April 25th, 2006

Some comments on comments

Lately I’ve noticed a certain degeneration of the comments section here, and I’d like to comment on it.

Lots of bloggers don’t have comments sections, and I can understand why. But I’m not that kind of blogger; it was always my intent to have a lively comments section, and I’ve been gratified that that’s exactly what has happened.

But lively is one thing, free-for-all is another. As blogs grow, there’s a natural law of comment entropy (I just made that up) that seems to take over. The quality tends to go down as the quantity goes up, and the bickering, name-calling, and off-topic meandering increases.

I don’t really mind the meandering, and a good argument is always fine, but petty bickering, name-calling, obscenities, and of course good old-fashioned trolling aren’t things I really enjoy having in the comments section.

I can change policy and make comments more restrictive in various ways; it’s not all that hard to do. But I’d really rather not. So I’m asking people to please clean up their acts. I don’t know whether that will work–for some, it may only act as a spur–but I thought I’d try that approach first. I’m a polite person, and I expect the same from others.

So, these are my requests (they actually seem to boil down to two, for now):

(1) No obscenities, especially name-calling obscenities.

(2) Do not respond to trolls, obscenities, and/or obvious provocateurs.

79 Responses to “Some comments on comments”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    People like Scott Ritter use their credibility because it feels good, but to those of us in the know, having one obvious strong point is not a good idea.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,351165,00.html

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    Spank, you do realize that my entire purpose is not to debunk you, but to get you to talk like you do and debunk yourself, right?

    Just to be clear. I don’t know why you place such importance on your credibility, but it’s a weak point, that is worth investing in.

  3. grackle Says:

    But that still annoys all the people whose countries wind up dominated by US military and oil companies.

    I know, I know. We should just let the Soviet army and Chinese and Indian oil companies dominate them and leave it at that. And if their leaders sponsor terrorism we should just turn the other cheek because to do otherwise is annoying and makes them hate us and creates recruitment windfalls for bin Laden. When will we ever learn that fighting terrorism only creates terrorism, eh?

    We did support terrorists in Afghanistan. Except then, we called them Mujahedeen, and Reagan compared them to our Minutemen. We’re still trying to find all the Stingers we gave to them.

    Gee, I thought the Mujahedeen were insurgents, not terrorists, who were fighting Soviet soldiers occupying Afghanistan. Ignorant ol’ me defines terrorism as an attack on civilians for the sake of murdering civilians. Although not an expert like Spanky I am actually aware of(and heartily approve of) US support of anti-Communist forces during the Soviet-Afghan War.

    it’s also an excellent study of what happens when a counterinsurgency can defeat a rebellion militarily, uses a response that is both so massive and so indiscriminate that it loses anyway when it alienates the people it claimed to be trying to save.

    Sounds like al-Zarqawi’s problem. Have you heard that Papa bin Laden is displeased with the feisty youngster’s indiscriminate bombing of Iraqi civilians? Talk about alienation. Apparently al Zarqawi has been demoted, or chastised or something. Awww, gee, and just when it was getting to be fun, too.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m presently very busy with a nasty brouhaha in the local Anti-freedom Warriors for Evil chapter. We’re trying to come up with a theme for next week’s meeting. I’m for “Rack Maintenance: A Messy But Necessary Task,” but some others favor “Shackles: The Prudent Anti-freedom Warrior’s Best Friend,” and the chapter, normally a very placid group, is sadly branded by the iron of controversy.

  4. Spanky Says:

    Actually, Yammer, the Stinger was not deliberately modified to stop working after a period of time. The Stinger relies on an argon gas battery coolant unit with a shelf life of at least ten years, give or take. The Stingers all still work – they just need batteries and coolant. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have lost transport helicopters in both Iraq and Afghanistan, though most of these have been due to RPGs and not Stingers.

    Oh, but you read a sci-fi book and it talked about this sort of thing, so now you know all about it, right?

    Yammer, I checked out your webpage, and what did I find? Extended quotes from mass trade sci-fi novels used as evidence for various “analysis.” You know what could possible discredit you more? Maybe if you talked about having a little pink teddy bear as your senior policy advisor. Maybe.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Stingers were deliberately modified to last only like one year before things would “happen” to them. Spank should have known about that.

    Obviously if the stingers were still working, we’d have about 100-200 SF casualties in Afghanistan because they shot down the transport helis.

    The mujahedeen are still freedom fighters. People like the Northern Alliance and Massoud and Karzai have fought for Afghanistan’s independence since long before the US knew Afghanistan existed.

    Spank doesn’t have his history right, because it doesn’t benefit people to know that the same people we helped when the Soviets invaded, are working by our side in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance kicked out the Soviets, were displaced by the Taliban, and now fight against Osama and the Taliban. What else is new in tribal politics. This kind of dynamic is obvious by just watching Survivor for god’s sake, it doesn’t take a lot of study to comprehend.

    It also doesn’t benefit people to know about the stingers and what would have happened had they been still function in Afghanistan when we invaded.

    Knowledge is power, and people with power are hard to displace.

  6. Spanky Says:

    Grackle,

    I’m very weary of this, so I’m done here. I’ll just say two things:

    We did support terrorists in Afghanistan. Except then, we called them Mujahedeen, and Reagan compared them to our Minutemen. We’re still trying to find all the Stingers we gave to them.

    But what I really recommend is that you read, among other things, Davind Anderson’s “Histories of the Hanged.” Besides being a history of the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule in Kenya during the 1950s, it’s also an excellent study of what happens when a counterinsurgency can defeat a rebellion militarily, uses a response that is both so massive and so indiscriminate that it loses anyway when it alienates the people it claimed to be trying to save.

  7. david Says:

    ok last post on here especially for grackle
    One of the things that is so interesting about the anti-warriors is that that if you close your eyes and imagine the US as an ogre their anti-warrior comments make a weird kind of sense. That the US is “deeply concerned about the oil supplies” sounds innocent enough. But the anti-warriors take this thought(that every President worth his salt also thinks) and they run completely out of the stadium with it. It’s always offered as a condemnation, never as praise. David, one of the duties of the President(and Congress) is to look out for the economic interests of the US. It’s a competitive world out there and I’m glad the US has had Presidents that have realized it

    of course they do. They would be stupid not to. But that still annoys all the people whose countries wind up dominated by US military and oil comapnies. Try standing outside your stadium and seeing the world through the eyes of those for whom the US is an ogre. Then think about why you get terrorism. There is a link. Like it or not. Until Europe and the US wean themselves of oil there is going to be more of this dangerous stuff. That applies to China and India as well. try reading this

  8. grackle Says:

    The US is deeply concerned about the oil supplies in the Middle East whatever you may think.

    One of the things that is so interesting about the anti-warriors is that that if you close your eyes and imagine the US as an ogre their anti-warrior comments make a weird kind of sense. That the US is “deeply concerned about the oil supplies” sounds innocent enough. But the anti-warriors take this thought(that every President worth his salt also thinks) and they run completely out of the stadium with it. It’s always offered as a condemnation, never as praise. David, one of the duties of the President(and Congress) is to look out for the economic interests of the US. It’s a competitive world out there and I’m glad the US has had Presidents that have realized it. Well … maybe not the hapless Carter, a candidate I shamefacedly confess that I eagerly and righteously voted for. What in the world was I thinking?!!

    If you want to debate fine. But will you please stop this anti warriors nonsense. The term is meaningless. I am not censoring you but there is little point in debating if you refuse to address substantive points but keep arguing with these mythical anti-warriors.

    Gee, I thought I had been addressing substantive anti-warrior points. Silly me. If it wouldn’t be too much to ask, would you care to provide a quote to the readers where I haven’t been addressing a point? Quotes are our friends; they demonstrate to our readers that what we say is not mere unfounded denunciation.

    I really admire how David decries censorship, even hastening to add that he isn’t trying to censor my comments and then neatly segues into an attempt to try to censor me! It’s a common tactic for the anti-warriors. They’ll say something and then turn right around and whine that they didn’t say it! They are especially fond of asserting that fighting terrorism causes terrorism and then energetically and hurtfully claiming they don’t! It’s wonderful fun to observe these attempted justifications.

    As for “fighting terrorism causes terrorism”, The substantive point is that interfering politically, militarily and economically in many countries around the world is bound to provoke a backlash. You may well feel justified in taking these actions, but you can hardly be surprised if it provokes a response.

    I am never surprised when confronting the enemy provokes response or when you anti-warriors describe such clashes, as in Iraq, as interference. At various times I’m chagrined, amused, sickened and disgusted, but never, ever surprised at anti-warrior opinion.

    And while we are on the subject let us not forget US support for “terrorists” in Ireland, Nicaragua and Afghanistan. It is a cliché but what you call terrorists are somebody else’s freedom fighters using asymmetrical warfare techniques against a far superior military force.

    Does a US President try to keep unfriendly southern despots from importing communism to their neighbors? The anti-warriors will always call such a policy “support for terrorism.” Did an American President help prevent Russia from taking over Afghanistan? That is also labeled as “support for terrorism.” I will readily concede that David has a point about the IRA. It’s one of those things that the US should be ashamed of, this unofficial support of the bloody IRA. Great Britain has every right to be miffed. I hear Ted Kennedy doesn’t invite Gerry Adams to Hyannis Port anymore. See, David! A pro-warrior can criticize America!

    Naming them “terrorists” is simply part of the battle.

    Which side of the “battle” are you on, David? Ah yes, of course, I forgot; you are on the side that calls terrorists “insurgents.”

    Well, I’m off to the local Anti-freedom Warriors for Evil(AWE) chapter meeting. This week we’re having a special Perpetual Hot-Iron Fire ceremony and I would really hate to miss it. Our motto is FEEL OUR AWE!

  9. david Says:

    Douglas: The US has tried to undermine the Venezuelan government. The Saudis are firmly on the side of the US, for now. The US is deeply concerned about the oil supplies in the Middle East whatever you may think. And reserves do matter, more than you realise. The war is about securing oil supplies well into the future as there is going to be less of the stuff around at a time when demand is increasing rapidly

    As for your argument about the law that is exactly what Blair thought here. If you don’t like the legal opinion you are given get another. Or just reject the concept of international law.

    Grackle: it is this kind of nonsense I am so bored with

    Anti-warriors frame this same basic argument in a lot of different ways. But then, you knew all this, right? Anyway, I thank you for the opportunity to explain this flaw in such a common anti-warrior rhetorical theme

    If you want to debate fine. But will you please stop this anti warriors nonsense. The term is meaningless. I am not censoring you but there is little point in debating if you refuse to address substantive points but keep arguing with these mythical anti-warriors. As for “fighting terrorism causes terrorism”, The substantive point is that interfering politically, militarily and economically in many countries around the world is bound to provoke a backlash. You may well feel justified in taking these actions, but you can hardly be surprised if it provokes a response.

    And while we are on the subject let us not forget US support for “terrorists” in Ireland, Nicaragua and Afghanistan. It is a cliché but what you call terrorists are somebody else’s freedom fighters using asymmetrical warfare techniques against a far superior military force. Naming them “terrorists” is simply part of the battle.

  10. grackle Says:

    Jesus Grackle, of course the US presence in Iraq is a major reason why there’s an insurgency. This isn’t some bullshit “fighting terrorism causes terrorism” crap – there was no anti-US insurgency when there was no US presence. You think these people would be fighting us…if we weren’t there? There was no terrorism in Iraq until we went there. The US presence doesn’t cause the insurgency. People don’t work that way. It is the goal of the insurgency to get us out. Why do you have such a painfully difficult time understanding this?

    Gee, Spanky, you anti-warriors sure do love to state the obvious. First someone whines about US “presence” in Iraq, because it makes the terrorists mad. I found that particular opinion very obvious and nonsensical also and was just trying to simplify the convoluted syntax to which anti-warriors invariably resort when they try to dress up this nonsense, but since you have difficulty living with that, we’ll go through the drill again:

    The US presence in Iraq is an enormous recruiting tool for the insurgency and one of it main reasons for existence.

    An enormous part of the problem is that a large part of the insurgency is fueled by hostility to the US presence[in Iraq] in the first place.

    Call me reckless but to state this in an anti-war comment seems to be trying to make the point that the US is causing terrorism by fighting terrorism. Not true? What do you think the writer meant? Care to offer your own paraphrase?

    The goal of the bulk of the insurgency is to get rid of the US.

    Here we go with the obvious again.

    Estimates place the number of foreign jihadis – the Saudis and the Syrians who commit the bulk of the suicide bombings and head choppings – at only about 10-15% of the total strength. The rest are just Iraqis.

    Naw, Spanky, the rest are not “just Iraqis.” The rest are terrorists, busily murdering their fellow Iraqis. Part of the problem is that you anti-warriors always think terrorists are “just Iraqis,” or ‘just angry’,’ or ‘just misunderstood,’ or ‘just misguided.’

    Do you think their[the terrorists in Iraq] recruiting slogan is “come be evil!” or “come save your homeland from foreign invaders!”

    No, I think their slogan is “Reinstate Saddam Through Terrorism and Regain Your Former Power in His New Regime!” Well, I admit that’s kind of unwieldy – too long I guess. How about “Glory To The Coming Caliphate!”

    Think back to the American Revolution. The goal of the Continental Army was to evict the British crown and army from the continent. Oh no! I compared our heroic revolutionaries to evil terrorists!

    I know, I know, but you anti-warriors do that a lot – calling terrorists “insurgents,” instead of what they are, ascribing noble motives to them(and thereby implying ignoble motives for their opposition), putting the terrorists in the same category as the French Resistance or American revolutionaries, which are the comparisons of choice for most anti-warriors. You anti-warriors do this almost as often as you deny doing it, sort of like when you anti-warriors try to make the cockeyed point that “fighting terrorism causes terrorism” and then deny doing it.

    You can’t have an army dedicated to driving America out of Iraq if America is out of Iraq.

    Spanky, do you think if there were no terrorists in Iraq that the US would still be there? That if the country was busy voting, forming a parliament, training an army, rebuilding a police force and repairing infrastructures like power and water plants, with no terrorists trying to stop all that, that the US would still be there?

    But Grackle, it’s also important to remember, with your accusations of “fighting terrorism causes terrorism,” is that we didn’t go into Iraq to fight terrorism.

    Spanky, maybe you don’t equate toppling Saddam as a blow to terrorism, but many of us anti-warriors do.

    We went into Iraq to topple its government, replace it with one we liked, and dismantle an imaginary Iraqi WMD program.

    Topple Saddam, yes. Replace it with one we liked, no. Replace it with one that won’t foster terrorism like the previous one, yes. Dismantle a an imaginary Iraqi WMD program, no. To prevent reconstitution of the same WMD program that Saddam used to murder the Kurds, yes. You remember the gassing of the Kurds, don’t you? You might not want to go on too long about the “imaginary Iraqi WMD program” around any Iraqi Kurds. They might get cross with you.

    In the course of this not-fighting-terrorism, an anti-US insurgency rose up among Iraqis. We weren’t even fighting terrorism when they started to fight us.

    I get it! We had just toppled a monster and were hanging around attempting to repair the infrastructure but our soldiers got mean and went looking for trouble and the terrorists rose as one against the Evil Satan’s minions. Brilliant.

    I can only imagine that in your head we went over there to fight this evil jihadi army, and that’s who we’re still fighting.

    Is there an “army” in Iraq fighting the US? Thanks for the info, Spanky, because I hadn’t heard. Where does this “army” come from, anyway? What government sent this “army”? Whose uniforms do they wear? Why hasn’t this “army” been featured on CNN?

    The insurgents in Iraq don’t have a coordinated program for religious violence and theocratic rule (the Shi’ite parties we managed to put into power have that covered).

    I know, I know, the terrorists in Iraq are nice guys. No violence or ruling for them. It’s the Eskimos. Yes, the Eskimos have craftily sneaked down from the Arctic and it is they, the Eskimos, that are setting off the roadside bombs, doing the sniping & suicide bombing. Us? Well, we’re making the Eskimos very angry, what with all the infrastructure repairing, school building, military and police force training, elections and parliament-forming. And these noble Eskimos are understandably trying to kick us out for doing all these horrible things.

    Sometimes heavy-handed responses to terrorism will convince people to become terrorists.

    Sigh. More “Fighting Terrorism Causes Terrorism.” Looks like my work will never be done, responding to these “Fighting Terrorism Causes Terrorism” comments. They seem to slip out of the anti-warriors more and more frequently these days.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    there was no anti-US insurgency when there was no US presence. You think these people would be fighting us…if we weren’t there?

    How do you know they aren’t there, when you’re not there either?

    Besides, there’s still the Kurds to fight.

    The above sounds to me like the “They have WMDs because I’m here in Washington” statements.

  12. Spanky Says:

    Jesus Grackle, of course the US presence in Iraq is a major reason why there’s an insurgency. This isn’t some bullshit “fighting terrorism causes terrorism” crap – there was no anti-US insurgency when there was no US presence. You think these people would be fighting us…if we weren’t there? There was no terrorism in Iraq until we went there. The US presence doesn’t cause the insurgency. People don’t work that way. It is the goal of the insurgency to get us out. Why do you have such a painfully difficult time understanding this?

    Grackle, the goal of the insurgency isn’t to be evil, or to commit terrorism. The goal of the bulk of the insurgency is to get rid of the US. Estimates place the number of foreign jihadis – the Saudis and the Syrians who commit the bulk of the suicide bombings and head choppings – at only about 10-15% of the total strength. The rest are just Iraqis. Every month we claim to kill or capture thousands of insurgents, and every month the strength of the insurgency remains the same. They have to be making up the losses somehow. Do you think their recruiting slogan is “come be evil!” or “come save your homeland from foreign invaders!”

    Which do you think has a more effective ring to it?

    Think back to the American Revolution. The goal of the Continental Army was to evict the British crown and army from the continent. Do you think the Continental Army recruited by a) saying “come kill British people, it’s fun!” or “come and save your country from a foreign occupying army!” ?

    Oh no! I compared our heroic revolutionaries to evil terrorists! Except no, I compared too insurgencies whose goal it was to remove a foreign occupying power. The Iraqi insurgents perceive us as a foreign occupying power. They recruit thousands of Iraqis every month. Thousands upon thousands of Iraqis aren’t crazed jihadi terrorists – they’re people who think their country is occupied by a foreign invader. You can’t have an army dedicated to driving America out of Iraq if America is out of Iraq.

    But Grackle, it’s also important to remember, with your accusations of “fighting terrorism causes terrorism,” is that we didn’t go into Iraq to fight terrorism. We went into Iraq to topple its government, replace it with one we liked, and dismantle an imaginary Iraqi WMD program. In the course of this not-fighting-terrorism, an anti-US insurgency rose up among Iraqis. We weren’t even fighting terrorism when they started to fight us.

    I can only imagine that in your head we went over there to fight this evil jihadi army, and that’s who we’re still fighting. But we didn’t. There was no evil jihadi army, and except for an estimated 3,000 foreign fighters, there still is no evil jihadi army. I know, I know, they’re Muslims and they’re fighting – how could they not be evil jihadis? But just as Americans can go to war and not be crazed Christian Crusaders, Muslims can go to war without being crazed jihadis with religious goals in mind.

    The Iraqi insurgency is a nationalist force. I realize that somewhere along the lines you Righties got it into your heads that “nationalist” means “righteous” in the eyes of Lefties, but what you don’t seem to realize is that it is a neutral description of fact. The insurgents in Iraq don’t have a coordinated program for religious violence and theocratic rule (the Shi’ite parties we managed to put into power have that covered). The insurgents in Iraq, like most other nationalist movements, perceive that their nation is under threat or is being done wrong in some way, and are fighting to rectify that perception.

    Just as the American Revolution was a nationalist movement to win independence for an American nation that was perceived to be oppressed by the British. Just as the Kurdish peshmerga is a nationalist movement to defend the Kurdish people. Just like the LTTE perceive the Tamils to be oppressed and are fighting for independence from Sri Lanka. Just like Mau Mau fought to kick the British out of Kenya. Just like…

    And on and on and on. Sometimes these movements have legitimate goals and sometimes they don’t, but the only thing that matters to them is that they perceive they have legitimate goals. Just because we think the insurgency in Iraq doesn’t have legitimate goals doesn’t mean they’re suddenly going to stop fighting. Most of them (not all, but most) will stop fighting once they have achieved their goal of the US out of Iraq, or if they no longer perceive that their nation is under attack (Sunni inclusion in the political process), or if we kill all the Sunnis.

    And you know what? Sometimes heavy-handed responses to terrorism will convince people to become terrorists. When the Nazis rolled into the Soviet Union, they were greeted as liberators. During the war something like a million Soviet citizens fought in German uniform. But the Germans were so convinced of Slavic inferiority that they didn’t think they would need any help defeating the Soviet Union, and they found help from the Slavs distasteful. So they went about their Nazi business, and in the end the Germans ended up facing a massive partisan resistance movement. They missed a tremendous opportunity for collaboration with the Soviet peoples who hated Stalin, but eventually came to hate Hitler more.

    This is a pattern repeated over and over again. A national movement rises up against a perceived enemy. The enemy responds with violence of its own. That violence alienates some members of the nation, who then start fighting too. It happened in America with the Boston Massacre. It happened in Kenya with the concentration camps. It happened in the Ukraine under the Nazis. It is the curse of the counterinsurgency: the tremendous difficulty faced with trying to fight against an insurgency without alienating the neutral population when the insurgency blends in with the population.

    So we have to understand that the more overwhelming our violence is, the more insurgents we’re going to kill – and the more neutral people we’re going to hurt, and the more readily the insurgency will be able to recruit from former fence sitters.

    I’m sorry, this isn’t anti-American or pro-terrorist. This is a simple statement of historical fact.

  13. douglas Says:

    Here’s a pretty good argument from my angle:

    ““No war for oil, especially if it is ours,” is indeed the attitude of Europe.

    Easier, Faster, Safer: Alternative Wars for Oil

    Although Iraq’s oil reserves, which account for 11% of the world’s proven supply of oil, are considerable, Iraqi oil is replaceable. With agreements between the US and the first and fourth-largest oil producing nations, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, to increase their production of oil in Iraq’s stead, one must wonder why, if it were not for the fact that Iraq is a threat to others and a tyranny domestically, its disarmament would matter quite so much.

    Furthermore, if Iraq is being taken to war for purely economic concerns, why has America failed to call for “regime change” in Venezuela, which accounts for nearly 7% of the world’s oil supply, whose strikes at state-owned oil fields have certainly contributed to rising gas prices? And instead of stationing 5000 American soldiers to protect the House of Saud, why has the United States chosen not to simply topple Saudi Arabia, the spoils of war being 256 billion barrels of oil, 22% of the world’s supply? And rather than expend such effort in assembling a “coalition of the willing” to disarm Iraq, why not simply take over the oil wells of the United Arab Emirates, a small nation whose leadership will not be missed, if replaced? One can only assume that if America were amoral enough to wage a war for oil, its leadership would at least minimize risk, and the aforementioned are surely less risky, relative to Iraq. The commonality between the aforementioned oil nations continues: none have attempted the assassination of an American president, none have signed and summarily broken armistice agreements, and none have been willing to live with crippling sanctions, preferring instead to build bombs. Iraq has done all of this, and more.”

    From:
    http://www.michiganreview.com/article.php?id=1163

  14. grackle Says:

    The US presence in Iraq is an enormous recruiting tool for the insurgency and one of it main reasons for existence.

    An enormous part of the problem is that a large part of the insurgency is fueled by hostility to the US presence in the first place.

    Here’s the grackle response: Anti-warrior meme =“Terrorism is caused by fighting terrorism.”. This ever popular theme is repeated with only slight variation by all the anti-warriors sooner or later.

    David adds: therefore you are -anti warrior you don’t understand terrorism and i don’t have to think about it

    will that do grackle?

    Not really, David. Although “anti-warrior” was used as a term in my terse critique, it was not used to “dismiss” the statements.

    The dismissal came with my more direct paraphrase (“Terrorism is caused by fighting terrorism”) of the offending statements. The implication of the 2 statements is that the US ‘causes’ terrorism(“US presence in Iraq is an enormous recruiting tool”) and that the US is the ‘cause’ of the terrorism(a large part of the insurgency is fueled by hostility to the US presence).

    How does the US cause terrorism? Why, the US causes terrorism by fighting terrorism – in Iraq!

    When all this convoluted syntax is parsed to it’s essence, the message is really just “Terrorism is caused by fighting terrorism.” In my more direct paraphrase the message is revealed as illogical nonsense.

    Anti-warriors frame this same basic argument in a lot of different ways. But then, you knew all this, right? Anyway, I thank you for the opportunity to explain this flaw in such a common anti-warrior rhetorical theme.

    I was thinking: It might be a good idea if you could you ask me again 2 or 3 days from now so new readers will get the benefit of the more detailed treatment. Some anti-warrior is bound to post the same argument and I’ll come in with The Paraphrase and you can be puzzled and I’ll explain it again. That way I won’t seem unnecessarily ‘wordy’; it would be just be me patiently clarifying things, you know, like we’ve done with ‘anti-warrior’.

  15. douglas Says:

    ok, David:
    Shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, UN Secretary General stated that the use of force without Council endorsement would “not be in conformity with the Charter”

    I don’t think the UN is a monarchy. Kofi’s is entitled to his opinion, but ‘legally’ binding it isn’t.

    …and many legal experts now describe the US-UK attack as an act of aggression, violating international law.

    Then there are also legal experts who think otherwise. Which legal experts shall I believe? The easy answer is those who fit my worldview. I need more depth to be convinced.

    Iraq has the second largest oil reserves

    Reserves are nice, but production is what matters in the world economy. It ain’t worth much in the ground.

    …and the US economy, and military strength is heavily dependent on oil.

    Not as much as the middle easts…

    …Saddam was increasingly anti-US and looked mad and bad enoughto influence neighbours to prevent supplies reaching US.

    Really? Which neighbors (with oil) would he be persuasive to? The Kuwaiti’s, Saudi’s or Iranian’s with whom he’d recently invaded or attempted to?
    Also, the US get’s relatively little oil from the ME. Most ME production goes to Japan and Europe, and increasingly China and India. Not to say that the effects of supply troubles wouldn’t affect the US… but not exactly as you portray.

    …Therefore occam’s razor woul dsuggest that the principle reason for the invasion was the oil.

    I don’t think we’re there yet.
    Keep trying, David, I’m enjoying this.

  16. david Says:

    hey grackle…why do you need a name? you agree with the war…. i do not…they are just opinons…you don’t need a team name

    ..course if you had a team sponsor it would be texaco :-)

  17. Spanky for Freedom Says:

    You would pimp conflagrations, wouldn’t you? You make me sick. Freedom!

  18. grackle Says:

    Ok, I am going to coin a new phrase. Because I oppose the war in Iraq, I am going to call myself as a “pro-freedom warrior for justice.” Since you support the war, I am going to call you an “anti-freedom warrior for evil.”

    Spanky, I would no more try to censor you than I would let you censor me. Write whatever you wish, use whatever words you desire. But remember: Profanity is the product of a weak mind. Me? I’m off to the torture chambers with the rest of the Anti-freedom Warriors for Evil. You oughta come down sometime; we have a female chapter, the Evil Warriorettes, and throw a hellofa good party. Next month is the national convention. There’s going to be seminars on journalist-bagging, racial epithets, gender insults, genocide-ignoring, harmless despot toppling and my favorite: conflagration pimping.

  19. Spanky the pro-freedom warrior for justice Says:

    David, that was a great pro-freedom warrior for justice remark. I wonder what anti-freedom warrior for evil Grackle will have to say about that?

  20. david Says:

    on my way out to the pub so only had 30 seconds to spend on this but hey ho. This is what i found on the euston emanifesto thread

    At 7:24 PM, April 22, 2006, grackle said…
    The US presence in Iraq is an enormous recruiting tool for the insurgency and one of it main reasons for existence.

    An enormous part of the problem is that a large part of the insurgency is fueled by hostility to the US presence in the first place.

    Anti-warrior meme = Terrorism is caused by fighting terrorism. This ever popular theme is repeated with only slight variation by all the anti-warriors sooner or later.

    therefore you are -anti warrior you don’t understand terrorism and i don’t hav eto thin k about it

    will that do grackle?

  21. Spanky the Pro-Freedom Warrior for Justice Says:

    Ok, I am going to coin a new phrase. Because I oppose the war in Iraq, I am going to call myself as a “pro-freedom warrior for justice.” Since you support the war, I am going to call you an “anti-freedom warrior for evil.”

    I think you guys make some great anti-freedom warrior for evil arguments about Iraq and terrorism. Keep up the good work, anti-freedom warriors for evil!

  22. grackle Says:

    David, your last comment was just as futile as your previous comment. Get this through your head: I won’t be censored. Period.

    BTW, we are still waiting for those quotes where I dismiss arguments by hurling that dreaded charge “anti-warrior” at them, as per your last unfounded accusation.

  23. david Says:

    ok douglas, fair point
    so

    1. Have a read of this Shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, UN Secretary General stated that the use of force without Council endorsement would “not be in conformity with the Charter”

    2. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves and the US economy, and military strength is heavily dependent on oil. Saddam was increasingly anti-US and looked mad and bad enoughto influence neighbours to prevent supplies reaching US. Therefore occam’s razor woul dsuggest that the principle reason for the invasion was the oil.

    Which is what we have argued about before.

    But at least it is a proper argument, and it is possible for you to now produce evidence that may show I am wrong.

  24. Spanky the Reticent Says:

    Oh Grackle, don’t be a human being. Go back to being a caricature. I can only keep up this level of snark against stereotypes!

  25. douglas Says:

    David, when it comes to legalities, where I come from it’s up to you to prove illegality.

    As for oil, it was much more easily had, and cheaper, by leaving Saddam in place…

  26. david Says:

    sorry posted first draft. The end bit of the above post should say:

    For example “the war is illegal and was fought for the oil.” cannot be contradicted by making the accusation that i am anti war. That i am anti war is clear, but i am not anti-soldier.

    To debate this point you have to show that the war is legal and for some purpose other than the oil.

  27. david Says:

    Grackle the terms are useless because you can be anti- war and pro-soldier. Anti-warrior implies you are against th emilitary per se.

    Using the term anti-war is fair enough as in the current on going debate it is usually implicit that you are referring to the Iraq war.

    However ascribing characteristics such as cowardice et. to all those who are anti-war is still unfounded so you are probably best off sticking to debating with substantive points rather than waving these terms around.

    For example “the war is illegal and was fought for the oil.” cannot be argued against because i am anti war. That is clear from the position i have taken

    To debate this point you have to show that the war is legal and for some purpose other than the war

  28. grackle Says:

    Grackle, don’t you know these are grim times?

    Terrible, but true, and the times may eventually be more grim than we can imagine. The on-going carnage, the really massive carnage that may be in the offing. The world has always guaranteed a bloody existence but the potential is so much greater than before. This is my real concern, that a great slaughter will occur, with those who will die the most blindly hastening that day. I hope that does not occur but when I think about it the steps that would seem to lead to it seem so plausible, so possible, so chillingly inevitable unless events get off the track they seem to be on.

    Ok, so maybe I was a little too grim. “Anti-warrior” is still assinine, though. “Anti-warrior” implies that one is against warriors.

    You say “asinine,” I say ‘apt.’ Before, maybe you had an excuse because you claim you didn’t know what the terms meant. But now I’ve been forced to define them. I suppose “anti-warrior” could be taken as implying that one is “against warriors” if the term was used without explanation in a discussion of, say, the American West, re: pro-warrior, anti-miner, pro-rancher, anti-squatter, etc. But in a discussion of war in the Middle East? Oh, I guess we could be referring to that Sioux settlement just outside Baghdad(Note to self: Email request for an application to Jon Stewart).

    And no, I wasn’t calling you gay. My best man is gay. It was a metaphor within the context of rhetorical overcompensation for self-doubt. You silly billy.

    Yeah, suuuure you wasn’t(snicker, wink). But don’t worry, I don’t hold it against you. I said a couple of mean things. I’m inspired by Neo’s admonishment and will try to keep my own blows sharp but clean.

    You know, Spanky, you actually changed my mind about the cult hero thing. It just doesn’t hold water for me anymore – I’ve pulled that particular thread from the tapestry. You did that with a kind of teasing, needling style of approach. Not just the response to my comment but all your comments had me laughing out loud several times at your sheer cheekiness and that made me more amenable to your reasoning. The Robin Williams Method of Persuasion.

    There’s doubt now, you rascal, so it’s shelved unless I start getting “Ain’t Bin Laden Great!” emails co-signed by Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore. I tell you this only in the hope that it will allow you yourself to entertain the notion that you may be wrong.

    Now, back to the center of the ring with guards up! Defend yourself at all times.

  29. Spanky Says:

    Grackle, don’t you know these are grim times?

    Ok, so maybe I was a little too grim. “Anti-warrior” is still assinine, though. “Anti-warrior” implies that one is against warriors.

    And no, I wasn’t calling you gay. My best man is gay. It was a metaphor within the context of rhetorical overcompensation for self-doubt. You silly billy.

  30. grackle Says:

    Pro-warrior = a person who is for the war under discussion
    Anti-warrior = a person who is against the war under discussion

    You could only be insulted by these terms if you would also be insulted by being described as ‘anti-war’ or ‘pro-war,’ universally accepted terms that are neither complimentary nor insulting. Or if you are trying hard to find something to be insulted about. Playing the ‘insult card’?

    I’m pro-war, but pro-war is an attitude. I’m not an attitude, I’m a human being, a pro-warrior. I know Spanky’s intelligent; he writes very well; so he must know what a pun is. I understand now that some won’t ‘get it,’ but I figured Spanky would. The fact of the pun is not important, it’s just a happy accident, except that realizing the pun defines the terms. The thing I like about the terminology is its efficiency, there’s no political side issues like abortion, tax policy, social problems, etc. dragged into the exchange. The “moonbat/wingnut” duo is of limited value because they are not narrow enough; they imply a spectrum of political attitudes not germane to discussions of the war and are mildly insulting to boot.

    I started using this terminology when I realized that ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ were inadequate terms when discussing the war, re: liberal = against the war – conservative = for the war. Someone says, “Yeah, all you liberals think that way,” and someone else replies, “I’m not a liberal, I’m a conservative but I’m just against the war.” In discussions about the war, all that really matters is whether you think the war is justified or not, your opinions on that, not your opinion on abortion. When I think someone is mistaken about the war I want to address them about that, the war, not about where they might stand on other issues precious to the right and left.

    And because of this Spanky implies I’m a homosexual, obviously intending I should be offended. The interesting fact that Spanky thinks homosexuality would be something to which offense should be taken, and begin the comment with it, sort of tells us all where Spanky stands on the subject. It also tells us what’s foremost in his mind. Careful, Spanky, one’s choice of insults says volumes. Lord, what a little innocent, original terminology, as free of bias as ‘up’ and ‘down,’ but just a bit different than has been heard before, will cause people to key on a blog.

    But what I just said was probably no more offensive to Grackle than what Grackle says every time he calls someone who disagrees with him, within the framework of masculinity and patriotism as it exists in the US, a weak coward who hates the brave fightin’ men and women of the US Armed Forces.

    When I read this I was stunned. Where’s the old fun-loving, light-hearted Spanky? The Spanky who could actually kid around and be very funny. Really. Spanky’s wasted in DoD, he ought to be making big dough writing zingers for The Daily Show. But here he’s so … grim. I don’t think anyone’s a coward, couldn’t care less about issues of “masculinity” and shouldn’t even be having to say so. Hey, and with nary a quote, either. Just a flat statement of fact. And I stood up for Spanky, complimented him. Wow.

    I am not trying to censor you; I simply want to stop you dismissing everything I argue as anti warrior. It is meaningless and you are not giving proper thought to arguments against yours.

    I always have more to say than that; there are always counter-arguments with loads of meaning in my comments. David, leave the room for ‘time out’ and don’t come back without a quote in your hand that demonstrates where I dismiss any argument merely as “anti-warrior!!” Quotes are our friends; quotes let readers know what we assert is the truth and not mere unfounded accusation. BTW, I agree with 1 thru 4. It’s 5 and 6 where we part company. I recognize fully that someone may have a pro-military attitude yet be an anti-warrior. Since you asked, you do indeed have an anti-war attitude and therefore are, sadly, an anti-warrior.

    Spanky, David and anyone else who doesn’t like my terms – too bad. I won’t be censored because of political correctness made up on the spur of the moment.

  31. david Says:

    Grackle anti/pro warrior is not neutral terminology. It reduces debates about a complex subject to a simplistic duality. I am not trying to censor you; I simply want to stop you dismissing everything I argue as anti warrior. It is meaningless and you are not giving proper thought to arguments against yours.

    I will briefly explain my position on the military.

    1. Democracies need armies. They have to be prepared to use extreme violence and kill.
    2. This process should be subject to democratic control and should not be engaged in lightly.
    3. Government should not take action that will lead to the maiming and death of their troops without a very good reason.
    4. Anybody who is over enthusiastic about putting our troops into danger does not have their best interests at heart. They are arguably anti-soldier.
    5. In my opinion the war in Iraq is illegal and potentially endless. It has lead to many deaths of US and UK military and will lead to many more.
    6. Arguably Bush and Blair do not have their best interests at heart.

    So do you think you can describe this position as pro/anti-warrior? Or is it actually something more complex?

  32. Spanky Says:

    David,

    The pro/anti-warrior bit is predicated on notions that the Right has about gender, masculinity, manliness, patriotism, etc.

    Why do you think that hostility to gays is a good indicator of homosexuality?

    The Right has set itself up as the “Daddy” party, the tough guys, the hawks, the biggest swinging dicks in the room, while liberals are denigrated as effeminate, weak, cowardly, etc.

    It’s indicative, I think, that people like Grackle aren’t “warriors,” but rather “pro-warrior.” They acknowledge that they’re not actually doing manly things like being warriors, so it’s necessary for the Right to promote the idea of being a warrior, and to associate themselves with that idea.

    Grackle might never do a thing in his life to actually support “warriors,” but he’ll still use the term “pro-warrior” to describe himself, because for so many Righties it’s a necessary component to their self-image and their notions about masculinity.

    It’s all so very hyperreal. Stick a flag on your car, you’re supporting the troops. Advocate bringing the troops home from a war they can’t win, you hate the troops. And so forth.

    Or maybe not. But what I just said was probably no more offensive to Grackle than what Grackle says every time he calls someone who disagrees with him, within the framework of masculinity and patriotism as it exists in the US, a weak coward who hates the brave fightin’ men and women of the US Armed Forces.

    Full disclosure: I work on a military post. I work with representatives from Joint every day. But I think Iraq was a mistake. Little do my co-workers know that I am anti-them.

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    It is the same guy.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    David probably means that grackle should define and refine his definition of anti-warrior down to one or two specific meanings relating to his primary point, instead of not defining it and still using it many times.

    Part of david’s charge that anti-warrior is meaningless because it has too many definitions undefined.

    In the end, david probably feels that saying an argument is anti-warrior or in any relation, is inferior to saying why the argument is anti-warrior.

  35. grackle Says:

    could i just say that the pro or anti warrior phrases are completely useless as they have so many in built meanings. Why warriors instead of soldiers, military or military action? Why do you have to be pro or anti? This childish black and white view of things is simply not good enough to cover the range of opinions that exist. To dismiss opinions that differ with yours as “anti-warrior” means you don’t address the arguments offered, you don’t think about it, and you do not have to run the risk of changing your mind.

    “ … run the risk of changing your mind … ” David, I’m having a difficult time figuring out what you mean with this phrase.

    Anti-warrior/pro-warrior is simply neutral terminology, somewhat like the terms liberal/conservative and is neither pejorative nor eulogistic. I’ve never based any argument on terminology; fact and opinion are my methods(and a pinch of satire).

    Read my comments carefully and come up with a quote where I’ve dismissed anyone’s comment because I perceived them to be a pro-warrior or anti-warrior.

    After you fail in that endeavor come back and explain to me why I should allow anyone to censor my comments, as long as they fall within Neo’s guidelines.

    This is not Harvard or Berkeley, where you anti-warriors can dictate what people say and do. Try censoring someone else; it won’t work on me.

  36. david Says:

    could i just say that the pro or anti warrior phrases are completely useless as they have so many in built meanings.

    Why warriors instead of soldiers, military or military action?

    Why do you have to be pro or anti?

    This childish black and white view of things is simply not good enough to cover the range of opinions that exist.

    To dismiss opinions that differ with yours as “anti-warrior” means you don’t address the arguments offered, you don’t think about it, and you do not have to run the risk of changing your mind.

  37. SB Says:

    You know, it’s moments like this that make me just want to just say…hey, I love you guys. Really.

    Group hug?

  38. Spanky the Well-Read Says:

    I remember reading some of Hogan’s sci-fi novels from the 70s; they’re actually really good (the trilogy that started with “Inherit the Stars”). I had no idea that he was even alive. Is this the same guy?

  39. grackle Says:

    Well, James P Hogan is anti-war, but grackle doesn’t seem to like him. So I don’t know why that is, if grackle wants an anti-war backdrop for his arguments.

    I hope Hogan doesn’t cause harm with his misinformation about AIDS. Other than that I don’t have any feelings about Hogan one way or the other. If he believes the Holocaust didn’t happen, he’s not a very good historian & I found it strange that he would be quoted in order to make a historical point. Whether Hogan is anti-war or pro-war doesn’t interest me.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    In this comments section, I have been called an assassin, crazy, anti-American, stupid, deranged, and pro-terrorist. Liberals have been accused of being hysterical, rediculous, pro-lynching, and evil.

    Actually, I do believe I mentioned assassin, and I was calling my own thoughts that, not someone else. I think I would have noticed if somebody had said “assassin”.

    John Ringo wrote about this awhile ago. It’s not enough to be right. If you are right, and you’re so disagreeable and so hostile to others, then nobody’s going to listen to you even if you are right. When you are proven to be right, they’ll just boot you from the team. It’s the human social dynamic. It’s better to have a well oiled system orientated around a team, than a combative mix of highly intelligent leaders. I mean, nobody actually “wants” to work on an Apprentice team full of Type A personalities, but they’ll do it if it benefits them.

    Neo’s not talking solely about Spank. There’s other people who’ve been more disagreeable and hostile. Like mike for example, to me. Or Anons shadowing my every step.

    One of the problems with Anons is that you can’t judge their comments on any kind of history online, so you can’t really argue with them in an consistent basis.

    If you do, you stand the chance of making a fool of yourself if you misinterpret an attempt at parody for example.

    Like I recommended to sally, douglas, stop talking to spank. Or if you persist, stop talking about people, and focus on the issue and ideas, ignore everything else. Don’t talk about yourself, don’t talk about who called you what or what you think of another commenter, or how sad/bad/furious or whatever you might feel you are at whatever moment in time we call the present. Internal integrity and discipline always comes first, especially since you really can’t do anything about the other guy’s character traits. So everyone’s first priority should be self-defense, get your ideas and emotions straight, before you start typing.

    Simple trick, if your replies are 25% shorter than the person you are talking to, that is a good sign you are maintaining some personal objectivity. If there are 12 posts in a dialogue, you begin to notice the 25%.

    If you want to make the subject about the other guy, then be prepared to actually learn something first (of the other guy’s ideas). If you want to play defense, then there’s no excuse for lacking a solid balance.

    You don’t notice this, but most people who have strong emotions tend to write a lot. Some people like me just do that all the time, so you can never really tell. But strong emotions always make you write more, that’s just a rule. So if you control the length of your comments, and cut out all the meaningless inter-personal comments, it’ll look a lot better. If you post a lot in debate forums, you kind of pick up on tricks in how to make arguments matter. As Neo has noticed, a blog in its early forms has comments directed to the author, as personal commentary. As the blog grows, the comments start to become more about other commentators, which means it becomes a debate forum. Debate forums require moderation and strict adherence to rules about no-name calling. But a blog has one moderator, the blogger, thus the problem.

    Spank for example has two modes, as I’ve witnessed. Either he talks about an original idea, and that’s about it. (Zawahiri strategy) Or he talks about himself and other people, alternatively. It’s the latter that really gets people’s hackles up. It doesn’t for me, because as I said before, that’s nothing compared to what people really want to tell me and have told me.

    You will notice that if he shifts to the latter mode, he actually won’t mention or quote anything that might give you a better idea of what argument he is refering to. He doesn’t have quotes from other people calling him whatever he claims he was called. But he has quotes from Zawahiri. That makes sense if you think about it.

    But I think I differ than some others here, in that I don’t feel a need to defend my position. I can do so, but there’s no emotional imperative. It’s not a case of survival, you or me, it’s all or nothing, flip of the coin situation. I don’t agree with grackle that James P Hogan is a flake and a crackpot, just like I didn’t agree that USS Clueless was a crackpot. It isn’t because Hogan believes that judges should give rapists in the US prison time, or that an armed society is a polite society, or that big government is a problem, that I Believe that Hogan is a good historian. It just means that I don’t feel an emotional imperative to state that he is or that he is not.

    I do slip into competition mode, and when I do, I don’t switch it off. I can try, but it never works. When van says Neo is dishonest and presents his argument as a defacto statement of fact, and then leaves the blog, competition circuits activate and I follow him to his blog and state his problems personally. In those cases, it’s hard to grasp emotional balance, because I’ve already gone out of my way to do something. It’s especially harder if van comes back to my blog and calls me names, because the only thing that keeps me from trying to destroy people’s character is a certain basic respect. You don’t get my respect by attacking me, but you also don’t get an automatic counter-attack either. Mike didn’t get one.

    Spanky is needed to keep us pro-warriors on our toes, he’s a spur to thought outside the box.

    I wonder whether this is intentional. Because it echoes that Radio Blogger, uh what was his name, Rush? Limbaugh, right. Really, I forgot his name for 10 second there. Rush said we need to keep a few liberals around, too.

    Whether someone is right or not doesn’t depend on who is on his side, but on how well structured his arguments are.

    I’ve noticed that on debate forums where you have 4 vs 1, the four actually tend to have inferior arguments because they rely upon force of numbers. Analogous to Afghanistan vs iraq, numbers vs quality, etc.

    Well, James P Hogan is anti-war, but grackle doesn’t seem to like him. So I don’t know why that is, if grackle wants an anti-war backdrop for his arguments.

    I have about 3 personalities, so david might not be right that we all believe we are right.

    I never did call david or van anti-warriors, to clear the record. That’s not a rhetorical trick I use. So it isn’t perfectly opaque on this or that other side. If you don’t read every comment here throughout like a year, then you might not really understand david or van’s position. You can always go read their blog, if they have a blog.

  41. Spanky the Chaste Says:

    Harry, keep me out of your steamy locker room fantasies. Perv.

  42. Harry Mallory Says:

    david:
    “For example I would say that much of what I have argued on this site could be argued to be wrong if it was shown that the motive behind the invasion of Iraq was not the oil.

    My problem with that, is that I’m always finding myself re-arguing the same points. War for Oil, Bush selected, not elected, Valery Plame outed, etc.

    Its especially tough, when each side doubts the validity of the other side’s source of information. The press is liberal or corporate depending on your ideology or whether or not you like the story.

    There have been those lefty posters here who put up good arguments, and when I do, I listen, but I know it gets frustrating when, on a certain level the fundamental viewpoints just will not match.

    Steve and Van get labeled as “anti-warriors” which I dont know is the best description of what they are, but I know that some of their viewpoints, especially as it regards to the WOT, are so hard for me to understand, the label is all I can end up with.

    The Spanky’s are fun every now and then. They mouth off, you roll up a wet towel and smack’em one. He runs off and tells the coach, who, in turn, tells him to shape-up. Then he returns to the locker room and the whole thing starts again.

  43. Someone Else Says:

    I love that guy who just posted above me. He’s the greatest.

  44. Anonymous Says:

    The big troll here reminds me of that LAT hack who posted under other names in order to praise himself and criticize his detractors. Not much imagination there. If a comment praises the troll, it’s the troll under another name. Been there, done that, yawn.

  45. david Says:

    I think i can see why neo has put this post. But, as someone new to this blog i do think the following are worth thinking about.

    1. We all think we are right. old leftie socialists like myself and the collection of ‘reformed’ democrats who are the majority on here.

    2. We all seem to fall back on ad hominem arguments. e.g. you oppose the war therefore you are anti-american cowardly and useless.
    or You support the war and therefore are racist and eat babies etc. Read the posts. We are all at it.

    3. I don’t see abuse as such a problem because we can all see that it is a silly argument and, often, an admission of defeat. Saying that it isn’t stylish. I looked at other similar blogs before contributing to this one and found far worse.

    4. The “strawman” issue is inevitable because without contributers writing clearly outlined descriptions of their belief systems we are all ignorant of what others actually believe.

    5. None of us can be proved wrong because of point 4. We can all say that some well pointed argument aimed at us, however logical, is no good because it isn’t a critique of what we really believe.

    6. So. There are only two ways round this. Either we all outline a detailed belief system….too time consuming and dull.
    Or, when advancing an argument we suggest one or two things that if they were shown to be false would disprove the argument. A proper argument should be open to falsification.

    Hopefully this may give some focus to the debate…….well maybe.

    For example I would say that much of what I have argued on this site could be argued to be wrong if it was shown that the motive behind the invasion of Iraq was not the oil.

    This may then produce and evidence based debate, rather than the free for all name calling etc. that happens.

    There are problems with this. Not least of which is the inability of being certain of the motivations of our leading politicians….but it might be interesting if we all thought of the one thing that, if shown to be true or false, would undermine the general line of our arguments.

    …and i promise never to discuss the kung fu elves again :-)

  46. Anonymous Says:

    This has all been a ruse on the part of neo-neo. See how much time Spanky consumed by posting and reposting and double-blind reposting to a thread whose subject line was of very little interest to the average reader?

    A little misdirection went a long way. Nice work, Neo!

  47. vanderleun Says:

    I have sharp pencils in my bin as well, and I use them.

    My announced policy on comments is:

    “Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged”

    I find that editing the comments is, if a bit time consuming, a satisfying means of reversing the tone and intent of trolls and other noxious life forms.

    Plus it has the added advantage of irritating the hell out of them.

    Of course it can become far too time consuming which is why God invented the “Delete” command.

  48. Goesh Says:

    - the cussin’ and wrestlin’ room? Good idea Armchair Pessimist – venting can be healthy and I still maintain that in real life most of us would be quite civil to each other, much more so than in blogs and chat rooms. I never was much for parody in political discussions, knowing already the flaws in most of my positions and not needing some clever person to serve as a gate guard, but, to each his own. I certainly enjoy the thoughtful commentary many provide here. Ya’ got some sharp pencils in the bin, Neo…..

  49. armchair pessimist Says:

    Has something like this been invented yet? A little side room, or window, over to the side of the screen where anybody so minded can go off and duke it out? Might help keep discussions on track.

  50. Spanky the Strident Says:

    Aww, Grackle, thanks. Well, except for everything about the pro/anti-warrior crap stuff. My boss is a two-star. I don’t doubt that there really are people who are anti-military; I don’t doubt that these people are a fraction of a minority.

    Don’t conflate opposition to one military action with opposition to the military, and don’t think that support for a particular military action makes you pro-military.

    Everything else, though. Cheers!

  51. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I am particularly aggravated when a person misrepresents my position TO ME. How on earth do they think that will progress? Who’s most likely to know what my argument is? How is misrepresenting my argument to me supposed to do anything?
    I could see it if they were misrepresenting my argument to a bunch of people who’d never heard me. That would be a flat lie, but at least it might advance the liar’s point.
    What good does it do to misrepresent a person’s argument solely to people who had just heard him make it and who can easily go back and read it to see if they missed something?
    I have no patience with that, and I have no time for it.
    Hence, Spanky is now invisible.

  52. grackle Says:

    I’m going to say something that some may not like. It’s this: I hope Spanky sticks around. He’s funny, sharp & a good debater. I like his easy-to-read informal, conversational style. He might even be right sometimes about some things. Spanky is needed to keep us pro-warriors on our toes, he’s a spur to thought outside the box. If there’s a hole in a theory, he’ll find it. If there’s an assumption that’s unfounded, he’ll point it out.

    He’s certainly got me to thinking about my “cult hero” claim. Maybe I’m wrong. I expected others to jump in & cite their own examples but it didn’t happen & that should tell me something, if I’m fair minded & open to all evidence.

    Think before you lynch me. Think about how ultimately dull it is to write pro-war love notes to each other in a sterile, almost always agreeing pro-war fest. In a debate one needs stimulus from loyal & intelligent opposition. I still believe the war in Iraq is justified & there are many elements in that belief but it never hurts(for long) to have those elements subject to adversarial critique – it’s quality control. Never forget that anyone can be wrong.

    In the spirit of Neo’s post I pledge to try & keep my own comments more polite & thoughtful, to give up those zingers that are so tempting when I’m angry.

  53. TomTom Says:

    I read Spanky’s original post with interest, and still find it a worthy posting on re-reading after working my way through the susequent degraded chatter. I am congruent with our gentle host neo-neocon’s worldview, and strongly support her requests re the tone of postings. It will be a real loss if this very useful and thoughtful blog is degenerated by the intemperate.

  54. neo-neocon Says:

    ElMondoHummus:

    Excellent comments. Thanks!

    I personally feel that if people follow the two rules there will be no need to change anything else. The big question is the “if.”

  55. ElMondoHummus Says:

    I don’t want to single anyone out because I don’t want to feed the trolls, so I’ll just make a general comment:

    Neo’s right: The quality of comments used to be higher. Sure, this is a subjective judgement, but read archived posts, especially ones that are months old, and you’ll see what I mean. Folks took time to put together well thought out, structured posts, and even when they were presenting challenges, they tried to avoid resorting to clichés and stereotypes — the typical strawman arguments — that unfortunately litter the rest of the blogosphere. They may not have been successful 100% of the time, but they tried. Posters took time, were deliberate and thoughtful, and the posts reflected that.

    But now… heck, I have to include myself here, because I certainly have allowed deed to proceed thought, and started hammering out posts without thinking them through… but now, it seems as though everyone’s willing to shoot from the hip, and as any marksman would tell you, that’s a sorry way to hit a target. We seem to be ready to jump into the standard, clichéd roles of right vs. left, pro-war vs. anti-war, defend-Bush vs. criticise-Bush… everyone’s willing to state, and restate, and restate, but simply standing on one’s opinion is not defending it. And simply standing on one’s opinion and leaning on the tired, old “stupid liberal” and “evil neocon” mantras doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

    Neo’s unique abilities in the blogosphere can be attributed to the fact that, in her posts, she thinks things through, and doesn’t just lean on an argument. Many commenters compliment this by also trying the same. But too many of us don’t. We assert, we state, we declare… but we don’t argue in the classical sense of building a case point by point, with logic, with interpretations of facts, with evidence

    Lately, we haven’t been debating here, folks. We’ve only been throwing standard talking points at each other. That’s not debate, people! That’s lecturing.

    And, too many here (I do not exempt myself) forget that there’s a difference between being challenging and being combative. One’s constructive, the other is not. One a principle of honest conversation, the other’s a principle of anarchy. One forces us to think before we post and produce works we can be proud of; the other simply makes our knee’s jerk, and produces the equivalent of drive-by graffiti. Being challenging means that you’re appealing to the intellect; being combative means you’re simply trying to score points and inflict your will.

    *Sigh*… the point is, as a mini-community (the NeoNeocon’s posting community) we’re starting to fragment, and view this comment area as an place to pat ourselves on the back for our observations. Not as a place to have stimulating conversations with the goal of expanding our minds. We’re loooking on it as an arena, with all the gladiatorial connotations that this implies, and not a round table or dining room, with the polite thoughtfulness that that implies. We need to stop that.

    Neo’s presented two very sensible suggestions: Don’t use obscenities, and don’t feed the trolls. We need to follow that. And if I may be allowed to add a suggestion: We really need to think thinks through before hitting the “Publish Your Comment” box. And I really mean think it through. Count to 10, or better yet, close your browser/RSS aggregator and walk away for 5 minutes before composing something. Just don’t knee-jerk, or get all tunnel-visioned on responding to someone’s comment, but instead think of the overall thread. Our posts will improve if we do that.

    Neo: I hate to say this, but in my experience, on Usenet, the only newsgroups that didn’t descend into anarchy were the ones that were tightly moderated. It would stink to put in all that work, but unfortunately, you may have to enforce your desires through deleting posts, or, if Blogger allows it (I don’t know if it does or not) setting things up to where only approved posts get through. I hate to say it, and I’m very sorry to say it, but given the free-wheeling nature of the ‘net, you may not have any other choice.

    I do hope I’m wrong about that.

  56. Goesh Says:

    Surely we can ignore trolls and those seeking only to provoke are easily and very quickly identified about 3 sentences into their posts and can quickly be ignored and not responded to. If we don’t have this basic discipline, of what strength are our convictions?

  57. Bezuhov Says:

    “Your post was perfectly reasonable and olive-branched minded. What is it, then, about what your wrote that almost instantly led to challenging?”

    Might want to ask the Israelis how that worked out for them.

  58. Anonymous Says:

    If you think you might be a troll but don’t want to be, just limit your posts to one or two per thread. Any intelligent person can say what he wants in one or two posts. Constantly defending himself against “attacks” to the point of hijacking is a sign of paranoia or trolldom.

    Otherwise you might be an idiot hijacker troll. Hijacking a thread is bad enough when you’re determined to kill a blog, but if it’s just an accident, that’s so sad, bh. Get rid of the anons and

  59. nyomythus Says:

    Or even stronger, Command Decision. Summarily discard all insignificance to the debate. It’s your blog Neo – I’m just trying adding another angle to consider. Is this a free speech blog or a research blog?

  60. neo-neocon Says:

    nyomythus: Yes. There are a number of ways to limit comments. I just would rather leave comments open.

    My experience is that these things have a sort of life cycle. Right now there’s a cycle I don’t happen to like going on here, where things have become more personalized and less–for want of a better word–polite. As I’ve made crystal clear many times, dissent and diagreement are not only fine, they’re really the lifeblood of the genre, so it’s not that that bothers me. It’s the quality and tone and tenor of the disagreement.

    So I suggest to all that they follow my two requests.

  61. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, you can set blogger to accept comments only from registered members of blogger club. You lose good as well as bad commenters that way, but a lot of blogs have found it worthwhile for cutting down on the dlb’s.

  62. Spanky <3 SB Says:

    Oh SB, you insuferable Right wing lunatic, it’s a deal!

  63. nyomythus Says:

    Is there a way to restrict comments from “Anonymous” — allowing only “Bloggers” post?

  64. SB Says:

    Pay them no mind, Oh Spanky the Improbable. They’re just jealous…

    It’s sad that Neo felt the need to write this entry, but I can understand why she did. No matter what she’s posted about, the comments seem to veer away from the true subject and toward the old routine of left/right name-calling. I hope she doesn’t have to start restricting comments. I’ve learned a lot from reading her blogs and – after filtering out the static – from the comments.

    It’s weird how we can go to some website and get all emotional about the opinions of a bunch of random people whom we don’t know, will never meet, and who have no influence on our actual, personal, day-to-day lives. Sometimes I think we come to these things looking for trouble.

    Problem is, once this kind of crap gets started it’s hard to stop – as demonstrated by the tenor of the current “discussion.”

    Personally, I have no trouble abusing politicians, celebrities, radicals, intellectuals, full-time protesters, animal rights activists, human shields, mimes, and other public-facing denizens of Cloud-Cuckoo Land. Some of them are actually responsible for maintaining the quality of our lives, which makes their antics purely frightening. Others just distract us from serious discussion by reducing complex issues to emotion-laden slogans. Still others are just…freaks. Whoever they are and whatever their political persuasion, their speech and actions positively demand to be made sport of in public fora such as this.

    Average Joes, however, don’t really deserve that kind of treatment. They’re dealing with the same confusing issues as the nutballs – but generally they don’t use the issues as an excuse to inflict their egos on their fellow citizens.

    It would be nice if this blog were a safe place where we could just read some of Neo’s excellent writing and discuss the actual subjects of her posts from multiple viewpoints. I’m sure that’s what she had in mind when she started it. Maybe we could help her out some? All it takes is some basic online etiquette and the discipline to stay on-topic. Neo deserves that, and so do we.

    So…let’s all just agree that Spanky is a rotten pinko bastard and move on, shall we?

    (Sorry, Spanky – I couldn’t resist…;-)

  65. Spanky the Civil Says:

    In fact! If you look at the comments thread one below this I took the time to make a very serious argument and have remained civil throughout the entire discussion, despite being baited several times (I’m anti-America, I’m a coward, I love terrorists and want to appease them, etc.) Betcha haven’t read that one!

  66. Spanky the Just Says:

    Haha, you all just broke Neo’s second rule.

    Neo, you know what to do to him.

    But seriously folks, garbage in, garbage out. I have, in this comment thread, been called mentally ill.

    So I wonder, I’ve obviously been singled out, but I haven’t said anything worse than the things that have been said about me. Do they get scolded to? Do the rules get applied fairly?

  67. Sally Says:

    In this comments section, I have been called an assassin, crazy, anti-American, stupid, deranged, and pro-terrorist.

    I think he forgot “rape-lover”. Not to mention some imagined sexual acts with bin Laden.

    No, Spank’s a troll all right, with an unusual amount of time on his hands. I didn’t mind feeding him on the Euston topic because I thought it was important that we be clear about what that document is actually saying and what it isn’t. He might need an occasional swat, but as a rule I think he should just be ignored.

  68. Nikolaides Says:

    It’s sad that the instant reaction from some to Neo’s gentle request for change was more of what she was hoping to stop. The tone and quality of the comments here has degenerated badly in the past few weeks and I, for one, am very glad that Neo is trying to do something about it.

    Some of the newer commenters who don’t understand what Neo is asking for, or who profess to think that she would define a provocateur as someone who disagrees with her, might go back and read comment threads here on posts dating back a few months. That might help acquaint you with the level of discussion that once prevailed here.

    A commenter who comes to a thoughtful, well-informed person’s blog and starts quarreling rather than discussing while throwing around obscenities and insults is exactly like a guest who wades into somebody else’s living room, puts muddy boots up on the couch, and farts and belches while he calls the other guests names. They don’t belong where they are, they don’t realize that they don’t belong there, and still they manage to ruin it for everybody else.

  69. reader_iam Says:

    Oh, Neo-neocon:

    Your post was perfectly reasonable and olive-branched minded. What is it, then, about what your wrote that almost instantly led to challenging?

    The analogy that jumps instantly to my mind are the various “battles” we have with my kindergartner as we try to enforce limits for his own benefit now and, over time, for the benefit of all AND his own enlightened best interests, in the larger scheme of things.

    From where I sit, we’re sharing the same frustration, just in different arenas.

    (I really dislike that this comment, of all that I could make, is my first–or, if not, close to it; I don’t always remember these things. Regardless, here it is, and that’s how it’s worked out.

    And so it goes.)

  70. Ramona Geraldine Quimby Says:

    Oh YEAH!? Well I”m going to say a bad word…!

    Guts! GUTS GUTS GUTS!

  71. douglas Says:

    Wow, a whole post about spanky (I mean, it is, isn’t it?)

    He is doing exactly what he wanted to do. Come in to a nice polite conversation that leans too far to one side for his liking, and take it over, agitating, rope-a-doping, and most importantly, never ever quieting down- the more you respond, the more he posts. He’s loving this. If Neo also attacks him, he’ll love it even more. Perhaps we should all start agreeing with spank, and calling him pleasant names. I love you spanky, you’re a genius. I have no defense against your brillance, it is truly blinding. etc, etc…

    Ymar could probably give us more insight, he’s the minister of propaganda, and psy-ops expert around here.

  72. Anonymous Says:

    Spankey, Has it ever crossed your mind that you might be crazy?

  73. Harry Mallory Says:

    Neo, please? Please? Just one slap. Just one more! Just fer old times sake….or maybe a ‘wedgie’ even…

  74. Spanky the Obscure Says:

    Let’s see…

    In this comments section, I have been called an assassin, crazy, anti-American, stupid, deranged, and pro-terrorist. Liberals have been accused of being hysterical, rediculous, pro-lynching, and evil.

    I wonder where I get my hostility from?

  75. neo-neocon Says:

    Spanky, why so combative? Please, as they say, chill out. I have never called you a single name, as far as I know, or been disrespectful or impolite to you. I’d like the same courtesy in return. Don’t imagine that people have called you anything until they actually call you something, and things will work out a lot better.

    I’ve made it crystal clear that I don’t mind disagreements, and I quote:

    …a good argument is always fine…

    But the quality of the argument is important. In particular, personalizing an argument by name-calling, especially calling those with whom one disagrees obscenities, is something I’d prefer people not do here–whatever their political affiliation or point of view.

  76. Holmes Says:

    Spanky, I really believe it is you who flies off the handle the first time someone disagrees with you. Perhaps you’re on the defensive because you’re in “enemy” territory here and assume the worst, but it seems to be you who starts name-calling first. It devolves from there.

    Of course I’m just a lunatic right-wing who thinks liberals are all crazy anti-american zealots, so maybe I am not the best judge.

  77. Anonymous Says:

    Would it be inappropriate for me to suggest that “Spanky” report to his nearest psychiatrist for analysis?

  78. Spanky the Self-Righteous Says:

    Wait, do I count as a provocateur because I disagree with you? That’s the gist of some of these threads; I’m a troll who hates freedom and America and who is insane and stupid. Generally, I think these are the behaviors of trolls. Should I give you a list of names of your regular commenters who do this?

  79. seseHastano Says:

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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