Who's sane, who's not, and why I think so

  1. I share your sentiments over the shrillness of many partisan blogs. They aren’t very pleasant to read, to be sure.
    And since one pressumes that one adheres to a given party because of shared values, it would seem that one should abandon, or at least chastise, one’s party when the party abandons/ignores/dilutes the values in question. In other words: when the party leaves the values, it seems to me that the reason for being loyal to the party in the first place goes out the window.
    I stand amazed that for some being a partisan is like being part of a tribe.

  2. The problem with the most partisan blogs is that if you ask a question or make any comments in disagreement with the blogger, you get slammed for questioning anything “because obviously you are a (whatever the other partisan group calls itself).” This goes equally for either side: “You are either for us or against us.”
    But the world is not black and white. I can think Hastert et al did not go far enough in investigating the one e-mail and the strong rumor mill that they acknowledge, without being a liberal Democrat. Because I can also see that if the Republican leadership had accused Foley without enough additional ‘proof’ the Dems would have made hay about gay bashing. And if they did have the proof & dealt with Foley (as they have) by removing him from office, the Dems *still* would have made political hay about why it took so long, etc. I’m also cynical (realistic?) enough to believe that if Foley were a Democrat, the Republicans would do exactly the same thing. (shrug) In the end, Foley is out, and everybody is aware of a serious issue that has absolutely nothing to do with which political party funded somebody’s campaign.
    But you can’t say these things to someone who has already made up his/her mind about something. For them, the world is already black and white, and everyone must be one or the other. I like to think of myself as a ‘Person of Colors.’ That is, the colors between black and white that make a rainbow so pretty and interesting.

  3. Polimom sez:

    He sees them as being similar (”Pot. Kettle. Black.”)

    Actually, taken in context my comment was a bit of a chide on John. As I see it (remember that “YMMV” thing), both he and Sparkle are ‘advocates’ – he on the Left, Sparkle on the Right. Their personalities are different, hence their styles are different. When I read their blogs, I expect to find a certain point of view – in John’s case, it will tend to favor the Left, and in Sparkle’s case, the Right. Which is quite OK with me.
    However – I do tend to get somewhat defensive when I read what I perceive as ad-hominem attacks on another, which is my interpretation (again, there goes that “YMMV” thing) of John’s reference to Sparkle’s commentary.
    Now, as to the whole “partisan” thing: I can see where (and why) you have issues with partisanship. My understanding of partisan is somewhat different, maybe because I look at it from a historical perspective and not from the dictionary. To me, Partisans were those (oddly enough, often with Marxist/Communist leanings) who actively resisted the Nazi and Fascist occupation of Europe during WWII. So, my perception of “partisan” is colored (as it were), and I don’t necessarily see it as a Bad Thing (as you do, given the use of “especially” combined with “blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance” in the definition.) Simply put, I can’t see anyone who resisted what Hitler and Mussolini sought to impose on the world as blind, prejudiced, or unreasoning.

  4. Wow – reading my last comment, I am not sure that “what I said” == “what I meant”, so let’s try again.
    The two bloggers you referenced (let’s call them “John and Kathleen” for fun and grins) are both passionate advocates of their respective positions. This is, in and of itself, not a bad thing – and in fact I wholeheartedly approve (while reserving the right to disagree with either one, or both of them.) Their styles are somewhat different: John tends to be a little more subtle in his approach than Kathleen, who pretty much calls ’em as she sees ’em. Again, neither approach is inherently wrong or right: it is a matter of personal preference (the basis of my “YMMV”, or “Your Mileage May Vary” remarks.)
    Bottom line is that they are both strong advocates for their respective political viewpoints, and for the political party that they feel best represents that set of viewpoints.
    This doesn’t mean that they are “hard-core partisan”, however. In both cases, they appear to tolerate (in fact, to encourage) opposing viewpoints. Specifically, given that the “partisan” references were made about Kathleen, I will focus my comments on her blog. If she were in fact a “hard-core, relentless partisan”, I would expect to see her attempting to justify (or at least to ignore) the conduct of those like Mark Foley and the pedophile priests (I know of another person who is devout RC, and he assures me that there is no problem with pedophile priests in the Church. I find that odd, given that I personally know 4 priests – or ex-priests – and of those 4, 3 are under court orders to stay away from children – and I think you know the reason why.) In fact, she has denounced Mark Foley’s conduct roundly – she simply points out that his is not the only case of this type, and that ‘the other party’ has a history of treating their members differently.
    John, however, handles things differently. Being an advocate for “that other party” (or at least the viewpoints that he and it hold in common), he tends to focus on things that show his opponents in their poorest light. And, he also uses this “partisan” card, trying to paint his opponents with a perjorative term (and yes, I would count such terms as “blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning” to be perjoratives) so as to put them at a disadvantage – sort of like people who call their opponents racist, sexist, Nazis, homophobe, moonbats, wingnuts. All of these tend to refocus the debate from the issue to the opponent, in an attempt to poison the atomosphere and thus gain victory by default.
    So, when I said “Pot. Kettle. Black” the intent wasn’t to say that John and Kathleen were similar (though I suspect they are more similar than they might imagine, or admit) – it was to chide John (and to an extent yourself) and remind the both of you that it is about the issues.
    BTW, I want to make one point perfectly clear (to quote some famous dead d00d) – I consider all three blogs (yours, Kathleen’s and John’s) to be places where civil discourse and debate are welcome. Being political blogs, they tend to be honeypots for those commonly referred to as “wingnuts” and “moonbats” (terms which, by the way, are party/leaning-neutral) – something you discovered while over at chron.commons. IMNSHO, all three do a fairly good job of keeping the rancor down to an acceptable minimum (though it is not possible to eliminate it entirely.) This is a characteristic I do not find to be the case at those blogs/talk shows/whatever I consider “relentless, hard-core partisan”.
    Hope this clarifies things a bit.

  5. Well said Ed. I would only add that I have found in blog owners, like the rest of the human race, they are often too close to their trees to see the forest.

  6. Lazarus –
    I don’t think it is just the blog owner: all too often the commenters play a large role in determining the ‘partisan level’ – especially on a political blog. Here, Polimom has a fairly well-bahaved crowd: unfortunately, the same could not be said for her former blog on chron.commons. Blue Bayou’s commenters seem to be pretty well behaved for the most part, while Sparkle’s blogs really do attract some nutcases – on both extremes. Interestingly, Nick Anderson’s cartoon blog does the same (not too surprising, given teh political nature of his cartoons) – and even SciGuy (science, for crying out loud!) has a resident loon or two.
    And, having dealt with a “commenter” who became like a stalker over the period of a year or so over at a blog I am connected with, I can understand Polimom’s need for peace and tranquility, and appreciate the need of all the bloggers to post a set of “commenting rules.”

  7. And since one pressumes that one adheres to a given party because of shared values, it would seem that one should abandon, or at least chastise, one’s party when the party abandons/ignores/dilutes the values in question. In other words: when the party leaves the values, it seems to me that the reason for being loyal to the party in the first place goes out the window.

    I can go along with the “chastise” part, Steven. In fact, that is one of the reason I consider neither Rush Limbaugh nor Kathleen “Sparkle” to be ‘hard-core partisan’ – I have heard (read) both take ‘their party’ to task when they disagreed with something it was doing.
    I think the idea is that, when the group you are in starts heading for the cliff, you try your dambdest to persuade them to head in another direction – only when they start jumping do you get out of the way. To an extent, both major parties in the USofA are like those groups at various times.
    Example: until the 1980s, Texas was solidly Democrat. No Republican had been governor since Reconstruction, and most elections were decided in the Democratic primary. However, most of Texas was also solidly conservative, and when the Democrats started following the increasingly left-leaning “progressive-liberal” path, people started changing party allegiances: first the voters, then (as they found they couldn’t win elections) the candidates. I saw a yard sign for one of those running for a county office (either DA or County Attorney, I don’t remember which) in the Republican primary, and I had a flashback, because the last time I remember him running for office was in the early 1990s, when he was on the ballot for Country Judge – as a Democrat. As you can guess, he lost that race, and he was truly in anguish over it, because he felt a loyalty to his party, and felt it was wrong to abandon it. My guess is that he finally switched, after several more years of attempting to change its course.

  8. This is a great thought provoker, i.e. blind partisanship. Check that definition and ask yourself, isn’t “Partisanship” how one ends up with an Adolph Hitler or Benito Mussolini (s.p.)? Taking this one step further, is it possible that ever more extreme Partisanship is responsible for low voter turnout? Has the focus on Parties created a badly skewed system that makes it virtually impossible for an Independent (such as myself), to secure the funding necessary to successfully seek office?
    I posit that the Partisanship is corrosive to the entire system because of a concurrent phenomenon, i.e. that the “Parties” no longer function as they themselves were intended to function. The “Parties” used to recruit; now they pray for low, specific, voter turnout. The Party Platform used to mean something. Now, no one pays any attention to the “Platform” and thus, no one really knows what they will wake up to after an election. Parties used to discipline members forcing them to “cleave” to the “Party Line” which losely followed the “values” enunciated in the Platform. No more, probably because those elected who are of one party or the other pay little if any attention to the Party Platform.
    There are some awful consequences to Partisanship which we are presently dealing with. Blind loyalty to a chimeric Party gets us: a) Leadership that isn’t; b) professional politicians instead of “Statesmen/Stateswomen”; c) pointless debate and bad legislation; and d) the worst of all consequences, a group of “Politicians” who rather than address real problems with real solutions, constantly dodge thorny problems because they are forever running for re-election.
    For my part, I’ve abandonned both parties altogether and seek to distance myself from both to the max. I want no part of them. One last thought, somewhat on a different point; I was reading some stuff said by Hilary yesterday. I’m of two minds about Hilary thought I couldn’t bring myself to vote for her simply because I can’t believe anything she says, but after reading her comments I was left with a nawing question which gave rise to a rather “empty” feeling and that question was, is it possibly the case that these “Professional” politicians are as well, extreme cynics? Have any of you come away with that impression? If so, have we/should we ask ourselves, “what does that mean”? Honestly, is it possible we’ve filled the halls of Congress and perhaps on occasion the White House with extreme cynics. So, I went to wikipedia and got the definition: “The Cynics (Greek: κῠνικός, Latin: cynici) were an influential school of ancient philosophers. They rejected the social values of their time, often flouting conventions in shocking ways to prove their point. A popular conception of the intellectual characteristics is the modern sense of “cynic,” implying a sneering disposition to disbelieve in the goodness of human motives and a contemptuous feeling of superiority.” Then there’s “cynicism”: “Presently the word generally describes the opinions of individuals who maintain that self-interest is the primary motive of human behavior, and who are disinclined to rely on sincerity, human virtue, or altruism.”
    I dunno, just a thought, but I always thought those seeking public office were supposed to be interested in “doing good”.

  9. Ed – I disagree. I host more than 40 sites, including some blogs, on my server. Whether it’s one on my server, the chron.com, or any other server, the person running the blog often can’t see they are the instigators for many of the “nut cases” becoming nutcases.
    For too many blog owners, they believe they are “correct” and “right in the middle” of the political spectrum when the reality is they are just human and not in the middle. They have their own opinions from which “they know the ‘great silent majority’ (as Nixon Called them) believes too” and after a point, what I’ll call ‘critical mass’, an astute reader gets a pretty good bead on their leanings.
    But we are all humans who “get too close to ‘our tree’ to see the entire forest. In science terms, the person making the judgment observation, just by making that judgment observation, changes the judgment – at least that what Stephen Hawkins and friend say.
    As Polimom said earlier about standing on the razor-thin-edge of neutrality, I just don’t think it can be done. Of course one reason the chron.com blogs have so many problems is the sheer number of hits that site gets. It wasn’t Polimom’s fault at all. The law of average kicked in, as more hits, more nuts.
    You can see at chron.com those blog-runners who toss the ‘baby out with the bathwater” but what’s more interesting to see is who and what they DON’T toss out. Sparkle’s blog would be like John’s if she tossed the numbers of posts that John did early on. And poor Nick, he and I have become pretty good pen pals as he’s a true-heart Democrat, meaning he’s deeply partisan but is so with the best of intentions. He means well but wasn’t ready for what he gets in blogs and we’ve talked over a lot of things. If you’ll notice now, the left-wingnuts aren’t as dominating on his blog as they were and the right-wingnuts aren’t getting by with the personal attacks.
    As person who has, and still does, own a number of messageboards (for more than a decade now) day which can be exactly what a blog is when the site operator has his/her own section, I can identify with the ‘stalking’ thing. There have been a number of criminal charges I have had to file over the years.
    One of my sites averages just fewer than 100,000 hits a day and there is usually 20 to 80 people in there at all times with the exception of about 4-5 am., as my Aussie crowd is trying a new site. They’ll be back, they always are. I’ve never linked to any of my sites with my name, but I’ll do it on this one.

  10. Fascinating – I missed this one. For anyone’s whose curious, out of 1300+ comments, I’ve tossed probably 15-20 because they were spam or foul language.
    Even one of Laz’s comments that I had a problem with (because of name-calling, not viewoint) wound up running.

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