Back from our Sabbatical?

September 29, 2006

If, like me, you saw President Clinton’s performance on Fox News (1, 2, 3), you may have been surprised by many of things he said. Further, you may have been subsequently befuddled by the focus that his emotional state, in exaggerated and distorted detail, had in the media coverage of the event, rather than refutation or confirmation of the startling facts that he enumerated. If so, you’ll be happy to know that Keith Olbermann has a few things to say about it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that, while I don’t watch Countdown or MSNBC at all, the clips I have seen of Keith Olberman have routinely been anti-rightist in nature, whether in the form of incisively dressing down Bill O’Reilly for some idiotic comment, or the even more ludicrous Ann Coulter. I don’t know this is selection bias on the part of people who select the clips, or whether this is his general tone, but in any either case, it hasn’t been my experience that anything he’s said has been false or not corroborated by fact. Quite the opposite, in fact — he seems ready with an army of documented facts to bolster his own position, and I think that this clip in particular channels more of Edward R. Murrow than his signature sign-off. It energized me to see a mainstream journalist going to task on what others seem either too cowed or too much in thrall, as Olbermann meta-quotes, to be frank and open about. I hope you find it refreshing, or at very least thought-provoking.


Update on “Clooney” Blog Post

March 23, 2006

I don’t like lying to readers, and as our friend filthy_habit pointed out, the Huffington Post article allegedly by George Clooney was not in fact written by him. Yesterday, Arianna Huffington apologized to the public for the misleading blog post which was, in fact, composed from compiled Clooney interviews. Just thought you all should know.

Clooney on dissent

March 14, 2006

Just a quickie:

George Clooney (whose Oscar acceptance speech was phenomenal in brevity, poignancy and relevance) has a post up on the Huffington Post entitled: “I’m a Liberal. There, I said it!” It’s a really quick read, but it says interesting things, mostly things I’ve always believed about our duty to dissent, and the requirement for it from both sides of the aisle.

My only complaint is that I don’t really grant that acknowledgement “that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11” is a liberal idea. Hopefully that one has traction in many camps. It’s not liberal in the progressive or bigger government senses, only in the sense that it’s opposed to the standing administration.

Other than that, I say good job, Mr. Clooney. (Everybody go out and see Good Night and Good Luck. It’s worth it.)

Livejournal Feed

February 27, 2006

Looking at our referral logs, I noticed that somebody has been kind enough to set up a Livejournal syndicated feed for IP (and, I am told, one for comments). So for those readers who hail from Livejournal, you can get your fix there.

(N.B.: Please don’t comment on the Livejournal feed. We won’t see it if you do, and the comments will disappear if the feed updates and removes the posting. Follow the link and make comments on the IP site.)


February 26, 2006

In response to Urizen’s response on my own post, I felt the need to explain myself to those of you who came away with similar impressions as Urizen did.
My intent was not to dismiss the problem, and I never claimed to. In fact, my post was meant to stress the importance of combating the problem, not writing it off as offsetting penalties. My point was that one should not come away from the Mahablog post with the mistaken impression that there is something inherently rightist about hateful rhetoric. I acknowledged and even accepted the post’s point that the current political climate is such that the most egregious examples are coming from the right. (“I do, however believe that at this juncture the fundamentalist far right … is much stronger, much more vocal, and much more mainstream than the fundamentalist far left.”)

My point was (and is) that hateful rhetoric and action always exist, and they easily attach themselves to extremism. The fact of the matter is that in modern America, extremism on the right is far easier to attach to than that on the left. This was not true, though, during the Vietnam war, or more illustratively, in any bloody revolution you care to name. Mahablog claims that “the Right works a lot harder at cultivating hate than does the Left.” I disagree – I believe that the hate from the right has simply caught on better than hate from the left. In particular, I think that it’s not case of working harder, but rather of one having an easier time of spreading hate than the other.

The important distinction (and one that I will expand upon in an upcoming post, though not in this context) is that the empiricial evidence presented in the Mahablog posting are symptomatic, but care must be taken to infer the correct diagnosis. While I’m never one to object to “examining the ideological roots of these strains of eliminationism and hatred”, I think it’s dangerous to jump to the conclusion that the ideals of the right are what cultivate hate before reasoned investigation. I am willing to guess that the real reason rightist hate is so much more prevalent is in the willingness of people today to embrace far right hate than far left hate, in large part because the right found a “righteous” cause to attach its (more hawkish) rhetoric to, which gave the unscrupulous on that side the opportunity to start the proverbial snowball rolling.

Hate speech

February 24, 2006

So, I have yet to post anything since my introduction, and for that I apologize. Rest assured, Party faithful (all, um… two of you), I have a few things in the works. Once other things settle down a little in my life, they will be attended to quickly. However, in the interest of getting the juices flowing, so to speak, here’s a quick link for your perusal.

Urizen forwarded me a link to an interesting indictment of “righties” hate speech, as opposed to “leftie” rhetoric. Now, I’m not quite ready to declare that the fundamentalist right is inherently more hateful, even in rhetoric than the fundie left. The post itself, annoyingly, dismisses certain classes of “marginal” “leftists” who contradict the argument at hand. I do, however believe that at this juncture the fundamentalist far right (which the post rightly distinguishes from “conservatism”, in any real sense of the word) is much stronger, much more vocal, and much more mainstream than the fundamentalist far left. Personally, I don’t feel this inherent in the underlying attitudes, as much as with the current political climate.

The main reason I’m mentioning the post, though, is that it does give some excellent examples of the mentality that the Intelligent Party was created to combat (albeit heavily slanted towards “rightie” examples). It cites some very intelligent talk about “eliminationism” and the dangers inherent in eliminationist rhetoric.

I believe that we live in a time where, more than ever, the free flow of information is possible. However, let us all take care to remember that as the great philosopher Stan Lee said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Our phenomenal access to information is simultaneously unprecedented access to disinformation, and indeed the positive deluge of information makes it all the more easy to shut down and pay attention to only the most reductionist viewpoints. Whether these viewpoints come from the right or the left, and no matter what pretense they enter under, be it “patriotism”, “revolution”, “security”, or “equality”, we all share a responsibility to take things at more than face value.


Time for Honesty

January 10, 2006

First, an apology. I was supposed to have this up when 3edgedsword and Urizen each posted their respective introductions. Gentle reader, I know that first impressions are of the utmost importance, and I have already gone and cocked this one up. I am hoping that this will be the last time I fail to update here in a timely fashion, but let’s be honest with each other – it probably won’t be. Thus, please accept this as not only my apology for this trespass, but as a preemptive apology for my future trespasses, whatever they may be. I am sorry, and I will endeavor to serve you as best I can in the future.

Now, to business. Why am I here? What business do I have tell you how things should be? The truth: Because, and absolutely none. That first point may deserve clarification. I am here because I am dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with the status quo, and I want it to change. Do I think that I can do that from here? Absolutely not. Even with the formidable mental, rhetorical and philosophical powers of my Intelligent Party compatriots, we haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of changing everything just by talking here. You do, and so I am embracing the mantle of the do-it-yourself instant pundit in a desperate attempt to rejuvenate the public discourse. The current political climate across the United States is overwrought with empty rhetoric and crowd-pleasing politics. I think that politics should be less about telling people what they want to hear, and less about what party you want to align with. People should be able to hear what is distasteful but correct, and they should hear it on the public arena.

But mostly, I’m here because politics makes me sick. I am appalled when people I agree with resort to ridiculing and ignoring the other side for the simple reason that they are the other side. My favorite people disagree with me. They disagree with me eloquently, intelligently, and above all reasonably. That, more than anything is why I am here now. Because I want to be disagreed with, and I believe that discussion can only help. I know that things I say will be wrong, impractical, or naïve, and I’m okay with that. As long as you tell me when and why I am.