Archive for June, 2006

The Politics of “Shut the Hell Up!”

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

The other day I made a passing reference to Democrats as practicing “the politics of shut-the-hell-up”.

It turns out I was being far too generous. It’s more like the politics of shut-up-shut-up-shut-up-you-pathetic-lying-bitch-or-we’ll-destroy-you. Most outrageous about this example is that she hadn’t even said anything yet!

(via Peeve Farm)

Update: Toned down the post title a bit (and makes more sense, really)

Update: The website in question seems to be down more often than not. Perhaps the oh-so-tolerant opposition has been sabotaging it? In brief, the story is thus: A woman registered the domain “murthalied.com”. Before even putting up a site at that address, she was getting some really vile hate mail, and a fair spread of the left side of the blogosphere was posting her personal information on the web and encouraging people to go after her via email and so forth. Again, she hadn’t even put up a website. To these leftists, anyone who would dare to so much as register such a domain must be scum. I say look in the mirror, morons.

Update 26 July 2006: Google’s list of pages referring to “murthalied.com”. You can’t get to the page itself, it seems, but you can easily find various lefty sites talking about it.

Err… or you can just go here: http://www.bootmurtha.com/.

Projection

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

In a post just the other day, I remarked that I had been looking for a “left-wing blog that had a sense of intellectual honesty”, and defined intellectual honesty as “a willingness to concede that the other side might be right in a debate — a willingness to use debate as a means to genuinely seek the ‘true’ answer, as opposed to simply trying to ‘beat the other guy’.”

My first introduction to blogs was when a good friend emailed me a link to a post on Steven Den Beste’s “USS Clueless“. Den Beste is basically credited with pioneering the “essay blog” as his blog (now retired) consisted of extended in-depth discussions on any number of topics. Despite having stopped blogging* he still stands as one of the best standards of good blogging the Internet has yet seen.

At the core of my political belief, I am a philosopher. I spend a lot of time thinking about the nature of human society, and vote (and argue) according to who I think will best fight for what I believe is the best government. I am also a realist, and try to not allow what I wish were true to blind me to human nature and what is possible.

It has occurred to me over time that the more I hear left-wingers accuse right-wingers of various wrongs, the more often it appears that the accusations reflect the accusers more than the accused. To put it another way, the only way they can actually believe their accusations is if they are projecting their own malfeasance on their opponents. The first keystone example of this in my memory was when Hillary Clinton defended her husband by (infamously) claiming that the growing mountain of evidence against him was due not to any of it being true, but because of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” that was out to get him. At the same time, it was the Democrats in Congress — all of them — who were forming a regulated phalanx to defend him, (each trying to act as though they were acting independently, and after half of them had earlier stated that “if” he were guilty he should be impeached).

Now Brian over at Peeve Farm has a new post that takes this gut feeling and turns it into another rather firm example. It focuses more on the blogosphere than politics in general, but among repeated assertions from leftists that right-wing bloggers “take their marching orders from Karl Rove”, it is a telling story indeed.

Regarding the difference between the political right and left blogospheres, I like (from the updates section of Brian’s post) Michael W.’s “simple, high quality metric”:

Yes, the blogosphere is split into unequal parts that are not mirror images of each other.

I decided that this viewpoint is going to stick until I can find, on the left, equivalents of:

Steven Den Beste
Victor Davis Hanson
Bill Whittle

[…]truly eloquent, brilliant people who speak for their side who will also have the cojones to disagree with their party line and exercise independent thought.

Well, hey. There’s that intellectual honesty I was talking about again!

* Actually, Steven does still blog — about anime — but his main blog, “USS Clueless”, closed up shop a couple years ago. The archives are still available though, and I strongly recommend checking it out, especially the “essential library”.

Sounds Fair

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Recently this blog has been sporting a very stylish unsolicited “ad” in the sidebar for the Fair Tax.

I’m a wholehearted supporter of the plan, which would completely eliminate the IRS while maintaining the current level of government funding. No income taxes? That’s right. If you earn $30,000 a year, you take home $30,000 each year. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s not. (Caveat: your state may of course still demand its pound of flesh; but if this passes at the federal level, its likely that states will follow course.)

If you haven’t heard the details yet, check out this video of the bill’s primary spokesman, Neal Boortz, talking to Sean Hannity. For further info you can visit the Fair Tax website at http://www.fairtax.org/.

OR, ask questions in comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. The income tax should never have been made law in the first place. It’s far past time to eliminate it!

Plugin Hackery

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

This blog runs on WordPress, and one of the plugins I use to expand its abilities is the excellent Subscribe to Comments plugin.

In WordPress, there is a standardized folder for plugins. Part of the reason I like this is that when it comes time to do an update to WordPress — which generally entails deleting all the old files and replacing them with the new ones — it’s much easier if all the “third party” files are in one location so you don’t have to waste time rummaging around and trying to remember which files belong to which part of the program.

This plugin, however, doesn’t play nice. It requires you to dump a file into the core WordPress directory.

So I fixed it.

I took the files and modified them so that they work from the plugins folder. If anyone is interested, they can download the modified version right here.

That’s all. Thanks to the authors of the original script. They’ve put a lot of work into it; my mod took about half an hour.

Bring me an honest man!

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Going back in time a bit… Tulane University, early 90s. I was a Theatre and English dual major, which meant I spent a lot of time hanging around with an even higher percentage of left-wingers than one might find anywhere else on campus. There was this guy by the name of Mike1, who at some point decided he wanted to be my buddy. He was a decent enough guy, and who doesn’t like having friends –right? So we hung out from time to time, especially before and after a creative writing class we shared.

At one point, a girl in said class wrote a piece of creative journalism, specifically an editorial-style piece on some political subject or another. Without even remembering the specific topic, there are two things about the piece that stand out in my mind: it was politically quite left-of-center, and the argument was well-reasoned out and strongly written. This is memorable because in my mind these two things did not (and don’t today) coincide nearly often enough.

The way this class worked was that when it was our day to read something to the class, we would make copies for everyone, and they would read along and write comments and such on it. At the end the writer would get all the copies back with the comments. On my copy of her essay I wrote a few notes here and there, and at the top of the front page I wrote something along the lines of, “I’m a conservative, and I liked this a lot.”

As the copies were being handed back down the line, Mike saw mine (with comment) on the top of the stack.

The conversation with Mike after class — no exaggeration — went something like this:

Mike: “Are you really a conservative???”

Me: “Yep.”

Mike (this is an exact quote): “I used to think you were a pretty cool guy. I at least thought you were a decent human being.”

He never spoke to me again.

The guy had known me for about two or three years at that point. He liked hanging out with me. He thought I was a “pretty cool guy”. A single word of self-description, devoid of any further discussion of opinions or specifics, (and in a context that at least suggested that I was reasonably open-minded about left-wing thought), was enough for me to descend in his estimate from “cool guy” to not even “a decent human being”.

A similar incident occurred shortly after college when a co-worker quit her job rather than work closely with somebody who had “voted against Clinton”. Again with the very short no-further-discussion-necessary conversation, this time at the tail end of a workday. The next day I came in and she had quit because she “just couldn’t work here anymore”, according to my boss, who then proceeded to ask if I could do her job. I could.

You’ll have to excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical of the leftist claim to “open mindedness”. In the time since I have seen no end to examples of liberals who compose the most closed-minded group imaginable when faced with disagreement. It’s inherent in the methodology of attacking the messenger any time you don’t want to argue the message. If you oppose racial preferences you’re racist. If you oppose abortion you’re sexist. It’s the politics of shut-the-hell-up and la-la-la-i’m-not-listening.

You even see it within their own ranks. Liberals love to gloat and point any time there is disagreement and debate within the Republican establishment; They also have an tendency to throw to the wolves any of their own who publicly questions the party line. In all of this, they miss the point that within an open society, debate is a healthy thing. Case and point: Saddam Hussein got 100% of the “vote” the last time their was an election under his rule. Does anybody truly think that was because not one Iraqi wanted to see him gone?

They are aware of this argument, of course, and essentially try to use it every time they claim their relentless America-is-evil drumbeat is actually patriotic dissent. Newsflash: debating how to win is healthy; doing somersaults every time there is a setback is not. As the tagline says: It’s all about where you draw the line.

I’ve been reading blogs for several years now, and in that time, I have kept an eye out for a left-wing blog that actually has a sense of intellectual honesty. By that, I refer to a willingness to concede that the other side might be right in a debate — a willingness to use debate as a means to genuinely seek the “true” answer, as opposed to simply trying to “beat the other guy”. Recently, I had thought I might have found one.

In recent weeks one of the writers on that blog had posted multiple times on the whole Duke University/ lacrosse team/ rape case. She wrote multiple posts basically framed on the assumption that of course the team members did it — because why would the victim lie? — and her rather substantial audience took the bait and ran with it in comments, with only the occasional moderating voice from me and a few others.

As events have transpired, it is appearing more and more that the “victim” was in fact lying, and that the accusations were false. As I saw some of this come out, I took a small leap of faith and wrote a short email to the blogger. A smug reply, a longer response from me, and a final response from the blogger brought me to the sadly inevitable conclusion that this particular writer has no interest in the truth, and is perfectly happy to sit in her echo chamber and recirculate what ever she chooses to believe among the faithful. I’ll leave this one to your judgement — the entirely of the exchange follows:

On 6/12/06, Stephen Rider wrote:

Amanda —

As you have written extensive posts accusing the Duke Lacrosse team of rape, do you have any plans to comment on the fact that the prosecution is crumbling and it all appears to be a false rap?

Stephen Rider
a.k.a. “Strider”

On Jun 12, 2006, at 1:23 PM, Amanda Marcotte wrote:

I’ve accused no one. But thanks anyway!

On 6/12/06, at 2:26 PM, Stephen Rider wrote:

That is only true if you split hairs pretty finely. You have certainly written multiple posts based on the assumption that they did rape her (though I did see one instance where you actually admitted a “remote” chance that the accuser is lying), and in at least one post you flatly refer to the accused as “the rapists”.

“That might be because the rapists were making jokes… to the victim…”
<link to post>

You also repeatedly refer to various people defending the accused as “rape apologists”.

Do you not think that the new information all but exonerating the accused merits at least a *mention* — especially in light of the hundreds of reader comments to your posts that clearly assume, along with you, that they’re guilty of a horrifying crime?

Seriously, I’ve actually been looking for left-wing blog that had a sense of intellectual honesty. I’m sorry to see that <web site> isn’t it.

There’s no shame in making a human mistake, but there is in refusing to admit you might have made one.

“But thanks anyway!”

Sincerely,

Stephen Rider
“Strider”

On June 12, 2006, at 3:31 PM, Amanda Marcotte wrote:

Thank you!

Yep, a woman of few words. Or brain cells, apparently. I do admit to one small logical error in my last email: when I said “That is only true if you split hairs pretty finely” I was incorrect. If you call somebody a rapist, that is an accusation, and therefore there are no hairs to split in this case2. The accusation is clearly made, and dismissively denied. I do see the possibility that she responded without actually having read past the first sentence, in which case a generous reading of the exchange could account her disingenuousness to mere stupidity rather than dishonesty; but mostly this looks like a good example of the old joke: “Don’t let a lttle thing like facts get in the way of a good argument.”

However you want to slice it, it is yet another shining example of the mentality that drives Democratic politics in recent years. The saddest part is that even if they don’t regain power any time soon (which I think will be the case), it is bad for the country anyways, as competition in politics is the only thing that keeps them even remotely honest. The Republicans are better — I would say much better — but with this as competition, that’s not saying a lot.

This country desperately needs some honest Democrats.

Update: I should mention that this post was more-or-less inspired by Jeff’s latest opus. Jeff is, notably, an extremely honest man — though he seems to fear that people dislike him for it.

Update: Further comment here.

1: Mike’s last name has been removed at his request. He emails: “I’m a pretty middle of the road guy these days, regardless of my college political views….”

2: Though, Clinton-like, this particular leftwit appears perfectly comfortable doing so anyways.

No, no… don’t get up…

Monday, June 12th, 2006

Protein Wisdom has the scoop with the interview we’ve all been waiting for!

Update: So… looks looks as though after a long, hard road, al-Zarqawi gets his 72… grapes???? “Aw, Crap!”