for these kinds of discussions before Nov. 5 or the inauguration, you could check in at A Tiny Revolution, where the spread of opinion ranges from people (like the blog owner Jonathan Schwarz and me) who think that we should still vote for Obama as the lesser of two evils despite the ticket's lies and imperial outlook to those who think the whole system is so rotten that letting the less sane wing of imperial managers win will hasten the collapse of U.S. hegemony.

For hard-to-categorize libertarian views on the election, check out The Art of the Possible.

Anarch, I can understand why you write: "If the only realistic options are 1) Democrats or 2) batshit-insane near-psychopaths, you're gonna get a lot of people identifying as Democrats that would not normally do so." But you've just made my point. If I have to choose "democrat" or a supporter of "batshit-insane near-psychopaths," I'm just going to walk away from the conversation. Because the democrats don't have all the answers and some of the folks you regard as "batshit insane" do. But what's the point in discussing the matter with you?

Hilzoy, you can look and look for a conservative poster. Unless you find one who supports Obama, however, I don't see why he or she would accept. Would you accept a job to be the token liberal at RedState?

ObWi is a liberal equivalent to RedState ?

I am genuinely puzzled by "You'll have to self-censor yourself too much"?

Why? Are you saying that the kitty will strike down a top-level blog author who is too conservative? Will the commentariat make rude noises? What exactly is the terrible retribution that will be rained down on a conservative who [shudder] goes too far because they did not self-censor? Are we really that mean? Are conservatives really that thin skinned?

Yes to all. I don't know if "thin-skinned" has anything to do with it.

Take me: I have a full-time job, a family, and other interests. ObWi didn't/doesn't pay me. If I spend an hour composing a post and the next four hours defending myself in comments against a readership who doesn't want to read what I write, why bother? What I am getting out of that? Nothing. What is the readership? Nothing. Indeed, the readership would rather read Hilzoy or Publius or Eric Martin -- all fine writers who share most of the readership's views. Why shouldn't the readership get what it wants?

I don't think that's being thin-skinned. That's not putting myself above the blog. Anything I could add as a front page poster -- e.g., debate -- I can add as a commentator.

ObWi is a liberal equivalent to RedState ?

Equivalent? Noooooo ..... The point is that ObWi is at least as committed to its candidate.

If I spend an hour composing a post and the next four hours defending myself in comments against a readership who doesn't want to read what I write, why bother?

Von, you need not spend any time defending yourself in this particular instance, but please note that I am only able to point out a self-contradiction in your comment because I read what you wrote.

--TP

If I have to choose "democrat" or a supporter of "batshit-insane near-psychopaths," I'm just going to walk away from the conversation. Because the democrats don't have all the answers and some of the folks you regard as "batshit insane" do.

While the Democrats don't have all the answers -- and I have no idea where you'd've got that idea, since I know literally no-one who believes that -- it does not necessarily follow that "some of the folks" I so regard do. In fact, I'll go further, and say definitively that they don't: I don't regard Cheney, for example, as having any answers worth a damn, nor James Dobson, nor Grover Norquist. YMMV on this issue, but I suspect (based on past comments) that it doesn't.

The problem once again seems to be twofold: first, that the Republican party has what are, to me at least, politically powerful factions consisting of "batshit-insane near-psychopaths". Note that once again I'm not talk about rank-and-file GOP members, who run the gamut (as do the Democrats, fwiw), I'm specifically talking about either high-ranking members of the party or their equivalents in power amongst the Republican interest groups. Second, the non-batshit-insane, non-near-psychopaths in the GOP are, for a variety of reasons, subordinating their reason to those factions' madness; and in some cases, arguably being drawn into that madness themselves.

And ultimately, that's what it's boiled down to these past several years: the Democrats don't have all the answers, but the Republicans as a party have none. [Let me reiterate, as a party, because I think you read me too broadly.] Endless war, tax jihadism and (now) "Drill Baby Drill!" aren't answers, they're jingoistic slogans aimed at four more years of Republican dominance without even the pretense of governance. If that reality is too bitter a pill to swallow, well, I respect your willingness to walk away... just not the reason for it.

Would you accept a job to be the token liberal at RedState?

At RedState, any commenter who expresses liberal opinions - "liberal" in a very broad sense, too - gets banned, in short order.

At Obsidian Wings, no commenter who remained polite has ever been banned, regardless of the political slant of opinions they promote.

At RedState, a "token liberal" front-pager would never get any support whatsoever from their views in the comment threads, because anyone inclined to express such support would promptly be banned,

At Obsidian Wings, if your posts attract conservative commentators who agree with you, they get to stay and comment so long as they remain at least as polite as me - which, you know, I admit is not very at times. ;-)

So trying to equate the two is pretty much just... idiotic.

I have a full-time job, a family, and other interests. ObWi didn't/doesn't pay me.

That point, however, I completely support and agree with...

Von, I think you are selling yourself short when you say: "That's not putting myself above the blog. Anything I could add as a front page poster -- e.g., debate -- I can add as a commentator."

And this definitely is true: "The point is that ObWi is at least as committed to its candidate."


[...] I am genuinely puzzled by "You'll have to self-censor yourself too much"?

Why?

I Am Not Von, but I suspect he has something in mind along the lines that when 92%+ of the commentariat disagrees with you largely along a similar alignment, the pile-on effect can make for such a gigantic effort to respond to, if one chooses to engage with even a plurality of commenters (unlike, say, Publius), that posting because an exercise in exhaustion, which would tend to make anyone without near-infinite reserves of time and energy one reluctant to post after a while.

Personally, I ahbor echo chambers; I'd far rather, most of the time, find intelligent, thoughtful, reasonably courteous, people I disagree with, to challenge my views, bring up ideas I might not be as familiar with as I should be, bring me new perspectives, help me see things I might not have seen before, and make me think, and thus improve my conclusions, and my quality of knowledge, and the accuracy of my appraisals and understanding, then I would hang out with a bunch of people who heartily agree with me, and from whom I learn little, and are intellectually challenged by infrequently.

Call me a communist for believing in the notion that thesis can meet antithesis, and thus produce synthesis, rather than wanting soak in a bath of chummy like-mindedness.

I've always believed in reading as wide a range of political views as possible. From my earliest days of interest in politics, I'd seek out as wide a range of publications at libraries, and fringe bookstores, from the most obscure communist and anarchist and racist rightwing sects and groups, to, well, anything I could find that might help me be better informed as to the range of how people look at things, no matter how crazy.

Being validated in one's views is all well and good, but expanding my views and understanding is immensely more valuable to me.

Growing in understanding of how differently things may look to people outside my head is immensely valuable to me.

I don't want to live in any more solipsistic a universe than I'm forced to.

I think that's made me smarter, not stupider.

I'm too familiar with people who are extremely bright, but utterly unable to understand how anyone can disagree with them, or have any kind of remotely legitimate different perspective. (Not, you know, that we'd see any examples of folks like that commenting on this blog, he said airily; no, never, he said, mentioning no names.)

The more echo-chamber-ey ObWi has become, the less valuable and interesting it has become for me, much though I also greatly appreciate the deeply thoughtful and smart views of those I'm closest in alignment and perspective with, such as TLTIA, Hilzoy, Russell, and many others.

But I'd also never put this in a frame of "better" and "worse," since those terms have no meaning absent a defined frame, and the only frame I'm suggesting here is what I, a unique individual, am looking for. No one need agree with me. No one need feel similarly. I am not making any sort of objective claim about what sort of blog, or set of people, or set of arguments, is "better," or "worse."

I simply know what I personally tend to value more, and what I like most, and what I liked most about Obsidian Wings in its first couple of years.

As always, the Mileage of others may perfectly legitimately Vary.

[...] But you've just made my point. If I have to choose "democrat" or a supporter of "batshit-insane near-psychopaths," I'm just going to walk away from the conversation. Because the democrats don't have all the answers
Von, I think you mean "Democrat," not "democrat." You do believe in democracy, and thus are a "democrat," right? Even though you abhor, apparently, the Democratic Party?

I'm a republican, as well, myself, no matter that I'm not a Republican.

Capitalizing the words makes them different words. Thus the whole "common noun" and "proper noun" distinction.

Because the democrats don't have all the answers and some of the folks you regard as "batshit insane" do.
I also hope you mean that "some of the folks you regard as 'batshit insane' also have some valid answers," rather than what you wrote, which is that they "have all the answers."

Might I most humbly suggest that it might benefit your commenting if you wrote just a tad slower? And reread what you wrote before hitting "post"? (Advice all of us, certainly including me, could benefit by, to be sure, and no offense intended; I'd equally or even more strongly give that advise to Publius, so I have no partisan motive in speaking up for even slightly more careful writing, even "just" for blog comments.)

"Indeed, the readership would rather read Hilzoy or Publius or Eric Martin -- all fine writers who share most of the readership's views. "

I'd like to read much more of you, Von, and would be delighted if you would return to front-page commenting. I'd be particularly delighted if you'd make more clear in a front page post what it is you find admirable about John McCain, and why you think it's a reasonable idea for people to vote for him. I can imagine some of your reasoning, but would vastly prefer to read your actual reasoning.

And so on in general.

Thanks!

"The point is that ObWi is at least as committed to its candidate."

Per usual: the blog is a bunch of software. It has no volition and no agency. Neither do the many people who post here, which includes you, march in lock-step views.

It's fine to speak of the similarities and overlaps of the majority of commenters, or posters, and to observe that the overwhelming majority these days tend to be far more left/liberal than conservative/libertarian/right, and far more Democratic, when U.S. citizens, than Republican, but speaking/writing of what "the blog" believes or thinks or does makes no sense.

Gary: "speaking/writing of what 'the blog' believes or thinks or does makes no sense."

I understand your point, but just don't take this as literally as you. By your measure, we should never use "the Obama camp"/"the McCain camp" -- to which you might say, "That's right."

I guess I should have amplified a bit in that I view what we were just talking about along the lines of using the "editorial we."

Or: I often find myself saying my Phillies or my Eagles or, "We played great last night," when I know damn well, I don't have a thing to do with the team.

"you'd make more clear in a front page post what it is you find admirable about John McCain, and why you think it's a reasonable idea for people to vote for him."

I'd like to read that too, though I admit I'd probably also enjoy reading the tidal wave of comments that would come roaring your way immediately afterwards. And I perfectly understand why von wouldn't want to do it. Our loss.

On a related point, I also don't condemn the drive-by conservatives who comment here--I don't necessarily respect their views, but setting that aside, it's tough making a case when you're outnumbered and besides, sometimes people just want to state their opinion without committing to spending a good chunk of the day defending it. I've done this myself, and if it's wrong then I'm one of the sinners. But unless the post is very obnoxious, I don't think it's wrong.

trying to put lipstick on that pig.

Sexist! (Putting lipstick on a pit bull isn't apparently. I guess pit bulls nullify sexist talk in a way that pigs don't...)

----------------------

"Jes just wants more opportunities to go for me like a rabid pit bull!"

Hmmm, is a pit bull without lipstick sexist? If one with isn't, then surely one without must be. (I don't know why, but I don't picture Jes wearing lipstick often, if at all...)

=====================

these are the people who had influence with Bush and are likely to have influence in a McCain administration

You think so? Do you have ANY evidence that Bush cared what RedState or PowerLine ("Blog of the Year"!!!) posted? I know the fine folks at the right-wing blogs think themselves Mighty Advisors to the Decider-In-Chief, but I see no reason to believe it.

-------------------

The point is that ObWi is at least as committed to its candidate.

Weren't they horribly aghast at McCain as candidate at one point? And then suddenly switched back once he won?

Are you claiming that RedState is anywhere NEAR as honest as ObWi?

Yeah, if a front-pager made claims like these, they wouldn't have time for anything else when the OMGWTFBBQ comments started flooding in.

=================

Are conservatives really that thin skinned?

The ones currently holding national offices seem to be.

I also don't condemn the drive-by conservatives who comment here

I don't know -- it seems to be like putting lipstick on a pig (is that sexist or not? I've gotten myself confused re cosmentics and critters) -- it only annoys the pig. What's the point, other than a "Ha ha! I showed those ignorant lot! Neener!"?

Per usual: the blog is a bunch of software.

Perhaps that's Snowden's secret* -- as applied to blogs -- but it isn't my point. ObWi isn't the machinery or software. It ain't the electrons neither. ObWi is a set of ideas. That they be multi-personal is irrelevant.

*J. Heller, Catch-22: "He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden's secret. Drop him out a window and he'll fall. Set fire to him and he'll burn. Bury him and he'll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden's secret. Ripeness was all."

Gary, von:

Look, I don't think anyone is disputing that the bulk of the posting on ObWi, even among those who wouldn't define themselves as liberal, has drifted overwhelmingly towards support for the Democratic ticket and opposition to the Republican ticket.

I think you're missing the larger point of why that is, though. Your complaints seem to coalesce around, more or less, the idea that having no front-page conservatives on ObWi has made it less valuable because now it is an Obama echo chamber. The flip side of this is the assumption that having more opposition to Obama on the front page would be a sign of healthy diversity--without any apparent regard for whether or not the level of opposition to McCain and support for Obama is due to a qualitative difference between the two candidates and campaigns.

Again, it comes back to this: at a certain point you have to come to terms with the fact that nobody's saying anything nice about your product because it actually does suck. And the honest conservatives, even if they are willing to hold their nose and pull the lever for Obama because they recognize how bad McCain is, aren't likely to find it a lot of fun to sit around and bash the candidate they have more in common with ideologically, while advocating for someone who may be the lesser evil to them but still embodies many policies they find to be anathema.

The lack of conservative front pagers isn't a problem with ObWi, it's a problem with the Republican ticket being historically bad this year.

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