A whole bag, just for you

As a public service, I’m going to elaborate more prominently upon what I just said at the end of a response to some comments

Some folks are unhappy with my increasing aggressiveness with people who are determined to make this blog into something that is the opposite of what I founded it for. I’m not going to let that happen, and I’m determined to convince you of that.

My whole purpose here is to provide an alternative to the hyper-partisan, bad-faith, yelling-past-each-other game that far too many people believe is political discourse. I’m certainly not here to play that game with you. You try to play it with me or anyone else here, and your comment will disappear.

If you don’t like that, go someplace else. Most of the blogosphere
is set up for just what you want to do. If you stay here, and don’t
change your habits… well, to quote Dr. Evil, "I have a whole bag of ‘Shhh!’ with
your name on it."

33 thoughts on “A whole bag, just for you

  1. chrisw

    Good luck Brad!
    I am pessimistic about the ability of anything political (with roots in culture, religion and economics) to be debated at all, let alone civilly. There has been a shift from the ability to have an “abstract argument” that is separate from ones identity and self, to the “all encompassing world view argument” that means any small issue can not be divorced from ones core self, an therefore any issue becomes a death match, not a encounter for growth or discovery.
    Modern discussions of ideas are usually ill formed and are more likely than not just a resuscitation of unconnected and probably unverifiable “facts”. Opinion is usually presented as fact, and as the gospel.
    I think two factors have precipitated this:
    1. the “information age” has become the age of too much information (most of it superfluous , and often times just plain wrong) , and confuses every argument,
    2. The further we travel from our common roots in a Judeo/Christian culture the further we leave behind the commonality of experience, perspective and language. Simply put, we have very little in common with each other.
    Having said that, I continue to believe that there can be a venue where people that are involved in contemporary society AND have who place a value on making a positive contribution to that society, can gather and discuss issues in a meaningful way. Your blog has not been that (most of the best posters have left, leaving the culls)…but perhaps it can be. I honor your attempt, as I realize this has not been an easy “hobby” for you. Good luck.
    Hope this makes sme sense…I need COFFEE!

  2. bud

    Brad, I’m going to remind you for the umteenth time. You wrote this about 3 decorated war veterans:
    Shame, cowardice and betrayal
    That is by far the most partisan attack by anyone on this blog. Remove it or lose all respect.

  3. Chris

    Is it possible u can just leave something “be”.
    Does every thing a man does have to become the omni-important? Can there not be some areas of disagreement and yet harmony?
    Consider this. A man says something. You disagree. You tell him your feelings, and then you move forward. Afterwards, you have meaningful discussions on other topics that are considered fruitful by you and he.
    Can this happen? More importantly, do you think this should happen?

  4. bud

    This story is just too funny. Brad, since you’re on this anti-partisan kick I thought I’d find a good story about right-wing partisan sniping. It wasn’t hard. It doesn’t get any more partisan than this. From the Nation:
    Republican apologists for the Bush administration’s failed fight in Iraq and their amen corner in the media have been looking for something, anything, to distract the American public from a necessary discussion about the need to end the U.S. occupation of that country. They finally settled last week on the “scandal” involving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record)’s mode of transporation.
    Pelosi, a California Democrat, was informed as she prepared to assume the speakership — a position that places her third in the line of succession to the presidency — that she could no longer travel as she previously had: on commercial airlines. She would, she was informed, have to fly as former Speaker Dennis Hastert had on a secure Air Force plane. So it was that, upon becoming speaker, Pelosi accepted her new circumstance and agreed to use a military plane with a fuel capacity that would allow for cross-country travel without stops.
    That’s not exactly the stuff of scandal. But, after an apparent “leak” from the Bush administration’s Department of Defense to the White House-friendly Washington Times newspaper, the Times last week ran a story headlined: “Pelosi’s Power Trip — Non-stop Nancy Seeks Flight of Fancy.”
    Fox News jumped on the story, followed by other cable networks. The Republican National Committee stoked it with emails to reporters and briefing papers supposedly exposing Pelosi’s imperial style — and ambitions. The predictable Sean Hannity declared that Pelosi “thinks she’s the president” — seemingly unaware that by referencing the presidency he was acknowledging his own dear leader’s regal pretensions.
    And on it goes. No shortage of partisan politics in Washington. I’m sure it won’t take Ed or Dave long to find a similar story concerning Democrats.

  5. Randy Ewart

    Brad, I for one appreciate having a blog on which we can discuss local issues. Thank you.
    If only you weren’t such a blatant conservative apologist who is always standing up for liberals and demanding civilty, everything would be ok…apparently.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Yes, bud, you’re right! In fact, I saw that in the paper while I was at breakfast yesterday or whatever day it broke, and I was going to do a short post on it, but got distracted.
    I was going to say something like: What petty nonsense, etc. Of course, I think it’s ridiculous for the speaker to have a large military aircraft, but it’s worse to make a bid deal about it. The discussion should be more like, Does the speaker need such an aircraft; if so, what kind, all discussed in a pragmatic manner.
    But no, they have to play the game.
    I don’t get your Iraq connection, though — that’s out of left field. The people I admire, the ones who remain stalwart on Iraq — Graham, McCain, Lieberman — are the ones who have nothing to do with such stunts. In fact, the people who DO engage in such pettiness HATE my guys.
    You’re looking too far for a motive. It’s simple. The petty partisan Republicans lost an election, and they’re trying to get back at those who beat them. This is the way the stupid, harmful game is always played.

  7. Mary Rosh

    “Of course, I think it’s ridiculous for the speaker to have a large military aircraft,”
    This is another example of your drawing conclusions unencumbered by facts, and it is another example of the numerous and manifest deficiencies that have led to your status as a failed journalist.
    “The discussion should be more like, Does the speaker need such an aircraft; if so, what kind, all discussed in a pragmatic manner.”
    A bit of study and reflection on your part would have brought up these facts:
    (1) The Speaker is next in line for the Presidency behind a Vice-President who has had 4 heart attacks and whose name is coming up repeatedly in a criminal trial in a highly unflattering light.
    (2) The Speaker needs to repeatedly visit her home district.
    (3) The Speaker’s home district is in San Francisco.
    (4) For security, the DOD and the House Sergeant at Arms believe that the Speaker should have an airplane that can fly to her district without stopping to refuel. They believe that she should not fly commercially on these trips.
    (5) Airplanes that can fly from Washington to San Francisco without stopping to refuel tend to be larger than aiplanes that only have to fly to Chicago.
    There’s no NEED for any discussion of the sort you lay out above. The facts I have related are dispositive of the issue. Your ignorance of these facts demonstrates deficiencies on your part, but your mere ignorance of facts does not warrant an interminable discussion of an issue that has already been decided.
    The fact that the Republicans brought up this non-issue, and managed to propel it into the media warrants discussion (which is occurring) of the Republicans as the party of smear, and the role of the media as their enablers, but such a discussion is beyond your meager intellectual capacity.

  8. Ready to Hurl

    Your ignorance of these facts demonstrates deficiencies on your part, but your mere ignorance of facts does not warrant an interminable discussion of an issue that has already been decided.

    Whoa, Mary! I think that you’ve violated Brad’s Civility Rule: No criticism of Brad but I get to insult and demean you.

  9. Ready to Hurl

    Hey, Brad, just to keep the record straight: you do think that opponents of the Iraq Debacle hate George W. Bush enough to hope that the US loses in Iraq, right?

  10. Brad Warthen

    RTH, I hope your thinking isn’t as simplistic as that question implies.
    A subset of a subset of those who have opposed our involvement in Iraq since the beginning — which is in turn a subset of the large group that wants out now — would on some level greet such an outcome with grim satisfaction. There are a few people with such hostility to America’s use of military power that they truly believe that our nation needs to be “taught a lesson,” so that we never, ever do such a thing again. They wouldn’t celebrate our loss, but if we didn’t slink away humbled, they would be deeply disappointed.
    It’s a carry-over from Vietnam, when that view was held by some folks in the antiwar movement. In fact, you would find some overlap — same people, 30 years later.
    However, I don’t think this group necessarily correlates to those who “hate Bush.” Maybe, I don’t know. I’m mainly speaking here of committed pacifists, who are horrified at such terms as “Pax Americana,” and detest hubris.
    But there’s probably overlap there, too.
    I DO think that if we succeed in Iraq, and Bush gets credit in history books (something I doubt; histories would be more likely to say we succeeded in spite of him), it will be a bitter pill to the many who deeply despise Bush.
    I can identify with that, to some extent. I found Reagan appalling, and it’s hard to see him treated as a plaster saint today, even by some Democrats.

  11. bud

    What has frustrated me the most with this blog is the complete failure on the part of the pro-war crowd to present evidence to support their stay-the-course position. The bi-partisan Iraq study group, recommended diplomicy and a gradual withdrawl. That was rejected by the president, a rejection apparently supported by Brad, Lieberman, Graham and McCain. Unless I missed something no evidence has been put forth on this blog by Brad or others to buttress the rejection stance of the Baker report.
    Yet we’ve had ample evidence from the intelligence community along with the obvious increase in violence to support acceptance of the commission’s report. So I’m going to hereby declare that the official bi-partisan position on the Iraq war is represented by the Baker, etal, report. And the partisan position is represented by those (Brad, Lieberman, Graham and McCain) who wish to stay-the-course. Any mention from this point forth supporting stay-the-course is defacto evidence that the writer is guilty of being a partisan hack.

  12. Paul DeMarco

    Here’s the rule: if you wouldn’t say it to the other’s person’s face, don’t put it on the blog.
    Like all good things, blogs have an underside, exhibited beautifully by Mary and her ilk. They believe that somehow the anonymity available in cyberspace nullifies the rules of civil discourse.
    This group of bloggers makes every conversation a “SmackDown!” in which comments are made to score points rather than address the topic.
    They do it because they can, out of their infantile need to express themselves without any thought of the courtesy or grace that characterize useful debate. They can’t conceive of any restraint of their giant intellects and rapier wit (no matter how foul, vulgar or gratuitous).
    I don’t know how to fix this problem without eliminating anonymous posters. If I receive an anonymous letter in the mail I don’t give it much credibility because the sender didn’t have the courage to sign his name. Let it be so on the blog.

  13. Doug

    Every single thing I have written under my name I would say to Brad’s face. In fact, long ago I suggested that Brad arrange a gathering to allow the people who participate to meet. I think it would lessen the animosity.
    He’s the one who called me a jerk for asking him to tell us what kind of cars he drives to support his energy policy… I also asked him to tell us whether HE would be willing to express his views face-to-face on taxing SUV’s at double their price to the auto dealers who buy advertising in The State and the board of directors of the company that owns the paper. I’m asking him to provide some personal accountability and evidence of thinking through the economic impact of his energy “ideas”. If that’s uncivil, too bad.
    I have never called him a single name. I have questioned directly several times whether his involvement in this blog has made him a better editorial writer – which I would think would be the purpose. When I read the energy party column, the first thought that came to my mind was “he mailed that one in – that read more like a blog post than an editorial” — and, I personally don’t think that’s a good thing.
    There are pundits who do seem to get better by honing their arguments and ideas in a public forum. I don’t see that here.
    It’s tough to be in the minority position on the Iraq War… if he’s going to keep pushing that position, he needs to supply evidence beyond “because I said so”.
    I’m not a jerk. My kids like me. My dogs love me. My wife tolerates me.

  14. Brad Warthen

    Dogs don’t count. But your wife tolerating you — that does you credit. Be proud.
    The energy party thing — that WAS a blog post turned into a column. But I had been thinking about it for a long, long time. I really thought somebody needed to put those things together and set them out as a body. The column was made much easier by the fact I’d already done the blog post, which came in handy that week. I had to go to Savannah to see my third ear, nose and throat specialist in a year to see whether he could do anything for this headache I’ve had for a year. (I’m going back for surgery in a couple of weeks.) Normally I write columns on Friday; I was able to get that one out of the way Thursday so I could drive to Savannah late that night.
    So, since I HAD written it before, and since I had been able to turn it into a column so quickly, I didn’t expect much reaction to it. I was wrong. I’ve been getting positive feedback all week from the many folks who DON’T read the blog. To them, it was original, and needed saying. (Just today, my daughter told me her boss says he wants to be my campaign manager.)
    I’m not sure what to do next with it, but it seems like I/we should do something.
    Oh, as for advertisers — what I think is right there in black and white for them to read and get ticked off about it they want. I don’t talk to advertisers face-to-face ever, about anything. At least, not AS advertisers. That’s forbidden. Part of that wall of separation thing I explained earlier.

  15. Brad Warthen

    Thanks, Paul, for your efforts to explain. I understand you. My hope is that, gradually, this will become a gathering place for those who understand what you’re saying. Some cannot, or refuse to do so.
    Chris, don’t give up. Nothing is hopeless. Iraq isn’t hopeless. Public education in the I-95 corridor isn’t hopeless. Not even this blog is hopeless. They’re just all very, very difficult. The only way to ensure failure is to give up.
    Of course, giving up on the blog doesn’t have any great cost. I still might do it at some point, simply because work pressures might make it no longer worth the effort. Just not yet. But Iraq and public education are far too high-stakes. Failure by default is not an acceptable option in either case.

  16. Randy Ewart

    I think there was great success with the thread used to fascilitate Paul’s education information collection. It provided focus and direction.
    What happens, I believe, is most threads tail off like the rocket in the early Vonage commercial.
    Again, I appreciate an opportunity to dialogue on local issues.

  17. chrisw

    After sinking into the depths of depression over the current affairs of SC state government, I was rallied by the DOT editorial of the State. Even though I wish you had gone further, and been harder on the Governor and the DOT (call them out by name and ask them questions in a public fashion), your editorial goes a long way to pointing out just some of the problems we face.
    Our government here in SC is broken. I don’t mean it is slack, or inefficient…I mean broken. There are many instances where the boss is not the boss (can’t fire or discipline employees), and most “governing” boards and commissions appointed by the Governor or the Speaker are packed with social climbers congenitally opposed to rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty by actually “governing”. And please, don’t get me started about the wholesale purchase of the general assembly by lobbyist class!
    I have spent 6 months studying several government operations and I believe a class of college kids could design a system by which the stated goals of these agencies could better be met. We are failing, and failing much more poorly than the public realizes.
    I suppose my view of these things is far too evangelical …but when we as a society TAKE money from the taxed, we owe them something of value in return. At present, our system is just simply a work program wherein many are taxed, and some get jobs, and a very few are served. This is not acceptable.
    Thanks for the DOT editorial. It is a start.

  18. Ready to Hurl

    Paul, I thought of your comments above when I read a post by “poputonian” on Digby’s Hullabaloo blog.
    It took a long time for Samuel Adams to come to the surface of Boston politics, even though his father was a powerful figure in the caucuses and the General Court. One reason for the delayed “arrival” is that Adams is almost alone in history as a man who sincerely desired anonymity. His major writings were signed not “Adams” but “Determinatus,” “Candidus,” “Vindex,” “Populus,” “Alfred,” “Valerius Poplicola,” “T.Z.,” “Shippen,”, “a Bostonian,” “a Tory,” “E.A.,” “a Layman,” “an Impartialist,” “a chatterer,” — even later, when he could have gained great credit by acknowledging his full opus, he would not take the trouble. The writings had done their work; that was what he wanted. He often ended his letters with the command “Burn this,” and he took his own advice by consigning nearly all his correspondence files to the flames, leaving behind a relatively small amount in the hands of others or in public print.

    In the eighteen months from December 1770 to June 1772 he turned out 36 political essays for the [Boston] Gazette, an output not matched by any other writer of the time.
    And, then there’re the pen names of Ben Franklin.
    You and Brad are perfectly welcome to discount any and all comments posted under pseudonyms. Just don’t rest assured that it’s particularly profitable position, intellectually.

  19. Paul DeMarco

    If it means so little, then come clean and tell us who you are. You’re hiding behind a pseudonym because you would never behave this way in any other forum. Someone as angry, vicious and narcissistic as yourself would certainly risk losing friends and having their reputation suffer if exposed.
    And before you get started, it’s not because of what you say. I agree with you that the war in Iraq was a mistake and some other issues. It’s the way you express yourself that’s the problem (often neutralizing what is otherwise a cogent argument).

  20. Paul DeMarco

    That should be “on some other issues” above. And forgive me for calling you “angry, vicious, and narcissistic.” You may be a sweet, charming, humble human being. Those adjectives describe the tone of your writing, not your character.

  21. bud

    Mary, you are probably the most cogent, effective, persuasive writer on this blog. You shoot down Brad and the other’s arguments at every turn as they flounder to defend the stay-the-course policy in Iraq. But the ad hominem assaults on Brad diminishes the effect. Just tone it down a bit and we can’t lose. The facts are on our side.

  22. Randy Ewart

    When Paul D is getting fired up, then our country…ok, our blog is going to hell.
    Paul, what is your take on the exchange between Brad and Doug regarding private schools in rural counties (choice thread from Sun). I’d like you to post a reply over there.
    Also, Obama addresses summer academic opportunities for poor students. Have you read this yet?

  23. bud

    I’m not sure why I’m even wasting my time discussing the “Shame” post any more. It’s so obvious. Anyway.
    Simply put, the headline of the article is logically connected to the body. The article makes reference to the 12 senators who voted in committee to oppose the surge. So the words: “shame, cowardice and betrayal” are in effect referencing these 12 men. To pick one at random, say John Warner, you are calling him a coward. Since he has demonstrated his devotion to his country as a war veteran the accusation of him being a coward makes your argument nothing by an ad ad hominem argument based on the false premise that Mr. Warner is something that he is clearly not. By accussing him (and the others) of these traits you’ve effectively branded yourself as a partisan. If you had simply disagreed with these men, without using these highly disparaging words, then you could have avoided that charge. You would have still been wrong however.
    When Mary uses comparable terms to describe you, you simply delete her, which is your prerogative. But to then make such accusations yourself is hypocrisy.

  24. Brad Warthen

    bud, I don’t know why you keep wasting the time, either. But you keep bringing it up.
    OK, so I’m a partisan for criticizing Warner. So does that mean I’m a Democrat?
    And I’m partisan for criticizing — oh, I don’t know, Biden — does that make me a Republican?
    And folks, it should be clear to anyone with basic reading comprehension skills that the reference to “cowardice” had to do with hiding behind a nonbinding resolution rather than having the guts to pass something that would actually stop the surge.
    Such posturing is shameful, cowardly and a betrayal to any cause you choose, especially the one that those who vote for it claim to espouse (stopping escalation of the war). To point out such an obvious truth is “partisan?” By what definition.
    Oh, a couple of Marys just disappeared.

  25. Mary Rosh

    “And folks, it should be clear to anyone with basic reading comprehension skills that the reference to “cowardice” had to do with hiding behind a nonbinding resolution rather than having the guts to pass something that would actually stop the surge.”
    But we know from abundant evidence that Senator Warner is NOT a coward, your false dichotomy notwithstanding. Senator Warner, for example, did not advocate the Vietnam war while making sure that the closest he was ever going to come to Vietnam or any other war was a moviehouse.

  26. Ready to Hurl

    Most of the time Ben Franklin wasn’t in danger of hanging, either, Brad. I don’t think that Silence Dogood, created when Franklin was 16-years-old, was a threat to the rule of King George.
    Unfortunately, the state that we both live in has a history of intolerance of diverse viewpoints. I would have thought that this would be self-evident to any sentient observer but I find pointing out the obvious is sometimes necessary with you.
    If you think that intolerance is a thing of the past then perhaps you’d like to tell my wife. Some yahoo pulled along side our car and scared the daylights out of her (while she was driving with three kids and no husband). Evidently he took exception to an anti-Bush bumpersticker.
    As a tip, you should take your home address off your letter to the Bishop. Or, not. Your family’s safety is your business and my identity is my business. When Dear Leader intimates that criticism of his regime is fulfilling the constitutional definition of treason and gasbags bloviate about doing physical harm to people who don’t agree with them 24-7 on AM radio, I pefer to keep my identity unknown.

  27. bud

    Brad writes:
    bud, what is “partisan” about the “shame” post? You’re losing me here.
    then this:
    bud, I don’t know why you keep wasting the time, either. But you keep bringing it up.
    I reluctantly answer a question posed by Brad, then get slammed for it. I won’t make that mistake again.

  28. bud

    Mary, I looked it up before I used and the first definition seems to apply:
    ad ho·mi·nem Latin. 1. appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason.
    2. attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.

  29. Lee

    What doesn’t surprise me about the anti-war, anti-Americans who want our troops to not defeat Islamofascism, is that they express no appreciation for the end to the continuous attacks which went unanswered by the Clinton administration, and their lack of any ideas on how to end this Muslim terror.


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