April 11, 2005

More Flawed Institutions in the News

Posted by Jeremy Brown

This take on flawed institution theory is different from the last. This time Tom Regan in the Christian Science Monitor tells a story whose moral seems to be that all corruption must be expunged from the planet before any steps are taken to expunge any corruption from the planet:

Iraq is becoming 'free fraud' zone

Corruption in Iraq under US-led CPA may dwarf UN oil-for-food scandal.

[...]

[Jeremy Brown reported that Tom Regan of the Christian Science Monitor reported that] Newsweek reported earlier this week that Frank Willis compared Iraq to the "wild west," and that with only $4.1 billion of the $18.7 billion that the US government set aside for the reconstruction of Iraq having been spent, the lack of action on the part of the government means "the corruption will only get worse."

Please believe me when I say I'd like for this to be thoroughly investigated. There's enough Lefty left in me that I don't doubt there are corrupt scumbags in every large corporation who would do this sort of thing (and, of course, in a post-Enron world you no longer have to be Left wing to harbor such cynical notions).

But the message driving this article seems to have less to do with the importance of exposing corruption than with making a case that, while global transparency is a nice idea, the United States is not free enough of sin to cast the first stone (though I'd be a bit surprised if we learn that Haliburton has been giving Saddam kickbacks -- a gold-plated shiv, or a brick of joes, or whatever it is incarcerated mass-murderers covet):

Rep. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, one of five panels probing the oil-for-food program, told CNN the United States was 'complicit in undermining' the UN sanctions on Iraq. 'How is it that you stand on a moral footing to go after the UN when they're responsible for 15 percent maybe of the ill-gotten gains, and we were part and complicit of him getting 85 percent of the money?" Menendez asked.

George W. Bush, to put it another way, has broken up the syndicate. I think this is a good thing. And yes, if he's not willing to expose any corruption that might continue to exist within the U.S. entities now in Iraq then it's the job of the press to expose such corruption.

But the interesting lede that's buried in this story is the fact that there are powerful people in the world whose response to news of U.N. corruption is to express resentment that the fun is over. I find this embarrassing.

Posted by Jeremy Brown at April 11, 2005 08:15 AM
Comments

>>>..."all corruption must be expunged from the planet before any steps are taken to expunge any corruption from the planet."

They care about corruption, but not about rape dungeons.

That's what moral relativism leads to. They hardly know what to call evil anymore.

Posted by: spaniard at April 11, 2005 11:06 AM

How ironic - a conservatarian supporter of the war comes out and says that Liberals support torture, just days after conservatarians come out in support of torture!

http://www.livejournal.com/users/insomnia/547941.html

Posted by: FC at April 11, 2005 12:49 PM

What's the difference between a conservatarian and a plain or conservative.

Posted by: spaniard at April 11, 2005 01:00 PM

A conservatarian is a person who supported the war in Iraq for reasons that don't validate the world view of pre 9/11 liberals.

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at April 11, 2005 01:21 PM

"A conservatarian is a person who supported the war in Iraq for reasons that don't validate the world view of pre 9/11 liberals." --JB

LOL --- especially if true.

Posted by: dougf at April 11, 2005 01:36 PM

"Conservatarian" is a derogatory term for a member of the conservative movement who seems to have no ideas or ideology other than lust for power and disinterest in governing.

Posted by: Kimmitt at April 11, 2005 06:32 PM

haha! Does that mean you'll no longer be calling us nazis? oh, the laughs.

Posted by: spaniard at April 11, 2005 06:43 PM

>>>..."tells a story whose moral seems to be that all corruption must be expunged from the planet before any steps are taken to expunge any corruption from the planet."

That's right. It's hypocritical to oust Saddam without having first ousted the mullahs and Kim Jong il and the dude from Kraplekistan, and all the other tyrants. It's hypocritical I tells ya.

Posted by: spaniard at April 11, 2005 09:14 PM

And yes, if [Bush is] not willing to expose any corruption that might continue to exist within the U.S. entities now in Iraq then it's the job of the press to expose such corruption.

But Bush is closing down the free press isn't he ? Isn't he ? Ah ...

Posted by: Ian at April 12, 2005 03:53 AM

"the corruption will only get worse."

This might indeed be accurate. But so what? Utopia is beyond our reach. The newly born government in Iraq will inevitably have its share of economic transparency issues. We will just have to stay on top of them as much as possible. If these sort of concerns intimidate us---nothing worthwhile will ever be accomplished. Perhaps the above prediction can be slightly revised:

"the corruption will only get worse---until it gets better"

Posted by: David Thomson at April 12, 2005 04:05 AM

Well, I have come to think that my reality tunnel and the pre-dominant reality tunnel on this site have parted ways. I would expect conspiracy and falling skies on Discordian sites, where I think, they're posted as much for silliness as they are for belief, but for them to now be standard fare here, indicates that its time I look for other less constricted individuals to debate with.

The Christian Science Monitor and some freelance Iraqi videographer, suddenly engender positive statements about killing members of the press.

I was shocked to see any American spout:

"Why didn't they just shoot him dead, on the spot, like they should shoot most of those MSM scumbags."

"Each innocent Iraqi should be valued at some $1000 000, and a class action suit should be brought against CBS, Reuters, etc. And the judges should be Iraqis; the trial should be in Iraq. All employees of CBS should be rounded up and brought to the trial."

Then we get to conspiracies:

"This CBS cameraman story is getting very interesting. There is a virtual news blackout going on. Google does not a list a news report on this matter since yesterday."

"If you’re still defending the MSM in this case, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re also one of the enemy. The only rational solution is to turn our guns against these snakes, like someone else suggested, but I can already see the backlash here at home from crazies on the left.... The FCC should also start fining broadcasters that lie on the air, the same way they fine for obscenities."

I can enjoy debate with Americans that don't share my views. I've enjoyed debate here for probably a year or more. But, at this point, I percieve that mosbunall of posters on this site have gone into some new reality tunnel where an honest press is somehow regulated by the government, where freedom of speech can get you extradited and tried in a country that has far more serious problems and where any crackpot theory gets accepted as God's Honest Truth, or I've simply lost my mind and can't see the obvious Giant Conspiracy.

If information comes to light that CBS is not some evil complicit Illuminati front, or that the camreaman was either innocent, or working outside of the knowledge of CBS, will we see this site splattered with appologies? Or, will it be like the great "Pengate" of the Presidential debates, where promises of "If I'm wrong I'll be the first to apologize" became "Well, he didn't have notes, but he shouldn't have brought his pen... I'm not apologizing"?

I'd hoped that after the fever of the elcetion passed, we would find some less bizzare reality tunnel. I no longer think that it seems likely to happen.

It's been fun. :)

May Eris Bless You All,

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord
Muncher of the ChaoAcorn
Chatterer of the Words of Eris
POEE of The Great Googlie Mooglie Cabal

Then the Polyfather, Mal-2, beseeched Eris saying:

"O! Eris! Blessed Mother of Man! Queen of Chaos! Daughter of Discord! Concubine of Confusion! O! Exquisite Lady, I beseech You to lift a heavy burden from my heart! I am filled with fear and tormented with terrible visions of pain. Everywhere people are hurting one another, the planet is rampant with injustices, whole societies plunder groups of their own people, mothers imprison sons, children perish while brothers war. O, woe."

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THAT, IF IT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?

"But nobody wants it! Everybody hates it."

OH. WELL, THEN STOP.

At which moment She turned herself into an aspirin commercial and left The Polyfather stranded alone with his species.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 12, 2005 09:45 AM

The term "conservatarian" seems to be gaining popularity on the left side of the blogosphere.

Conservatarian posts seem to be defined as the presentation of facts or opinions that dispute Left-leaning or pre-9/11 opinions.

Another trend found in my "conservatarian" search – commenters saying "I don’t like the way conservative/conservatarian propaganda is taking over this site…"

Interesting how these trends go..

Posted by: mary at April 12, 2005 11:21 AM

I'd hoped that after the fever of the elcetion passed, we would find some less bizzare reality tunnel. I no longer think that it seems likely to happen.

I knew the very day after the election that nothing had changed.

It seemed that many on the losing side were scarcely aware there was even an election at all.

And other losers acted as if their side had really won the election as they screamed "fraud." The election had apparently changed nothing at all.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise at all. The Left is never chastened by losing at the polls. In fact, the opposite. Losing to the mobs only confirms in their minds that they're right and enlightened, and that they're so superior to the mobs-- mobs that need to be controlled by the elites. The elites being the MSM and the lawyers in black robes, and academia, and Hollywood. Must control the mobs.

Posted by: spaniard at April 12, 2005 11:30 AM

"Conservatarian" is a derogatory term for a member of the conservative movement who seems to have no ideas or ideology other than lust for power and disinterest in governing.

Lust for power and ininterest in governing....

Sounds much more like a Doom III adict to me....

No, seriously, did that make sense to anyone?

Questions:
  • If it's a movement, who is the leader? What is the organization structure? Who bakes the cookies, prints the flyers, and mans the puppets?
  • What about the neo-cons? I thought they were too idealistic?
  • How can you have a lust for power without an urge to exercise that power (i.e. govern)? And if you can do that, what keeps you from being a harmless nut?

Hey, if I'm a member of the VRWC, can I be a conservatarian too? How about a whinger? (I actually have a problem with being a freeper, because I don't think I look good in a drool cup.) I voted for Bush, so I guess that makes me a repug too. But I suppose I'm not part of the reality-based community, so I'll just shut up now and go play with my elven friends.

Labels: kills thinking on contact.

Posted by: Mark Poling at April 12, 2005 11:47 AM

Personally, I think alot of the posters on this site are simply classic liberals (whose rhetoric tends to get a little overheated at times out of sheer frustration)...

Take back the word

Posted by: Caroline at April 12, 2005 01:34 PM

Ratatosk,

I mostly don't agree with you but your pov will be missed if you actually follow through on your decision to leave the site.

That said, I think you're being a little thin skinned. It's only been since the end of January that war supporters have had much of anything to crow about. For nearly two years war supporters by and large played defense as every setback was presented as evidence that we had failed in Iraq. Many, if not most, anti-war folks have called the Iraq war 'lost' at least once.

Now the roles have somewhat reversed and the stronger 'self evident' hand is with the war supporters and it's the anti-war folks that are the 'that's true, but' crowd. The friends and co-workers I've debated the war with over the last two plus years no longer have much interest in talking about it anymore, specifically since January 30th.

This brings to mind the 'Bush may be right' acknowledgements in the wake of Iraq's election. I can only speak for myself, but I was shocked by this at first. How could people be against the war without even considering that Bush may be right? If you were a war supporter, with every death, US or Iraqi, you were forced to consider that you might have been wrong (or you could have Andrew Sullivan'd your way out with a 'war was right but Bush f'd it up' position that deserves every bit of ridicule it has received). And I mean that literally - every death. I was in the military for 11 years so maybe the many days that I nearly broke down and said 'that's one too many' wasn't universal, but it's pretty common among supporters I know (though I'm amazed that anybody, including war believers, could be confident about the ultimate outcome, which still remains to be seen of course).

PS I didn't even address this but I de facto ignored your reasoning for leaving. The proportion of reasoned/factual posts to opinion driven broadsides has declined, but that happened months ago. Too many nutty conspiracy theories? Nobody apologizing when they're wrong? When you find a blog that has left-right discourse and has the features you seek (and I seek too) please let everyone here know. From the sites I've seen, this is still the best place to learn something in a left-right (war-antiwar more accurately) debate.

Posted by: Sweetie at April 12, 2005 03:28 PM

I'm with Sweetie. Don't go Tosk. Most times we just post to piss you off. Don't take it personal.

Posted by: spaniard at April 12, 2005 04:52 PM

The proportion of reasoned/factual posts to opinion driven broadsides has declined, but that happened months ago--Sweetie

Just wanted to say that this comment,from Sweetie, was 'enjoyable' from start to finish,and I have merely chosen to add my 2 cents worth on this particular facet.
Tosk,sorry that you and your muses are pulling up stakes.If you think you will find a more 'rational' forum for communication,I wish you luck.But 'sweetie'is absolutely correct in the above quoted analysis.The levels have declined.
What else could possibly have happened in a 'logical'world?Caroline has quite succinctly pointed out the problem,namely;"alot of the posters on this site are simply classic liberals (whose rhetoric tends to get a little overheated at times out of sheer frustration)...".
I gave up a lot earlier than most here.I told everyone directly and without nuance that I was no longer willing to 'debate'with the loons.I saw they were not only wrong ,but also totally unwilling to free themselves enough to ever consider that they might be wrong.Discourse with them BORES and aggravates me in almost equal measure.So I largely confine myself to the bon mot,the caustic jest,the appropriate put-down.And why not?It's not as if the 'debates'ever solve or even resolve anything.They don't.They merely 'sophisticate'the arguments(which NEVER alter).It truly is scorpions in a bottle.Who wants to be a scorpion if you have the self-awareness to see that you are indeed in a bottle? This is a case of existential RIGHT/WRONG,and now only history can determine the truth.
Which brings me back to the ***MSM.I know it's just anecdotal(so sue me),but I watched the news last night as presented by the usual suspects,and there were GOOD NEWS stories out of Iraq,on all channels.My question is --- WHY?
What now makes Iraq a GOOD NEWS story when previously, for over 2 years, it was an imperialist quagmire run by a moronic GWB? You can say it was the Iraqi Election,but it was not.The media is running out of BAD NEWS and is now forced to accept that,as of now,they might have been WRONG in their news approach.Frankly that is all well and good,but I,for one,want them to explain why they did not report positive events BEFORE the elections?Had it been left to their tender mercies,there might have been no elections.I want to know why.I need to know why.I DEMAND to know why !!
I will apologise to CBS for jumping to the conclusion that they and their perfidious fellow travellers are embedded with 'terrorists',when CBS explains to me why they could not see Iraq for what it was,and more importantly spent millions of dollars and hundreds of man-hours,trying desperately to sell the Iraqi people,and the US troops in the field,DOWN THE RIVER in a fog of defeatist,agenda-driven propaganda.Why did they slant the news to portray the Iraq campaign as damaged,destructive,and doomed?Just fess up and tell all.Surely that is not too much to ask.Well maybe it is;if they did that,they would have to accept the criticism that would clearly follow,and as we know,the unwashed masses,cannot be expected to critique their media betters.
Yeah,as Caroline says,it's just sheer frustration,and maybe that is not an excuse in perfect world,but it 'takes two to tango',and the MSM has been doing the leading in this particular dance.When an effete,insular,self-appointed oligarchy controls the information streams in a free society,the absolute minimum we have the right to expect,until a competitive situation arises, is that they get the BIG STUFF right .
The MSM was(oops,there is that nasty "IS",again) WRONG.There must be rational consequences before they get a chance to be WRONG again.We simply can't afford to play Russian roulette contintually with their rather unfortunate 'world-view',especially when it masquerades as 'objective and considered' reality.
Let's quote Howard,shall we:" I'm mad as hell,and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!"

Not any more.

Posted by: dougf at April 12, 2005 04:59 PM

Dougf,

Thanks, but my comment about deteriation in post quality is as much about the right/pro-war side as the left (full truth - it was more about the right). Also, white space is your friend (will make your posts easier to read).

In your latest you demonstrate to some extent what I'm talking about. You start off with some facts (and if you're on the left/anti-war you may not even grant that much) but it cascades into triumphalism (premature) and a passive aggressive accusation that the media is Anti-American. You may be right and you may be wrong. But I KNOW these types of statements don't advance the debate. That said, your scorpions analogy makes it clear that we come to this board for different things - I come for the mostly polite, mostly well reasoned debate. Understanding the other side's arguments, not the strawmen of the other sides arguments that are commonly advanced on blog comments, is what makes a good comments section for me, but not everyone. I accept that.

Finally, except for the white space this is not specific to you (what I pulled out of your most recent post I could have pulled out of many other posts but I was lazy). I like your posts - they are full of enthusiasm and your 'takes' on many subjects mirror mine. But many of these posts, and the posts of others both right and left, do more to harden differences than to learn and better understand the opposing position. And if you're at the scorpions in the bottle point you're thinking - d'uh, I've already shown you that debating is a waste of time. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Posted by: Sweetie at April 12, 2005 05:40 PM

dougf, Caroline,

I disagree. It's more contempt than it is frustration.

Posted by: spaniard at April 12, 2005 06:19 PM

Different

strokes

for

different

folks

I guess--Sweetie

I guess.At a certain point,wet fingers/light sockets loses its attraction as a hobby.

It really is not so much 'different strokes',it is more a question of differing perceptions of reality.I DO understand the 'other's' positions.I just don't agree with them.Understanding does NOT automatically lead to acceptance.It leads only to understanding.

There really is no nuanced position between WAR/NO WAR,and all the 'debate' in the world will not find one.So why not be BLUNT? And unless it involves the MSM or a particularly egregious loony observation,I post here less and less(white space or no).

Why annoy myself and others for no real reason?

I respect your points and you are perhaps correct,but I stand behind my 'scorpion'anology.However,if you can point to one person on this blog who has changed his/her mind as a result of being intellectually convinced by 'opposition'argument,then I will happily retract it.

At a certain point,it is not overly productive to engage in the same-o,same-o.Tosk was correct in that observation as well.It would be pleasant to move on.But do we not need to know what we are moving on from?

Posted by: dougf at April 12, 2005 06:23 PM

First Tosk - I will chime in with Sweetie's and Spaniard's implorations? (should be a word if it isn't) not to leave. I was thinking that this site needs its resident "iconoclast" but then I looked the word up in the dictionary and I'm not quite sure know what the hell the word means so can I say instead that this site needs its resident "quirkster"? (that should also be a word if it isn't already). Anyway Tosk - it's not fair for you to leave this site while Michael is away doing important things and not around to police his site and talk to you directly. You’ve slept in the guest room for a year and now you’re sneaking out while the host is out of town cause you don’t like the other guests. It’s just not right Tosk!

All that said, however, I hope you realize that there are a great many reasons for the average American who actually thinks America is a pretty great thing (okay, relatively speaking even) to be quite frustrated by the increasingly anti-American media. (From here on I am strictly speaking for myself so as to take any heat for harboring conspiracy theories) but consider - The middle east doesn't even make ANY pretense at objectivity. It's sheer propoganda - anti-Israel/ anti-American all the time. The European press is following suit (check out the German blogger David's Medienkritik for great coverage of the anti-American bias run amok in the European press). Bat Ye'or has an interesting explanation of why the European press is so anti-Israel/anti-American which I won't go into here. Now add to that our own anti-American left with what you like to think of as the "objective" press thrown in and tell me Tosk - what percent of the world's population is actually trying to defend the American side in all this? Could we have possibly won WWII under these conditions? Personally, I am inclined to think that Americans are the new Jews. Have you paid any attention to the rampant anti-Israeli press that has bubbled over in the past few years into outright anti-semitism? Well the same virus seems to be spreading into coverage of the US (very similar language is used to describe Israel/Palestine and US/Iraq). Here's an article that talks about why it is that the press is so biased against Israel:

Anti-Israel press bias

When you see what has happened to Reuters, when you see the Saudi's buying large shares of major media, when you see the Saudi's funding major ME studies Depts at major American universities, when you see evidence that reporters covering the ME are being bought off - in other words, when you see a PATTERN unfolding - it isn't unreasonable to become rather cautious about who is calling the shots in coverage of ME conflicts. Fine - be turned off by the frustration and occasionally extremist rhetoric at this site. Of course these days it's pretty par for the course. But definitely don't go looking for solace at DU!. And don't even bother to check out even a supposedly moderate site like Washington Monthly, where this past weekend some of their posters were threatening to stalk the posters at LGF (be prepared to take a shower after reading that thread). (Of course, if you're looking for a new home, Roger Simon has an excellent site.)

But frankly Tosk, I don't think you're gonna escape extremism altogether these days. Better to just call people on their heated rhetoric when appropriate and try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’m not particularly patriotic. I’m just a classic liberal and I think there are enough voices, both internationally and domestically, providing the anti-American (if not outright anti-liberal) POV that I personally feel compelled to raise my own trivial voice in defense of classical liberal – “gasp” – even “American” values. That’s why I come here. I really do feel that most of the posters here are classic American liberals. Apparently that’s not an easy thing to be these days.

Yeah – longest post ever – but Tosk might be leaving (rather sneaking away while Michael is out of town!!) so what the hell...

Posted by: Caroline at April 12, 2005 07:14 PM

Oh yeah Tosk -and I should have added - what other site is gonna discuss the pagan origins of Christianity, cognitive dissonance and neural brain circuit theories in the context of political discourse? As Sweetie said - be sure to let us know when you find one!

Posted by: Caroline at April 12, 2005 07:23 PM

But frankly Tosk, I don't think you're gonna escape extremism altogether these days. Better to just call people on their heated rhetoric when appropriate and try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.--Caroline

Ditto.

Tosk I hope you stay to beat the deserving about the head and shoulders.At some point,we all live in hope that the current period of 'adjustment'will be over,and 'stability' will once more reign supreme.

But until that point,it's going to be a bumpy ride,and 'niceness'won't make it any less jarring.

That said---- can we all agree that certain things should be 'out-of-bounds'as a general rule? Maybe a count to 20 rule should be in effect.As Caroline says,DU should be a salutory lesson,not a possible destination.

I don't intend to be overly tolerant ;But,I have no problem being somewhat careful .

Can we talk?

Posted by: dougf at April 12, 2005 07:32 PM

Dougf: "Maybe a count to 20 rule should be in effect."

I felt pretty stupid after posting a little scenario of kids fighting on the previous thread but in retrospect maybe it wasn't so dumb after all. Hear that Tosk? Time out!!:-)

(in my defense - very very serious insomnia can certainly numb a persons brain every now and then:-))

But really - there's nothing more stupid than simply walking away out of pride, just cause ya said you were leaving (hear that Tosk??). Can someone familiar with country-western music please choose the perfect jukebox tune right about now? :-)

Posted by: Caroline at April 12, 2005 08:17 PM

Oh yeah - I found it!

Travis Tritt!

This one's for you Tosk!

"She stayed up all night and cried into her pillow
And fought off the urge to just break down and call
Last night to find the fault seemed so darn easy
But now who's to blame don't matter much at all
She thinks if she calls him, it just shows weakness
So the hurt goes on with every tear she's cried
Ain't it sad to see a good love fall to pieces
Chalk another heartbreak up to foolish pride

Turn out the lights, the competition's over
The stubborn souls are the losers here tonight
And while the bridges burn
Another hard hard lesson's learned
As in the ashes, passion slowly dies
And this romance goes down to foolish pride

He relives every word they spoke in anger
He walks the floor and punches out the wall
To apologize to her, would be so simple
But instead he cries, 'I'll be damned if I crawl'
If he loses her, he's lost his best friend
And more than just a lover can provide
So he wrestles with emotions that defeat him
Chalk another love lost up to foolish pride"

Or er... Tosk - maybe you've just really had enough. Whatever :-)

Posted by: Caroline at April 12, 2005 08:42 PM

Actually Caroline,based upon this thread,perhaps this might be more appropriate.

It’s quarter to three,
There’s no one in the place ’cept you and me
So set ’em’ up joe
I got a little story I think you oughtta know

We’re drinking my friend
To the end of a brief episode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road
--- :-)

Posted by: dougf at April 12, 2005 08:50 PM

What can I say Dougf?

Any guy that can pick the perfect jukebox tune is allright by me. :-)

Posted by: Caroline at April 12, 2005 09:01 PM

. . . it's time I look for other less constricted individuals to debate with.

Good luck Tosk. I've fished around dozens and dozens of blogs and IMO this one has the best discussions. Sure, there's noise to filter out - Spaniard vs. Kimmitt, Tom Grey's Law where every post somehow relates back to the US leaving Vietnam in 1975, and various other DU/Freeper rhetoric.

For what it's worth - I enjoy your posts very much, even when I disagree. You have a very different POV and I've learned a lot from you.

Hope you stay, but if you don't have a nice life.

Posted by: markytom at April 12, 2005 09:10 PM

Tosk – well, if you wanted people to say thoughtful, imaginative and heartfelt things, you succeeded. Everyone wants you to stay. I’d like you to stay.

Sorry for the cool response. I’ve always had a distant response to that kind of outburst because it tends to discourage more of them. I guess I’m in the evil, unwanted substitute teacher/babysitter role now. Sorry I don’t make soup like Michael does.

And no, I don’t ban people or try to control the comments. I didn’t ban someone for saying that neocons should hang, and I’m a neocon. If people want me to start banning, I could , but I have this whole liking-the-first amendment thing. But if people are unable to ignore or shrug off odd comments, if they’re upset by them, I could think about changing the policy.

This is one of the few sites where liberals, libertarians and conservatives have a genuine discussion. It really is very rare. Michael has managed to build up this interesting and varied audience, you’ve been an important part of it, and it would be sad to lose you. But if you want to wait until the evil substitute teacher is gone, that's fine. But maybe you could email all the people who said nice things?

Posted by: mary at April 12, 2005 09:18 PM

Sorry I don’t make soup like Michael does.--Mary

Oh,the hell with this !!If I was going to take my ball and go home,because things got 'heated',I would have stopped posting 2.5 years ago,when the 'bankrupt'left called me a fascist warmonger.I think perhaps all that asinine drivel that true 'liberals'have had to endure over these years has been much worse than some minor rants over a questionable media,and its possibly destructive influence.
(White Space)
If I am going to be advised by the 'opposition' that I should be wearing brown,then I want the 'soup-nazi' to be in charge.Might as well just bite the bullet and go right to the end of the line,I guess.
(White Space)
No soup for YOU !! A call to rally behind.

Posted by: dougf at April 12, 2005 09:47 PM

"DU should be a salutory lesson,not a possible destination."

What is DU? Depleted Uranium?

Posted by: J Thomas at April 13, 2005 07:54 AM

"If people want me to start banning, I could , but I have this whole liking-the-first amendment thing."

If you're running a farm you want to keep the pigs out of the potato patch and the cows out of the corn. You might have a use for cows and pigs and even maybe a coyote or two, but you don't want them in the wrong places.

If you're running a blog and you want a good discussion, there's an art to nudging it away from stupid flamewars etc. Get too many people who enjoy stupid slogans and it gets harder to keep anything else going.

It's like the difference between running a farm and protecting a natural ecosystem. The farm has a purpose, your purpose, and you try to arrange things so it will do what you want. People who like your goals will tend to show up because they like the place, and some of them will support your goals because they want the same things. An ecosystem has no particular purpose and whatever plant happens to grow best tends to crowd out the others. We've seen that in the usual blog ecosystem, trolls are what do best. If you want some different result you need to do something different.

I'm not clear what you should do different. Banning trolls is like pulling up weeds, it's hand labor for a strictly limited result. But don't rule it out completely.

I can imagine a blog where you get the choice of the approved-form messages or all of them. The approved ones present a clear discussion, some posts and some parts of other posts would be edited out. People who just want to look at the approved messages respond to those however they want, and they can check back later to see whether their responses got approved as being on-topic. There could be whole threads that don't go on the approved list, you could write beginning posts that would only appeal to trolls, and the people who only want the good stuff would never see them.

I like the idea. It wouldn't be censorship, everything would be there for those who want to look. But it could keep the foxes out of the henhouse. Extra work, for whatever result it gets.

Posted by: J Thomas at April 13, 2005 08:24 AM

If you're running a farm you want to keep the pigs out of the potato patch and the cows out of the corn. You might have a use for cows and pigs and even maybe a coyote or two, but you don't want them in the wrong places.

Thus spake J.-"I want the top neocons dead"-Thomas. Who says irony is dead?

Thanks J., for your input.

Posted by: mary at April 13, 2005 08:51 AM

Dougf "If I was going to take my ball and go home,because things got 'heated',I would have stopped posting 2.5 years ago,when the 'bankrupt'left called me a fascist warmonger"

I agree completely. I salute those, like you, that supported the war and never Sullivan'd out. And, damn, it wasn't easy. The MSM was only too happy to play up defections, as well as criticisms of tactics and strategies authored by the Bushies. I think you'd agree that if we didn't have sites like this it would have been far more difficult to stay the course - in retrospect it's amazing we stayed in Vietnam as long as we did (and I think the MSM has learned much from the Vietnam experience and is now far better at mobilizing public opinion).

Great white space! Only an ass would complain about somebody's comment 'presentation'. I am, sir, that ass.

Posted by: Sweetie at April 13, 2005 09:10 AM

Thank you all for the kind words. I don't want anyone to misunderstand, I'm not leaving because I percieve Mary as some evil sub, or because I think anyone should be banned. I don't. Mary seems like a fine substitute blogger and banning, in my opinion, appears as a losing battle.

I've just had enough of arguing in circles. We haven't seemed to accomplish anything since we started debating... hell, as far as I can tell, we continue arguing the same damn issues.

I didn't mean the post to be a "I'm taking my ball and going home." I didn't mean for it to sound that way and I'm sorry if it seemed that way to any of you. I had hoped this would be a tool that would have more signal than noise, but it seems just as faulty as Usenet in that respect.

So, thanks for the experiences, all of you. I've had some facinating discussions that will probably affect my reality-tunnel for quite some time to come.

Hail Eris, All Hail Discordia! ;-)

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at April 13, 2005 10:32 AM

I've just had enough of arguing in circles. We haven't seemed to accomplish anything since we started debating... hell, as far as I can tell, we continue arguing the same damn issues.--Tosk

As Ed McMahon would have said--- "You are correct,Sir".People are not convinced by debates.Never have been;never will be.It's frustrating for all of us,as whether we admit it or not,we all feel that our 'reasons' should be transparently obvious to the 'others'.

This is very much how I feel and reflects,I think,precisely the comments I have made on this subject.But I enjoy reading well written posts,and every so often I learn a new thing.It makes it all worthwhile.

I hope Tosk will drop in every now and then just to keep his hand in and annoy the deserving,but I totally respect this rationale for not posting much.

I don't think you will find another site or indeed another 'format' where resolutions are hiding out,waiting to be discovered,but best wishes in the quest.

Until we meet again,bon voyage to both you and Eris.

Posted by: dougf at April 13, 2005 10:58 AM

Ratatosk I haven't been following all the conversation but as for press conspiracies in the mid east, it's been obvious that news out of the Palestinian territories has been completely controlled by pro-terrorist for a long time with the complete complicity of the MSM which would rather have an easy, cheap to produce, risk free (the risk to reporters lives etc.) product than have an honest one. The middle east is a place where honest reporters go to jail, or are killed etc. all the time, but the MSM has no trouble in the Middle East, because they're not that honest.

So it's no surpise if CBS is hireing terrorists or taking press releases from them that's almost business as usual.

Sure I'd say they're more incompetent than treasonous... but I think the executives are more than a little complicit in that for years the main qualification to be a "journalist"/talking head has been too stupid to know that his product (the News) is low very quality. A talking head has to be able to project absolute confidence in the authority of the News no matter how slipshod the organization that produced it is.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 14, 2005 05:12 AM

Hi Tosk –

When you explain it that way, it makes a lot more sense. Arguing in circles does tend to get tiring. If you’re bored, it makes sense to stop.

I think you’ve disproven the reality tunnel theory. Some people stay trapped in old assumptions, but most realize that old assumptions are a waste of time and they abandon them.

When I was in Costa Rica, I realized that it was a lot of fun to do something active for awhile, something that didn’t involve sitting in front of a computer. Then I come back and find out that Michael’s going to Lebanon. Talk about taking an active role.

I plan to do more research on alternative technologies. A lot of bloggers are planning to change. They're also getting tired of arguing in circles. Bloggers have accomplished some things, like effectively criticizing the media, politicians and academia, but blogs are going to evolve, just like anything else.

Sorry to see you go, though. If you’re ever in the neighborhood again, stop by and say hello.

Posted by: mary at April 14, 2005 09:39 AM

Tosk, I'd hate it if you never came back to drop your nuts on our heads. Keep in mind that those of use who rant and rave here might not change much (or even change topics) but people who visit and don't comment (and who are quite probably less evangelical about the righteousness of their own Received Wisdom) might actually have their minds altered by your quite entertaining comments.

Come back squirrel. The silent majority needs you.

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