A Tale of Two Blogospheres: The Red and the Blue

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42 Responses

  1. Stuart says:

    Interesting thesis. I suspect some of what you are noticing is a function of the fact that the left side of the political sphere is out of power in the US, so they spend a lot of time gnashing teeth and wailing and plotting ways to get back into power – after all, if you aren’t in a position to make decisions, having the ability to make good ones and explain why doesn’t do much good, right? So that’s one factor.

    But there may be a deeper explanation, too. And I’ll put this as delicately as a libertarian like me can: what is it that liberals believe? What is their theory? Increasing the size of government and creating programs for everything isn’t much of a banner, and people won’t rally to it. Preferring abstract theories of justice ahead of what is achievable in the real world won’t cut it either. So part of the problem may just be that there aren’t theoreticians because there is no theory. When someone comes up with one, I’ll want to see it. I know lots and lots of very smart lefties — heck, I live in NY and around here they’re everywhere! they’re lovely people, fun to talk with, etc. — but I have yet to see any explanation of what they think in terms of political theory other than adhockery in practice and sanctimonious self-righteousness in demeanor.

    Solve the theoretical problem and the leftie blogosphere will integrate like the righties.

    I got this notion from a long essay in OpinionJournal, which started off as a bunch of righty triumphalist cant, but then moved on to some serious analysis. It’s worth reading if you can stand the first couple of pages: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110006240

  2. Armando says:

    “A politically saavy wonkishness.”

    Do you consider this blog politically savvy?

    I had an extensive e-mail exchange with your co-blogger Hoffman where he defends labelling Daily Kos as “uber Left.”

    I submit that the fact that Wingnut blogs link to you consistently and the fact that your blog has had only negative things to say about daily kos sort of explains why we may not be paying that much attention to you.

    “Politically savvy”? I think this blog ain’t. I have no explanation why blogs like Kevin Drum’s are not linking to you.

    Armando at daily kos.

  3. Chris Farris says:

    “After all, many (though not all) of us at Concurring Opinions consider ourselves to be liberals.”

    Now that is interesting. I thought this was a more conservative-libertarian law blog. Admittedly, I’ve only been reading for a new months but I never detected a leftward political bias.

    I suppose the topic of law lends itself to less partisianship. If so, there might yet be hope for the Republic.

  4. Armando,

    We’re not aiming to be “politically savvy” in the way you suggest — and I don’t think that your use of the term is the same as Farrell’s. Although many of us are liberals on the blog, not all of us are. We’re not aiming to be partisan here — just to provide good and interesting analysis of the issues. As a result, we’re read and listened to by many libertarians and conservatives . . . and sometimes we may be convincing or find points of agreement. I think that this is a very good thing. Before recent politics, liberals and conservatives could find some agreement on certain issues. Many issues can be discussed in an intelligent non-partisan manner.

    Anyway, my goal isn’t to say things that I think liberals want to hear — nor do I say things that I think conservatives want to hear either. I try my best to supply good information and fair arguments and leave it at that.

    My argument in this post goes beyond whether Daily Kos should pay attention to us — it is about the liberal blogosphere in general. If you and others at Daily Kos want to ignore us because just one blogger out of many once labeled it “uber Left,” go ahead, but I hope that you start building more connections with the legal blogosphere and other academic blogospheres. Regarding Dave’s “uber Left” comment, I didn’t take this to be an insult; it could be read to mean either a “very Left blog” or a “very big Left blog.” And this is the blogosphere after all, and I’m sure you’ve got thicker skin than your comment suggests.

    Not paying attention to us because one blogger calls your blog “uber Left” strikes me as a bit petty. I’ve critiqued Eugene Volokh and Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy many a time, but they still read and link to me over at the Volokh Conspiracy. Indeed, I wrote an article calling some of Kerr’s views “misguided” and I’ve extensively attacked Volokh’s views on privacy and free speech in an article. Yet they still pay attention. I’m not being “politically savvy” if we want more links from them.

    So if “polically savvy” means giving out a lot of praise to Daily Kos and critiquing Daily Kos bloggers with kid gloves, then we’re not polically savvy — I, for one, don’t blog this way with regard to any other blogger or blog. The folks at the Volokh Conspiracy dole out a fair bit of criticism to many conservative bloggers, but they’re not then ignored as a result. In fact, it is to their credit that they have some balance, and it is why they count many liberals among their readership and why many prominent conservative political leaders listen to what they have to say. So perhaps our not being “politically savvy” in the way you suggest is a reason why we might be worth being paid attention to rather than ignored.

  5. Armando says:

    Daniel:

    What do you consider to be the Legal Blogosphere? Jack Balkin? Jeralyn Merrit? Eric Muller? Etc?

    Cuz we HAVE that connection. I have it personally.

    You write:

    “As a result, we’re read and listened to by many libertarians and conservatives . . . and sometimes we may be convincing or find points of agreement. I think that this is a very good thing. Before recent politics, liberals and conservatives could find some agreement on certain issues. Many issues can be discussed in an intelligent non-partisan manner.”

    The key phrase is “[b]efore recent politics.”

    After Bush, politics, AND wonkery, is not the same.

    That is atrios’ premise, and one I fully adhere to.

    If you believe you are engaged in honest discourse with Powerline, more power to you. I would find that view naive in the extreme.

  6. Armando says:

    BTW, if we’re discussing Orin Kerr or even Ed Whelan, I agree with you that discussion with them can be frutiful.

    It is why I engage their thoughts. And presumably, why they address mine.

    But your brush is way broad and way misguided IMO.

  7. Stuart says:

    I’m seeing a pattern in Armando’s comments here and in other posts: the use of the word “naive” to describe those who disagree with him. At the risk of being viewed as too flip, my response to that is akin to Sigmund Freud’s: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The idea that there is always more going on than meets the eye just isn’t true – SOMETIMES it is, but not always.

  8. DML says:

    stuart hits the nail on the head; the left’s public image is that of a fractured movement clinging to a set of new-deal / civil rights era policies that have been extended to sometimes illogical conclusions. there is no up-to-date overarching theory, partly because overarching theories inevitably back you into a corner. but although pragmatism may be the best theory, case-by-case thinking does not sell.

    alternatively, if the left could adopt and market any new theories, there may have to be a re-imagining of the concept of social justice, for example, the left’s historical support for (and support from) labor unions.

    in short, i think the need to develop a new left approach is diffcult, and requires the cooperation of all who desire to see change in government. the legal / academic approach on this site is among the more sensible, and it would be great if the mudslingers could see that.

  9. Armando says:

    I’m seeing a pattern in Stuart’s comments as well. He spends an inordinate amount of time describing what is wrong with me.

    I assume Stuart is not one of those liberals that populate this site. He self identifies as a libertarian. I am curious to know what that means to him in terms of party politics.

    I suspect that means he is above such mundane concerns.

    As for his actual substance, I have no idea what he is talking about. Sometimes belieivng someone is naive is just that – believing someone is naive.

    Stuart, from now on can we avoid this silliness of discussing someone’s views as if they are not in the thread? Talk about pompous.

  10. Dave Hoffman says:

    I’m mostly with Solove in his comment. My only addition would be that many in the political/conservative blogosphere are actually already law professors (Adler, Reynolds) which makes the fit with other law blogs both professionally and culturally understandable. Our arguments are easily processed. The political/liberal blogosphere, while chock-full of lawyers, doesn’t have as many professors (I don’t think of Balkin as partisan; Muller is definitely not, even though he fights occasionally politicized battles with Malkin; others?). Thus, the link between blogs like ours and blogs like DK, MyDD, SwingState, etc., requires more interdisciplinary translation, which is hard and which takes time. The email exchange I had with Armando made this quite clear to me.

  11. Dave Hoffman says:

    I agree with what I take to be the spirit of both Stuart’s and Armando’s comments: ad hominem attacks are rarely useful.

  12. Simon says:

    If our team actually had some power we could be debating the merits of various universal health care proposals, or considering just how large a minimum wage increase might be appropriate, or various other wonky things.

    I find this an astonishing cart-before-horse statement; surely this is merely inartful phrasing. Black can’t seriously be suggesting that his party should save the debate about policy until such time as they have the power to implement that policy. How do they expect to pursuade people to vote for them in the absence of ideas? It just seems as if they expect to wait until the GOP runs out of steam and eventually they’ll take back the House by default. If this is the left activist base’s position – which I seriously hope it is not, because I have good friends with a lot of emotional investment in the Democratic party – you can’t help but wonder at the absurdity of it. It took more than four decades before the GOP took back the House from the Dems, and that was on the back of not only the political tide, but a substantive policy vision which had emerged from precisely the debate-in-opposition Black seems to be saying is pointless. And that’s the optimistic scenario; it should be pointed out that it has happened in the past that parties have simply faded away waiting for the political tide to turn their way.

  13. Simon says:

    Stuart:

    I got this notion from a long essay in OpinionJournal, which started off as a bunch of righty triumphalist cant, but then moved on to some serious analysis.

    I don’t really see which part of this is “a bunch of righty triumphalist cant,” in tone or substance. It’s really just a statement of what is (or was, eleven months ago). Which part of it is wrong, in your view?

  14. Simon says:

    We’re not aiming to be partisan here — just to provide good and interesting analysis of the issues.

    You can’t seriously expect some Kossack to understand that concept. They’re best treated like one of those whiny, yappy dogs: plenty of bark, not so much bite, and if you ignore them, eventually they lose interest and find someone who will pay attention to them. Usually another whiny, yappy dog, funnily enough.

  15. Simon says:

    I don’t think of Balkin as partisan

    I find it hard to think of him as anything else. I like Balkin’s writing, I think he has some interesting viewpoints, but he has a very specific agenda, it seems to me, which is to demonize originalism and formalism at any chance he gets, duplicitously if necessary (with only minor exceptions for boredom, I’ve boycotted his blog since that duplicitous monstrosity he wrote for Slate). I don’t know if he’s a partisan for the Democratic party, but he certainly strikes me as being highly partisan for his cause, and as a result, my respect for him has gone rapidly downhill in the last few months.

  16. Stuart says:

    Oy. Sure, Armando, I’ll ditch the meta stuff. I just gave in to the temptation to point out patterns I saw, which I probably shouldn’t have done. Not very constructive. You’re 100% right about that. And so is Dave Hoffman.

    Dave, don’t you get links from the Balkinization people? They’re really good. I like their blog a lot. It’s definitely a “left” blog, definitely academic, so the communication should be easy.

    Armando, in terms of my party politics, I’m not sure I can be pigeonholed that well. I live in NY, which is a heavily “blue” city, and am a big fan of Pat Moynihan (RIP), Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani. I grew up here in NY, and can see I have very “blue” thought patterns in many ways, though I don’t care for much for the partisan Democratic party. I voted for Schumer last time around. Voted for Bush in ’04, Harry Browne in ’00, Clinton in ’96. I’m not politically active, though I do try to keep informed. The hard right scares me. So does the hard left. The blogger whose views are most like mine is probably Megan McArdle (Jane Galt). I don’t think that is too informative about party politics, but you asked, so I’m answering.

  17. Niels Jackson says:

    This phenomenon got me thinking more broadly about the liberal blogosphere versus the conservative blogosphere. With the caveat that this is just my personal impression, I think that the conservative blogosphere is much better integrated in its intellectual and activist dimensions.

    Just noticing that this “integration” doesn’t have anything to do with the observation that inspired this post, i.e., that conservatives link to you much more often than liberals. If conservatives are better at integrating “intellectual and activist dimensions,” why does that lead to linking to YOU? That just doesn’t follow.

    The more obvious explanation — Occam’s razor — is that there are at least some conservative bloggers who are interested in intellectual ideas for their own sake. But the big-time liberal bloggers (Atrios, Kos) ADMIT that they aren’t interested in ideas; they’re only interested in ridiculing conservatives and seeking power for themselves. So it’s no wonder that they don’t link to a site like this one.

  18. Armando says:

    Simon,

    You write “We’re not aiming to be partisan here — just to provide good and interesting analysis of the issues.

    You can’t seriously expect some Kossack to understand that concept.”

    Actually, it is what we do understand and why there is a disconnect with this blog. I think the proprietors of this blog are not engaged in the partisan discourse and then wonder why partisan Lefty blogs are not citing to them but partisan Wingnut blogs do.

    The answer is simple if they care to look – WHEN do the partisan Righty blogs cite to you? And for WHAT purpose? Do they cite you when you criticize Bush?

    Honestly, it’s fine not to be partisan, but please don’t criticize those of us that are with a “gee whiz, the Conservatives are so much more open to discourse” post.

    You open yourself up to ridicule if you do not see what is going on.

    Case in point, The Corner cites to Hoffman’s attack on me. You think they were citing to it because Hoffman wrote it or because it was an attack on daily kos?

    You’re smart guys, what do you think?

    Now, for the rest of Simon;s post, is this emblematic of the high end discourse being offered here at Concurring Opinions?

    “They’re best treated like one of those whiny, yappy dogs: plenty of bark, not so much bite, and if you ignore them, eventually they lose interest and find someone who will pay attention to them. Usually another whiny, yappy dog, funnily enough.”

    Reminds me of Althouse.

  19. Niels Jackson says:

    If you don’t think of Balkin as partisan, what explains his recent Legal Affairs debate with Sandy Levinson, where one of the overwhelming concerns was whether overturning Roe would be good for the Democrats?

  20. Armando says:

    Neils’ Razor:

    “The more obvious explanation — Occam’s razor — is that there are at least some conservative bloggers who are interested in intellectual ideas for their own sake. But the big-time liberal bloggers (Atrios, Kos) ADMIT that they aren’t interested in ideas; they’re only interested in ridiculing conservatives and seeking power for themselves. So it’s no wonder that they don’t link to a site like this one.”

    Riiiight. Easily resolved. Review the articles linked to by the Right Wing blogs and ascertain what is being said in those posts.

    If at least 80% of them are not adopting the view favored by Conservatives or the Republican Party, I’ll be shocked.

    Right now Cass Sunstein is the most Right Wing-linked “liberal” in the world.

    Let’s see now, why would that be? I am SURE Neils’ razor is right.

    Sheesh.

  21. Stuart says:

    Simon, I thought the first few pages of the OpinionJournal piece – the part that purported to analyze why Kerry lost and the Dems lost ground in the Senate – was too far into the category of smug partisanship. Once he launched into the theoretical discussion and the historical stuff about the New Deal, it’s more interesting and less triumphalist.

    And Simon, Armando is no dummy, Kossack or not. On this blog at least he has been comparatively restrained. Saying he can’t be expected to understand is just not accurate – he understands, he just disagrees with you.

  22. Stuart says:

    Armando, I would hazard a guess that the righty blogs link Sunstein on foreign surveillance for the same reason lefty blogs were linking stories about McCain on campaign finance reform and torture. Having someone perceived to be on “the other side” who agrees with you is nice to have to use in an argument.

  23. Armando says:

    Absolutely Stuart.

    That is my point about what is wrong with this post – the belief that “engagement” from the Right reflects some “intellectual openness” is, in my view, absurd. It is advocacy, of the partisan variety.

    Some folks wish to be honest brokers, and some have the track record to defend that characterization. I assume Conncurring Opinions wants to be one of those “honest brokers.” And that’s fine. But let’s not be naive (yes Stuart, there is that word again) as to WHY some Right Wing blogs are linking.

  24. Stuart says:

    Sorry, Armando, I have to disagree with you on this one. Here’s why. Certainly there are plenty of “echo chamber” sites on both sides of the blogosphere. But my own observation – and no, this isn’t based on empirical study, just anecdotal observation – is that there are more sober sites with links to all sides in the rightish/center-right side than the leftish/center-left side. As I said up top, I think part of the reason is that the righties aren’t worrying about how to gain power, because they already have it. So they have other axes to grind. The lefties have to think more about political warfare because that’s the only way they can get themselves into a position to make decisions. There wasn’t a blogosphere in the late 80s-early 90s, but I’m pretty sure Newt Gingrich would have been a righty counterpart of Kos if there was.

    Another part of the reason could be this: I perceive that righties generally view politics different from lefties. Not just in terms of substantive views, but in terms of the role the process plays in life. That accounts for the old saw about righties looking for enemies and lefties looking for heretics. I’d elaborate more on this, but I have to get back to this brief I’m writing. Maybe later?

  25. Armando,

    Certainly some Right Wing blogs are linking for purely partisan reasons, but my point isn’t that ALL Right Wing blogs are interested in acquiring a wide range of viewpoints. There are certainly many conservative blogs that are little more than hacks in an echo chamber. My point isn’t that blogs should be linking to those disagreeing with them, although this is fine too. Rather, my point is about the degree of integration of the more theoretical and less highly-partisan academic discourse with the more partisan political discourse.

    I’m not trying to cast blame. I just think that the Left would be well-served to better integrate the academic discourse with the political discourse. The problem isn’t just the fault of the political bloggers — it’s also the fault of the academic ones.

    Perhaps I’m naive as you say to believe in constructive discourse, and maybe being a professor has made me this way. After all, I must engage students of all political persuasions in discussions of highly-contested legal issues. I must get them to have a constructive discourse. I think we actually do have a constructive discourse, and that we all come away with a greater understanding of the issues as a result. But maybe that’s just the classroom; the minute people leave school, perhaps they become close-minded and only interested in hearing and discussing views they agree with. But I don’t think people change so dramatically — I just think that a different kind of discourse is going on outside the academy. Both the Right and Left are engaging in it, and my point is not that the Right is more open-minded. My point is that on my very impressionistic view, the Right blogosphere has a better integration of its academic and political dimensions than does the Left.

  26. Nate Oman says:

    I agree with Daniel’s original post, but as I am part of the “not all of us are liberals” part of the blog, it may just be partisan hackery coming out in me. Even if Armando is right that conservatives are only linking to Concurring Opinions to further their own neferious agendas, we are still left with the question of why lefties don’t link to us more to further their neferious agendas. Are we no supplying enough leftie-agenda fodder? Are liberal partisan hacks above such selective and self-serving linking? Or — as Dan suggests — is there a different culture at work here?

    I suspect that part of this comes from the fact that conservative academics tend to think of themselves as conservative academics. On the other hand, liberal academics are more likely to think of themselves as liberals who happen to be academics or academics who happen to be liberals. In other words, their political and intellectual identities are not as closely intertwined. Not surprisingly, the intellectual ties between straight political operatives and fellow-traveling academics tend to be stronger on the right.

    As for niavete, I am all for it. The point of Concurring Opinions is not to be on the cutting edge of this morning’s news cycle, scrapping to be recognized as the spin-miester de jour. I would much rather be known for thoughtful discussions of legal issues, or quirky posts about architecture…

  27. Armando says:

    Daniel, Nate, David, et al:

    I am sorry that my language seemed (was?) disparaging. I don’t mean to be so. Your work is excellent. Of the first order.

    I think you are right in some repsects – we have been remiss in not seeking good information and analysis from the wonky blogs. I’ll strive to be better.

    I do hope that you can keep in mind that our intended audiences are most times quite different. Your legal discussions are of a high order, and not always easy for layman to follow.

    My audience at daily kos is partisan Dems and our purposes at daily kos are largely partisan. We try and, I think, mostly succeed, in being honest and sticking to the facts. Most things in politics are arguable.

    And we advocate for what we believe is the Democratic point of view. This blog is not a Dem blog. And that’s fine, even good.

    Here’s a thought for all of us, let’s remember the ojectives each of us are aiming for when we write about specific posts found at each others’ sites. I think that would help all of us.

  28. Armando says:

    Stuart:

    Could you name those sites please?

  29. Thanks, Armando. We can sometimes be a bit technical here, but we try our best to be understandable to laypeople. Part of the reason we blog is to reach beyond the legal academy to a broader audience. I certainly understand our blog — and many other blogs in the legal academic blogosphere and the academic blogosphere more generally — have very different purposes and aims than Daily Kos and other blogs in the political blogosphere.

    Part of my post is about an issue with liberals more generally — the great moments for liberals last century (the progressive movement in the early part of the 20th century and the civil rights and liberties movement in the 1950s through the 1970s) involved a strong integration between academics, grassroots activists, and political leaders. These connections have seemed to break down somewhat, and it is my hope that they can be reconstituted in the blogosphere.

  30. Liberal blawgs?

    Daniel Solove’s observation that more conservative than liberal bloggers link to Concurring Opinionsunusually acrimoniouscensus of blogging law professors reveals that the #1 and #4 law schools for prof-bloggers are, respectively, Chicago and George Ma…

  31. stuart says:

    Do you mean the “food fight” blogs or the substantive ones? You’re asking which blogs I read? I tend not to read any of the food fight blogs unless I’m directed to a specific link in something I’m otherwise reading.

  32. Simon says:

    Stuart:

    I thought the first few pages of the OpinionJournal piece – the part that purported to analyze why Kerry lost and the Dems lost ground in the Senate – was too far into the category of smug partisanship. Once he launched into the theoretical discussion and the historical stuff about the New Deal, it’s more interesting and less triumphalist.

    I want to respond to that in two ways, firstly by saying why I don’t think the first section is problematic, and secondly (and very briefly) by touching on something I would think would raise more concerns.

    voegelli essentially makes five points in §1.

    1, after the election, a lot of columnists blamed the defeat on those dumb voters. The left-leaning London Daily Mirror ran a headline, “how can 62 million people be this dumb?” Is this not true? Voegelli asserts that the columnists were not thinking on their feet, but echoing a widely-held sentiment among despondent democrats. Is this untrue?

    2, after blaming the electorate, a lot of democrats (rightly, in my view) blamed the candidate. Isn’t this true? I still see folks driving around with Howard Dean bumper stickers now; haven’t seen a Kerry sticker for months. It seems to me that only a very small number of Democrats were honestly keen on John Kerry, which is reflected in the fact that early 2008 polls suggest that John Kerry will do almost as well in the 2008 primary as Joe did in the 2004 primary, if he’s dumb enough to run. Rather, they just wanted to beat Bush and figured that Kerry was the best way to do that, not least because his war record would immunize him against “weak on war” attacks. He was, in my view, the “suck it up” candidate: he’s not great, but suck it up and vote for him anyway. Bob Dole, mark II. This isn’t so much a point that Voegelli emphasizes, but I’m emphasizing it here – isn’t this true, too?

    3, Kerry wasn’t great, but the other candidates weren’t much better. I’ll grant you that this one fits your description, but I would add that after Governor Dean (who I rather liked) quit running for the Presidency sometime around October ’03 (only to be replaced by his bizarre, shouty twin, candidate Dean, who I didn’t like so much, but still liked a whole lot more than Chairman Dean, who is, let’s face it, a bit of a prat), it became true. Does anyone seriously think Dennis Kucinich is fit to be the President of the United States? Or, and this is even more of a stretch, even if he is, does anyone seriously think Dennis Kucinich – blessed with the nomination of the Democratic Party, or any other party – could win a presidential election?

    4, the article asserts two related points: that the Democrats had a hugely successfull “get out the vote” campaign, and that Democrats had believed for a long time that America agreed with them, and thus they couldn’t lose a high turnout election. Are either of these points wrong? Indeed, it seems to me that, for a long time, Democrats beleived that what stymied them wass low turnout (because a majority of America agreed with them but just didn’t turn up to say so when it mattered) and that they could never manage to match GOP fundraising. So having made these points – which don’t seem dispuatable – Voegelli argues that in 2004, the Dems got out the vote, and they raised as much money as the GOP, and it still wasn’t enough. Well, it wasn’t enough – they lost!

    Finally, §1 concludes with what I think should be the sine qua non of any political theory: “the next Democrat who wins will be the one who changes enough minds.” Political hegemonies are made of received wisdom and unchallenged assertions. It’s never enough to hope that people agree with you; you either have to have a platform they already agree with or put forward a genuinely compelling argument why they should – even if only in the guilt-free privacy of a polling booth, where no one needs to know – change their minds.

    It seems to me that the line in the article with which a Democrat would most jutifiably take issue appears further down, at §2 ¶4:

    The narrative of Democrats trying to find a narrative might be more promising, or at least more interesting, if it were fresher. The problem is the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections, not to mention control of Congress in 1994, and have talked about the urgent need to redefine and re-explain themselves after every one of those defeats. It has been 24 years since that dim, unelectable extremist Ronald Reagan won a landslide against Jimmy Carter. A generation later, can there really be any promising ideas that haven’t already been taken down from the shelf?

    It seems to me that this is the paragraph most deliberately calculated to frustrate liberals: it does not describe an event that has already happened, but essentially writes off the party’s future by declaring that it is intellectually bankrupt. Even I don’t think that the Democratic party is damaged beyond repair, that it has nothing left to offer and no capacity to recast itself, which is precisely what Voegeli seems to imply here.

    Its primary task before doing so, of course, is to divest itself from its radical fringe, just as the fundamental problem for the GOP is now to avoid being dragged to its fringe. Which neatly brings us to:

    Armando is no dummy, Kossack or not. On this blog at least he has been comparatively restrained. Saying he can’t be expected to understand is just not accurate – he understands, he just disagrees with you.

    You and I disagree with one another about, for example, the stuff I replied to above, and I have frequently disagreed with Dan, both here and previously at Prawfsblawg. I’ve never had reason to believe our disagreement stemmed from a failure of either side to understand or consider all the issues involved. I’m aware of the difference, which is why I chose my words carefully: I really think he’s a pissed adolescent with a complete incapacity to comprehend the issues before him, and I therefore decline to engage with him. Ignore him, and – as he has invariably demonstrated when he’s occaisionally defaced Althouse with an appearence – he’ll spout his invective and then go away. I’m always ready to engage in a battle of wits, but I refuse to do so with an unarmed man.

  33. Armando says:

    Simon:

    You mean this thread?

    Yes, I am horribly abusive. Could you point out my abusive comments? Could you point out ANY comments from me?

    I think your comment speaks for itself as to your nature.

    I leave Concurring Opinions to decide if they view you as representative of the civil discourse they wish to promote.

    I hope not.

  34. Armando says:

    Or perhaps this thread in a post where Althouse chose to attack me.

    I’ll stand by what I said in that thread abnd I still await Althouse’s promised fisking of me on the 11th Amendment and Ex Parte Young in light of Cour d’Alene.

    There is something insufferable about you Althouse fans. You think because she is a law professor you are smart.

    It doesn’t work that way.

  35. Armando says:

    And I have never visited or written about Althouse again.

    So? What part are you referring to?

  36. Armando:

    Our discourse is generally quite civil, and it is my personal policy to delete comments on posts that become too rude and crude(each of us polices comments on our own posts according to our own principles). Simon’s was teetering on the line, and I was mulling over whether or not to delete it before you responded.

    Simon:

    I generally delete comments when they devolve into name-calling, but I’ll leave yours up because Armando has already responded

    You have generally commented here frequently, respectfully, and productively, and thus I was quite surprised when I read your comment.

    I really don’t see how calling people “pissed adolescents” or accusing people of being abusive commenters is a very productive way of discussing issues. In my opinion, I have found Armando to be quite willing to discuss issues thoughtfully. In this thread, for example, after engaging in extensive discussion about the issues, Armando and I came to a greater agreement. Insulting people’s intelligence and name calling doesn’t really advance the debate and discussion very far.

    The purpose of the forum I want to create here is for reasoned thoughtful debate, not a shouting match of personal attacks, not a ranting fest for the Right or the Left. There are plenty of places in the blogosphere for rants, grunts, slights, slurs, and the like.

    Anyway, please keep the discourse here civil and thoughtful.

  37. After I just posted my last comment, I just saw Armando’s comments about Althouse fans.

    Please keep the discourse here civil. This post is about the liberal versus the conservative blogosphere and how to better integrate the different dimensions of the blogosphere. It is not about Armando’s commenting at Althouse, nor is it about Althouse fans.

    I will reluctantly retain the discussion above, but starting now, I will begin a more vigorous deleting of off-topic and insulting comments on this post.

  38. Simon says:

    Dan,

    Sorry if that comment crossed the line; I will return to ignoring him instead. I would be interested in hearing from Stuart as to the more substantive points made above my response to him r.e. that fellow from Daily Kos.

  39. Come on Simon, your latest comment still has a silly children’s playground attitude.

  40. Armando says:

    Daniel:

    I am not a “turn the other cheek” kind of person. At daily kos, well, that’s my blog home, and I will continue my policy. But this is your blog and I violated its spirit.

    I apologize for that and it won’t happen again.

    Please delete my most recent comments at your discretion.

  41. Simon says:

    Come on Simon, your latest comment still has a silly children’s playground attitude.

    I’m sorry if that’s how it seems.

    One of the reasons I love reading Prawfsblawg and this blog is because – while I frequently disagree (strongly, even) – they are relentlessly substantive, and ensuing debate in the comments section is usually marked by civility, good faith, thoughtfullness and intellectual openness.

    In order for serious or genunine debate to take place, there has to be a sense of mutual respect and comity, and for that reason, I don’t go to places like Little Green Footballs or Daily Kos. It’s not that that no-one who comments at LGF or Kos or similar sites has never (or could never) write a valuable comment, it’s that I just don’t have any respect or trust for them, which means that you’re going to end up spending more time filtering snark from substance than actually thinking about the issues.

    This doesn’t actually relate as much to this thread’s topic as it might appear, because this is emphatically not a phenomonon confined to red blogs or blue blogs, but particularly anonymous blogs (cf. this Kathleen Parker op/ed) where anonymity, it seems, cannot but liberate people from the chains of civility. The state of being unaccountable – either by lack of competition (in the commercial area), or by avoidance of shame by virtue of anomynity (in blogs) – is, I think, the root cause of any number of evils. This is one of the reasons I’m tentatively enthusiastic about IPv6, because the possibility of each and every person having their own registered IP address – in essence, the end of anomynity on the internet – is highly attractive. It will force people to comment civilly, or face the consequences.

  42. Stuart says:

    Simon, maybe it’s a function of the fact that I preferred the theoretical and historical discussion to the practical political discussion in Voegeli’s article. I confess to finding the “power play” aspects of politics distasteful, which is why I avoid hyperpartisan blogs (I don’t think I have ever given more than a link-triggered glance at either Free Republic or Democratic Underground, for example). I was, however, very interested in the argument that the Democrats’ problem is the lack of anything substantive that they stand for beyond mouthing platitudes about the common good – it’s something I suspected for a while, and I didn’t really know just how far back this suspicion went. I had no idea that the objections to the New Deal looked something like that too.

    The peculiarities of the 2004 election are what they were. I remember at my 20th law school reunion in April 2004 having a conversation with my old study partner, who is about as far left as can be. I told her that I thought her party was making a big mistake choosing Kerry, because he has the charm of a tree stump and an antiwar history from the 70s that the Republicans will hang around his neck and never let him escape from. At that point Kerry didn’t have the nomination quite sewn up yet, but he was well on his way. She thought he would be fine because he looked presidential, came across as serious, had the war medals, etc. I wonder why so many Dems didn’t see what I (and quite a few others) saw so clearly so early – and I’m certainly no political genius. I think the pursuit of power while being out of power has led the Dems astray: they’re thinking about process and have left substance on auto-pilot. Maybe the new think tanks will fix that, I don’t know.

    To bring this back full circle now: I mentioned above that righties and lefties view politics differently and it has a different role in their lives (I’m talking here in broad patterns, not about any particular individuals). I think there is a good reason for the old political saw about righties looking for enemies and lefties looking for heretics. So far as I can tell, politics qua politics is more integral to a lefty’s sense of self-definition than it is to a righty’s. In other words, a lefty’s sense of who s/he is is drawn to a large extent from his or her political principles – Lefty knows he is a good guy because he believes in equality, giving people a break, all the other basic lefty principles that underlie the policies we usually associated with the Democratic party. Righty approaches the equation from the other direction: he has his life and he is a good person, and therefore arrived at his political views based on that. This is just a sense I have; I can’t point to a study that supports it.

    But I will point out that the Federalist Papers presumes that most people don’t spend their lives being politically engaged, and that those who do are a “faction” that has to be restrained and cancelled out – in other words, the US constitutional system is based on the premise that people get their self-definition and sense of worth OUTSIDE politics. That’s closer to the righty mode of thought that I outlined above. It’s actually closest to the brand of libertarianism that says people should be free and government shouldn’t be permitted to meddle with them except under limited circumstances – but that’s a subject for a whole ‘nother post.