Commenting Policies: A Reminder

Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.

Over the weekend, Walter Russell Mead closed comments on his blog at The American Interest, declaring “To make the comments section work in its present form we would have to edit and curate much more aggressively than we do now and in our current judgment the effort needed to do that is better spent improving other features of the blog.”

While we’re nowhere near that point at OTB, it’s nonetheless true that the comments have gotten increasingly tedious, with too many regulars riding the same hobby horse or nursing the same tired personal grudges in thread after thread. While some of this is inevitable in an open forum with regular contributors that allows unmoderated posting in real time, the editors believe it’s worth reminding the readerships of our commenting policies:

Commenting and trackback/pingback capability is provided to encourage thoughtful discussion of the ideas posted on this site. We welcome open debate and viewpoints that differ from those of the post authors. That said, we wish to keep the conversation civil and the following policies, subject to change without notice, apply:

  • Remember that the people under discussion are human beings. Comments that contain personal attacks about the post author or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated violators will be banned. Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.
  • The use of profanity stronger than that normally permitted on network television is prohibited. A substantial number of people read this site from an office or in a family environment.

While any comment deemed abusive or offensive may be deleted without warning or appeal by the post author, the following will almost always be deleted:

  • Comments that are completely off topic.
  • Comments, especially long ones, that are posted on multiple sites for propaganda purposes.
  • Trackbacks from posts that do not link back to the post that received the trackback.
  • Trackbacks from what appear to be spam blogs.
  • Duplicate trackbacks to the same post.
  • Comments that advocate violence towards posters, commenters, private, government officials, or pretty much anyone not strongly suspected of terrorism, violent crime, or a declared enemy of the United States.
  • Comments that contain personal information about others such as home addresses and personal phone numbers.
  • Any form of trolling, defined as comments that appear intended to send the discussion in a fruitless direction, including repeated raising of only tangentially related points.

I’ve emphasized the policies that are most frequently abused. Admittedly, the editors have been at best sporadic at enforcing them. We’ll endeavor to be more vigilant.

The underlying rule here: “Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.”

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FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, OTB History
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    Why do you hate America, Dr. Joyner?

    All kidding aside. OTB is one of the better sites out there, and I appreciate the work of Dr. Joyner, Mr. Mataconis, Dr. Taylor and the rest of the contributors to the site.

    Thanks for letting me hang here on occasion.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Well, there you go: the fascist jackboot of oppression.

    1
  3. al-Ameda says:

    Okay chief, duly noted.

    I apologize for any of my transgressions, although I honestly try to keep my comments civil, secular, and on topic here.

  4. To me OTB is pretty well balanced. I think it mostly comes from the size of the commenting pool. It’s not too large, and not predominantly crazy.

    There are other blogs, even ones a bit closer to my philosophy, that I can’t take because their comments are kind of low-value piling-on directed at conservatives.

  5. Paul L, says:

    Looks like comment policy used on Feminist Blogs.(Pandagon/Feministing/Feministe/Shakesville)
    If you disagree, your comments will be deleted and you will be banned.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    Thank you, Dr Joyner (and co-conspirators) for probably the best open–comments sections I’ve run across. Don’t get here but once a day and usually someone has already gotten what would have been my point across so don’t have many posts ‘notched on my gun belt’. But the threads male good reading.

    If only there were a few better conservatives…. Not just here, of course. Anywhere.

  7. JohnMcC says:

    @Paul L,: Gosh, Mr El, I consider having been blackballed from “Contentions” a high point of my life on these inter-webs. Almost on a par with getting thrown out of college in 1970 for political agitation.

  8. jukeboxgrad says:

    any comment deemed abusive or offensive

    Bite my shiny metal ass.”

  9. jukeboxgrad says:

    any comment deemed abusive or offensive

    Circular douchebag

  10. Rick Almeida says:

    @Paul L,:

    Didn’t read James’ post, did you?

  11. Andy says:

    A policy is fine and dandy, but I don’t see a lot of enforcement. I’ve pretty much given up commenting here because whenever I post something the response is usually an ad hom where I’m lectured in an accusatory manner about my supposed beliefs and how evil those supposed beliefs are. It is, quite frankly, impossible to have any kind of “debate” in an environment when I have to defend myself from false characterizations and wrong assumptions made by trolls or idiots (take your pick). It’s a complete waste of time.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @Andy:

    A policy is fine and dandy, but I don’t see a lot of enforcement. I’ve pretty much given up commenting here because whenever I post something the response is usually an ad hom where I’m lectured in an accusatory manner about my supposed beliefs and how evil those supposed beliefs are. It is, quite frankly, impossible to have any kind of “debate” in an environment when I have to defend myself from false characterizations and wrong assumptions made by trolls or idiots (take your pick). It’s a complete waste of time.

    Andy, I understand your point but, really, compared to the flame throwing I see on the majority of blog and commentary sites – this place is a resort. The heat here is generally at a low level.

  13. John Burgess says:

    @al-Ameda: Low level flames do not exclude tedious and tendentious attempts as ‘argument’. People shouting while using correct grammar are still shouting.

  14. Andy says:

    @al-Ameda: To me that’s a distinction without a difference.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    One of the barriers to our enforcing the comments policy rigorously is that all of those of us who post here do so in our spare time. We want to limit the amount of time we spend in policing (something we don’t much like) in favor of posting or commenting (something we like more). There’s actually another reason. Since we will inevitably limit the amount of time we spend policing the comments section, that policing will inevitably be seen as arbitrary. Corporately, we see that as potentially being worse than inadequate monitoring.

    1
  16. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    Andy –

    With all due respect…

    Alot of what passes for conservative commentary on this site, and many other sites, is a complete lack of adaptation of the current reality.

    For example: I can’t find one conservative who will tell me how a Romney presidency will differ at all from a third term for G.W. Bush. What policy differences are coming from Romney/Ryan that differ from the Bush/Cheney policies?

    Another example: Why can’t any conservatives honestly reflect on the failures of 2000-2008, and how that directly resulted in the mess Obama inherited? The current GOP line of thinking is that we magically went from the boom years of Clinton to Obama wrecking all America stands for in three short years.

    So, yes, when certain commentators comment from an alternate reality — a reality that doesn’t include 600,000 jobs lost per month in late 2008; a reality that doesn’t include the biggest housing bubble collapse… ever; a reality that states that Obama didn’t work to include the GOP in his plans in 2009 and 2010; a reality that states that Obama can be both a 20 years member of Rev. Wright’s Christian church and a Muslim — those commentators are going to get push back. The more outrageous the claims, the harder the pushback as too many here are part of the reality-based community.

    I’ve found that if you can argue a position with real intellectual honesty and actual… you know… facts, that this site is one of the best, along with The American Conservative, to debate.

    Unfortunately, if you show up with false Fox or MSNBC talking points, you’re probably going to get hammered.

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @John Burgess:

    @al-Ameda: Low level flames do not exclude tedious and tendentious attempts as ‘argument’. People shouting while using correct grammar are still shouting.

    I understand your point, but I don’t think that it’s all the same.

    There are differences among blogs, and there are differences on this blog. Even here, you can see that some people are thin-skinned while others are not.

  18. Liberty60 says:

    @Paul L,:
    Thats exactly what I said over at RedState, before I was banned!

  19. Andy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Unfortunately, if you show up with false Fox or MSNBC talking points, you’re probably going to get hammered.

    Are MSNBC talking points OK then?

    Seriously, look, I don’t mind disagreement and I think everyone should be able to state their opinion on an issue. It just really pisses me off when people put words into my mouth based on what they think I believe and not what I actually write. It’s happened twice this week here already. I don’t need people to tell me what they think my opinions are (which are inevitably wrong) and then berate me for supposedly holding those opinions.

    Secondly, who is part of the reality-based community? Maybe you could help me out and divide everyone up into neat little groups so we know who is basing their opinions on reality and who isn’t? Do you see the problem with that? And who defines “intellectual honesty” and “reality” in a discourse about politics and values? Is it you that gets to decide who is being intellectually honest and who isn’t?

    To me it’s a problem if someone tries to set the terms of the debate by declaring what is and isn’t “reality” or “intellectually honest.” And it seems to me that your comment is a great example of what I object to. Your comment says little about what you believe – instead it attempts to define the viewpoints of the “conservatives” you disagree with. Just a suggestion, but maybe you should let conservatives speak for themselves – or are you willing to give a quid pro quo and let conservatives define your ideology as you define theirs?

    Personally, I think one should to start from the position that those we disagree with are intellectually honest even if we don’t think they have the “facts” right. Personally, I don’t think it’s my place to tell liberals or conservatives that they are unable to “honestly reflect” on any issue. I’m not a mind reader, but it seems to me there are a lot of people who think they are mind readers and know with certainty when someone they’ve never met has or hasn’t honestly reflected on an issue.

    The more outrageous the claims, the harder the pushback as too many here are part of the reality-based community.

    Finally, how you push-back matters a great deal. If your “push-back” consists of telling the other guy he’s intellectually dishonest or is part of an alternate reality, or is crazy, dumb or whatever, then that is a classic ad hom response. From my perspective those kinds of responses are way too common here and are not at all conducive to any kind of real debate.

  20. Console says:

    Can there be some exceptions? I thoroughly enjoyed the Mcardle bashing that took place.

  21. mattb says:

    In general, the OTB comment threads have been getting more and more heated. I suspect that this will continue at least until the election. And, personally, I’ve cringed at some of the invectives that have been directed against you in a number of the threads (include the rather odd suggestions that you’ve been “carrying water” on posts that have been clearly critical of your “side”).

    All that said, I had a bit of an issue with the following passage:

    The underlying rule here: “Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.”

    While I completely agree in theory, when it comes to “integrity”, a number of regular and sem-regular posters at OTB have repeatedly demonstrated in pixels their lack of integrity. People continue, after multiple corrections, to spout the same falsehoods.

    They might have started as misinformed, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s a lie. And at that point, he do need to challenge their integrity as an individual, for at worst they are choosing to remain willfully ignorant, but more than likely they are intentionally lying.

  22. mattb says:

    @Andy:

    If your “push-back” consists of telling the other guy he’s intellectually dishonest or is part of an alternate reality, or is crazy, dumb or whatever, then that is a classic ad hom response. From my perspective those kinds of responses are way too common here and are not at all conducive to any kind of real debate.

    I completely agree that there are many issues where there is no monopoly on the truth. And all sides should respect that.

    The issue is that the OTB comment threads are a community. And as with any conversation, a number of discussions are happening across threads rather than *just* within threads. And the root of some of those apparent Ad Hominum attacks are found in people’s behavior in other threads.

    There are a number of people here who have clearly demonstrated a pattern of repeatedly parroting the same false information (things that can be proven as demonstratively false) even after multiple (and initially polite) corrections.

    All this said, there has been a recent influx of left-leaning commenters who are spouting venom at a much higher level than usual. And you, among others, have attacked in ways that your contribution did not warrent.

  23. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    FWIIW I (a European left-of-center green voter – i.e. basically a child-sacrificing communist by current U.S. standards) find the current commentariat too leftist for my tastes.

    While I agree with a lot of it, contrary viewpoints are frequently not only refuted but actually buried under a communal pile-up. This discourages opposing viewpoints which I would be interested in.

    Frequently it’s less a question of content and more of tone. neil hudelson’s and Rick Almeida’s posts in the US v. the UK on Austerity thread are good examples of valid critique couched in unnecessarily sneering tones.

    It’s still one of the best discussion points on the web for me. But I would appreciate some more diversity.

  24. EddieInCA says:

    Andy –

    Thanks for the response.

    I wrote in my comments, that if you show up with Fox OR MSNBC talking points, you’ll get hammered.

    And from that, you respond with “Are MSNBC talking points OK then?”

    WTF? I write, very clearly, that MSNBC talking points will get you hammered equally to Fox talking points.

    I’ll put it simply.

    If you believe that Dems are the ones that spend us into debt as a nation, you’re not part of the reality based community. The largest part of the US Debt came under three GOP Presidents: Reagan, Bush and Bush II.

    If you believe Tax cuts create jobs, you’re not part of the reality based community. Reagan’s recovery came after he raised Taxes. Clinton’s recovery came after taxes were raised. The Bush Tax Cuts did nothing to create jobs.

    If you believe that creationism belongs in Sciences classes, you’re not part of the reality based community. I have no problems with creationism being taught, but it should be taught in Theology classes, not science.

    Here’s Wikipedia on “Intellectual Honesty”.

    Intellectual honesty is an applied method of problem solving in academia, characterized by an unbiased, honest attitude, which can be demonstrated in a number of different ways, including but not limited to:

    One’s personal beliefs do not interfere with the pursuit of truth;
    Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one’s hypothesis;
    Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading impressions or to support one view over another;
    References are acknowledged where possible, and plagiarism is avoided

    You see… the problem — currently, not historically – with conservatism, is that there is creation of “truths” that are nothing more than opinion or faith, often diametrically opposed to the scientific truth or facts. The GOP in particular, has created it’s own sense of reality – far removed from facts or empirical data. The fact that you put quotation (“facts”) around the word fact says alot of what you think of… you know… facts. There are facts and there are beliefs and faith. One should not substitute belief or faith for facts – but that’s what many, most, in the current GOP are doing. When there is empirical data showing that there is an incontrovertible fact, but one specific group of people chooses not to ignore it, no, they should not be taken seriously.

  25. jan says:

    @Andy:

    “Secondly, who is part of the reality-based community? Maybe you could help me out and divide everyone up into neat little groups so we know who is basing their opinions on reality and who isn’t? Do you see the problem with that? And who defines “intellectual honesty” and “reality” in a discourse about politics and values? Is it you that gets to decide who is being intellectually honest and who isn’t?

    To me it’s a problem if someone tries to set the terms of the debate by declaring what is and isn’t “reality” or “intellectually honest.” And it seems to me that your comment is a great example of what I object to”

    Well said, Andy! It contained so many salient points and was applicable in it’s entirety.

    There is a superiority complex that seems to permeate some people’s politics here. Their mind set is that their POV is right, and anyone who wonders from it, is wrong. And, what follows, oftentimes, is a plundering of the other person personally, rather than a civil debate on what they find wrong with the voiced ‘reality’ of another. It then becomes a contrary jousting, going outside the rhetorical sport of honest disagreement, replacing it with rancor and excoriation. Although it might be fun for some, it doesn’t really take the discourse very far, in at least understanding more fully a POV that isn’t in sync with your own.

    Also, moderates and right of center opinions are being posted less frequently here, just in the year I’ve been posting. Consequently OTB is creating kind of a social progressive supremacy environment, alienating rather than attracting a greater diversity of thoughtful opinion.

  26. Rick Almeida says:

    @jan:

    Consequently OTB is creating kind of a social progressive supremacy environment, alienating rather than attracting a greater diversity of thoughtful opinion.

    Contrariwise, it’s entirely possible that there are fewer and fewer thoughtful conservatives – a decline that’s been noted across the blogosphere and dead-tree media. Indeed, your own arguments are frequently demonstrated to be factually wrong and mendaciously presented.

  27. jan says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    “Contrariwise, it’s entirely possible that there are fewer and fewer thoughtful conservatives “

    ‘Thoughtful’ moderates or conservatives like to brain storm and argue ideas. Here, one ends up defending themselves, along with their proper use of pre-approved resources. It becomes an endless trivial pursuit game of upending the other person’s links and POVs, which, when there is nothing left to say, simply call their statements a lie. So, why even have a productive conversation when the rules are so one-sided and according to a single-minded perspective?

    “Indeed, your own arguments are frequently demonstrated to be factually wrong and mendaciously presented. “

    ….and just that response alone demonstrates such elitism of the mind, in how you unilaterally view someone else outside you own ideological sphere.

  28. @Andy:

    It is, quite frankly, impossible to have any kind of “debate” in an environment when I have to defend myself from false characterizations and wrong assumptions made by trolls or idiots (take your pick). It’s a complete waste of time.

    Indeed, it is a waste of time to engage some people (something I often have to remind myself).

    And while I agree that we do not always police the threads like could (you know: work, families, etc.) it is actually quite difficult to decide when to delete something. I, personally, have a fairly absolutist view on speech in a political context.

    Beyond that, it is hard enough to decide what is simply inflammatory. It is impossible to grade each comments in terms of whether they are false characterizations or not.

  29. @Dave Schuler: What Dave said.

  30. @jan:

    along with their proper use of pre-approved resources.

    An observation, which I think is actually helpful to this overall discussion: while there is hardly a set of “pre-approved resources” I would note that in many of the exchanges there is often a disconnect between what qualifies as a legitimate source and what does not. Sources that are blatantly partisan and that have a known poor relationship with solid fact-based journalism (e.g., World Net Daily) don’t help an argument. Indeed, if one is trying to build a case, finding sources that one’s opponent might find persuasive can be very helpful. Moreover, if one can only find confirmation of a highly controversial point by looking only in highly partisan, tabloidesque sources, then one might be advised to reassess one’s position.

    A major problem in contemporary political discourse is that folks all too often deploy “arguments” that seem like slam-dunks because they have only been testes with like-minded interlocutors. Yet, real test of an argument is not how well it persuades our intellectual allies, but rather how well they persuade others outside out group. Granted, good arguments also often fall on deaf ears. Still, commenters all too often confuse leaving comments with calling into talk radio with a sympathetic host.

    Further, there is often a problem of assertions without basis or citation.

    Just something to think about.

  31. Spartacus says:

    James wrote: “Any form of trolling, defined as comments that appear intended to send the discussion in a fruitless direction, including repeated raising of only tangentially related points.”

    Tribalism has so overtaken the GOP that the only way they can maintain an argument is to send the discussion in a fruitless direction, raising only tangential points. Trolling is the logical endpoint of anyone representing the GOP’s point of view.

    Your responses to commenters the other day about whether Ezra Klein’s claim that Bush’s tax cuts were largely to blame for the size of today’s debt is the perfect example. Not having the facts on your side, you eventually had to turn the conversation to issues that were only tangentially related and certainly not fruitful. Being a member of Romney’s tribe, you couldn’t acknowledge that his policies would result in an even higher deficit than Obama’s. Instead, you turned the discussion to a tangential issue.

    I make this criticism respectfully. I came to OTB looking for intelligent, fact-based commentary from the GOP/conservative end of the spectrum. You’re better at providing that than most GOP bloggers, but your tribalism prevents you from reaching the inevitable logical conclusion – Obama should be reelected. In order to avoid that logical conclusion you often latch on to topics that are only tangentially related. Basically, you troll your own posts.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    Intellectually honest argument goes like this:

    A: 1 = 1 = 2
    B: No, it equals three. 1 +1 = 3
    A: Dude, here are six different links, plus, here’s a video of a guy adding one block to another block. See?
    B: Hmmm. Maybe you have a point. I’m going to re-examine my assumptions.

    Dishonest argument involves the constant re-assertion that 1 + 1 = 3. Facts be damned, I need it to equal 3, I’ve always said it equalled 3, therefore it must equal three and in fact does equal 3.

    That is the difference. At that point you’re not dealing with a difference of opinion. A difference of opinion would be on the matter of how important “2” is. Or whether the world would be a better place if “3” were the answer. However, insisting it’s 3, is either stupidity or dishonesty.

    New people here are almost always welcomed and almost always given the benefit of the doubt. This is actually a very nice crowd. The insults begin when a person has had the 1 +1 = 2 thing demonstrated not once, or twice, but a dozen times. And for a dozen times they have failed to even come up with a counterpoint. That’s when people lose patience.

    So maybe the policy should be that in addition to rudeness and ad hominem, sheer, bloody-minded imbecility or utter dishonesty will also be sanctioned.

  33. Septimius says:

    For those who still may be confused about the OTB comments policy, here are some examples of acceptable comments that are thoughful and helpful to the discussion:

    “Republicans are evil.”

    “Republicans are racist.”

    “Republicans are bigots.”

    “Republicans hate women.”

    “Republicans are crazy.”

    “Mitt Romney is a sociopath.”

    Also, when using links to bolster an argument, The Huffington Post and Think Progress are acceptable sources. The Washington Times and National Review are not. Any commenter who links to an unacceptable source will immediately be discounted and his or her argument will be rendered null and void.

  34. LCaution says:

    Of the several political sites I have visited the past six months or so, OTB has by far one of the most civil comment threads – and I especially appreciate the tolerance of the OTB bloggers for those of us on the left. Very unexpected and atypical.

    Perfect civility and fact-based arguments are an admirable goal; but, unfortunately, it seems to be impossible to get an agreed-upon definition of either “civility” or “fact”.

    It is your web site, and I respect the rules you have laid out. They are reasonable. One suggestion: if you delete a post or decide to ban somebody, let the person know your reasoning.

    Some of us may transgress unknowingly.

  35. @Septimius:

    In a normal campaign, what you’d do is point to the concrete proposals, the platform, that proves the sanity, probity, and practicality of your Party.

    I hope you understand that the vacuum left by “just trust us” cuts both ways.

    You say “just trust us,” I say “here’s why not.”

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Septimius:

    Nice try. Your list is an attempt to quash dialog rather than enhance it. What are we supposed to say if, in fact, Republicans are racist for example? By your lights that becomes unsayable. It’s the right-wing version of “political correctness.” It’s a pre-emptive silencing of disagreeable argument.

    For the record, I’d say that none of those statements is true in whole, but most are true in part. So I think we should properly include a qualifier – something I always try to do. Rather than “Republicans are racists,” I usually point out the deal with the devil that was the Southern Strategy, and that Republicans cannot win national elections without racist votes, and that the GOP regularly practices dog-whistle racism to pander to their racist voters. So, some Republicans are racists, not all. But almost all profit by appealing to racists.

    All of which are true statements.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t call Mr. Romney a sociopath. Just a ruthless pol with no respect for the American people or the truth. I don’t think that’s sociopathy.

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @Septimius: pre-emptive claims of victimization generally will not result in a worthwhile discussion.

  38. jukeboxgrad says:

    mattb:

    when it comes to “integrity”, a number of regular and sem-regular posters at OTB have repeatedly demonstrated in pixels their lack of integrity. People continue, after multiple corrections, to spout the same falsehoods.

    Yes (example, example).

    When someone demonstrates a lack of integrity, it represents a lack of integrity to refrain from pointing out that lack of integrity.

    It should also be understand that someone who packages a lie in a civil tone is being incivil, because lying is a form of incivility.

    =================
    jan:

    why even have a productive conversation when the rules are so one-sided and according to a single-minded perspective?

    Here’s one of the most important rules, in my opinion: don’t lie. Above I cited some examples of that rule being broken. You might even know some of the rule-breakers.

  39. Drew says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    After James plea, we get this tripe.

    It’s pointless here.

  40. Septimius says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Ah, the Southern Strategy. Is that the strategy in which Republicans blow out Democrats in national elections? Like in 1972, when Nixon won 49 states? Like in 1980, when Reagan won 44 states? Like in 1984, when Reagan won 49 states? Like 1988, when Bush won 40 states? It’s amazing that a strategy centered on attracting white, southern, racist votes had such broad national appeal.

  41. jukeboxgrad says:

    It’s pointless here.

    So why do you keep showing up? You keep promising to leave.

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @Septimius:

    No, it’s not amazing at all. In fact Lyndon Johnson predicted that the Democratic embrace of civil rights would have just that effect.

    Nixon capitalized on the early 60’s Democratic shift to support of civil rights with the Southern Strategy, an appeal to white racists, mostly in the south, who felt abandoned by the formerly racist-friendly Democrats. The south which had been solidly Democratic quickly became solidly Republican. At the same time the GOP began losing ground in California, New England, etc…

    The GOP made a bet on white racism, which paid off for a while. Then the demographics began to turn. Which is why smart Republicans are now sh*tting bricks over their inability to attract Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and educated whites. The bet that paid off, as you point out, now looks less and less likely to keep paying off.

    None of this is controversial. It’s historical fact.

  43. michael reynolds says:

    @Drew:
    Well, it’s pointless if you can’t support a position, yes. Merely asserting your own rightness and then fleeing in the face of disagreement isn’t a winning strategy in a “room” full of smart, well-informed people. You need to bring some game.

  44. An Interested Party says:

    After James plea, we get this tripe.

    Perhaps someone should take a little of all of that money he supposedly has and buy a dictionary, as “tripe” does not accurately describe Rick Almeida’s factual statements…

    Ah, the Southern Strategy. Is that the strategy in which Republicans blow out Democrats in national elections?

    Actually, that would be the strategy that has commercials which tell lies accusing the President of making it easier for people to get welfare without having to work…that would be the strategy that has led to roughly half of Republicans thinking the President wasn’t born in this country…that would be the strategy that accuses the President of having a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview, etc. etc. etc…..happy to be of help…

  45. Andy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    WTF? I write, very clearly, that MSNBC talking points will get you hammered equally to Fox talking points.

    That was my lame attempt at humor, hence the “seriously” at the beginning of the following sentence. A poorly delivered joke on my part, apologies.

    The fact that you put quotation (“facts”) around the word fact says alot of what you think of… you know… facts.

    I did that because most people (including me, despite my training), often fail to distinguish between facts, the meaning of facts, analysis based on facts and opinions about facts. Those are all separate things. Political opinions are usually just that – opinions – and not “fact” which is why I put it in quotes.

    Speaking of opinions, you have have some strong ones regarding what you think conservatives believe. I think most conservatives would probably take issue with how you’ve characterized them. So, who is a neutral observer supposed to believe? Is anyone the arbiter of truth? I don’t think so.

    Anyway, that is all beside the point. The issue here is not really about one’s perception of an ideology or political party writ large, but the appropriate way to respond to individuals in a debate or discussion. On that score, one’s opinions about the opposition ideally shouldn’t matter. I would just point out that if one’s first reaction is to begin labeling and categorizing a commenter by what one believes their ideology to be, then that is a problem which resides with whoever is doing the labeling.

    As for me, I don’t neatly fit into either party or predominant ideology. I’m an anti-partisan and my political opinions sometimes agree with one side or another, often disagree with both or agree with a lot of conditionals and caveats. In short, I don’t fit into these neat preconceived notions people have, yet I continually run into both liberals and conservatives who project their own notions onto me and ASSUME that I am a member of the evil “other” group and assume that I subscribe to all the evil things those bad people believe. So, instead of a response to what I actually wrote, I get a response that is directed at an imaginary me that only exists inside their heads. Just so you know, this happens with some frequency from the “reality-based community” too so from my perspective it isn’t as “reality-based” as members imagine themselves to be. Regardless, it’s quite frustrating to be falsely characterized and I think a kitten dies somewhere each time it happens (the part about the kitten is, BTW, a joke, and probably a bad one).

    Anyway, it’s gotten so bad (and not just here at OTB) that I’ll probably remove myself from most forums until after the election when hopefully a greater measure of civility will return.

  46. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    So, instead of a response to what I actually wrote, I get a response that is directed at an imaginary me that only exists inside their heads.

    If* I’m one of the people who does that, I apologize. I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

    (*By the way, not using “if” in the weasel word sense, I just don’t recall enough interactions with you, personally. I’ll accept your word if you feel I’m at fault.)

  47. @Andy:

    So, instead of a response to what I actually wrote, I get a response that is directed at an imaginary me that only exists inside their heads.

    For what it is worth, this happens to us all. It is made worse by the written and non-instant nature of this type of communication.

  48. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Oh, you noticed! I’m so flattered.

    And thanks for those ilnks, instead of just quotes. They show that I was not initiating personal insults, but responding to them.

    That was my policy. Accent on the “was.” With this fresh reminder, I will do my level best to comply with it, and instead of respnding, will simply note the policy violation.

  49. jukeboxgrad says:

    septimius:

    For those who still may be confused about the OTB comments policy, here are some examples of acceptable comments that are thoughful and helpful to the discussion:

    “Republicans are evil.”

    “Republicans are racist.”

    “Republicans are bigots.”

    “Republicans hate women.”

    “Republicans are crazy.”

    “Mitt Romney is a sociopath.”

    Those comments are not inherently helpful or unhelpful. What matters is whether or not they are supported. If they are supported, they are helpful.

    In my opinion, anyone is welcome to make any claim or accusation, as long as they are willing to support it with evidence. If you want to say I rape nuns and torture kittens, I will defend your right to do that, as long as you are prepared to show evidence.

    The problem with your comment is that you’re making various implied claims without lifting a finger to provide any support for those claims. Here’s an implied claim you’re making without bothering to show support: that someone made those claims without bothering to show support. Really? Where?

    Also, when using links to bolster an argument, The Huffington Post and Think Progress are acceptable sources. The Washington Times and National Review are not.

    It’s fair to be skeptical about a source if that source has a track record of posting baloney. NR has a track record of posting baloney (example). See how this works? I made a claim and I supported it with evidence. You should try this sometimes; I think it will be a new experience for you.

    Are you going to show evidence to support your implied claim that “Huffington Post and Think Progress are [not] acceptable sources?” Because the last thing the internet needs is more claims bereft of evidence. Such claims are worthless, and a waste of innocent electrons.

    Any commenter who links to an unacceptable source will immediately be discounted and his or her argument will be rendered null and void.

    If you link to a source that has a proven record of posting baloney (and others are willing to show evidence of that record), then you should be prepared to explain why you trust that source anyway, or why this particular article should be trusted. It’s possible that a lousy source can contain an article that is true, helpful, and shows solid support for its claims, so it’s not always entirely fair to dismiss an article simply based on the source. But it’s natural for a reader to approach that article skeptically.

    Also, all humans make mistakes, and it’s possible to find false claims in any source. What’s significant is when the false claims are numerous, always lean in the same direction, and are usually uncorrected. That’s why it’s important to notice if someone has done this many, many, many times (example).

  50. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    They show that I was not initiating personal insults, but responding to them.

    When I address you in a way that you find insulting, I always show proof that what I am saying about you is correct. If you can show a place where I failed to do that, that would be helpful.

  51. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Oh, and James? Superb choice of graphic. XKCD is a regular read of mine. That guy is brilliant.

  52. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: I would be honored and delighted to provide just such an example, sir. In our discussion of Citizens United and Obama’s interpretation of same, you asserted that Obama’s declaration during his State of the Union address was correct. I challenged you to prove your point. You cited two different articles that both said, essentially that one set of experts agreed with Obama while others disagreed. And when I said a single example of a foreign corporation spending freely to influence an election, you chose to name an individual American citizen who happens to have significant business dealings with China.

    It occurred to me that I should have brought up the extensive and documented foreign donations to Obama’s 2008 campaign at that point — the Palestinian brothers who gave over $30K, Obama’s illegal alien aunt who claimed to have donated, and several other examples — but by the time I made the connection, the conversation was well past. Thank you, sir, for the opportunity to continue my thoughts.

    My kindest regards to you and yours.

  53. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Ah, the infamous “truth is an absolute defense” argument. Such a wonderful false argument.

    For example, if I were to cite our recent discussion on the rise of the federal debt, where I misstated the number (I initially said $6 trillion, when it was actually $5.2 trillion), you chose to fixate on the error and discuss only that, not on the more-relevant fact that, under Obama, the deficit has increased by almost 50%.

    Were I to call you a pedantic (expletive deleted) for that, would you say that it was justified, as I had demonstrated its accuracy?

    With highest regards,

  54. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    I challenged you to prove your point.

    And I did (link, link). Funny how I’m linking to that thread and you didn’t. It speaks for itself.

    I should have brought up the extensive and documented foreign donations to Obama’s 2008 campaign at that point — the Palestinian brothers who gave over $30K

    Except that $33,000 is not “extensive.” In your usual style, you’re regurgitating nonsense that was addressed a long time ago. And of course you disappeared when I addressed it, and you never explained why you described $33,000 as “lots.” Likewise, I’m sure you are now not going to explain why you described $33,000 as “extensive.”

    And you’re also dodging the point. I said this:

    When I address you in a way that you find insulting, I always show proof that what I am saying about you is correct. If you can show a place where I failed to do that, that would be helpful.

    What you just said has nothing to do with addressing that.

  55. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    I initially said $6 trillion, when it was actually $5.2 trillion

    Wrong.

    under Obama, the deficit has increased by almost 50%

    Yet another lie. Bush’s last deficit was $1.4T. Every Obama deficit has been lower than that, and the projected deficit for FY2013 is $0.9T (link).

    Were I to call you a pedantic (expletive deleted) for that, would you say that it was justified, as I had demonstrated its accuracy?

    Except that nothing you’ve said has any “accuracy.” You’ve also completely ignored what I said about the importance of showing evidence. In your typical style, you’ve shown this much evidence to support your claims: none.

  56. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    That was my policy. Accent on the “was.” With this fresh reminder, I will do my level best to comply with it, and instead of respnding, will simply note the policy violation.

    It makes perfect sense that 24 minutes after saying that you said this:

    Have you thought about switching to decaf? Or having surgeons remove that tremendous stick up your hindquarters?

  57. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: You linked to those threads because you’re far more monomaniacal on such things as I am. And as I said before, the articles both take the “some experts say X, others say Y” approach.

    Which is why I suggested you find a single concrete example that shows a foreign corporation doing exactly what you and Obama say can happen, on the notion that a single concrete example trumps theory. And you failed to do so.

    As far as me ignoring things you say… gulty as charged. Your tone is so utterly grim and your points such fine minutiae so you can avoid bigger issues, I usually say “screw it” and go on with my life.

    Speaking of your pedantry, yes, I misspoke and said “deficit” when I meant “debt.” It’s a fairly simple mistake, and an obvious one — a person interested in actual civil discourse would gently correct it, and continue the discussion.

    But let’s look at that debt issue. I said Obama had increased the debt by almost 50%. When he took office, as you pointed out, it was around $10.7 trillion. WIthin days, it will hit $16 trillion — meaning an increase of $5.3 trillion under Obama. And while I don’t feel like working out the precise percentage, I do know that 5.3 is almost 50% of 10.7.

    As far as the foreign contributions to Obama, I cited two examples. There are many, many more.

  58. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: I was politely offering you suggestions that would be beneficial to your health. I’m no medical professional, but I thought it was the least I could do.

  59. Septimius says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “The south which had been solidly Democratic quickly became solidly Republican.”

    Except for the fact that Jimmy Carter carried every Confederate state, except VA in 1976. And Bill Clinton carried 4 of the 11 Confederate states in ’92 and 4 of the 11 in ’96. So, your claim that the South “quickly became solidly Republican” is total nonsense. The fact is that from 1972 to 2000, when Republican presidential candidates won in the South, they won everywhere, including CA and New England. Democrats, on the other hand, only won when they did well in South. Your claim that Republicans can only win by appealing to white racism is more nonsense.

  60. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    This is threatening to do exactly what our host was railing against. In the spirit of respecting his wishes, I’m calling it a night.

  61. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    Which is why I suggested you find a single concrete example that shows a foreign corporation doing exactly what you and Obama say can happen

    A foreign government is even worse than “a foreign corporation,” and Adelson’s main business partner is the government of China.

    I usually say “screw it” and go on with my life.

    English translation: ‘I run and hide when you prove my claims are false.’

    I misspoke and said “deficit” when I meant “debt.”

    So you meant to say Obama increased the debt by almost 50%? That’s not true, either.

    By the way, GWB almost doubled it, and Reagan tripled it. So even if your 50% claim was correct, it’s not too impressive, compared with them.

    When he took office, as you pointed out, it was around $10.7 trillion.

    What you claim I “pointed out” is something I never pointed out. I never referenced an amount for that date, because using that date is wrong. I am pointing this out to you again for at least the third time. You have said absolutely nothing to address this. When you work so hard to hide from inconvenient facts, this tends to create the impression that you are not arguing in good faith. Is there some other explanation?

    As far as the foreign contributions to Obama, I cited two examples. There are many, many more.

    No, you never “cited two examples.” You have cited exactly one example. And the article you cited mentions one example, for $32,332.19, the same example you have already mentioned many times. I don’t see any other examples, so it looks like your “many, many more” is another instance of you lying again.

  62. An Interested Party says:

    So, your claim that the South “quickly became solidly Republican” is total nonsense.

    Not really…maybe you didn’t know this, but voters in the South vote for people to fill political offices other than the presidency…

    Your claim that Republicans can only win by appealing to white racism is more nonsense.

    Hmm, than maybe Republicans could stop trying to paint the President as someone who’s a foreign, alien presence who wants to make it easier for people to get welfare…

  63. michael reynolds says:

    @Septimius:
    Dude, what’s your definition of “quickly?”

    The Southern Strategy: 1968.

    By 1980 the GOP owned the South.

    That’s 12 years from nowhere to domination. The Democrats have not won the south since.

  64. jan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Steven, I don’t read and obviously then don’t cite WND, and am in agreement with you on this particular publication. However, people here have taken issue with Heritage Foundation, which is the conservative reflection of say The Brookings Institute, National Review, Power Line, American Thinker, Weekly Standard, anything to do with PJ Media — all being conservative but respectable media outlets. When it comes to approved resources it usually is the NYT, LAT, Newsweek, Times (all four of which are losing readership), Salon, Slate, WAPO, and so on. Unless a person is gong to a ‘rag’ for their links, I think both liberal and conservative sources should be considered without partisan prejudice as being the reason it is not considered worthy in a conversation here.

  65. jukeboxgrad says:

    jan:

    However, people here have taken issue with Heritage Foundation, which is the conservative reflection of say The Brookings Institute, National Review, Power Line, American Thinker, Weekly Standard, anything to do with PJ Media — all being conservative but respectable media outlets.

    American Thinker (sic), 7/18/12:

    New Obama Birth Certificate Forgery Proof in the Layers

    I don’t remember your position on birtherism. Does it fit your concept of “respectable?”

    I could cite many, many other similar examples regarding AT and every other wingnut rag you mentioned.

  66. David M says:

    @jan: I’m not sure you’re grouping those correct, this is probably a little closer.

    Conservative: Heritage Foundation, National Review, Power Line, American Thinker, Weekly Standard, PJ Media, Washington Times

    Neutral: NYT, LAT, Newsweek, WAPO, Time Magazine

    Liberal: Salon, Slate, ThinkProgress, Daily Kos, Mother Jones

    There are several in the Conservative grouping that are guaranteed to repeat any nonsense the Republican Party wants as well, which is why many here are skeptical of them.

  67. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Now that I’ve had a chance to sleep on the matter (a little), let me — calmly and politely — offer you (and the readership) my perspective.

    I said:

    For example, if I were to cite our recent discussion on the rise of the federal debt, where I misstated the number (I initially said $6 trillion, when it was actually $5.2 trillion), you chose to fixate on the error and discuss only that, not on the more-relevant fact that, under Obama, the deficit has increased by almost 50%.

    You quoted just the italicized part, and called it “yet another lie.”

    A person interested in civil discourse would have thought “he said ‘debt’ first, but later said ‘deficit.’ The numbers he cited are clearly related to the debt, not deficit, so I”ll just assume he meant ‘debt’ in both places — or ask him to clarify.’

    A jerk would have said “hey, stupid, you’re talking debt here, not deficit. Get your terms right.”

    but to call a simple, obvious error (why the hell are two such related terms allowed to sound so much alike? Sometimes I hate English) “yet another lie…” that, sir, is the mark of the obsessive whose goal is not to promote discussion, but to silence it. To demand 100% infallibility in every single statement, to call everything that is not unambiguously 100% correct, is to be an unalterable opponent to actual discourse.

    Your humble servant,

  68. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M:That’s an interesting grouping, but I hope you won’t mind if I offer an alternative set (with full credit to you for the initial concept):

    Crazy Conservative:WND, Free Republic

    Openly Conservative:Heritage Foundation, National Review, Power Line, American Thinker

    Leaning Conservative:Weekly Standard, PJ Media, Washington Times

    Neutral: (crickets)

    Leaning Liberal:NYT, LAT, Newsweek, WAPO, Time Magazine

    Openly Liberal:Salon, Slate, ThinkProgress

    Crazy Liberal:, Daily Kos, Mother Jones, Democratic Underground

    I will admit to occasionally using Freep, but only when they do a roundup that includes several links to more reputable sources — and that’s simply as a matter of convenice, not an endorsement of their overall accuracy. And I’m not quite happy with “Leaning” — the groups there at least try to be accurate and objective most of the time, but frequently fail.

    One of the problems is examples like Media Matters — an extremely well-funded group dedicated to “dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative isinformation in the U.S. media.” They put all their energies into fighting conservative misinformation, turning a blind eye to liberal misinfomration. And there is no comparable organization on the right. Oh, there are some who dabble in the field, but with nowhere the obsessive quality and resources that Media Matters brings to the table.

    Our dear and valued friend jukeboxgrad is such a superb example of their style, I find myself wondering if he works there. I do not recall him ever challenging “liberal misinformation,” and has even refused to consider such matters — his fixation is solely on holding conservatives to his impossible standards.

    And neither is interested in actual discussion, but aimed more at silencing those with whom they disagree.

    Were I to write a book, I would be tempted to hire him to review it, as I know he’d find every single flaw or weakness in it. And then I would revel in firing him. However, I have no such aspirations, and I am not a masochist.

  69. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Our dear and valued friend jukeboxgrad is such a superb example of their style

    I would state that jukeboxgrad is a superb example of what we need in these threads: someone who tries to provide evidence for his positions.

    And yes: he has gotten increasingly testy with you of late because, quite frankly, you often seem impervious to evidence.

  70. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    One can certainly quibble over how to classify various outlets. But let me look at these for a sec:

    Openly Conservative:Heritage Foundation, National Review, Power Line, American Thinker

    First, one of these things is not like the other. At least the Heritage Foundation tries to engage in analysis and research. The quality of their output is sometimes questionable, and frequently more partisan than I would prefer for a think tank, but it is still a research-based output. The rest on the list are just opinion factories.

    Nothing wrong, btw, with opinion. BUT, you cannot cite someone else’s opinion as evidence to back up your opinion. That isn’t evidence to bolster an argument, it is just finding someone else who agrees with you.

    And, I’m sorry, but American Thinker is an unimpressive source that does frequently traffic in things like birtherism.

    Leaning Conservative:Weekly Standard, PJ Media, Washington Times

    Ok, this doesn’t pass the laugh test (insofar as calling these “leaners”)–especially the Weekly Standard. In what possible way would the WS be anything other than a a conservative/neoconservative publication?

    WaTi causes problems because it will run crazy stories as if they are news, such as the tale some years ago about al Qaeda coming across the US-Mexican border to attack a US military base (which, shockingly, ended up to be a false story).

    I will say this: a major problem with the list in general is the conflation of news sources with opinion sources. These are not the same thing, regardless of their leanings, in terms of sources of evidence.

  71. @Jenos Idanian #13: One more observation without arguing over definitions:

    Leaning Conservative:Weekly Standard, PJ Media, Washington Times

    Neutral: (crickets)

    Leaning Liberal:NYT, LAT, Newsweek, WAPO, Time Magazine

    So: on the leaning conservative side you have two opinion sources and one newspaper. On the leaning liberal side you have all journalistic sources.

    What does that tell you? And why, therefore, do you think that in debates the “leaning liberal” sources (to use your categorization) are the ones that are taken more seriously?

    I sincerely think we are onto a major part of the disconnect here: many of the “conservative” commenters rely heavily on opinion sources and deride news sources.

  72. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    A person interested in civil discourse would have thought “he said ‘debt’ first, but later said ‘deficit.’ The numbers he cited are clearly related to the debt, not deficit, so I”ll just assume he meant ‘debt’ in both places — or ask him to clarify.’

    You routinely say things that are illogical and incoherent. It’s also typical of your style that you leap indiscriminately from one subject to another, bringing up things that are unrelated, often without even bothering to start a new sentence. This instance of you jumping from “debt” to “deficit” is not particularly odd or surprising, since it comes from you. I also have no reason to assume that you understand what those words even mean, because there are many examples of you failing to understand concepts that are much simpler.

    And it’s also typical of your style that you made a mistake but somehow it’s my fault.

    but to call a simple, obvious error (why the hell are two such related terms allowed to sound so much alike? Sometimes I hate English) “yet another lie…”

    Coming from someone else with a different track record, it might have been reasonable to read it as “a simple, obvious error.” Coming from you, it was reasonable to read it as “yet another lie,” because the number you have already told is so stunningly large. And right at this moment you are refusing to take responsibility for your latest batch of lies (like “many, many more”).

    It is also typical of your style that when caught in lie, you put up a lot of smoke that mostly consists of a bunch of new lies (like “many, many more”). That is, your lies breed like rabbits.

    And I am reminding you now for at least the fourth time that $5.2T is not the correct number, because 1/20/09 is not the correct date.

    In your typical style, you are now finding all sorts of things to talk about that have nothing to do with the main problem: the number you keep repeating ($5.2T) is wrong. Instead of addressing this important issue, which you have been ducking repeatedly in at least two threads, you’d rather whine about what a poor baby you are because I didn’t read your mind and realize that you meant “debt” when you wrote “deficit.”

    the mark of the obsessive whose goal is not to promote discussion, but to silence it

    Read the last paragraph I wrote. It proves that you don’t know the meaning of the word “discussion.”

    Crazy Conservative:WND, Free Republic

    Openly Conservative:Heritage Foundation, National Review, Power Line, American Thinker

    Are you claiming that birtherism isn’t “crazy?” Because AT promotes birtherism.

    I do not recall him ever challenging “liberal misinformation”

    In your typical style, you are repeating a complaint that I have already addressed many times, including recently. You ignored what I said when I said it, and you’re still ignoring it.

    There’s a mountain of evidence that one of your biggest problems is this: you don’t listen. In particular, you don’t listen to any and all arguments and facts that you find inconvenient.

  73. jukeboxgrad says:

    steven:

    And yes: he has gotten increasingly testy with you of late because, quite frankly, you often seem impervious to evidence.

    This is a good chance for me to explain my personal philosophy in this regard, which is relevant to the topic of the thread.

    I think the normalization of dishonesty is a big problem in our society. Many other big problems that we’re trying to solve are not going to get solved unless we solve this problem first. And we’re in the very early stages of solving this problem, because we mostly don’t even recognize that it’s a big problem.

    Trying to have a real democracy in a place where extreme lying is accepted and considered normal is ultimately impossible. It’s like trying to have a healthy personal relationship with a liar. Anyone who has ever tried to do that knows that it’s simply impossible. Trust is the bedrock of any relationship, and it’s also the bedrock of democracy (I could go even further: it’s the bedrock of civilzation). Lying is toxic to a relationship, and it’s toxic to democracy, fatally toxic. If we accept lying we might as well accept that democracy is dead. And civilization is dead: we might as well be back in the jungle.

    This problem can be seen in lots of places, and it can be seen at OTB. So we might as well do our best to address it, right here, right now. And I think anyone who is not part of the solution is probably part of the problem.

    A common attitude is that this problem is permanent and unsolvable and we have to resign ourselves to it (after all, ‘both sides do it’). That attitude is misguided and wrong, and essentially the same as what people used to say about all sorts of other evils, like slavery. When we surrender to the liars, we all end up enslaved.

    And I think a big part of the problem has to do with enablers. Imagine the following scenario. There are people in a room, and they know that a certain person is a liar, but they treat that person as something other than a known liar. An uninformed observer is going to be misled, and is going to think that the known liar is something other than a liar. And the people in the room, who know better, are participating in a kind of fraud, and are enabling the liar.

    In a healthy community, liars are simply not welcome. Ending the normalization of dishonesty means that liars need to be treated like liars, and all honest people have a responsibility to help make sure this happens.

    When I am “testy” with lying liars who lie, I think I am just plainly stating what they have done. And I do so because I think doing otherwise is a failure of integrity. I see that failure a lot, and it’s often defended as ‘civility,’ but I think that’s wrong. Lying is a high form of incivility (even and especially when it’s wrapped in a superficially polite tone) and therefore the enabling of liars is also ultimately a form of incivility.

    This happens at many levels. It happens in threads like this, and it happens when the press is too timid to flatly say the truth: Gecko and Galt are both liars.

    many of the “conservative” commenters rely heavily on opinion sources and deride news sources.

    I think what underlies this is a failure to understand the difference between a fact and an opinion. And I think this failure is usually an indication of dishonesty, stupidity, or both.

  74. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    There is so much THIS in those two posts… but in particular the following needs to be repeated:

    Nothing wrong, btw, with opinion. BUT, you cannot cite someone else’s opinion as evidence to back up your opinion. That isn’t evidence to bolster an argument, it is just finding someone else who agrees with you.

    […]

    I will say this: a major problem with the list in general is the conflation of news sources with opinion sources. These are not the same thing, regardless of their leanings, in terms of sources of evidence.

    This is something that is so fundamental to the process of argumentation that it’s almost impossible for me to understand how so many people who consider themselves “smart and thoughtful” continue to make this mistake.

    What’s worse, is that many of us have explained this time and time again to a number of the individuals making this mistake and they continue the same behavior.

    An honest discussion cannot happen if one of the parties chooses to remain willfully ignorant.

  75. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Our dear and valued friend jukeboxgrad is such a superb example of their style, I find myself wondering if he works there. I do not recall him ever challenging “liberal misinformation,” and has even refused to consider such matters — his fixation is solely on holding conservatives to his impossible standards.

    What seems to me telling about this statement is that at no point in your entire post do you accuse Jukebox of not bringing accurate facts.

    When the only fault you can find is that he isn’t “policing his own side as much as yours”, you are, in fact, you are (a) admitting that his information is correct and therefore (b) also that your “facts,” or at the very least your representation of them, are exactly what Jukebox has demonstrated them to be: flawed at best, lies at worst.

  76. jukeboxgrad says:

    steven:

    you cannot cite someone else’s opinion as evidence to back up your opinion

    Just a little quibble: there could be an instance where you cite someone else’s opinion, but the person you cite is doing a good job of supporting their opinion with facts. Therefore what you have done is appropriate and helpful. But I completely agree with the broader point that you and Matt are making; what often happens is someone presents an unsupported opinion, and then they ‘support’ it by citing someone who is also providing nothing more than an unsupported opinion.

    It’s fun to see how far this chain can go, sometimes. A cites B. When I look for evidence provided by B, I find that he offers nothing other than a cite to C. Then I look at C, and find that he offers nothing other than a cite to D. Et cetera. One fun variation is to discover that you are traveling in a loop. The term ‘circle jerk’ comes to mind.

    A related problem is people having no understanding of the concept of ‘primary source.’

  77. you cannot cite someone else’s opinion as evidence to back up your opinion

    Say someone asked you to summarize the importance of the Higgs boson. I assume none of us here actually have brains for bosons. In that case, a search for authority is the most reasonable course.

    It’s actually the same problem as climate change. Few of us have the statistical chops nor the supercomputers to crunch raw data. So we search for authority. I choose NASA, but I’ve been told no, National Review is a better source 😉

  78. (This is also why we should defer to real number crunchers on budgetary questions. They do the math that other people can’t or won’t.)

  79. mattb says:

    @john personna:
    I think the key word there is “Opinion.” As the study of science and feminist theory — among others — have pointed out, there are very few “pure” facts and everything ultimately involves some “opinion.”

    But that isn’t to say that every opinion has equal grounding in facts.

    The key thing about turning to NASA, for example, as a source, is to look at how that opinion is arrived at. What is the background of the people who are crafting the opinion, what is the data that is used, how transparent is the process.

    The weakness, for example, in a lot of conservative critiques of climate change, is that they are typically immediately undercut by the very material they are citing as evidence.

    So for example, roughly a year ago CERN announced preliminary findings of it’s CLOUD Ionization study. Immediately climate change deniers (and no, these individuals are not skeptics, nothing about what they are doing is skeptical) attempted to use that finding as “proof” against anthropomorphic climate change. The problem with this was two fold: (a) the person leading that claim had no scientific training whatsoever and (b) the authors of the original study explicitly stated that it was impossible to responsibly speculate the implication the findings might have for climate models.

    And again, that’s why sourcing is so important. And sites that bury their sources are immediately questionable. Likewise are opinions that are immediately proven false by their sources. Hence it’s why any “opinion” that uses the claim of “Obama’s Apology Tour” or starts from a premise that “Obama said America is not an exceptional nation” cannot be taken seriously as *fact*.

    Both of those claims are demonstratively false, and given the number of times they have been proven false and corrected, at this point can only be called what they now are: lies.

  80. @john personna:

    Say someone asked you to summarize the importance of the Higgs boson. I assume none of us here actually have brains for bosons. In that case, a search for authority is the most reasonable course.

    Yes, but that is not what I am talking about. To seek out a legitimate expert on a topic is not just citing someone’s opinion. What I am talking about is something like: “Tax cuts always lead to job growth. Just look at what John Hinderaker said on the subject…”.

  81. @john personna:

    This is also why we should defer to real number crunchers on budgetary questions. They do the math that other people can’t or won’t.

    Yes, but that’s not opinion.

  82. mattb says:

    @Steven, @James, @Doug (et al):

    On the issue of sourcing, one thing that might encourage sourcing is easing the linking/spam filter here. As it stands, it looks like more than two links in a comment means an automatic banishment to the spam que.*

    It would be great if there was a way for regular posters to get around that limit.

    —-

    * BTW, “replying” to @jukebox also still gets one immediately banished as well.

  83. James Joyner says:

    @mattb: The vast majority of comments with more than a couple of links are, alas, spam–which is why the setting exists in the first place (2 is the default, I think). It was set to 4 links; I’ve bumped it to 5. There’s no ready way to single out power users for non-moderation. Even registered users—myself included!—occasionally trigger the filters.

  84. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    AGAIN THIS!

    Yes, but that is not what I am talking about. To seek out a legitimate expert on a topic is not just citing someone’s opinion. What I am talking about is something like: “Tax cuts always lead to job growth. Just look at what John Hinderaker said on the subject…”.

    And lest Steven is accused of going after Powerline or just conservatives, the same would be true of Andrew Sullivan or any other editorialist.

    Granted, editorialists to one degree or another are experts in their fields. So take Paul Krugman as one example. However, even with these individuals, there are two important caviats about fact and opinion:

    1. They are only experts in relatively narrow sub-fields. Krugman knows a lot about economics, but even within that field he isn’t an expert in all of it (as Ben Wolf and others can explain far better than me). And if he’s writing about a non econ subject (say, car repair) there’s no reason to treat him as an expert at all.

    BTW: this is what is so wrong about the “Thousands of Scientists think Global Warming is a Hoax” stories. As soon as you dig in, you find a lot of those scientists have absolutely nothing to do with Climate Science at all. In other words, they are being put forward as “experts” in a field where they have absolutely no expertise.

    2. Even though someone is recognized as an expert, they still need to present the data and show their work.

  85. mattb says:

    @James Joyner:

    It was set to 4 links; I’ve bumped it to 5.

    Didn’t realize it was that high.

    I have my own slog (slow blog) so I understand your point about link spam. It was part of the reason I eventually started using disqus – which has it’s own problems.

    Thanks for the response as always James!

  86. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Actually everything I named is opinion. It is ultimately backed by thought and data, but we’ll see it just as opinion. This is what makes the debate rule “no appeals to authority” difficult to translate outside the classroom.

    I had a broken wrist. It was my doctor’s opinion that I should have a bone graft. I went with that. How much different is that than trusting Krugman?

    In my opinion it’s a gray area.

  87. @James Joyner:

    I’d be fine with a lower limit, if it was known. I’d just “split” at that point.

  88. @john personna:

    Actually everything I named is opinion.

    Well, we differ on what we mean by “opinion” in the context of discussion, I think.

    I had a broken wrist. It was my doctor’s opinion that I should have a bone graft. I went with that. How much different is that than trusting Krugman?

    Yes, but in those cases you are are actually trusting the data behind the conclusion, not just the conclusion.

    Person A offers a position based on very-little-to-nothing (e.g., ideology, preferences, whatever).

    Person B offers a position based data, observation, etc.

    Person A is offering an opinion.

    Person B is offering an analysis.

    We can, at least, delve into and see why B says what B says.

    What I am talking about are appeals to A.

  89. @john personna: I mean “opinion” as defined in the first two definition by Merriam-Webster (1a and 2a):

    1a : a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter

    2a : belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge

    You are using it as follows as well:

    3a: : a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert

    All three are legit definitions. But for clarification’s sake, I am speaking in terms of 1a/2a

  90. @Steven L. Taylor:

    The thing is, I’m thinking of the opposite cases, where Person B’s analysis is rejected as opinion, and also thinking that some Person Bs are more right than others.

    Yes, but in those cases you are are actually trusting the data behind the conclusion, not just the conclusion.

    I hope I am, but it is opaque to us most of the time. We rely on reputation to insure that the transition, the chain, is both honestly and intelligently communicated.

  91. @john personna:

    The thing is, I’m thinking of the opposite cases, where Person B’s analysis is rejected as opinion, and also thinking that some Person Bs are more right than others.

    Fair enough. My point was that many commenters think that citing someone else engaging in commentary is the same thing as appealing to actual data.

    In other words, just because you read an entry on a blog (or in a newspaper column) about global warming, tax cuts, or whatever, does not mean that that entry is proof of anything. That is just trying to confirm an assertion with another assertion.

  92. @john personna: I would agree, by the way, that there is often a too casual dismissal of experts. But, to my usage above, that is mere opinion getting in the way of decent argumentation and analysis.

  93. @Steven L. Taylor:

    that there is often a too casual dismissal of experts

    In worst the cases blogs and blog comment threads are refuges from expert opinion.

  94. jukeboxgrad says:

    matt:

    As it stands, it looks like more than two links in a comment means an automatic banishment to the spam que

    I thought the limit is three? I get around this by starting a new comment if I really need four or more links. Livable, but annoying.

    BTW, “replying” to @jukebox also still gets one immediately banished as well.

    I must be special. I never run into this, not just because I never reply to myself, but also because I never use the Reply button.

    james:

    It was set to 4 links; I’ve bumped it to 5.

    I thought the limit was 3, but I’m glad to know it’s actually 5. Thanks for doing that. I think that’s reasonable, and I usually don’t need more than 5, and it’s not that hard to start a new comment.

  95. mattb says:

    @jukebox:
    I was pretty sure it was 3 as well… Though occasionally I seem to hit spam-word bingo and get banished for 2.

  96. Andy says:
  97. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea’s Sock Puppet Jenos Idanian #13:

    One of the problems is examples like Media Matters — an extremely well-funded group dedicated to “dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative isinformation in the U.S. media.” They put all their energies into fighting conservative misinformation, turning a blind eye to liberal misinfomration. And there is no comparable organization on the right.

    Bozell’s Newsbusters is the right’s answer to Media Matters.

    Oh, there are some who dabble in the field, but with nowhere the obsessive quality and resources that Media Matters brings to the table.

    It’s not the left’s fault that you guys aren’t very good at monitoring and factchecking (or just facts). We all have our strengths and weaknesses. The left isn’t very good at producing talk radio blowhards.

    And neither is interested in actual discussion, but aimed more at silencing those with whom they disagree.

    Media Matters and Juke are trying to silence people? How, exactly?

  98. jukeboxgrad says:

    Bozell’s Newsbusters is the right’s answer to Media Matters.

    Yes, and Bozell is exactly the right person for the job, since he is a proven liar. He said this:

    Ken Lay spent 13 nights, I believe, in Bill Clinton’s Lincoln bedroom.

    Proof that this is a lie is here. More proof can be found via here.