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August 27, 2005

Comments

I just wanted to add, as I try to add in most threads here, pbbththhhhththhh. And proud of it.

Definately intimidation. Sometimes comments have already been expressed more eloquently by someone else.

Everything I've ever written has been better said by someone else. Doesn't never stop me, kemkem... why should it stop you?

There are surely more reasons than just intimidation for not commenting, and one of them likely is that readers have found what we have to say to be stupid or irrelevant.

I just kind of like the idea of having real interaction. And that includes having readers come here with questions and/or topics of their own. Truthfully, I enjoy commenting on other people's blogs more than writing on my own. I'm not easily moved to sit down and offer analysis unless someone else starts first. I read the weekend papers looking for something to talk about in the open thread, but everything I read, I pass on, figuring you've all got papers, too.

So that's where the title of this particular thread comes from. Got questions about political issues? Sit down, put a nickel in the jar, and ask. If you like the blog, you've got to like the idea that any or all of us would be happy to answer.

Now that's a cool idea. I'll answer any question about bird flu, CT and heathers.

what's the heather thing? that's come up before.

I'll bite...

A simplistic question, but as a non-American, something that’s always confused me: why is there so much God in American politics? As a country, the US isn’t that religious, and yet the vast majority of campaigning politicians can’t seem to go ten minutes without mentioning their faith and the Church they attend.

I don't comment as much as I might not because I feel intimidated, but because your regular commenters are so good that there's often not much left to say. Anyway, this is one of my fav blogs and I'm sure there's a big bunch of lurkers who feel that way too.

Scipio, it wins votes in rural counties and red states and, in fact, sometimes in blue states as well (think PA, famously described by James Carville as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia separated by Alabama). That this is more of a Republican than Democratic or Independent issue is illustrated by this poll. Things move in cycles, Republicans are in the majority and God sells these days (politically speaking).

emptypockets, Mike S often chides us (very tongue-in-cheek) for being Heathers when we agree (or seem to) with each other or whoever wrote the post we're commenting on. It stems from our being accused of being GOP operatives, Vichy Dems, etc. for being too moderate in our tone.

God in politics? My guess is that in the modern era, mouthing the right religious words is considered a proxy for clean-living All-Americanism. You don't have to ask questions about a genuine, church-going, God-fearing American. And if you don't mention that you're a genuine, church-going, God-fearing American? Then voters want to know what you're hiding.

It's ridiculous, but it's still supposed to be a proxy for wholesomeness and honesty.

Hey, Kagro, why is there so much God in American politics?

BTW, here's an informed debate on the topic.

PA, famously described by James Carville as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia separated by Alabama

We used to call this region, "Pennsyltucky."

I once commented about bigfoot, and now I'd like to open the floor to the chupacabra. I feel as if these would be good Republicans.

Speaking of religion, here's a question that's been puzzling me for a while. I've been following the debate about evolution vs intelligent design, and while it's not really a mainstream issue, I'm always surprised at how much passion it stirs up on both sides. I've got some possible explanations, but I'm curious to hear someone else's take on this.

I think I understand the people who support evolution. They believe the teaching of evolution in schools is a settled issue, and ID is a dishonest attempt to reopen the debate and bring back creationism. They see it as a case of inflexibility and willful ignorance.

I have a harder time understanding people who support intelligent design. ID is too flakey to win much support by itself; but I can't believe there are that many people who support all-out creationism, either. My best guess is that the other side may have a completely different set of facts about evolution, which portray it to be far more evil than it really is. The resulting disagreement then plays into the broader conflict between conservatives and the "liberal establishment."

Or am I missing something?

Scipio, I'd disagree that America is not a religious country -- having trouble finding poll numbers on sites other than Fox News and Biblenet right now, but it looks like most of what I see puts belief in God at about 90% and belief in angels around 60 or 70%. This newsweek poll puts 55% of people believing every word in the Bible is true, and 82% saying Jesus Christ was God or the son of God. What makes you think it's not a religious country?

For all, has anyone else been watching Al Gore's new TV channel, Current? Do you think it will change the world (or at least catch on)? I've been loving it, although in a sort of shameful private way like I'd watch American Idol or The Apprentice. The VJs and other interstitia are just awful, but the mini-documentaries themselves have been outstanding. For those who don't get it or haven't watched, it is a blog format where anyone can upload short (less then 7 minute) documentaries to the channel's web site (like posting a diary on certain blogs), and people who go to the site can view it & "greenlight" it (like hitting the recommend button on certain blogs) -- enough recommends, and it goes on TV. The submitter gets something like $100 the first time, $250 the next time, $500 the next, and $1000 each time after that. They are really terrific - I've seen great ones on getting a medical marijuana card in CA and the homeless in LA. Is anyone else watching? Thinking of submitting a video?

Chupacabra? That guy sucks.

But really, if Neal Horsley can get with a mule and still be a Republican, then I suppose goats are probably alright, too.

As far as Intelligent Design goes, I have thus far been unable to take seriously any theory other than the one which says it's just a coy cover for creationism. They keep saying it's not, but what's the value of teaching kids that the universe was created by the underpants gnomes? Is it possible? "Yes, as a scientist, I must concede that. I must volunteer it." But we don't teach "divine right" in Civics class, and with good reason. Although, think of all the money we could save on public education if we just told the kids everything was a cosmic mystery, and sent them home by lunchtime.

Maybe I'm off on this, but I recall learning in a "History of Darwin" class back in college that Intelligent Design was thought up specifically as a legal challenge by a couple guys (one guy?) at Yale Law as a cover for getting creationism in the classroom without violating church-state arguments. I guess I thought that was widely appreciated. Am I off?

yk, don't underestimate the number of people who really believe in the story of adam and eve, taken literally. I know well-educated (ok, just Princeton, but still -- moderately educated) very smart people who happen to be religious and it astonishes me they can believe these myths, but they do. Add to that the number of people who feel like evolution is mostly right but that you should always present "the other side" of things (no matter how wacked out the other side is) on equal footing, and I think you get some real passion. But your comment makes me wonder if the pro-scientists haven't had fuel to the fire by being so passionate on their side, and incited more fervor for creationism than there would have been otherwise?

Regarding "intelligent design" (i.e. an elaborate, clever marketing program to promote creationism), DemFromCT, what are the "intelligent design" people going to say when they get antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections?

And with that, I need to go inject my cat with recombinant DNA-derived insulin. Fun.

p.s. I still feel like an idiot on most of the threads here, dangit.

DemFromCT, what are the "intelligent design" people going to say when they get antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections?

They're going to say "Jesus God, I'm screwed" (as opposed to the secularists who'd say "Goddamn, I'm screwed").

Page, how much have I ever said about glaciers? Nuclear waste? Flu?

Go ahead, check the record!

Let's see. I can comment on DovBear and actually have an opinion that needed to be said. I can also run in silly off-topic comments and have people shrug their shoulders. Then I can come here and think that you guys have thoroughly explored your subject, and what can I say? Me on DB, referring to you: "They have never had a bad post".

CHEERS to Jason Marquis, who must have read my C&J post about him because he got the shutout today.

Actually, I think intelligent design serves another purpose besides providing cover for creationism: it provides a platform for ostensibly "scientific" attacks on evolution. You just say you're comparing the two theories, then you comb through the theory of evolution looking for flaws. The real goal may be to cast doubt over evolution, and force schools to teach it in a way that doesn't exclude creationism. Creationism can always be covered in Sunday school.

I think you're right that some scientists may have provoked the opposition. The thing that gets people angry seems to be the idea that life is just a bunch of meaningless coincidences. But evolution doesn't say life is meaningless; that's a religious or philosophical view. So maybe the problem is scientists straying off topic. (Unfortunately, message discipline really isn't what scientists are good at.)

On the whole, I think conservative Christians have mastered pseudo-science better than the scientists have mastered religion.

Well, not bad for a Saturday night open thread. Everyone take the morning to read the papers and come on back.

I haven't commented much, because I'm kind of burned out. I absorb information like a sponge, but after a certain point--like when I realize that I know a ton more about politics than everyone at the local softball game--I need to take a bit of a break.

I've been kind of overwhelmed by the quantity of information out there, and I haven't really felt as though I had anything scintillating to say.

There is a question that I've been pondering, though. How do you talk to your non-political friends about politics and issues without ruining the friendship? How do you engage people one on one? Almost everyone who goes to my church is a Democrat and somebody mentioned going to Florida for Kerry, but I'd still feel uncomfortable trying to talk to them about why I think that single-payer healthcare is the way to go etc.

And in a state like Massachusetts, where the issue isn't getting Dems elected, but picking the right Democrats, you have to be much more issue specific, and talking to non-junkies who may not want to spend all of their free time volunteering for campaigns is a real challenge. If you don't have a specific candidate to canvass for, but you want to help change the dynamic just a bit, how are you supposed to do it?

dKos is proof of what happens when you let a gaggle of politicaly-illiterate 20-nothing Generation Y-bother morons loose.

Kos himself is so unconnected to reality that he has decided he can got to war with the DLC and make them "cancer." Memo to Kos: can you find the zipper on your fly with both hands on a clear day with a 2-hour advance notice? I doubt it.

Kos has gotten so full of himself he has no clue - the only media idiot more uneducated and shrill is the unfunny (because she's politi8cally uneducated) Janeane Garofalo (too stupid to understand what she was hearing from Paul Harkins when she "interviewed" him last month because she's so full of Hollywood "It's me! It's all about me!" bullshit). dKos is a waste of bandwidth on the internet now.

I come here because the people at dKos who had impressed me over the years that they were the ones with brains started this.

I don't even have that bullshit site bookmarked any more. dKos is everything that idiot George Will is talking about when he goes after smart folks like MoveOn and Micheal Moore.

TCinLA

Re: Chupacabra. I'm not really sure he (it?) IS a republican. Or if he is, he is of the western sort that we're going to convert with our new western strategy. Envision Reid and chupacabra leading the new expanded democratic majority. And the best part? Chupacabra as our enforcer.

Re: Religion. I think the problem with the US is the KIND of religion we practice. My adopted second country, Ireland, is surely more religious than we are, in terms of separation of church and state, who does most of the educating. And yes, having the Church that prominent affects the politics on abortion and divorce.

But at the same time, the people are generally secular thinkers.

I think the difference is the import of (some) evangelical sects in the US. Which turns religion into an in-your-face aggressive thing.

Oh, and here's a question for Page (or DemFrom?). Or for emptypockets or any of the other scientists here.

Do you think the ID thing is just one part of a larger assault on science, or is it its own crackpot entity?

Assault on science. Lots of folks think so.

The thing that gets people angry seems to be the idea that life is just a bunch of meaningless coincidences. YK, this is astute and gets to the heart of why humans invented religion (and invented science for that matter). Both satisfy our urge to explain the world around us and give it meaning. But in a creationist view, the humans are the center of attention; in an evolutionist view they are not. Thus, creationism gives meaning not just to what we see in the world but also gives meaning to our lives as individuals -- begins to answer the question, "what are we here for?" Evolution dismisses that. In that sense we are every bit now replaying the debate of the mid-1500s when Copernicus suggested Earth was not the center of the universe, and implied that man wasn't either (to some consternation).

~wheel, the problem with the US is the KIND of religion we practice -- yes. I would like to hear more from someone who's thought about it more but as a nonreligious American it seems to me that much of the religion in this country is divorced from the philosophy of Jesus. We have pointed out frequently how Bush, our Christian-in-chief, has broken a few commandments lately, and my sense is he has not been alone (and it has not stirred up much notice -- in fact, it seems to be taken for granted that you can be a good Christian and still steal, kill, and watch others suffer without helping them). The US is not alone in this, I don't think -- my understanding is that the rebel drug lords in Colombia consider themselves devoutly religious, for example. Yet the badge of religiosity remains paramount in America and certainly in American political life, even if the guts of religious practice are hollow. What's going on there? Why is the Bible's cover so important even when the pages are mostly blank?

And yes, absolutely creationism (which I'm using interchangeably with intelligent design) is part of a larger assault on science. Taking inventory of the parts list of the assault: global warming disbelief, creationism, stem cell ethics made-up hullabaloo, and (the one that always gets left out because it's often led by liberals instead of the christian right) anti-GM food.

Wow. Well, the flip side of this kind of open thread is that we have an obligation to respond to non-totally-insane questions and observations -- but note: I reserve the right to shirk this responsibility without notice!

I still read Daily Kos more than daily, if that's not obvious already, though I do admit it's been much harder lately to find conversation I'm interested or capable of participating in.

And while I don't know that I'd describe Markos as "full of himself" (in fact, I don't know him at all, and have conversed with him in e-mail maybe twice in three years or so), it's hard to demonstrate humility in an atmosphere like that, especially when it bears your name. Simply stating your opinion, raw though it may be, on a blog with so many thousands of daily readers, is a different act than stating the same opinion on a truly personal blog. It might even be undertaken with the same humility (if such it was -- this and all blogging is, after all, an attention-seeking exercise), but with such a large guaranteed volume of traffic, there's no way for it to look like just a humble, little old blog post.

Where I give Markos the most credit is in his interest in trying to take the popularity of his blog and do something with it. We can debate the wisdom and/or the feasibility of what he's trying to do, but the fact that he attempts to do it is admirable. In the end, he may even discover that it's impossible to "change politics as we know it," but at least he'll know it's so, rather than just postulating it on a blog. I enjoy that aspect of it, and I suspect that part is far more important to him than the forum's ability to shape opinion.

I've never heard Garafolo's show. I've always thought I'd want to, but I deprive my family of enough time with this blogging stuff. I couldn't also sit there and listen to the radio at night.

And, turning back to religion in politics in the United States, I wonder whether in other Western countries, where everyone is pretty much of a single religion, as has traditionally been the case in Ireland, the presumption that one practices that religion more or less as everyone else does obviates the advantage, or at least the necessity, of wearing it on your sleeve. Perhaps it's the fact that in America there's no presumption possible about a politician's religion that makes it necessary to say something up front. And from there, it just becomes a function of the fact that most voters are still willing to believe that religion automatically = good, and so therefore the more of it, the better.

Hey, Kagro, pull my finger. Heh heh.

What? Hmm, OK, what harm could there be in...

which brings us full circle...

And now, somebody owes me five bucks for working "fart" into a TNH post.

No trackbacks to this post?????

IMHO Armando has been on fire for the last week. He is an important reason still to read Kos.
Kos is successful with his anti-DLC attacks because most Democrats are not in the party to pursue DLC policies. Democrats can observe that with 8 years of Bill Clinton, the Republican darkness was held back and we had peace and prosperity, but Bill Clinton by himself did not stop the country from becoming more conservative or have any progressive accomplishments which will last.

OTOH, being associated with Bill Clinton's good economic policies should prevent Democrats from running the country into the ground with spending for another generation. The "tax-and-spend liberal" accusation is less powerful than in 1992.

This is of course more because we have tax-and-spend conservatives :)

Jason Marquis update: it was a two-hit shutout. Kvell :)

The question is not whether religion is important in politics. The question is why religious groups find it important not to get behind separation of church and state. For Jews separation of church and state has been a bedrock issue second only to Israel for generations.

I may have something here.
If a politician wants to appeal to Jewish voters, he or she does not have to talk about G-d. The voters may not know very much about G-d anyway. But he or she has to talk about what he or she is going to do about Israel. America is one of the most comfortable places in the world for evangelical Protestant voters, and has been so for its entire history. Evangelical Protestant voters are interested in knowing that America will still be hospitable to them, just as Jews are interested that Israel will continue to exist. They can also think that since the majority is Christian, the majority is responsible for making sure that they are not swamped out of existence by secularism. This idea of the best home they will ever have must go a long way to explain why people are afraid of modernity in America, a constantly innovative society.

Positive elements in the foreground on Kos as I type: members of the Kos community are trying to help each other against the hurricane, and teacherken has posted a diary on "A Teacher's Life".

DemFromCT, what are the "intelligent design" people going to say when they get antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections?

Actually, the measure of true belief is/would be not what are they going to say, but what are they going to do!! If they really believe in the religious approach and almighty power, they should go to church and pray for devine intervention to cure them. If they are in fact more realist when the real pressure is on, they will go to the scientific based literature and look for scientifically proven interventions.

Additionally, when a scientifically proven intervention is shown by the scientific method to be effective, they will allow it to be used on them. If they recover, they will still go back to their church and thank their God for intervening. This example alone shows how circular and illogical it is to try and even talk to such folks!

I wonder whether in other Western countries, where everyone is pretty much of a single religion ... the presumption that one practices that religion more or less as everyone else does obviates the advantage, or at least the necessity, of wearing it on your sleeve. Perhaps it's the fact that in America there's no presumption possible about a politician's religion that makes it necessary to say something up front.

That makes sense. I think there's also more competition among different Protestant churches, because they're not organized into a rigid hierarchy like the Catholic church. Competition leads to specialization, so you sometimes see individual churches espousing extreme views. For instance, where I went to college, there were three very active Christian fellowships, each one serving a different niche: middle-of-the-road, evangelical, and Asian. This was at a well-respected, not very large, secular university.

There is a question that I've been pondering, though. How do you talk to your non-political friends about politics and issues without ruining the friendship? How do you engage people one on one?

I think there's a significant fraction of people who don't hate politics, but simply don't have the time to stay informed about these things. So just talking to people about current events is useful, especially if you know what are the issues they care about. Occasionally, if it's something very important to them, they may decide to get involved.

How do you talk to your non-political friends about politics and issues without ruining the friendship? How do you engage people one on one?

Oh, I forgot about this one. Thanks, YK.

Hmm. Typically, if I know a person is a Democrat, I'll just start right in. If I don't know, or know they're Republican, I'm usually very careful to acknowledge fair points that break their way. Discussing, by way of example, Jack Abramoff, you can be sure a Republican will want to bring up past Democratic ethical lapses. You have to be willing to acknowledge those, but if, as YK suggests, the topic is current events, you can always use that to get back to what you're talking about.

It was the double posting dKos and here that brought me here, which is more like having stacks privileges in the library.
Has anyone parsed that Freedom of Information Act letter we all signed and Howard Dean's attorney sent to the Solicitor General this past week, so we kind of know what to expect, like Patrick Leahy's taskforce knows what they anticipate from those:
Opportunity and Civil Rights
• Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell, 498 U.S. 237 (1991).
• Freeman v. Pitts, 503 U.S. 467 (1992).
• Metro Broadcasting Inc. v. FCC, 497 U.S. 547 (1990).
• Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U.S. 146 (1993).
• Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992).
Equal Opportunity and Rights for Women
• Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263 (1993).
• Franklin v. Gwinnett County School District, 503 U.S. 60 (1992).
• Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991).
Public Interest Regulation
• Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003 (1992).

Right to Privacy and Access to Justice
• Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993).
• Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).
• Saudi Arabia v. Nelson, 507 U.S. 349 (1993).
• Suter v. Artist M, 503 U.S. 347 (1992).
• Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871 (1990).
Intelligent Design. Yes. At Yale one has to keep it fairly simple and that title is creative. At Vassar someone might write a term paper called Male Chauvanist Design. Then you get the Random Acts of Kindness Golden Age Greek school also known as Brownian Movement, primitive, distant cousin to rock and roll; thermodynamics for the common citizen. What are they going to call it at MIT Exponential Design by Asymptotic Convergence Mapped onto Concave Time-Sensitive Systems.
Intelligent Design encapsulates the essence of the circumlocution eloquently. If I had read D.H. Lawrence I probably would think of a quite divergent kind of intelligent design, or so my Nabokov reading friends indicate.
What would be the alternative- simple design. Or like the post-pc world, every kitchen library holding a copy of Design for Dummies. Bill Clinton would read it if it had an attention garnering title like Intelligent Design. Edifying to browse. Like Clear Skies Bill, No Child Left Behind. How about the Gang of 14; sounds positively Mandarin; where did Western secular humanist federal parliamentary republic democracy go, well, Robert Byrd took it to the WVA wood house, McCain took it to a marcom conference.
Irresistibly when Senator Harry Reid took sick last week, I encouraged his media person to remind him how beautiful NV is, and to be certain he spends time there now that he will be changing his pace.
Now the design is something other than executive privilege, and coercion by the special prosecutor until October 18, 2005.
It is more than Hurwitz successfully suing the FDIC under what sounds like a RICO case.
Design is more than SISMI forgeries or kludges of Munch paintings from the baleful years between global conflicts.
Design might well be planning to suspend the environmental regs for thirty years to extract the last fossilfuel before the next technology to power cars.
Maybe it is the adolescent interest in video action.
But, probably, it means taking responsibility. Listening to the music, playing and writing music, dancing to music.
Then deciding what is song and which part is lyric.
Though there is an old aphorism about more philosophers tipping into the lunacy zone because of their trying to fit the world inside their head, than fewer poets becoming lost in insanity because all they wanted to do was put their head into the universe.
Aphorisms are much more terse, but this is a prose post.

It is the time for research at this outpost, now. It was a pleasure to read the penetrating, documented, and studied comments of emptywheel and several others here. I have a long research project ahead. Perhaps on February 2 I will check to see if I see a shadow.

Well, time for another fart joke, if you ask me.

Kagro, perhaps a parable: if you are in an elevator with three people who just returned from a chili lunch, one of whom carries a white cane, and you suddenly smell a certain odor in the air, do you conclude that random collisions between molecules in the elevator shaft have spontaneously & accidentally produced methane? Or that the fart has a creator? This is a theory I call "the blind wind-breaker."

I hope I haven't missed the bus, again. I appreciate the sentiments behind this post, Kagro.

You can count me as one of the intimidated. Not to get sappy, but the TNH crew changed my life. I lurked for over two years at DKos, sans post and really without the urge to post, just soaking up the high-quality insights from the gang that would become TNH (and a few others). I think it's interesting, though, that while I never posted in two years at DKos, here I feel much more inclined to jump in.

My question -- maybe someone can save me some reading, or at least point me in the right direction -- is the liberal/conservative divide in America a unique phenomenon, or has it always been thus? (I'm thinking Burke, Locke, Hobbes et al) but I don't have the time to find the answers.

And if the divide is uniquely American, how far back does it go? I've a feeling there's a common thread (I haven't solidified what might be its origins or its meaning -- is it class struggle, is it resistance to authority, is it empathy, all of the above and more?) running from the Civil War/Reconstruction through the pre-WW1 labor movement through the pre-WW2 socialism "scourge." I suppose the divide took a holiday during WW2, but came back in the 50s/60s counterculture, then 60s-70s anti-war movement. Since then, pure division -- Carter vs. all repubs, Reagan vs. all (principled) democrats, Clinton vs. anyone on the right who allowed themselves to feel threatened by him for whatever reason. Finally, Bush v. Gore followed by the rise of the American Taliban.

I think I've reached this point because I've come to the conclusion that I could not in a million years share common ground on any meaningful political or social issue with close to (I hope not more than) 50% of my fellow Americans. What is the root of that divide?

Wow, again. Well, I think that's a question for an historian. (And by the way, what ever happened to the usage of "an" as the article for a word that started with "h," even an "hard h?")

I'm not an historian, but one of the things that interests me most in the study of American history is reading about the high level of partisan rancor that existed between the various factions and viewpoints during the colonial and early Revolutionary period. It's pretty good evidence that the divide has always been a part of American politics. Although today we lament the dearth of statesmen such as we imagine the founders to have been, their contemporaries would probably be shocked out of their skin to see how they're worshipped as heroes. As I understand it, a significant portion of Jefferson's partisans thought even George Washington (and certainly John Adams) and his people were skunks, and vice versa.

Whether that divide, or the intensity of the divide, is uniquely American, I just can't say. I'm not versed in the political history of other countries. Surely, though, the occasional reports of widespread mob violence, and even individual acts of violence in foreign parliaments can serve at least as anecdotal evidence that this divide exists in many places, if not worldwide. You referenced Burke, Locke, Hobbes, et al., so I'll say this: if the natural state of man is in fact a state of war, I think we have our answer. It doesn't necessarily tell us what the motivations for that war are, but I think it's a fair guess that there have to be some pretty significant divides involved, whether real or imagined.

Is that a good enough fudged answer?

EinPA, there was a pretty good graphic on the NY Times op-ed page a few months ago on this subject, more or less. The authors (Norman Ornstein and Barry McMillion) were arguing that the liberal/conservative divide -- or at least our acute awareness of it -- is quite recent in American politics. (I'm not endorsing or refuting that view, just passing it on.) They look at Congressional roll call votes going back several decades and I think a few other parameters and make up some metric of partisanship over the years. They conclude, as I recall, that the middle is evaporating, and attribute it to changes in the structure of news media & especially Congressional redistricting.

(I'm summarizing the NYTimes abstract here.)

You can try buying it for $4 from the Times, but if the visuals aren't included it's worthless. Also try your local library. Looking at the authors' other recent writings may be a good place for more on the topic, I don't know.

Here's the link to the "buy this article" page on the Times website. If that doesn't work for you, the piece was called "One Nation, Divisible" and ran on June 24, 2005.

Intimidation factor. I thought you meant something different by that. Here's my experience posting here. A couple of months ago, I posted something stupid and angry, and one of you guys came back with a reasonable response, telling me kindly that I was full of shit. I posted back that you were right and apologized. Then a couple of other of your regulars came on and blasted me. I apologized again. Then one of youse misquoted me. I told that person that they had set up a straw horse, then beat it down, that that was not what I had said. That person came back on and, irrationally IMO, said that their straw horse could be implied from the flow of my argument. I never commented again. Until now, since you ask.

I do read you. I had a bad experience posting. I felt bullied. But, hurt feelings aside, I do value what you-all say.

Raenelle, I missed the exchange you're referring to (full disclosure: I just googled it up, though. I see what you're saying. For whatever it's worth, I think once someone shows self-critical ability and says "I overstated it... I apologize for the way-too-tough tone," as you did, it's time for everyone to try to lighten the mood. As you can tell from this open thread's topic, the site's main authors are sometimes a little starved for back-and-forth, though, and I think they were just happy to have a passionate argument going -- hence the pile-on. But I've got no ownership in this site & don't speak for them -- I would mention though that at the end of the thread (maybe after you stopped reading) 5 or 6 of the front-pagers expressed regret at the level of aggressive discourse they'd gone to.)

.... BUT....

I had a similar experience on another site when I was still fairly new to blogs. I had a post front-paged there, and one commenter just went off on me based on a fairly blunt line I'd put in that I meant in a sort of snide humorous way but got taken as very insensitive (of a group I myself belong to, I'd add). That commenter just went off on calling me a troll & posting recipes, and generally polluting my first front-page post that I'd put some thought into and was relatively proud of. Eventually some other commenters encouraged that user to back off, but the site management never stepped in & later began front-paging that person's stuff (at which point I quit visiting them).

None of which I expect will make you feel better (and hopefully not worse) about what happened here -- just sharing.

Hope you'll comment again in posts to come; again, can't speak for the site's owners but speaking for myself you're a welcome voice.

Thanks, emptypockets. I guess I'll try again, occasionally.

I absolutely demand that you try again now, or I'll get my friends to kick your ass!

Anyway, I think if you can get over that incident, we sure as hell had better.

I just checked "Remember personal info?" Thanks Kagro X.

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