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February 18, 2010


Hello Brendan,

By writing "no comment necessary" about Romney's praise of Cheney's "indefatigable defense of truth", you indicate Romney's view is blatently wrong. Please explain, with examples if you have them, why you think that.

Would you respond similarly to similar praise for Biden or Obama?

An ugly aspect of today's left is their willingness or eagerness to hate conservatives. There's always a list of boogiemen (boogiepersons?): Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Don Rumsfeld, Newt Gingrich, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, John Yoo, Ronald Reagan, etc. These people are generally hated for the "crime" of unapologetically expressing a conservative POV.

"No comment necessary" simply means that Cheney is on the Hate List.

BTW the left is generally more forgiving of minorities, often holding them to lower standards. However, when it comes to hating Conservatives, minority status is no protection. Indeed, Clarence Thomas may be more hated because of his race.

David, sometimes you still manage to astonish me.

Good god, I read half the links before Brendan even posted them. Am I that much on that ball or is Brendan dropping it?

I still say Twitter is about the most utterly useless tech fad.

For anyone who doubts that many liberals love to hate conservatives, there's evidence from today's New York Times. Reporter Kate Zernike falsely accused a conservative speaker named Mattera of racism. She asserted that he imitated Chris Rock in order to mock blacks. In fact, Mattera is from Brooklyn and was speaking in his own normal Brooklynese. Nobody other than Zernike perceived the supposed imitation of Chris Rock.

The Comments illustrate my point. A handful of comments are from people who actually heard the talk and didn't perceive any racism, one of whom is black.

However, almost all of the commenters took the accusation as gospel, despite comments on the same board disputing the racisim. They blasted Mattera and conservatives in general, in the strongest terms. Some of the commenters drew on their imagination to go beyond what Zernike (incorrectly) asserted, accusing Mattera and conservatives of homophobia, sexism, etc.

My interpretation is that these commenters were very happy to make these hateful accusations. YMMV.

"She asserted that he imitated Chris Rock in order to mock blacks. In fact, Mattera is from Brooklyn and was speaking in his normal Brooklynese. Nobody other than Zernike perceived the supposed imitation of Chris Rock."

Uh, so the ONLY way to mock blacks is to imitate the voice of Chris Rock? It's impossible for someone speaking "in normal Brooklynese" to not mock blacks? Brilliant logic, there, David.

"A handful of comments are from people who actually heard the talk..."

No, a handful of comments are from people who CLAIM "they actually heard the talk."

"...accusing Mattera and conservatives of homophobia..."

Yeah, with right-wing organizations like the American Family Association and the Family Research Council recently coming out with statements desiring the JAILING of gays and lesbians for "homosexual behavior," why would anyone think that conservatives were "homophobic?"

"...and sexism."

Yeah, with one of the featured speakers at the CPAC conference being Glenn "Hilary Clinton is the stereotypical bitch" Beck, why would anyone accuse conservatives of sexism?

daniel rotter you have a point that some conservative groups take ugly, unenlightened positions regarding gays and lesbians. However, it's inaccurate and unfair to attribute their views to all conservatives. In fact, a gay Republican group was part of the organizing of the very conservative CPAC convention where Mattera spoke.

I would never claim that all liberals are racists, even though there has been lots of bigoted criticism of Clarence Thomas. E.g., Harry Reid asserted that Thomas writes badly (even though he writes very well), playing on the stereotype of blacks supposedly not being as smart as whites.

If I understand the general tenor of your post, it is that conservatives in general are racist, sexist, and homophobic. That attitude illustrates the very point I was making about people who are eager to hate conservatives.

"However, it's inaccurate and unfair to attribute their views to all conservatives."

No, just an overwhelming majority of them.

"Harry Reid asserte that Thomas writes badly (even though he writes very well), playing on the stereotype of blacks supposedly not being as smart as white."

In my opinion, a person can "write badly" and still be as smart, or even smarter, than a person who "writes well," David. You're label/smear of Reid's criticism of Thomas here as "racist" is based on what I believe to be a false assumption.

I forgot to address this hypocritical whining from David: "They blasted Mattera and conservatives in general, in the strongest terms."

You're really something else, David. Conservatives would NEVER blast liberals in general "in the strongest terms" (massive rolling of eyes). Grow up.

Yes, daniel, of course conservatives sometimes blast liberals. However, in general, liberals use more ad hominem attacks; conservatives are more focused on policy.

E.g., in yesterday's closing speech at the conservative CPAC meeting, Glenn Beck went out of his way not to attack Obama personally:

What are we suffering from?”

Saying President Obama, he said, was “too simple an answer.”

The real problem, he said, is progressivism

In fact, Beck was so focused on issues that he also criticized Republicans, and quite harshly:

he aimed his fire at Republicans as well as Democrats, and gave them little quarter, saying he did not know what the Republicans stood for.

“It’s not enough just to not suck as much as the other side,” he said.

Noting that he was a recovering alcoholic himself, he said that the party had to admit that it had a problem, which he had not heard it do.

“Hello, my name is the Republican Party and I have a problem!” he declared. “I’m addicted to spending and big government,” he said, drawing cheers and applause from the thousands of people packed into the hotel ballroom.

But both parties are to blame, he said. The Democrats tax and spend, while the Republicans just spend.

"...liberals use more ad hominem attacks; conservatives are more focused on policy."

A person can't make ad hominem attacks while "focusing on policy?" More logical fallacies and false assumptions from David.

David, what I find amusing is when conservatives try to co-opt liberal rhetoric without understanding what it means. Criticism or even ridicule of one's political positions is not the same thing as hate (at least not in the same sense that groups like Focus on the Family hate gay people). So trying to draw that equivalency is either disingenuous or ignorant. Secondly providing anecdotal examples of instances where liberals supposedly used ad hominem attacks and conservatives didn't doesn't prove a trend. Do you really doubt I could provide a long list of ad hominem attacks by conservatives against liberals (heck, just from the 2008 election alone)? Do you want me to, or should we save me the trouble of compiling the list and you the trouble of reading it and just accept that anecdotes aren't evidence?

jd, I've seen so many examples that I sincerely believe that liberals use ad hominem attacks more than conservatives do. You say that the many hateful Comments on the New York Times blog I linked to is a mere anecdote. Fair enough. However, note three unusual aspects:

1. These comments were in the ultra-respectable New York Times, not some far-out blog.

2. Of the 184 Comments, the majority were vicious, hate-filled ad hominem attacks, all in response to this single article.

3. The article's accusation against the speaker was false to begin with.

I won't ask you to match point #3, but can you match points #1 and #2? Can you find a single article in a conservative newspaper where the Comments include over 100 ad hominem attacks on liberals, all in response to that one news article? I bet you can't.

P.S. A fourth point about my example is that it's from the current New York Times web site. I didn't have to search back for months to find this amount of hatred.

David says:

"I've seen so many examples that I sincerely believe that liberals use ad hominem attacks more than conservatives do."

The fact that you notice more examples of ad hominem attacks coming from liberals isn't a surprise. The fact that people tend to take more notice of (and actively seek out) evidence that reinforces their pre-existing biases is well documented in the psychological literature. Secondly, most of the comments on that blog post weren't even ad hominem attacks. Accusing the CPAC of racism in the comments of a blog post about racism at the CPAC isn't ad hominem. I also can't help but point out the irony in the fact that the very post you link us to includes numerous quotes by Mattera that are ad hominem in nature (accusing liberals of drug use, being ugly, etc). If you want to see other examples of conservative internet posters using ad hominem and personal attacks, peruse the hundreds of comments in the link I have included at the bottom. This is from an article currently on the Fox News home page. Additionally, I stand by my comment that you don't really seem to understand what "hateful" means.


Fred - see, for instance, the discussion of Cheney in All the President's Spin: http://books.google.com/books?id=jLoRfKzHESoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=all+the+president's+spin&ei=1pSCS9OWCJXINff_iecP&cd=1#v=onepage&q=cheney&f=false

jd, the comments in the Times are far, far nastier than the comments on Fox News. Here's a comparison of the first 6 comments:

From Fox News

1. "Wait for sugar industry to protest, ..."
2. Mocks Michelle Obama for eating caviar and lobster
3. Discusses the spelling of "desserts"
4. "I lost a little respect for Huckabee. The first lady should not be an advocate for this when she is not really fit and trim herself. Besides it is up to the parent to decide what their children eat and not up to the Government."
5. Spelling of "dessert"
6. Implies Michelle Obama is overweight.

New York Times
1. "This is almost as disgusting as Sarah Palin's VP campaign rallies."
2. "the Republican Party is the old southern dixie-crat, un-repentent, segrationists in a new suit."
3. "Disgusting"
4. "i know who rupaul and barney frank, but who's jason mattera? (i can safely guess i can continue not knowing who he is.)"
5. "i'm shocked, shocked that CPAC is bigoted. [not really]"
6. "These folks have no ideas, no policy proposals, no solutions, and they are left with all that they are good at - name calling - disgraceful!"

In Fox, only two of the comments were ad hominems, and they were relatively mild, implying that Michelle Obama is overweight.

In the Times, Sarah Palin's rallies were called "disgusting", the entire Republican Party was called racist, the particular speech was called "disgusting", CPAC was called bigoted" and conservatives were said to have no policy proposals or solutions, being good only at name-calling.

That last Times Comment was ironic. The (presumably liberal) Times commenters focused far more on name-calling than the (presumably conservative) Fox commenters.

Incidentally, many liberals criticize Fox News. Yet, this Fox News article is a fair and uncritical description of Michelle Obama's presentation, whereas the New York Times article is a smear, and an dishonest one at that.

Incidentally, here's Jason Mattera's response to the Times article that accused him of racism:

Thanks for your response, Brendan.

It is challenging to deal with all the numerous results of your Google search without addressing each search result separately.

Can we agree on the contention that many reasonable people (including, of course, Mitt Romney) fervently disagree with a characterizion of the Cheney statements selected as false instead of, say, partisan, confrontational or maybe even exaggerated?

David, I really don't know what more can come from any further discussion on this. The reason you think liberals are nastier than conservatives is simply that, because you are a conservative, attacks on conservatives by liberals irk you more, so you take more notice of them. Also, because you believe attacks on conservatives to be false and attacks on liberals to be true, attacks on conservatives seem more outrageous and inappropriate to you. That's it. I really don't want to get into a game where we go through the comments on different blog posts and articles and subjectively compare which ones we find to be more "nasty". Additionally, regarding the comments on the Michelle Obama article and your blog post, given the innocuous content of the article on Michelle Obama (healthy eating) you wouldn't expect it to draw as much vitriol. I think the fact that it still did draw a lot is telling. Also, I will reiterate my earlier comments that accusations of racism are not necessarily ad hominem. An accusation of racism would only be ad hominem if the person making it was attempting to use it to undermine the argument of the person being accused on another issue. Accusing someone of being racist, by itself, is not an ad hominem attack. Calling out racists for being racist is perfectly appropriate and admirable.

Brendan, do you think there are contradictions or falsehoods in Obama's statements or actions concerning:

- middle-class tax cuts?
- his history with ACORN?
- the jobs success of the stimulus?
- raising the public debt limit?
- the scientifically settled nature of catastrophic AGW predictions?
- the merits of the Iraq war?
- the merits of using stealthy drones to kill unsuspecting targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
- the legal propriety of warrantless eavesdropping?
- the legal propriety of indefinite detention of captured militants?

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