caricatures & demons

Caricature of a demonIt’s interesting to watch how conservatives and liberals treat each other.  How they categorize one another.  I’ve tried to distinguish between the two – since it seems they each have different methods of dehumanizing the other side.  I’ve boiled it down to the title of this post: caricatures and demons.

Conservatives demonize liberals, and liberals caricaturize conservatives.  And perhaps I’m picking at nits with this, but there does seem to be a difference between the two.

In popular conservative myth, liberals “hate America” and long for some neo-Stalinist socialism.  Liberals are painted as weak and yet entirely capable of running a massive state/media coup of the nation in order to redistribute wealth and impose draconian regulations and taxation on honest, hard-working Americans.  And the motivation for this?  Dread “multi-culturalism” and America hatred for hatred’s sake.

Liberals, on the other hand, act as though the loudest and most verbose of their critics in fact represent not only the conservative movement, but the very philosophy upon which conservatism draws.  Certainly the phrase “conservatism is dead” is second only to its younger cousin “rock is dead” in frequency of use.  And second, only because “rock is dead” makes for a far better t-shirt.  This supposition is drawn, often as not, from a caricaturization of the movement or philosophy based mainly on its chest-thumping class of pundits.  If Rush Limbaugh is a conservative, after all, then certainly this is how all conservatives must be – ergo, conservatism is dead.  (Man cannot live on Rush alone, after all!)

Then again, the caricaturization runs deeper.  The very lines which conservatives have drawn for themselves seem only to add fuel to the fire.  If you’re a conservative you must either be a redneck evangelical anti-intellectual, or a WASPish elite.  Either way you’re either a bigot or a greedy, manipulative SOB.

Indeed, in liberal circles, mentioning that you are a conservative can draw a great deal of ire, and communicates far more than what you may have intended.  If I self-identify as a conservative, others identify me as everything they’ve imagined conservatives to be – loud, hawkish, boorish, etc.

Then again, perhaps this is better than being thought of as an America-hating pinko demon.  Of course, if you happen to also be an anti-war conservative, well now you’re unpatriotic, America-hating and caricaturized as a cold, rich bastard (or “WEC” bible-thumper).

And this is how we spin our political “dialogue.”  This is the failure of cable news, which takes these memes and runs with them, inflates them, saturates them in the fertilizer of incessant speculation and the crowing of “experts” and “strategists”.  I’m not a critic of the mainstream media generally, but I do wish we could get beyond these shallow themes if not as a culture, then at least as a class of people who are at least purportedly devoted to conversation, to seeking out the truth or at least the best take on the truth.  But, as Yglesias notes, “cable news’ hyper-agitated style starts to infect everyone’s frame of mind, making it extremely difficult for everyone to forget that the networks have huge incentives to massively and systematically overstate the significance of everything that happens.”

The fictions we create, the myths we weave, start to become reality if we believe them enough.  In America, it seems that this under-girds our national outrage – that we’ve taken the myths and lies we’ve told about each other and convinced ourselves of their reality.  At the heart of it all is cable news and to a lesser extent, talk radio – both as exemplar of the worst of our opponents enemies, but also as excuse, as evidence that our outrage and scorn are founded in real things, in substantial things, in outrageous things and outrageous people.  People who hate America or who want to destroy it; people who are nothing more than shallow bigots hell-bent on turning this country into a theocracy – or worse.

And isn’t it comforting to know that the others are something less than human?

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54 thoughts on “caricatures & demons

  1. But again, when were things different? Back when Hanoi Jane was jetting off to Vietnam? When Bill Buckley called Gore Vidal a “queer” on national television and threatened to “sock” him in the face?

    That is, aren’t people who are outraged by the level of outrage simply doing what they criticize others for doing? I mean, dammit, I get SO MAD at these PEOPLE for getting SO MAD! I HATE the way EVERYONE GENERALIZES! If people would just stop getting so mad and outraged, people could be more like me, and then I wouldn’t need to be so MAD and OUTRAGED!

    Maybe you take a look at the daytime shows on Fox News and can’t believe the deptsh to which we have sunk. But the fact of the matter is, most people don’t watch the daytime offerings on Fox News. Generally, I think “people” are pretty much like they always have been. And that the level of discourse is probably pretty close to what it always has been. Yes, people who are inclined to spew hatred have more outlets. And people inclined to be incredibly thoughtful have more resources. But generally, most people don’t fall into either of these categories.

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    • Sure – people have always stereotyped other people. I just think it’s become more exaggerated over the years. I know the easy answer to this is “people have always been this way or worse” and maybe that’s true. But something has changed. I don’t think we saw this sort of animosity every year for the past fifty years. I think there was animosity around election time. There were big brouhahas from time to time and people calling each other names. But we’ve really turned the act of outrage and animosity and all of that into a constant thing. Really, truly constant. I mean, I know people who have been outright excommunicated by their parents for voting for Obama – no joke.

      And the point is, during Vietnam things got heated because of a big freaking war. Nowadays, it takes almost nothing.

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      • I don’t know. 150 years ago, we had a civil war. Tons of people were killed.

        A civil war is absolutely unthinkable today (as it was during Bush’s administration).

        I’m wondering if the “outrage”, however it may be piling up, isn’t an outcome of violent impulses being sublimated.

        Additionally, reading a really well-crafted spittle-flecked screed is cathartic. You feel better after reading about those people and how they want you and all the people like you to die. Someone ought to pass a law.

        Then we go back to our daily lives.

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  2. I know I’m beating a dead horse here but it all comes back to our tendency to label people verses positions. I’ve been having a lot of debates with folks within the Republican party and the problem is that they all want to self-identify themselves as some sort of hyphenated Republican. They are noecons, paleocons, religious conservatives, socially liberal Republicans, Centrist Republicans, moderate Republicans, fiscally conservative moderates, etc. etc. This causes all kinds of problems because as soon as you hear those labels, the generalizations immediately follow. So if a paleocon can’t get along with a moderate, well then how do we ever expect conservatives and liberals to not make big assumptions about one another?

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  3. I have a fairly entrenched stereotype of a libertarian, which I’ll share for illustrative purposes. White, male, better off than the national average either in actual earning power or in the family they grew up in. College educated, but rarely holding academic doctorates (many MDs, JDs, etc..). The phrase I use is educated, but not too educated. Tendency to believe people are free and that they can own land.

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  4. W.R.T. conservatives and talk radio, I’ll agree that liberals often tend to overgeneralize Rush/Beck/Hannity as official voices of The Movement and all its constituents. The problem is that these guys DO have a great deal of influence among conservatives, and they have a great deal of power. That Democracy Corps survey that dropped a few days ago said as much. Obviously, there are going to be conservatives who engage with reality and try to be constructive. But how much traction are they getting these days? Probably not much, so far as I can see.

    In fact, I tend to think that folks like E.D. and Andrew Sullivan often engage in wishful thinking in assuming that the Fox News apparatus has less influence among conservatives than it does, and count on some sort of hidden group of sensible conservatives to take over once the dittoheads tire themselves out. I find that extremely unlikely. These folks have been going on for forty years now. They’re not exhausted. I think that there’s a tendency amongst thoughtful conservatives to assume that most conservatives are like them, but my experience has been that the cultural backlash elements are the most prevalent aspects of conservatism, while I’ve never met a single conservative who engaged me in a debate about Buckley or imanentizing the eschaton. Maybe that’s just a result of the limitations of my social networks, but there it is.

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  5. “…while I’ve never met a single conservative who engaged me in a debate about Buckley or imanentizing the eschaton. ”
    How about discussing the hypostatizing of the transcendent?

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  6. Do liberals/Democrats really caricaturize Rush, Sean, Billo, Glenn, the Big Four?

    From my chair I’d say they do a dam fine job of doing it to themselves. Throw in the Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter, James Inhofe, Dan Savage, the straight? one, and so many others and you have a made for cable/talk radio Freak Show that David Lynch bows before.

    Liberals just point and say, “look there.”

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    • I wrote:

      Liberals, on the other hand, act as though the loudest and most verbose of their critics in fact represent not only the conservative movement, but the very philosophy upon which conservatism draws. Certainly the phrase “conservatism is dead” is second only to its younger cousin “rock is dead” in frequency of use. And second, only because “rock is dead” makes for a far better t-shirt. This supposition is drawn, often as not, from a caricaturization of the movement or philosophy based mainly on its chest-thumping class of pundits.

      So I wasn’t saying Rush was being caricaturized – I was saying liberals use Rush to caricaturize conservatives writ large.

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  7. Good points made about caricature and demonizing. I tie this to the Carville study about the Tea Party conservatism, which sees itself as set against the existential evil of liberalism, instead of the more moderate voices who merely disagree with liberal policies.
    It is easy to caricature conservatism, as Bob points out, when not only are the leading “conservative” voices increasingly fringe, but the conservative blogosphere and media ex-communicate moderates for heresy. Notice how now Lindsey Graham is a “liberal” in some circles.
    I believe we are witnessing a permenent fracturing of what it means to be “conservative”; the fault lines between authoritarians, who are willing to use enlarged power of the State (such as warrantless wiretapping, intrusive anti-abortion laws, Patriot Act anti-terror laws, etc.) separating from the libertarian and deficit hawk wing. Not to mention the separation of the white resentment wing from the multi-cultural wing.
    Likewise, the democrats have so enmeshed themselves into corporate fund-raising as to obliterate any memory of being the “working class” party.
    I am anticipating a party re-alignment based on merging and divergence of these issues and constutuencies, with new labels coming into play.

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  8. Of course, stereotypes do not make for an enriching discourse. But I’m not sure that we’ll ever be free of them. The human mind is not limitless and we will always seek shortcuts in our thought processes.

    But to the larger point that has emerged- I think that having more sensible conservative voices is a good thing. It provides some pushback against the stereotype, but it is going to take an Herculean effort to supplant those loudmouths like Limbaugh et. al. who not only command large audiences, but confirm liberal stereotypes of conservatives on a daily basis.

    As a thought experiment, imagine if Cynthia McKinney had a daily show with an audience the size of Limbaugh’s. The task of liberals to distance themselves from her and her audience’s views would be enormous.

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    • Isn’t the fact that Limbaugh has a large audience and McKinney doesn’t an illustration that the stereotypes of conservatives have a lot of truth in them, and that any of Liberals that were based on comparisons of McKinney wouldn’t have a basis in truth?

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      • Indeed. I think you’re right.
        In my own experience (former GOP consultant/officeholder when I was younger; most recently worked for Dems in Albany and for a progressive think tank), it seems as though the liberal caricature is nowhere near as accurate or as widely applicable as the conservative one. I’d be hard pressed to find a handful of liberals I know who would fit, whereas I can’t say I’d have the same problem coming up with the same number of stereotypical conservatives.

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  9. E.D., you seem to take my comment at #6 to be some sort of criticism. It was not. Every word you digitize is Holy Writ in my book. Well, mostly.

    In any case I do have a nit to pick.

    I applaud the concise nature of your post, I’m really busy, not. But I wish you had extended your remarks by a paragraph or two. While you do an admirable job of describing a situation you choose not to make any judgment as to which group had a better case.

    Are conservatives credible when they paint liberals as hate America firsters, Stalin loving comminists’ pinko fags out to destroy real America?

    Are liberals credible when they paint conservatives, the 30% base, as Limbaugh loving religious theists opposed to science and civil rights

    This flat description, “The fictions we create, the myths we weave, start to become reality if we believe them enough,” smells of false equivalency to me. But then I’m an unwashed partisan — unlike yourself.

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  10. I notice a common thread in Bob’s comments. Higher up, he compares Limbaugh and the rest to “liberals,” writ large. SO we have the screaming pundits versus the larger class, which allows him to argue:

    “Liberals just point and say, ‘look there.'”

    Really? Was Dan Savage just pointing and saying “look there” when, sick with the flu, he went around icking doorknobs in an effort to infect Candidate Bush? Do “liberals” include the people from Intenational ANSWER, who are, you know, actual communisits? Stalinists, even?

    Then, later, we get:

    “Are conservatives credible when they paint liberals as hate America firsters, Stalin loving comminists’ pinko fags out to destroy real America? Are liberals credible when they paint conservatives, the 30% base, as Limbaugh loving religious theists opposed to science and civil rights.”

    Once again, we compare the 30 percent of hardcore conservatives with “liberals” as a broad category. Odd, that.

    But to the larger point:

    “But we’ve really turned the act of outrage and animosity and all of that into a constant thing. Really, truly constant. I mean, I know people who have been outright excommunicated by their parents for voting for Obama – no joke.”

    Again, I just don’t know. I think plenty of people were taken to task by family members for voting for JFK. Or FDR. Or anyone else. All I can do is quote from the great political philosopher Charlie Daniels, and his brilliant tract, “Uneasy Rider:”

    “He’s a friend of them long-haired hippie-type pinko fags
    I bet he’s even got a commie flag
    tacked up on the wall inside of his garage. …
    Would you believe this man has gone as far
    As tearing Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars.
    And he voted for George McGovern for President.”

    This song is from 1973. Do we think Mr. Daniels was inventing this kind of cultural divide for effect, or that it reflected something real within the culture?

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  11. Let me help you out:

    You seem eager to compare “liberals” to the 30 percent of the most hardcore liberals. So it’s Rush Limbaugh versus soccer moms. Which fits your narrative quite nicely: Liberals demonize conservatives, but they are kind of right! In your own words:

    “Are liberals credible when they paint conservatives, the 30% base, as Limbaugh loving religious theists opposed to science and civil rights”

    I guess so. But, um… conservatives are correct in tarring liberals as Stalinists… if you limit your view to, say, International ANSWER. Are conservatives correct to tar liberals as anti-capitalists? Well… if you limit your view to Michael Moore, it’s not all that outrageous, is it?

    So why does one side get to focus on the fringe, but the other side is supposed to speak in general terms?

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    • You write, “You seem eager to compare ‘liberals’ to the 30 percent of the most hardcore liberals.” What does that even mean? And where in gods name do I say anything remotely resembling that?

      Too much Kahlua in your coffee this morning? I kid.

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      • Point two, you say, “But, um… conservatives are correct in tarring liberals as Stalinists… if you limit your view to, say, International ANSWER.”

        Now granted you are the expect on ANSWER so my limited knowledge is that they were/are an antiwar group. Yep, “Stalinists” by any definition.

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    • Because the fringe on the right has far more voice and power then on the left. I’ve lost count of R politicians who have equated healthcare reform with the Nazi’s. that is straight out nutsoid. Answer is a left fringe group. If you think Moore is an “anti-capitalist” then…..umm… you aren’t’ paying attention.

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  12. Bob,

    Regarding International Answer, you are basically wrong. It was not a simple anti-war group. Here is a link to a bunch of people from Nation and Mother Jones talking about how the group is a small, Stalinist cult. Might want to follow up on that.

    As for Greg: “If you think Moore is an ‘anti-capitalist’ then…..umm… you aren’t’ paying attention.”

    Here’s a review of his latest movie from the LAT: “He lays the ills of American society that he’s chronicled over all that time at the feet of an out-of-control free-market system he so detests that he puts priests on camera to talk about capitalism as morally evil.”

    Here’s the notoriously right wing… Rolling Stone: “Moore sees our abusive relationship with capitalism as a growing plague. ”

    Oh. And here is Michael Moore himself in the final minutes of the film:

    “Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that’s good for all people, and that something is called democracy.”

    So… as someone who apparently pays attention… what do you make of that? Pro capitalist?

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    • So two of your points against Moore are based on reviews of his movie. Meh, so what. He has priests who say capitalism is evil, well how dare a liberal have priests who use moralistic language to bolster his point. Again, meh. Wow he says capitalism is an evil that should be replaced by democracy. Ummm democracy, how evil. His contention, I believe ( I haven’t seen his recent movie, but I have heard a lot of what he has said over the years) is that the rich control and overwhelm our democracy to enrich themselves. You can disagree, but I have heard people from all over the political spectrum say just that. In fact I have heard tea baggers make the same freaking argument.

      If you think Moore is truly anti-capitalist then you aren’t’ paying attention to the fact that he sells products in exchange for money. That is sort of capitalistic. He is a fierce critic of the abuses of capitalism on our society. That seems to me to be different that being anti-capitalist.

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    • Okay, let’s say that every word in that 2002 LA Weekly piece is true. Even there the accusation is that the “minuscule Workers World Party” is the real turd in the punch bowl. Later Cooper links ANSWER to WWP as a front group. It’s oh so 1950’s it really made my head hurt to read it. Where is HUAC when we really need them? The entire story sounds like a movie proposal.

      But yes, I’m very willing to grant your point, “But, um… conservatives are correct in tarring liberals as Stalinists… if you limit your view to, say, International ANSWER.” But do you really want this limited example of some Hollywood infighting on the left to be the point on which the right hangs their brush tarring liberals as “Stalinists?” But I guess if it the only twig within your grasp, go for it.

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  13. “He is a fierce critic of the abuses of capitalism on our society.”

    Which is why his film is called “Abuses of Capitalism: A Love Story.”

    As for, “His contention, I believe…” I think we can dispense with your thoughts in his contentions and go right with the quote: “Capitalism is evil.”

    As for the fact that he sells stuff: Well, yeah. And people who work at the Cato Institute use the public sidewalk on the way to work. That doesn’t make them statists. And going back to International Answer… I saw a lot of the selling stuff at the anti-war rallies. But they are, and claim to be, communists. I don’t know what to do other than take people at their own word.

    And when someone says “Capitalism is evil,” you can hmmm and haw all you want. But that pretty clearly means the person who said it… doesn’t like capitalism.

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    • You are directly pointing the narrow window of acceptable discussion we have in this country. Saying capitalism has problems and the way we do it is corrupt and damages our democracy, makes Moore “anti-capitalist” . somehow that is equated with a delusional comparison of health care reform to Nazism. One belief gets you elected to congress and a continued pulpit on the networks while the other means you are a bad person.

      There are plenty of people throughout the spectrum who are plenty critical of capitalism.

      Again, answer is a fringe group. meanwhile elected R’s and very popular Con TV heads (beck, limbaugh) spout conspracy theories about Obama and the D’s wanting to destroy America, enslave us all, that the census is an evil gov plot, and L’s hate America. You can yell at answer all you want, i don’t support them. but the false equivlence is silly.

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  14. If the equivalence was between Answer and Limbaugh, you might be right. But that’s not the equivalence. The equivalence is between Limbaugh and Moore, and any other entertainers who pretend to some kind of analytical or intellectual rigor.

    The commenter here seemed to bristle at the idea that people on the right talk about people on the right as Stalinists and anti-capitalists. Well, some people on the left are openly Stalinist. Not a whole lot. But some. And there is a far MORE prevalent strain of leftist thought that is, by its own admission, anti-capitalist. How prevalent is this strain, exactly? I don’t know. But it’s there. And it is mouthed by really, really prominent cultural icons like Michael Moore, who is an immensely influential and popular figure on “the left.” No, he doesn’t have a talk radio show. But Limbaugh doesn’t make movies. Limbaugh is not in Rage Against the Machine or Pearl Jam or the Dixie Chicks. I am not some kind of culture warrior. And the Right certainly has some entries in theis regard. Someone is listening to Toby Keith, after all. But to talk about this element on one side of the aisle and see it as some kind of stand in for the whole, then completely ignore it on the other side of the aisle, seems pretty convenient.

    Either way, it seems entirely unfair to compare “the left” with “30 percent of the conservatives most active base,” or whatever. That’s the false equivalence I was commenting on.

    And for the record, yes: ANSWER is a Stalinist organization, as discussed in.. the Nation. And Michael Moore is anti-capitalist. As discussed in the fact that he sees it as evil and wants it replaced.

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  15. This debate is certainly at the point of drastically diminishing returns, but one issue is interesting. So what if Moore, or anybody else, is anti-capitalist? Being critical of capitalism seems like it should be fair. And we if can’t crit our own model how will it ever improve?

    Oh and again, answer is a marginal group.

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  16. Agreed on diminishing returns. And agreed that it doesn’t “matter” what ANSWER says, or what Moore says. Or who is anti-capitalist.

    what you seem to forget is that i was respinding to a specific comment. namely, that comment indicated that liberal complaints about the 30 percent of the most conservative people are true. Namely, that the 30 percent in question REALLY ARE theistic, anti-science types. Versus complaints about liberals. Which seem untrue, what with all this bombast about anti-capitalists and whatnot.

    Well, there are two responses to this. First, focus on the 30 percent of the most extreme conservatives, but only speak about liberals in the broader sense?

    The related charge being, that, well, if you focus on the FRINGE of the Left, you really do find stalinists. But even if you don’t go that far, even if you only go to, say, an extremely marginal figure like Moore, you really DO find anti-capitalists.

    Why does this matter? I suppose there are several reasons. But for the sake of this discussion, perhaps you ought to check with the commentor who brought up the fact that a certain percentage of conservatives live down to stereotypes.

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  17. Is it just me or is the standard comment from the left on this thread some variant of, “they’re worse” or “the stereotypes are true/based on reality.”

    Which isn’t to let conservatives off the hook but to point out that the quibbling over who’s worse is a distraction from the point that both groups shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

    Sloppy, self-serving caricaturing and demonizing is bad, but I fail to see how degree matters, here. Even if we were to agree that saying both are bad is false equivalence and clearly the political right is worse, that still leaves us with functionally the same critique E.D. is making here.

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    • Oh Kyly, you are *wrong.*

      Degree of wrong doing is always considered, in ethics, religion and law. But I understand your reluctance to want to recognize that fact since the right is much more culpable in this regard.

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      • It’s not really a reluctance to admit it, in fact I think I’d freely admit it.

        It’s that I fail to see a point beyond, “they’re worse therefore I’m justified” or, “they’re worse therefore I don’t have to do squat until they do.” Which incidentally these are the same arguments Republicans are using on cap and trade vis-a-vis China.

        Tell me, even if we agree, where does that leave this discussion?

        You haven’t proven that I misunderstood comments from the left. You haven’t demonstrated that this in the weeds tit-for-tat isn’t a distraction from escaping from distorted optics in our polity. Nor do you demonstrate that establishing a difference of degree matters in this discussion, which was the point of my comment.

        What are the next 10 words bob? The 10 after that? What’s next. If you’re right, what then. What’s effectively different besides the satisfaction that there’s somebody below you on the rung? You’ll have to excuse me if that doesn’t seem particularly relevant to the point of the criticism/analysis.

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        • Kyle, who said “…they’re worse therefore I’m justified….” Not me. I reject that thinking, two wrongs and all that childish thinking. I commented to E.D. that I thought he ended his analysis too soon.

          But your judging degree of of wrong doing as unacceptable is unacceptable.

          I guess I have a more highly tuned ethical standard.

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          • My original comment was broadly directed at comments like:

            “I’m with Bob. Even the elected conservatives caricature themselves. I don’t think most liberals have any problem with engaging with intelligent conservatives. It’s just that there’s not very many, and none whatsoever in the Republican mainstream.”

            also,

            “Liberals just point and say, “look there.””

            Both of these quotes are situational mischaracterizations that dodged the points raised in the post. An accurate reading of my comments is that I categorized them and then questioned their additive value.

            When I wrote, “It’s that I fail to see a point beyond, “they’re worse therefore I’m justified” or, “they’re worse therefore I don’t have to do squat until they do.” I meant that I don’t see what the POINT is of bringing up false equivalence, if not those things.

            I am open to learning of some benefit to recognizing false equivalence here, I just doubt there is one.

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    • So let me recap my position:

      Caricatures and demonization= bad

      Lunacy from elected R’s and a strong subset of the R base= I don’t like

      Lunacy from the fringe left which has little if any voice in the public debate and doesn’t have D politicians as mouthpieces= bad

      False equivalence between far more influential fringe right and marginalized fringe left= bad and silly

      Criticism of capitalism= good but not particularly acceptable in our discourse

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  18. This seems related to something I noticed long ago.

    People like to compare the ideal of things they like to the ugly reality of things they don’t. For example, Righties like to compare the ideal of the free-market to the historical reality of government controlled economies while lefties like to compare the ideal of government control to the historical reality of so-called “Free-market” system.

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  19. Kyle, let me try to clear some of this possible messiness up.

    Yesterday I accused, picked a nit, E.D. of of possibly equating left and right name-calling. I asked him if he thought one was more “credible” than the other. I did not seek justification for either sides actions. I did not suggest that one party had a right to retaliate because of some slight or perceived slight. I made my comment entirely within the confines of E.D.’s post. Again, I only asked E.D. which side was more credible.

    Now with regard to your comment this evening. I’m going to standby my original comment in response. Degree of offense does matter. But let me say for the third time that was *not* the issue I raised last night.

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    • I hadn’t read this before submitting the latest comment above.

      The credibility question makes sense. You’ll noticed the comments, weren’t directed at your comment #10, but (unstated) instead the thread off comments 6 and 8.

      As a question for understanding, conceptually I understand why differentiating levels of offensiveness matter, in this case, I don’t see how it’s particularly applicable.

      For example, I found both the global gag rule and the NEA conference call to be somewhat offensive but I would say and think it matters that the global gag rule was political meddling that affected lives and public health in a way that the slight inappropriateness of part of the NEA conference call wasn’t.

      On the issue of caricaturing ones opponents, I’m not sure a degrees are a.) particularly discernible, particularly to partisans and b.) particularly additive to discussions about how bad they are.

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      • From politico.com

        Freshman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) tells us what he learned from his mentors Haley Barbour and Trent Lott — and what exactly happens in the Sportsmen’s Caucus.

        “We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition. ”

        but to be fair Michael Moore is fat and said mean things about capitalism. Do we expect this douchebags voters to punish for this statement? What groups in America are most likely to applaud this joke?

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  20. “False equivalence between far more influential fringe right and marginalized fringe left= bad and silly”

    As far as I know, over the past few years, the Teabaggers organized some protests. International Answer organized others. I am not all that sure that one of these efforts was a whole lot less successful than the other. People showed up to both. Lots of people. If the fact that Teabaggers gather on the mall is an indictment of the right, why does the Left get to disown those ridiculous and counter-productive war protests?

    And… I guess… I guess Michael Moore counts as marginalized in some fashion. But I’ll have to look into it. I was assuming that he was an immesely popular figure. One who is on TV all the time, gets nominated for academy awards, and makes a ton of money doing what he does. One who says capitalizm is evil and that he wants to replace it.

    But again, maybe he is just a marginal character with some minor quibbles regarding the excesses of capitalism. I just don’t see how that squares with reality.

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  21. There is no altruism in nature.
    The more successful the Obama adminstration is at gluing FOXnews, Beck and Limbaugh onto the conservative movement, the more conservatives lose market share.
    This strategy has payoffs for all the players– they are effectively stripping the rusting carcass of the GOP for parts.
    FOX, Beck and Rush make money off of base “enthusiasm”– Rahm peels off the non-WECs to become independents.
    The only loozer is the GOP.

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