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Comment Fisking
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, May 26, 2006

I rarely write a post about a comment, but one from my "End of the Republican Majority" post deserves a more prominent fisking. Reader "MKUltra" wrote...
Anyway, the only evidence libertarians ever cite about the left being anti-libertarian is McCain/Feingold.
This is, of course, patently untrue. Libertarians cite far more than McCain-Feingold as evidence of the Left’s anti-liberty views — they are anti-liberty on a broad range of economic issues, school chioce, trade, etc — and we usually cite McCain-Feingold as evidence of Republican anti-liberty intransigence. Note that virtually every time this blog has criticized McCain-Feingold, it has been addressed at Republicans. (Bush, McCain, etc) But let's be charitable and say that this reader is merely ignorant. Still, he digs himself deeper...
Jon, ever the closeted rightwing partisan, cannot help but imply that the GOP stood by while MF passed. These things happen, after all.
...by, apparently, failing to grasp the point of the post altogether. After reading a post in which I cited examples of the failures of the Republican Congress — and following recent posts in which I've criticized Republicans on the environment, immigration, and "price gouging" — I'm accused of being a "closeted rightwing partisan". But let's be charitable and assume this reader merely has reading comprehension problems...

Further, he started his comment with this quote, reproduced exactly as he posted it:
Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg thrust himself into the national immigration debate Wednesday, advocating a plan that would establish a DNA or fingerprint database to track and verify all legal U.S. workers.
Now, I agree that this is troublesome. Perhaps I'll even write a post criticizing it. But, he writes, I should "ask the moderate Repbulican Michael Bloomberg" about "fascists who want to control all apsects of your life". Our dear reader seems to have missed that Michael Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat, who only ran as a Republican because the field was thinner.

In any event, I expressly criticized Newt Gingrich (an actual Republican) for suggesting the initial steps to a national ID. But let's be charitable and assume that our reader is merely a selective reader.

So, let’s review: "MKultra" (1) misunderstands and mischaracterizes my argument, (2) mischaracterizes my statement on McCain-Feingold, (3) mischaracterizes the libertarian criticism of Democrats, (4) misleads on Michael Bloomberg’s background, (5) ignores my stated position on national ID in order to criticize me for a position taken by a lifelong Democrat, and (6) inaccurately impugns my positions and my integrity.

You know what? I'm done being charitable. Our dear "MKultra" is either a fool or a liar. And come to think of it, those characteristics are not mutually exclusive.
 
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Or a stereotypical left wing liberal.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
or he’s just being MK
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
You know what? I’m done being charitable. Our dear "MKultra" is either a fool or a liar. And come to think of it, those characteristics are not mutually exclusive.
Tsk, tsk, Jon. Isn’t this just a case of afflicting the afflicted?[/sarcasm]
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
MK’s Mother will be SO proud... "Fisked" on a Web site.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Jon, I’ve talked about this problem before, even referring specifically to mk. Today’s left in general has no interest in fact-based, logical argument. It is only interested in "advancing the narrative" through whatever rhetorical devices and fallacies can be applied in a given situation.

Truth has nothing to do with it ("Bush lied about WMD"). Reason has nothing to do with it, as you demonstrated. Today’s post-modernist left does not even believe in such concepts, at least not the way you and I do. As I put it in the earlier thread:
The person who most often exhibits post-modernist arguments on this board is, of course, mkultra. Note that her posts almost always concentrate on rhetorical "gotchas", and not on facts, logic, prediction, or any of the argumentative techniques of the enlightenment. In fact, when facts are brought to bear against an argument by mkultra for which there are no rhetorical tricks to weasel out with, she will simply fail to respond.

This is not by accident. When Howard Dean is pressed about his positions, he’ll simply ignore any inconsistencies. For him, those inconsistencies don’t exist. All that matters is the ultimate victory of the leftist "narrative". How the victory is achieved is of no consequence, because one of the corollaries of the idea that there is no objective truth is that there is no such thing as dishonesty. If you feel strongly enough about what your are saying, then axiomatically, you are right and by extension your opponents are wrong.

Howard Dean, mkultra, and the other "irresponsible dissenters" cannot give you what you seek - honest evaluation of the facts and moral choices to be made from those facts. To do so would require them to abandon the leftist, post-modernist worldview about what facts and morality are all about.


Leaving aside mk’s indeterminate sex (has that been sorted out, or were you just using the general "he"?), this interpretation seems more and more apt all the time.

We can also see this effect in episodes such as the Jessie MacBeth incident. They follow the "fake but accurate" line, which is a succinct way of saying that facts don’t matter. They believe what they want to believe, and feel justified in any rhetorical device to advance that belief.

That’s why I have been more rude to mk and a few other leftist whackjobs such as Book than I’ve even been in any discussion boards. Trying to debate only gets nit-picking and non-sequiturs in response. I’m only interested now in pointing out the most egregious nonsense for undecided or new readers.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Leaving aside mk’s indeterminate sex (has that been sorted out, or were you just using the general "he"?)...
mkultra is a he ... first name Paul. I won’t provide a last name (so don’t ask) since there’s really no need to and it will only get him harrassed (eventually).
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
For folks who complain so much when you feel slighted, you guys are pretty darn quick to post some insults of your own right on your front page.
That’s why I have been more rude to mk and a few other leftist whackjobs such as Book than I’ve even been in any discussion boards. Trying to debate only gets nit-picking and non-sequiturs in response. I’m only interested now in pointing out the most egregious nonsense for undecided or new readers.
Has it occurred to you that that’s exactly the same reason why they are so rude and dismissive to you also? Everyone thinks it’s OK to be rude to someone who obviously doesn’t Get It, but we all differ on what It is and who Gets it. That’s why debates have rules. That’s why ad hominem is a fallacy. The "fool and liar" line, which I admit to having used myself, is only occasionally accurate. More often, it’s an admission that the person who uses it isn’t even trying to understand the point their interlocutor is making. "If I can’t understand it, since I’m the epitome of reason and honesty, it must be comprehensible only to someone who is the opposite." Bunk. Maybe MK was off base, but an attack like this does nothing to address that situation.

I’ve come to expect such poo-flinging from McQ, but I’m deeply disappointed to see it from Jon who is usually quite insightful and above such things. If you want to do anything besides please those who are already your allies and annoy those who are already your opponents - like maybe persuade those who might still switch sides if given a reason - you know how. This way ain’t it.
 
Written By: Platypus
URL: http://pl.atyp.us
Plat, I really don’t see any other option for MK. (this is not, by the way, the first time he’s done this kind of thing) He clearly misunderstood the post and then made false accusations against me.

If I’m factually wrong, say so. If I’ve been intemperate, it’s because he was factually incorrect while he challenged my integrity. That annoys me.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I’ve come to expect such poo-flinging from McQ ...
Well bless your little heart ... and of course, you never fling "poo" do you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
There is a time to attempt to convince others, and there is a time to acknowledge that some people have no interest in being convinced, but instead with merely to rabble-rouse. MK has consistently demonstrated that his interest is in the latter. To engage with him in the hopes of provoking debate is fruitless because he’s not interested in debate, only declarations. The idea that MK might ever ’switch sides’ is amusing, but highly speculative in light of his history.

Platypus is, as yet, an indeterminate case, although let’s be honest here: the odds of most of us switching sides are slim to none. Human beings tend to start with conclusions and work backwards to arguments, rather than the reverse. (Please note that this is a generalization and obviously does not apply equally to the group.)
 
Written By: Andrew Olmsted
URL: http://andrewolmsted.com
McQ,

Haven’t you learned yet? He expresses established facts leavened with informed opinion. You fling poo. It’s all a question of perspective.
 
Written By: Andrew Olmsted
URL: http://andrewolmsted.com
." The "fool and liar" line, which I admit to having used myself, is only occasionally accurate. More often, it’s an admission that the person who uses it isn’t even trying to understand the point their interlocutor is making. "If I can’t understand it, since I’m the epitome of reason and honesty, it must be comprehensible only to someone who is the opposite." Bunk..."

I do not think calling MK a fool and/or liar was an ad hominem logical argument, it was the conclusion. Ad hominem conclusions are allowed.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
He expresses established facts leavened with informed opinion. You fling poo. It’s all a question of perspective.
He’s still a little grumpy about being caught poo-handed poisoning the well once.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The idea that MK might ever ’switch sides’ is amusing
I don’t want MK on my side. He discredits anything he tries to support. Let him stay on the left, thenkyewverymuch.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
You guys like to generalize about Liberals and cite a half dozen extreme examples. Liberals like to generalize about conservatives and cite a half dozen extreme examples. These are never randomly chosen examples. You can’t generalize from them. Statisticians routinely throw out "noise" observations. You however are concentrating on them and trying to generalize something about liberals from them. Here is a Statistically valid generalization for you. You can’t generalize to large population from a very few non random cases.

Anytime you read on a conservative blog what the left thinks, remember that someone on a liberal view is summarizing what you think with the same degree of error.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
You have a good point that Mk’s post had some questionable links in it, jon, which you have pointed out. I didn’t read the Mc-Cain Feingold quote in your original post as trying to blame it on Democrats, either.

However, I think mk, like everyone else, me included, sometimes has intelligent and worthy points to make. This wasn’t his most coherent post, but hey - this is a blog. I shoot comments off the top of my head just like everyone else. Us commenters, of course we’re inaccurate more often than the blog posters. This is your baby and you’re the ones under the spotlight.

This was a poor post, even if correct. Most of the commenters on here as you well know, are of the anti-left branch of conservatism, and will simply take this as your endorsement of that, ignoring your prior disagreements. But beyond that, I wouldn’t openly insult my commentors on any blog I owned. disagree with, yeah. But not mock and insult.

If I was mkultura, I would be influenced to a) resent you, and escalate the abuse to fact ratio in my posts - thus dragging your blog further into the pit -
or b) leave. Personally, I’d probably take b). I’d take the commentor-mockery as a sign that back-and-forth was pointless.

And when the leftists leave, the rabid anti-left conservatives will turn on the libertarians and/or quasi-moderates left talking on here. And if you insult them as well, the comment board will probably become just an echo chamber of one-liner anti-liberal snark and moral self-righteousness.

It’s hard being a blog owner and dealing with the double standard that your commentors can be jerks, but you can’t. But the double standard is there for a reason. If you don’t encourage the level of debate to stay relatively clean and factual, we sure as heck won’t. And you enjoy this blog less when it’s empty of substantive debate.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
FIGHT!
 
Written By: zach
URL: http://zra.livejournal.com
Has it occurred to you that that’s exactly the same reason why they are so rude and dismissive to you also?
No. I am a child of the Enlightenment. They are not. Our very definitions of reason and truth differ. It is not possible to debate with them.

And lest you think that is just an easy way out for someone afraid to engage an ideological opponent, I do not typically treat conservatives that way even though I disagree with them quite often as well (say, on the drug war). I have had very heated arguments about such issues that never devolved into mutual insults and non-sequiturs. (The creationists are another matter, and I treat the same way as leftists, and for the same reason - I disagree with their faith.)

I pointed to an article on the previous thread that goes through this problem with the left at length. It’s here. I’ve never heard a leftist make any coherent response that challenges the analysis presented in that article.

Please note that I don’t think absolutely everyone on the left is a post-modernist, and incapable of reasoned argument. But there are enough of them that I feel completely justified when I find one in abandoning the pretense that they are attempting to engage in mature debate as is typically defined in Enlightenment terms. Most of them clearly are not able to do so - their core philosophy forbids it.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Can’t we all just get along? I mean really; you say "toe-MAY-toe" I say, "Corrupt, Neo-Fascist, Pond Scum Baby-Killer." What’s the difference? Let’s all agree I’m right and ALL of you are wrong and get on with our lives... BTW you all owe me $500 each, as a part of our lives, together.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
If I was mkultura, I would be influenced to a) resent you, and escalate the abuse to fact ratio in my posts - thus dragging your blog further into the pit -
or b) leave. Personally, I’d probably take b). I’d take the commentor-mockery as a sign that back-and-forth was pointless.


Glas, I don’t know if you were around when Book Adams was banned for trolling, but at that time Dale specifically noted that MKUltra was not here trolling. He had legitimate contributions to the conversation.

I think that is still true in most threads, but sometimes his points are much less legitimate, and need a thorough fisking. I haven’t seen him call Jon a "Zionist tool" yet, so I don’t imagine Jon is about to ban him or anything, but when a person’s comments are lies or foolishness, that should be pointed out in no uncertain terms.

If MKUltra takes your tack and either leaves or becomes more abusive (and is given the Book Adams treatment), then I for one would take that to mean he is much less mature and thoughtful than he is sometimes able to come across. But then again, if he can’t contribute thoughtful, topical, coherent ideas here, what’s the point of letting him continue? I for one hope he doesn’t pout or leave, but that certainly doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to be called out like this.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
That’s a reasonable point of view, Wulf, but I disagree for reasons that have less to do with deserves as an absolute and more with results. I don’t think that using pejorative terms against your commentators is going to encourage your blog to become a more reasonable place. The reverse.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
No. I am a child of the Enlightenment. They are not. Our very definitions of reason and truth differ. It is not possible to debate with them.

Bull****. You’re a person of hardened prejuidices. Remove the beam from your eye. This post of yours is nothing like an objective statement based on specific and quantifiable realities. It’s a bunch of normative assertions based on what you’ve decided about a ficticious class of individuals.

Most of them clearly are not able to do so - their core philosophy forbids it.

How the h*** would you know the core philosophy of someone other than yourself?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Look, here’s the lowdown on MK. He’s a dedicatedm died in the wool, partisan Democrat. Just as many Republicans raison d’etra is "Anti-Leftism", MK’s raison d’etra is "anti-Rightism".

He sometimes makes very good points — points worth consideration. On other occassions, he makes what are at least reasonable contributions. On still other occassions, he is merely contrarian. (e.g., when he responds to a post by putting up some tangential fact in order to start an argument about a different topic)

The only thing that really gets my goat, however, is when he does what I fisked in this post — when he misrepresents an argument, or accuses me of a lack of integrity. The fact is that he completely ignores my — our — criticisms of the Bush administration, the Iraq war, or Republicans in general. After ignoring those for some time, he’ll drop in and accuse us of being "flacks" for the Bush administration.

That’s not merely a difference of opinion — that’s intellectually dishonest.

Otherwise, I have no problem with him. He’s not nearly as ridiculous, partisan and anti-intellectual as one-time commenter "Bithead", nor as "troll-like" as Book Adams. I general, I don’t mind him. It’s just the activity that I described above that gets my goat.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
How the h*** would you know the core philosophy of someone other than yourself?
Because I have studied it all my life. I have studied those who would forbid freedom to others, attempted to understand their reasons and rationalizations.

I have studied Soviet apologists who still are unwilling to admit that Soviet communism was not "a good system badly implemented". I have studied those such as John Kerry who gave information to the nation’s enemies in Vietnam, causing the death of their own countrymen and leading directly to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese. I have studied those who would put forth Mao’s little red book as a guide to living and overlook the 100,000,000 people that died because of him.

I can explain Marx and his theory of value, and what I think is wrong with it. They can’t even explain it, though it’s the very root of their philosophy. I can go through the basics of Derrida and Foucalt, even though I think they are profoundly wrong. I can explain the major ideas of Keynes and Galbraith, and why their ideas were overthrown by successive schools of economics - monetarist, public choice, rational expectations. They don’t even know what those words mean, yet they want to lecture the rest of us on how a complex economy should work, and why businessmen are evil though they produce the very food we eat, and politicians are good even though they continually get caught with the equivalent of cash in their freezer.

I have studied such odious people as Jimmy Carter and Jane Fonda, attempting to come to some understanding of what led them to believe and spread malicious nonsense. Why do they love dictators so? Why do they adore Castro even today, and overlook what he does to his people? Why do they support every socialist concept that comes down the pike, from nationalizing healthcare to extremist environmental regulation, when socialist systems have been shown to fail every single time they have been tried?

I have studied the modern American left, and their willingness to overlook treating women like property, honor killings, and the vicious slaughter of innocent Westerners, just because the practitioners are opposed by their political opponents in the US.

I have read their tracts, and attempted to decipher their philosophy, as they have not had the interest or courtesy of doing to mine. And I have come to the only conclusion that I can - that their philosophy is based on changing the very meaning of the word truth. Undermining it, and substituting "narrative", supported if necessary by assertions that are demonstrably false-to-fact, and getting caught at it again and again. It’s the only explanation that makes sense, because rational people do not continually espouse irrational, deluded ideas.

They are the mirror-image of creationists, continually spouting the same nonsense over and over again, hoping to gain via repetition what they cannot possibly support via reason. When they are called on it, they use rhetorical devices, just as the creationists do, that are meant to appeal to emotional states rather than reason. "War is not the answer", "no blood for oil", and similar semantically null statements are their stock in trade.

And worst of all, they are constantly fighting to remove my freedom and that of my descendents. They want to control almost every aspect of our lives, from what doctor we can see to how we express our political opinions to how our kids are educated to how we spend our money to what kind of cars we drive to how we use our own property. They have led us to the point where the government is spending half my money, and they still want more.

So you can call bulls$!+ all you want. That won’t make me respect those who have rejected the very system and philosophy that produced the most prosperous and free society on the face of the Earth, and adopted instead a philosophy in which truth no longer plays a role and in which they hate and despise their own countrymen more than medieval thugs who would kill us by the million if they could.

 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Bill, all I can say is that I hope that someday, when you pull this c*** on someone whose opinions you have independently come to trust and respect, and they look at you like someone who has temporarily dissapeared into a strange and disconnected vendetta, I hope they follow that up with some sort of statement to help you realize how empty and unreal is this imaginary hall of enemies in your mind.

Your post is full of attempts to demonstrate some sort of intellectual bona fides, but your descriptions of your malignant enemy is a bizarre amalgamation of surreal cariactures. You sound like a twelve-year old on the streets of Cairo telling his friends about what he’s heard about the diabolical magical powers of Jews.

This is sort of a shot to the groin, but it’s the first image that sprang to mind - the Third Reich had plenty of people who claimed to have studied Jews all their life, buddy. They were detailed experts able to quote chapter and verse from the Talmud and point out a tapestry of details on the habits, functions, behavior, mannerisms, and thinking habits of Jews and how they were a threat to society. I’m sure these people really did spend some honest-to-god time watching actual Jews interact, reading actual texts, and so on.

However, they never came within a million years of actually understanding Judiasm. All they did was reinforce the fantastic collection of imaginary creatures in their head.

I can’t respond in any further detail to your arguments, because you never venture into the level of specificity neccesary to begin a discussion. I think to myself: how could I, sitting here on this computer, objectively prove to anyone else from a computer that Jews don’t drink blood? That’s the sort of problem I face here.

So I think I’m finished talking to you for now. But anytime you want to make a specific disagreement on moral or pragmatic grounds with my opinion on some specific topic. ... bring it on.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Thank you for proving my point. I can’t imagine needing to add anything more.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://

 
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