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June 13, 2005

Comments

Steve

Wulfgar, I had this brilliant reply to your post, but Ol' Dopey me, flushed it into cyberspace, never to be seen again. The Reader's Digest version is what follows:
As to Kerry's release of records, I have left it up there for awhile. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/724pabsc.asp
This shows why it is difficult to believe that all of the records have been fully released. I am especially curious about his medical treatment records, since they would prove his side of the story and smack down the Swifties, why weren't they released to the public? I know, we should trust Kerry because he is a decorated veteran, just like we trusted Senator Bob Dole, for his watime achievements.
But the point of your reply, that there is nastiness out there on the right is well taken. However, in ten minutes on MoveOn or Democraticunderground, I could double your examples, and then you could double mine in a never ending battle to show who is nastier. But to what purpose?
If you think that it is unfair to capture the sayings of individuals in forums that are designed to allow them to express their anger, I could go through the Congressmen's records of Waxler, Rangel, and others. Or do you remember a guy named Bork, whose name became a verb? Again, to what point. Is it not time to call a truce?
My point is that it is difficult to talk with Democrats right now because of their anger. Anger overwhelms logic. Lack of logic leads to hysteria. Hysteria leads to incitement of mobs. Is that the ultimate result of our present political discourse? I certainly hope not.
Are you concerned about the fact that Republicans own all three branches of government? Were you as concerned when the Democrats did in 1993-95? If not, why not?
As an outsider, I view both parties with suspicion. There is not a lick of difference between the tyrrany of the Left and the tyrrany of the Right.
But if you want to persuade me that your's is the correct view to solving a problem, persuade me with real facts (not selective ones) and real logic, not appeals to emotion.
If you just want to sit in the corner and mumble about the bad Republicans, and the moronic voters who vote for them, please do enjoy yourself, but I will be with happier, more optimisitc people.

Rocky Smith

The vitriol from both political extremes has gotten out of hand. I don't think either side can claim they are less guilty of it. Heck, I admit that it has gotten the better of me at times. Can we all work toward a more civil discussion of our problems and how best to deal with them? I have doubts. I have vowed to try harder to be more civil in discussions of politics and limit it to the facts. One calmer voice won't make much difference though, will it?

Wulfgar

Gentlemen, I think to some degree you've missed the point of my chosen quotes. This is not about both sides being guilty of being mean to each other; it's about a concerted and conspicuous effort of one side to completely define and demonize the other. What do we know about liberals/Democrats/Lefties? They are all the same, and they hate soldiers, brands, business, Christianity and Freedom. Does anyone actually believe those generalizations to be true? Obviously, they do. This effort has been long running, very long indeed.

Steve, you hit something very significant when you point to it being unfair that I chose quotes from forums where people are allowed to express their anger. Two things: 1) What the hell are they angry about? Did a Democrat kill their puppy? No, they are angry because they have found an instance that supports their general view (possibly in the DU nuthouse) and hence they scream with rightious validation how their obviously incorrect view must be correct. That's creating an image and then mightily struggling against it (the very definition of Straw Man falacy). The people those quotes come from have no reason to be angry, except that they WANT to play the victim of the horror that is the "Leftie".

2) What set me off on this, Steve, was reading your assertion that Democrats are angry, oh so angry, frothing at the mouth angry. Take a look at those quotes again, and put yourself as the object of the stupid bigotry they express, knowing full well that they are lies. Imagine, then, that you live in a place where those obvious lies are accepted as gospel truth, and that you are beholden to a definition of yourself that is a total falsehood. Then ask yourself, wouldn't you be pissed off, too? I'd posit that there are a whole lotta Democrats out there that have every reason to be angry.

I'm a Moderate Democrat. Not a single one of those stupid and phony generalizations applies to me. But yet it's accepted that they do, because the job of Rush, and Hannity, and Coulter, and the million righty blogs out there, and DeLay and Frist and their ilk, has been well done. Democrats hate! Democrats are angry! Democrats lie!

The only reason I gave you static about the counter, Steve, is because it proves the point. You have a counter calling for full disclosure to you of Kerry's service record. That might have made sense 8 months ago. Now it's pointless. Kerry doesn't owe you anything; it's none of your business. It's no longer anyone's business, unless he run's for office again. And yet look at the preponderance of websites that are calling for full dislosure of records, and now that they have been released, are claiming that, because they haven't seen all of them that 1) Kerry still has some hidden, and 2) the newspapers are hiding things. You want logic? Show me the logic behiind this witchhunt against the guy WHO LOST. Why can't people let it go? To make it even less logical, where is the hue and cry over the release of records from the guy we trust to be the Commander in Chief of the nation? Does that make any sense? Yes, it does, *IF* you proceed solely from the idea that Kerry is a Democrat, and Democrats lie, Democrats cheat, and Democrats hate freedom.

As to whether or not this schism between uncivil factions is solvable, I highly doubt it. But that has nothing to do with my optimism level, it has to do with Chaos theory, and the function of complex systems over time. This will likely make a good post of its own, so I'll just shut up, for now.

Steve

Wulfgar said:
"This is not about both sides being guilty of being mean to each other; it's about a concerted and conspicuous effort of one side to completely define and demonize the other."
And which side is that exactly? Remember the greedy Repulicans? Starving children, kicking grandma out onto the street, oppresing the masses, etc. I guess I am not sure which group is doing all of the demonizing. Seems pretty fair and balanced about beating each other up from where I sit. It's just that if the Democrats want someone other than the hard core cadres to listen to them, they ought to lighten up a little.

Wulfgar

Steve, that comment shows clearly what I'm talking about. There is nothing fair or balanced about this. Both sides "attempt" to demonize the other. One has been successful to the point of showing obvious truths to be laughable charactures. That same one holds dearly to obvious lies as an absolute given. You call for the Democrats to lighten up if we want someone to listen to us, yet accept that all the rediculous characterizations that I presented are not worthy of derision, scorn, revulsion? Democrats hate Soldiers? Who needs to lighten up, exactly?

The Republicans got the early jump on this game; Rush Lamebaugh has been spewing his drug addled lies for almost 20 years now. But nobody is calling for them to lighten up, or back off, or even tell the fricken truth (except, of course, for Democrats, who you say need to "lighten up".) Bullshit, I say. I'm not interested in painting happy feel good pictures of all of us getting along. I'm interested, as you have expressed to be, in argument, in logic, in the truth as best as we can define it. But don't kid yourself that this game is fair; they got the early lead, and stacked the deck in their favor. They have the ability now to define Democrats who hit back as "insane", "unhinged", angry and hateful.

There are two great bright spots in all of this. 1) the Republicans have hitched their wagon to the truly insane, the fundamentalists who think they can pick and choose God's will. This will be the undoing of the lie. I don't think it will be the undoing of Republicans, nor would I wish it to be so. But if you lie down with dogs ...

2) There's always a bigger fish. If you keep picking fights, eventually, you will lose. Democrats are not all the things that they accuse us of being. Sooner or later, many folks are going to wake up and say, "you know, this just ain't right". The West is where this is happening. Montana's shift towards the left (middle) isn't a fluke. It happened because Montanans have a good sense that lies aren't helpful; people who care about us are. Some of those folks are Democrats ... go figure. Our country may be screwed up, but I think Montana is going to be okay. There; a little optimism for you.

Rocky Smith

Precisely my point, Steve. BOTH sides demonize their opposing counterparts. BOTH sides are equally guilty of it. You are a reasonable man, Wulfgar. Surely you can see this to be the case. Must I quote the Democrat party chairman for you, or some "Air America" commentators? Republicans are all white christians who have never worked for what they have? I freely admit that there are plenty of people on the far right doing the same sort of bashing. Those in the middle are getting damn tired of it from both sides! To say one side is demonizing the other is true. It just happens to be true in the inverse also.

Ralph, Wonder Llama

Answer your email....

Matt Singer

One of the things that Wulfgar is pointing out that is going relatively unanswered is that many of the examples of Democratic nastiness (public name-calling) are recent examples. The conservative media machine has been spewing this bile for years, to the point that where people criticize Dean (including those in his own party), no one even sees the point in calling Limbaugh out onto the mat.

Democrats are getting nastier in public in large part because it seems like we have to. The public perception that liberals dislike troops on a personal level is pretty pervasive, despite the fact that it is untrue. And that perception comes even though it is our party that it is fighting for better Veterans' benefits, etc.

When Dean ran for President, he ran on a fairly positive platform. It attacked Democrats and the President, but on a policy level. Then the Club for Growth came in and referred to him and his state in nothing but negative cultural ways. I'd be pissed too. In fact, I was pissed at the time.

Squid regularly sends me emails saying shit like liberals like their fish raw and their steaks well done. I like my fish raw, my steaks rare, my beer local, and my landscapes mountainous. These generalizations don't work.

Now, neither Wulfgar nor I pull punches on our websites, at least not very often. Because the point is always to be civil. But the point is to maintain standards of honesty. And this liberals hate the troops bullshit needs to go.

As for the conservatives hate the poor, I don't think you'll find Wulfgar or me say that. You might find me saying that for all the good their policies will do, they might as well hate the poor. That's still a huge difference. I give people's intentions the benefit of the doubt.

Larry on our side is every bit as toxic as Squid. They both face the same problem of ignoring facts that dispute what they want to be true and denigrating, personally, anyone who disagrees with them.

But I still think if someone can't see the difference between what's happening in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, it's because they haven't really been paying attention.

Steve

Matt said: "But I still think if someone can't see the difference between what's happening in the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, it's because they haven't really been paying attention."
Or, maybe they are.

Rocky Smith

Check out Sen. Durbin's comments comparing Gitmo to Nazi death camps, Soviet gulags and Pol Pot. Gee, I wonder why some people say that some Democrats have a problem supporting the troops. When Senator Durbin's comments appear on Al Jazirah, this gives untrue ammunition to our enemies. Nobody died at Gitmo. I find the Senator's comments irresponsible.

Steve

Rocky, just to make the record clear, I think there have been at least a couple of deaths. The difference being that it is not an organized, planned goal to kill them there.

john

This "both sides do it" stuff doesn't fly with me. The left has nowhere near the kind of mainstream crossover of vituperation that comes out of the right. Being from Chicago I don't get Air America so there is no counter to the local Rush, Hannity, etc. station. There is really no comparison at all.

Dean's recent vitriolic statements might not fly as the general rule, but they do apply to far too many and in some cases are too kind. The Democrats that have rushed to distances themselves from Dean are scared of the White House Republican's willingness and power to destroy careers. Why should they stick their necks out when the majority of press has been whipped into an obedient regurgitator of talking points?

The Democrats denouncing of Dean is just another example of their inability to allow enough daylight emerge between the two parties to regain their place as a counter weight. Their only hope is to highlight the divisions as much as possible because the demonizing directly at them is primarily fantasy while you can point to concrete examples. Where Horowitz's "Discover the Network" must create abstract and tenuous links, we can show clear paper trails when the FOIA's come through.

john

Sorry, about the lack of clarity in parts. I was distracted while writing.

BTW, I did read Durbin's comments. He decribes the conditions of detainees from the Congressional record and then states:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

I agree that it's not necessary to compare American style torture to that of dictatorships. Now that our history of lynching has come back into the spotlight, it makes all the recent torture look tame.

I really don't understand all the fuss over the use of analogies that don't fit perfectly. I thought that's understood at part of the form. It makes me think that if we really were systematically killing detainees some would deride Nazi analogies because our troops were not sporting swastikas

Exposing this stuff is the first step towards ending it. The ammunition was given by the perpetrators of the crimes no amount of deflection will change this. The only reason more people are not upset is that there's a huge fantasy nurtured by an endless stream of cop shows and movies that torture works. Add in a certain level of racism, fear, and black & white views of patriotism to the mix and you get some calling for this to continue. Debate on torture tends to be dominated by doomsday scenarios scripted to put you in a hypothetical situation designed to make torture seem like the only rational choice. But go ahead and pretend that those that have strong reactions to torture in our name are the real problem.

Rocky Smith

I am not a supporter of torture in many of the ways it is used. Much of the information gleaned in this way tends to be questionable, at best. The stresses that prisoners at Gitmo have been put under are small compared to any Nazi death camp, but these guys are trying their best to get intel to protect our butts from further terrorism. Is this the right way to go? I'm not sure. I'm certainly no expert. I must question Steve's statement that a couple of prisoners died at Gitmo. I don't think that is true. Prisons in Iraq or Afghanistan, yes, but not Gitmo. In any case, Durbin was off the mark.

john

I believe they are reopening a lot of cases of deaths first listed as "natural causes." Whether or not Gitmo was home to murder has nothing to do with Durbin's comments since he was describing conditions that the detainee's suffered under. These were "conditions where torture takes place" and is something not normally thought of to be American, but of the examples he named.

I don't doubt that many people involved in torture thought they were doing good. However, torture is not effective compared to other interrogation techniques. More importantly it ultimately does more harm than good.

Nobody Of Consequence

And if you respond to a piece that shows hypocrisy with a facile ode to know-nothingness like "it must be true", then it must not be, right?

It's a fine substitute for thought.

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