A Few Quick Thoughts on Commenting

James Joyner has had a couple of interesting posts over the last week concerning blog comments, especially here at OTB. Here are some more thoughts.

(Ok, not so quick:  call it Professor’s Disease)

James Joyner has had a couple of interesting posts over the last week concerning blog comments, especially here at OTB.

In regards to Are Online Comments More Trouble Than They’re Worth? I would say the following:

1.  I agree with the general tenor of the discussion in the comment threads attached to the above post, i.e., that the comment section here is, on balance, a clear value to OTB.

2.  Yes, as a blogger, I prefer having feedback.  It is interesting as a general proposition and it allows me to gauge how well I have explained myself as well and to raise issues I may have not considered (or to identify errors)—so it is certainly valuable to me.  I like conversations.  I will say that some folks could work on their conversation skills (i.e., conversations are give-and-take, or, at a minimum, should be focused on the topics actually under discussion. Often it seems like some conversations simply go from A to B to C without every finishing topic A. (I frequently feel like I have stumbled into a cyber version of Monty Python’s Argument Clinic sketch.  Michael Palin’s first line from that bit, “I’d like to have an argument,” could easily be the commenter’s, or even blogger’s, credo.)

3.  An interesting side issue that was raised in the post that came from Joel Johnson (whom James was quoting) was about whether  or not comments make money.  Of course, a key stipulation is that money is not my blogging motivation, so my observations here are biased, I suppose.   Having said that it seems to me that, as per the comment thread in the linked post notes, there are readers who come to OTB for the comments (at least in part).  That helps traffic which affects the ability to sell advertising.  So, in that regards, comment section is a plus.  On the other hand, time spent responding to comments by a blog’s author(s) is time not being used for blogging (indeed, I have probably spent more time responding to comment threads over the last two weeks or more than I have blogging—but, of course, this is mostly a function of a really busy set of weeks and the fact comment response is a quick affair, in general).

In regards to James’ Where Have the Thoughtful Conservatives Gone? (where I have commented quite a bit and I will not recapitulate my comments here) I have noted that in that thread there are a number of commenters who are all up in arms over the (now discontinued) comment system in which readers can give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to a given comment which (used to) lead to comments with lots of down votes being covered up (and thus requiring an extra click to see—but, importantly, no being deleted).

The commenters in question perceive that “conservative” comments are more targeted than “liberal” ones.  Now, such an evaluation, as I noted in the thread, is rather subjective (as are, I will allow, my own perception that mostly just lousy comments have been voted down).  I do find that some of the more “conservative” (if not reactionary) commenters do seem to get voted down with some frequency.  A lot of that (such as comments by “superdestroyer”) are as much about the angry tone of the comments and/or redundancy (how many times can we be told about the coming one party state and the plight of whites in the US?) as it is about anything else.

In general, I think that a lot of the conservative/liberal distinctions have more to do with self-perception and politics-qua-team sports than an objective system of classification.  Also, I think some commenters draw more attention to themselves in terms of confrontation with other commenters and that leads to more thumbs down than some other commenters receive (i.e., there are more variables in play here than just a simplistic ideological dichotomy—some commenters can simply be more annoying than others).

In regards to the thumbs up/down bit, the following thought occurred to me this morning: is this not an example of a market at work?  Readers have total freedom to read or not read, comment or not comment, and to vote up, down or to abstain.  As such, it struck me as ironic when I was thinking about it this morning that some commenters are so incensed by the system while arguing that the main reason that comments are voted down is that they are too “conservative.”  But, surely, the “conservatives” are allegedly more invested in the power of markets to solve problems (the wisdom of crowds are whatnot that James himself noted in the above-linked post).  Granted, this is a limited example and the counter-argument is likely to be that the market in question is skewed in one direction, ideologically.  Of course, my counter would be:  where is there ever a guarantee that give set of consumers will represent a perfect pool of participants?  Markets can be rather brutal, yes?

Just like I do as a blogger, commenters might consider that the reason that they are getting voted down is not as much petty ideology as it is that they are not coming across the way that they think that they are.  This way be as much about tone and style than it is content.

Of course, the hidden comments are gone.  I wonder if this will incentivize more voting, now that people no longer wish to contribute to what they believe is an unjust outcome (a factor that demonstrates, too, that behavior is influenced by a number of conditions in a given context).

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Graham says:

    I have to concur that I down vote posts for being needlessly angry and some combination of redundant or wildly off-topic.

    I have noticed that this happens with “conservative” commenters more than it does with “liberal” commenters, but I think it’s important for people using that sort of voting system to remember that you vote on comments based on the quality they add to the discussion, not whether or not you agree with them.

    If I only wanted to hear the viewpoints of people I agreed with, I’d sit in a bar with my libertarian friends all day and stay off the internet altogether.




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  2. @Graham:

    If I only wanted to hear the viewpoints of people I agreed with, I’d sit in a bar with my libertarian friends all day and stay off the internet altogether.

    You mean, after you all cash your government checks!




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  3. A Quick Thought on Commenting: I should not comment just to crack myself up.




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  4. Graham says:

    @john personna: It’s ok. I laughed.




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  5. PD Shaw says:

    On the question of the role of markets, I suppose it depends on what you want the blog to become. Clicking a thumbs down requires no investment of resources; you can click all of the comments thumbs down if you want. I just did so to John Personna’s comment for the hell of it.

    All these thumbs represent is the sum of the biases of the readers; an attempt to provide social stigmas and support. That means that a blog that is generally read by liberal will have an increasingly liberal readership. That was the reason I understood the question was raised: Where are the thoughtful conservatives? They’ve been directed to read and post elsewhere. Is that how this market is supposed to work? Because OTB is not the only product out there.




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  6. Vast Variety says:

    I never really thought about voting on comments in those terms before but it makes sense. Of course with any open market, for better or worse, you can’t really control the reasons by which people choose to vote a particular comment up or down. Of course if you could, then it wouldn’t really be an open market any more.




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  7. There might be a reason that part of the web operates on +1 only. Not that I’m suggesting any change. Things are fine.

    Just to discuss their logic though, it must be that -1s can come from more motivations than +1. Or that “advance this thought” is less ambiguous than “hide this thought.” Of course the drawback of that is that it groups the merely banal with the repugnant.

    All these thumbs represent is the sum of the biases of the readers; an attempt to provide social stigmas and support. That means that a blog that is generally read by liberal will have an increasingly liberal readership. That was the reason I understood the question was raised: Where are the thoughtful conservatives? They’ve been directed to read and post elsewhere. Is that how this market is supposed to work? Because OTB is not the only product out there.

    Again, what many of us see is “thoughtful conservatives” ruled “RINO” and driven out.

    Have you actually found a forum that is both reasoned and accepted on the right?




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  8. lou91940 says:

    Being neither scientist, lawyer, nor indian chief…all my comments are anecdotal. The campfire did burn my butt, but since I was the only one there at the time, it’s just anecdotal or so I’ve been previously informed…which kind of restricts my comments on the hazards of campfires or political blogs.




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  9. PD Shaw says:

    @john personna: I think that sounds right. I generally only hit +1 when I agree completely with the statement, but I also hit it when I saw a comment about to be hidden that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I think needs to be seen because it presents a different p.o.v., it promotes a marketplace of ideas.

    Whever we’ve had comments hidden that end up sparking conversation and debate (and its only probably about once a week), I think the comment hiding function is not serving its intended purpose.

    I’m generally satisfied with OTB; would like to see more diversity of views. Where do conservatives go? I see them in the comments at Volokh and various milblogs and Althouse and Tom Maguire’s. That probably reflects my occassional reading as much as anything. I only comment here and at the Glittering Eye these days.




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  10. Andy says:

    IMO the only thing the thumbs-up/down buttons might be good for is to hide comments from trolls or bots. Other than they don’t really serve a useful purpose. I doubt many rate comments on basis of the stated terms either, so if you plan to keep this system you should change “helpful or unhelpful” to like/dislike.




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  11. rodney dill says:

    I never thought the ‘thoughtful conservatives’ left because of the voting per se. Rather a reflection of that they had left (or disappeared), The commenting ‘force’ of the majority (especially the more abrasive variety) would have been more a driving factor in my view.




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  12. Andy says:

    @john personna: Well, in my experience, thoughtful conservative/RINO comments still end up with many more down votes than up votes here.

    I think for this kind of system to work, you have to make it more accountable. Either you need to be able to see who voted thumbs-up, thumbs down or you need to add some additional restrictions or requirements. One possibility is to require giving a reason for the vote from a list of options.

    But really, the thumbs-up down is a pretty minor issue. Although this is better than most blogs there is still bad heat/light ratio in most threads.

    I know the proprietors here are against it, but I still think disqus is a good platform.




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  13. Nikki says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I see them in the comments at Volokh and various milblogs and Althouse and Tom Maguire’s.

    Can’t answer for Volokh or the milblogs, but if the commenters at Althouse and Maguire are representative of conservatives, then please let them stay there. I’ve posted comments at both sites and was rewarded with the most vile namecalling, and at Maguire’s, upon learning that I was black, one commenter found it necessary to issue me a death threat (of course I was commenting on a Trayvon Martin article at the time)..




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  14. bains says:

    Just like I do as a blogger, commenters might consider that the reason that they are getting voted down is not as much petty ideology as it is that they are not coming across the way that they think that they are.

    These are far from being mutually exclusive. One can come across just as they think they are and still be engaging in petty ideological purity.

    I would add something else regarding the overall theme. As James has acknowledged, he has drifted leftwards over the years. As the most “right-leaning” of the bloggers here, a number of us conservatives/libertarian readers and commenters have noted his site has also trended left. The posts are from a center left position – and most of the sources cited are of a far left to center left viewpoint (with the obvious exceptions of those points of view this site likes to mock, but a few others as well). In other words, whether you like to admit or not, there exists a subtle to blatant cocooning of thought that is evident in posts and comments.

    One reason I have seriously curtailed my participation over the years is that even though you have mostly thoughtful posters, and several thoughtful commenters, the din of the unhinged makes meaningful dialogue near impossible; the unhinged who seem to me more interested in petty ideology, scoring partisan points, and yelling down opponents. And that din comes primarily from the left here at OTB.




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  15. @Andy:

    FWIW, my impression is that good-right thoughts only get a lot of down-votes on the super-active threads. And sure, I’ve seen some shady-left thoughts skate in that environment.

    My personal attitude is that when you are down by one or two, it’s no big, but if you go further than that you should give your comment some more thought.

    If someone is down 0-7, that is actually a red flag.




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  16. @rodney dill:

    I never thought the ‘thoughtful conservatives’ left because of the voting per se.

    I agree and I am not saying that the thumbs drove anyone away, but was addressing the responses of persons currently here.

    I think that a major question, which is part of James’ point as well, I think: where are the “thoughtful conservatives” in general (not just here at OTB). What blogs, especially in term of the comment sections, are filled with thoughtful conservatives? Off the top of my head, Larison fits.

    @PD Shaw:

    I am willing to concede Volokh, but in terms of the comment section of Althouse, I beg to differ. I surf by Maguire on occasion–and am largely not impressed with his work (I have not, to my recollection, spent much time in the comments).




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  17. @Andy:

    there is still bad heat/light ratio in most threads.

    I think that this is unavoidable.




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  18. @bains:

    One reason I have seriously curtailed my participation over the years is that even though you have mostly thoughtful posters, and several thoughtful commenters, the din of the unhinged makes meaningful dialogue near impossible; the unhinged who seem to me more interested in petty ideology, scoring partisan points, and yelling down opponents. And that din comes primarily from the left here at OTB.

    You might also be missing a distinction, between someone who scores a few points, and someone advocates a worse world. I mean, there have been some here who equated “racist spotting” with “being a racist.”

    No, not really.




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  19. @bains:

    These are far from being mutually exclusive. One can come across just as they think they are and still be engaging in petty ideological purity.

    True. What I am encouraging is that people should take seriously the notion that how they present themselves, and how well they engage in actual conversation, the better off said comment is likely to be received.

    A lot of people, in my estimation, take a far more hostile, often manichean approach to their comments. This is likely to generate pushback.

    As James has acknowledged, he has drifted leftwards over the years.

    This is true. It is true for myself as well. There has also been some rightward drift in “conservative” politics of late. And yes, this has surely affected the blog, the way it is perceived, and who the readership is.




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  20. bains says:

    This is true. It is true for myself as well. There has also been some rightward drift in “conservative” politics of late.

    Have you considered that your leftward drift only created the impression of a right shift with conservative politics? That it is you moving away from the right and not the right moving further right?

    From my perspective – and my core values haven’t trended one way or another for a while – it is “liberals” that have moved quite markedly left. To claim that Reagen or JFK would be eschewed by today’s party is ridiculous and demagogic. But it seems to me that the left has moved much further away from the policies and agendas of each icon than has the right.




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  21. @bains:

    Have you considered that your leftward drift only created the impression of a right shift with conservative politics? That it is you moving away from the right and not the right moving further right?

    Yes, I have considered this quite a bit (I spend a lot of time thinking about these kinds of things, to be honest, and I think that there is mutual drift in both directions.)

    To claim that Reagen or JFK would be eschewed by today’s party is ridiculous and demagogic.

    Sertting aside JFK, let’s think about Reagan:

    If you gave the GOP electorate a description of Reagan’s policy activities, but did not put a name on it, they would reject him as a RINO at best and socialist at worst:

    1. Raised taxes (more than once).
    2. Signed the “amnesty” bill for illegal aliens.
    3. Regularly was willing to meet face-t-face with the country’s cheap adversaries and negotiate.

    I won’t even get into selling weapons to Iran and the arms-for-hostages bit, as no one could campaign on that.

    You are going to have to tell me, to support your point, where 1-3 has any room whatsoever in the GOP these days.

    The Republican Party and especially self-described conservatives have adopted the notion of tax cuts as a mantra that can fix all things. There is absolutely no interest in reasonable (or, really, any kind) of immigration reform, and the notion of negotiation with places like Iran (which are far less of a threat to us that the Soviets) is a reason to ridicule the person making the suggestion.




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  22. @bains:

    it is “liberals” that have moved quite markedly left.

    If we are talking the mainstream Democratic party, I am just not seeing it.

    Take taxes: the basic stance of the Democratic Party at the moment is: keep the Bush tax rates and only raise the top rate to the Clinton levels. How is that “markedly left”?

    And as I have noted ad infinitum: the basic architecture of the PPACA was considered a “conservative” approach in the 1990s. (Cap and trade is also, historically, a center-right notion: the application of markets to allow for the control of pollution instead of harsh regulations).

    Where are these “markedly left” policies of which you speak?




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  23. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Oh it’s avoidable, but it requires a lot of moderation which is difficult on a political blog.

    Let me give you an example of what frustrates me about this place and why I rarely comment here anymore. I pretty much agree with Dave Schuler’s frustration and his experience here recently. It’s hard to have any kind of debate when opponents simply dismiss your core argument and dismiss your sources out of hand because of the wrong perceived ideological bias. Why try to have a reasonable discussion in that is going to be the response?

    So it’s not a matter of ideology or right vs left. It’s a matter of participants in a discussion respecting both the discussion and those they disagree with enough to address substance and not parry arguments with dismissisal.




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  24. Hoyticus says:

    @bains: It seems like the Democrats have been moving rightward since LBJ. I always thought it was due to losing presidential elections to Republicans so they had to change the message to cater to the electorate. However, I could be wrong considering I was only born in the last full year of Bush the Elder’s presidency. What I find interesting is how the GOP has moved simultaneously rightward as well.




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  25. bains says:

    Sertting aside JFK, let’s think about Reagan:

    But you cant set aside Kennedy, and that was just my point. Both enacted legislation and embarked on policies that would enrage today’s base if the name was stripped out. It is my contention that in each case, a similarly charismatic candidate today, holding the same views/positions/policies would be more an anathema to the left than to the right.

    Getting way off topic here, but your assertions I find unpersuasive. Re taxes, it is not taxes that animates the right, but their revulsion to profligate spending. I have heard a number of Republicans say that if Democrats dropped their absolute rejection to spending cuts, then yes tax increases could be on the table. The reality is is that we can not dig ourselves out of the deficit/debt hole by just raising taxes. You contend that the right is inflexible on raising taxes – have you contemplated that is a bargaining position to force the left to acknowledge the reality that spending has to be curtailed – a position that I contend the left is far more rigidly against. Listen to their language for goodness sake – a reduction in the rate of spending increases is always decried as some draconian cut that will put babies and old folks in dire peril.

    As for immigration, virtually all GOP members are for immigration reform. What has the left in such a tizzy is that we want border security enforcements first .




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  26. PD Shaw says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @Nikki: I wasn’t commenting about the quality of any of these blogs, I was attempting to identify blogs where thoughtful conservatives might have migrated to, which I meant to refer to comentors I’ve seen post decent comments at OTB which I recognize on other, more conservative blogs than this one.

    Somewhat of an aside: the media coverage of the legal aspects of the Zimmerman case has been largely abysmal. Unfortunately, the bloggers with practical knowledge of criminal matters are not showing themselves to be very useful, no doubt because their comments could be used against them in their day jobs. Commenting on laws in another jurisdiction is also frowned upon. So, I’ve scanned the comment section of the blogs I mentioned recently for comments from known lawyers who might be a little more illuminating outside the spotlight. Jeralyn has her comment section at TalkLeft somewhat on lockdown (Thou shall not speak ill of defense lawyers), but has buried her own interesting personal observations in the comment threads.




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  27. Doubter4444 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Re: Bains (and this is NOT a slam against you, you seem civil and all that)
    I think this is an important point: Many people think the country is sailing leftward with a big wind behind it, and it’s just not the case.
    in fact, the right is the side swinging away – but there are so many so deeply invested in their world view of “big change is happening and its”s bad change” that they cannot distinguish between folly and fact any longer.

    Smart, thinking people harness the dogs of outrage over trivial, often nonsensical, or untrue events and use those events to support their position.
    They use rhetorical arguments and embrace “logic” that they would never accept from a student, or a co-woker or anyone else if they were honest with themselves.

    For the last several years I personally tried to distinguish between commenters and pundits and politicians that I thought were smart and (reasonably) honest and actually trying to work on making the nation better, regardless of how conservative on not their views – but now even rock ribbed Republicans like Bob Bennett, Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar are out, or on their way, yet right here, by Bains (and others) it’s all leftward drift.
    We are in strange times.




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  28. Doubter4444 says:

    @bains:
    I’m 50, so JFK was in my youth, butwhen you sat this:

    But you cant set aside Kennedy, and that was just my point. Both enacted legislation and embarked on policies that would enrage today’s base if the name was stripped out. It is my contention that in each case, a similarly charismatic candidate today, holding the same views/positions/policies would be more an anathema to the left than to the right.

    To what programs are you referring that would enrage the Democratic base?




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  29. lou91940 says:

    “…commenters might consider that the reason that they are getting voted down is not as much petty ideology as it is that they are not coming across the way that they think that they are.”

    …it’s the philosophy of language and communication and what it does and the boundaries that confine and define thinking and understanding even when “I” am positive I have made my ideas and positions clear and logical.

    Before I left the workaday world, I had an employee who was very intelligent, motivated and hard working. A very competent lady. In work only related conversations we had no problems communicating…same technical language, terms, timelines, logic, etc….but in ordinary non-working conversations I felt like we were always talking past each other, not communicating at all.

    Then an epiphany, I have a (bad?) habit when I am speaking of using analogy and metaphor and….wait for it….anecdote, while my employee spoke in terms of absolutes and definiteness. Hence, a lack of communication. So I changed the way I spoke with her in general conversations.

    There was a Star Trek episode in which Picard and his opponent were unable to communicate for this reason…. “Temba his arms wide… Shaka, when the walls fell and Sokath, his eyes uncovered… Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra… Picard and Dathon at El-Adre… ”

    If you listened better and read better, you’d understand correctly, and agree with me….lol




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  30. al-Ameda says:

    @bains
    The idea that JFK, a Catholic, would be in Rick Santorum’s Republican Party is laughable.

    I honestly believe that today, Reagan would be a Republican, and JFK would be a Democrat. Both were superior politicians who would have adapted to today’s issues and idiocies, and would have succeeded.




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  31. I’ve never seen a curtained comment that was curtained solely for having an unpopular opinion. But the voting numbers definitely skew and not because the conservatives here are uniquely blowhardic. I’ve notice my own vote results seem to very by viewpoint as much as anything else. I don’t suddenly become a worse writer when I am advocating a conservative POV, but that’s almost the only time I am in the net negative. Sometimes significantly so.




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  32. Tillman says:

    @Andy: Wow. I clicked on that post, read it, read the comments and then nearly had a heart attack. Drew was, for once, not apoplectic.

    On “respecting” the discussion: over the Internet, where it’s you, a computer, and some text, it is inappropriate to consider such interaction as isomorphic to a real-life discussion. Sure, there’s a lot of common elements and we readily equate the two, but “respect” is far easier to gauge in real discussion versus a textual one. Reading Dave’s post, he came off more as being disrespected personally than being offended that OTB commenters didn’t respect the discussion. This is reinforced by the fact that his post said “the reaction to this comment was several different varieties of out-of-hand dismissal,” when, if you look at the exchange he links to in his post, only two people, john personna and Brummagen Joe, responded. (I don’t know about you, but “several” means more than “two” to me.)




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  33. anjin-san says:

    Where are the thoughtful conservatives? They’ve been directed to read and post elsewhere.

    Really? Can you name some of the ones who were voted off the island? Would a thoughtful and intelligent person be run off by a few thumbs down votes? For that matter, would a thoughtful commentator even get a lot of negative votes, regardless of political perspective?




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  34. anjin-san says:

    To claim that Reagen or JFK would be eschewed by today’s party is ridiculous and demagogic.

    Think I will have to call BS here:

    In a Labor Day address in 1980, Ronald Reagan said:

    These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.

    I am fairly sure this position get one run out of town on a rail in today’s GOP




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  35. KariQ says:

    @bains:

    I have heard a number of Republicans say that if Democrats dropped their absolute rejection to spending cuts, then yes tax increases could be on the table. The reality is is that we can not dig ourselves out of the deficit/debt hole by just raising taxes.

    But this sort of thing is exactly the problem. The Democrats have offered spending cuts, but Republicans would not accept them because they also called for extremely modest tax increases. Repeatedly.

    Here’s one link that refers to a budget deal offered in November 2011, and also refers to the “Gang of Six” negotiations, the Bowles-Simpson plan, and the Rivlin-Domenici commission. In each of these cases, Democrats offered cuts to core programs, and the Republicans refused to accept them or in some cases to even consider them because they involved tax increases.

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3605

    You’re right, you can’t balance the budget through tax increases alone, but you can’t balance it on spending cuts alone either. Democrats have accepted this, but so far Republicans not only refuse to, they keep insisting on cutting taxes further.




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  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: It’s not the thumbs down; it was the consequences. “Why should I bother commenting, when it’s going to get hidden anyway?”

    Please, tell me about the stupid, offensive, and outright wrong comments made from the left that you voted down. I will even name two specific commenters whose history is filled with such comments, but they never seemed to suffer any “hidings.” The vast majority of comments hidden were from right-leaning commenters.

    If the crowd had shown a bit of balance and voted down en masse bad comments from all across the spectrum, I’d have had fewer complaints. But there was a definite double standard in play, and after years of being told that “silence equals assent,” I didn’t want to have anyone think I agreed with the double standard.




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  37. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    I believe I have already told you I am done responding to your comments – sorry, but life is too short. Accept it and move on.




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  38. al-Ameda says:

    @KariQ:
    “But this sort of thing is exactly the problem. The Democrats have offered spending cuts, but Republicans would not accept them because they also called for extremely modest tax increases. Repeatedly.”

    Exactly, and remember the Republican debate where the question was asked, would any of the candidates accept a Democratic solution that called for 90% spending cuts and 10% revenue increases? All of them said “no”. All or nothing, it’s toxic.




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  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: My apologies. I have problems maintaining grudges, and remembering who has grudges against me. By and large, it isn’t worth keeping track of. I tend to only keep them within a thread.

    Maybe some kind soul will repeat my question and you will hear it, or someone else will take up the challenge.




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  40. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    I don’t have a grudge – I simply think you are a waste of time. Like I said, accept it and move on.




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  41. An Interested Party says:

    Getting way off topic here, but your assertions I find unpersuasive.

    Now that’s interesting, because I would bet that most of the commenters here (not to mention most of the regular authors of this blog) would find your entire line of argument to be completely unpersuasive…of course, we’re all socialists at best and communists at worst, so what do we know…




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  42. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Oh, well. Would have been a nice opportunity for you to show how fair and balanced you are, how you downding commenters on both sides who don’t meet your standards. And I didn’t even ask for examples, just a yes or no. Woulda been a slam dunk for you.

    Life goes on, I guess…




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  43. bains says:

    On thread topic, a fairly obvious read, yet what ever forum or blog I read, I find many not heeding the the advice offered:

    Say what you have to say once and be prepared to let it go no matter what follows. When someone replies to your comment, “Your logic is faulty, your premise is flawed, your zipper is down,” zip it up.

    Don’t speculate about the character of a person whose views you criticize. “You have the morals of a box turtle,” is technically an ad hominem attack and may also expose you as someone with a deficient understanding of herpetology.
    […]

    The blogosphere is a rough and tumble place, and it may be futile to advise people to obey the Golden Rule, nonetheless: obey the Golden Rule. If you wouldn’t care for someone to post the comment about you, don’t post it about him.

    OMG! Shun Internet initialisms. The Oxford English Dictionary may have added them, but IMHO they are too tired to be of much service in a good comment.

    Remember the sensitivity police are a thousand miles away, chasing people who don’t use gender-inclusive pronouns. Out here you are on your own. Don’t imagine you can score any points by declaring that you are shocked or offended.

    Avoid unnecessary fuss. Stick to the essentials. “ROFL, you misspelled gawdelpus.”

    Likewise, keep to the point of the article you are commenting on. The breed of comment-leavers who habitually attempt to redirect the discussion to their own hobbyhorses are next to the makers of unsolicited sales calls in the fourth circle of hell, where they will be interrupted for eternity for their greedy misappropriation of other peoples’ time.

    These tendencies are seen here with enough regularity – and the tendency of this site to acknowledge from which side these un-socratic dialogues typically are issued suggests ideological blinders. I have no problem recognizing the several right side commenters here that throw rhetorical bombs; and I suspect the OTB staff notes those while subconsciously ignoring the bombs launched from their own perspective.

    I’m a fiscal libertarian… and a social libertarian. In not one of my comments have I attacked anyone – I have merely offered a different perspective. And yet, take a gander at my comments ratings on this (forced) civil thread (forced due to the nature of the topic). While your site is center-left, your comment threads are left to far left. And it is the preponderance of the unhinged far-left comments that make me less inclined to engage in debate here. But it is not their fault for the un-hinged will occupy where-ever they are allowed (both right and left). No, if this site desires more, as you call them, reasonable conservatives, then you have to make your site more hospitable to them.

    That, of course, is James’ and your decision. But if you acknowledge that you, and this site, are trending left, it is not our behavior, nor our shifting right, that diminishes our participation here – it is your shifting left.




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  44. reid says:

    @bains: Rational conservative commenters are already quite welcome here. The loony tune variety, spouting right-wing talking points and plainly false nonsense, get their deserved response. (Perhaps too vociferously in some cases, but it’s just a matter of degree.) Witness Steven’s and other’s very polite rebuttals to your bizarre claims in this very thread.




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  45. Tillman says:

    @bains:

    I have merely offered a different perspective. And yet, take a gander at my comments ratings on this (forced) civil thread (forced due to the nature of the topic).

    You were downvoted in your first post for asserting that the din of incivility seen at OTB is primarily the fault of liberals. First, you have a diminished capacity to even know this, as you yourself claim you participate less in the debate nowadays. (Are you reading the comments but not posting?) Second, given the anonymity of the voting system in general, you cannot possibly know it’s only liberals downvoting the conservatives. It could be conservatives that disagree with other conservatives.

    You were downvoted in your third post for expressing views about Republican negotiation tactics and the good faith in them that simply do not correspond to reality, as KariQ noted. (The bit about Simpson-Bowles is the only thing I think is off.) It’s possible you never heard about the debt ceiling negotiations Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip John Kyl walked out of because “Republicans oppose any and all tax hikes, while Democrats say they are a necessary in a balanced attempt at deficit reduction.”

    I can assure you that you are not being downvoted for incivility. People can and do downvote for other reasons, making nonsense being one of them.




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  46. Tillman says:

    Speaking of, thank you being so civil.

    People deserve thanks for being civil nowadays.




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  47. KariQ says:

    @Tillman:

    “The bit about Simpson-Bowles is the only thing I think is off”

    Which is entirely fair. I don’t insist on it.




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  48. @bains:

    While your site is center-left, your comment threads are left to far left. And it is the preponderance of the unhinged far-left comments that make me less inclined to engage in debate here.

    This is where you lose me. I see very little, if any “far left” comments here. Is the mix of commentary here more moderate-left than moderate-right? Yes, I will concede that point.

    Are you suggesting that keeping the Bush tax cuts and raising only the top marginal rates to the Clinton era is “far left”?

    Are you suggesting the the PPACA is “far left”?

    Are you suggesting that a belief that fiscal balance can only be approached by a combination of tax increases and spending cuts is “far left”?

    What is your definition of “far left”?




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  49. And, btw, when I say “Is the mix of commentary here more moderate-left than moderate-right?” I mean that wholly in the confines of contemporary American definitions of these concepts.




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  50. @PD Shaw:

    I wasn’t commenting about the quality of any of these blogs, I was attempting to identify blogs where thoughtful conservatives might have migrated to, which I meant to refer to comentors I’ve seen post decent comments at OTB which I recognize on other, more conservative blogs than this one.

    Gotcha–thanks for the clarification.




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  51. @PD Shaw: I will say, as an addendum, when it comes to this question of “where have all the thoughtful conservatives gone?” to me this is a question both about commenters/readers but about bloggers and pundits as well.




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  52. al-Ameda says:

    @bains:

    “While your site is center-left, your comment threads are left to far left. And it is the preponderance of the unhinged far-left comments that make me less inclined to engage in debate here.”

    Is it a “far left” position: (1) to advocate that the Bush Tax rate reduction be allowed to expire for the top marginal tax rates, or (2) to advocate for a single payer health insurance program (e.g. Medicare for all)?

    Also, those helpful/unhelpful ratings are just a simple indication of whether people agree or disagree with your observation No more no less.




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  53. @bains:

    Getting way off topic here, but your assertions I find unpersuasive. Re taxes, it is not taxes that animates the right, but their revulsion to profligate spending.

    I would suggest that you are simply incorrect. For example: when the GOP had unified government we received both increased spending and tax cuts. This is not a party that has proved itself as interested in spending as it claims.

    Yet: when any type of deal on spending emerges, the one thing that utterly off the table is taxes. One cannot be serious about fiscal balance and refuse to look at the revenue side. There is no evidence to suggest that that will work. So to claim otherwise is ideology.

    And yes: Reagan would be a Republican now, I am arguing that with his record (and without his name) he would be a very unsuccessful one. Where does Reagan’s record comport with Tea Party positions? It has RINO written all over it form a contemporary POV.

    JFK: yes, he got the top marginal tax rate lowered from 91% to 77% to 70%. Do you see any Democrats arguing for a 70% top marginal rate?




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  54. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    @bains:

    While your site is center-left, your comment threads are left to far left. And it is the preponderance of the unhinged far-left comments that make me less inclined to engage in debate here.

    This is where you lose me. I see very little, if any “far left” comments here. Is the mix of commentary here more moderate-left than moderate-right? Yes, I will concede that point.

    I think any person would concede that point. However there’s no way to rationally argue both that (a) politicial views have moved to the left if (b) the majority of views expressed by commentors here represent the far left.

    Unless being “far left” means supporting the current administration’s general agenda.

    And if one seriously believes that the Obama administration is a “far left” administration, then that pretty much demonstrates an ideological blindness that is going to prevent that person from engaging in honest, rational discussion.




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  55. @mattb:

    Unless being “far left” means supporting the current administration’s general agenda.

    This is the only “definition” that fits the term as being used.

    And if one seriously believes that the Obama administration is a “far left” administration, then that pretty much demonstrates an ideological blindness that is going to prevent that person from engaging in honest, rational discussion.

    I can’t disagree and I think this is a key constitute element of the discussion here: we aren’t agreeing on basic language. This reminds me of Eric Florack’s call for a “true conservative” and yet I never see a real definition of the term. I honestly blame people like Rush Limbaugh for this problem as he has been using “liberal”/”left” to mean things he doesn’t like and “conservative”/”right” for things he like (and in a shifting way) for a quarter-century. He wasn’t the first, but he is the loudest and he has spawned an industry that does so on a daily (and hourly) basis.

    This gets to @lou91940‘s comment above (and that was a great TNG ep!).




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  56. @al-Ameda:

    Also, those helpful/unhelpful ratings are just a simple indication of whether people agree or disagree with your observation No more no less.

    I think this is the case, yes. I would prefer that they were labeled as such.




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  57. anjin-san says:

    Re taxes, it is not taxes that animates the right, but their revulsion to profligate spending.

    I wonder if anyone honestly believes this. The vast expansion of the size, power and cost of the federal government under Bush is a fairly recent memory, after all.




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  58. Wayne says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Sorry Steven but you hit on a sensitive subject for me. Reagan lower taxes more than he raised them. The only reason he raised them and did the amnesty was out of compromise to get some things that he wanted. He fought against raising taxes and amnesty while the Democrats fought for them. That is very important.

    It is aggravating when people pretend that Reagan was for those things when he wasn’t. Countries, companies and people especially politicians have to do things at time that they are against. Pretending that they were for something simply because they did it out of compromise is dishonest.




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  59. Wayne says:

    @KariQ:
    Raise taxes now and cut spending 10 years from now. We heard that before and got burned. The cuts never get enacted.

    Where besides defense related areas have Democrats propose cuts for the next year budget?




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  60. @Wayne:

    Countries, companies and people especially politicians have to do things at time that they are against.

    You hit on my major problem with the GOP at the moment: they seem unwilling to recognize that, indeed, governance requires compromise.

    My point is not, by the way, that Reagan was a gung-ho tax raiser. My point is that his resume, if you remove his name from it, would brand him a RINO in the modern Republican Party/conservative movement. Do you deny this? You are going to tell me that a GOP primary candidate who raised income taxes multiple times and who signed the amnesty bill and whose foreign policy consisted of actively negotiating with adversaries would fly these days?




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  61. sam says:

    @Wayne:

    The only reason he raised them and did the amnesty was out of compromise to get some things that he wanted.

    Uh, yeah. That’s kinda the point, Wayne. The man would compromise. I think that alone would make his suspect.




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  62. anjin-san says:

    Uh, yeah. That’s kinda the point, Wayne. The man would compromise. I think that alone would make his suspect.

    Game, set, match.




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  63. Wayne says:

    @ Steven
    At no point did the GOP have a super majority in the Senate. The Democrats filibuster many of the spending bills until there was an increase. They threaten to shut down government several times if they didn’t get their way. Democrats almost always propose a good deal more spending than the Republicans.

    I do agree that the Republicans do spend more than I want. I also agree they should stand their ground more against the Democrats on their proposed of outrageous spending. However I would point out that many here slam them when they try doing so and use the excuse that the GOP spend too much money as well.




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  64. @Wayne:

    Where besides defense related areas have Democrats propose cuts for the next year budget?

    First, if the real problem is spending, then why is cutting defense spending a problem? We are constantly told that we have a spending problem not a revenue problem. So, let’s cut defense spending (which is a rather huge chunk of the budget that has increased significantly of late, mostly due to Republican-initiated policies). If Republicans are serious about spending in its purest form, they should be more open to defense cuts.

    Second, while I am sure that the response will be that he wasn’t serious, back during the debt ceiling impasse, Obama appeared willing to engage in the so-called “grand bargain” that included cuts (and cuts to social programs). The Reps were not interested. I have not seen a similar attempt, even of the non-serious type, from the GOP side. As someone noted above, the candidates all rejected the notion of even a 90-10 ratio of cuts to tax increases. This is a ludicrous position to take and utterly undercuts the notion that all the GOP is really concerned about is spending.

    I want to see more pragmatism and I am not seeing it.




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  65. @sam:

    Uh, yeah. That’s kinda the point, Wayne. The man would compromise. I think that alone would make his suspect.

    This is precisely the point.




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  66. @Wayne:

    The Democrats filibuster many of the spending bills until there was an increase. They threaten to shut down government several times if they didn’t get their way.

    Granted, I am functioning solely on memory at the moment (and a foggy one, too, as I am under the weather) but I am going to need some citations on that. The fact of the matter is that during the Reagan era we did not have the same kind of polarization within the chambers. The usage of filibusters to dominate the legislative process is a far more recent phenomenon. You are retroactively applying current political circumstances to the 1980s.

    For what it is worth: Reagan had a Republican Senate from 81-85 (i.e., the majority of his time in office). Also: he was dealing with a Democratic Party that still had a lot of southern conservatives, so no: not filibusters like we see now.




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  67. Wayne says:

    As for the hidden comments, I would point out that awhile ago I took some of the frivolous comments that were basically insults with not supporting material and repeated it back almost word for word but with name changes. Statements like “Republicans want the economy to tank so they can gain more power” with no supporting statements to “Democrats want the economy to tank so they can gain more power” with no supporting statements.

    Both could be argued but the statements by themselves are lame. Guess which “one” was ridicule as a statement with no supporting facts and which one that was hidden?




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  68. Wayne says:

    @Steven
    Obama so called serious grand bargain had short term increases in domestic spending with the cuts coming many years out. I don’t consider that serious.

    We have cut defense spending in the past then they spend a good deal more making up for shortfalls when we go to war like we did in Iraq. Why can’t domestic spending cuts go first for once? Democrats are great at making promises for far future events but are terrible about keeping them.




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  69. Wayne says:

    @Steven
    Surely you know the Democrats controlled the House for Reagan’s two terms?




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  70. @Wayne:

    Surely you know the Democrats controlled the House for Reagan’s two terms?

    Yes: but your argument was about the Senate.




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  71. @Wayne:

    Why can’t domestic spending cuts go first for once?

    If spending is the problem, what difference does it make where we start?

    Or, is it really not just about spending as spending?




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  72. anjin-san says:

    This reminds me of Eric Florack’s call for a “true conservative” and yet I never see a real definition of the term.

    Quite a few of us have pressed him to name names when it comes to his “true conservative” candidate(s). He simply won’t do it. And here we see some of the intellectual bankruptcy of the far right.

    Supposedly, we are in desperate need of a true conservative to lead the country. The future of the nation depends on it.

    Who is that person? Sarah Palin? A woman with a lifelong pattern showing an inability to sustain effort in – well anything. She betrayed the voters in Alaska who trusted her with the governor’s office. It’s hard to find a serious argument that she is anything other that an attractive, glib charlatan. Newt? Please. The man is most certainly NOT a conservative. Santorum, the DC insider/K St. lobbyest, a man who has almost no support in his own home state? Bachmann, who’s contact with reality seems tenuous at best?

    When you take away the smoke and mirrors, there is not really a lot going on in right wing politics beyond “thought leaders” making a lot of money fleecing the sheep and the rich getting richer.




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  73. mattb says:

    @Wayne:

    Reagan lower taxes more than he raised them. The only reason he raised them and did the amnesty was out of compromise to get some things that he wanted. He fought against raising taxes and amnesty while the Democrats fought for them.

    This everything said here is true. But we should think about broader readings, based on other evidence. For example, at least one of Reagan’s key advisers — his budget director — has said that they realized that the initial tax cut was TOO EXCESSIVE:

    FREELAND: You worked for Ronald Reagan. Do you think the American economy — so you’re, like, a red-blooded capitalist — could it sustain higher taxes than it has now?

    STOCKMAN: Absolutely. In 1982, we were looking at the jaws of the worst recession since the 1930s. We overdid it in 1981, cut taxes too much. We came back with a big deficit reduction plan in 1982. Unemployment’s at 10 percent, the economy is in dire shape, and we raise taxes by 1.2 percent of GDP, which would be $150 billion a year right now — not 10 years down the road — but right now. (source)

    Now it’s entirely true that Reagan fought for concessions in regards to allowing a raise in taxation after the initial cut. But, as per his image as a pragmatic conservative, Reagan, or at least his economic team, did not agree with Norquest’s notion that any tax increase is fundamentally anti-conservative.




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  74. anjin-san says:

    Reagan, or at least his economic team, did not agree with Norquest’s notion that any tax increase is fundamentally anti-conservative.

    Truly, today’s GOP is the party of Norquest, not the party of Reagan.




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  75. mattb says:

    @Wayne:

    Obama so called serious grand bargain had short term increases in domestic spending with the cuts coming many years out. I don’t consider that serious.

    Fair, but then what should we think about a GOP that, after agreeing that either they approve what comes out of the super committee or agree to automatic across the board spending cuts, announces that they will attempts to invalidate the automatic defense cuts?

    This gets to a primary bug I have up my but about the so called “libertarians” — it seems to me that like a number of “tea party independents”, folks like Wayne, Drew, and Baines are all Republicans who don’t want to admit that they are Republicans.*

    I have honestly yet to see a key issue where any of these three “libertarians” have ever posted a comment that runs counter to red meat Republican issues. Wayne above dodge of defense spending cuts (in favor of pushing for domestic programs — which typically is code for the other big 2) is one such example.

    * – In all fairness, there are a LOT of democrats who call themselves independents. If push came to shove I’d put myself in that category based on my voting record in National Elections. Across all levels, I have a far more balanced record of cross party voting support.




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  76. mattb says:

    @mattb:

    But, as per his image as a pragmatic conservative, Reagan, or at least his economic team, did not agree with Norquest’s notion that any tax increase is fundamentally anti-conservative.

    One addendum on Reagan and taxes, given that he had gotten such sweeping cuts through in his first term, he ended up with the power to bargain. Which means he could publicly fight against tax increases while pragmatically having the room to pick and choose where he would raise taxes. This is pragmatic and good politics. It however should not be taken to pretend that Reagan was fundamentally against taxes.

    I think it is far to say that in the recent round of revenue negotiations, all evidence suggests that a small, but vocal section of the Republican party was able — without a significant amount of power — to scuttle any pragmatic politics due to the relative weak majority of the entire party in the house.

    I also agree they should stand their ground more against the Democrats on their proposed of outrageous spending.

    I appreciate your passion for this. I hope it still remains when the pendulumn swings the other way and Republican’s eventually retake power. Because, in the time honored tradition of “both sides do it” I think it’s more than fair to point out that the first six years of GWB’s administration, in which the Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress, were by no means examples of shining economic control.

    Of course, I’m sure you were equally infuriated by the spending then.

    But I also wonder if that infuriation prevent you from voting for Republicans in the 2001-2005 elections.




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  77. Wayne says:

    @ Steven
    My argument was that Democrats blocked spending cuts and influence to get greater spending even when there was a Republican President and even under Bush when Republican controlled both houses. Trying to sharp shoot my statement when you know better is lame.

    Reagan complete resume would not him make RINO. Only when it has been creatively edited and taken out of context by liberals would it do so. It would be like taking out only the many cases of not guilty a prosecutor record shows to prove the prosecutor was a defense attorney. Or touchdowns made by a defensive back to prove he was an offensive player. Such creative editing is dishonest.

    @Anjin-san yes Reagan would compromised but so would Speaker O’Neil. Reagan also recognizes that compromise is not giving the Democrats all they want.




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  78. anjin-san says:

    Where besides defense related areas have Democrats propose cuts for the next year budget?

    We have more than doubled the “defense” budget in this century. We have the world’s most powerful military – by orders of magnitude. A few men armed with box cutters did real damage to the US. Where is the credible conventional threat.

    On the other hand, we have real problems here at home, that if not addressed effectively could lead to real instability in our society. Crumbling infrastructure. Decreased R&D. Ever greater disparity and wealth. I could go on for a while.

    What’s wrong with addressing the actual needs of our country via spending, vs. making defense contractors fatter than they already are?




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  79. Wayne says:

    @Mattb
    I’m a Republican but that doesn’t mean I agree with all that Republicans do. I have in the past said that cuts in defense spending need to be look at. Unlike democrats who won’t even look at domestic spending.

    Once again you and many others can’t give a reason shy domestic budget cuts can’t go first for once.

    The difference in where we start is where we end up. If we start with defense cuts once again, then that is where it will end up once again. If we start with domestic cuts first then it will end up with defense cuts. That is a big difference.

    Before you ask how we will know there will be defense cuts, we don’t. However the record shows defense cuts are somewhat easy to get but domestic cuts are very difficult. If anyone gets burn this time then if about time for the democrats to take their turn.




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  80. Wayne says:

    @anjin-san
    And what year did Sept 11 happen? How much money was thrown at military in order to make up for shortfalls from previous military cuts?




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  81. Wayne says:

    One more thing, a good deal of the military spending increase for feel good measure the Democrats insisted on where a waste.




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  82. Doubter4444 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I asked Bains way earlier in the thread to state what policies that JFK would have enacted today (had he been around and in his prime) to which the Democratic base would be “enraged” over.
    You just mentioned that JFK moved the top marginal rate lowered from 91% to 77% to 70%.

    Is that really something he thinks the Dem base would revolt over?
    To be current, that means that they (the Dem base) would revolt over… extending the bush tax cuts?
    I mean that’s a joke, right?
    Besides, it’s demonstrable in real time as false. Dems have grudgingly accepted that keeping the cuts (in whole or in part) is reality.
    So where is rage? It’s this type of false equivalence that is almost delusional.

    And as I said in another thread : THEY ARE WINNING!
    The Overton window has been pushed way right by almost any demonstrable accounting.
    But still it’s mean lefties that won’t let the conservatives be heard, or shout them down for even daring to opine. It’s really weird.
    I read and respect the right leaning commentators, but don’t want to abide the crazies – the ones that just refuse to try to respond to the point at hand, and repeat debunked points and pure falsehoods. I’m willing to read and follow links to legitimate sources – but mostly instead of rebuttal comes some sort of injured victimization, and claims that conservatives can’t be heard, or won’t be respected.
    I just don’t see it here.




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  83. Doubter4444 says:

    @Wayne:

    And what year did Sept 11 happen? How much money was thrown at military in order to make up for shortfalls from previous military cuts?

    Do you seriously believe that?
    Do you seriously believe that the enormous growth in defense spending and the associated explosion in billions of military contractors is simply a reaction to one decade of slowing the expansion of military spending during the 90’s?

    Because that is some major goal post moving there.




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  84. Doubter4444 says:

    @Doubter4444:
    DAMN no edit that is:
    Do you seriously believe that the enormous growth in defense spending and the associated explosion in billions to military contractors is simply a reaction to one decade of slowing the expansion of military spending during the 90′s?




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  85. anjin-san says:

    Our military did a splendid job in Afghanistan well before the post 9.11 surge in defense spending came online. You can make a compelling argument that they far outperformed the Soviet military in Afghanistan, and the Soviets were there at or near the height of their cold war zenith as far as military power.

    You’ve been pushing this nonsense for years. It is not any more compelling today than it was the last time you trotted it out. “Clinton gutted the military”… total crap.




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  86. mattb says:

    @Wayne:

    I’m a Republican

    I didn’t realize that you were openly Republican. Apologies for lopping you in with the others.

    Once again you and many others can’t give a reason shy domestic budget cuts can’t go first for once.

    Why can’t they go together? Which as I understand it is what the current failsafe option does. The only adult way to do this is to tackle multiple cuts in everyone’s sacred cows all at once.

    As to why domestic spending cuts need to be staged by years, part of the issue is — at least with social programs — there does need to be time to stand down services..

    And what year did Sept 11 happen? How much money was thrown at military in order to make up for shortfalls from previous military cuts?

    This is an absolutely ridiculous argument on two counts. First, we know that the Bush administration was already taking steps to reduce the size of the military as part of a broader modernization effort. Second is the idea that we should be maintaining a military large enough to fight multiple wars at the same time. The third is the fact that the military was required to shift from a … well… fighting force to an occupational force.

    The idea that we should be prepared to have the standing forces and equipment to long term occupy two countries is absurd. And that’s before we get to the issue that none of the wars were even included in the budgets for any of the Bush years. On its face this is an absurd argument and shows an utter lack of seriousness when it comes to military spending.

    a good deal of the military spending increase for feel good measure the Democrats insisted on where a waste.

    Weren’t you just the on who was claiming that too many people drop bombs and run? Mind listing some of those wasteful “feel good measures” with related price tags?




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  87. Wayne says:

    Anjin-san
    Afghanistan war happened after 9-11-2001. There was jump in funding almost immediately and 100 of billions of dollars spent supporting that war. Then there was the great increase in things like body armor, armor HMMWVs, drones, communications, foreign intelligence gathering, etc that was supported enthusiastic by most Democrats.

    You pretending when it suits your purpose that those things did not contribute significantly to defense spending is total crap.

    @Doubter4444
    It wasn’t the only thing but it had a significant impact.

    @Mattb
    There is no reason they can’t. However why should we agree to cut Military spending now and the future while only receiving promises to domestic spending far in the future that we know won’t happen?

    There is no need for multiple years to freeze services at the current level. Also not much of a need if you going to cut the services. Many of those services will not be any more painful decreasing them next year than when it happen 10 years down the road assuming they actually get cut.

    Are you claiming that there wasn’t a good size increase of defense spending due to 911 and the wars that followed? Now that’s a ridiculous argument.

    Re “Mind listing some of those wasteful “feel good measures” with related price tags? “

    I will give a shorten list since I’ve done this many times.
    1. Body armor for all and extra money spent on the rush to produce them.
    2. Same goes for up- Armor HMMWVs
    3. Many of TSA equipment and policies
    4. The large bonuses authorized to increase our ranks because they claimed the ranks were overstretch. Of course these are the same people who claim our military is now to big even though we have troops serving more tours now than we had back then.
    5. Homeland security expenses like Chemical suite and equipment for first responders that only last for two years.

    There are many more. You can look up the price tags yourself.




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  88. @Wayne:

    The difference in where we start is where we end up. If we start with defense cuts once again, then that is where it will end up once again. If we start with domestic cuts first then it will end up with defense cuts. That is a big difference.

    So it isn’t just about spending. It is isn’t about the deficit. It isn’t about fiscal responsibility. It is about cutting domestic spending, specifically social spending.

    At least be honest and drop the talk about it being just about spending as if that is some wholly principled stance.

    And yes: I do believe that there is a deal to be struck over social spending, defense spending, and taxes. Perhaps I am naive, but the bottom line is that there really is no other choice (that or doing nothing).




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  89. An Interested Party says:

    My argument was that Democrats blocked spending cuts and influence to get greater spending even when there was a Republican President and even under Bush when Republican controlled both houses.

    Oh really? How exactly did they do that? Perhaps they used magical powers to make Bush push profligate budgets or perhaps they used magical potions to make their Republican colleagues go along with Bush’s spending…

    Wayne seems to be fighting the very old conservative war against the New Deal, against the Great Society, against Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid…he should really get a clue and realize that war is over and conservatives lost it…




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  90. mattb says:

    @Wayne:

    I will give a shorten list since I’ve done this many times.
    1. Body armor for all and extra money spent on the rush to produce them.
    2. Same goes for up- Armor HMMWVs
    3. Many of TSA equipment and policies
    4. The large bonuses authorized to increase our ranks because they claimed the ranks were overstretch. Of course these are the same people who claim our military is now to big even though we have troops serving more tours now than we had back then.
    5. Homeland security expenses like Chemical suite and equipment for first responders that only last for two years.

    There are many more. You can look up the price tags yourself.

    Tanks for providing this list. But I am a bit curious about two things:

    1. Proof that these were “wasteful” things. I’ve been googling for a bit on just the first item (body armor) and have yet to find an article suggesting that this was the “waste” that you have called it. Perhaps I’m wrong. Frankly the only place I’ve ever heard that claim was on the Rush Limbaugh show and at that time I never heard an explanation of why it was wasteful. You don’t need to summarize, I’m just looking for a link (as after a bit of googling I can’t find any thing other than a discussion about a rush to provide armor led to inadequate field testing).

    2. And proof that “democrats” were behind this. Looking down to the TSA, I can’t seem to find anything suggesting that was specifically a Democratic issue.

    Thanks in advance for any links you can provide. Or perhaps even google search strings that could bring me closer to more information.




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  91. anjin-san says:

    @ Wayne

    Our war in Afghanistan started on October 7, 2001. The Taliban was deposed in short order, and we took control of most of the country.

    Are you arguing that new spending came online, and orders for weapons and supplies went in, were fulfilled, and deployed in the field in 10 weeks? Our supposedly crippled military did in weeks what the Soviets at the peak of their power could not do in a decade. All of our advisaries were scared shitless when they saw what our guys did there. The world was on our side. They had pro-US marches in Tehran, for God’s sake.

    And then Bush pissed it all away.

    And yes, Democrats supported the defense buildup. Where did I say otherwise?

    You pretending when it suits your purpose that those things did not contribute significantly to defense spending is total crap.

    You are going to have to run that through the babble to English translator. I never really commented on why the huge increase in defense spending took place, just that it did happen, and it happened in the face of no credible traditional military threat.

    The defense buildup was more a product of skillful manipulation of a fearful country in the wake of 9.11 than any real threat – that and the wholly unnecessary war in Iraq. The terrorist threat is asymmetrical, spending bazillions on traditional weapons is more of an early Christmas present for defense contractors and than a response to 9.11.




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  92. mattb says:

    @Wayne:

    Then there was the great increase in things like body armor, armor HMMWVs, drones, communications, foreign intelligence gathering, etc that was supported enthusiastic by most Democrats.

    I’m not denying that either, btw. I think that most rational people are able to say that a majority of both sides:

    a. supported/voted for the wars (at least initially)
    b. supported/increased military spending

    Are you attempting to argue that Democrats somehow bear the blunt of the blame for the defense build-up? Because that seems… well… a little bit of revisionist history.

    BTW, on the TSA thing, in my googling, I do note that the Obama Administration proposed cutting their funding by 12% in the most recent budget.




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  93. Jenos Idanian says:

    @reid: Rational conservative commenters are already quite welcome here. The loony tune variety, spouting right-wing talking points and plainly false nonsense, get their deserved response.

    Shorter version: “conservatives” who know their place and accept left-wing talking points are tolerated. And please don’t mention all the liberals who spout left-wing talking points; we don’t like to acknowledge their presence.

    And since when did “talking point” become synonymous with “lie?” Every definition I’ve come across says that they’re intended to propagandize, but none of them says that they’re false at their core. Hell, if they were untrue, then they’d be incredibly easy to refute. Instead, they’re annoying little facts, “inconvenient truths” that are intended to make the other side uncomfortable. For example, Reagan did sign tax increases and an illegal alien amnesty bill. Totally true. That both were parts of compromises that he came to reluctantly isn’t mentioned, nor how the other side in those negotiations tended to renege on their side of the bargains.

    Or the “Bush tax cuts.” Yes, they were agreed upon as temporary — something Bush did very reluctantly. And no one who argues for getting rid of them likes to address how, after a decade, they’ve become the status quo and most people have grown accustomed to them and they’ve been the norm for all that time, and to “let them lapse” would be a de facto tax hike on a lot of people. The “temporary” argument is a talking point.

    The implicit challenge here is “we’ve heard that argument time and time again; come up with something new.” Well, if that argument is true, then why the hell shouldn’t it be repeated? And since it’s been repeated time and again, there have been plenty of opportunities to challenge and disprove it; that it keeps coming back would seem to indicate that it has some validity.

    The “those are just talking points” is lazy at best and dishonest at worst. No wonder it keeps getting used by certain people…




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  94. @Jenos Idanian:

    since when did “talking point” become synonymous with “lie?” Every definition I’ve come across says that they’re intended to propagandize, but none of them says that they’re false at their core. Hell, if they were untrue, then they’d be incredibly easy to refute. Instead, they’re annoying little facts, “inconvenient truths” that are intended to make the other side uncomfortable.

    The problem with “talking points” is that they represent pre-digested factoids that can be readily repeated by people who accept them as true with necessarily knowing why they are true, partially true or, perhaps, even not true. Such information is not the result of independent thinking nor of research, but rather are received knowledge from some sort of authority figure. They are not the result of critical thinking.

    As you note: they are intended to propagandize. This does not strike me as something worry of defending if one is actually interested in rational discourse. Spouting talking points is not real argumentation, it is the verbal equivalent of food fight.

    They are difficult to prove as untrue, btw, because those who rely on talking points take them on faith (not on reason and evidence). Convincing people that things that they are accepting on faith are wrong is rather difficult to do. By definition talking points are accepted on faith.

    For example, Reagan did sign tax increases and an illegal alien amnesty bill. Totally true. That both were parts of compromises that he came to reluctantly isn’t mentioned, nor how the other side in those negotiations tended to renege on their side of the bargains.

    As has been repeatedly noted: the compromise issue is actually rather key. Serious governing requires negotiation and compromise. I would note that the idea that all the happened in all these cases was that the evil other side reneged on everything is, by the way, some of those aforementioned talking points. It a bit more complicated than that.

    Or the “Bush tax cuts.” Yes, they were agreed upon as temporary — something Bush did very reluctantly.

    As I recall, the sunset provisions were part of means to get the bill passed (more of that horrid compromise). It was also, on the GOP side, smart politics: as if you have been paying attention you will have noted that allowing the rates to expire has been a lot harder than you are suggesting was going to be the case. Note that they have been extended once already and the position of the Democratic Party at the moment is to extend all of them save for the top bracket. That sounds me like a GOP win to me.

    Well, if that argument is true, then why the hell shouldn’t it be repeated?

    Just because people repeat the same talking points over and over again doesn’t make them true. Indeed, the major problem here is that when talking points get repeated over and over and over again, they become accepted by some as received truths, as dogma (back to that faith thing noted above). And because the person repeating them never actually did the work to confirm or deny or the talking point they really don’t know if they are right or not (and yet they remain convinced of the truth of their received knowledge).

    For example: “tax cuts always increase revenues.”




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  95. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Just because people repeat the same talking points over and over again doesn’t make them true.

    Agreed, but my point was that repetition doesn’t make them false, and that’s the context by which they are most often dismissed here.

    I also noted several left-based “talking points” that go unchallenged. The people who are tossing around the term as a shorthand for “that statement is not worth even addressing” only get worked up about “talking points” from one side. I could also have cited “Southern Strategy” as another “talkign point,” and I could readily name several more.

    Once again, it’s the inconsistency that I’m noting. The usual suspects who denounce “right-wing talking points” and… the precise words escape me, but terms like “serial fabulists” and the like are also reserved exclusively for commenters from the right. They’re never applied to commenters from the left — and I have two particular ones in mind whose “contributions” are essentially worthless, but almost never receive any approbation from their erstwhile allies.




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  96. I feel more people should support me cracking myself up.




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  97. @Jenos Idanian:

    There can be an honesty in dismissing stupid arguments – it may not be kind, not patient, but it can be honest.




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  98. @Jenos Idanian: As usual, you ignore a lengthy, substantive response (yet again reminding me why I should save my time and move on).




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  99. Eric Florack says:

    Perhaps you never see me say what a real conservative is because I consider the answer to that question to be rather obvious…. even for you.




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  100. @Eric Florack:

    Perhaps you never see me say what a real conservative is because I consider the answer to that question to be rather obvious…. even for you.

    Claiming that something is self-evident and therefore that you will not explain yourself if pretty poor argumentation, to put it mildly.




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  101. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I ignored large parts of your response because I didn’t significantly disagree with them. I probably should have acknowledged that directly. My apologies.

    But my primary point was that a response of “that’s just a right-wing talking point” is not a substantive rebuttal.




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  102. Eric Florack says:

    Claiming that something is self-evident and therefore that you will not explain yourself if pretty poor argumentation, to put it mildly.

    Ah, but I never made that claim. I simply operated under that assumption.
    Should we go back to the 101 level for everything or should we make some assumptions about the intelligence of at least most of the commentors and move on from there?

    OTOH, perhaps you have a point…. they’d not be staunchly leftist if they had any smarts, after all.




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  103. mattb says:

    @Eric Florack:

    . I simply operated under that assumption.
    Should we go back to the 101 level for everything or should we make some assumptions about the intelligence of at least most of the commentors and move on from there?

    Bull.

    The flaw in this claim is that a number of us, have stated over and over again that we don’t know what you mean by “conservative.” And I’d like to think that at least Stephen and I are being quite open about this.

    Your response suggests that either:
    a. you just don’t seriously read what we’re writing
    or
    b. don’t actually respect us enough to directly answer a question asked in good faith

    either way, it demonstrates again and again that the bad faith actor in this particular conversation tends to be, well, you Eric.




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