Where Have the Thoughtful Conservatives Gone?

OTB's comment section as a microcosm of the American political landscape.

In my absence Friday, an interesting sidebar discussion took place in the comment thread to my post “The Christian Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name” about the evolving tone of the comments section here at OTB as well as my own positions over the years.

Longtime commenter Boyd, who’s been with us since probably the earliest days of the blog, notes that my “shift to less conservative positions” and other factors have driven off most of the conservative commenters from “back in the day” and that this has created a vicious cycle in which “very often, the valid, incisive non-liberal point is just ignored, so the conservatives often don’t get engaged in any actual discussion of the matter at hand.” MattB and Stormy Dragon, in particular, rebut the second part of that.

In terms of the evolution of the commentariat, it’s clearly the case that most of the better contributors are to the left of me. There are a handful of very thoughtful conservative voices left–and I count Boyd among them–but they do seem fewer in number than was once the case. Then again, I’ve noted the same trend in the blogosphere as a whole. Several right-of-center bloggers that were daily reads once upon a time now just make me shake my head. For that matter, the same thing has happened with conservative politicians.

There are three, not mutually exclusive, explanations for this. First, as I’ve argued elsewhere, we’ve simply changed the definition of conservative at a rapid clip. Second, conservatives are putting emphasis on parts of their agenda that were once peripheral. Third, I’ve become less conservative even by the terms of the debate operational in 2003.

In the grand scheme of things, my views are pretty much what they were when I launched the site a little over nine years ago. I was, after all, already approaching middle age, had been rabidly interested in politics for a quarter of a century, had a PhD in political science, and spent several years teaching the subject by that point; I was not exactly a tabula rasa. But in 2003, we pretty much divided up sides on the blogs based on where you stood on the Iraq War. Even guys like Charles Johnson, who was and remains very liberal on the social issues, was on Our Team. So, for that matter, were John Cole, Andrew Sullivan, and others. There was almost no heresy that could get one ousted from good standing so long as one supported a vigorous military posture against America’s enemies.

From literally the first days of the blog, I was castigating the likes of Ann Coulter, pushing back against the notion that those who opposed a war that I supported were therefore unpatriotic, took a libertarianish posture on the social issues, and was openly hostile to organized religion. I could certainly have written ”The Christian Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name” back then although, having just left the Deep South after having spent much of my teenage and adult life there, it would have been somewhat less snarky and more temperate towards the heartfelt beliefs of the sort of people in whose company I used to spend a lot more time.

On the other hand, my views on some social issues have changed. Most notably, my view of homosexuality in general and gay marriage in particular have surely evolved leftward. My 2003 views on gays were moderate for a 37-year-old Southern conservative but I still considered the “gay lifestyle” bizarre, was skeptical of gays serving openly in the military, and thought society had every right to deny its blessing to marriages it found perverse. Having spent most of my life in a culture where homosexuality was reviled, my only exposure to the phenomenon were the weirdos on TV wearing leather chaps that showed off their bare asses at gay pride rallies and various repressed weirdos who didn’t mind being flamboyant in a culture that despised them. Living in a much more gay-friendly metropolitan era, I simply know more “normal” gay people who are different from other “normal” people I know only in their private sexual conduct.

Additionally, as Steven Taylor and I have both written, our views have evolved in fairly similar ways over the years mostly through the act of blogging. We’re a pretty good controlled experiment, albeit one with some serious methodological flaws. But we started with very similar viewpoints and information consumption habits when we started teaching together at Troy way back in 1998. He remained there when I moved up here in 2002 and we started blogs within a few days of one another in early 2003. So, while my geographic relocation is no doubt one influence, the blogs would seem to be the common factor.

The nature of blogging, at least in the way that we do it, is that one’s arguments, analyses, and worldview are constantly being challenged. Most obviously, commenters and other bloggers take our statements to task and we’re forced to defend them. Less obviously, simply finding interesting materials to blog about requires an inordinate amount of reading–mostly of people who don’t have identical views to your own because, unless one is simply curating content, there’s not much fodder in “What he said.”

I’ve written tens of thousands of posts over the years, several thousand of them substantive analyses of public policy issues. Being intellectually honest–a career  liability in the punditry business, frankly, but an occupational hazard of the scholar–simply requires changing one’s views over time when presented with compelling evidence and argument.

Aside from some modest drift on social issues, I’m less economically libertarian than I was nine years ago. It’s not so much that I trust Big Government solutions than I once did but that I ‘m less confident in the Invisible Hand and the power of individual self-determination.

While I still strongly oppose central economic planning, even at the benign level of Industrial Policy, I no longer think that the free market always yields winners based on the wisdom of the crowds.  More crucially from a public policy standpoint, while I still think a person’s earnings rightly belong to him and not the society as a whole–and thus I find the notion of a top marginal rate of 70 percent, as it was when Ronald Reagan took office, or 90 percent, as it was for much of the postwar period, confiscatory and wrong–I don’t view low taxes as a secular religion. The Laffer Curve curves, after all, and we actually do need to raise money to pay for the government programs that we agree upon.

In addition to the changes in the conservative movement and in my own philosophy, another phenomenon is taking place–a change in emphasis in Republican politics. Going back to the earliest days of my political memory, which began roughly with the Iran Hostage Crisis and the 1980 presidential election, the GOP has spent a lot of time talking about the social issues on the campaign trail. Notably, though, they didn’t make them a governing priority, aside from tertiary things like denying public funding for abortion services and the like.  While Ronald Reagan talked a good game on the values issues, his governing emphasis was on defeating the Soviets by building up our military. As recently as the last Republican presidency, that of George W. Bush, the practical governing emphasis was on the War on Terrorism and its offshoots in Afghanistan and Iraq. While I came to oppose the execution and even the strategy of both efforts, I nonetheless bought the underlying premise that defeating those forces hostile to American security was vital.

While I think Mitt Romney will pivot this campaign back to more familiar ground, the internecine Republican debate that’s been ongoing since the election of Barack Obama has been on what strike me as fringe issues. While I reject the argument that it’s mostly about race–there were plenty of nutty conspiracy theories about Bill Clinton, too–the debate has been almost completely unhinged from reality. Ridiculous numbers of Republicans believe ridiculous things about the president. ObamaCare, which is at its heart  corporate welfare for the health insurance industry, is widely decried as “socialist” and all manner of irrational invective has been hurled at the Heritage Foundation-devised individual mandate. And the combination of religious zealot Rick Santorum’s emergence as the Last Not-Romney Standing and the takeover of some state legislatures by people a lot like him has us debating such nonsense as to whether birth control pills are moral and whether it would be a good idea to force women to get vaginal ultrasounds as a precondition for obtaining legal surgery.

What’s happened along the way, unfortunately, as that those of us who call out these actions as outlandish and unhelpful to the conservative and/or Republican cause are dismissed as heretics. A handful have gone full John Cole and become bitterly anti-Republican. Most, though, are simply dismissed as RINOs and squishy moderates who don’t believe in anything and don’t feel like they have a place in the dialog.

This is reinforced by a phenomenon that I’ve written a lot about over the years, of American politics taking on a team sports mentality where all that matters is the color of the jersey. If Barack Obama is in favor of something, Republicans must therefore denounce it. If Barack Obama does something that we all support–say, giving a Go order to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden–we are expected to find some way to minimize or criticize it.

This mentality has been present in the blogosphere for a number of years now but seems to have taken hold even among the political grown-ups. Even the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body is acting along these lines, with Republican leaders not even bothering to pretend that they’re interested in advancing conservative goals by forcing the president to give more than he gets. No, the chief goal is to ensure Obama doesn’t get re-elected and an 80 percent win on the issue is considered instead a 100 percent loss.

It’s a maddening environment in which to try to have an intelligent conversation.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Best of OTB, Politics 101, US Politics
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. EMRVentures says:

    After 9/11, and at the start of the first Gulf War, Americans of all political stripes rallied together behind their Commander in Chief, and both President GWH Bush and GW Bush were polling at above 90 percent approval. I daresay that had 9/11 occurred on Barack Obama’s watch, the same would not have occurred. Indeed, I would guess that impeachment proceedings would be more likely than a 90 percent approval rate for Obama. There are differences between our two major parties.

  2. Ben Wolf says:

    @James Joyner

    What makes OTB one of the better blogs is that the posters frequently engage with their commenters creating an actual dialogue. It makes visitors feel as though they’ve played a part in something rather than being passive actors just absorbing posts. In that sort of environment I’d say bloggers and commenters influence each other more than they realize.

  3. EMRVentures says:

    @Ben Wolf: Totally agree, it makes a huge difference. I suspect it also helps maintain a level of civility that too many blogs lack.

  4. Andy says:

    James, you dirty, hippy RINO!

    Seriously, good essay and I don’t find a lot to disagree with though I’ve been a “squishy moderate” out in the wilderness a lot longer than you have.

  5. rodney dill says:

    I suspect that most of the thoughtful conservative commentors have gone elsewhere, as they were being outnumbered by the liberal commentors. While there a number of respectful measured liberal view commentors there are many that insert venom into thoughtful discussion stifling any meaningful dialog.

  6. Franklin says:

    Well I’ve settled on being a squishy moderate after starting out conservative, moving to libertarianism, moving towards liberalism, and ending up being largely influenced by this blog and its commenters.

  7. Rick Almeida says:

    @rodney dill:

    Are there no conservative commentators who deply what you call “venom”? Is the world really that one-sided?

  8. Russell says:

    I am, especially in the current political climate, a liberal. I was drawn here and return specifically because I want to hear what thoughtful conservatives have to say. It is a testament to you, your co-bloggers and the visitors that most threads involve vigorous and thoughtful discussions without becoming echo chambers. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  9. Brummagem Joe says:

    It’s the quality of this blog that makes regular returns part of my routine despite the undoubted Republican prism of both JJ (though tempered by reality) and Doug. Even though I often disagree with you, you are to be congratulated on the volume of material and often insightful commentary that accompanies it. Quite a few of the commenters here are former Republicans including me who was the archetypal social liberal and economic conservative. This started to change in the 90’s when a ideological process that had been hovering in the background for years started to gain critical mass. The craziness which I perceived as largely being devoted to marginal issues (or so they seemed to me) like gay rights, abortion, prayer in schools, etc etc etc all of sudden started to move over into substantive issues of economic management and foreign policy. This reached it’s full flowering in the Presidency of GWB (who was basically a lightweight in the hands of a bunch of idealogues of various stripes) which was without question the most disastrous presidency in my lifetime. And it was almost entirely the author of its own misfortunes. This alienation has been confirmed by the events of the past three years when the Republican party has totally failed to acknowledge it’s own culpability in the economic crisis and foreign policy shambles the current admin inherited but has done nothing but resist efforts to clean up the mess and to create new crises (like the debt ceiling downgrade). As of right now the Republicans are simply not fit to be entrusted with power.

  10. anjin-san says:

    I suspect that most of the thoughtful conservative commentors have gone elsewhere, as they were being outnumbered by the liberal commentors. While there a number of respectful measured liberal view commentors there are many that insert venom into thoughtful discussion stifling any meaningful dialog.

    Yes, that must be it. As once did the bison in Indian times, thoughtful conservatives roamed the OTB range in numbers beyond comprehension. But then, mean liberals hunted them to near extinction. Here lies the the roadblock that halts a meaningful political dialog on OTB, and yes, in America itself, stripped bare for all to see…

  11. legion says:

    I’ve noticed something over the years watching my wife debate politics & such with her father. He’s the type of guy who is less interested in finding out what the actual “truth” is in a debate and much more interested in “winning the argument”. When my wife puts up actual facts that disprove his assumptions or conclusions, he invariably (and I mean every single time) changes the subject or bails on the discussion altogether. There’s a significant chunk of humanity that has this mindset – that “winning” over someone else is more important than moving forward as a group. One of the reasons that I (a liberal who’s become ever more of a DFH over the years) stick around here is the level of actual discussion & problem-solving that goes on in these comments.

    The problem I think James is noticing is that, while politics in general tends to attract and reward that kind of “winning” mindset, the Republican Party has been completely taken over, top to bottom, by that kind of person. And it’s basically destroyed them as a viable political organization. More and more people are realizing that, regardless of how it’s labeled, every single thing the GOP has proposed over that last few years has been an uncompromisingly terrible idea. And it feels like they’ve taken these positions and made these proposals purely because they’re the opposite of what Democrats want.

  12. KariQ says:

    I was an independent, third party voter, and I regarded myself as a pragmatist, until the George W. Bush administration pushed me into the arms of the Democrats. I find I’m getting to be a little too much of a tribal Democrat for my preferences. I went in search of thoughtful conservatives, to challenge that tribalism, but everything I found either repelled me, when it didn’t horrify me, or was so detached from reality that it could only be regarded as a thought experiment (what if government programs were the sole and only cause of the housing bubble, collapse, and subsequent recession…). The few exceptions no longer call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.

    So, I’m here at OTB to remind myself that there are still intelligent, thoughtful conservatives out there who think about issues instead of simply applying their intelligence to the most creative ways of parroting and advancing the party line.

    Thank you James, Doug, and all the other bloggers for reassuring me that the conservative perspective can be thoughtful. Let’s hope the conservative party becomes so again, soon. We need it.

  13. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Well, let’s not ignore the obvious demographic issues which skew so much of the commentary on Internet blogs.

    Blogs in no way, shape or form are representative of the larger body politic. Blogs attract political junkies and political junkies are far more partisan than the voting electorate, much less than the general public.

    The Internet medium itself also skews the colloquy. No offense to anyone here, but the reality is that the blog audience disproportionately is made up of government workers, full-time students, full-time academics and retirees. Again, that’s not a value statement. Don’t send hate mail. I’m not saying that this person’s opinion is less valuable than that person’s opinion. But obviously the demographics of the Internet medium slant the commentary to the left side of the spectrum.

    Concerning this particular blog, the nice thing about it is the eclectic nature of its covered topics. On this blog you can read and comment about a whole host of relevant issues. This contrasts sharply with the overwhelming majority of other blogs, which tend to be one-trick ponies and which tend to obsess over tertiary issues or minutiae.

    Full confession: I used to be a blogger. On two group blogs with audiences roughly similar in size to this blog’s audience. What drove me crazy about the experience, as alluded to above, was the tendency of most bloggers to become so myopic in converage as to lose sight of the forest by obsessing over the bark on the individual tree. That doesn’t happen here, however. Each day the authors post a diverse array of relevant commentaries. This is a good thing.

  14. Brummagem Joe says:

    @legion:

    More and more people are realizing that, regardless of how it’s labeled, every single thing the GOP has proposed over that last few years has been an uncompromisingly terrible idea.

    Absolutely correct. Almost without exception they are either completely crazy and/or detached from reality. Ryan’s budget for example is completely off the wall and yet all but ten Republicans in the house voted for it and their presidential candidate describes it as marvellous. Really, you’d have to be out of your mind to take it seriously.

    anjin san
    As once did the bison in Indian times, thoughtful conservatives roamed the OTB range in numbers beyond comprehension. But then, mean liberals hunted them to near extinction.

    Nice metaphor.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Blogs in no way, shape or form are representative of the larger body politic. Blogs attract political junkies and political junkies are far more partisan than the voting electorate, much less than the general public.

    Oh, that’s absolutely true. Its a point I’ve made many, many times over the years–including about myself.

    the blog audience disproportionately is made up of government workers, full-time students, full-time academics and retirees.

    I don’t think this is true. Or, at least, is meaningfully true. Most blog commenters are white collar folks who sit behind a computer all day. Students are unlikely to be all that interested in politics and retirees are less likely to be Internet savvy.

  16. rodney dill says:

    @Rick Almeida: No, I didn’t mean to imply that at all. Its just the imbalance of numbers that drives the reasoned voice of one side away or the other. If anything only the more venomous right commentors will stick around to annoy the liberal majority currently at OTB. (I think I can see the reverse at play at Wizbangblog). If I want to make a measured comment about Romney for example, that I like ‘A’ about him, but not ‘B’ I’ll get three or four comments from liberal commentors that Conservatives have had their head up their ass about ‘B’ for years (for example). Doesn’t really lend it self toward continued discussion.

    It did provide some amusement to me when we had an Instalanche at OTB a while back and the liberal regulars at OTB found themselves in the minority for a post or two, and got ‘voted’ down or shouted down.

  17. KariQ says:

    @rodney dill:

    The sad thing is, none of those comments from the site that shall remain nameless had any intelligent content in them, that I recall. They were all “rally around our attacked Dear Blogger” and “attack whoever presumes to disagree with him” comments. Which is, in essence, what conservatives do these days most of the time.

  18. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    but the reality is that the blog audience disproportionately is made up of government workers, full-time students, full-time academics and retirees. Again, that’s not a value statement. Don’t send hate mail. I’m not saying that this person’s opinion is less valuable than that person’s opinion. But obviously the demographics of the Internet medium slant the commentary to the left side of the spectrum.

    So the blog audiences at say NRO or Redstate are made up of govt workers, full time students, academics and retirees if that’s the predominant blogging demographic?

  19. Fiona says:

    @rodney dill

    No, I didn’t mean to imply that at all. Its just the imbalance of numbers that drives the reasoned voice of one side away or the other. If anything only the more venomous right commentors will stick around to annoy the liberal majority currently at OTB.

    Sadly, this does seem to be true. Not sure what can be done about it.

    For the most part, however, this site is not one where shrieking or hewing a strict party line get you anywhere, which is to its credit. Commentary tends to be fairly civil and not entirely predictable. It’s not the angry place so many political blogs are. That and the eclectic choice of topics make it an interesting read.

    I am struck by the limited number of female participants both here and the other political blog where I regularly respond. I don’t know why women participate less; perhaps an aversion to argument, although I’m not really satisfied with that explanation.

  20. Drew says:

    Perhaps conservative commenters have just found it, as Jan put it, “tiresome” to be labeled stupid, racist or whatever and inundated with opinion masquerading as fact citations….along with the ridiculous thumbs up thumbs down, childishness to be interested in commenting. The essays get read. Commenting is largely a fools errand. Reminiscent of the old NY Times “sewer.”

  21. Drew says:

    Ps.

    All you have t o do I s listen to liberal talk radio or MSNBC and you see the same pattern. All guffaws and sarcasm”…………..almost no real debate or reasoning.

    Conservatives are stupid by def ignition and that’s that.

  22. rodney dill says:

    @KariQ: What’s reasoned or intelligent in politics is in the eye of the beholder. That being said, I’m not going to defend any number of comments for Wizbang as either (certainly not at OTB). I mainly brought it up as an example of a site where conservative voices heavily outweigh the liberal voices.

  23. anjin-san says:

    as Jan put it

    opinion masquerading as fact citations

    You can’t be serious. Jan mastered that technique as few others have, before or since.

  24. Fiona says:

    @Drew

    All you have t o do I s listen to liberal talk radio or MSNBC and you see the same pattern. All guffaws and sarcasm”…………..almost no real debate or reasoning.

    Conservatives are stupid by def ignition and that’s that.

    Reverse that equation, then multiply it by several fold, and you have conservative talk radio and Fox News, where liberals are not just stupid but unAmerican by definition.

  25. rodney dill says:

    @Fiona: I’m not sure that I would recommend doing anything about it either. In many cases, I agree with you that the civility at OTB is better than other sites.

    From a business perspective, I also would not want to break something that works, as far a attracting site traffic and interest.

  26. Janis Gore says:

    Ah yes, James, I remember when you and Steven both were adorable little infant bloggers seeking links and traffic.

  27. mattb says:

    @Drew:

    Perhaps conservative commenters have just found it, as Jan put it, “tiresome” to be labeled stupid, racist or whatever and inundated with opinion masquerading as fact citations.

    I think, if you were to review most of Jan’s threads, you’ll find that she was labelled those things after long exchanges in which, among other things, she:

    – posted links to “evidence” that didn’t say what she thought it said
    – posted links to editorials which she cited as fact
    – posted links which had incorrect information
    – posted links which directly contradicted her position
    – explained that she wasn’t a racist because she liked ethnic food
    – explained that she wasn’t a racist because she had dated black men
    – explained that she was ok with Muslims and other races because they worked

    Jan’s heart always seems in the right place. But her self awareness really left a lot to be desired. She described herself as a conservative who had converted from being a brain dead liberal. Unfortunately, her conservatism, at least as she wrote about in comments, seemed just as informed as her liberalism was.

  28. mattb says:

    Oops… that should have been:

    – explained that she was ok with Muslims and other races because they worked [for her and her husband]

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @Fiona: Well, there might be many females commenting like myself under a gender-free pseudonym.

    What I find tiresome about the “thoughtless” conservatives/liberals is their unwillingness to change mindset when presented with contradictory evidence. (I also really hate conservatives for Not Understanding What Error Bars Mean. Just because your data has a slight difference between men/women/black/Hispanic/whatever doesn’t mean an effing thing if your error bars run the length of the page.)

    I find myself more liberal than conservative these days. I absolutely can’t stand the Republican pandering to 1) creationists 2) fundamentalists 3) Lost Cause idiots and 10th Amendment nitwits. We’ve gone off the deep end endulging a population that would never have developed the present level of U.S. R&D had they been the ones running the country.

  30. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    No offense to anyone here, but the reality is that the blog audience disproportionately is made up of government workers, full-time students, full-time academics and retirees.

    On what are you basing this assertion of what is “the reality.” Actual facts, or just your presumptions?

    Btw, I am none of those things. I work full-time, am not employed by the government, and am not a student or academic. Seems to me you just picked a list of groups you don’t particularly like (except retirees) and decided that blog commenters, whom for the most part I assume you also don’t like, are from among those groups.

  31. mattb says:

    @Drew:
    One other point on being called names… I would point out that thoughtful conservative commentors here, such as Boyd and PD Shaw are rarely called name (or at least not by the vast majority of commentators). There are a bunch of reasons for that.

    Boyd and PD’s contributions typically acknowledge that there *isn’t* a single right/wrong perspective. Likewise, the rarely if ever just recycle talking points. When it comes to facts, they typically bring good ones to the table. They typically don’t just try to score points (well, except for Lincoln in PD’s case, and for certain branches of the Armed Forces and Texas in Boyd’s). And both of them will typically engage in a rational and thoughtful discussion. And I’ve seen both of them admit when they got something wrong and have been gracious enough to accept apologies when they were given in good faith.

    Posters of all political background could learn a lot from their example (and those of a number of other posters at OTB as well).

  32. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mantis:

    you don’t particularly like (except retirees)

    Er….he doesn’t like us either!!

  33. Doubter4444 says:

    @rodney dill:

    I suspect that most of the thoughtful conservative commenters have gone elsewhere, as they were being outnumbered by the liberal commenters. While there a number of respectful measured liberal view commenters there are many that insert venom into thoughtful discussion stifling any meaningful dialog.

    I read this site, and comment when I can, I have to say that is not true.

    In fact your comment is exactly what the essence of this post is about: Any deviation form the party line is considered rude invective, thereby not requiring any rebuttal for a conservative.
    The real fact is, there are trolls here – and you are not one! – and they get hammered, but I’ve read Jenos and Jay Tea and Eric Floric and the comments and issues they consistently harp on – mostly far right hate towards anything the “Left” or the President thinks or says.

    It’s moronic and frustrating, as it just repeats and repeats and repeats that same tired debunked talking points and are frankly, as Mr. Joyner implies above, nonsensical jibes for no other reason than scoring points or tearing down the other side.

    And it’s really frustrating to read the same angry, and frankly delusional screeds from them.

    Are these thoughtful conservative to whom you are commenters your are referring?

    Because I’ve noticed that smart, thoughtful comments without ugly slams against the President or Democrats get dealt with respectfully (for the internet, anyway).

    Rodney, what I really think is that Conservatives are frankly a bunch of whiners – they whine about being treated unfairly, that the deck is stacked against them, that the Lame stream media does not publish their thoughts, that the courts are stacked against them, that schools are indoctrination centers that a secular viewpoint is persecuting Christians and on and on and on.

    When in reality – the right has shifted the window in the last decade or more a tremendous amount – and they have picked up local and state power across the nation, By almost all measures: Abortion regulations, Public assistance availability, Lower Taxes, Stronger Anti-Crime laws, Public Education curriculum, the agenda they have been pushing is WINNING for years, and yet, (or maybe because of it), they still play the aggrieved minority.

    And right here in your post is the issue:
    Despite all that, and the clear evidence that the anger is seething from many on the right, it still the left who:

    …insert venom into thoughtful discussion stifling any meaningful dialog.

    As I’ve said I’ve read this blog for a while and as a Rino too, now, I guess, I”m disheartened, dismayed and discussed by the antics of a wide swath of Republican lawmakers and opinion generators.
    If this keeps up I feel like I’m going to have go the full”John Cole” too, to keep my self respect and sanity.

  34. Damon says:

    I really enjoyed this, particularly the paragraph about Intellectual Honesty. How did we arrive in a place where you must not only show that you’re right, but that at no point in the past were you ever wrong?

  35. PD Shaw says:

    @mattb: Thanks for the comments, but I’m not a conservative. I’m a registered independent who has voted for Clinton, Gore, Obama, Blagojevich, Edwin Edwards, and William Jefferson.

    I’m not sure what Rodney Dill’s politics are, but Drew is a fiscal conservative, who supports a government mandate in insurance and I think is probably more libertarian on social issues. I’m not sure there are any conservatives responding in this comment thread about conservative commentators.

    Conservatives don’t comment here because its a hostile forum. Look at the thumbs up and down on a typical post. Is angin-san’s comments any more different in style than Drew’s?

  36. EMRVentures says:

    @mantis: Agreed. The data I’ve seen (i.e. TalkingPointsMemo’s periodic reports on their reader surveys) suggests that blog readers/commenters tend to be fairly well-educated and well-paid. That suggests there’s a lot of white-collars stealing company time to browse blogs.

  37. David M says:

    @PD Shaw: I’m wondering if the thumbs up/down hasn’t backfired a little. I try to mainly use the thumbs down for openly hostile comments, but it can end up being used more as a disagree or dislike button and it’s overuse may have contributed to some of the other more reasonable conservatives leaving. The few that I’d apply it to are still around, although it’s always hard to look back accurately and say it was better or worse in the past.

  38. Brummagem Joe says:

    The question that is being begged here (although JJ implicitly acknowledges it) is that there is in broad terms an equivalence between positions that are certifiably insane and those that represent realistic doctrines of governance. A good example is the balanced budget amendment to the constitution. No serious economist, central banker or politician regards this as anything other than crazy and yet it’s an article of faith with a majority of the Republican house (and maybe senate) caucus. There is no mid point here. You either favor craziness or you don’t. And you can run through a mass of other Republican policy positions on social, economic and foreign policy issues and apply the same criteria. The media of course is complicit in this as they try to provide a balanced view.

  39. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    Are there no conservative commentators who deply what you call “venom”? Is the world really that one-sided?

    See the reference to team sports. If both sides do it that just means that the discussion deteriorates twice as fast. It’s not an excuse, it’s a tragedy.

  40. al-Ameda says:

    Others have written extensively about the chasm between liberals and conservatives.

    I think that part of the problem is that many people associate only with people who share their outlook and political views. We go off to our corners and we don’t have an understanding nor respect for an opposing view – Red States, Blue States and red suburbs, blue suburbs – we live in our bubbles.

    I am liberal however I grew up in a very conservative law enforcement family, with conservative friends in police and fire services. I actually understand their viewpoints though I agree with them on very few issues. The point is, if you actually know and associate with people who have a different outlook you’re a little more likely to respect it and not be so dismissive.

  41. anjin-san says:

    Is angin-san’s comments any more different in style than Drew’s?

    I will argue that my above comment is a halfway decent little bit of satire, and Drew simply sounds kinda whiny about the unfairness of it all. Yea, there is a difference.

    Let the jury decide…

  42. Brummagem Joe says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I’m not sure there are any conservatives responding in this comment thread about conservative commentators.

    You don’t consider Drew, Dill, Nicko to be conservative?

  43. anjin-san says:

    I’m not sure there are any conservatives

    I would be interested in hearing your definition of conservative. I thought President Reagan was one. By today’s standards, the actual Reagan, not the mythical one, would be a RINO at best…

  44. Drew says:

    Your honor, I rest my case.

  45. Jay says:

    The OTB boards are head-and-shoulders above others, but still not friendly to cons. I hate to say it, but I only read the comments now if I want to know the liberal talking points.

  46. mattb says:

    @PD Shaw:
    Interesting. I guess I’ve always read a conservative bent to your comments. Or perhaps its a habit of playing devils advocate (which I find to be a good thing). Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a thoughtful poster.

    As far as Drew, he’s definitely a fiscal conservative. But he also tends towards knee jerking on a number of red-meat conservative issues — see the complete rejection of any sort of climate change theory in his posts as one example.

    Conservatives don’t comment here because its a hostile forum. Look at the thumbs up and down on a typical post.

    I agree about the thumbs up/down thing. I understand why James implemented it. That said, @David M hit all the reasons why its problematic — and why, typically, its better to just have a “like” button and one to report a violation of the site TOS.

  47. anjin-san says:

    You know Drew, I would love to hear you write something serious. But what you actually produce are things like your defense of Jan, which is simply laughable, or your condemnation of MSNBC combined with an inability to balance your remarks by recognizing the the contributions Fox has made to the downward spiral in our national dialog.

    You like to present yourself as a serious person, but you really give us no reason to take you seriously. I wish you would. I can’t wait to argue politics with some serious people who happen to be Republicans…

  48. rodney dill says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Is angin-san’s comments any more different in style than Drew’s?

    Not so much. Other than liberals will more likely give other liberals a ‘pass’ on voting, regardless of content. To be fair you’ll see the exact opposite at a site that has a majority of conservative commentors.

  49. rodney dill says:

    @Brummagem Joe: I would certainly consider myself more conservative, though I may agree with liberals on certain issues.

  50. rodney dill says:

    @rodney dill:

    To be fair you’ll see the exact opposite at a site that has a majority of conservative commentors.

    That may be able to be read the wrong way. My meaning is that conservatives would give more ‘hostile’ conservatives a pass at a site with predominantly conservative commentors.

  51. G.A. says:

    The OTB boards are head-and-shoulders above others, but still not friendly to cons. I hate to say it, but I only read the comments now if I want to know the liberal talking points.

    lol…..

  52. Ben Wolf says:

    @anjin-san: Drew isn’t really a bad guy, he just plays one on the internets sometimes.

  53. dennis says:

    I suspect, James, that most of us here are moderately conservative-to-moderately liberal, having been chased toward the middle by the extremists in both parties. I went from registered Republican to Independent because I tired of defending Pres Obama from the nonsensical extreme-right viewpoints.

    I’d imagine that many of us on this blog, like you, have evolved (!!!) in our political and social positions, which is a credit to the blog. I’ve learned a lot from all you guys and, hopefully, it won’t go the way of FrumForum.

  54. Hey Norm says:

    Drew…
    You forgot your standard assertion…that you are the world’s most accomplished financier…and as such all of your comments should be regarded as fact…no supporting evidence necessary.

    Anyway…When folks like Bartlett and Frum and Sullivan are ostracized from their party…essentially because they refuse to embrace the wild shift to the far right that the party has taken…it tells you all you need to know. To be a Republican today is to embrace the lies and fabrications of the extremes. Obama apologizes for the US. Death Panels. Tax cuts pay for themselves…and will create enormous economic growth. I could go on…the list is long.

  55. That was a thoughtful and open piece, James.

    My only surprise was the mention of top marginal rate, without binding to the income at which it bites. That surprises me, and is probably what makes me a moderate. Even if I don’t like 90% tax, if I we say it is “for the part over $5B per year” I won’t care. If taxes can’t be 90% (or even 70%) for the part above any astronomical income, then you might be a conservative.

    My surprise at comments so far is that people assume “sub-opinionators” would seek out like minded, rather than divergent venues. I’ve never done that, no matter where I sat relative to the political mean. I’ve always looked for challenging ideas.

    James, you are often intelligently wrong, and for that thank you.

    (Whining commentors who do not achieve that, wear it.)

  56. @Hey Norm:

    Tax cuts pay for themselves…and will create enormous economic growth. I could go on…the list is long.

    Some say that Romney/Ryan ’12 will push a Romney/Ryan budget, with a “use our promises” version of CBO scoring. I suppose that might put OTB back on its feet.

  57. Hoyticus says:

    @James Joyner: Actually I’m a full-time student so there’s at least one out there in the internet ether. Honestly, this is one of the few blogs where the bloggers actually engage with the commentariat making it much more enriching to take part in the conversation. This blog plus Foreign Policy and Fabius Maximus are my bread and butter

  58. Brummagem Joe says:

    @rodney dill:

    I would certainly consider myself more conservative, though I may agree with liberals on certain issues.

    So you’re a conservative.

  59. rodney dill says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Heh, I like my way of saying it better, but yes.

  60. Brummagem Joe says:

    @rodney dill:

    My meaning is that conservatives would give more ‘hostile’ conservatives a pass at a site with predominantly conservative commentors.

    Generally speaking “conservative” sites don’t tolerate dissent. Express a few opinions outside conventional wingnut wisdom and you’re blackballed. In the early days of my playing on the internets just for kicks I used sign up for a few rightwing websites and post some critical comments. Exclusion was rapid. If you don’t believe me go and try it.

  61. Brummagem Joe says:

    @rodney dill:

    Heh, I like my way of saying it better, but yes.

    I’m a rationalist but like Episcopalian hymns and liturgy (old style)….however, I remain a rationalist.

  62. anjin-san says:

    Other than liberals will more likely give other liberals a ‘pass’ on voting, regardless of content.

    You continue to oversimplify this. No one gets a 28/2 ratio on their comment on OTB by showing up and saying “Obama rocks! Fox News blows.” And as you can see above, Drew is fairing slightly better than me in a direct confrontation, in spite of the fact that my comments are generally more popular than his.

    Content matters, quite a bit, in fact. OTB is popular because it is by and large a thoughtful place. There is a reason why no other posters ever go to bat for bithead, Jay Tea, and Jenos, and it is not that liberals are inherently biased and unfair.

  63. rodney dill says:

    @Brummagem Joe: I’ve heard the same exclusivity claim for sites like Daily Kos. I wasn’t really speaking to the condition where a ‘site’ bans people, but where the majority (conservative or liberal) essentially berates the minority.

    I’m sure none of your posts that you consider critical comments could be considered to be trollish in nature.

  64. NoZe says:

    Like others who have posted, I’m a left-leaning moderate (or a moderate-leaning liberal?) who has enjoyed OTB since the early years for the civil dialogue and the opportunity to see what thoughtful conservatives think. In fact, James and I were in the same Ph.D. program almost 20 years ago. We disagreed politically on most everything in those days – I think our views have converged somewhat over the years!

  65. raoul says:

    Sorry JJ-you reap what you sow.

  66. Brummagem Joe says:

    @rodney dill:

    I’ve heard the same exclusivity claim for sites like Daily Kos.

    What you’ve heard doesn’t actually constitute prima facie evidence. To get blackballed at Kos you have offend the citizens soviet whereas express a few contrary opinions at most conservative sites and you’re blackballed. Instead of making vague claims why don’t do what I suggest and find out for a fact.

    I’m sure none of your posts that you consider critical comments could be considered to be trollish in nature.

    What’s this got to do with the First?

  67. David M says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Daily Kos is actually a bad example, as their stated purpose is electing more Democrats, so they probably do allow the least conservative posting of the major liberal blogs. Other than Daily Kos, most if not all the other liberal sites allow conservative posters to some degree though. Usually it takes more than just being conservative to get banned at the other places though.

  68. Hey Norm says:

    @ JP…

    “…Some say that Romney/Ryan ’12 will push a Romney/Ryan budget, with a “use our promises” version of CBO scoring…”

    Actually they’ve already done that…telling the CBO to assume in their scoring that the tax cuts will be revenue neutral, but not being specific about how they will do that…”trust us when we tell you that we will find $14M in offsetting loopholes to close”. Sure you will. Remember…Bush43 said that the deficits caused by his Tax Cuts for the Rich would not be structural. Republicans create debt. It’s what they do.

  69. Brummagem Joe says:

    @David M:

    Daily Kos is actually a bad example, as their stated purpose is electing more Democrats, so they probably do allow the least conservative posting of the major liberal blogs.

    Electing more Democrats is the likely purpose of most liberal blogs. Again do you actually have any personal or prima facie evidence that you get blackballed at Kos for merely expressing consistently conservative opinions?

  70. Brian Heavey says:

    I can’t tell you where the intelligent conservatives have gone, but as someone with a libertarian voting record and some conservative sympathies, I don’t have much interest in engaging in the kind of discussion spawned by your last post.

    The culprit, in my opinion, is Groupthink. And smart people are just as guilty of it than their less-educated peers.

    Look at all the up- and down-voting that went on in that thread. Donald Sensing’s comment was 3/4 up/down. I refuse to believe it’s because it was ill-considered or poorly-written; it just went against liberal/educated/smart-people dogma. Another poster, clearly someone of faith, got something like 30 down-votes on each of her comments, I assume simply because she took a traditional religious view.

    I am just a humble lapsed Catholic myself, but good grief. Not only does your blog employ a system which allows comments to be down-voted to the point where they cannot even be read without an extra click, but people are using it, vigorously, for opinions they simply disagree with.

    Hey, I like science, and logic, and all that fun stuff. I’m not voting for Santorum (so please don’t down-vote me!). But there’s a hostility to people who fall on the other side of the spectrum. And I would suggest that not only have you, the author, grown and changed as a person, but you’ve also changed in your self-perception and your group identity. You may never have agreed with traditional, religious Southerners, but they were your people, to some degree. So you went easy on them. But now, I am guessing, you identify yourself as part of a larger intellectual movement. You are a Moderate, Intelligent Man. It’s the same kind of intellectual vanity that led some libertarians and conservatives to vote for Obama, when the honest position of those people should have been “none of the above.”

  71. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Hey Norm:

    Actually they’ve already done that…telling the CBO to assume in their scoring that the tax cuts will be revenue neutral, but not being specific about how they will do that…”

    Exactly true. Estimates of the amount of lost revenue over 10 years as a consequence of reducing the bands to 25% and 10% range from $4.6 trillion to nearly $7 trillion. All this lost revenue is to be recouped by closing loopholes but they don’t specify what a single one of these actually is. Likewise they project discretional spending falling to 3.75% of GDP including defense despite the fact that since the war Defense has NEVER been below 3% of GDP and total discretionary spending has NEVER been below 8% of GDP. How anyone takes this seriously is beyond me and former businessman Romney who claims to know about these things describes it as marvellous. It’s marvellous alright.

  72. Anderson says:

    but it can end up being used more as a disagree or dislike button and it’s overuse may have contributed to some of the other more reasonable conservatives leaving

    Could be. A comment shouldn’t be blocked just because a lot of people disagree with it – that’s an abuse of the system. Ideally, I might find “helpful” a thoughtful comment that I disagreed with – I am skeptical that’s how it’s being used.

    … I think I left off reading OTB for a few years because the comments section was increasingly dominated by right-wing nutjobs, with whom Anjin-San and his fellows were willing to argue, but for which I lacked the patience. I was surprised by the ideological shift in today’s OTB.

    This, Volokh, and Daniel Larison’s blog Eunomia are the only conservative-leaning blogs I have bookmarked. If there are other sensible ones – I use that term advisedly about Volokh – I’d like to hear about them – maybe JJ can do a post on his favorite conservative blogs.

  73. Mikey says:

    Not that I comment here very often–I do more lurking and reading of the comments–but I suppose I would say my views have “evolved” in much the same way as Dr. Joyner’s, and from similar beginnings.

    Perhaps there seem to be fewer conservative commenters here because some of us have simply become less conservative over the past few years? I mean, there was a time when I would have staunchly defended the statements of most Republicans, and I did support the Iraq War in 2003, but today neither is true anymore. And the GOP’s adherence to religious asshattery certainly has not endeared them to this non-believer.

    The general high quality of OTB’s contributors and commenters keeps me coming here, and even if I still lean conservative, I’ve found most of the more liberal commenters decent and insightful, so whatever the “balance” may be, it’s still a good place to visit.

  74. David M says:

    @Brummagem Joe: From their troll-rating guidelines:

    Do not troll rate people for expressing a contrary opinion, so long as it is expressed in a civilized fashion. The exceptions are for conservative talking points or debunked or false information; this isn’t a site for conservatives, they have entire swaths of the internet in which they can regale each other with their reality-impaired fantasies.

    I may have needed to phrase that better. Actual conservative opinions might be tolerable some of the time, but posters supporting the GOP are not, and conservative comments there are not common. And really, how often are there actually conservative comments even here, as opposed to Republican comments, kind of the point of the original post.

    You might not get banned at Kos for disagreeing about what the marginal top rate should be, but repeating the standard GOP line of “we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem” probably wouldn’t go over well.

  75. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Brian Heavey:

    I don’t have much interest in engaging in the kind of discussion spawned by your last post.

    Er….so why are you engaging in discussion?

    Not only does your blog employ a system which allows comments to be down-voted to the point where they cannot even be read without an extra click, but people are using it, vigorously, for opinions they simply disagree with.

    Shocking. It’s a minor issue. Personally, I hardly ever look at it.

  76. Hey Norm says:

    @ Joe…
    Krugman is all over other Times columnists like Brooks and Stewart for being Ryan apologists…and calling it a centrist plan.

  77. rodney dill says:

    @Brian Heavey:

    Not only does your blog employ a system which allows comments to be down-voted to the point where they cannot even be read without an extra click, but people are using it, vigorously, for opinions they simply disagree with.

    I’ve found that the ones that get voted into requiring an extra click to be seen are “usually” pretty bad, and are there deservedly so. However, you are correct the voting seems based more on whether people agree or disagree with that opinion and not on whether the comment is helpful or unhelpful in the discussion.

  78. Brummagem Joe says:

    @David M:

    You might not get banned at Kos for disagreeing about what the marginal top rate should be, but repeating the standard GOP line of “we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem” probably wouldn’t go over well.

    Ahh…so you likely don’t actually get banned but you’re just frowned upon. On the other hand I can assure that express a few middle of the road opinions at most conservative sites and you’re outta there.

  79. Brian Heavey says:

    @Anderson

    Volokh is written by a bunch of law professors. You don’t have to agree with them, but you don’t think they’re “sensible?” It’s a far cry from Free Republic or whatever else is out there in the fever swamps…

    Also, to buttress my point: The guy who said all conservatives are whiners got 10 thumbs up. What brilliant analysis!

    How about we judge people’s arguments on their merits, and not their adherence to our own parochial norms?

  80. Brummagem Joe says:

    @David M:

    Btw overall I find Kos a bit silly and there’s no shortage of left wing tin hat wearers (but also some very clever people) but you don’t get kicked off there for expressing for example pro business sentiments or pro Republican sentiments.

  81. David M says:

    @Brummagem Joe: I wasn’t disagreeing with you about the conservative sites at all, just pointing out how DK works. And the troll/hide ratings there can lead to auto-banning if there are enough of them…

    I don’t know of any other liberal blogs/website where simply having a conservative opinion can get you banned. (Not including trolling of course)

  82. the Q says:

    I think James could paraphrase Ronald Reagan thus, “I didn’t leave the Republican Party , the Republican Party left me”…..

    I like this blog because I want to read a cogent conservative viewpoint on issues, then watch some of the commentators from the liberal side (me included) destroy these arguments (or not).

    I believe that I can eat the conservatives’ orthodoxy for lunch since their views recently are borderline lunacy.

    And every once in awhile, JJ or Doug will make a valid argument that I can’t refute, therefore I change my mind on issues and my position is made stronger by incorporating this new information into the matrix.

    Call it an old fashioned Francis Bacon type methodology which, in the radical 60s and 70s, was taught by all my Marxist hippy elementary public school teachers whose subversive agenda was to indoctrinate my cohort to hate america by using our brains to think.

    And one wonders why the Republican Party is doomed to the ashcan of history as their ability to think is fettered by ritual, cant, shibboleths and myth.

  83. Brummagem Joe says:

    @David M:

    And the troll/hide ratings there can lead to auto-banning if there are enough of them…

    I think that’s what I said… you could only get banned by the people’s soviet but based on posting there a few years back it was rare.

  84. @john personna:

    My surprise at comments so far is that people assume “sub-opinionators” would seek out like minded, rather than divergent venues.

    I find I enjoy arguing with people I disagree with more than talk to people I do agree with. Hearing stuff I already know isn’t a valuable use of time and unchallenged ideas are rarely very strong. Part of it is my INTJ personality; one of my primary drives is to improve my “mental world simulation”, which you can only do by figuring out what’s not working with the current one.

    That said, it has to be people who disagree in interesting ways, if that makes sense.

  85. @Anderson:

    This, Volokh, and Daniel Larison’s blog Eunomia are the only conservative-leaning blogs I have bookmarked. If there are other sensible ones – I use that term advisedly about Volokh – I’d like to hear about them – maybe JJ can do a post on his favorite conservative blogs.

    I’d like to as well. There used to be about twenty conservative blogs I read on a daily basis. As time went by I found I could stand less and less of them so now I’m down to only six. OTB, Volokh, The Agitator, Hit & Run (all though I’m starting to get tired of them), Marginal Revolutions, and SaysUncle.

  86. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Brian Heavey:

    Volokh is written by a bunch of law professors.

    But then Rivkin and Yoo are law professors. The possession of a JD doesn’t preclude the advocacy of all manner of suspect propositions for pecuniary or other reasons.

  87. @Hey Norm:

    The main bit of “forward looking” in that comment was the expectation of the “Romney/Ryan ’12” ticket. Yes, Ryan has already run the “trust me” scam on the CBO.

  88. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    That said, it has to be people who disagree in interesting ways, if that makes sense.

    Have to agree. But the coherent debaters from the right are few and far between. They don’t do nuance. It’s possible to be pro business (I’m very pro business and get castigated here at times) but recognise there has to be some regulation. Unfortunately with most of these guys it’s binary and once this becomes apparent it’s really a waste of time continuing the discussion. As someone says above, many Republican positions are borderline lunacy and have often been adopted because they’re agin whatever the Dems are for. It’s nihilism and it’s going to be death of them.

  89. al-Ameda says:

    I’m a liberal and I’ve rarely gone to the Daily Kos or to the Huffington Post – what’s the point? It is stereotypically predictable.

    I like OTB because the principals – Doug, James, Stephen – generally present a thoughtful conservative and/or libertarian oriented point of view. I think they they do a good job. There aren’t very many flame-throwers around here. As a few others have noted, “Volokh” is interesting too.

  90. Drew says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    You cracked the code. But I certainly have a talent for bringing out the worst of the lefties. They are like monkeys in the zoo.

  91. Let’s tie this to anti-intellectualism on the right! That’s always fun, and not as unfair as this introduction might imply:

    Only a small minority of conservatives now say they place a “great deal” of trust in science, according to a survey published yesterday.

    The new result represents a drop of almost 30 percent since the 1970s, according to the study published in the American Sociological Review.

    The study says data indicate that the public’s trust in science is largely unchanged since 1974 except among people identifying themselves as conservatives.

    I mean, what the hell? Is it all those super-sized meals (the ones they don’t want the mommy state to take away)? Is that what’s blocking the ol’ synapses?

  92. Drew says:

    Anjin-San

    My commentary is generally reflective, that is, of the quality of the commenter I’m responding to. Look in the mirror.

  93. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Drew:

    They are like monkeys in the zoo.

    On the other hand you act like a monkey with a Walter Mitty complex.

  94. Brummagem Joe says:

    Only a small minority of conservatives now say they place a “great deal” of trust in science, according to a survey published yesterday.

    Drew is upset….he doesn’t think he’s responsible for humans.

  95. anjin-san says:

    My commentary is generally reflective, that is, of the quality of the commenter I’m responding to

    Your commentary constantly marks you as an unserious person – does everyone on OTB come up short in your book? Your defense of Jan was simply weak. Who was it you were directing that at? At any rate, giving what you have displayed here over time, the thought that I see someone you don’t approve of when I look in the mirror is a pleasing one.

  96. grumpy realist says:

    That was actually how I got to John Cole’s site originally–he seemed to be a reasonable self-declared conservative who was saying sensible things. And then I got to watch him get more and more disenchanted with the professed “Republican” mindset (the whole Schiavo affair was the breaking point) and, well, the next you know, he was an independent and then went further left.

    What DID happen to all the Rockefeller Republicans? And why does the Republican Party seem to hate New England so much? What’s wrong with prudence, thrift, and taking care of the Commonwealth?

  97. Drew says:

    .” And as you can see above, Drew is fairing slightly better than me in a direct confrontation, in spite of the fact that my comments are generally more popular than his

    The very fact that someone could think in these terms makes my point. Pathetic.

  98. anjin-san says:

    The very fact that someone could think in these terms makes my point.

    The fact that people who tend to support my remarks and not yours will be fair and back you if they think you are in the right is pathetic in your eyes? I think all the monkeys and mirrors are confusing you…

  99. mattb says:

    @Drew:

    But I certainly have a talent for bringing out the worst of the lefties.

    It’s too bad that you don’t have a talent for advocating for the best of the right.

    Seriously, all too often your posts seem to be about scoring cheap ideological or partisan points rather than actually having a discussion on the merits. And all that is fine if you are just interested in trolling.

    But if that is the case, then don’t try to act the part of the victim or as a voice of the rational right.

  100. KariQ says:

    Just a random thought about the rating system:

    I agree that it can be abused and used to “ding” posts that people disagree with rather than judging them on whether they are actually useful. Personally, I’ve gotten into the habit of voting for posts that I disagree with that are getting a lot of down votes that are clearly based on disagreement with the content rather than quality of the post.

    I don’t know if that complicates the discussion or not, but it makes me feel better.

  101. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As a professed liberal who once upon a time thought of himself as a centrist (because once upon a time I was somewhere between the GOP and the Dem’s)…

    I only use the “Like” or “Dislike” buttons if someone makes me laugh. Otherwise they are an easy way to make a political statement without having to defend ones point of view. I might be wrong, but I am not afraid to be wrong in public.

  102. matt says:

    @Brummagem Joe: I used to post at Daily KOS and while I would display a very strong defense of the 2nd amendment and other typical conservative issues I was never banned. I did on the other hand get a lot of flames with the occasional well made counter.

  103. So, I told the science thing as a mean truth, and got a down vote for it. I suppose that’s fine, but the data itself might point to reasonable conservatives not just being “not here,” but being thinner on the ground in general.

  104. Hoyticus says:

    One of the main problems for the American Right is that generally speaking when you engage a conservative in political conversation you never hear of someone claim that they draw from thinkers like Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk. Instead, they often regurgitate simple axioms they regard as truth i.e. tax cuts lead to growth. My point being that people who claim to hold political opinion in the United States often have no reason for espousing it other than it probably “sounds” good or “feels” good and thusly is good. I call it the Sound Good, Feel Good, Is Good ideology.

  105. Janis Gore says:

    I’m drawn to things that are hidden. I always read hidden comments.

  106. G.A. says:

    A blog run by intellectuals would have a more nuanced button selection then up or down, just saying…..

    and some sort of detector that can tell if some lib has their WOW gold bot puter array hack set up to red button attack non lib talking point comments!!!

  107. G.A. says:

    I’m drawn to things that are hidden. I always read hidden comments.

    yup…

  108. Jay says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I don’t know what the significance of this is, but the blogs that people are mentioning as examples of Conservative Blogs (Volokh, Marginal Revolution, Agitator) are actually libertarian. The latter two are, if anything, left leaning libertarian.

    On a separate note, I was actually personally banned for presenting ‘republican’ views on liberal blogs (2 I think, but I can’t remember their names unfortunately). I can’t say I ever tried a lot of Con sites, but I have posted ‘democrat’ ideas on Red State and Powerline without issue.

  109. An Interested Party says:

    Conservatives are stupid by def ignition and that’s that.

    You complain about how conservatives are negatively stereotyped but do so while negatively stereotyping liberals…

    But I certainly have a talent for bringing out the worst of the lefties. They are like monkeys in the zoo.

    In addition to vastly overrating yourself, you do once again what you complain about others doing…

    Conservatives don’t comment here because its a hostile forum. Look at the thumbs up and down on a typical post.

    So conservatives are tender little creatures that can’t take criticism? As for the thumbs up and down thing, if a person thinks he’s correct in the position he holds, why should he care how many people like or dislike his comment? That’s a rather interesting thing to drive someone away from this site…

  110. michael reynolds says:

    I wish I’d dropped by earlier to compliment you, James, on this post and on your general approach to politics, which I find much like my own. (I’m on book tour, so in and out.) I have a favorite team — but I love the sport, so I don’t want the other team dead, I want them to play a good game.

    I want Republicans to be sane again. I miss Republicans. They were supposed to be the sober, mature adults to our idealistic, impetuous Democratic kids. We need those guys. That’s the natural balance, the order we need to have a strong, functional country. We’re supposed to say, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” and you’re supposed to say, “That’s all well and good, kids, but you’re going to need some financing.”

    The grown-up party has lost its f–ing mind. It just occurred to me, but it’s a bit like the Dad getting Alzheimers. Suddenly the Democrats are the more rational ones, the more sober, realistic ones. That’s not just wrong for the GOP, it’s wrong for us, too. It’s like we’re the only ones really on the field playing the game.

  111. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Jay:

    I don’t know what the significance of this is, but the blogs that people are mentioning as examples of Conservative Blogs (Volokh, Marginal Revolution, Agitator) are actually libertarian. The latter two are, if anything, left leaning libertarian.

    Correct. If people are really talking about ‘Conservative’ blogs, they should be mentioning RedState, NRO, and HotAir.

    And, I disagree that you can really present a liberal viewpoint at RedState. Maybe a little bit, but not for any sustained period of time. They’re the most ban-happy site I’ve ever seen.

  112. Cycloptichorn says:

    … I forgot to add – the commentators on threads at many of these Conservative sites really let down the front-page posters, who often provide incisive and measured commentary. A great example is the latest dustup with Derbyshire – the commentariat at NRO, Redstate and HotAir all pretty much seem to agree that the Derb was right to be super-racist, and that NRO was wrong to can him for doing so. That those are just facts of life that the ‘liberals’ keep everyone from saying out loud all the time.

    It’s depressing to see.

  113. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    Boy, a lot of good comments on this excellent post, James.

    Like many of the commenters above, I come here for the conservative angle on the topic du jour because I simply cannot get it from any conservatives I know personally (and that goes double for members of my family.) They are so deep down the Fox News et al foxhole that it is literally true that they will believe the most scurrilous of rumors on the thinnest, or even absence, of evidence, while denying the most obvious, unquestionable facts staring at them in the face, as long as the end result means Al Gore is fat. Trying to engage them is simply futile and mind-numbingly frustrating.

    I come here to OTB because I feel I get what I can’t at home: actual rational conservative opinion. I’m not always convinced that I’m wrong by that opinion; but I’m even less convinced that I’m right when everyone like me agrees with me.

  114. @michael reynolds:

    I’m on book tour, so in and out.

    I was actually wondering where you’ve been lately. Other than the site author’s, you’re probably the commenter I most look forward to hearing from.

  115. @Cycloptichorn:

    I used to read NRO. Oddly, I dumped NRO and Sullivan at the same time, because I couldn’t stand the day of the two of them wasting time taking cheap shots at each other.

  116. @Eric the OTB Lurker:

    I come here to OTB because I feel I get what I can’t at home: actual rational conservative opinion. I’m not always convinced that I’m wrong by that opinion; but I’m even less convinced that I’m right when everyone like me agrees with me.

    Thesis + Antithesis -> Synthesis

  117. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy Dragon

    Checked out Eunomia… good stuff, I will add it to my bookmarks.

  118. @anjin-san:

    The credit for mentioning that site goes to anderson, not me.

  119. casimir says:

    Thanks. I can forward this article to most of my acquaintences who still call themselves republicans.

  120. Tillman says:

    My commentary is generally reflective, that is, of the quality of the commenter I’m responding to.

  121. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: It’s not the disapproval of the thumbs down per se that is discouraging, but their consequences — disliked comments “get disappeared.” When one clicks on the thumbs down, one isn’t simply saying “I don’t like this,” they’re saying “I don’t like this, and I don’t want it to be seen.”

    If it was simply a matter of seeing how many people don’t like something I’d say, I’d take a bit of perverse pride in it. But those downdings have consequences, and lead to a groupthink-styled form of censorship.

    James, your article got me thinking, and I’m reconsidering my general tone in comments here. There are several definitions of “thoughtful,” and one of them is “polite and considerate.” I’m going to try to put more of that in my comments.

    For example, one statement of yours jumped out at me:

    While I still strongly oppose central economic planning, even at the benign level of Industrial Policy, I no longer think that the free market always yields winners based on the wisdom of the crowds.

    That sounds more like a liberal criticism of conservative beliefs than actual conservative beliefs. I’ve always thought of it more as “the free market is far more likely to yield winners” than “always yields winners.” It’s when other factors besides economics get involved that the market is perverted. And the government’s energy policy is a prime example — not just under Obama, of course, but definitely heightened there. The private sector would never pump so much money into doomed-to-fail “green energy” projects like Solyndra and the like. But the government does because they are not following economic common sense. Rather, they are letting ideology control their investment dollars. That’s why we have so many solar companies failing, why we are putting so many resources into food-based ethanol, why we’re waging war on coal, why the Keystone XL pipeline expansion is being fought tooth and nail, why Obama was taken to court over his illegal blocking of offshore drilling permits…

    No, the free market isn’t always going to make the right choices. But it’s got a hell of a better record of doing so than the government, and a lot more logic on its side.

  122. Anderson says:

    Jay: ” but I have posted ‘democrat’ ideas on Red State and Powerline without issue”

    Possibly your notion of “‘democrat’ ideas” is short of what an actual Democrat thinks Democratic ideas are. I got banned from RedState in about 5 minutes, and that was being on good behavior (polite disagreement with a poster, not flaming ’em).

    … Re: Eunomia, Larison is probably frightening in his social-issue politics, but he’s good on foreign policy, despite a soft spot for Russia, and that’s what his blog focuses on. He’s sooooo conservative, he pretty much can’t stand 90% of the GOP politicians nowadays. (He also recced some books on Orthodoxy for me, one of which I have coming in the mail.)

  123. Hey Norm says:

    “…The private sector would never pump so much money into doomed-to-fail “green energy” projects like Solyndra and the like…”

    It’s not about being polite and considerate…although that is imortant. It’s about not basing your argument on statements that are not just verifiably untrue…but that border on the ridiculous.

  124. Brummagem Joe says:

    @matt:

    I was never banned. I did on the other hand get a lot of flames with the occasional well made counter.

    This was my experience which is why I considered Dill’s claim to be unsubstantiated by the facts.

  125. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    the commentariat at NRO, Redstate and HotAir all pretty much seem to agree that the Derb was right to be super-racist, and that NRO was wrong to can him for doing so.

    Because these are the people read NRO, Redstate and Hot Air and the owners of these blogs know it. Their shock is entirely of the Captain Renault variety.

  126. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Hey Norm:

    “…The private sector would never pump so much money into doomed-to-fail “green energy” projects like Solyndra and the like…”

    Obviously whoever wrote this about the presumed investment omniscience of the private sector has never heard of Enron, AIG or Lehman Brothers and is completely unfamiliar with the government’s history of making direct and indirect investments in either technology or infrastructure projects starting with the Erie Canal.

  127. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: I understand your confusion, Norm. What I’m saying does actually more than “border” on the ridiculous, it is ridiculous. But I’m not fabricating anything. It’s the situation itself that is ridiculous. Kind of like how NBC Dowdified the Zimmerman 911 call to make him a racist — it’s so stupid, you find yourself wondering how the hell it happened.

    Solyndra sought federal financial assistance precisely because the private sector looked at their business model and didn’t see any way of it succeeding. Even the Bush administration was preparing to reject the loan guarantees, but stopped short and left the matter for the Obama appointees to make the final decision. And for whatever reason — the irrational appeal of “green energy,” the political donations of Solyndra’s backers, whatever — they reversed the intended rejection and gave them over half a billion in loan guarantees.

    Hot Air has been monitoring the story, and the Obama administration’s little habit of releasing details drip by drip, usually late on Friday afternoons.

    Here’s a handy list of over a dozen “green energy” companies that the Obama administration backed — and still failed. I spot-checked the references, and it’s not a perfect list there — one company listed is/was a subsidiary of another listed, and another was granted a loan guarantee but declined it — but that’s still a nice dozen examples of Fail.

  128. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Anderson:

    Jay: ” but I have posted ‘democrat’ ideas on Red State and Powerline without issue”

    One wonders what those democrat ideas would be because as you say within five minutes you’re banned at Redstate… Powerline and most of the others take a little longer but it’s inevitable.

  129. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Brummagem Joe: If one were to judge a blog by its commenters, then OTB is somewhat to the left of Democratic Underground. The only case where doing so is reasonable is when the site’s owners/operators maintain tight control over the comments section — like Kos and Little Green Footballs, where dissent is simply not tolerated.

    And that’s why I don’t like the “thumbs down” option here leading to the hiding of unpopular comments. It’s like the authors here are allowing a bit of “mob rule” to impose their own form of orthodoxy.

  130. Hey Norm says:

    “…Even the Bush administration was preparing to reject the loan guarantees, but stopped short and left the matter for the Obama appointees to make the final decision…”

    Again…nonsensical spin of the facts in evidence…but if it’s on the HOTAIR website it must be true…because that’s not one of the most partisan wingnut sites out there. Michelle Malkin and Ed Morrisey…seriously? You can’t make it up…
    The Solyndra nonsense makes up like 1% of the DOE loan portfolio.
    As soon as we stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry…to the tune of trillions if you count indirect subsidies…then I’ll be all for stopping programs like the DOE’s which are an attempt to level a wildly uneven playing field for sustainable energy.
    And Republicans will agree to stop subsidizing big oil when pigs fly.

  131. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: I’ll worry about the “indirect subsidies” once the direct subsidies are taken care of.

    And the point I was making was this: the private sector will stop subsidizing doomed ventures a lot faster than the government will because sooner or later the private investors will run out of money — either theirs or their clients’ — a lot faster than the government will. The government has a tremendous number of ways to recoup their losses, and their ability to coerce more money is unmatched in the private sector.

  132. Herb says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    “If one were to judge a blog by its commenters, then OTB is somewhat to the left of Democratic Underground.”

    Well…duh. OTB is part of the media, and everyone knows the media has a well-known lefty bias…. CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, NPR, NY Times, Wash Post, Huff Post, OTB…if you want the REAL story, gotta go with Foxnews and Drudge.

    Right?

  133. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: FYI, Norm, Michelle Malkin hasn’t been affiliated with Hot Air for over 2 years now, when she sold the site to Salem Communications in February 2010. Just thought you should know that you’re presenting “nonsensical spin” and saying things that are “verifiably untrue” and “border on the ridiculous.”

    You’re welcome.

  134. MarkedMan says:

    Jenos, here’s two facts:
    1) 2/3 of Solyndra’s invested capital came from private firms. Only 1/3 was from the Feds.
    2) Most analysts agree that what killed Solyndra was the Chinese government subsidizing the Chinese competitors and knocking the price of Solyndra’s products down through the floor. Put another way, one government intervened in the market more heavily than another and they appear to have won.

    Do these facts in any way change your viewpoint?

  135. Hey Norm says:

    Wow…really…the site’s founder has been gone for two whole years??? I bet the site’s entire political ideology has changed so much it’s not even recognizable now. FYI…Ed Morrisey is no more sane than she is…and that’s a low f’ing bar.

    “…And the point I was making was…the private sector will stop subsidizing doomed ventures a lot faster than the government…”

    But that’s not what you wrote.

    “…The private sector would never…”

    …and that’s another of your charachteristic traits…shifting the goalposts the minute you are called on your BS.

  136. @Jenos Idanian:

    That 05:55 post was pretty well reasoned, Jenos. The thing is, many of us center and probably a bit left also prefer the market as first choice. It is about what you do after you see a market failure (in the formal and informal sense).

    Let’s say, for instance, that an unregulated energy market would pollute the country and at the same time leave us dependent on foreign sources. How much of that should we accept? Should we just pass a few emission rules and trust the markets after that? Where would that leave us with the middle east? Do we send the army for oil?

    It all ties together. I actually agree that production subsidies for alt-energy producers like Solyndra were a big mistake, but not because alt-energy is a bad idea. We should pay for basic R&D but never subsidize production, for oil or corn ethanol or solar. Otherwise … you pretty much lock yourself into thinking of the Middle East as having “our oil.”

  137. Hey Norm says:

    @ Marked MAn…

    “…Do these facts in any way change your viewpoint?”

    Hahahaha…you crack me up!!!
    Jenos would have definitely voted to put Galileo under house arrest before he/she ever thought to re-considered the “facts”.

  138. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: If you’re going to quote me, Norm, at least have the basic human decency to give the full quote, not just NBC it down to where it proves your point. It makes you look like a dishonest, lying scumbag. And I’m going to assume you’re not, as the full quote is just up this same page, where anyone could look at it.

    The private sector would never pump so much money into doomed-to-fail “green energy” projects like Solyndra and the like.

    The original used the phrases “so much money” and “doomed-to-fail.” That meant after it was clear that Solyndra’s plan was doomed. And most of that private money was invested before Solyndra’s fate was pretty obvious. The federal loan guarantees were made after Solyndra couldn’t wheedle it out of the private sector.

    My two statements were entirely consistent with each other. You had to chop down the first one to five words in order to make it fit your agenda. Shall I do the same with a few of yours?

    No, that would not be “thoughtful.” And I won’t let your Dowdifying (see also: NBCing) my words define my own standards.

  139. @MarkedMan:

    It’s interesting. The Chinese are probably both polluting their own country and overworking dormitoried teens to produce those low cost solar panels.

    Which is dumber, for us to buy them, or not to buy them?

    (I’m not really sure “dumping” should be illegal. If another country wants to subsidize our consumption, they should be free. I don’t think that ever leads to long term dominance in a sector. It’s just foolishness on their part.)

  140. @Jenos Idanian:

    The private sector would never pump so much money into doomed-to-fail “green energy” projects like Solyndra and the like.

    Wait a second:

    The data show that, across sectors, 66 percent of new establishments were still in existence 2 years after their birth, and 44 percent were still in existence 4 years after. (See chart 1.) It is not surprising that most of the new establishments disappeared within the first 2 years after their birth, and then only a smaller percentage disappeared in the subsequent 2 years. These survival rates do not vary much by industry.”

    Let’s not pretend that failure is unique to government. We just don’t care with private investors, right? And we get worked up with Solyndra because … we think government should have a 100% success rate?

    As I say, I don’t think we should subsidize production, but I think Solyndra has become a “hot button” beyond reason all the same.

    Oh, I mean for proof of that, consider how many who consider themselves “right” will defend oil production subsidies while they condemn the much, much, smaller alt-energy stuff.

  141. Hey Norm says:

    Tough guy Jenos the keyboard commando calls me a lying scumbag from the sancity of his mother’s basement.
    What a f’ing loser.

  142. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Very kind of you to say.

    I’m in the final week of a 5 week tour — 2 in UK, 3 in the US. Up at 6:30, presentations to bored teenagers all day, the search for clean bathrooms, the ritual humiliation of a bookstore visit in the evening, awkward phone calls with family, peanut M&Ms and Scotch from the minibar, get up and grab a flight, rinse and repeat.

  143. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: Thank you. And as to your points… there are many forms of “market failure.” For example, in the case of GM and Chrysler, a case can be made that the federal bailout was more political than economic. Had they gone to bankruptcy court, then the bondholders would have been granted their legal rights, the unions would probably have taken a haircut, and the companies might or might not have emerged better able to compete. Instead, the bondholders found their legal rights set aside, the Obama administration’s allies in the unions were thoroughly protected, one of the two was sold off to a foreign corporation, and the other has been using financial chicanery to hide just how much the whole situation is costing the taxpayers.

    In effect, GM and Chrysler were proclaimed “too big to fail” and protected from the laws and systems set in place to deal with corporations in that kind of trouble.

    Yeah, I’m showing my bias. I freely admit it. That’s why I started off by saying “a case can be made” instead of asserting it as fact. That’s my perception of the deal, and that of a lot of others.

    Likewise, in Solyndra’s case, there was a great deal of overlap between “investors standing to lose a lot should Solyndra go down” and “big Obama donors.” The federal loan guarantees — which were headed for disapproval under Bush — protected their investments. And that raises suspicions about the true motives behind the Energy Department’s reversal and granting the loan guarantee.

    Our system is set up to manage failures. We have whole books of law on bankruptcies, that distinguish between “reorganization” and “dissolution.” And failure is part of the system — it’s the “destruction” end of “creative destruction.”

    As for the issue of air pollution (or pollution of any sort), we have systems to manage that, too. But those must be tempered with reality. For example, the federal government only subsidizes ethanol from food sources, and I have to admit that “let’s burn our food!” strikes me viscerally as a really bad idea. Coal can be processed into ethanol, too, but that doesn’t get political approval — so it gets shoved aside.

    I once read about a proposed anti-pollution regulation that said factories had to have their water intakes downstream of their water outlets, and that struck me as a particularly useful principle — have the manufacturers “eat their own dog food.” And there are many ways we could implement it.

    As far as the new mercury standards… they’re simply way too extreme. (Yeah, I’m gonna try to reclaim that word.) According to Forbes, US power plants emit a total of less than 50 tons of atmospheric mercury a year — about as much as forest fires, less than twice as much as human cremation, and about 1/8 of what Chinese power plants emit. US power plants account for about half of one percent of atmospheric mercury. Shutting them down will have about as much effect on the bigger problem as… oh, I dunno, implementing the “Buffett rule” will on the overall deficit.

    Meanwhile, completely independent of new regulations, the utilities are cutting down on coal use on their own. As the price of coal rises and natural gas becomes cheaper and more common, they’re turning away from coal as a power source. It’s fallen significantly in the past few years, and is expected to keep falling as purely economic factors — not government regulation — make it less and less profitable.

    The system can work.

  144. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: Actually, Norm, I didn’t call you that. I deliberately did not call you that. I implied otherwise.

    Let me take away the implication, and say it explicitly: I don’t think you’re smart enough to be a lying scumbag.

    And your continuing inability to demonstrate basic reading comprehension shows my point.

    You know, you could put me in my place quite properly by showing how you didn’t deceptively edit my statement, that your NBCing them down to five words didn’t change their fundamental meaning, and how you weren’t being dishonest when you did that.

    Or you can mutter imprecations and personal insults instead, hoping to bait me into a flame-war. Sorry, not going there.

    Are you mad because I said mean things about you, or are you mad because they happen to be verifiably true?

  145. Brummagem Joe says:

    Rules for feeding animals commenters at OTB zoo blog

    Fairly sane….safe to approach and feed

    Borderline crazy….feed occasionally but only for own entertainment

    Fruitcakes…..do not feed or approach at any time.

  146. anjin-san says:

    James, your article got me thinking, and I’m reconsidering my general tone in comments here. There are several definitions of “thoughtful,” and one of them is “polite and considerate.” I’m going to try to put more of that in my comments.

    It makes you look like a dishonest, lying scumbag.

    ‘Nuff said.

  147. @G.A.:

    A blog run by intellectuals would have a more nuanced button selection then up or down, just saying…..

    A “meh” button?

  148. @Jenos Idanian:

    It’s probably a good idea to stay away from the hot button situations and instead to emphasize the general rules. I don’t particularly like to discuss the auto bailouts because I strongly believe any politician would have done one, differing only in details. On something like that philosophical discussions rapidly disappear into alternate (fantasy) realities.

    We might have more of a chance fighting all energy subsidies. There is a contingent cutting across political parties who support it. Here, for instance, are the Sierra Club and CATO agreeing.

    On coal plants, I actually worked a job as a computer programmer building emissions monitoring equipment and installing it across the midwest and south. I know that there is a long history of environmental improvement driven by “impossible” laws. Generally though the laws are not passed unless (by backroom agreement) the power companies can achieve the goal at reasonable cost. This despite public squawking.

    It’s sad though. Coal is no question the dirtiest fuel we use. If it weren’t for China f’ing up the world even worse …

  149. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: “Makes you look like” implies he isn’t.

    If he’s objecting, then perhaps he believes the description is accurate.

    Would you care to discuss the honesty behind his NBCing my quote? That is, after all, the core issue in play here.

  150. Herb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “I’m in the final week of a 5 week tour — 2 in UK, 3 in the US.”

    Making a stop in Denver? If so, lemme know. I’ll buy you a beer.

  151. Scott O. says:

    James, great article.

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Here’s a handy list of over a dozen “green energy” companies that some a$$holes claim the Obama administration backed — and still failed. I spot-checked the references, and found reasons to believe that said a$$holes are spreading bs so I decided to check no further. Nevertheless, I like the way it mocks Obama so I’ll post it here.
    FIFY

    Don’t want your comments “censored”? Stop posting bs. If we wanted to read bs we would go to Hot Air. BTW, did you let them know that you found some mistakes in their list?

  152. Rob in CT says:

    I do happen to think the ratings system should go. I don’t see what it adds, and I think it’s clear that some people abuse it and others take offense because of it.

    I think what you have is some people who are unused to being called on their BS. Look, everybody will spout some BS a some point in their life (oftentimes BS they got from someone else and failed to examine closely enough). When your BS runs into evidence to the contrary, you have a choice to make. You can either double-down, shift the goal posts, or just bail on the discussion; or you can accept contrary evidence and modify your views (modify != accept the other person’s argument completely!). The former is much easier on the ego.

    Whenever I have attempted to engage Drew, the results have been disappointing. Typically those attempts have centered on environmental regulation, because I know a thing or two about the cost of cleaning up pollution after the fact. What I’ve gotten is a bunch of bluster about how serious he is, followed by refusal to actually think about and respond to my questions/criticisms. I got the same sort of response from superdestroyer recently on the same topic. In both cases, strawmen were knocked down, and my points ignored. Supe sticks around and re-erects his strawmen. Drew flounces. I actually had more success with the Tsar.

    I’m perfectly willing to have a reasonable discussion about how best to protect our environment. That includes, of course, a cost-benefit analysis. The problem I keep running into is that most Conservatives just do a cost analysis. Such and such regulation will shut down some (particularly old & dirty) coal plants, which will increase the cost of electricity. Therefore, it’s bad. But wait! What about the impact of those plants on human health? Anyone willing to look into it will discover that emissions from coal plants have been tied to respiratory problems. What does that cost us in healthcare costs? Hard to calculation, but attempts have been made. Are they flawed? How so? Ok, what’s the correct(ish) number? Then lets talk about coal mining, and its wastestream. Add it all up and coal doesn’t look so cheap anymore (this is true, to a greater or lesser extent, for anything that requires mining, so you have to think about this for any energy source).

  153. I do happen to think the ratings system should go. I don’t see what it adds, and I think it’s clear that some people abuse it and others take offense because of it.

    I find it useful for guaging when I need to explain myself better, when I should conside if I’m getting overly rude, etc.

  154. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: Oh, I’d be the last to argue that coal was “clean.” It’s nasty, and one of the nastier fuel sources available. But that doesn’t change the facts that it makes up about 43% of our electrical supply (down from 51% just a few years ago, as natural gas surges) and we have tremendous infrastructure in place to get and use it.

    There are a lot of other things we can use coal for — the “conversion to ethanol” one is simply one example. But that’s being blocked by the feds, who prefer we burn our food for it.

  155. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But that’s being blocked by the feds, who prefer we burn our food for it.

    Fair point, though in this case, there has historically been bi-partisan support for those corn/ethanol subsidies.

    So while this is a “fed” issue, it’s one that many elected officials (especially those from Corn growing states) have backed. It isn’t an Obama problem — not saying that you portrayed it that way — as much as it is a lack of will to change things and a desire to do what’s perceived as best for your state regardless of your political affilation.

  156. Hey Norm says:

    “…I don’t think you’re smart enough to be a lying scumbag…”

    Nothing like a wimp doubling down on cowardice from mommies basement.
    Typical Republican coward.

  157. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Scott O.: First up, the link wasn’t to Hot Air, so it wasn’t their list that needs fixing.

    Second, while the list was flawed, it definitely showed a trend.

    Third, if you need hand-holding through it, here you go:

    Solar Trust of America: Granted 2.1 billion in conditional loan guarantees in April 2011, files for bankruptcy April 2012.

    BrightSource Energy (mistakenly called “Bright Source”): granted 1.6 billion in loan guarantees in April 2011 to “create or save” 86 jobs.

    Solyndra: ‘Nuff said.

    LSP Energy: filed for bankruptcy February 2012. A “green energy” company that I can’t find any documentation showing they were given any kind of federal assistance.

    Energy Conversion Devices: $13.3 million in tax credits, filed for bankruptcy February 2012.

    Abound Solar: Gets $400 million loan, lays off 180 workers — half its work force.

    SunPower: Technically bankrupt (owes $820 million, $20 million more htan its more than its $800 million capitalization), received $1.2 billion in loan guarantees (50% more than its capitalization).

    Beacon Power: $43 billion in loan guarantees in 2009, filed for bankruptcy October 2011.

    Ecotality: About $140 million in federal funding, majorly in the hole financially, under SEC investigation.

    A123 Systems (Misnamed as “A123 Solar”): About $279 million in federal funding in 2009. Stocks tanked, investors suing, prognosis grim.

    UniSolar: Subsidiary of above-mentioned Energy Conversion Devices.

    Azure Dynamics: no apparent federal funding at first glance; filed for bankruptcy in March 2012.

    Evergreen Solar: received $58 million in federal and state funds, bankrupt August 11.

    Ener1: Received $118 million federal grant in 2009, bankrupt January 2012.

    That answer your questions?

  158. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mattb: It surprised the hell out of me, too, when I realized that it wasn’t entirely Obama’s fault. At least I can still blame him for my hangnail…

    Seriously, it’s a confluence: the corn-producing states want to keep their tidy little scam going, and Obama sees all coal as bad, so the chances of fixing this particular idiocy ain’t good. So while it makes common sense, it doesn’t make economic or political sense to enough people in the right places to keep it from happening.

    And yeah, this is definitely a bipartisan cluster-fark.

  159. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: I’m calling you dishonest over one specific incident — your 8:23 comment where you NBC’d the hell out of my statement to present a completely dishonest representation of what I said. You wanna defend it, or engage in more name-calling?

    Hell, let’s toss it open — will ANYONE defend Norm’s 8:23 comment? Anyone? Bueller?

  160. anjin-san says:

    Well, this once excellent thread has been hijacked. Time to move on.

  161. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mattb: By the way, if I get a little curt with you, I apologize now — I’m trying to maintain two separate “tones” in this thread, and I might get my wires crossed on occasion.

    One would think I’d have built up more tolerance for Norm’s absurdities, but every now and then…

  162. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: I apologize. You’re right; I should just follow your example and ignore Norm’s lies and baiting.

    It’s just a wee bit harder to ignore when you’re the target…

  163. Hey Norm says:

    @ 5:55 you typed:

    “…The private sector would never pump so much money into doomed-to-fail “green energy” projects like Solyndra and the like…”

    @ you 7:46 you typed:

    “…And the point I was making was this: the private sector will stop subsidizing doomed ventures a lot faster than the government will…”

    Cowards do not stand by their comments or reconsider their position…they move the goalposts and call others liars to assuage their inadequacies.

  164. Hoyticus says:

    I’m with Brummagem Joe, anyone who wants to talk about the role of gov’t in the economy and doesn’t look at American history is simply displaying a childlike ignorance of our history. Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures, Henry Clay’s American System, the Transcontinental Railroad, Morill Land Grant Act of 1862, the creation of RCA by the Department of the Navy and private investors to break British Marconi, and Bell Labs getting major funding from the US gov’t. So before you start whining about Industrial Policy and Solyndra etc. please read or do research.

  165. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Hey Norm: Last comment to you, out of respect to our host: those two statements are entirely consistent with each other. Meanwhile, you have been caught “spreading falsehoods” (about Michelle Malkin’s involvement with Hot Air) and NBC’ing my statements. You’re not worth the minuscule amount of time and energy to refute any more.

  166. Hey Norm says:

    Never is consistent with stop faster than the government???
    On what f’ing planet???
    Go read your right wing nut job websites like HotAir.
    But try not to get cheetos on your nice clean jammies.

  167. Hey Norm says:

    Oh yeah…and I’m sorry I didn’t know Malkin had sold out. I really don’t follow the fringies. But like I said…her replacement ain’t any different.

  168. Wayne says:

    I have to disagree that OTB has become a thoughtful discussion blog. Just the opposite. Just because you agree with what most of the others on the site are saying doesn’t make it thoughtful.

    When I first came here it lean slightly to the right but was roughly balance. There were a few trolls but most bloggers had well thought out arguments even if I didn’t agree with them. Now it tends to be a cheerleading sessions with not much more than insults directed at anyone not agreeing with the left’s philosophy. I don’t mind insults much but if that is all they got it is not worth it. Most of the good conservative comments get hidden as well.

    I still pop in here on occasions and once in a while will find a well thought out post. However most of time it’s a cheerleading session with most of the permanent liberal bloggers insulted any conservatives for their comments instead of engaging them in a discussion.

    Perhaps it just the sign of the times. Most of the blogs I have seen have either become heavily left or heavily right. I have seen just a many turn right as left. Which leaves out someone like me who likes to hear arguments from both sides instead of basically reading name calling which is what happens when sites become either heavily left or right.

  169. MBunge says:

    @Wayne: “Most of the good conservative comments get hidden as well.”

    That comment more accurately describes your true nature than anything else you wrote.

    Mike

  170. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MBunge: The more fundamental question is, “why do certain comments need to be hidden at all?” Why not let comments stand, as a testament to the commenter’s thought processes and character? Who needs to be “protected” from seeing such things? And why did the site’s owners subcontract out their responsibility for policing their comments section to the mob?

  171. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The more fundamental question is, “why do certain comments need to be hidden at all?” Why not let comments stand, as a testament to the commenter’s thought processes and character?

    This is a point where there seems to be agreement from people on all sides. I don’t think the comment system needs to be scrapped. If you believe in your perspective, you shouldn’t be worried about it being “disliked”/unpopular. But there is no reason for the content of that post to be hidden — or put a different way, if it’s so bad that it should be hidden, why is that post even remaining on the board?

    I totally support turning off the “post-hiding” aspect of the comment system (if that is an option).

  172. @Wayne:

    Most of the good conservative comments get hidden as well.

    I ask with all sincerity: do you have an example? I find that, on balance, the covered up comments are usually not all the impressive and usually nonsense, regardless of ideological leanings.

  173. And btw: a discussion will be had with the OTB crew about the comment system.

  174. G.A. says:

    @G.A.:

    A blog run by intellectuals would have a more nuanced button selection then up or down, just saying…..

    A “meh” button?

    lol….

    I would ask for a way to preform all three of these in a gradation, and back again if need be:)

    Perhaps some type of equalizer bar per sentence or paragraph? it would be cool if it made funny sounds too….

  175. Rob in CT says:

    Good news, Steven.

    You could leave the thumbs up/down but get rid of the hidden comment part. My personal preference would be to toss the thumbs as well. If you want to disagree, post! 😉

  176. David M says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I know I was one of the one that brought it up, maybe keep the thumbs up/down and add a hide option. I think it works pretty well most of the time, and the site is better off with it than with nothing. I do think some posts are offensive enough it’s nice to have a hide option, and if people do like using the helpful / unhelpful buttons, maybe that’ll allow them to dislike something they disagree with, without hiding the comment completely.

  177. mattb says:

    The other option is to tweak the ratios. Basically set “hide” to having to be a significant amount of net* down votes (i.e. 25+). Looking at the Derb thread for example, the worst post was hidden by a pretty high margin (30+ down votes).

    * – by net down votes I mean the total left after subtracting out any plus votes. Right now the system seems to hide at 15 net down votes. A post with 5 up votes and 15 down votes still shows because the net down votes are only at 10.

  178. Wayne says:

    @Steven
    Of course you do because you disagree with them. Go back and look at most of the hidden comments. They are not hidden because offensive language but because they differ in philosophy. You remind me of those professors who claim they don’t grade based on ideology leanings yet their track record says otherwise. They think they are above it and won’t even consider otherwise but they are only fooling themselves.

    The question of the post is “where have the thoughtful conservative gone”. Similar to many restaurant, bar ,etc owners who ask where have their costumers gone, I don’t think you all really want the answer, especially it reflects negative on you.

    I suspect the question falls into line with what OTB has become. It wasn’t meant to be a serious question to be answer or to gain insight but a lead in statement in order to have another cheerleading session.

  179. Tillman says:

    Hmm. So all the conservatives have disappeared like the Mayans after a catastrophe?

    In terms of the evolution of the commentariat, it’s clearly the case that most of the better contributors are to the left of me. There are a handful of very thoughtful conservative voices left–and I count Boyd among them–but they do seem fewer in number than was once the case.

    Has the traffic on this site stayed constant the whole time? I’d worry more about that. ’cause if it’s grown, it just means your average lib bloghead is looking for something contrarian but intelligent, and found you & co.

  180. An Interested Party says:

    @Wayne: You don’t need to cop out…you could, instead, answer Steven’s question…what are the examples of all these “good” conservative comments that have been hidden…

  181. Tillman says:

    @Wayne:

    They are not hidden because offensive language but because they differ in philosophy.

    All of the hidden comments I’ve seen were so because they’re pointless invective; philosophy ain’t got nothing to do with it. People get angry over this crap and, for one stupid reason or another, allow their hands to type more crap into a computer, move a mouse cursor to hit “Post Comment,” and then sigh satisfactorily over a rant well shat. Look at every one out of four posts from Norm or Jenos, or every one out of two for Drew’s.

    Now I could understand perhaps a lament over how more and more posts these days just seem to be these invectives since we’re all so angry now with the election year here, but not what you said. What you said makes no sense to me.

  182. anjin-san says:

    @ Wayne

    Of course you do because you disagree with them.

    Steven’s fairness and patience is more or less the stuff of legend, as is the frequency of conservatives playing the victim card.

    They are not hidden because offensive language but because they differ in philosophy

    If you think wallowing in stupidity and ignorance is a philosophy, sure.

    Show us the “reasonable” conservative posts that have been voted off the island. I am not the only one to ask – time for you to put up or shut up.

    I don’t have any problems with the comment ranking system as it is. It gives the community at large a mechanism for dealing with egregious nonsense, and it provides a straw poll on where a by and large bright and well informed group of people stand on issues.

    SalesForce has an internal communication tool called chatter. Employees who get a strong enough positive reaction to their comments get noticed by senior leadership – it’s created an entirely new advancement path within the company and helped shake up the traditional hierarchical structure of the company. That’s a good thing.

    If I was James I would track positive response and offer a few folks the opportunity to guest blog.

  183. @Wayne: I would note that I politely asked for an example and instead I received a personal attack.

    I would suggest you are not making your case very well.

  184. @Tillman:

    All of the hidden comments I’ve seen were so because they’re pointless invective; philosophy ain’t got nothing to do with it.

    This tends to have been my experience. Have I seen comments voted down because of simple disagree? Sure–and that is regrettable.

    What I haven’t seen, to bolster the point, is what @Wayne has claimed (but not substantiated: “Most of the good conservative comments get hidden as well.” I honesty can’t recall a truly substantive comment being voted down (except maybe in that instalanched post of mine a month or so ago where the swarming visits from outside played havoc with the system).

    For what is is worth: I have no problem getting rid of the hide-the-comment feature. I do like the thumbs, though.

  185. G.A. says:

    Vote check!

    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
    Winston Churchill

  186. mattb says:

    The problem with @Wayne’s comment is his use of “good.” By “good” Wayne seem to means comments that are “proudly” ideological in their attempt to score points for a side. Unfortunately, in the process of grinding an axe (see: Wayne’s attack on biased professors), those comments also tend to:
    > attack without any real consideration of logic
    > avoid directly addressing the argument that they are attacking
    > recycle “facts” that are either taken broadly out of context or are flat out wrong.
    > end up as appeals to stereotypes
    > divide the world up into black and white, good and bad, with the commentor’s side always being good and/or the victim
    > make claims without ever backing up the assertions
    > and are just, in general, inartfully written (not that I’m one to talk)

    Though we all like to tweak noses from time to time, I think many of us tend to think “good” equals “substantive” (to use the word that Steven used) and are posts that usually:
    > acknowledge that there might not be an easy answer to a situation
    > acknowledge that there are multiple viewpoints
    > bring solid facts to the table (and sometimes acknowledge their limitations
    > directly and honestly address the points that others have raised
    > try to extend the conversation rather than prove that the poster is “right.”
    > admit the limits of one’s argument or knowledge

    All that said, in reviewing the recent Derb thread, I do think that most of the posts that were hidden didn’t deserve to be hidden. Do I think they were examples of “good” conservative posts? No. But if they had been written to take a liberal point of view, I wouldn’t call them good “liberal” posts.

    But to that point, I do think that too many “Wayne Good” liberal comments get a pass (if not end up being voted up) while “Wayne Good” conservative comments end up hidden.

    At the risk of poking a hornet’s nest, other than the fact that more readers tend to agree with the prior’s point point of view, how much distance is there between Brummagem Joe and Jenos’ styles of argumentation (to pick two agent provocateurs from opposite sides).

  187. @G.A.:

    Perhaps some type of equalizer bar per sentence or paragraph? it would be cool if it made funny sounds too….

    You just really want to be in one of those twisty knob focus groups CNN puts together for presidential debates.

  188. One question for the people complaining about the “comment culture” here. What, in your mind, is an example of a blog you think has a good one? And I don’t mean the blog itself, I mean specifically the comments that get left. What blog would you prefer OTB to be more like?

  189. al-Ameda says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    One question for the people complaining about the “comment culture” here. What, in your mind, is an example of a blog you think has a good one? And I don’t mean the blog itself, I mean specifically the comments that get left. What blog would you prefer OTB to be more like?

    There are no Nirvanas. I think OTB is fine as it is. I find the flame-throwing to be at a minimum here – a good thing.

  190. Tillman says:

    @mattb:

    But to that point, I do think that too many “Wayne Good” liberal comments get a pass (if not end up being voted up) while “Wayne Good” conservative comments end up hidden.

    I agree, but it would’ve said more if you’d ended that sentence after the word “pass.”

    how much distance is there between Brummagem Joe and Jenos’ styles of argumentation (to pick two agent provocateurs from opposite sides).

    Having been in conflict with both, I feel I can offer unique insight: one can’t read and the other can’t think.

    In seriousness, the difference is hyperbole. BJ and JI might express the same opinion once in a blue moon, but I can guarantee you won’t read them the same.

  191. mattb says:

    @Tillman:

    I agree, but it would’ve said more if you’d ended that sentence after the word “pass.”

    Fair. I typically don’t know when to quit. I think it would have been more accurate to write “while many “Wayne Good” conservative comments end up hidden.”

    In seriousness, the difference is hyperbole. BJ and JI might express the same opinion once in a blue moon, but I can guarantee you won’t read them the same.

    JI might be more hyperbolic. But at the same time, one’s tolerance for hyperbole is often influenced by how much one agrees with the underlying point. I’m sure for Wayne BJ’s hyperbole seems far worse than JI’s.

  192. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mattb:

    BJ’s hyperbole

    Would you like to give me an example of my hyperbole?

  193. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Tillman:

    Having been in conflict with both, I feel I can offer unique insight: one can’t read and the other can’t think.

    Am I the one who can’t read or can’t think…..LOL

  194. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm…it would appear that some conservatives are indeed tender little creatures that can’t take criticism…

  195. Hoyticus says:

    I’m with Prof. Taylor, the last time a reasonable comment was hidden was due to the “Instalanche” when some of us criticized the Manichean Makers Vs. Takers article that Prof. Reynolds had written that happened to be awful.

  196. Tillman says:

    @mattb:

    But at the same time, one’s tolerance for hyperbole is often influenced by how much one agrees with the underlying point. I’m sure for Wayne BJ’s hyperbole seems far worse than JI’s.

    A far greater stressor on tolerance? How often you’re exposed. Jenos exposes (me? himself? us?) more often to hyperbole than BJ does. Even if I agree completely with the sentence, “Ice cream is good,” there are only so many ways to pep it up before I get sick of it.

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Would you like to give me an example of my hyperbole?

    Come on, BJ, Paul Ryan’s budget isn’t completely off the wall.

  197. MarkedMan says:

    I have definitely seen comments that were civil and decently reasoned that were buried and they were on the conservative side. I make a point of giving these a thumbs up, even if I don’t agree with the politics. I’ve probably done it 5-10 times in the last month.

    Maintaining a blog’s comment section seems to be like maintaining a garden in that it requires constant adjustment or it will become overgrown with weeds. Two suggestions:
    1) Make a boilerplate comment that “Unhelpful” is only to be used for flames or off-topic posts and then have the site moderators cut and paste that in at least a couple times a week.
    2) Implement a 24 hour ban protocol for people who bring a discussion down into the level of “lying scumbag”, “but you’re a dishonest clown”, “but you are worse”, “I know you are but what am I”. All parties actively participating in such juvenile exchanges would just be banned for 24 hours, and it should be used freely. Call it the “stand in the corner” rule.

  198. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Tillman:

    Come on, BJ, Paul Ryan’s budget isn’t completely off the wall.

    I know your definitions are a little odd at times but by any reasonable criteria Ryan’s budget is for the birds. When you propose a change in the tax system that will remove roughly $5 trillion dollars in revenue which you say you will recoup by closing loopholes but refuse to name a single loophole you’re going to close it suggests a certain lack of seriousness. Then there’s the proposal to reduce discretionary spending including defense to 3.75% of GDP when defense is around 3% of GDP and total discretionary spending including defense has never fallen below 8% since the war. Maybe you think this a credible bit of budgetting but I don’t.This really the best you can come up with?

  199. An Interested Party says:

    Come on, BJ, Paul Ryan’s budget isn’t completely off the wall.

    Really? How would you characterize it?

  200. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: One question for the people complaining about the “comment culture” here. What, in your mind, is an example of a blog you think has a good one? And I don’t mean the blog itself, I mean specifically the comments that get left.

    Oh, man, I had a great answer lined up. A blog with the most amazing commentariat in the blogosphere. A blog where the comments routinely run into the hundreds, with some of the wittiest, cleverest, and brutally funniest people on the net. Where even someone like me will actually read comments and say “just another 25” and end up reading an entire 400-comment thread. Where the commenters are almost totally uninhibited and downright brilliant.

    And then you tossed in the kicker that blew my example out of the water.

    What blog would you prefer OTB to be more like?

    As much as I love it, I’d never want OTB to be like Ace of Spades. Ace and his morons are special… and I don’t think the internets could survive another Ace HQ. And it would, quite frankly, ruin OTB to be like it.

    But damn, that’s one marvelous group over there…

  201. michael reynolds says:

    @Herb:

    Thanks, but I’m down to Indianapolis and Houston and then home, finally. God damn I hate book tour.

  202. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: Well, two ways to differentiate Ryan’s budget from Obama’s are “tangible” and “likely to get at least one vote…”

  203. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: You know, I hear the Rock Bottom Remainders might be looking for new members. And from what I’ve heard, “musical talent” isn’t really that big a necessity…

  204. MarkedMan says:

    If calling Paul Ryan’s budget “completely off the wall” is considered unacceptable hyperbole, then I’m not sure what could possibly be acceptable. He proposed a budget that has the equivalent of “and then we go faster then the speed of light at this part in the middle” buried inside of it. His answer to the challenge is “but we never explained how we were going to do that part so you can’t say it is impossible”.

  205. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    There’s not much musical talent. . . and then there’s me.

  206. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I didn’t comment on the Derbyshire thread, but it’s been cited as an example. So I’ll give a quick perusal and offer my own opinions on the hidden comments (for whatever it’s worth).

    hogtrashhd, 12:48: OK, I’d be tempted to vote that one down purely for being one long run-on sentence.

    Charles Mangerian, 19:05: A bit incoherent and meandering, but the only real “offense” I can see is the out-of-left-field attack on homosexuality. So, yeah, maybe for a bit off-topic.

    el polacko, 20:47: An irritating name, but I see the comment more in the spirit of Eric Holder’s call for “open discussions” on race. Still, down-voted enough to get hidden.

    jmc, 13:40: A simple account of personal experiences and opinions, which could have been a good jumping-off point for honest discussions of racial matters. Instead, buried away.

    I must admit, I am surprised. I thought more comments would have been voted down. And I regret that I didn’t have time to comment; I’m certain the thoughts I had would have been hidden, too. But then again, the vast majority of comments were liberals talking about how awful Derbyshire was, and by extension anyone who ever held any opinion remotely similar to one of his. On the censorship front, it wasn’t exactly a “target-rich environment.”

    But of the four, I’d say that one didn’t deserve to be hidden, one was “iffy,” and one I really shouldn’t offer an opinion on, as the incredibly poor grammar kept me from actually reading the content. Only one — hogtrashhd’s — was indisputably, to my way of thinking, worthy of being suppressed.

    Anyway, you asked for opinions and examples, and there’s mine.

  207. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: Piker. I, personally, am under several court orders to refrain from attempting to sing, play an instrument, dance, or even sway rhythmically in public. And my shower head is openly suicidal.

  208. KariQ says:

    It may be a bit late to put in this thought, but perhaps an additional button? Thumbs up/down can indicate agreement or disagreement, and add an “unhelpful” comment that will, if struck enough, hide the comment? Perhaps that is unnecessarily complicated.

    I have not seen a lot of quality comments hidden, myself. Usually, the hidden comments are well deserving of being hidden. Some liberal comments that are equally worthy of being hidden aren’t, I will grant. Sometimes, they even get the yellow border of approval, as one of mine did in the thread on the essay assigned to the justice department on judicial review. I’ve felt guilty about that post, and wished I could edit it. I still mean it, in a sense, but the way I wrote it sounded like cheap grandstanding.

  209. mattb says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Would you like to give me an example of my hyperbole?

    I don’t have one off the top of my head. And since I’m not going to have the time to go back through past threads, I’ll withdraw that statement rather than invoke the Palin defense.

  210. matt says:

    @john personna: Indeed between the radioactive ash to the mercury released in the air just burning coal is a dirty costly activity for society. Add in the waste and pollution created by the mining of coal and you’ve got a source of energy that kills or maims more people then any other.

  211. Tillman says:

    @Brummagem Joe & An Interested Party: …I’d characterize it as insane, but not in polite conversation.

    I was joking, you see. That’s why those italics are there. If I was being serious, I wouldn’t have stopped where I did, as BJ can attest with my “definition” problem.

    We need emoticons. No one realizes just how often I’m smiling when I type this drek.

  212. Wayne says:

    @Steven
    You can spend your time looking up previous hidden post as easily as I can. But for a quick example look at

    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/appeals-court-orders-obama-to-clarify-remarks-on-judicial-review//#comments

    The comments by several of the conservatives post including me were hidden at the time although now. They are just pink now.

    If you want examples of personal attacks just look at many of the comments directed at me above. They are not trying to point out how they think my thinking is flawed but just name calling.

    @Mattb
    I am not reciting stuff about professors from stereotypes but from my personal experience. They just happen to coincide. I had similar discussion with liberal students who thought it was the conservative students and not the liberal professor dealing. I created experiments to show them differently. An eye opener for them.

    In a hurry so didn’t have chance to proof read.

  213. Wayne says:

    It cracks me up when liberals go on this “you can’t take criticism” routine when they are the ones that get outrage when they are criticized. Personally it doesn’t bother me much and I’m often not shy about dishing it right back.

    However most wouldn’t go to a blog site where all they get is insults thrown at them and very little reasonable discussion. IMO that is one of the main reasons why most conservatives have gone elsewhere. There are a few like Reynolds that have good discussions but then you have many more MBunges who “think” they are clever but are not here than there are Reynolds.

  214. @Wayne:

    You can spend your time looking up previous hidden post as easily as I can

    On the one hand, true. On the other, you are the one who made the original assertion and I was trying to get a handle on your meaning. As such it strikes me as reasonable to ask for a specific example.

  215. Wayne says:

    How often do you and the liberal’s bloggers here give specific examples of their assertions?

    Like almost always, once again I produce references and once again they are ignored.

  216. Wayne says:

    And people wonder why I am hesitant to do so when it gets ignored in the end anyway. The whole if a conservative doesn’t waste their time producing references it doesn’t exist. If they do, it still doesn’t exist because I ignore it liberal mentality.

  217. @Wayne: You made a very specific claim: “Most of the good conservative comments get hidden as well.”

    I was trying to determine what your definition of a “good conservative comment” was (which is, granted a normative claim). You also made an empirical claim that “most” of those types of comments are hidden.

    You are trying to make an issue of basic evidence and argumentation into a liberal/conservative dichotomy.

    Further: instead of having a conversation with me about this topic you first a) question my character/judgment (assuming that I am simply making ideological evaluations) and then b) refuse to actually engage on the issue but instead continue to cry foul. Where’s the foul in asking for some sort of example or definition. Telling me to go look at hidden comments and make my own assessment is problematic because doing so would not help me understand your definition of a “good conservative comment.” If you are asserting that all hidden comments represent “good conservative comments” then I would disagree.

    I do think, as I have stated, that some of the hidden comments did not deserve to be hidden.

    I am also the one that initiated with James the notion of doing away with the hiding function. Does that make me conservative or liberal, good or bad in your classification scheme?

    (BTW, I reject the stark dichotomous classifications that you are trying to apply here. For example: what, save for your assertions, makes anything I have said in this thread “liberal” or, for that matter, what has made anything you have said “conservative”?)

  218. @Wayne:

    How often do you and the liberal’s bloggers here give specific examples of their assertions?

    I am sure that there have been times that I have been asked for examples for X, Y, or Z and have somehow failed to provide them.

    In general, however, if I make a specific claim I try to back it with evidence, especially if asked.

  219. @Wayne:

    And people wonder why I am hesitant to do so when it gets ignored in the end anyway. The whole if a conservative doesn’t waste their time producing references it doesn’t exist. If they do, it still doesn’t exist because I ignore it liberal mentality.

    Again: what have I done that is unreasonable or untoward in this conversation? Where I have even made claims or arguments that are ideological?

  220. @Wayne: Ok, I skimmed over the comment thread you noted above. I would agree that several of the comments that received a large number of thumbs down did not deserve to be hidden. I would specifically concur that your comment did not deserve such.

    Of course, the good news is: none of them are now hidden.

    The degree to which any of those comment are emblematic of a broad attempt at squelching “good conservative comments” is another issue, however.

  221. Wayne says:

    @ Steven
    You said “I find that, on balance, the covered up comments are usually not all the impressive and usually nonsense” and ““All of the hidden comments I’ve seen were so because they’re pointless invective; philosophy ain’t got nothing to do with it.” This tends to have been my experience”

    My experience is yes some of the hidden comments are hidden because they are invective but it is the almost always conservative comments that get hidden. It is also my experience that many of the conservative comments that make valid points get hidden as well. You have posted on many of those threads where it happens. So if you believe those comments are nonsense etc then it is most probably due to your philosophy. The other two likely possibilities would be poor memory on your part or me liking the comments purely on its philosophy. You commented on the hidden post as if you remember them and I took your word for it. I examine in the past the hidden post through my so call “objective” glasses and found that even though they were philosophical base that they were not “nonsense“. Many made very good points but not points a liberal would like. So eliminating the later two possibility and other possibilities being remote, I leads me to conclusion that you did so because of your philosophy.

  222. Wayne says:

    @ Steven
    What is a liberal or conservative is very subjective and varies from place to place and from people to people. I have a right to my perspective on the subjects as anyone does. That said I understand sometimes when I put in liberal in a post that those I’m addressing feel like I lumping them in as well. Sometimes I am. You, Doug and especially James are generally more liberal than I am. Although in some particular cases I’m sure that wouldn’t be true.

    As for examples of what you have said that make you sound like a liberal, refer to the above post about hidden post being nonsense. If you tend (not in all cases) to agree with what liberals say and their philosophy while disagreeing with what conservative say, then people will think of you as a liberal.

    The authors of blogs tend to influence where that blogs go. IMO that is the reason why many conservative have left and many liberals have shown up. It is your blog, you can go anywhere you want. I understand that it is human nature to think one never changes much and people don’t like to look into the mirror. I was just throwing out my thoughts in hope that it would maybe get someone to consider the possibilities. Like any advice, you can take it or leave it.

  223. Wayne says:

    @ Steven
    Sorry one more thing. I appreciate you looking over the thread I noted. Personally my thread being hidden doesn’t bother me since I know what I wrote. It is just a pain of having to click on others post to unhide them. It destroys the rhythm.

  224. @Wayne:

    it is the almost always conservative comments that get hidden

    I will say this: I think you are right about that in a general sense (so I am backtracking a bit on my original statement–which was too strident). However, I still don’t see any evidence that “Most of the good conservative comments get hidden as well.” Indeed, a frequent victim, if you will, of the voting down system, superdestroyer is clearly “conservative” comments but he is rarely cogent, let alone “good” in sense under discussion. These are the types that I tend to notice. I would note that I read a lot of comments.

    And I have little doubt that I am more, as as general liberal than you, based on your comments. I still find that you are oversimplifying conservative/liberal and more accurately you are saying “things Wayne likes” v. “things Wayne doesn’t like.” Or, at least, you use the terms like sports team mascots.

    I appreciate you looking over the thread I noted.

    Thanks for saying so.

    At a minimum: nothing will be hidden henceforth.

    Cheers.

  225. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’m going to name names here, just to make a specific point: I think that Norm and wr are probably the two most consistently worthless commenters on the left side. They engage in mindless partisanship, crass insults, and almost never back up their assertions with facts. Further, they routinely state things that are not just false, but laughably false and readily disproven. And often were.

    And I have never seen any of their comments voted down to the point where they got hidden.

    I would cite those two as Exhibits 1 and 2 in the argument as to how the “voting” system was ideologically biased. If the general crowd were fair in their application of their standards on what gets voted down, then remarks from those two would have routinely been vanished. But I don’t ever recall them ever getting more than a couple of down votes. Far more often, they got up votes.

    For example, Norm’s comments in this thread — mostly personal attacks, misquotes, and false statements. Two net negatives, three ties, and the remaining seven net positives. And none of the negatives were sufficient for hiding.

    That’s your (former) system, Mr. Taylor, in a literal nutshell. Hey Norm’s pointless invective gets applauded.

  226. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mattb:

    I don’t have one off the top of my head. And since I’m not going to have the time to go back through past threads, I’ll withdraw that statement rather than invoke the Palin defense.

    I honestly think you’d have some difficulty finding one since I deplore exaggeration unless it’s in the service of humor.

  227. mattb says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    I honestly think you’d have some difficulty finding one since I deplore exaggeration unless it’s in the service of humor.

    Taking you at your word, I might have gotten my wires crossed and wrote your name where I was thinking of someone else.

  228. Brummagem Joe says:

    @mattb:

    I might have gotten my wires crossed and wrote your name where I was thinking of someone else.

    Well since you think Jenos and I are essentially similar I can quite believe it.

  229. Eric Florack says:

    Thoughtful= “Agrees with me”.

  230. @Eric Florack: Funny you should define it that way, since over here you basically assert that about yourself.

  231. fustian says:

    This thread so cracks me up!

    Sure, ALL conservatives are unreasoning, emotionally stunted troglodytes that run from facts, and they have NEVER offered up a single proposal that wasn’t completely moronic, but why won’t they come and talk with us? All leftwing websites are modern day salons and all rightwing websites are lowest-common-denominator echo chambers.

    If they would only come to us for rational discussion, we could employ our superior reasoning and our fact based arguments and we could help them see that they were simply misguided loons.

    Perhaps just a touch of self-awareness might help here. Listen to yourselves people!

    As you pine away here unloved by the intelligent conservative, you might eventually have to come to terms with the fact that “we’re just not that into you…”.

  232. mattb says:

    @fustian:

    Sure, ALL conservatives are unreasoning, emotionally stunted troglodytes that run from facts, and they have NEVER offered up a single proposal that wasn’t completely moronic, but why won’t they come and talk with us?

    Ok… so in three or four comments you prove yourself to be a one trick pony, basically adding “ALL” to any critique of conservatives so that you can dismiss them outright.

    I’m glad to see you’re soooooooo interested in contributing to thoughtful conversation here.

  233. Eric Florack says:

    Funny you should define it that way, since over here you basically assert that about yourself.

    You’re going to continue to dodge the obvious on that point….Your version of what user is not conservative seems to me to lack a certain perspective.

    Pretty much the same as the 80 year old blue hair putting along in her Buick it twenty miles an hour in the left lane of the freeway with a right turn signal on, complaining how everyone is racing around her. Compared to what I’ve seen you write in here,everything is extremely right wing.