Friday, October 31, 2008

First, deliver us from Hannity.

I think Sean ("dumbest man on TV") Hannity has gone over the edge. I really do. We're four days out from the election and McCain hasn't been able to meaningfully close the gapindeed, Obama seems poised to close the deal in key swing states. Further, it appears that today's tide of anti-Dubya-ism, in conjunction with the economic meltdown, may cost a fair number of GOP incumbents their jobs in various Congressional and gubernatorial races. I think Sean Hannity sees all this and is almost apoplectic. I think Sean Hannity, who never figured it would "go this far," has watched the Obama train steam merrily on, picking up speed the whole way, and old DMoTV doesn't quite know what to do with himself.

So maybe he figures his last remaining strategy now is to get "the base" so worked up that some leering right-wing extremist will take Obama out between now and Tuesday, no doubt screaming "God and country!" as the Secret Service shoots him or drags him away.

I can't think of anything else that would explain, say, last night's show. Hannity had apparently gone to some tr
ouble to obtain a copy of William Ayers' 1974 revolutionary manifesto, Prairie Fire, and did an excellent job of being aghast at what he read there. He cited in particular the book's dedication page, which includes RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan among a list of "political prisoners." Hannity then spent much of the show making an inferential argument that went as follows:

1. Forty years ago, Sirhan Sirhan shot Robert Kennedy.

2. Thirty-four years ago, William Ayers wrote a book in which he categorized Sirhan Sirhan as a "political prisoner.
"

3. Thirteen years ago (by which time Ayers had reinvented himself as a college professor, and a highly lauded one at that), Barack Obama was in Ayers' living room. Ergo:

4.
Barack Obama is a dangerous, dangerous man.
You betcha! Barack Obama is a man whose tacit agenda is to undermine democracy; why, he may even be capable of assassinating honest-to-goodness American heroes in hotel kitchens! (Warning to John McCain: You better watch your back when Obama's around.) Incidentally, if you're a Kennedy fan, I hope you enjoyed Hannity's encomiums last night because it's the first and last time you'll ever hear him cast a liberal like Robert Kennedy as a martyr. But of course, RFK served Hannity's larger purposes in the moment.

I thought about this a lot and concluded that it can't be an urgent 11th-hour appeal to Undecideds, because Undecideds don't watch Hannity and Colmes. Not even many liberals, I think, watch Hannity and Colmes, despite the nominal presence of Alan Colmes. (This is an obviously biased presentation on Bill O'Reilly and FOX as a whole, but the numbers appear sound, and I think the overall argument is valid.) The folks who watch H&C, which nightly presents the most one-dimensional, stick-figure view of politics and life anywhere on television*, are overwhelmingly conservatives. Colmes is there mostly to serve as a foil for Hannity. You can tell by the topics they cover...and the ones they don't. The show never ventures very far into terrain that could be embarrassing or counterproductive for conservatives. You will not, for example, see an H&C show that explores the Keating 5 or McCain's infidelities or his relationship with G. Gordon Liddy or certain non-heroic aspects of McCain's heroism or any of the general substance of the recent Rolling Stone bio. In this election cycle, H&C has picked topics that are problematic for Democrats and Obama, period. Colmes' job is to put up a (generally mild) defense, and give Hannity the openings he needs to make his inflammatory points. The typical H&C topic is along the lines of: "Barack Obama: Is He Really a Communist Sociopath Who Will Destroy America? You Decide." Or, "If the Democrats Gain Control of Both the White House and Congress, How Far into the Toilet Will the Nation Go? A Fair and Balanced Look."

Hence, the thrust of my argument: Sean Hannity knows who his audience is. To this point, Sean has tried everything he can think of to assassinate Barack Obama's character. Is it possible he now feels that killing the man's character alone isn't quite enough to get the job done?

* Olbermann's show on MSNBC is just as biased, but far more intelligently so. He doesn't explore all issues in terms of lowest-common-denominator prejudices and bumper-sticker logic. And so I repeat here: No one on TV covers issues from the simpleton's frame-of-reference that Hannity displays nightly. Have you watched Sean Hannity's America? It is hilarious.

55 comments:

Elizabeth said...

This, Hannity's and his ilk's attitude, is yet another example of Repubs being driven by unchecked hysteria -- in this election and at other times. Which, of course, flies in the face of Roger's assertion, from the previous thread, that Dems are motivated by sentiment and Repubs by logic.

Just look at the glaring differences between Obama's and McCain's campaigns: one ran with calm, rational argumentation, measured and consistent; and the other desperately flip-flopping between lies and non-issues, resorting to unfounded accusations and plain dumb scare tactics, which appeal to the worst and most irrational fears of the uneducated populace. Logic? C'mon, Roger, you can't be serious.

The ridiculous insinuations and accusations of Commislamism directed at Obama are beyond the pale -- yet McPalin appear to take them with utmost seriousness and repeat them at every opportunity. Palin is dumb, so she may not know and/or understand the difference here, but McCain certainly does -- and the fact that he keeps spewing this crap to score votes is simply reprehensible (and certainly proof of the Repubs' reliance on cheap emotion and distaste for reason and logic). Sorry, Rog.

P.S. Steve, I think one cannot compare Hannity to Olbermann. The only thing they share, if one can even call it that, is passion. But one spews nonsense (with passion, or hatred, more accurately), while the other actually relies on truth (and empathy, decency, and compassion for the underdog) in his passionate argumentation. There is no legit comparison here -- or rather, the comparison, if it must be made, is only of a superficial nature. It's sort of (but certainly not totally) like saying that Hitler and Gandhi were alike, because they both were passionate, devoted their lives to a cause, and motivated huge crowds to follow them. On the very surface, I suppose, such a comparison makes sense -- but only on the very surface.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz, well (re Olbermann), you'll notice the footnote, which somewhat disclaims a direct analogy between the two. However, I don't want to fall into the trap of assuming that MY truth is THE truth--which I think I'd be doing if I automatically subscribed to your theory that Olbermann deals in "truth" while the other deals in "nonsense." Mostly, it's that their methods of argumentation are so very different: I find Olbermann's logic and painstaking case-building much more impressive and credible than Hannity's name-calling, use of charged language and--perhaps his greatest sin--his incessant use of facts and especially quotes taken out of context. However, I don't think that makes one of them cosmically Right and the other one cosmically Wrong. I just think it makes one of them something of an intellectual and the other one an outright raving a-hole. And you know which is which, at least as I see it.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, Steve, I see how you have drawn the difference between the two.

I agree with your POV, but also would like to add that this (the difference between Hannity and Olbermann) does go beyond intellect (though the different intelligence levels are obvious here as well).

I'd say that we can see completely different sets of values motivating these two in their argumentation (though not always in their behavior). You do not have to assume that your truth is THE TRUTH, but you can and should assume (IMO) that competing sets of values can and should be put to scrutiny and be evaluated on their merit (say, their usefulness to the well-being of people, among other criteria).

Too often we strive for the false balance (or equivalence) in assuming and announcing that there is no objective truth and that various competing ideologies (or value systems) are the same, i.e. one is no better than the other. This is simply not true (pun unintended).

But something tells me that you'd argue otherwise, so I'll just leave it at that, OK? :) I'm sure we'll come back to this issue; we have touched upon it several times in the past.

RevRon's Rants said...

I was struck this morning by the similarity between the Republican "campaign" and the Festival of Zozobra held each year in Santa Fe. I won't repeat my entire blog post on the subject here, but suffice it to say that I found the similarities between the political machine and the pagan ritual chilling. Thousands feverishly chanting as an effigy burns. The burning of Zozobra is a great party, but hardly appropriate for selecting the leader of a free nation.

Elizabeth said...

More right-wing hysteria from Palin, who says that the media threaten her First Amendment rights (I kid you not):
http://tinyurl.com/5anlnb

roger o'keefe said...

Steve, I'm afraid you've lost your moorings. This is Bush Derangement Syndrome in spades.

RevRon's Rants said...

Pray tell, Roger. Exactly *what* here is "Bush Derangement Syndrome?" If there have been any untrue statements made against the Republican ticket, please feel free to note them specifically, and if you would be so kind, provide somewhat objective sources of the refutation. That would be much more credible than a blanket dismissal of the viewpoints with which you take issue.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Roger, Roger... Sigh.

In the last thread you said,
Democrats govern primarily with their hearts, whereas Republicans primarily use their heads. I'd still rather have the logic than the hearts and flowers.

Alright, I don't agree with you, but I grant you that this is how you see things. Fair enough. However, don't blame me if I take you at your word then -- that you'd rather have logic -- and take you to task for being illogical here. Because such is your accusation directed at Steve -- Bush Derangement Syndrome? Steve does not mention Bush in this post even once. That is because it is not about Bush at all. No Bush, no derangement, no syndrome. I'm tempted to say no logic either, in your accusation.

P.S. BDS is a misnomer, at least. It's a phrase used to describe attitudes of Bush critics, from what I understand, but it really describes Bush. 'Cuz surely Bush derangement means a derangement of Bush and cannot, at all, describe what others think or feel about Bush. Adding syndrome to it does not make it any more logical.

Now, what brainy (or Freudian-slipping) Republican came up with this particular gem? ;)

(Don't answer this one, I simply digress. And, btw, I've looked it up and learned that it was Krauthammer. It does not surprise me, as the man seldom relies on logic.)

roger o'keefe said...

BDS is characterized by an all pervading paranoia and a knee jerk assumption of the worst possible motives on the part of Bush in particular and Republicans in general. I am saying that for Steve to say Hannity would rather see Obama dead than have him be president, and to imply that Sean is actually attempting through his TV show to get people riled up so that some lunatic will "take Obama out" is a symptom of that syndrome. In short, BDS always looks for the worst in anyone who supports Republican causes. Steve showed the same tendencies a while back when he said that even if McCain raped his campaign workers, Elizabeth Hasselback would find a way of rationalizing it. It's an over the top form of paranoia, as I said. And I don't think Steve is "just kidding". I think he (and many of you) believe this.

Steve Salerno said...

Do I believe that Sean Hannity would "rather see Obama dead than be president"? Of course I do. I think there are millions of Americans who feel that way, and it's naive to think otherwise.

I dare say, I think that both McCain and Palin feel that way. I'm not saying they wouldn't feel bad about it. But if the proposition were "(a) Obama lives or (b) I'm president"--you think they wouldn't take (b) in a heartbeat? You betcha they would.

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger, for crissakes... There are over 4,000 American service people and well over 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead in a war waged based upon lies. Our economy has gone from being robust to the verge of a depression. The world - including most of our former allies - has lost its respect and trust for us, and for good reason. The vast majority of these are the direct result of the current administration's policies. Tell me how rage against those who put these circumstances into action is indicative of an "all pervading paranoia and a knee jerk assumption of the worst possible motives."

Sorry, pal, but you've assumed the role of apologist for people who threaten to destroy a country too many of us have fought for, and no offhand dismissals or empty talking points is going to convince me to agree with those actions.

Shakes head, steps off soap box & returns to morning coffee...

roger o'keefe said...

I fought for it too, Rev. Surprised? Lest we forget John McCain also fought for it, and has the injuries to show for it. But I'm not one of those people who feel like I need to trot my military service out as an ace in the hole every time the discussion turns to who's more patriotic than who else.

So now that we've all established our credentials as patriots I think we should get back to the issue. Many of the regulars on this blog act as if it is inherently wrong for me or anyone to feel that John McCain is a better choice for America in these troubled times than Barack Obama. That is why I keep pointing to the fact that I've got plenty of company in feeling as I do. Even if Obama wins in a few days, he will win a race that right now is within a few points of even depending on which poll you look at. So I wonder how you don't see the arrogance in presuming to state repeatedly that the maybe 50-million Americans who will vote for John McCain EVEN IF HE LOSES are wrong, simply because they disagreed with you. And it's not because we're all racists or morons. Our friend Crack you will recall was black, and he was a McCain supporter. He's not the only black Republican either, if you watch the political shows. In fact I have two black acquaintances who are voting for McCain. And I know a couple of blacks who are voting for Obama. (You're surprised to hear that I know at least four black people too, I bet.) The point is that it is not an intellectual or moral defect to support McCain or the GOP.

RevRon's Rants said...

First of all, my service in no way makes me more of a "patriot" than anyone else. Neither do yours of McCain's. I merely stated that because having seen what an obscene waste war is - especially one waged on deception - I have very strong feelings about those who would promote such an endeavor. John McCain & George W. Bush fall into that category.

Second of all, I don't judge anyone who supports a candidate other than the one I've chosen. If you recall, it was *you* who was passing the judgment, dismissing the deeply-held feelings of those who do not support your choice. It was *you* who implied that our perspective represented some moral or intellectual flaw. Rather than acknowledge that there might be some reason for our passion, you simply wrote it off as "Bush derangement syndrome;" nothing more than partisan knee-jerk paranoia. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

If you're going to attempt to trivialize the beliefs of others, you'd best be prepared to be called on the arrogance inherent in that trivialization. And for the record, you might consider holding up someone else as a model of political reason.

Elizabeth said...

Rev et al, I think Jane Smiley's observation is on point here (though I imagine it will ruffle some feathers):

The Republican mindset is inherently extreme -- extremely aggressive, extremely defensive, extremely emotional. If you don't exhibit much aggression, they think you are wimping out, and if you do unto them what they have done unto you, they start screaming that they are being unfairly victimized. They are highly reactive and sitting down and reasoning together is not on the program.

http://tinyurl.com/6q3nu5

Elizabeth said...

Sarah Palin engaged, quite seriously, in a phone conversation with a prankster posing as the French president:
http://tinyurl.com/55zabc

LOL. Apparently it did not seem at all unusual to Palin that Sarkozy himself would be phoning her to chat. That's some ambition, one's gotta admit. :)

Steve Salerno said...

I have to admit I'm a bit concerned by this news report about Obama's Kenyan aunt living in the U.S. illegally. Doesn't seem like much, on the surface--certainly nothing for anyone to blame Obama about. But in a race like this, with people looking for last-minute reasons to vote for or against someone--or have their biases confirmed or refuted--you never know.

Elizabeth said...

Steve, have faith, man! :)

This is a non-story, though it no doubt will be blown out of proportion by the right-wingers who have nothing else to offer in this election. I don't see how Obama (or anyone) would be responsible for the immigration status of his distant relatives. And neither will most of the US populace. At this time in the election process, a non-story like this one is not going to sway any voters. Right-wingers will salivate and preach their outrage to their choir, but the rest of us will just shrug it off -- which is the proper response to this kind of a "revelation."
IM(not so)HO.

Elizabeth said...

I can just hear the Hannity & Co. gloating over the Illegal Auntie story. If I had the stomach for it, I would actually tune in for some dose of comic relief, as it will be hilarious, I'm sure.

Just when you thought the Communist terrorist, Barack Hussein Mohammad Abdul Obama, could not stoop any lower in his efforts to destroy our American way of life, we learn that he has been hiding his Communist terrorist illegal Muslim alien evil aunt from authorities. The evil aunt has not only stolen jobs from all hardworking Joe-the-Plumbers of America, she has also sent the illegally obtained money -- your money! -- to support Hussein Mohammad Abdul Obama's efforts to ruin America and take our freedoms away. Barack Hussein Mohammad Abdul Obama and his auntie are bad for you and bad for America. Stop them both while you can. (I'm John McPalin and I approve this message.)

Speaking of hilarious (or not so) political absurdity, there is a Polish radio personality in Chicago, one Mr. Rzepkowski, who is a staunch supporter of all things Republican and a rabid Obama hater. If you think Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. are way over the top in their hysteria-mongering, I can tell you, you have not heard Rzepkowski. Nothing is off-limits to this... man, he can spew unimaginable bile about Obama's family, including blood-curdling cheap shots about Michelle's looks, sexuality, etc. As unbelievable as it is, this man has a sizable audience here among Polish immigrants. His listeners can call in with their opinions, but apparently only those who share his agenda are put on the air (my parents, who are stoic and forgiving people, are appalled and have tried to call in, several times, to complain about his behavior, with no success).

Elizabeth said...

Steve, below is a fragment of the transcript from the prank "Sarkozy's" call to Palin. Despite the obvious absurdity of the fact that Sarkozy would be calling her, and the many hilarious hints dropped during the call suggesting that she is being pranked, Palin did not catch on. (Surprised? I did not think so. Now imagine her negotiating with foreign leaders...)

FAKE SARKOZY: Well, I hope for you, you know we have a lot on common because personally, one of my favorite activities is to hunt, too.

GOV. PALIN: Oh, very good, we should go hunting together.

FAKE SARKOZY: Exactly, we could go try hunting by helicopter like you did. I never did that. Like we say in France, (says long French-sounding phrase).

GOV. PALIN: Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together as we're getting work done. We could kill two birds with one stone that way.

FAKE SARKOZY: I just love killing those animals, mm mm, taking away life, that is so fun. I would really love to go as long as we don't bring vice president Cheney, haha.

GOV. PALIN: No, I'll be a careful shot, yes.

FAKE SARKOZY: Yes, you know we have a lot in common because from my house I can see Belgium. That's kind of less interesting than you.

GOV. PALIN: Well, see, we're right next door to other countries that we all need to be working with, yes.

Full text:
http://tinyurl.com/6p5so5

You can also look up the audio, which is even more fun.

Steve Salerno said...

RE Palin: Hard to believe. Or maybe not....

Anonymous said...

Speaking of treason, as Roger did lately, the real traitors to this country are those who cheer and support Palin for the vice-presidency. These are people who obviously do not care about the country AT ALL and are ready to sell it for their own gratification. This is the real treason. McCain and all those in the GOP who support his ticket are guilty as hell. Traitors, all.

roger o'keefe said...

No matter how you try to explain it, rationalize it, turn it around, or whatever, arrogance is arrogance. It amazes me that some of the people on this board don't see the arrogance in their own positions. Then they'll go on and try to justify it as if it's warranted by circumstances because their truth is the only possible real truth and anyone who doesn't see it that way is misguided. Or worse you'll accuse me of being arrogant for not yielding to your greater wisdom. That is *textbook* arrogance no matter how you slice it.

RevRon's Rants said...

anon 10:26 - I think you're really crossing the line in stating that anyone who supports the McCain/Palin ticket are traitors. Even though I personally believe that the victory of that ticket would be disastrous for the country, I have to recognize that there are many people who honestly believe the same about an Obama/Biden victory. Neither perspective even remotely meets the standard for treason.

We have seen firsthand on this blog how unproductive such blanket condemnations are. They reveal a level of narrow-minded rancor that is the antithesis of democracy, and certainly offers nothing in the way of improvement in the national discourse, much less the effort to improve conditions and restore the US to the position of respect and trust in the eyes of the world.

After the election is over, and the identity of our nation's leader is made clear, it is our responsibility as citizens to support the office, even if we find ourselves unable to support the person who holds that office. That means doing our part to improve conditions in our own lives and the lives of our fellow humans, both citizens of this country and the world at large. If we believe our elected leader to be making an honest effort to effect positive change, we need to support those efforts as best we can. If, however, we perceive that leader to be moving in a counterproductive direction, it is our responsibility to work within our system to realign the government's actions with a positive course.

There will always be those who yammer incessantly about irrelevant non-issues as a means of expressing their dislike, but they add nothing to the effort to improve the country. All they provide is an atmosphere of hate, devoid of the respect which every citizen deserves. By the same token, deriding other citizens for holding to a different perspective than our own ensures that our focus will be distracted from truly important issues to dwell only upon the mundane and destructive. And *that* "my friend," comes much closer to treason than does supporting a candidate one does not favor.

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger, I'll try to make this as simple and direct as possible (arrogance noted - and intended). The real arrogance in these discussions is the attempt to dismiss the opinions of others by applying a derogatory label to them, rather than offering reasoned responses which address the specifics upon which those opinions are based. Your attempt to refute opinions you don't like by claiming them to be nothing more than evidence of a "Bush Derangement Syndrome" clearly meets that criteria.

If you believe that the opinions offered lack credibility, you are of course free to offer your own evidence in challenge. However, a mere waving of the partisan wand and parroting of cue-card talking points, sans anything to support your attempted dismissal, will inevitably be met with the same disdain that another commenter faced when he tried - without success - to prove that anyone who disagreed with him had fallen prey to some evil cult. It should be expected that such arrogance will be met with arrogance in response.

Anonymous said...

Arrogance is arrogance, Roger, but arrogance does not make one wrong, necessarily. Even arrogant people can be right and the non-arrogant wrong. Those are two different things.

Cosmic Connie said...

I'm not trying to play devil's advocate here, but I have to admit that Roger has a point when he says that arrogance has been apparent on both sides throughout this campaign season -- yes, even on this board. (Note: I'm not referring to the impassioned comments of people such as Eliz or Ron, but rather to, for example, Anon 10:26.) Whenever you seriously start accusing someone of something as serious as treason just for supporting a given presidential (or vice-presidential) candidate, you're treading in dangerous territory. You're being just as unfair as that former frequent contributor who claims all liberals/Democrats/baby boomers are stupid, deluded cultists whose deaths, absent their "coming to their senses" and agreeing with him, will leave this planet a better place.

That said, I feel compelled to add that in my opinion, anyone who claims Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president -- much less president! -- is deliberately turning a blind eye to evidence suggesting otherwise. ESPECIALLY after that latest incident with the prank phone call. I mean, really.

PS ~ My "word verification" was 'jusease.' Maybe that's a sign from the Blogger God that we all should "jus' ease" up on each other!

Anonymous said...

Roger you are guilty of this "arrogance" too. You have never addressed direct questions aimed at you about a few of your views. I dislike both parties, but to me Palin is a problem, especially when there were better canidates for McCain to pick. I think the Democrats just figured out how to spend more than the GOP and that to me is quite ironic. Believe me there is enough "arrogance" to go around on this blog and many others.

Anonymous said...

I could not even listen to the whole prank on Palin. I was so embarrassed for her. She just didn't get it. Why would the president of France call any of the canidates let alone one of the VPs? I have a pretty good feeling McCain would not have fallen for this.

Elizabeth said...

The top 10 reasons conservatives should vote for Obama:
http://tinyurl.com/5bpzwz

Anonymous said...

I stand by treason as the appropriate term to describe Bush-McCain and all those who support their policies. First of all, it is time we stopped pretending that these people have the good of the country in their hearts and minds. Just take a look around after 8 years of the Republican rule--and see the devastation, economic, military, educational, moral. What do you call people who knowingly and deliberately institute policies which lead to a near complete devastation of the country? Certainly not patriots.

Second, it is time we started using an appropriately strong language, something like Shock and Awe, to reclaim reality from the hands of corrupt Republicans. They have no compunction resorting to the strongest available terms, whether they describe the truth or not--and guess what?--they get the results they want. All honest and caring Americans have to take their gloves off and start calling things by their names.

So what do you call somebody who knowingly chooses for vice-president someone completely unqualified for the job, someone plain stupid, like Palin? Certainly not a patriot.

Unfair? Too bad.

RevRon's Rants said...

Anon 1:18 - The key word in your final question is "knowingly." Whether you choose to believe it or not, there are a lot of people who believe our country's problems came about, not because of, but in spite of the actions of the dominant political party or administration. While I can't accept their logic, neither can I claim infallibility or some clear vision of what anyone else thinks. Neither can you.

Once we accept the fact that we aren't all-knowing and all-wise, the application of extreme labels to people with whom we disagree rings hollow.

Now, I am certain that there are people who accept the negative impact upon the country as being an unavoidable by-product of their realizing their own goals, and I have no problem calling such actions treasonous. I would suggest, however, that even in those cases where we feel pretty certain that someone has passed the threshold into treason, we remain very judicious in so labeling them, even to the point of keeping silent until we have absolute, *objective* proof. We have suffered too much divisiveness for too many years now, and I believe that healing that divisiveness is more important than the satisfaction gained from calling someone a name - even if we feel it is well deserved. And that applies pretty much everywhere - even in a blog.

Anonymous said...

Guys,

Please don't gang up on Roger. I really like the fact that he comments on the blog as at least we can have a conversation that has various viewpoints. Its really boring reading most other blogs and articles that seem to be preaching to the choir.

As an outsider, I would like to know what McCain/Palin supporters like about their candidates.

Londoner

roger o'keefe said...

You write comments to me that drip with condescension: "Oh Roger, Roger," then lecture me about arrogance. You put in a token phrase about how everybody is entitled to their opinion, then spend the next five comments explaining why that's not really true or why a really intelligent, well-meaning person will end up siding with you anyway. Apparently you don't even see any of this. And I'll say it again, though Crack was a lot more provocative in the things he said, you did the same basic thing to him and his ideas. You marginalized him.

Steve likes to talk about the Givens, it amazes me how so many of you don't see the Givens embedded in your own arguments. I'll give you an example from just this morning: You talk about "healing" and you assume healing is important. America needs to heal, blah, blah, blah. But why should healing be a priority for me if I think the people you want me to heal with are dead wrong? I don't want a healed society if it means more government, more government intrusion in daily life and corporate affairs, and more income redistribution, which despite all the jokes about Joe the Plumber etc. is exactly what would eventually happen with Dems running the whole show. I don't want a healed society if it means making nice with enemies who want to kill us, or even if it means watching my President go to cocktail parties rubbing elbows with people who once tried to blow up their own gov't. If that is how we heal you can keep it. I can't wait to hear what you're going to say about this, but I want someone who stands up in the middle of all that has happened, even with a 20 percent approval rating, and says "I don't care what the polls say, this is what I stand for and I still believe it". I'm talking about Bush of course. You can attack me as much as you want for that posture but one thing you can't attack me for is being arrogant (which on this blog seems to be "the failure to buy what the rest of us are selling".) It is not arrogant of me to say any of that. I'm not telling YOU how YOU have to feel. I'm just telling you how *I* feel.

In fact I'll say one thing about Obama. He is often attacked for having one of the (if not the) most liberal voting records in Congress. People will say he "doesn't reach across the aisle". If I were Obama, I would reply, "Why should I reach across the aisle if I think I'm right?" That's not being arrogant. It's called having principles. I don't agree with his principles but I don't begrudge him for it either.

Londoner: Thanks for your vote of confidence. It's ironic that, with all these people who want to heal America I have to go overseas to get some support and even respect!

Anonymous said...

Excellent Roger, at least I have an insight into what the other half think - and I can't believe it seems to be almost exactly half half McCain/ Obama - maybe its not the "United" States anymore.....

I'm glad I'm not voting.....

Londoner

Elizabeth said...

Roger, I'm the one who used "Oh Roger, Roger" phrase -- in exasperation, not condescension. For what it's worth, I don't think you are arrogant, certainly not in your posts on SHAMblog.

However, I disagree with you on politics (I also think that talking politics between people who disagree is rather pointless -- just like are discussions on religion between people of opposing views).

But since you asked what "we" think about your arguments:

The Sullivan's piece linked in the previous post of mine, "The top 10 reasons conservatives should vote for Obama," explains why I disagree with you on the issues you mention in your post -- and Sullivan does it much better than I would if I tried again here. So if you are interested in "my" arguments, please do follow that link and read those 10 reasons. They have to do precisely with the issues you've brought up in your post.

As to CMC, you may think "we" have marginalized him for expressing his conservative views, but that's not how I see it. CMC has had plenty of opportunities to present and argue his views here without a problem, IMO. It only became an issue when instead of argumentation, the posts veered toward abuse. [This is not surprising perhaps when one advocates "lining (people one disagrees with) against a wall and shooting them." I hope one could see and understand the difference (between passionate disagreement and abuse).]

Elizabeth said...

People will say he "doesn't reach across the aisle". If I were Obama, I would reply, "Why should I reach across the aisle if I think I'm right?"

Exactly, Roger (one of the things we apparently agree on :)).

RevRon's Rants said...

Roger, I never said you weren't entitled to your opinion - only that you were quick to dismiss the opinions of others as some kind of personality flaw, even to the point of suggesting those opinions bordered upon treason.

We differ in our opinions as to the role of government. I think government should provide protection for its citizens against "all enemies, both foreign and domestic." That includes predatory corporations as well as foreign terrorists. IMO, the government has done an abysmal job in that respect, and my vote is for what I honestly believe to be our best chance at improving that record. Noting how abysmal that record is, according to you, represents treason. To me, ignoring or rationalizing away our country's failures rather than trying to solve them comes much closer to meeting those criteria. The difference between us is that I don't see your own mindset as being treasonous; merely misguided.

I cannot share your admiration of Bush, simply because throughout his career, I have never seen anything resembling integrity or a willingness to stand up for values. Every situation in which he found himself was characterized by the common elements of personal failure, offset by way of his father's influence. I have seen nothing different in his actions as president, and apparently the vast majority of Americans are seeing the same thing.

And for the record, suggesting that anyone on this blog marginalized crack is ludicrous. He needed no help from anyone here.

"Why should I reach across the aisle if I think I'm right?" That's not being arrogant. It's called having principles."

When one's sense of being right precludes even listening to - much less, compromising with - those who hold different ideas, there is no chance for productive discourse. To plant one's feet so firmly as to completely dismiss the ideas of others is the height of arrogance. And if the shoe fits...

Elizabeth said...

I don't want a healed society if it means more government, more government intrusion in daily life and corporate affairs, and more income redistribution, which despite all the jokes about Joe the Plumber etc. is exactly what would eventually happen with Dems running the whole show.

What do you think, Roger, about the Bush&Co.'s decision to nationalize the banks then? And to use our -- taxpayers' -- money to do it? (Talk about a massive wealth redistribution and government intrusion, no?)

I've also been curious about your views on the current economic collapse brought about by the unregulated free market. I've often wondered what you think about it. So please tell us (if you care to). I'm genuinely interested in your POV.

sassy sasha said...

you know whats interesting tom e steve is, your book comes off as very right wing yet your blog attracts mostly people who vote left. like me :) and now even you yourself are going obama's way, what's the deal??

Steve Salerno said...

Sasha: Some of us remain open to--dare I say it?--"change," even at advanced ages.

Elizabeth said...

Ha ha, Sasha... Funny. A good observation, though I don't quite agree with it. I think SHAMblog has been, overall, firmly planted to the right, just like its writer [;)]. And I think that, historically, the majority of posters here have been on the right and center. Only in the recent months the dynamic has shifted a bit, with Steve coming out in support of Obama (among other things). This has intensified the political discussion, but has not changed the make-up of the posters (though it has changed their participation patterns, I'd say).

Elizabeth said...

even at advanced ages

LMAO. Don't flatter yourself, Steve, you not that advanced in age yet. :)

(But your openness to change is admirable. Seriously. It shows heart, if I may be so bold -- and so trite at the same time. ;)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think you've had that much of a change of heart Steve, I think you're still very conservative and don't like big government and nanny state policies but the problem in this election that the conservative government on offer wants to take the money it doesn't even have and use it to fuel more unnecessary war. If its the choice between war and state benefits for those scroungers on street corners then I'd rather give it to the scroungers - as much as it hurts me coming from the nanny state in Britain.

That's my view in a nutshell

Londoner

PS Elizabeth - how arewe supposed to grow if we don't debate differing views?

Anonymous said...

Roger, I am neither a Democrat or a Republican, but again you do what both McCain and Obama do, you ignore direct questions.

We (US) have a socialized monetary system and yet you do not address that. You state you agree with free markets, but the US has never had those. Even Alan Greenspan admitted his ideas did not work in the long run. The US does not have the money to bail out anyone! It does not matter if you are Red or Blue!

CMC marginalized himself by attacking the bloggers and not the issues.

So Roger just like those you accuse of "arrogance," you fall in the same boat.

Elizabeth said...

Londoner, if you followed my participation on SHAMblog, you'd have surely noticed that I'm all for debate(s), even when it makes me appear, ahem, arrogant.

When it comes to politics and religion, however, the debates (not only on SHAMblog) fall into predictable patterns, along the divides that separate people according to their different value systems. It usually turns out that that these debates solidify each debater's already established ideas and, what's more, alienate people from each other (and/or help form new, though usually temporary, alliances). Apart from the Dems-Repubs discussions, just drop in on any of the atheists vs. religious folks debates to see what I'm talking about. The swords (or accusations of "arrogance," etc.:) are drawn, typically, by the second round, and the ruffled feathers do not go down for days, if ever. If one is into such battles and enjoys the inevitable adrenaline rush, that's great; but more often than not, it's just a needless expenditure of time and energy (as well as stress hormones ;).

As to how we can grow -- I think it would be helpful if you defined the growth you'd expect to see from participation in a blog discussion. In my experience, blog exchanges serve as a venting venue more than anything else and rarely, if ever, lead to attitude changes. If that's useful to however you understand growth, that's great. If not, then I suppose you should seek other growth opportunities. (I guess I'm just not sure what you mean by "growth" here, so, as you can see, I'm trying, foolishly, to answer a question I do not fully understand.)

Steve Salerno said...

Personally I think growth can be measured in the ability to "doublethink," to return to my Orwellian references. When I was younger I used to think that it was impossible for a devout Catholic to truly accept the faith of his devoutly Jewish neighbor; one would seem to preclude the other. However, as I've gotten older, I realize (and see in myself) that the ability to believe passionately in something--and yet believe with just about equal passion that you could very well be wrong--is not the sign of insanity that I once thought it was. Maybe a lot of it has to do with being able to segregate one's emotional leanings from one's intellectual excursions (although emotions routinely play havoc with intellect, such that we may think we're being rational when in truth we're being emotional in our thoughts on a given subject). I guess that's a long way of saying--and this of course is pertinent to the current situation with Roger, Crack, etc.--that we should be able to believe passionately that Obama is the only hope for the nation... while also believing that perhaps McCain is the only hope for the nation as well. At the very least, we should be able to accept what the other person believes as being equally valid as what we believe. In other words, true growth is to be found, I think, in reaching the plane where we are able to apply our own inveterate skepticism to the very things which we most fervently believe.

How many of us can say we truly live that goal? I'm certainly not there yet. I do try, however. Or at least I think I do.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Steve, I remember a comment conversation we had about the death penalty - I used to be very for and you are obviously against and after the conversation I really don't know - I feel growth is the ability to see that nothing is black and white and its also the ability to hold the unknown rather then delude ourselves with comforting answers.

Does that make sense?

Londoner

Steve Salerno said...

Londoner, it makes sense. But the rebuttal you will hear from True Believers (in anything) is that, one, "society loses its center" when you have a lot of people who feel that way (if you think about it, it is the basis for the moral relativism that so many people will blame for the downfall of western culture), and two, government tends to fall into stasis. Jimmy Carter is often cited as a man who could "see the merit in almost anything," and he was not one of our more get-it-done presidents.

RevRon's Rants said...

Londoner, I think you make perfect sense. I tend to revert to my standard quest for "balance" whenever we get into these polarized discussions. It's not that I don't honestly believe that my perspective is "right," but that I have to acknowledge that it may well be right only in its own realm: me. I feel compelled to follow that "rightness" and reject (for myself) that which I believe to be "wrong," but realize that someone else's perspective might well be the opposite of that which I hold, and possess its own "rightness." The internal dichotomy is that I can feel simultaneously smug and humbled, even if I allow myself to express only one side of that dichotomy.

I find it ironic that, as Steve points out, some people who consider themselves critical thinkers believe that in the search for balance, "society loses its center." To me, that concept is no less an oxymoron than the implication that the quest for learning leads to ignorance. To couch the argument in the skeptics' language, true knowledge is the synthesis that occurs when an idea (thesis) is confronted by and weighed against a valid opposing idea (antithesis). So long as either idea remains isolated from its polar opposite, it is unchallenged and therefore incomplete.

In politics, this is exemplified by the partisan notion that one "side" is superior to the other, when history shows us that when a society is dominated by either "idea" (left/right, Dem/Repub. conservative/liberal) conditions within the society at large deteriorate. It is only when there exists a balance between the two that true progress can be realized.

I acknowledge that my own political leanings are somewhat left of center, but I attribute that to the need for balance in a legislative agenda that has - again, in my perspective - moved too far to the right. And if that agenda moved too far to the left, who knows...?

Steve Salerno said...

Ron et al, I struggle with this a great deal, both philosophically and pragmatically. I think we can agree that--in theory--a system of thinking that recognizes the legitimacy of all sides is an ideal way of approaching life, especially the life of the mind, if you will. However, I think we can also readily see that in any closed system where all forces are in perfect balance...nothing happens. As with the tug-o'-war in which both sides exert equal force, there is total inertia. But really, in a philosophical sense, it would be even "worse" than that, because if all of us recognized the legitimacy of every argument, no tug-o'-wars would ever develop in the first place. None of us would have any motivating beliefs. We'd all be stymied, walking around saying "It's all good...."

Then again, some wags observe that inertia is the ideal condition for government, because we don't really want government to do anything....

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, perhaps the stasis you describe is the "there" that humanity has always sought. Not that there's any real likelihood of humanity getting "there," but a noble goal, nonetheless.

What really gets to me is the proliferation of "gurus, experts, and teachers" who try to convince us that they are "there," and that they can take the rest of us "there" - for a price. They bring to mind the title of an interesting book: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" Not literally, of course; just eliminate him/her from your own list of things that are worth considering.

As to government... It's not that we don't want government to "do anything." We all want government to "do," but only according to our individual desires and agendas. Perhaps our chief reservation is that we are still mired in and governed by a "parliament of whores,"* each of whom govern according to the limitations not only of their agendas, but constrained by their inherent mediocrity. Even as we support our preferred elected officials, we realize that they function within a crippled system, guided by an imperfect set of standards. We want them to "do something," just not too much. We inherently trust in the tension between the opposing forces, even as we cry for the abolition of those forces with which we disagree. Governance is, after all, perhaps the purest form of schizophrenia.

And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? :-)

* - Thanks, P.J. O'Rourke!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Londoner. Argumentation is about growth. Londoner uses the death penalty as an example and for me it was the electorial college. For years I was passionate about eliminating the electorial college. I had my data,facts, figures, and history to prove my point yet as I learned I realized the electorial college is needed. I do believe it needs to be modified a bit, but not eliminated. I marvel at how important it is today.

In my view, it is about appearances and ego. One must detach from being "right" or "appearing" to be right in order to really have a good debate. I believe you can be passionate about your point of view yet still be open to being "wrong" or to learning something new. I find few people really achieve this.

What you learn on this blog is who to engage with and who not to engage with. People tell you who they are by what they post and one should believe them. As William Faulkner so correctly said "treat others the way they think they are." I have not quite gotten that knack yet.

I actually find Roger rather open for the most part.

Anonymous said...

"What you learn on this blog is who to engage with and who not to engage with."

Indeed. Pontificating Anons being the latter.

Anonymous said...

"Indeed. Pontificating Anons being the latter."

Oh, I like to engage with my fans like you Anon 4:11. Especially when you use words like "pontificating." I do my best, but I don't think I will ever be as good as you.

Anonymous said...

"Indeed. Pontificating Anons being the latter."

Oh, just for reference Steve. This is a classic ad hominem fallacy. Instead of addressing any points, but attacking the poster instead.