Monday, March 28, 2011

In Reply: It's concern trolling, isn't it?

In reply to St. Louis Activist Hub: Shocker: Either Breitbart or Stranahan Isn't Telling the Truth

I noticed that contradiction, too. Being a little suspicious, generally, I believe both Arianna and Lee spoke to Breitbart, but that everyone is including/leaving out portions of the tale to present themselves in the best light, paint those they disagree with in the worst light, and give their own version of the story and the meme they're attaching to it the most weight. (That goes for Huffington and Sekoff, too.) The more they all speak, the more facts they will each reveal, all leading to the complete story. No one of 'em is going to tell it all on their own, though.

In a recent Daily Caller piece linked to by Lee, the author reports that Lee told him he helped write Breitbart's two recent HuffPo columns, too. It's not a big deal that he did so, of course, but it does add another layer to the story, in terms of Lee's involvement. (I'm not saying it's a bad layer... Folks can decide that for themselves. But there's no doubt he's wrapped up in the story, and that his involvement is a factor in judging what he has to say about it.)

I happen to like Lee, from what little I know of him, but I don't agree with his politics, much. I believe that he's generally truthful and that he speaks from the heart, but I can't help reading some of what he writes--especially the pieces and comments he's posted on liberal sites--as concern trolling for what are essentially rightward leaning positions. (I don't mind that he has more rightward leaning positions, but I object to those on the right--and to him (which to me, is kinda the same thing)--telling me he's a liberal as he's spouting those rightward leaning positions. Maybe there was a time when he was a liberal--Hell, maybe there are issues where he still takes liberal positions--but reading his recent history and seeing these claims that "Lefty Lee Stranahan" is "way left wing,") I can't help thinkin' "Sure, you used to say nice things about liberalism... but What Have You Done For Me Lately?

I agree that the left and the right need to treat each other better if we're ever going to make progress, but Lee seems to spend alot of time telling folks on the left to be nicer--and criticizing them en mass for not being nicer--and defending folks on the right when they are less than pleasant or honest themselves, all the while claiming he's a liberal, just like you (only nicer and more honest than all y'all put together, of course.) He's a liberal who permits, defends, and sometimes makes sweeping generalizations about how bad liberals are, and that tells me that something isn't quite right about his bio.

I do think he believes he's still a liberal; I don't think he's being intentionally dishonest, like some of his biggest conservative fanboys and girls, who're using him as "friendly fire" against the left. ("Even this loony liberal Lee Stranahan believes the left is objectively "worse" (more dishonest, more violent, less tolerant, ...) than the right.") If it was just about his positions, they wouldn't feel the need to claim he's a lefty/liberal. That they do, speaks. Maybe he'll even prove me wrong sometime soon, and stand up firmly for a few liberal positions, arguing as hard against his conservative detractors as he does his liberal ones. But given where he is now, this liberal Lee Stranahan thing just don't seem quite right.

If I had to call him anything, it wouldn't be liberal or conservative; it'd be gadfly.

Submitted for moderator approval 3/28/11, 9:37 AM (or thereabouts)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In reply: Free Speech is a Matter of "Whether" You Can Speak, Not "Where"

Revised and extended, in reply to: Huffington Post v. Breitbart: First Take Roundup

While I do think Arianna/HuffPo blew this thing, I’m not at all down with the “free speech” meme that Breitbart and those who support him and/or are ideologically opposed to the “liberal/lamestream” media (real or imagined) are trying to sell.

In the simplest terms, since when does free speech include an entitlement to the featured position on someone else’s media outlet? Free speech isn’t absolute, especially where privately owned/operated media is concerned. While you have every legal and ethical right to speak, you don’t have any legal or ethical right to do your speaking on my blog, newspaper, or tv/radio station (or anyone else’s, aside your own) unless I give it to you. And I have every legal right to grant permission or to withhold it, and even take it away after granting it, for any reason I choose, or even none at all. And while one can certainly judge the ethics of my doing so, one cannot legitimately claim any free speech entitlement to my media space, or violation of free speech if I choose not to allow you to use it. There is no such entitlement, legally or ethically speaking.

Arianna screwed up because she promised Andrew something and then went back on her word, and because it’s pretty apparent that she and the HuffPo team are not being forthright as to the reason why they did so. Whether it was the pressure of those libs who didn’t want Breitbart on the front page, or Arianna taking sides in a dispute between two folks she sees as friends, I do not know. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Louis Renault-like feigned shock, SHOCK in discovering that Andrew Breitbart was capeable of ad hominem attack, or pretending that such attack was unique to this particular featured author. Had Arianna honestly said she a) was giving in to the wishes of her loyal readership, or b) was offended by what her friend Andrew said about her friend Van (whichever or whatever the real reason was... There certainly could be a c) or d) that I haven't considered...), I’d be much more supportive of Arianna and the HuffPo team. (And while I’m not happy with the means, I am happy with the end; My feeling from the start was that Andrew has his own dang blogs, and doesn’t deserve the increased exposure as a featured author elsewhere… especially not an elsewhere so often deemed the enemy (which is to say, "not conservative, and therefore dishonest, biased, ...") by the likely Breitbart audience. Obviously, Arianna didn’t get my memo on the subject, and was willing to give him that exposure… until she wasn’t.)

Andrew Breitbart is still free to speak. In fact, he’s still free to speak right there at HuffPo, even, should he wish to avail himself of the privilege. Andrew Breitbart is still welcome to blog at the Huffington Post. That he is accusing of them of violating his free speech, and that so many are echoing him, just doesn't make any sense. Andrew’s speech is just as free as it ever was, and any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous on it's face. (Of course, I doubt Andrew will take advantage of the fact that he can blog there. His best chess move is to cry and wail about the unfairness of HuffPo's free speech violation, and blogging there would expose the hypocrisy of the meme he's selling. But theoretically, Breitbart could take up the HuffPo bandwidth abandoned by his friend Liberal Lee Stranahan (that name again is Liberal Lee Stranahan, spelled L-i-b-e-r-a-l L-e-e S-t-r-a-n-a-h-a-n, just so there's no confusion), who recently Quit Blogging At The Huffington Post in solidarity with Andrew Breitbart and his supposed free speech plight. While I doubt it'll happen, wouldn't that be fodder for an Alanis Morissette lyric, if it ended up that Andrew Breitbart became a Huffington Post blogger, while Lefty Lee Stranahan (he's "way left wing," you know) got more exposure on rightwing sites than he ever did on HuffPo? (If you actually read the Morrissete link, maybe so, maybe not.)

The speech is free. The venue and the audience though, often has a price. In this case it might've been a little personal respect for a friend of a friend, or maybe his remembering that he's a guest at Arianna’s virtual house, and that, while she wants to be hospitable, she also has an obligation to keep her longtime/loyal audience happy. We don't know for sure what it was, except to say it probably wasn't ad hominem attacks that left Breitbart with just a regular slot at HuffPo, rather than a front page one. (Oh, the indignity... The humanity...)

Your having free speech doesn't mean I'm obligated to give you my soapbox, let alone my tallest one, with the matching bullhorn, or the busy corner where my crowd gathers.

Revised and extended from a comment posted March 26, 2011 at 2:57 am, LS blog time

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Reply: Attack the behaviors and the individuals using them, but don’t generalize that this particular bad actor (whatever his politics) represents the thinking or behavior of ALL cons (or libs)

In Reply to: Arianna Shrugs: Should Huffington Return to Right?
For me as a writer with generally liberal policy views but an independent outlook, it’s an honor to have access to two very different audience.”
As I keep saying, if you have to continually tell folks you have liberal policy views, there’s probably a reason. Personally, I’d like to see you do a post or two where you spell one or two of ‘em out, and explain why the conservative position on that/those issues is wrong. And I’d like to see it posted at one of Breitbart’s “big” sites, if at all possible, so we can all judge how maturely they discuss the issue--and unless I miss my guess, your parentage, your education, and the degree to which they believe you’re wearing headgear made from your own buttocks--with you.
"…that bastion of censorship, The DailyKos…”
This is starting to take on the whiff of sour grapes, Lee. Yes, Kos was wrong to remove you, but you have to keep in mind, while you are entitled to speak, and to say anything you wish, you’re not entitled to set up your soap box anywhere you want, or to address any particular audience. (Or to any audience, at all.) Kos was wrong to dismiss you for speaking ill of John Edwards, and not just because your suppositions about him turned out to be correct, in the end. But they have the right to do it. It's their blog.

I’m not a reader of either Kos or HuffPo, except when sent there by a link. My issue with 'em is they’re both way too busy for me. I prefer the quietude and familiarity of personal blogs, and the commenters that frequent them. I was always under the impression that any voice on/of the left was welcome at Kos (and any voice, period, at HuffPo), even when offering an unpopular–and perhaps even, conservatively voiced–viewpoint. At the same time, I can appreciate that not all opinions are or should be welcome in all places. If a blogger wants to set up a place where only left or right wing opinion is accepted and acceptable, I don’t see it as being all that different from a blog about auto repair not accepting posts or comments on baking apple pie. Kos does give the impression that all voices on/of the left are permitted, however… even ones that don’t tow the majority left/lib lines…

I guess what I'm saying is, what Kos did to you is disappointing and wrong, but it may be time to mop up the milk, rather than letting it lay there on the floor souring, and giving off that milky, grapey smell. I've only been reading your stuff for a few days and this is the second or third mention of this incident. There's an argument to be made that your reaction to "The Liberal Blogosphere" is the result of your being mistreated by this one small representative of it.

The strike seems a little nutty, to me. While I think Arianna’s answer seems a little cold, I think she’s correct. (And, tying it to our discussion of Godin, yesterday “In a digital world, the gift I give you almost always benefits me more than it costs.” - Seth Godin, from What Matters Now. Writers giving it away for free today are helping to ensure they’ll be able to sell it, tomorrow.)

Color of change on the other hand, isn't so black and white an issue (if you'll pardon the pun). Arianna has every right to let Andrew speak on her soapbox. But, as I said above, he’s not therefore entitled to be heard by Arianna’s audience, or by any other. And Arianna’s audience IS entitled to say that they think he has enough exposure on his own sites, and that they choose not to read him. (Is it closed-minded of them not to read what he has to say? Perhaps it is… But then, everyone picks and chooses who in the media they want to give their attention to, and who they do not, and no one reads/listens to every word penned by every blogger/pundit with whom they disagree; No one. We all choose our media diet–based on time, position on issues, attitude, and who knows what-all–and choosing not to consume Andrew Breitbart is as valid as deciding against a “meal” of any other writer. So is letting the “chef” know that you’d prefer not to see any overdone “Breitbart” on your plate.

There’s a difference between shutting down speech and saying “Not here, thanks.” If anyone’s saying Breitbart should be removed from the internet or not permitted on TV or in public, I’d be shoulder to shoulder with you, opposing that, because while I disagree with him, the minute folks have the power to remove him, they have the power to remove a voice I agree with, as well. I may not approve of what you say, but I'll defend your right to say it. But to say, "we won’t read him, and object to Arianna Huffington giving him another outlet on which to spew his garbage"--on what we all agree is or was a left-leaning site–isn’t censorship or shutting down speech. It’s more speech, made in opposition to Breitbart's speech, which is just as it should be, if ya ask me…

Personally, I’d be more inclined to accept Breitbart’s being A Huffington Post blogger if it was an exchange program, where in return, Breitbart accepts a HuffPo liberal spouting liberal views on one of Breitbart's "Big" sites. (Sorry, Lee, you don’t count, because as I said, everyone (including you, yourself) has to keep repeating and reassuring the casual reader that you’re really a liberal, because, for all your protestation, it just isn’t all that obvious, anymore…)

I’m sure Arianna is disgusted by some of the tactics employed against her and others from any/all sides… As well she should be. But I still reject the whole “the left (or right) does it “more,” or “worse,” notions folks keep insisting on, as though there is any objective proof, and as though the claim, made one way or the other solves anything, anyway. Folks on both sides are still being hit with bad tactics by folks on both sides. “Enemy” and “friendly” fire abound. Attack the behaviors and the individuals using them, but don’t generalize that this con (or lib) represents the thinking or behavior of ALL cons (or libs).

Posted March 24, 2011 at 9:37 am, LS blog time

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Reply: The creativity to see beyond traditional employment, and the self-confidence to make that leap

Revised and extended, in reply to: Addicted To Unemployment

If I may, I think that part of the problem is that Lee isn’t making himself clear enough or fighting back the misunderstandings folks are having as regards what he's saying. (including mine, obviously, but not only mine.)

In a word (or three), what Lee is claiming the long-term unemployed lack (along with many of the rest of us, by the by) is the creativity to see a world outside/beyond traditional employment, and the self-confidence to get oneself there.

I was wrong. (...and so are a few others here… I won’t mention any names. Hopefully, you’ll see yourselves, and consider what I'm saying--and what Lee's saying too, assuming I've got this right.)

He isn’t saying that the unemployed are lazy or don’t want to work.
It isn’t about them seeing certain jobs as below them. (If anything, it’s realizing that the jobs they had before being fired/laid off were probably below them, in the sense that they didn’t nourish the soul or prepare them to make lemonade from the lemons they received. (This is the link Lee sent me that–along with this Seth Godin video, and another long exchange via twitter–finally flipped on the light.)
It also isn’t that the long term unemployed are cynically gaming the system and taking money they don’t need, or even that they’re trapped by the high?!? wages UI pays, and cannot work for less.

(For the record, yes there are lazy individuals, and unintelligent individuals, and dishonest individuals who collect unemployment insurance payments; I never denied there were… but they are the exception, not the rule, even among the long term unemployed.)

While we still have some differences–I remain skeptical that enough folks really can create their way into a job, even with a super boost of self-confidence (the lack of which is what Lee was referring to as “victimhood,” I believe–I understand where he’s coming from, and I see now that he wasn’t being anywhere near as condescending toward the long term unemployed as I thought he was.

Hopefully he’ll clarify anything I may’ve mis- or inartfully stated here, and join me in defending the long term unemployed/99ers against the slurs that he wasn’t making, but that some of y’all are

Submitted for moderator approval Approved March 23, 2011 at 11:11 am LS blog time

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Reply: Are the long term unemployed lazy, unmotivated, dishonest slobs?

In reply to Lee Stranahan's March 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm comment at his post, Addicted To Unemployment.:

Repsac (is there another name I can use?)
James, if you wish… but I’m fine with repsac, as well… It’s my online persona, at this point.
This is in a sense just a disagreement about human nature. You’re saying people like redhead really WANT to work — but when I talk to her for 5 minutes, it’s obvious that she’s more about excuses than honestly trying to solve the problem she purports to have.
For the sake of argument, I’ll assume you’re correct for the moment. Redhead actually likes sitting on her ass collecting…

Some of what you’ve written though–including this post–takes what you discovered about her in your five minute conversation, and applies it to all long term unemployed, including folks like Tiffani’s husband who–though she chose not to confirm it in her second comment–probably didn’t spend his 99 weeks (and more… he remains unemployed, even without the seductive draw of that unemployment check to keep him fat and lazy) sitting on his butt waiting for the employment fairy to leave a shiny new job offer under his pillow, while he watched Law & Order reruns.

It is a disagreement about human nature, as well as about political ideology…

Perhaps you’re right, and people are lazy slobs, who need daddy conservatives to figuratively kick them out of the house and make them fend for themselves… but I don’t think so. I believe that the long term unemployed by and large are no more lazy or unmotivated than you are, though there are, of course, exceptions like Redhead (and that’s only assuming you’re correct about her, which I don’t really believe you could determine from a five minute twitter exchange.)

Posted March 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm, LS blog time

In Reply: "...more benefits for the unemployed with apparently no end in sight; a bottomless pit of dependency."

In reply to Addicted To Unemployment
"They were described to me as a sort of union for the unemployed."

To be fair, I also said they were a tea party for the unemployed...

That "slick looking website" is a blogspot blog, man. If you have a spare hour, you could probably set up about five of 'em, and make 'em look just as slick & pretty. You could start your own hashtag in even less time--and judging from your many "a liberal to love" conservative fans, even have it become real popular, methinks.
"Politically, this is a group out there pushing for more benefits for the unemployed with apparently no end in sight; a bottomless pit of dependency."

The end is when there are jobs, Lee. The assumption you're making is that the unemployed do not want to work. That they're just laying around watching their color TV's and getting fat on government largesse, and if they just put a little effort in, they could all find work. It's a variation of the welfare queen arguments from the 80's, and it is kind of insulting.

Me, I'd tie the length of unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate; the lower the percentage, the shorter the time you have before the benefits run out.

It's as though people don't pay into unemployment insurance when they ARE working. True, some 99ers end up receiving more than they paid in, while other folks never take a dime of their contributions, but how is that any different from any private insurance policy or government program? Some folks don't submit a single claim to their Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy, while others have several surgeries in the course of a year. But both pay the premiums. One guy gets a government loan or grant that I don't qualify for or do not need. I get a different loan or grant that he doesn't want or need. Some folks qualify for and take alot, and some don't want or need any help at all. That's just the way it works.

I mean, you probably could ask Tiffani above whether her husband was sitting around on the couch, watching TV and waiting for his check, or spending every dang day on the internet or out looking for work, while he was collecting his 99 weeks of government cheese. I'm guessing it's the latter. Maybe he would've appreciated your link to the free self-help book, and the implication that I believe (and NYRedhead believed, obviously) came with it. I'm sure you didn't intend to be condescending, but I think you were, nevertheless.

Acknowledging one's status and arguing for the benefits s/he needs doesn't make one a victim in my book. Even if you think their time would be better spent knocking on one more door or reading one more "I did it, and so can you!!" inspirational tract, it most certainly isn't not doing…anything, really. It's being proactive, whether you agree with the efficacy or the goals of the endeavor or not.

I applaud those like Tiffani who live according to their political principles and don't want anymore help from the government than the 99 weeks they've already received. But I also applaud those who believe that helping US citizens in time of need is and should be a US government function, and are arguing for the help they (or their unemployed fellow Americans) need. That's a difference in political ideology, though. Some folks are more liberal on this issue, while others, more conservative.

Posted March 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm, LS blog time

In Reply: Treat people as individuals, not tribe members. Punish the guilty, and praise the good.

In reply to the following comment from "Assistant Village Idiot, at Lee Stranahan's "Why I’m Writing About Lockstep Liberalism" post.
Repsac3, you are articulate, thoughtful, and sound even-handed. And I think you are putting enormous energy into convincing yourself of something that isn’t so. That is as easy for intelligent people to do as unintelligent – no, actually it’s easier."

I have certainly encountered fools and fanatics on the right, and there are sites I don’t bother to go to, or commenters I no longer engage on sites I do visit. But as for whether it is about even-up among the various political groups in terms of viciousness, it’s not even close. I gradually came off the left years ago, work in a liberal-dominated field, and look like the stereotypical aging hippie. I am unintentionally undercover, and liberals just come and tell me things. In my other life, I attend a mainstream-evangelical bridge church and blog as a “postliberal.” So conservatives come and tell me things also. And libertarians and communitarians. Greens, not so much for some reason. I must not quite look the part.

Liberals, both online and live, are more likely to say insulting, vicious, and bigoted things. I’m thinking 80-20.

That you cited not having the time or inclination to do an exact count, and effectively dismissed all other data as biased anecdote because the claimant had not sought such data is quite telling. It is an effective shield against hearing anything you don’t like on the subject. That you spend time on whether Lee is a real liberal and offer hypotheses without evidence for why liberals resent his claims more than they might only reinforces this. You are playing chess against yourself, and can choose which side wins in this argument.
My replies (revised and extended from the comment):

@Assistant Village Idiot

As articulate and thoughtful as you obviously are, I hope you don't believe that your ability to anticipate my reply argument, that you're offering nothing more than very possibly biased anecdotal evidence, in any way negates the veracity of that reply argument.

I mean, I could very easily make similar claims. In my experiences with conservatives I have seen--and frequently been the target of--all manner of invective, along with specious allegations of racism, bigotry, unmanliness (Either by "femininity as slur," or "homosexuality as slur"), criminal behavior... All from conservatives, and generally the result of challenging them to back what they say with supporting evidence, or to measure political "friend" and "foe" with the same yardstick.

It's all true, every word. I can't go as high as 80/20, but 60/40 for sure, and maybe even 65/35.

But no matter how earnestly and confidently I present my case, I cannot imagine your response being anything other than some version of "anecdotal testimony is a far cry from empirical proof, but thanks for playing." And of course, you'd be absolutely correct.

So, unless you're saying that you would not dismiss my narrative, and would instead proclaim that I've met the burden of proof as to which political tribe is really better/worse, I don't really understand why you believe I shouldn't dismiss yours, using the same criteria.

The question is over the data, AVI... Either anecdotal evidence is sufficient, or it isn't. But as I said above, whatever scale we choose, we use the same one. Your anecdotes are no more sufficient than mine, and mine are no less sufficient than yours.

I suspect you'd find yourself using a very similar shield to the one you accuse me of using.

"That you spend time on whether Lee is a real liberal and offer hypotheses without evidence for why liberals resent his claims more than they might only reinforces this."
So after trying to deflect my replying to you with a call for evidence rather than anecdote, you now call for evidence from me? Very interesting...

I have no evidence, only the hypothesis. But to be fair, it wasn't simply a hypothesis as to why liberals might be kinda peeved about a guy speaking conservative positions being billed as a liberal, it was a hypothesis as to why any political tribe might be peeved about having someone rumored to be one of their own, but spouting the "other" tribe's verbiage, tossed back at 'em. It wasn't specific to Lee or even to liberals. Look up the right wing reaction to David Frum, for example. David Brock at MediaMatters used to be a movement conservative... There's currently a little pushback against Scott Baker for not towing the con line on O'Keefe and his home movies.

It is just a hypothesis, but there are some data points in support of it, from both the liberal and the conservative side, AVI. Whether justified or not, folks feel betrayed...

As for whether or not Lee is a liberal, I've come to the conclusion folks are liberal and conservative, depending on the issue in front of 'em. So, yes, Lee has expressed liberal thoughts and opinions. And, he's expressed conservative ones, as well. This is one of his more conservative posts... ...and I daresay, most of his more recent verbiage, here and elsewhere, is in the same vein. What that makes him, I don't know, except to say I'm not so sure that any of us ARE any one ideology. We are the ideas we express, and we're not locked in to any one ideology. We say what we think and feel, and folks'll judge us and attach labels based on our words and deeds, for better or worse.

Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:35 am, LS blog time

As I was moving it over here, I noticed a line that I'd missed replying to, but that really bugged me, and so:


My point, AVI, isn't to even things up. It's to say that I think folks (including you, if I may be so bold as to say) waste a whole lot of time and energy trying to convince themselves and others that one political tribe is objectively worse than the other, that the tribe that's objectively worse is the one that they don't belong to, and that it really makes a damned bit of difference which side is "worse," in the first place.

When you find a liberal/conservative that is misbehaving (whether with rudeness, bigotry, hatefulness, violence, lying, ..., ...) deal with that one liberal/conservative. Expose them. Try to set them straight. Ignore them. Avoid them. But don't generalize their behavior to the others in their political tribe, any more than you would generalize those behaviors to the others in their racial tribe, or their religious tribe, or their ethnic tribe. It's bigotry, and it's neither good nor just.
(If you don't believe me, try substituting the race/religion/gender/ethnicity you are for the word "liberal" in some of the comments that appear in this thread, and imagine them being said by a person of a different race/religion/gender/ethnicity than you.

"So you have discovered that Christians are unscrupulous b@stards?"

"There is no mind more closed than the American Female mind."

"I, for one, have rarely had an honest debate with a Black Person on the internet."

"Judaism is a stunted religious philosophy the tenets of which cannot stand up to analysis. Just a fact."

And there's plenty more to choose from... Pick your comment, and go to town.)

I mean, I know that all the conservatives here take great pains to note that Liberal Lee Stranahan is one of the few good ones, but I still fail to see how you can post all these generalizations about how liberals, lie, and are more violent, and more closed-minded, and on and on, while still insisting that Lee is a member of the liberal tribe. Even if he's the only "good" liberal, isn't his being a liberal proof that your generalizations lack a certain degree of veracity... or that Lee has you snookered?

Of course, I don't understand Lee, either. Even though y'all are saying such sweet things about him personally, I can't imagine that, being a liberal, he's not the least bit offended by what you folks are saying about liberals in general. Does he really believe that he ever was a violent, lying, closed-minded so-n-so, or that those liberals he calls friends still are?

All this generalization is for the birds, if ya ask me... Treat people as individuals, not tribe members. Punish the guilty, and praise the good. Addendum over.

Posted March 22, 2011 at 9:20 am, LS blog time

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Reply: Non-radical Sharia? That's crazy talk...

In reply to: NPR Sting: Baker v. Beck, Round 1

Nothing Baker said is inconsistent with what Beck's Sharia expert Paul Marshall said in that video, though. One of the first things the man does is clarify that he's talking about radical Sharia law (as a response to a query by Beck, to GB's credit), which has to lead one to believe that according to this expert, there is also a non-radical understanding and interpretation of Sharia among moderate Muslims... ...which is exactly what Baker reports.

According to Wikipedia, anyway, the situation in England isn't as dire as Beck paints it. "In September 2008, newspapers in the United Kingdom stated the government had 'quietly sanctioned' the recognition of Sharia courts. This refers to situations where both sides in a legal dispute freely choose a Sharia court as a binding arbitrator rather than taking a matter before the official courts. The decision did not break new ground: the decisions of similar Jewish beth din court arbitrations have been recognized in England for over 100 years. Neither party can be forced into arbitration by a Sharia or a Jewish court." Wikipedia goes on to cite an article discussing religious courts--including sharia courts, but also jewish ones--in that bastion of Islamofascism, Israel.

I oppose radical Islam and the Saudi model of Sharia, too. But I hope you'd agree--especially given the other post, about closed minds--that it shouldn't be a
conversation ender, or indicative of a slippery slope argument deserving of ridicule and a quick brush-off to discuss the concept that not all Muslims interpret or espouse Sharia as being the violent, radical, backward view held by Saudi Arabia, and indirectly, by Mr. Beck and many in his viewership.

Submitted for moderator approval March 21, 2011 at 9:46 am, LS blog time

In Reply: When someone uses the rhetorical trick of aiming one's "own" against them, there's going to be pushback.

In reply to Why I’m Writing About Lockstep Liberalism

As you know, Lee, I don't believe you are a liberal. Every tweet and post I've seen thus far has taken or defended the conservative position. I'm the first to admit I dislike seeing conservative outfits use "liberals" (in quotes, at least by me) to say, Look, even "my new favorite lefty Lee Stranahan"... "...thinks the long term unemployed have a self-defeating attitude" (with the implication that they just need to get off their asses, maybe read a self-help book or two, and for gosh sakes try harder, and jobs will rain from the sky) or "...denounce(s) the violent advocacy that's become the signature identity of today's progressives.". And (to borrow the meme) even some conservatives think your politics are changing.

As I said in one of my first tweets to you, I think you're being trotted out as a token lib, in much the same way FoxNews used Dick Morris as "a liberal voice who agrees with pretty much every editorial POV we offer here at Fox," when the fact is, he was never anything more than a politically conservative opportunist who hitched his wagon to the Clinton folks for the dough.

What I think is, your writing stands on it's own, and doesn't so much need the political label to be put on it for cover or as a rhetorical weapon. When you bill yourself as "a pro-choice, pro-single payer, anti-war, pro-gay rights independent liberal," and allow the right to preface your pieces with all that "even this loony leftist thinks..." stuff, you're inviting some of the pushback you're getting from liberals who don't need to tell anyone they're liberals, because they actually espouse liberal positions.

So when your liberalism is questioned, it isn't out of animosity; it's because the question you're asking about long term unemployment implies a conservative point of view, and isn't being asked in a vacuum; one only need read your prior tweets on the subject of 99ers to get a pretty clear picture of your POV on the issue. To be a "liberal" (or a "conservative," for that matter) implies that one holds a certain set of ideas and ideals about political and social issues. There can be some variance--in fact, I think it's rare to find a person completely in lock step with the mainstream ___ agenda they purport to believe in--but there comes a point where the variance becomes too great to continue to claim you're a part of the group. I don't rightly know whether you've hit that point or not--the sample size of your writings I'm using is admittedly skewed, being from just the last week or two--but I don't blame folks for asking, given that the billing by you and by others is "liberal, lefty, ..., and is so often followed by a decidedly non-liberal offering.

This isn't unique to libs, Lee. There are whole blogs dedicated to getting RINOs out of office and out of the party. I remember a whole lotta blog posts in 2007 & 2008 about how McCain wasn't a "real" Republican, but was the only candidate Republicans had to vote for. Attacks on "so-called conservatives" by "real" conservatives abound. Again, it happens.

Now all that said, those folks who block or ban you for espousing your point of view in comments on their public blogs and sites are being foolish and closed-minded. I understand where you're coming from, as I've had the same thing happen to me, including at one of the sites to which I linked earlier. While I understand the appeal of those who wish to create the illusion that everyone who reads their blog post agrees with them, by blocking or moderating away those folks who don't, it's a cowardly act. But, it happens. Some individuals are cowards, and they're situated all across the political spectrum. Look how many conservative sites don't allow commentary at all, or require registration and approval before allowing one to speak. It happens.

I think it's a generalization to say that because that blog above refuses to allow my commentary to appear, all conservative bloggers are cowardly and closed-minded, though. I've been moderated by a liberal blogger or two as well. It happens. But it doesn't reflect on anyone except the blogger who's doing the moderating. (Or on me, I guess.)

The same goes for your experiences with Kos and the rest. By all means, slam the individuals doing the moderating or banning... but I think it's a mistake to try to make your being tossed off Kos--by one guy, more'n'likely--representative of all, most, or even many liberal blogs. Like pointing to a few signs or blog comments as "proof" that (liberals, conservatives, tea partiers, union folks, ...) as a group are in some way evil, it just doesn't wash.

You or I (or any other individual) no more represent(s) a single political point of view than the well-behaved guy--or the nasty, bigoted, or violent guy--at the protest does. When the billing is "even this liberal thinks...," there's going to be a negative response from liberals espousing the mainstream liberal position on the subject, just as there is when liberal bloggers say "Even this conservative says...." When someone uses the rhetorical trick of aiming one's "own" against them, there's gonna be pushback. It's not personal (though I'm sure some opposed make it personal, and some on the receiving end take it personally), and it's really not all that shocking a reaction, to have.

Submitted for moderator approval March 21, 2011 at 7:55 am, LS blog time. (And yes, I do find it a little ironic that first comments at each post on Lee's blog are moderated, though I hasten to add that I've seen no evidence that he moderates for ideological content... FWIW, one fellow on Twitter does allege that Lee blocked him, on ideological grounds, but I have no clue as to the veracity of that, either way.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Reply: Proving the allegations one makes isn't strictly a legal matter

In reply to How Political Lies Spread On The Left:
"Dude, I’ve been through this before — I’m STILL banned from DailyKos for saying that it seemed to me that John Edwards might be having an affair.

This isn’t a court of law — it’s my opinion. I’m not going to pre-retract."

Proving the allegations one makes--and retracting them, if one cannot--isn't strictly a legal matter, Lee. It's the basis of good quality reporting. It's often the difference between fact and fiction, objective truth, and subjective opinion.

If you're saying that all these liberal blogs are lying about this story is nothing more than your opinion, and based on little more than your own biases, I guess that's your prerogative... But even so, folks should still judge those opinions based on the backing evidence you do (or fail to) present in support of them. And I've no doubt, all the readers who come here will, with all your new friends sure that "they" are all liars (being progressives, n'all... It seems to go without saying, or any need of backing evidence at all) and all the rest of us questioning the whats, the whys and the hows, as I have...

Posted March 19, 2011 at 6:52 pm, LS blog time

In reply: Guilty (and dishonest) until proven innocent (and prolly not even then, for some)

In reply to How Political Lies Spread On The Left, and in particular, this:
What did I just say? Find someone who retracts and I’ll say so, right here. Find a bunch of people who retract and I’ll say it seems like I spoke too soon.

But first — find ONE person to retract. Ask C&L to retract. You see how Karoli acted. Go check and see how others react.
and this too, a little:
Every word a Progressive says is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.
Every accusation a Progressive makes is projection.
Know this, and you know progressives. C&L lie because they don’t know any other way.

Guilty until proven innocent... That's not the America I live in, Lee...

The way I've always understood it, it's incumbent on the person making an allegation to prove that the allegation's actually true, rather than insisting that the accused prove that the allegations against them are not true. If you're going to call folks liars, shouldn't you, y'know, prove that they're lying--or retract the charge if you can't--rather than insisting that they prove they're not the liars you claim they are?

I mean, I know I'm just a liberal n'all... (and thus "don't know any other way" or whatever, because we're all just like that, and sweeping generalizations and partisan bigotry be damned) ...but aren't unsubstantiated allegations like these worth every cent it cost to post and read 'em, and not a penny more?

Posted March 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm, LS blog time

In reply: Tribalism, and believing "they're" worse than "we" are

In reply to: How Political Lies Spread On The Left, which discusses how a number of liberal sites all quoted the same source, and thus "lied" about a bill in Minnesota.

It's one thing to say these bloggers didn't do their homework on this story, but quite another to accuse them of lying. It is true that they all seem to cite that same source, this "FightBack!News" site--directly or indirectly--and that none of them bothered to check whether what that source said was true. That's the kind of echo chamber familiar to anyone who reads blogs, be they left, right, or otherwise. But to lie, these left leaning bloggers would have to know ahead of time that that source was itself was lying, and Lee offers no evidence that they did.

Now, I would expect them to admit they made an error and to correct it--and I might even call those who refused to do so liars, once I'm satisfied that they know their version of events is untrue--but I wouldn't be so quick to label them as quickly as the author here chose to do.

Submitted for moderator approval Posted March 19, 2011 at 11:19 am, LS blog time

Thursday, March 03, 2011

In Reply: Protecting Hateful Speech Protects All Speech, In The End

In reply to Stern Condemns Ruling on Funeral Protests - Huntington, NY Patch

I don't wish to be difficult, but I believe Mr Stern fails to understand the Supreme Court ruling. They did not strike down legal restrictions regarding time, place, and manner such as his law. If anything, it affirmed the constitutionality of such laws. Even absent such restrictions, protesters are not permitted onto the private property of a funeral home, place of worship, or cemetery.

This ruling simply held that as long as the speakers/picketers/protesters were abiding by all laws regarding time, place, and manner, they have every right to speak and to be afforded first amendment protections for their speech.

The first amendment is designed to protect speech that many/most people find repugnant; popular speech isn't often challenged, after all. But in the end, it protects ALL speech, because once you allow the government to restrict speech it finds repugnant, it becomes too easy for elected individuals to expand the definition of the word "repugnant" to include speech that they do not agree with politically, religiously, culturally, etc.

Posted 7:38am on Thursday, March 3, 2011

In Reply: Attack The Act And The Actors, But Leave The Generalizing Out Of It

In reply to: Notes from the Cab: I Must Admit That I Am Sick of Mohammedans

I'll go this far, with ya... I'm sick of the ones who murder and maim in the name of Islam, that's for sure...

I just can't see how one gets from being opposed to Wahhabi terrorism to believing that it is being a Muslim that is evil, rather than being a fundamentalist fanatic and murderer. To do so, one has to believe that all Muslims are Wahhabi fundamentalists, but this isn't borne out by the facts.

While it seems like a whole lot of the widely reported murders allegedly/actually committed by Muslims have a fanatical "religious" motivation, the vast majority of Muslims have never committed any violent act in the name of their faith or in any way supported those who do. And considering that more people worldwide identify as Muslim than they do any other religious faith, that's saying something. I just find it awful hard to believe that it is being Muslim that makes one a fanatical murderer, and that most of 'em are just playing possum, waiting for the right time to strike.

Posted MARCH 3, 2011 2:32 AM, "Notes..." blog time

In Reply: Viewpoints, Discrimination, Free Speech, and the First Amendment

In reply to the following comment at this Lawyers, Guns, and Money post, discussing the 8-1 ruling in favor of the first amendment rights of Westboro Baptist and their ugly, homophobic protests: Court Properly Upholds First Amendment Rights of Hateful Speakers--(an opinion I agree with, on principle. As I said the other day, in regards to a different situation, "That's whole point of free speech though, isn't it? No one complains about speech that they approve of, or 'like.' One doesn't need to stand on principle to defend popular speech, because no one opposes popular speech. The whole idea of free speech is to defend the right to speak words and sentiments that 'no one likes.'"):
Manju says:
Yeah, I know. I’m saying Althouse is right. He’s moderate.

I don’t agree with him, but being pragmatic and unprincipled is generally associated with moderation.

I mean we got a bunch of absolute assholes imposing themselves on war veteran’s funerals with signs saying “god hates fags”. Its like some comic combination of the kkk and communists, the worst of the left and right.

Surely we can carve out an exception to the first without putting the foundation of our republic at risk. Again, I don’t want to do a carve out, i prefer philosophical consistency whenever possible, but a carve-out does indeed strike me as moderate.
In reply:
Surely we can carve out an exception to the first without putting the foundation of our republic at risk.
First amendment rights... unless you're really, REALLY, REALLY offensive. (And, offensive by whose standards? And how quickly could that become an argument about potential viewpoint discrimination, for reals and true*, in this case.)

*as real and true as a hypothetical for potential harm can be, anyway...

Posted March 3, 2011 at 1:12 am

Also mentioned: Althouse: Is it viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment for Wisconsin to permit the protesters to use the Capitol building as it has over the past 10 days?

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