Where Have All the Commenters Gone?

The mysterious disappearance of long-time OTB commenters.

As noted from time to time, OTB has a handful of trolls that we can’t seem to get rid of. We eventually tire of their constant derailment of threads with pet topics and refusal to engage in constructive debate, take measures that are available to us to ban them from the site, only to see them re-emerge under another pseudonym. I don’t understand these people.

We seldom discuss the opposite phenomenon, though, and it’s much more common: Excellent commenters who enhance the community through valuable insights from their personal and/or professional experiences for years and then just disappear without a trace.

We have noted the steady decline in our conservative commentariat. While lamentable, it’s at least understandable. I don’t post nearly as often as I did in the first decade or so of the site’s history (2003-2013) and I’ve both evolved politically to become further left and the Republican Party has changed in ways that are less hospitable. Steven Taylor has had a similar ideological evolution and decline in output here. Doug Mataconis has remained steadier ideologically, but the GOP is also less hospitable to his brand of libertarianism.

Meanwhile, the commentariat has here long become more progressive. We emerged quite early on as one of the relative handful of “blogs on the right” that were attractive to those on the other side of the aisle. Not only have the front-pagers always been more ideological than partisan—meaning we were willing to call out Republican politicians and commentators for their transgressions from literally Day 1 of the site—but we’re also honest intellectuals who eventually change our mind when presented with evidence that we’re wrong.

The combination of hosts who went from center-right to center-left and a commentariat that’s well left-of-center meant that conservative commenters felt besieged from all sides. I can see where they would simply get tired of banging their heads against the wall and leave. With rare exceptions, that left the right represented mostly by trolls or people indistinguishable from trolls because they kept raising the same tired talking points and were immune to persuasion.

What’s weird, though, is the sudden departure of relatively non-partisan commenters who seem to be having a good time and then just disappear without a trace. For example, someone the other day noted the absence of “HarvardLaw92.” He posted a whopping 5,820 comments under that name between 2012/06/23 and 2018/11/13.  It has been speculated that current events, including the Mueller investigation, have made it impossible to comment owing to professional ethical obligations.

Going through some old posts in research for another post, I came across the name “Rafer Janders.” That’s the name of Richard Harris’ character in 1978 film “The Wild Geese.” It was also the pseudonym of a commenter who posted at least 5,104 times between 2012/07/25 and 2017/02/03. It doesn’t appear that he changed pseudonyms and his most recent interactions seemed cordial enough.

Similarly, “yetanotherjohn,” who was also a front-pager at Wizbang, posted quite a number of times (using different fake email addresses, making a count difficult) between 2005/03/28  and 2014/11/08. Again, there was no indication of a name change or being weary of the fray.

Then there’s the commenter known as”odograph” from 2005/06/07 to 2010/1/28 and “john personna” from 2009/11/28 to 2014/04/09.  He commented a whopping 15,204 times under the “john personna” persona and one specific email (there were others with different emails) and 2,319 under “odograph” and one particular email. There were at least strong indications that he was getting frustrated by the up/down comment voting system but he was expressing that sometimes even under the “odograph” incarnation.

Just Me” had 2,774 comments under that name and a single email address between 2005/01/17 and 2014/10/23. No indication of dissatisfaction.

Jukeboxgrad“ 3,726 comments under a single email (and more under others) between 2005/03/06 and 2016/05/04 before disappearing.

McGehee” made hundreds, perhaps thousands, of comments between 2004/03/12 and 2013/06/19  under an absurd number of fake email addresses.

Going quite a bit further back, “Anderson” had 906 comments under a single email, and loads more under others, between 2007/04/05 and 2011/08/09. Then poof.

Tano” commented at least 823 times 2005/07/22 and 2007/10/02.

Paul” had at least 1,162 comments between 2003/04/22 and 2012/08/27.

A less voluminous but strong poster calling himself “vnjagvet” posted at least 97 times between 2004/05/01 and 2010/05/11.

Steve Plunk posted over 2,000 times between 2005/09/08 and 2011/03/25, plus a cameo 2011/11/27 to express condolences on the loss of my wife. He was a conservative and supporter of Sarah Palin who apparently had enough of being beaten up by more liberal commenters.

A poster who went variously by “John” and “Ottovbvs“  for a few posts before settling on “Brummagem Joe” for 4,435 comments was a regular from 2006/09/24 to 2013/04/06 and then made a brief reappearance as ”Realist” from 2015/04/01 to 2015/04/08 before fading away again.

The commenter known as “mantis” posted 5,780 times under a single email between 2010/03/19 and 2015/12/29.

We lost five long-timers in 2017:

  • Stonetools” posted at least 6,725 times between 2011/05/22 and 2017/01/01.
  • legion” posted at least 2,629 times between 2009/01/01 and 2017/06/23.
  • PD Shaw” posted 6,358 times between 2006/08/01 and 2017/06/27.
  • anjin-san” commented 5,415 times under one email, 1,090 under another, and a handful more under others starting 2004/08/09 and made his most recent appearance on 2017/06/29.
  • Janis Gore commented at least 1,649 times between 2003/05/01 and 2017/07/21.

I’m baffled as to what happened that one week in June!

I’m sure there are dozens of one-time regulars who just drifted away for one reason or another. Hell, some of them might have up and died. Speculation and reflections welcome. I may even update the post if the comments remind me of particular mega-commenters who have disappeared.

Note: I’ve added a handful of additional names to the post since it went live, mostly on my own discovery but a couple on suggestion from the comments. I’ve done it inline rather than as an update for purposes of flow.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Best of OTB, Blogosphere, OTB History
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. I too have wondered where some of the regulars have gone, in particular HarvardLaw92, who always had an interesting perspective on the legal issues we discuss here. Based on some things that had been said in comments, I suspect as you do that the ongoing Mueller investigation or other Trump-related legal issues may have made commenting even under a pseudonym ethically impossible for the time being. I hope for a return at some point, though.

    At least one of the former regulars did pass away. As I noted in a post, Ron Beasley, who had commented at least 1,399 times, passed way back in 2016. He was always an interesting voice.

    As for the lack of good voices for a conservative point of view, I’m not sure what to attribute that to. The comment threads at even reasonable conservative blogs like Hot Air are an unholy mess where the commenters seem to spend more time attacking the writers such as Ed Morrissey, Allahpundit, and Jazz Shaw for seemingly not being sufficiently “pro-Trump” than they do discussing the topics of the posts themselves. And don’t even get me started about the threads at a site like Breitbart or The Gateway Pundit. Perhaps this means that the good conservative writers are already blogging at their own sites rather than commenting elsewhere.

    The other thing that always interests me is what kind of post ends up drawing the most comments. Usually these days it’s inevitably something Trump-related and domestic. Foreign policy posts rarely draw a lot of comments. Not sure why.

  2. Tony W says:

    I initially came here a decade or so ago because of the responsible conservative perspectives I could gain. I had no interest in an echo chamber, but wanted to genuinely understand the other side of the debate.

    To some degree what has happened is that the right has simply adopted policies they prefer and abandoned any pretext of general societal benefit – they are simply in it for themselves. This is not defensible in a forum like OTB – if the argument is “yeah, that’s the way it is – we win, you lose, suck it up”, then there’s not much point to debating the finer points of policy.

    As to the point about missing commenters, I visit multiple times a day but rarely post comments because the points I would have made have already been communicated far more effectively by the other smart people here.

    21
  3. MattBernius says:

    I was going through the archives for some reason it other and was stuck by all the regulars from the late 2000’s (when I first found OTB) who are no longer here.

    I do suspect that more than a few are no longer above ground (in particular some who has conveyed they were older in their comments).

    I was releaved to discover some, like PDShaw, who I always appreciated, alive and well and commenting over at The Ordinary Times (where Trumwell, a past commenter here, is the EiC).

  4. Barry says:

    I’m seconding Tony. As many have noted,there has been an across the board capitulation the Tea Party and Trump, to the extent that it wasn’t just decloaking.

  5. MattBernius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Crap, I had not seen that about Ron. He is definitely missed. Likewise I suspect Manning is no longer with us.

    In terms of right leaning sites with good comments, the only one I can think of is Ordinary Times (and that’s more Libertarian). I think it’s telling that the Bullwark launched without comments.

  6. @Tony W:

    The fact that some regulars may still be around but not commenting is another possibility, of course. There are several blogs where I used to comment semi-regularly that I still read but don’t comment at anymore so I can understand the value of being a “lurker.” I guess my message to them would be that they’re always welcome back in the comment threads provided, of course, they abide by our comment policies.

  7. @MattBernius:

    And several sites that do allow commenters have full-time comment moderators.

    In that regard, this piece in The New York Times offers an interesting glimpse into the life of a comment moderator at one (unidentified) conservative site.

  8. CSK says:

    Stonetools, who was a regular commenter, vanished.

  9. Kit says:

    Very, very few sites would even notice regulars disappearing, and when memories go back a decade of more… Well, James, Doug, Steven, et al, you all deserve a pat on the back for having cultivated that rarest of things: a real community. It’s a bit like Cheers down here!

    Hat tip to the memory of Ron.

    If I may offer a word of advice for the next decade, it would be to cultivate a bit more those subjects that split opinion down in the commenter section. I remember some threads around the subject of education that I found particularly fun and enlightening.

    12
  10. MarkedMan says:

    Side question: is there a way for us in the commentariat to find all our previous posts? A number of times I’ve searched for something I previously posted and realized there are big gaps.

  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    IIRC, Havard Law left the country to live in Europe after Trump’s election, so he may have lost interest in US politics after that.

  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    is there a way for us in the commentariat to find all our previous posts

    Google “site:outsidethebeltway.com MarkedMan”

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Kit:

    If I may offer a word of advice for the next decade, it would be to cultivate a bit more those subjects that split opinion down in the commenter section. I remember some threads around the subject of education that I found particularly fun and enlightening.

    Partly because I’ve tired of the political dialogue and partly because Twitter allows me to satiate what desire remains more easily—plus, you know, life—I don’t blog as much as I used to. But I’m mostly posting on bigger picture issues rather than the Controversy of the Day when I do blog.

  14. Moosebreath says:

    If Anderson is the same person who ran the Thus Blogged Anderson blog (which I believe he was), my understanding is that someone outed him, and he went off-line.

    I feel like I have been commenting less, partially due to the press of work, and partially because of the reason @Tony W: said, “As to the point about missing commenters, I visit multiple times a day but rarely post comments because the points I would have made have already been communicated far more effectively by the other smart people here.” I try to avoid piling on, which tends to push people away.

    In general, I came here for the same reason many of the left of center folks did, the hosts are reasonable, the commenting policies are fair (and don’t require one to unmask oneself), and the discussion is lively and informative.

  15. MattBernius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Thanks for sharing that NYT piece.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @Stormy Dragon: Thanks. Yes, that’s what I usually try. The problem is that the results come up fairly random. Google used to have a sort order feature but I don’t see that any more, at least I’m my iPad.

  17. Eric Florack says:

    Haven’t been around this place for quite a while as James will attest, the thing I’ve noticed is an increased tendency go lean to the left, particularly since the 2016 cycle. go back and look through the archives and see that one for yourself.

    1
    9
  18. James Joyner says:

    @Eric Florack:

    an increased tendency go lean to the left, particularly since the 2016 cycle

    I don’t think of Trump as a left-right issue. Indeed, many of the controversial things Trump advocates—including trade wars against countries with a low-labor cost advantage—were hard-left positions until quite recently. It’s just that it’s hard for moderate Republicans who could vote for McCain and Romney despite some of their more conservative positions on the social issues to justify supporting Trump.

    Trump has put us where we were in the early days of the blog, where a single topic (now: Trump, then: the Iraq War) substituted for ideology and political team identity. When the consensus turned against Iraq, a lot of social liberals started being seen as Democrats again–and people wondered why they suddenly turned Left. They hadn’t.

    19
  19. john430 says:

    I was a regular reader of this blog and am a conservative. This blog has become darker, angrier and ugly. I read it from time to time but no longer for valuable give and take. It is no longer just “Outside the Beltway” but rather a wholly-owned subsidiary of the far cuckoo Democrat left.

    5
    19
  20. @john430:

    If the tone of the blog has become darker, it’s probably because our politics has become darker, especially under the current President.

    Personally speaking, my views on most issues have not changed significantly from where they were when I started writing here in 2010. The one possible exception to this is foreign policy, where I’ve clearly become what I’m sure someone on the Trumpidian right would call a “globalist” in the sense that I am more appreciative of the value of international alliances and the role that the United States plays in the world than I may have been in the past. Part of the motivation for that, though, has been Trump himself and the manner in which he has turned his back on our most important allies and cozied up to dictators like Putin, Xi, and Kim.

    Additionally, I would say that I’ve become far more pragmatic about what can and cannot be achieved when it comes to domestic policy. This is largely due to watching how the mindless populism and reluctance to compromise position advocated by the so-called “Tea Party” has managed to wreck the Republican Party. And, for the record, I still don’t consider myself a Democrat and, thanks to their own positions on public policy and the progressive drift to the left,I probably never will.

    13
  21. Eric Florack says:

    @James Joyner: understandable but let’s be honest enough to say that Trump has turned out to be far more conservative than anybody gave him credit for including myself. You may recall I was ardently anti-trump prior to the election and I have admitted several times since then being pleasantly surprised… As have it would seem, a good number of people that I correspond with. once the election occurred, I was forced into a pragmatic stancil of supporting him when he was right and ripping him a new one when he was wrong. Fortunately, the latter has not happened all that much.

    And remember I advocated not voting for Romney or McCain because neither one of them was conservative. And I think I was proven more than correct on that point.

    All that said, James and with all due respect my friend, the place has become venomously left-wing the last couple of years, even exclusive of comments and blogging specifically about Trump.

    4
    20
  22. Mike in Arlington says:

    @john430: If you’re going to throw around terms like “far cuckoo Democrat left” then you might want to think about why you believe this blog has gotten darker. It’s one thing to say “I believe this blog and its commenters have become less tolerant and won’t take my viewpoints seriously,” that’s one thing, but if you’re going to throw invective, then don’t complain when invective gets thrown back at you.

    27
    1
  23. Kathy says:

    Speaking only for myself:

    If I’m posting a lot, it means I’m at work but have little to do and am bored, so I try to engage in the discussion here.

    If I’m posting little, it means I’m at work but have a lot to do, but I still manage a few comments or observations during a break.

    If I’m not posting, it means I’m at work and swamped. On weekends, it may mean I’m at home and relaxed, and the keyboard seems too far away to bother moving from a comfy position.

    If I suddenly stop posting at all for days on end, it means I’m on vacation with little or no access to an internet connection.

    I really like the discussions here, as they stay mostly civil and interesting, with few exceptions. But nothing lasts forever, nor holds my interest that long (if eating were not necessary for survival, many of us would have quit having meals every day, I’m certain). also my interest in politics, which this blog is mostly about, ebbs and flows.

  24. Erik says:

    FWIW, I found OTB in about 2010 while I was specifically looking for a right leaning blog that was intellectually honest and thoughtful so I didn’t wall myself into an echo chamber of my own making. Uniquely among blogs that I follow, OTB is the only one where I read the comments. Sometimes, if I’m in a hurry, I will *only* read the comments and trust that the thoughtful regulars will pull out the most important points from the original post.

    I rarely comment myself, however, because I usually don’t have time to follow and respond to replies (I think commentary should allow a dialogue), I don’t have a comment worthy of the quality of the discussion, or, as has been mentioned, someone else has already made my point better than I could.

  25. James Joyner says:

    @Eric Florack:

    All that said, James and with all due respect my friend, the place has become venomously left-wing the last couple of years, even exclusive of comments and blogging specifically about Trump.

    The true sign of being a centrist is that those on the right thing you’re a pinko and those on the left think you’re a reactionary. Most of the commenters here, as noted, are well to my left on most issues. Even on posts criticizing Trump and other GOP leaders, I’m routinely criticized for being too sympathetic to their viewpoint.

    In recent years, Doug has been far-and-away the most prolific front-pager. And he’s less liberal than either Steven or me, mostly because he’s more ideologically anti-statist.

    The only sense in which I can see us being anything like “left-wing” is on such things as climate change and border security where the Republican Party has simply staked out absurd positions. But, even there, I think we’re relatively moderate. It’s not like we’re pushing the Green New Deal or open borders.

    15
  26. Teve says:

    It seems like most of the comment sections on the internet are overrun by trolls and rendered useless. While trolls take up a disproportionate share of the attention here, they’re still not dominant, and the commenting community here is still a positive thing. I’m hoping that remains the case.

  27. Guarneri says:

    1. The up down vote is just dumb. Reynolds once announced that he was right, and pure, because he got more up thumbs. What a sad reflection on him and the system. Its high school in nature.

    2. The leftward/never Trump shift is undeniable, and grew tiresome. There is plenty to criticize about Trump. However it devolved into faux outrage, pettiness and hysterical one sidedness; without commensurate acknowledgement of all the same issues for other politicians. It is intellectually dishonest. I was unaware Adam Schiff, Barack Obama, the Clintons, Chuck Schumer, Nadler, Pelosi, Booker blah blah………………didn’t lie or take the liberties that politicians do, until I read headlines here. You would never know they have plenty to answer for from what gets posted here. Nope. Just Trump. 24/7

    3. The dynamic of the preponderance of commenters just pouncing on comments like hyenas also grew tiresome. Disagree and you are 1) dumb, 2) racist, 3) homophobic, 4) dishonest, 5) evil…..………. Its just silliness. Google OTB and you read the description “debate from a thoughtful and educated point of view.” That has become a delusional description. The place has just devolved into one to drive by and rattle the cage from time to time.

    4. Bring back Alex Knapp. Rarely agreed with him. Always had time to debate with him.

    4
    13
  28. @Eric Florack:

    but let’s be honest enough to say that Trump has turned out to be far more conservative than anybody gave him credit for including myself.

    and

    All that said, James and with all due respect my friend, the place has become venomously left-wing the last couple of years, even exclusive of comments and blogging specifically about Trump.

    To be as fair as possible: you are certainly entitled to these positions. I do think, however, they say more about your definitions of “conservative” and “left-wing” than they do about this site.

    But I will readily allow, as James has noted, that he and I (who have been actively talking politics with one another since August of 1998–indeed, I used to joke that our blogging had its origins in sending e-mails to one another attached to news of the day) have both moved more leftward (in terms of the American political spectrum) and that is reflective of what we write here, no doubt.

    15
  29. dennis says:

    OTB is my go-to site bcuz it is predominantly moderate and reasonable, notwithstanding the extreme right flamethrowers. A lot of smart people post up here, and I’ve always come away with food for thought.

    I’ve noticed the commentary on The American Conservative side had moderated somewhat also, surprisingly. There’s more pushback on the absolutism of the right than before. Must be something in the air …

    11
  30. @Guarneri:

    Nope. Just Trump. 24/7

    A couple of thoughts:

    1) This is fundamentally (and always has been) about daily reaction to the news (with some deviation, of course). The news cycle is dominated by Trump.

    2) Part of why I blog (and have done so since 2003) is that I have things I want to say and blogging let’s be say them (although less than I used to). I have a lot to say about the current administration, which should not be surprising.

    3) It seems clear that readers want a chance to comment on the news of the day as well. I have noted for years that current events posts get a lot more comments than other types (even when I take a long time to write something specifically in my expertise).

    13
  31. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have noted for years that current events posts get a lot more comments than other types (even when I take a long time to write something specifically in my expertise).

    Those other posts don’t go unappreciated. But you tend to be right (or, at the very least, eminently reasonable) in these more specialized posts. So, from a commenter’s perspective, there’s nothing much to add.

    10
  32. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have noted for years that current events posts get a lot more comments than other types (even when I take a long time to write something specifically in my expertise).

    Steven, yours are the only posts that I always read. But, ah (how to say this?) thoughtful, original, level-headed posts don’t always invite comment the way that daily news does. If I cannot disagree, or feel I have nothing to add, or simply feel I’m in over my head, I try to keep my mouth shut.

    I’m still coming to grips with your posts discussing the Founders not having anticipated how political parties would frustrate the separation of powers. Eye opening.

  33. @drj: @Kit: Thanks to you both.

    And, really, the main point I was making was that most of us (the writers and the readers) come here to mainly make some sense of the daily news cycle.

    Although I will counter the charge that the blog is only about Trump: just perusing the current front page shows a number of posts not abut Trump (but yes, the majority are Trump-specific).

  34. Guarneri says:

    That sounds like a rationalization. Trump is not King. There are plenty of other political players on the scene, and newsworthy and commentworthy issues. (You guys of course have the right to focus solely on Trump if you wish – its your blog, not mine – but it just makes you tiresome cranks. The query was “why have people left. Well…) The essays here are almost entirely negative, or incomplete and one sided without context, leaving the impression that we have only two types of politicians – evil, dishonest, incompetent Trump and virtuous other. Any thinking person knows this is not true, and asks “what’s the purpose of this place but to deliver red meat to the Trump critics?” So why bother?

    5
    13
  35. Guarneri says:

    Although I like the picture posts. Heh…….

    3
    1
  36. @Guarneri: Like I said, I have been doing this for 16 years. One thing I have noted during those 16 years is that there tends to be a dominant theme at a given moment in time (as James noted, when we both started, it was Iraq).

    Further, how in the world does one blog about American politics and not blog about the sitting president? And yes, all three of the main authors on this site think Trump is a disaster as president, hence the not unsurprising negative approach to the subject material.

    You are certainly correct that no one is obligated to read, let alone comment.

    Thanks for the comment about the photos (sincerely), but I think this is grossly unfair and inaccurate:

    The essays here are almost entirely negative, or incomplete and one sided without context, leaving the impression that we have only two types of politicians – evil, dishonest, incompetent Trump and virtuous other.

    13
  37. Jax says:

    I’ve been coming here since 2010 or so, mostly as a lurker, but I enjoy the comment section here more than any other place on the internet. Even the flamethrower trolls add a little excitement now and then, if just to remind me how great it is here.

    It’s been interesting watching the perspectives of both our hosts and the regulars change and evolve over the presidencies of Obama and now Trump.

    So, hat’s off to our hosts AND the commentariat for making this a rather unique place on the interwebz.

  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    The problem is reality. Reality has abandoned the Right, and vice versa. People claiming to be conservative believed a bunch of things which simply were not true. As it has become increasingly clear that the Right was all out of ideas, and what ideas they had were largely nonsense, the people still arguing that side were dumber and dumber, more and more dishonest, all the way down to membership in the Trump cult.

    You can have a debate about anything until you have data. Once you have data you can either adjust your views accordingly (James, Doug, Steven) or you can reject reality. Once a person has rejected reality, debate becomes futile. At some point it becomes clear that debating someone like Florack or Guarneri or John430 is as pointless as arguing with a flat-earther. They have rejected reality, and reality has to be the basis for discussion.

    I’ve made the argument in the past that your FloGuarJohn’s are worth engaging not because they will actually participate in honest discussion – none has any intellectual integrity – but for the benefit of the larger audience that may not want to jump into the ring, but profit from watching the fight. Not everyone lives and breathes this stuff (lucky folks) but may still be confronted by people IRL with opinions similar to the FloGuarJohns. We supply those people with weapons.

    21
    5
  39. Mister Bluster says:

    …but it just makes you tiresome cranks.

    Doug Mataconis, Steven L. Taylor and James Joyner are not tiresome cranks.

    12
  40. al Ameda says:

    My experience: I was told of the OTB Blog by a colleague who is generally libertarian, but tends to ‘normal pre-Trump and non-Gingrich’ Republican viewpoints. That interested me, I don’t mind an actual discussion on political and policy viewports that are different from mine.

    Unfortunately, as Michael and others above have noted, our current reality does not countenance reasoned discussion concerning anything.

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Guarneri: While I agree that most posts accurately reflect Trump as a malevolent sub-human, I’m not sure we are reading the same posts if you come away thinking they are positive about everyone else.

    Bottom line, the most interesting discussions here occur when the majority are actually trying to get to the bottom of something rather than merely chest thumping. And the commenters who are the most scorned are those that assert something verifiably wrong and then slink off or ignore it when someone calls them out with actual information.

    10
  42. Teve says:

    You can have a debate about anything until you have data. Once you have data you can either adjust your views accordingly (James, Doug, Steven) or you can reject reality.

    The data clearly shows that supply-side economics doesn’t trickle down, and tax cuts on the rich don’t pay for themselves. The data shows that evolution occurs all the time. The data shows that carbon dioxide traps heat and dumping 36 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year heats the globe up.

    But cultists never run out of excuses.

    there’s an interesting video on the internet where some flat-earthers get a hold of a $20,000 gyroscope. By setting the gyroscope up spinning, and showing that it doesn’t drift, they hoped to prove that the Earth wasn’t spinning. Over the next few hours, they could see with their own eyes a drift of 15° per hour. 360°/24hrs=15°/hr. Them saying “Holy Shit! We’ve been wrong this whole time and will immediately drop this foolishness!” is exactly Not what happened.

    14
  43. Eric Florack says:

    If the tone of the blog has become darker, it’s probably because our politics has become darker, especially under the current President

    Certainly the left has gone guano over Trump’s beating Hillary Clinton, and I tend to agree, that’s a large part of what we see here. But as I say, if you really read through the commentaries you’ll find that a lot of that craziness involves subjects which don’t directly relate to Trump. the fact of the matter is a left abandoned reality a long time ago. If you doubt what I’m saying, look very carefully at the Kavanaugh hearings as a prime example of this.

    Look carefully also on what’s been going on in Virginia.
    Look carefully at the defense the Democrats are putting up for the representatives from the Islamic republic of Minnesota these last few days.

    http://bitsblog.theconservativereader.com/2019/03/democrats-refuse-back-their-own-talking-points-with-action-when-such-action-threatens-their-power/

    2
    15
  44. Eric Florack says:

    I am reminded of something that I should have put in the last response. The saying going around the net these days is “get woke and go broke”.

    That’s where your commenters have gone.

    2
    12
  45. Eric Florack says:

    James, I read your comment but I’m having trouble loading it right now. The cell service in this neighborhood is apparently awful.

    I understand your belief that you’re being pounded on from both sides. Amongst the commentary, perhaps that’s true. But I don’t remember anything of the sort coming from some of the more leftist co-bloggers here.

    Just something to think about.

  46. @Eric Florack: That some level of hypocrisy can be leveled at politicians is no surprise, nor is it evidence of a deviation from reality.

    Further, phrases like “the Islamic republic of Minnesota” do not help you in your attempt to appear to be reality-tethered.

    If you want to demonstrate your ability to assess data and evidence, please explain how well the trade war is currently going. (And also explain why tariffs, which are taxes on US consumers, are a conservative principle–likewise why subsidizing farmers from the treasury to offset loses consciously created by the trade wars in question are sterling examples of conservative limited government and fiscal responsibility).

    33
  47. mattbernius says:

    I agree with @Guarneri that the up/down comment voting (and general gamification) of comments probably doesn’t help general civility.

    But it’s far from the only factor driving more confrontational responses.

  48. de stijl says:

    Speaking from my own experience, sometimes I just feel the desire to unplug. I’ll scan the headlines at CNN and Memeorandum to catch up and be aware, but just not be fired up to join the fray.

    Besides, let’s face the fact that commenting on a blog doesn’t really do anything. It might infinitesimally budge public opinion. It really doesn’t change voting patterns or effect electoral outcomes.

    Commenting on a political blog is grossly similar to sitting on a bar stool and gabbing to the person next to you. It’s engaging, but it changes nothing.

    The cool thing about OTB is that the likelihood that the person you’re gabbing with is smart and aware and thoughtful. That type of community is extraordinarily rare and super valuable, and should be actively managed and curated.

    Look at Doug who started out Libertarian with a capital L and is now one of the most trustworthy analysts extant. He reports the facts – who said what when and all of the W’s and then adds his take on that topic. Clean prose. He writes the newsier OPs here and does that really well.

    Taylor does the think pieces (and his astounding pics – that man has an eye for beauty and aesthetics). As a political scientist he is intrigued and fascinated by how a state functions and why and who votes for a particular faction.

    Joyner is / was the trad R but driven by core values intersecting with ideology, rather than being a rank partisan.

    OTB is a very odd duck in that the principals are slightly right of center, but the commentariat are predominantly slightly left of center. Sort of similar to Balloon Juice back when John Cole was still right-leaning before he saw the light.

    I have become a better, clearer, cleaner writer by commenting here. Measurably and notably. Practice actually works!

    —–

    Plus I plug bands and songs I like when the thread is dead or obviously dying because I can, and wish that others would do so too. I like hearing new things that I’m unaware of.

    This song has been playing in my head for weeks.

    The Suburbs – Life is Like
    https://youtu.be/GHgwnAHDLPg

    I used to go to First Ave / the Entry two or three times a week. I wanted to play at 7th St Entry so hard back when. In retrospect I’m glad it never happened.

    I knew these guys. They were good people.

  49. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As for the lack of good voices for a conservative point of view, I’m not sure what to attribute that to.

    My experience is that any type of more complex and nuanced Conservative commentary about policy will mostly attract Liberals readers, not Conservatives. Guys like Andrew Bacevich or Tom Nichols attracts a lot of Liberals. Sites like LewRockwell and Antiwar.com had lots of Liberal readers in 2007, 2009.

    You need to publish weird cultural war stuff to attract hardcore Conservatives.

    12
  50. Kit says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The problem is reality. Reality has abandoned the Right, and vice versa.

    @Teve:

    But cultists never run out of excuses.

    Truth just doesn’t matter to significant portions of this country, and indeed much the rest of the democratic world. Democracy simply cannot function without an informed citizenry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the First Amendment is concerned with freedom of speech, of assembly, and of the press. In the 18C, government itself was the greatest risk to the truth. But today? The truth is everywhere, yet people run from it. In a less dangerous world, we would eventually find ourselves steamrolled by the Chinese, but environmental collapse will probably get us first.

    Why don’t facts matter any more? And can we do anything about it? The clock is ticking.

  51. Teve says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Further, phrases like “the Islamic republic of Minnesota” do not help you in your attempt to appear to be reality-tethered.

    If you want to demonstrate your ability to assess data and evidence, please explain how well the trade war is currently going.

    he doesn’t have time, man!! He’s too busy fighting for his life to escape the violent Sharia hellscape of (checks notes) Minneapolis/St. Paul. 😀

  52. Teve says:

    @Kit: just don’t make the mistake of thinking there was some kind of golden age where most people were studious and intellectual, careful about their information sources, and ever watchful against potential cognitive biases that might influence their thinking. Such a time there never was.

  53. Teve says:

    My experience is that any type of more complex and nuanced Conservative commentary about policy will mostly attract Liberals readers, not Conservatives.

    Are you telling me that people who Roll Coal with TRUMP THAT BITCH bumper stickers to events where they chant “LOCK HER UP” don’t go in for nuance?

    😛 😀 😛 😀 😛 😀 😛 😀

    15
  54. Teve says:

    (I live in the deep South. A moderate here is someone who flies a small Confederate flag.)

  55. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius: People pile on with the downvoting, but if the downvoting wasn’t there, people would pile on with comments. People feel a need to express displeasure, and not let something sit unchallenged, and this gives them a minimally disruptive way to do so.

    It’s a little tacky, but it’s less worse than the alternatives, and it doesn’t result in people’s posts being erased or people getting banned.

    It’s a pretty effective way of keeping the drive-by trolls from disrupting too much. “Libtards seem triggered today. Wonder why” just gets downvotes but no real engagement.

    And then sometimes everyone just gangs up on James Pearce for existing and downvotes his decent comments in anticipation of his other comments. He gets under people’s skin. He either does it deliberately, in which case he can take these downvotes as a badge of honor, or he needs to learn to play well with others.

    But, giving the James Pearce Antifan Club a quick, ignorable way of responding cuts down on some of the nonsense — I wish more people would avail themselves of that rather than posting comments trying to prove he’s a Trump supporter, or a secret lizard person, or whatever.

  56. Kit says:

    @Teve: I absolutely agree! But something fundamental has changed, at least as far as I can tell. Twenty years ago, what sort of ceiling would you have put on this nonsense? Today, we are fighting over a couple of percent for control of the country!

    The Bush presidency ended like a bad Hollywood film, with both the country’s foreign adventures and its economy in flames. The moral of the story: the country needed Palin and then Trump. WTF? Well, reality has spoken! And been shouted down.

    Something critical has changed, and to my eyes we look incapable of either fixing it, or stopping any of the evils that flow from it. Even if Trump losses, this cancer has spread too far.

  57. James Pearce says:

    I have some sympathy for what john430, Guarneri, and Florack are saying. Some folks here have just straight up given up on respectful disagreement. I’m not sure if that’s driven some commenters away or kept lurkers in the shadows, but I get a full blast of it nearly every time I comment and it’s not pleasant.

    6
    8
  58. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    He gets under people’s skin. He either does it deliberately, in which case he can take these downvotes as a badge of honor, or he needs to learn to play well with others.

    Gotta say, it looks waaaay different from this side of the clique. They come bursting down that hall, pushing people into lockers, giving wedgies, knocking people’s lunch out of their hands.

    I need to learn to play well with others? Maybe I need to learn Karate instead.

    4
    8
  59. Teve says:

    @Kit: in the short-term yes some things have gotten worse. You couldn’t have turned on the news in the seventies and heard Walter Cronkite tell you ridiculous lies about Sharia no go zones in Minnesota. Nowadays the low-IQ trolls can spend all day reading Qanon pages about how Donald Trump is leading a secret law enforcement army that’ll round up Hillary Clinton for murdering children and having pedophile sex parties on secret Mars bases. On the other hand if you go back and read about the partisan rags in the 18th century you’ll see they were pretty heinous too.

    On the third hand, 10 years ago Glenn Beck was a crazy force to be reckoned with, and he’s almost completely slipped off the radar. Alex Jones was, and still is, awful, but he too is suffering from low visibility nowadays. Some dumb people with low character managed to get Trump into office, but at the same time, if you look at the percentage of the popular vote Republican presidential candidates have gotten, it’s been trending downward since like 1968.

    so like always, it’s a mixed bag, with some things to be depressed about, and some rays of hope.

  60. Raoul says:

    I’m not sure what the GOP stands for anymore but I do think the Dems leftward drift is exaggerated. Yes the rhetoric may get heated but overall the positions have remained relatively stationary. For example, increasing minimum wage and expanding healthcare have always been position of progressives. Likewise international affairs have always been based on realism. I do have a hard time finding a policy position of the left that has radically evolved the last many years. In a semantic sense, the Dem party really is the Conservative party.

    5
    1
  61. Kit says:

    @Teve:

    in the short-term yes some things have gotten worse

    Teve, I hope you are right, but this “short term” has been dragging on for at least half my life. And it just doesn’t feel like high tide yet.

  62. Teve says:

    Yeah I was using short-term to mean my lifetime and long-term to mean the lifetime of the US. I’m sure I wasn’t clear about that.

  63. Gustopher says:

    @Raoul:

    I do have a hard time finding a policy position of the left that has radically evolved the last many years.

    LGBTetc folks are just folks — marraige equality, serving in the military, security clearances.

    Racial minorities matter — I don’t think BLM has gotten much significant policy rewritten yet, but the Obama justice department was beginning to get involved in the worst police departments

    Women should be heard rather than ignored — Kavanaugh hearings, and #metoo leave us poised for something big, but it hasn’t really crystallized yet.

    Environment — the Green New Deal

    Economy — Rolling back tax rates to 1980 levels is a serious proposal, and will likely lead to not renewing the Trump tax giveaway in a few years, at the least. Greatly increased minimum wage.

    We are in the midst of a shift to the left. It’s not Socialism! as the folks n the right claim, it’s a natural progression and course correction from Clinton’s triangulation.

  64. Teve says:

    @Raoul:

    I’m not sure what the GOP stands for anymore

    Cleek’s Law: conservatives want the opposite of whatever liberals want today, updated daily.

    Republican office holders however abide by a simple but different rule–whatever gives more money to rich people, and less to poor and middle class people.

  65. MarkedMan says:

    To me, almost all good back and forth in commentary boils down to backing up your assertions with real evidence when challenged, and to me it just detracts from everything when those who, when challenged, change the subject or change the goalposts. But there are a couple of commenters who do try to bring evidence, but who get the broadside anyway, because they consider what some ideologue mashes out from their basement to be more valid than a three month NYTimes investigation with a dozen reporters, or the latest results from a fifty year running analysis by the world bank. That puts us at an impass. I don’t recognize their sources as valid and they don’t recognize mine. I don’t really see any value in engaging.

    5
    1
  66. HelloWorld! says:

    I still read but rarely post comments, but I must not be missed cuz no one noticed 🙁

  67. mattbernius says:

    Reflecting a bit more on this post, there have been some significant changes. I do think that in general the level of civility has dropped. I think a lot of that has to do with this particular historical moment. Equally important, in terms of the people commenting, there has been a marked shift to the left. The combination of those two factors has changed the overall tenor of discussions.

    In the late 2000’s and early teens, threads here were at best 50/50 and in many cases leaned right. I’m not sure if it was Obama’s election or the rise of the Tea Party, but either way, the two combined marked the beginning of a shift.

    When the Tea Party/populist conservatism took hold, the number of right leaning commentors began to slowly decline. In part, I think that’s because the Tea Party/populists framing that the nation was in the midst of an existential battle for survival took hold on both sides. Additionally, the Tea Party brought with it a talk-radio style of argumentation (though lets be honest, the internet was already most of the way there already). Either way things became more heated.

    The other key effect of the Tea Party shift was that our hosts (to @James Joyner’s point above) began to seem less right and more centrists. That I think caused a number of right wing readers to feel less welcome here (hell, people say as much in the comments above). So as a result participation begins to drop.

    At the same time, I suspect the more aggressive responses from both sides also drive off right leaning centrists (while I can’t speak for him, I think PD Shaw is an example of someone who was debating in good faith and had a lot of flack thrown his way that he decided to no longer take). As a result, the only right-wingers that stuck around were the trolls like Jenos (across multiple personas). And that only drive things more shrill.

    And as I said, I don’t think the gamification of comments helped. My guess is it only accelerated those changes.

  68. mattbernius says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    My experience is that any type of more complex and nuanced Conservative commentary about policy will mostly attract Liberals readers, not Conservatives. Guys like Andrew Bacevich or Tom Nichols attracts a lot of Liberals.

    Yes, but to some degree, I wonder how many of those followers are largely looking for conservatives (or simply people from the right) to validate their world view. Because I’ve seen a LOT of Tom’s liberal followers quickly turn on him when he expresses an opinion that’s counter to theirs (i.e. any time he writes about the Green New Deal). Ditto for our hosts as well (just check some of the comment threads when James expresses a more right leaning perspective).

    Right now there’s a marked decline in civility and politeness. And liberals are definitely not immune to this.

  69. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    Some folks here have just straight up given up on respectful disagreement. I’m not sure if that’s driven some commenters away or kept lurkers in the shadows, but I get a full blast of it nearly every time I comment and it’s not pleasant.

    James, let me start by saying “thank you” — this comment helped me work through something in my head (though I’m not sure you will like the result).

    I think you are not using the right term above: “respectful disagreement.” Or rather, I think you are mistaking “polite” for “respectful. This, IMO, is a pretty common mistake.

    Throughout your posts you have always been polite. Rarely if ever have you been respectful.

    By that I mean that you rarely swear or get angry. You don’t name call. All of that is polite (or perhaps “civil”).

    However, you also rarely if ever admit when you are wrong. You rarely if ever acknowledge the validity of other’s perspectives. And you regularly move goal posts in your arguments so you can still be “right.” None of that is “respectful.”

    People can be polite without being respectful (I’ve seen people politely knife each other in the back). And you can be respectful without being polite. And some people, like Neil and Steven, are the rare type who manage to be polite and respectful at the same time.

    Personally, I really work to try to be polite whenever I can. I typically fail at it a lot. However, the older I get, the less I have time for giving respect to arguments or people who don’t return it. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve shifted to using “denialist” to refer to people who reject basic climate science.

    Anyway, I appreciate the way your posts make me think (I wouldn’t have been able to put this into words if what you wrote didn’t stick with me). And I think you are incredible polite in your expression of your opinion here (even when people are not begin polite to you in the least). You politely disagree all the time.

    But I have yet to see you respectfully disagree with anyone.

    (And to be clear, I don’t think respectfully disagreeing is necessarily a virtue, but I do think it’s important to own it).

    16
  70. reid says:

    @Kit: I agree. I’ve even posted links to his articles a few times. I wish his material had a broader audience and could open some minds.

  71. Michael Reynolds says:

    At bottom what we have here is IQ sorting. There’s a bunch of smart people here. The bar is pretty high. This is the only blog where a commenter (@Kathy) would drop Sulla into the conversation and not feel the need to explain.

    I have a theory. Emphasis on theory, as in, no actual data. But I suspect that any given individual’s personal friends are almost always within about 15 IQ points of them, in one direction or the other. I don’t think people with high IQs hang around with people at the other end of the bell curve. And I don’t think people at the low end much enjoy hanging out with the smart kids.

    This is a smart blog. The main writers are smart, the commentariat is smart. The Dunning-Kruger effect accounts for the presence of some others. If there’s a problem it’s that smart people have reached a point where opinions overlap to a substantial degree, so we have less to argue about.

    I don’t think the partisan gap used to be quite as clear. There were smart people on the Right and smart people on the Left and each side had its cranks. One effect of Trump has been to peel off the smart people on the Right. But also we’ve just learned more about taxes, incomes, race, gender, etc… so smart people were already trending Left and Trump gave them the dose of disgust they needed to finally cut ties.

    And before someone tells me there are idiots on the Left, too, I absolutely agree. But that’s another topic and another thread of my life.

    13
    2
  72. Eric Florack says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    and it’s the conservatives that don’t play well with others? Do you even read what you write?

    2
    8
  73. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: I don’t really want to get into the “Woe Is Pearce” but I will ask one question:

    Why do people here treat James Joyner and Doug Mataconis respectfully, even though they don’t agree with them?

    I don’t think it’s the fear of being banned, because we see the banned crawl back under other names. It’s because they are respectful of others, and they back up their opinions or can at least explain them well.

    I would use Michael Reynolds as an example, but I don’t think you see people disagreeing with him as much as they actually do.

    Before the 2016 elections, if memory serves, he was going on about the Democrats concern for refugees was going to doom us all electorally, while other people were arguing that we shouldn’t give up our values. I don’t see that being all that different from your prosaic complains about identity politics.

    And, the election was close enough that either running Hillary Clinton with a penis (henceforth referred to as Joe Biden — HCw/P, not just the P), or loudly throwing refugees under the bus probably would have made the difference.

    I wish we had an experienced, captivating straight white male under retirement age running in 2016, as I don’t really want to pay the penalty in the voter booths of a woman or person of color. People disagree with this, but no one really seems to gang up on me.

    (We do not have an experienced, captivating straight white male under retirement age running, despite Loopmania — he’s just a touch too old)

  74. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    By setting the gyroscope up spinning, and showing that it doesn’t drift, they hoped to prove that the Earth wasn’t spinning.

    You know the famous Michelson-Morley Experiment appeared to prove the earth not only did not spin, but didn’t orbit the Sun, wasn’t moving along with the Solar System around the Galaxy, or with the Galaxy in any direction?

    If luminiferous aether existed, that is.

    It doesn’t. That’s what the experiment proved. Otherwise you’d have to believe that alone in all the Universe, the Earth stands perfectly still.

    At odd moments, I play with Alternate History ideas involving science. What if Phlogiston, or the luminiferous aether, or perpetual motion, or cold flowing to heat, or decreasing entropy in closed systems, etc. existed?

    Well, for one thing, oxygen wouldn’t be any good for breathing or sustaining combustion, as that is phlogiston’s job. Plus it has negative mass, so if you could distill it, you could use it to repel gravity. Fun!

    That’s as far as I get. There are plenty of other implications. Like a substance which exists only to make combustion possible. And much more that i lack the knowledge of physics to figure out.

  75. @mattbernius: I like the up/down thing–but maybe because I am socialized into such mechanisms on other sites (FB, Twitter, etc.). I like some form of simple response.

  76. Mister Bluster says:

    …but I get a full blast of it nearly every time I comment and it’s not pleasant.

    You want a little cheese with that whine?

  77. @James Pearce:

    I need to learn to play well with others?

    It would be helpful if you were willing to question some of your premises now and again.

    It would also help if you wouldn’t act as if race is never a major variable in any dubious political action.

    17
  78. Teve says:

    You know the famous Michelson-Morley Experiment appeared to prove the earth not only did not spin, but didn’t orbit the Sun, wasn’t moving along with the Solar System around the Galaxy, or with the Galaxy in any direction?

    If luminiferous aether existed, that is.

    that is true! But we already had good evidence the Earth rotated in the form of Foucault’s Pendulum. So Lorentz and Poincare and Einstein and those sorts of folks had to come up with some weirder ideas. 🙂

  79. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius:

    However, you also rarely if ever admit when you are wrong. You rarely if ever acknowledge the validity of other’s perspectives. And you regularly move goal posts in your arguments so you can still be “right.”

    But I’m not always “polite.” Sometimes I can be quite mean. (I think I’ve been particularly mean to Michael Reynolds.)

    Also, I do admit when I’m wrong…when I’m wrong. But I don’t submit myself to some humiliating ritual when someone else thinks I’m “wrong.” That’s the difference. This stubbornness may not be an endearing quality, but my self-respect is worth more to me than the “respect” of someone who just wants to see me grovel.

    I come here for other’s people’s perspectives, man. I ask questions. I seek input. I put myself into other people’s shoes (and get mocked for it).

    And you regularly move goal posts in your arguments so you can still be “right.”

    I honestly have no idea where this one came from, but it has a bit of a “hold still so I can hit you” feeling to it. If I “moved the goal posts” that meant someone was trying to score a goal, but this isn’t a game. It’s a discussion.

    There are no goal posts. There are ideas…and then there are other ideas.

    But I have yet to see you respectfully disagree with anyone.

    Have you ever seen someone call me a Trump supporter?

    Saw a tweet earlier that I’ll quote:

    It’s the craziest thing, this conscious choice in the moment to straight-up not care what someone’s actual views are, because to do so would mean sacrificing the opportunity to be outraged.

    1
    9
  80. Teve says:

    I like the up-and-down vote. There are lots of smart people who comment here, and only a small handful of trolls. If I ever went nutty and found myself consistently making comments where 38 people downvoted me and 2 upvoted me I like to think I’d have the sense to stop and question whether the problem might be on my end.

    Evidence suggests that not everyone has that kind of metacognition, but I’d like to think that I do.

  81. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I like the up/down thing–but maybe because I am socialized into such mechanisms on other sites (FB, Twitter, etc.). I like some form of simple response.

    While the system is simple, there is able evidence that up/down rating systems can lead to gaming of responses and eventually bad behavior (i.e. when confrontational responses get upvoted, people get more confrontational). I’m happy to pull that research for you if you’re interested.

    Granted, the OTB system isn’t as bad as say reddit’s (i.e. we’re not keep track/publicizing everyone’s scores). But the presence of a dislike button (in particular) leads to a lot of negative implications (including, perversely, trolls who interpret their dislike score in a positive fashion).

    The challenge (which I’m not sure anyone has solved) is coming up with an easy way to show agreement without it potentially turning into a popularity contest. That’s why many systems only enable a “like” option (which sadly leads to “liking” posts that have sad content in them — something that Facebook’s UX people struggled with for years).

    Aside: Also for those of us who have become habituated to dopamine hits from getting responses (sadly raises my hand) this becomes even more problematic as the rapid response can foster really bad behaviors (i.e. constantly hitting reload to see if you’ve been rated or responded to).

  82. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    Also, I do admit when I’m wrong…when I’m wrong.

    Call. Please provide links.

    I honestly have no idea where this one came from, but it has a bit of a “hold still so I can hit you” feeling to it. If I “moved the goal posts” that meant someone was trying to score a goal, but this isn’t a game. It’s a discussion.

    Please see almost every debate you have had with Neil and Steven. Not to mention a few you’ve had with me. We’ve all pointed this behavior out to you at the time. You have NEVER acknowledge it. I’m happy to go back and pull links.

    BTW, I appreciate how the entire context of that post was politely (note respectfully) disagreeing with me. Thanks for proving my point.

    7
    1
  83. Teve says:

    That’s why many systems only enable a “like” option (which sadly leads to “liking” posts that have sad content in them — something that Facebook’s UX people struggled with for years).

    That does indeed cause perverse scenarios. I have actually Liked on FB a friend’s announcement that her brain tumor had returned. Obviously I don’t like that fact, but hitting ‘sad emoji’ felt inadequate to the point of perversion. Maybe a ‘rend one’s garments’ emoji??? There’s no good answer and the only sensible thing to do is to write them a note and offer any support they need.

  84. dennis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Geezus. No thought to even considering what MR wrote? Despite an almost absolute disagreement with your ideas, Eric, at least I read your posts and, once in a rare blue moon, will find a morsel of something you’ve said with which I agree. I don’t find that you reciprocate that to anyone here, though. You seem to be always angry, and I always wonder why you bother. It would be like me continuing to peruse townhall.com, KNOWING I’m not going to like the tenor/tone of the posts and comments.

    14
  85. @mattbernius: That’s all fair. I am not familiar with the research in question, but can see the ideas behind it. I do recall the whole FB “like” problem. And yes, one does sometimes want to know if the numbers have changed or not.

  86. @dennis:

    You seem to be always angry

    I have the same impression. I am often not sure what his goals are, TBH.

  87. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: That he takes that view doesn’t surprise me at all. In his first post on this thread, he commented that now he only visits occasionally and then only to make what passes for him as “brilliant snark” (I believe the term he used was “drive-by”) but is usually only the same sort of incoherent drivel that Florak delivers.

    The comment was just another example of his “brilliant analysis”–in other words just another lame-ass excuse.

    1
    1
  88. mattbernius says:

    @Teve:
    That’s a textbook example of what I’m talking about. Designers have been struggling with that for years. It gets even more complex because they are working to design a non-typographic linguistic/semiotic system that has to work across cultural lines.

    Ultimately the challenge is that you are forced to take a multi-valiant emotional response and reduce it to a single emotion.

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Last I checked (and I’m a little out of date on the literature) this is increasingly becoming an area of interest for subfields in Poli Sci, especially when combined with the problem of bots.

  89. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:

    I honestly have no idea where this one came from, but it has a bit of a “hold still so I can hit you” feeling to it. If I “moved the goal posts” that meant someone was trying to score a goal, but this isn’t a game. It’s a discussion.

    Honestly James, it just occurred to me, the fact that you “honestly have no idea where this came from”… when many, many, MANY, of us have pointed this out when we’ve been in debates with you, in the course of the debates, leads me to a serious a question:

    Are you actually reading our responses to you?

    (Seriously, that would actually explain a lot. Go back and check many of the debates you have, this is a pretty common refrain… or, seriously fellow OTBers, if I’m pulling this out of thing air, please let me know.)

  90. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    Oh, yes.

    But it’s one of those great moments in science where an experiment has a result radically different from what everyone expected.

    Like when Rutherford’s student bombarded a thin sheet of gold with radiation, and some particles bounced back. Rutherford said that it was as astonishing as firing a 16-inch naval gun at a sheet of paper, and having it stop the shell cold.

  91. mattbernius says:

    @James Pearce:
    One final thought (yeah, I wished these came all at the same time too…)

    Redefining respect as “Have you ever seen someone call me a Trump supporter?” versus actually respecting the arguments people are making against you is, in itself, an exercise in goal post moving (towards the most base definition of “respect” I can think of).

  92. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Raoul: The problem is that from a right wing that has no impetus to do anything but go further right, even if the nation is standing still (which it’s not) the result will look like a “leftward drift.” And there is a slight leftward drift because in the current state of this political continuum, even the center is “hard left” now.

  93. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius:

    And as I said, I don’t think the gamification of comments helped. My guess is it only accelerated those changes.

    If I remember correctly, the behavior the thumbs up/down was supposed to eliminate was the response to an “outrage” post, when someone said something so obviously wrong it was followed by 12 “That’s ridiculous posts” followed by 20 “I agree with response 1-12 posts”. And it has mostly eliminated that behavior.

  94. MarkedMan says:

    If despite dozens if not hundreds of examples clearly explained, someone can not or will not even entertain the possibility of goal post moving, I have to ask: Do you really think this one more attempt to explain is going to work?

    When my kids were little and their arguments devolved into “Not it doesn’t!!”, “Yes it does!!” at increasingly high volume, I thought I was being a clever parent by saying “Hey, Thing 1, if you say it just one more time I bet you Thing 2 will agree!” But I wasn’t being clever. When they were locked in the battle to the death, nothing I said had any influence.

  95. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’ve been posting here for almost 12 years and where I’m at now is the result of questioning my premises.

    As for the race in politics stuff, I’ve just come to view social justice progressivism to be counterproductive in stamping out racism.

    @mattbernius: I’m on my phone so it’s going to be tricky looking up links, but I had to offer a bit of a mea culpa when Beau Bergdahl was court martialed.

    Also in the wake of Trump’s election, I also had to admit I was wrong about Hillary. I’ll see if I can find the posts when I have access to all my tools.

    Also to be clear, my own self respect is more important to me than the esteem of others. I’m comfortable being unpopular or disliked if it means I retain that. I’m weird, I know.

    As far as the goalposts thing, I know it’s something people say. But that doesn’t mean it’s something I do. Some of these same people claim I’m a Trump supporter. Perhaps those accounts should be mistrusted.

    4
    4
  96. dennis says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am often not sure what his goals are, TBH.

    I’m sure it has something to do with “owning the libs”, although, I don’t consider myself to be particularly liberal.

  97. Gustopher says:

    @mattbernius:

    The challenge (which I’m not sure anyone has solved) is coming up with an easy way to show agreement without it potentially turning into a popularity contest.

    I would think finding a way to show disagreement in a non disruptive manner is far harder.

    I worked on an e-commerce platform with product reviews, and we often saw that people were posting new reviews just to insult other reviewers (think political books, rather than toasters). People want to post terrible content.

    We ended up adding comment threads so the terrible content would be hidden a click away and wouldn’t corrupt the reviews.

    The comment threads were terrible, and someone decided that was a problem (they were functioning as designed! they were always supposed to be terrible!). Thumbs down were added, and that made the comment threads themselves less worse.

    It’s anecdotal, and I have no evidence to say that it works elsewhere, but I think people really want to be able to say “screw you”, and that giving people a barely effective way to do so calms thing down, compared to what they would otherwise do.

    The downvote doesn’t invite debate. It’s like when the drunk next to you at the bar starts going off about the Clinton Pedophile Ring on Mars, and you just respond “oh.” Eventually, by not directly engaging, it makes them stop.

  98. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: People are like cats — you can’t prevent them from doing things, you can just channel it into a better spot.

    The voting buttons are like scratching posts for commenters.

  99. Mikey says:

    If y’all think thw upvote/downvote behavior here is strange, you should see what can happen on Reddit. People get pretty strongly invested in imaginary internet points. For example, the now-banned poster known as Unidan.

    2
    1
  100. EddieinCA says:

    I come to this site almost every day; at least once. If the hosts cared to, they’d notice that I rarely post from the same IP location. I’m on the road alot. Most days, I visit multiple times per day, at least to see the headlines. I’m also a DAILY regular at Dreher’s blog at AmCon, TheResurgent, TheFederalist, HotAir, Mediaite, RawStory, CNN, FoxNews, BBC, Politico, and Axios. I’m a weekly visitor to Balloon Juice, Daily Kos, HuffPo, RedState, and a few others.

    The only comments I read and post to are here, Dreher, and Resurgent. By far, the smartest group of people commenting, in my opinion, is on this site. Why? I think it’s because while the blog commenters now seem to be more center-left, the hosts aren’t; they’re still center-center-right. Furthermore, the hosts interact with commenters and defend and debate their positions – even when they’re wrong (kidding). It makes for an actual debate from which I can learn. Commenters, on this site (Kathy, HL92, MR, Ozark, and several others) actually teach me things I didn’t know. Other force me to readjust my thinking based on superior arguments. The trolls bother the hell out of me, and one in particular especially. I’ve given up responding to him and them. I think it’s healthier for my mojo.

    On other blogs I read, there seems to be a disconnect from reality. If you read Dreher, the world is ending due to Trans and Gays taking over every facet of life.

    On Hot Air, the commentariat are just effing crazy. It’s bizarre. Until you actually realize that 35% of the country is that effing crazy. Then it gets scary and a bit depressing. Looking at you Florack, Jenos, and Drew.

    But, given what I do (produce for Film and TV), and where I’ve spent most of the last 10 years (Florida, Georgia, Texas), and the fact that in the last 26 years I’ve been in 27 countries and 28 states for at least a month on various jobs, I have a different perspective than most Americans on most things American. Add to that the fact that I’m a person of color, and it’s an even different perspective. Bottom line, as I’ve said many times on this site: I have more in common with the architect from Madrid than the Truck Driver from Alabama. But on this site, I can get the perspective of the truck driver from Alabama via James Joyner and Ozark, even though they’re not that person because James and Ozark understand those others in ways I don’t (and probably never will) and can speak to their needs and wants.

    I hope this word vomit makes sense.

    Meh… I just want to thank Dr. Joyner, Dr. Taylor, Mr. Mataconis and the rest of the front pagers for allowing me to play in their sandbox.

    Michael Reynolds. You still in LA? I’m back from HI, but leave for New Orleans on Friday.

    16
    1
  101. Hal_10000 says:

    I’ve been a lot less engaged in political debate since Trump’s election. The Right-Thinking blog has disappeared and I post at OT a couple of times a month. My problem is that there is no conservative party any more. You have the Trumpists and the Left and that’s it. There is simply no political home for conservatives any more. I’ve also tired of responding to the “YOU’RE ALL TRUMPISTS ANYWAY!” nonsense.

  102. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieinCA: Second most of that. This is the only thing I read where I even look at the comments. I used to occasionally look at Larison’s comments on AmCon but really, they don’t add anything to his very well reasoned stuff (I don’t always agree, but always feel more educated getting the perspective). And for a few years I followed Dreher too and sometimes looked at the comments there, but the man has gone completely off the deep end. It is gays/gays/gays all day every day. He used to have some introspection but now it seems to be just endless hysteria.

  103. MarkedMan says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The Right-Thinking blog has disappeared

    Well, most blogs have disappeared, if you think about it. And I don’t think Conservative thinking has disappeared. If you grew up thinking of Republicans as Conservatives, then the world must seem to have fallen to pieces. But I’ve never thought the Republican Party was conservative. When I was younger there were liberals and conservatives in both parties and when I was older Republicans just became less and less reality based every year. Certainly since Gingrich they have had no discernible ideology. They claimed to be conservative but how could a true conservative operate unmoored from all facts? When you think about it, wrt foreign policy Obama was pretty conservative. Strengthen alliances. Seek to segregate and isolate the Chinese in the East. Domestically he was also moderately conservative – respond to change but do so slowly, step by step. See how it goes and then move another cautious step. You might argue about health care but we have a completely ludicrous system, and is not worth conserving. And Hillary was definitely a conservative in the international arena, a very effective one as SoS.

    What we have now is a Democratic Party that is returning to the McGovern days, one in which there are actually leftists again. So the idea that the Dems were Libs and the Repubs were Cons was never true. For decades we had a wide range in both parties and those wings sometimes worked across party lines. Then for 30 years we had moderately conservative Dems and another party that was slowly losing its mind. So having a Democratic Party that is having to negotiate the moderate conservative to somewhat liberal spectrum is the norm, not the exception.

    6
    1
  104. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    Minneapolis has a unusually large relative population of Somalis. What’s his name didn’t invent that Mpls dig out of the ether.

    Also, St. Paul has a relatively large pop of Hmong.

    The whole metro has a lot more Vietnamese than you would predict. It’s not just Swedes, Nordies, Finns and Germans. I am proud Swede, myself. (Not the scary neo-Pagan kind.)

  105. DrDaveT says:

    If Google can be trusted, I started posting here in late 2013. I stayed for some of the same reasons everyone else has cited:
    1. the hosts are thoughtful and clear advocates for positions more conservative than mine
    2. many of the commenters are extremely smart and well-educated, with domain expertise in areas relevant to the topics being discussed, and occasionally wicked wit
    3. the discussion in the comments was strikingly civil

    That last point has weakened over the past year or two, though the comments are still exceptionally civil by internet standards. There is literally no other site on the web that I have found where the comments are not predominantly hateful drivel — and that includes trade press sites in my field.

    In addition, I have a personal interest in military issues, on which Dr. Joyner posts fairly regularly, and in political philosophy, which all of the hosts (but especially Dr. Taylor) contribute to at times. If they would occasionally post on mathematics or music, this would really be one stop shopping.

  106. James Pearce says:

    @mattbernius: So I looked through the archives and it would appear that I’ve always been a mean bastard and I understand why you guys don’t like me.

    3
    3
  107. EddieinCA says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Ah… Hal… I do miss the RTFTLC from back in the day. Lee was well ahead of his time, as were you, to an extent. You both saw the GOP being less and less “Conservative” and more reactionary long before it actually happened. I miss the site from the early 2000’s. That was a blog that had some very, VERY, spirited discussions.

    I do often think of what Lee would think of what has happened with the GOP. I’ve always thought that Lee, based on his hatred of BS, would be sort of like Max Boot or Bill Kristol, in that he’d not be a Democrat, but he certain would have given up on today’s GOP.

  108. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    1. Try arguing in good faith
    2. Why am I even engaging with you? This never ends well.
    3. Don’t be a dick. (see 1)

    8
    2
  109. An Interested Party says:

    But I will readily allow, as James has noted, that he and I…have both moved more leftward (in terms of the American political spectrum) and that is reflective of what we write here, no doubt.

    There’s the problem right there–the right in this country has gone batshit crazy (examples like “the Islamic republic of Minnesota” come to mind), particularly when it comes to Trump…it turns people who used to be considered moderate conservatives into loony lefties…as an example, “the Dems leftward drift is exaggerated. Yes the rhetoric may get heated but overall the positions have remained relatively stationary.” Not entirely true but still true in many ways…

    I honestly have no idea where this one came from, but it has a bit of a “hold still so I can hit you” feeling to it. If I “moved the goal posts” that meant someone was trying to score a goal, but this isn’t a game. It’s a discussion.

    “Moving the goalposts” is just another way of saying that someone is dishonest in his arguments in that he moves further away from the original argument when challenged and refuses to concede when he is wrong…it doesn’t have to have anything to do with games…

    The problem is that from a right wing that has no impetus to do anything but go further right, even if the nation is standing still (which it’s not) the result will look like a “leftward drift.” And there is a slight leftward drift because in the current state of this political continuum, even the center is “hard left” now.

    Decades of racism (as minority populations increase), income inequality (as the middle class keeps getting squeezed), wage stagnation (as the rich get richer) and the only seeming answers coming from the right (supply-side economics, ignoring climate change, extreme fear of the “other”) would drive any country leftward…

    …oh, and a hardy thank you to our hosts…

  110. @James Pearce:

    As for the race in politics stuff, I’ve just come to view social justice progressivism to be counterproductive in stamping out racism.

    This might be a defensible position if it wasn’t your general answer to any concerns, whatsoever, about race.

  111. Kylopod says:

    @Eric Florack:

    the fact of the matter is a left abandoned reality a long time ago.

    What a spectacular case of projection, coming from someone who makes up facts out of whole cloth, like claiming that the FBI reports thousands of hate crimes against conservatives every year, then when asked to provide evidence of where you got that stat from, you just ignore me and refuse to answer. Or when you produced a quote allegedly showing Pelosi boasting about doing dishonest propaganda, and then I showed you that was a hoax based ob an out-of-context quote and that the full context made it absolutely clear she wasn’t saying anything of the kind, you repeatedly ignored my exposure of the hoax until after several proddings, you simply declared it wasn’t a hoax but the truth–without explaining why or how.

    It’s the same pattern, over and over and over: you make an objectively false statement, others here bring evidence decisively exposing what you said as objectively false, and then you neither apologize for making a false claim nor attempt to defend it against the evidence. All you do is ignore, ignore, ignore. There’s no conversation, because you refuse to engage in a conversation. Instead, you treat every single piece of crap you pick up from right-wing sites as gospel truth, and as soon as someone exposes it as false, your mind is simply incapable of processing that possibility so instead you just reject the rebuttal out of hand, because you’re so completely brainwashed you don’t just “know” you’re right, it’s literally impossible for you to even conceptualize the notion that you might be wrong. It’s like trying to explain the color red to a person who was born blind. So every time you get destroyed in an argument, which is all the time, you still come away with the absolute, unshakable conviction that you are right and we’re the deluded morons and anything we say to dispute your claims is just meaningless noise.

    It’s not he-said, she-said. You think we’re the brainwashed ones because we disagree with the ultimate truths you’ve been told to believe, which by definition makes us “radical leftists,” because that’s also what you’ve been told to believe.

    On the other hand, we think you’re brainwashed, not because you disagree with what we believe, but because of the observable, objective fact that you repeatedly show a complete failure to confront–or even respond to–any factual challenges to your claims. To call you a bad debater would be high praise. You’re not a “debater” at all, good or bad or anything in between. What you are is a hit-and-run purveyor of bullshit. That’s not a biased statement, it’s nothing more than a banal observation of the way you consistently behave on this forum. If someone who lived in cave and had no idea or opinion of modern political debates listened to this discussion, they’d conclude you’re full of shit, not because of left or right or whatever, but because you consistently ignore the most basic protocols of conversation and refuse to even address the arguments of anyone who disagrees with you at the outset.

    And the same is true of john430 and Guarneri and all the rest of the right-wing trolls who litter this forum. All you guys ever do here is lose arguments, again and again and again, but are completely oblivious to that fact because you’re too stupid to know what hit you. When Michael talks about the lack of reality on the right these days, his statement is proven a thousand times over by the threads on this site.

    24
    1
  112. @James Pearce:

    So I looked through the archives and it would appear that I’ve always been a mean bastard and I understand why you guys don’t like me.

    I would note that the only person who has used the adjective “mean” to describe you is, well, you.

    My frustration with you, as I have tried to articulate in the past, is not that you are “mean” or in any way unpleasant (from a decorum point of view). It is that I have gotten to the point where I don’t think you engage in the actual content of whatever the given conversation is.

    I have reached the point where I do not think there is much point in engagement because I often can’t get you to even acknowledge what I am trying to say about a given subject. Note: it is not about you agreeing with me, it is about acknowledging what is being discussed and at least entertaining the possibility you might be wrong/don’t understand my (or others’) point.

    I am with Matt B: you do move goalposts and I don’t recall you admitting to error.

  113. @An Interested Party:

    There’s the problem right there–the right in this country has gone batshit crazy (examples like “the Islamic republic of Minnesota” come to mind), particularly when it comes to Trump…it turns people who used to be considered moderate conservatives into loony lefties…as an example, “the Dems leftward drift is exaggerated.

    I will agree that some of my movement (and James’) is relative to overall shifts in American politics. Other movement is in absolute terms. I really was more conservative in my 20s and early 30s than I am now.

  114. @Kylopod: An excellent assessment.

    Another example: he once made claims about voter fraud to me and his evidence was a shoddy column in the Washington Times that did not even say what he thought it did.

  115. Let me say, BTW, that I appreciate all the kind words about the site in the comments above.

  116. Teve says:

    @de stijl: oh I know Minneapolis has a lot of Somalis. But this latest nonsense has reignited in the last week when this crazy idiot named Jacob Wohl went there and claimed that even with a serious security force he barely escaped with his life, having found himself in a no-go zone. then actual Minnesotans started asking him where on Earth he went so they could go there and see, and he refused to say where these supposed zones were. He’s a con man who was like the youngest person ever banned for life from the financial industry. He’s been trying to reinvent himself as a right-wing grifter for a while now.

  117. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    That was Wohl? God Lord, that man is dense.

    I’ve lived in Northeast and downtown and Uptown and The Wedge, There is no neighborhood north or south that I would be slightly wary of. Jacob Wohl is just making shit up.

    Plus Somali restaurants are awesome! I learned that peanuts are a fantastic complement to beef and can be a savory element akin to garlic.

  118. dennis says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I’ve also tired of responding to the “YOU’RE ALL TRUMPISTS ANYWAY!” nonsense.

    Honestly, I cannot remember disagreeing with any of your opinions. From what i recall, you’ve always demonstrated a practical, centered-in-reality perspective. I’d have to go back through the archives, though, so I’ll just leave it at that.

    I suspect that most of us would engage civilly if we were conversing around a table over food and drink. I try to tailor my approach with that in mind. As for the up/down vote, I usually refrain from the thumbs down, unless it’s something colossally stupid or outrageous, and I’m not sure there’s a difference, nowadays.

  119. dennis says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It is gays/gays/gays all day every day. He used to have some introspection but now it seems to be just endless hysteria.

    At first, I thought it was a new schtick he was employing; but, you soon realize Dreher is dead-damned-serious. He’s converted to Chicken Little, and I can’t with that, anymore. I just lurk over there: commenting is a waste of time there, for me.

  120. dennis says:

    @Kylopod:

    That was a well-written screed, full of examples, and thoroughly enjoyable. Which, you know, will be completely ignored by Florack, right?

  121. de stijl says:

    @dennis:

    At first, I thought it was a new schtick he was employing; but, you soon realize Dreher is dead-damned-serious. He’s converted to Chicken Little, and I can’t with that, anymore.

    I though it was just me. I find Dreher scarily disturbing. I just lurk there mostly, but I did shame Dreher into banning a guy who was posting blatantly White Power comments for almost a year.

    I quite like Larison at TAC, but Dreher is super sketchy – that dude is fully primed to go full Red-Pill soon.

  122. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    Try arguing in good faith

    And then you’ll like me?? You guys liked me just fine when I was bashing on right-wingers. My trip through the archives confirms that.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would note that the only person who has used the adjective “mean” to describe you is, well, you.

    Other adjectives have been less kind.

    2
    5
  123. al Ameda says:

    FWIW … I find the responses in this thread to be interesting and non-dramatic (and I mean that in the best sense). I can’t imagine a comment thread like this at Townhall or Hot Air or any number of conservative blogs.

    Also, a (generally libertarian) blog that I check out regularly is The Volokh Conspiracy. It presents contemporary legal issues from a libertarian perspective, and the commenting generally avoids flame-throwing.

  124. James Joyner says:

    @James Pearce:

    Other adjectives have been less kind.

    Again, I don’t think the accusation is that you’re a jerk but that you’re not engaging in honest back-and-forth. What’s odd is that you’ve been coming here a long time and that wasn’t always the case.

    You’ve been using the same email address here for 11-odd years now. There were 2,842 comments under your previous pseudonym/incarnation and 5,738 under the name you’re now using. Even just looking at the comments themselves, divorced from the discussion thread, you were directly engaging the discussion. Often quite insightfully.

    The very first comment I can find under your old incarnation, which I won’t link since I don’t know the reasoning behind the change, is a concise but interesting critique of Republican commentators gleefully embracing the Tea Party movement and how short-sighted it is. You draw an analogy with a failed Democratic movement. (Interestingly, we both got it somewhat wrong on the Tea Party, which was much more successful than either of us predicted in taking over the GOP.)

    In other early comments, you’re rather critical of the George W. Bush administration WRT Iraq and come to the defense of the Obama administration against one of my early critiques—bringing facts to the table in both cases.

    So, unless you’ve evolved considerably, you’re not an ideologue or a rank partisan. You’re quite capable of debating in the manner that Matt Bernius and others have suggested–conceding good points made by opponents and countering with facts when you disagree.

    I wonder if it’s just a function of the environmental changes that Eric Florack and others have described: that you feel defensive and aggrieved and thus forced to stand your ground?

  125. Kit says:

    This has been a great thread, James. Perhaps you could expand the scope a bit and run a annual State of OTB.

  126. James Joyner says:

    @Kit:

    This has been a great thread, James. Perhaps you could expand the scope a bit and run a annual State of OTB.

    Thanks! And, yes, I used to do that sort of thing in the early years of the blog but drifted away from it. But threads like this reminds me of why I enjoyed blogging so much in the early days: the communitarian nature of the enterprise. For a variety of reasons, blogging has been supplanted by other social media and the ones that remain have become somewhat indistinguishable from magazines and other online fora.

  127. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath:

    If Anderson is the same person who ran the Thus Blogged Anderson blog (which I believe he was), my understanding is that someone outed him, and he went off-line.

    Yes, same person. I hadn’t heard about the outing (I gather he’s an attorney in Jackson, Mississippi) but I could see where pseudonymity would be essential. Alas, he was still blogging for quite some time after he disappeared here. His Blogspot site continued a couple more months and then he moved to a now-defunct WordPress domain. But it looks like he continued there for a couple more years. I’m seeing commenting activity at least as late as 2015.

  128. Kylopod says:

    @dennis:

    That was a well-written screed, full of examples, and thoroughly enjoyable.

    Thank you.

    Which, you know, will be completely ignored by Florack, right?

    I think you’ve probably guessed he wasn’t the intended audience. I might as well have changed every “you” to “he” or “him,” but that wouldn’t have read quite as well, right?

  129. mattbernius says:

    @Hal_10000, I just want to acknowledge that like PD, you are one of the right leaning people who I’ve seen debating respectfully (acknowledging others arguments and errors in your positions) and politely. And I have definitely see accusations made at you that are not fair.

    I often disagree with you, but always appreciate when you do contribute (and when you strongly argue a counter point, it usually causes me to go back and check my position).

    But you’ve definitely caught a lot more undeserved static in recent years.

    7
    1
  130. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My frustration with you, as I have tried to articulate in the past, is not that you are “mean” or in any way unpleasant (from a decorum point of view). It is that I have gotten to the point where I don’t think you engage in the actual content of whatever the given conversation is.

    I have reached the point where I do not think there is much point in engagement because I often can’t get you to even acknowledge what I am trying to say about a given subject. Note: it is not about you agreeing with me, it is about acknowledging what is being discussed and at least entertaining the possibility you might be wrong/don’t understand my (or others’) point.

    Again this is the difference being polite and actually respecting the other person’s argument.

    Respect requires real engagement.

  131. Kylopod says:

    @James Joyner: Bungles went through a similar evolution. For several years on this site, he presented himself as a seeming left-leaning commenter with plenty of insightful things to say. In his case, though, I think it was something of an illusion. Even well before he morphed into a Trump apologist and blatantly disruptive troll, he displayed an obsessive hatred of the Clintons, he rarely conceded points, and he would often get into petty feuds when people disagreed with him. But most of the time no one here noticed. It’s important to emphasize that what changed about him wasn’t just his apparent political orientation (he adopted a kind of Scott Adams-style concern-troll anti-anti-Trumpism where he claimed not to be a Trump supporter but to still be in awe of Trump’s alleged strengths–which is actually not that different from Pearce’s current perspective). It’s also that he adopted the behavior I’ve described in the other right-wing trolls here, of refusing to engage with other commenters and simply dropping stink bombs into thread and leaving. And while I know no one here agrees with me on this, I’m still scratching my head about that highly strange moment when J*nos responded to my criticism of a Bungles comment as if he himself had made the comment. You (or one of the other OTB hosts, I can’t recall at the moment) have dismissed my theory on the grounds that Bungles and J*nos have totally different styles. But I just wonder. I’ve read stories about how far some people will go to adopt different personas online. It doesn’t strike me as out of the question.

    I’m not as familiar with Pearce’s past commenting history (in fact I wasn’t aware until now that he had a previous handle), so I can’t comment on how he may or may not have changed.

  132. James Joyner says:

    @Kylopod:

    You (or one of the other OTB hosts, I can’t recall at the moment) have dismissed my theory on the grounds that Bungles and J*nos have totally different styles.

    For reasons you and others have noted, the right-leaning trolls have such similar talking points and argumentative styles that they’re often hard to distinguish. Indeed, commenters are usually far quicker than me to notice Jenos’ re-appearance in multiple incarnations (I’ve sent virtually all of those comments into spam purgatory, so I can’t readily name them). But there were some tells in the backend that made it clear he’s not MBunge.

  133. Eric Florack says:

    @Hal_10000: the problem I see here is the truck ended up being a lot more conservative in actual fact than anybody dreamed. Certainly, he’s no Ted Cruz but he’s a lot closer than Obama, or so that matter closer than John McCain or mitt Romney.

  134. wr says:

    @James Joyner: Thanks for posting that. I, too, remember that Pearce, although the memory gets harder to hold on to as he descends further into trollery. He used to be a strong commenter — by which I mean he said interesting things and was fun to argue with. And I now remember there was a point when he started to change into what he is today — I believe I even sent him a couple of messages asking why he was changing.

    I suppose it’s possible he’s unaware of this transformation and thinks he’s the same writer he always was — he certainly presents as the least self-aware person on the internet. But I suspect, with some sadness, that he found that trolling was at least as entertaining and far easier than actually participating in conversations.

    2
    1
  135. Eric Florack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I really was more conservative in my 20s and early 30s than I am now.

    Yeah, no kidding.
    :-/

    1
    6
  136. Eric Florack says:

    @Kylopod: so anyone that’s not in lockstep with liberalism is a problem in your view. That’s certainly understandable but not demonstrable.

    and had it ever occurred to you that the reason that I don’t bother responding to your accusations half the time is because I simply don’t have the time or the inclination to waste my time on somebody whose mind is never going to be changed anyway, having completely lost that ability years ago?

    the attitude we get from the left in here, particularly from some of the bloggers is that they’re the smartest guys in the room. Well let me give you a little dosage of reality…

    The long list of notables thought to be the smartest guys in the room includes Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Casto, Maduro, Obama, and following their lead into oblivion seemed like a good idea at the time.

    1
    7
  137. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: Accidentally downvoted when I meant to upvote.

  138. @James Pearce:

    I would note that the only person who has used the adjective “mean” to describe you is, well, you.

    Other adjectives have been less kind.

    This, in a nutshell, is an example of what drives me crazy. In several comments in this thread you use the word “mean” to describe how you say others are describing you. I note that this is not the case. You then pivot away from the claim (and more the goalpost, but the “other” words have been worse) and in that pivot you fail to provide evidence of explanation of your claim.

  139. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Eric Florack:

    the problem I see here is the truck (that Trump) ended up being a lot more conservative in actual fact than anybody dreamed.

    The problem is that you don’t seem to know what Conservatism means.
    The entire Republican party has veered off course and become extremely radical.
    Is the largest deficit increase in a non-recesion economy Conservative? Is ripping children from their mothers arms Conservative?
    Is making a joke of the rule-of-law Conservative? Is abandoning our allies Conservative? Is kow-towing to Moscow Conservative? Is giving a pissant like Kim a place on the world stage Conservative?
    Y’all wouldn’t even think of electing Reagan today.
    Conservative, my ass.

    14
    2
  140. @Kylopod:

    You (or one of the other OTB hosts, I can’t recall at the moment) have dismissed my theory on the grounds that Bungles and J*nos have totally different styles.

    I am sure I made the claim. They had one very different stylistic approach. J had a habit of backing into a faux politeness about being a guest at the site or one of the main authors as being hosts. MB was belligerent in his attacks on the authors.

    My main problem with MB was not that he wanted to argue against my posts. My problem with him was that he would not explain his positions when directly asked, treating instead repeated statements as self-evident. Plus his insistence on making it personal was just unpleasant and unnecessary.

    J was a right-wing media talking-point spewing (though he would deny it) derailer of threads who just got so annoying as to make the place unpleasant.

  141. @Eric Florack: Evidence and reconsideration makes one re-evaluate (or, it should).

    An easy example is that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. And, further, if we are going to run deficits anyway, then perhaps spending less on the military and more to provide basic social goods (education, healthcare, infrastructure) ought to be the way we use our funds.

    Also: racism is still a major problem and there is no reason that homosexuals ought be denied the right to wed.

    Beyond that, I have found that the Republican Party is not as interested in small “d” democracy as I always was, and that they don’t take individual rights as seriously as I did.

    Also: there is no such thing as an “original intent” when looking at the Constitution.

    Speaking of the Constitution, as impressive a document as it is, it does not work as well as American mythology would purport.

    I could go on, but would note that most of my movement has been based on a combination of evidence and data as well as re-assessment of claims made by the more “conservative” segments of our politics which found them wanting.

    Add all that to the way the party is currently behaving (and has for some time) and here we are.

    I would seriously (and I am not being sarcastic) suggest you change your media diet.

    13
    1
  142. @Eric Florack:

    the problem I see here is the truck ended up being a lot more conservative in actual fact than anybody dreamed. Certainly, he’s no Ted Cruz but he’s a lot closer than Obama, or so that matter closer than John McCain or mitt Romney.

    Trump has delivered some basics that GOP voters want: tax cuts, judges, deregulation. I get that.

    The problem is the rest of it: tariffs (a tax increase), trade wars, racism, and the like. You have to own all that, too.

    12
  143. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m not as familiar with Pearce’s past commenting history (in fact I wasn’t aware until now that he had a previous handle), so I can’t comment on how he may or may not have changed.

    My impression is that Pearce don’t spend too much time writing his comments. Maybe for some reason he is only posting from his smartphone, maybe he does not have much time to spend here. That’s in part why he may sound a little dismissive.

    But I do agree that people that post here can be a little too aggressive over small disagreements, and that can pile on. And yes, I see that people on the center-left, specially White Males, are seeing a suffocating environment on social media, where people on the left openly attacks Men in general while candidates that appeal to a fake sense of masculinity are winning elections worldwide. In some sense when the press writes about “populism” they are basically writing about politicians that appeal to Men, that are open attacked and mocked by people in the left.

    Its hard not see a connection.

    I think that’s understandable why many people are uncomfortable with that.

  144. @Eric Florack:

    and had it ever occurred to you that the reason that I don’t bother responding to your accusations half the time is because I simply don’t have the time or the inclination to waste my time on somebody whose mind is never going to be changed anyway, having completely lost that ability years ago?

    In utter fairness, none of us has the time to respond to all such challenges. The point is: you rarely respond and you especially ignore direct, evidence-based counter-claims that would not take a huge amount of time to address.

    You come across as an angry, often racist, spouter of right-wing media talking points. You do not come across as a person who wants to have an evidence-based argument.

    And I do not use the term “racist” lightly. You comment about Minnesota is a small illustration but your own blog provides more direct examples, such as this classic.

    10
  145. @Eric Florack:

    the attitude we get from the left in here, particularly from some of the bloggers is that they’re the smartest guys in the room. Well let me give you a little dosage of reality…

    The long list of notables thought to be the smartest guys in the room includes Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Casto, Maduro, Obama, and following their lead into oblivion seemed like a good idea at the time.

    This is LOL material. But it illustrates why you are not taken seriously. From blogging we immediately jump to totalitarians and Obama. Your display your own mania here.

    And look: if we aren’t at least some of the smarter guys in the room on the things we are writing about, why read us? Doug knows more about the law than I do. James knows ore about military affairs. I have expertise in my own areas. Isn’t that kind of the point?

    17
  146. @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    But I do agree that people that post here can be a little too aggressive over small disagreements, and that can pile on.

    This has happened (and not just with Pearce). I will certainly agree with this.

  147. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    As far as the goalposts thing, I know it’s something people say. But that doesn’t mean it’s something I do. Some of these same people claim I’m a Trump supporter. Perhaps those accounts should be mistrusted.

    A person with even the merest shred of self-awareness would ask himself why so many people with whom he regularly discusses politics see him as a goalpost-mover, and why, if he is truly not a Trump supporter, so many people draw from his comments an exceptionally strong inference he is.

    But instead of engaging in even that basic level of self-examination, you simply deny doing something multiple independent observers have seen you do again and again and again, and assert they should be “mistrusted.”

    Whether you’re a Trump supporter or not, you sure do a fantastic job duplicating his way of handling criticism.

    4
    1
  148. Kylopod says:

    @Eric Florack:

    so anyone that’s not in lockstep with liberalism is a problem in your view.

    Which of course is not what I said at all, and it’s contradicted by my very presence here at OTB, which is run by people who are very much “not in lockstep with liberalism.” I’ve also had polite discussions with conservative commenters here such as Hal_10000, even when I’ve disagreed with them.

    My problem isn’t with people not in lockstep with liberalism. It’s with people not in lockstep with reality.

    and had it ever occurred to you that the reason that I don’t bother responding to your accusations half the time is because I simply don’t have the time or the inclination to waste my time on somebody whose mind is never going to be changed anyway, having completely lost that ability years ago?

    Ha! Convenient excuse. Except for the fact that you do respond to me. Your statement about the FBI reporting thousands of hate crimes against conservatives was itself a response to something I said. You simply stopped responding after I asked you where you got that information.

    That has nothing to do with changing my mind. Either the stat you cited exists or it doesn’t. If it does exist, there’s no reason you wouldn’t provide the source. Even if I’m as absolutely close-minded as you claim, you’d provide it for the benefit of other people who are not as close-minded as I allegedly am. The only rational explanation for why you failed to provide it–repeatedly–is that it doesn’t exist. You made up the claim about the FBI out of whole cloth. And now you’re trying to weasel out of this by impugning my motives, which are in fact irrelevant to your credibility.

    The problem isn’t that you refuse to respond to me at all; it’s that you refuse to respond when cornered.

    15
    1
  149. @Mikey:

    A person with even the merest shred of self-awareness would ask himself why so many people with whom he regularly discusses politics see him as a goalpost-mover, and why, if he is truly not a Trump supporter, so many people draw from his comments an exceptionally strong inference he is.

    THIS.

  150. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’m well aware of the fact that J*nos and Bungles had distinct styles. And for the record it never even occurred to me they might be one and the same until that weird moment I mentioned before. But I’ve read extensively about trolling, as well as encountering it myself in various forms ever since my first Internet experiences in the 1990s, and people can go pretty far in creating different personas. With the anonymity the Internet provides and the general lack of consequences, you’d be surprised what’s possible and how far some people will go. I’m not saying my theory is likely, but I can’t totally rule it out simply on the grounds of stylistic differences.

  151. @Kylopod: That’s fair. As James noted above, we had other evidence to suggest a difference. I just had read so many of the J posts that his style usually tipped me even as his pseudonyms shifted.

  152. mattbernius says:

    @Mikey & @Steven L. Taylor:

    A person with even the merest shred of self-awareness would ask himself why so many people with whom he regularly discusses politics see him as a goalpost-mover, and why, if he is truly not a Trump supporter, so many people draw from his comments an exceptionally strong inference he is.

    James, I realize at this point, it probably feels like we’re piling on you, but the reality is I can think of at least 4 different occasions in recent memory where Stephen, Neil, myself and one other (can’t remember who right now) have, in good faith made this same argument.

    I understand not listening if its Michael R saying it. At this point you both have scrapped so much that I wouldn’t expect you to listen. Hell, I understand not listening to me either at this point. But the fact is that this has been an ongoing refrain from some of the most respectful people on this site.

    As I have written in the past, I don’t think you’re a troll. Heck, I appreciate that you opted to transition from being “Herb” to using what I assume is your real name. I urge you to take a step back and actually consider the criticisms that people of good will are giving you. Regardless of what you think you are communicating, the reality is that the way its being read is entirely different. And, after a certain point, if you are consistently being read a certain way, then the breakdown isn’t with the readers.

  153. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:

    Bungles went through a similar evolution. For several years on this site, he presented himself as a seeming left-leaning commenter with plenty of insightful things to say. In his case, though, I think it was something of an illusion. Even well before he morphed into a Trump apologist and blatantly disruptive troll, he displayed an obsessive hatred of the Clintons, he rarely conceded points, and he would often get into petty feuds when people disagreed with him.

    I seem to remember him once saying that he worked in radio as a tech or producers at a Right Wing radio station and had to constantly listen to Rush as a byproduct of the job.

    At least I think that was MB — it might have been someone else. Either way, his prickliness definitely evolved. I tend to think he actually might have started out as more of a blue dog/populist Democrat and ultimately felt that the party had left people like him (i.e. older working class whites in more rural communities).

  154. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Eric Florack:
    You have no standing to talk about civility, you are a hardcore racist. The only useful thing you can say is ‘I’m sorry, I’ve learned and I’ve changed.’ Until then you have no standing to comment on any aspect of ethics, manners or morality.

    12
    2
  155. mattbernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The long list of notables thought to be the smartest guys in the room includes Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Casto, Maduro, Obama, and following their lead into oblivion seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Given the long listing of times that Trump has more or less referred to himself as the smartest person in the room, not to mention his well documented practices of not listening to his own expert advisors on key issues, it is yet another a wonderful example of how you have come to firmly support everything you hated about Obama.

    Hell just two weeks ago you were positively comparing Trump in Hanoi to Reagan in Reykjavik.

    But hey, it’s the rest of us who are blinded by ideology or partisanship, right.

    14
  156. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius: @Eric Florack:
    I’d add that Mao, Castro and Stalin all died peacefully in their beds. So did Lenin.

    As for Obama it takes a genuine, cast-iron imbecile not to see that he is superior by every conceivable metric to Trump. Probably richer, too, given that Trump is in debt to every oligarch in Russia, the KSA or the UAE.

    And it takes moral reptile to equate Obama with a monster like Stalin. Even for Florack that’s gutter-level.

    15
    2
  157. Kylopod says:

    @mattbernius:

    I tend to think he actually might have started out as more of a blue dog/populist Democrat and ultimately felt that the party had left people like him (i.e. older working class whites in more rural communities).

    Maybe, though he had views that didn’t seem typical for that group. Remember, Bill Clinton was fairly popular among blue-collar and rural voters–the last Democrat to be competitive among either demographic. But Bungles consistently hated Bill Clinton. And he seemed to like Obama somewhat. None of that is typical of a blue-dog type.

  158. James Joyner says:

    @Eric Florack:

    includes Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Casto, Maduro, Obama

    As @Steven L. Taylor has already noted, this marks you as unserious at best, delusional at worst. Trump is a whole lot closer to those guys than Obama ever was—and it would never occur to me to include Trump on a list that included Mao, Stalin, and Hitler. It’s just nutty.

    16
  159. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:
    I could be getting it won’t, but I seem to remember that he said he started as a Clinton supporter/voter and came to see them as everything that is wrong with the Democrats. Then he was further disillusioned by Obama and other elites.

    But who knows, I could be misremembering or mixing him up with other commenters.

  160. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    In Anderson’s case, pseudonymity was essential given how often he criticized Mississippi judges by name. I think I just misremembered how long ago he went off-line.

  161. Eric Florack says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: radically conservative means sticking to the basic values of the ideal. Not compromising with a Democrats at every turn and therefore turning left.

    re-read my commentary on mitt Romney for example to get a feel for what I’m talking about here.

  162. Mister Bluster says:

    Several times commenters have suggested that readers of OTB visit citizen Florack’s website if they had doubts about his true character.
    I never bothered since I don’t have to see another corpse to know what death looks like.
    Somehow my finger slipped on Professor Taylor’s link above.
    The stench came right through the screen of my laptop.
    I think I’m going to puke.

  163. Eric Florack says:

    @James Joyner: oh I beg to differ James. I’m quite serious. I’m also correct.

    Though I would be interested in your attempt to prove me wrong on the point.
    Are you really going to tell us that Obama was not socialist?

    16
  164. Teve says:

    J was a right-wing media talking-point spewing (though he would deny it) derailer of threads who just got so annoying as to make the place unpleasant.

    in my 10 years of moderating a biology site that monitors creationism, it’s my considered opinion that 95% of trolls are manageable, but a small percentage has to get removed or they’ll wreck everything.

  165. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Hal_10000:

    My problem is that there is no conservative party any more.

    That sentiment is the same as mine. The only difference is that I started gravitating to that conclusion about 20 years before you, during Clinton’s second term. The people who call themselves conservative have virtually no views in common with mine anymore. Some of that is because as my views evolved, they took a left turn, but a lot of it is that conservatism became more libertarian and I just don’t see any value in a system that values the rights of the individual to that degree. The whole “I don’t give a fvck” thing that I perceive in conservative/libertarian thought has no appeal. That, and “the best choice is to do nothing” practice among the GOP leaders.

  166. wr says:

    @mattbernius: “Heck, I appreciate that you opted to transition from being “Herb” to using what I assume is your real name.”

    I’d completely forgotten that Pearce used to be Herb. Herb was great! What a pity he decided to become what he is now.

    2
    1
  167. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: The difference between then and now is that you used to make thoughtful comments and not argue much with others on the forum. Now, a lot of the stuff you say is idiotic and you chew up a lot of bytes arguing with anyone and everyone who comments on what you have said. You still say thoughtful things occasionally. They’re just not worth wading through the debris of contrarian navel gazing and complaints about how unfair everyone is/you’re just being true to your principles/none of you are any better to look for now.

    3
    2
  168. al Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The long list of notables thought to be the smartest guys in the room includes Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Casto, Maduro, Obama, and following their lead into oblivion seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Yes we all know by now that Obama’s Five Year Plan caused the American economy to crash and the unconstitutional seizure of guns and weaponry under Operation Jade Helm fomented popular revolution.

    I appreciate you reminding us of, giving us an example of, where The Right is now: Obama = Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, and Maduro.

    19
  169. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Florack, @Pearce:

    The reason almost no one here takes your comments seriously is that we’ve all decided that you’re just here to make “The card says moops” arguments.

    4
    3
  170. CSK says:

    @Eric Florack:

    AFAIK, you still haven’t answered the question about Michael Cohen I asked you at least 3 times.

  171. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: Yeah. I don’t understand why some people are able to grow intellectually and some aren’t either.

  172. Teve says:

    @al Ameda: Florack’s just making up lies. For instance “smartest guy…Maduro” is just a whole-cloth anti-intellectual lie. Nobody thinks that Maduro is particularly smart, even Chavez’s people said Maduro was dumb. He was just in the right place at the right time. Florack’s just making up dumb shit.

    GARTMAN: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Is ‘Simply An Idiot’

    There’s no productive conversation to be had with someone who just lies as effortlessly as Trump does.

  173. @Eric Florack:

    Though I would be interested in your attempt to prove me wrong on the point.

    Are you really going to tell us that Obama was not socialist?

    So, you are going to contend that all you meant by “Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Casto, Maduro, Obama” was “here is a list of socialists”? Not only is this disingenuous, it also raises a broader question as to your definition of “socialism.”

    So, I have to go with “delusional” (to pick from James’ options) and point out why engaging with you in pointless.

    And yes: one could rather easily demonstrate that your premises are nonsense, but what would be the point? It is like asking a chemist to prove the Dr. Pepper, water, and bourbon aren’t the same thing.

    12
  174. @Mister Bluster: I normally avoid it myself, but direct evidence seemed in order.

  175. Teve says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    de·plor·a·ble
    /dəˈplôrəb(ə)l/Submit

    adjective
    *deserving strong condemnation.

    *shockingly bad in quality.

  176. Matt says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Obama, and following their lead into oblivion

    I had no idea the USA went extinct…

  177. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..direct evidence seemed in order.
    His Supreme Leader Trump would be proud.

  178. Grewgills says:

    Re: John Persona
    Regrettably I think I was part of the pile on that drove him away. There were several long threads that were mostly he and I going back and forth with a couple of others piling on him here and there on the subject of independents and how independent they really were/are. It was his contention that there was a real and reachable 30% or so of independent voters. I argued, with I think convincing evidence, that the real number was much closer to 10% and the other 20% or so just liked the label independent even though they pretty much always voted for one party. He got very riled up at this and seemed to take it personally and after a particularly long one of these with a couple of others piling on to him from ‘my side’ he never came back. I felt bad about it after, as he was a generally positive addition to other discussions.

    Re: Pearce
    He seems to have gone off the rails with privilege becoming a more popular framing. I had some long arguments with him on the subject of race and privilege. Early on he even agreed to most of the particulars that are the basis of the framing of privilege and institutional racism/sexism etc, but he could never bring himself to take the final step and acknowledge that the people using that frame were correct. I remember coming out of a days long back and forth where he admitted to virtually every point that underpins the academic use of the terms privilege and institutional racism, yet still denied that white privilege existed basically because it’s better to be a black millionaire than a white coal miner. He couldn’t and can’t wrap his head around the fact that having privilege doesn’t mean all the privileges and a guaranteed life of ease.
    When these topics were showing up frequently for a while I and others would pile on (with argument, not invective) and he dug in more and more. As time went on he seemed to dig in more and more with less nuance and many of the regulars lost patience and started treating him like one of the right wing trolls. Now that we’re a couple of years into that he seems ever more invested in his contrarianism. I think buried in there somewhere is the old, more nuanced and reasonable Pearce. I, for one, wish he’d come back.

  179. @Grewgills: I recall having similar arguments with John Persona (and may have been part of that conversation). He was a smart and valuable contributor. I will confess he could get under my skin on occasion (and I think the feeling was mutual). He had very specific ideas about online higher education that I did not share and that sometimes put us at odds.

  180. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills:

    I remember coming out of a days long back and forth where he admitted to virtually every point that underpins the academic use of the terms privilege and institutional racism, yet still denied that white privilege existed basically because it’s better to be a black millionaire than a white coal miner.

    I remember that. It was as if you’d taken him to an automobile factory and shown him all the parts, and he’d said “yes, that’s a car seat…yes, that’s a steering wheel…yes, that’s an engine” and so on, but in the end, stubbornly refused to call what came off the assembly line an automobile. It was like a weirdly intentional blindness.

    1
    1
  181. Eric Florack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: but they do in fact pay for themselves assuming that the spending doesn’t go hog-wild as a result of the increased income from the lower marginal tax rates.

    To the rest of you;
    I have taken some abuse for uttering the phrase “the Islamic republic of Minnesota.”

    I’d like you to seriously consider something please. What happens when you drop a large number of unassimilated tamales, almost uniformly Muslim into a relatively small numerically speaking congressional district? Did anybody suppose that that wasn’t thought through before the action was taken? That way lies Dearborn for example.

    Do not mistake my somewhat humorous tone of derision over that situation as being anything less than serious as a heart attack.

    @Matt:
    I note that Russia still exists, Cuba still exist, Argentina still exists, as do Germany and China.

    May I suggest you look up the word “euphemism”?

  182. @Eric Florack:

    but they do in fact pay for themselves assuming that the spending doesn’t go hog-wild as a result of the increased income from the lower marginal tax rates.

    Except they don’t. I know this is an article of faith, and changing someone’s faith is hard to do, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter.

    Do not mistake my somewhat humorous tone of derision over that situation as being anything less than serious as a heart attack.

    I don’t find you humorous (somewhat or otherwise) and all you are doing is doubling down on your bigotry.

    May I suggest you look up the word “euphemism”?

    May I suggest, again, that your list underscores your fundamental unseriousness? Including any American president in that list would have been absurd as is using it as some sort of list of socialists.

    BTW: none of the persons you listed were linked to Argentina.

  183. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I really was more conservative in my 20s and early 30s than I am now.

    Who says there are no unicorns?!

    The people I knew who were conservatives at young ages all grew up to be Leonard Leo and Michael Steele and so forth.

  184. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    For a variety of reasons, blogging has been supplanted by other social media

    Jeez, you make me feel old. I still miss UseNet.

    (Then again, there are times when I still miss Kermit and Gopher…)

  185. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The long list of notables thought to be the smartest guys in the room includes Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, Maduro, Obama,

    Come on, man, you’re not even trying. The only one on this list that anyone ever really thought was the smartest guy in the room (if it were a small enough room) is Mao — unless you meant Michelle Obama…

  186. @DrDaveT: Being a weirdo ain’t all bad 😉

  187. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Violated my own resolution but damn, Pearce’s replies to people in this thread almost qualify as performance art.

    Settled once and for all in my mind that in fact he knows exactly what he’s doing, and that is deliberate trolling. I will never understand someone who gets some sort of sick enjoyment out of deliberately annoying others, but he’s a master at the art of trolling for a response.

    5
    1
  188. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: “Unassimilated tamales.” Really?

    And yet we’re the ones who misunderstand? SMH

  189. MarkedMan says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker: It’s a well known fact that those muslim tamales are the spiciest.

  190. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It’s a well known fact that those muslim tamales are the spiciest.

    Out of context, that sounds shockingly risqué.

  191. Tony W says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker:

    “Unassimilated tamales.”

    Hey Florack, ever wonder why people continue to maintain you’re a racist?

  192. Matt says:

    @Eric Florack: a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.