Friday, May 26, 2006

Reconsideration

Yeah, okay, I've changed my mind. Harshness doesn't seem likely to achieve anything productive, except perhaps as a kind of tasteless entertainment. And even if some views don't merit respect, that's not a good enough reason to be mean to the person who holds them. Insulting others will merely make them more defensive (as I suppose I've been myself), and perhaps even make the pernicious view more sympathetic to fence-sitters. There's really not much to be said for it. It should be possible to make the flaws of a view clear without resorting to polemical rhetoric, and if so, that's surely a more appropriate ideal to aim for.

I agree with this much from my other post: reasoned polemic is permissible in the public sphere. It's not like intellectual dishonesty or other starkly unreasonable behaviours, which I think we have a strict obligation to avoid. But it would be a very minimalist conception of ethics which only asked what we mustn't do. I don't usually accept mere adequacy in myself, and this should be no exception. If we can make an intuitive distinction between being 'reasonable' and 'considerate', I think some of my blogging behaviour has focussed too exclusively on the former. It's acceptable, but, well... not great.

I don't think it's spilled over into real life yet (at least I hope not!), but arrogance is a bad habit and one I really shouldn't be cultivating, even online. Thinking back to comments I've recently left on other blogs, some are needlessly abrasive. Again, the points I made were perfectly reasonable ones, and I wasn't horrible or anything. But certainly less considerate than I could -- and should -- have been.

Richard Dawkins has defended his notoriously polemical style thusly:
I care about what's true, I care about evidence, I care about evidence as the reason for knowing what is true. It is true that I come across rather passionate sometimes - and that's because I am passionate about the truth.

That does sound admirable in itself. But there are other things we should also care about, our interlocuters surely among them. You know, the plutonium rule and all that. If I say something breathtakingly stupid, I'd prefer others to point it out in a nice way. Rigour and tact needn't be mutually exclusive.

So, apologies for being an ass. It's something I'll try to work on.

27 comments:

  1. I believe people like Amanda Marcotte and Brad and Gav from Sadly, No! do serve a legitimate and needed purpose in the context of societal dialectic (which is decidedly irrational, or arational, I'm not sure which). They serve to create a sense of group identity among those with certain views, views that aren't widespread enough to support forming group identities with those in close geographical proximity. Those group identities can make those who hold the views more confident in them, and more willing to demand action from their political representatives, and to inflence the public debate concerning them. As far as truth finding goes, rationality is king. But most discourse is not for the purpose of truth finding, but instead for the purpose of entertainment (on sites like Unfogged), or attracting readership (to sell advertising, in newspapers and magazines). Very few people intentionally seek out rational discourse, and if we want to influence these people, then part of the rational way to do that is to participate in some non-truth-seeking discourse.

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  2. Timothy J Scriven6:42 am, May 26, 2006

    Anyone who has followed the intelligent design debate should know exactly what you are talking about.

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  3. Wow, Richard; just when I think you've reached the limit of the extent to which you can impress me....

    Finding the happy medium here is very difficult, since it varies somewhat from case to case, and I don't think it's surprising that everyone misses the mark occasionally. (I do think there are occasions where reasoned polemic is called for, and rare occasions when even harshness is called for -- the hard part is saving them for occasions when they are called for.) I know I do. It's also part of the problem with the habits the philosophically trained pick up -- I think most of us tend to focus on 'reasonable' and have to take a deliberate step back to remember 'considerate' -- rigor tends to push out tact when you have habits that make it easy to focus on it. But I always think it's impressive when someone can step back and admit it.

    Of course, blogging is itself more complicated with regard to this because it involves juggling not only the conversation itself, but also all the purely incidental facts of life that affect one's mood, etc. Because it's informal we tend to say what's on our mind and forget that it's written and public; because it's personal we tend to throw ourselves into arguments, but since all the interaction is mediated by the computer, it's impersonal enough that we tend to forget that we are dealing with real people who can be hurt; because it's conversational we tend to forget that tone shows up differently on a computer screen than in our voice; and so forth.

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  4. I'm impressed.
    I thought it was much too soon to expect that sort of reassessment.

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  5. I think that the basic problem is that it's so easy for people to slip into warlike argumentation. In many different ways, harshness can push things towards warlike argument and away from rational inquiry. What Richard highlights here is that, even if you use harshness that is well-supported by reasoned argument, it is likely that many people will see the harshness more clearly than they see the argument, especially if the harshness can be construed as being directed at a person (even if you don't explicitly direct the harshness at anyone). To the person on the receiving end of the harshness, and to their allies, this can be taken as a declaration of war, to be met in kind (often with minimal engagement with your reasonable argument). Your allies might take it this way, too, and join in the escalation/degeneration. To onlookers who aren't attached to either side, it can be taken as a sign that you're something of an arrogant thug, which is offputting, and could lead them to be sympathetic to the other side. And, perhaps most seriously, it can drive away people who value reasonable, truth-seeking, unwarlike discussion, when those are precisely the people that you want to be attracting. Reasonable, open-minded discussion in pursuit of the truth is unfortunately rare, and if that's what you're trying to produce then you don't want it to be camouflaged in polemical rhetoric.

    Another point is that you don't want to be developing bad habits. Being open-minded, appreciating your own fallibility, and valuing truth rather than victory (or your opponent's defeat) are goals that you have to be continually working towards. Even if you try to only use harshness and polemic appropriately, supported by argument and directed at those who deserve it, there's a significant risk that you'll slip into some warlike habits which you will carry elsewhere. This is especially likely when your rhetoric puts you into many battlefield-type environments.

    This analysis is all very one-sided. I do think that polemic has a place, but for the most part, I think that that place is not at Philosophy, et cetera. And, to turn Aristotelian (or even indirect utilitarian), I think that people are more likely to err on the side of too much polemic rather than too little, which means that it's advisable to aim away from excess polemic and towards deficiency.

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  6. I think Dawkins is an excellent example since, despite his skill as a writer and popularizer his sometimes over the top polemics do his position more harm than good. (IMO)

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  7. I think this rejection of hardened polemic is good in an academic discussion between people operating in good faith.

    But, in political debate, it is certainly possible that your opponents won't be arguing in good faith (the modern American GOP).

    In that case, being civil is the equivalent (as Sean Connery says in The Untouchables) of "bringing a knife to a gunfight."

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  8. Pat,
    I think you might be treating the GOP in the same way that people on the left despise the GOP for viewing foreign countries.

    I.e. "them and us", "no point negotiating", "pre-emptive attack" "axis of evil" "as long as it takes". Maybe it is American politics that created these views.

    I think at least you could wait for them to break the rules first, and every now and then give them an opportunity to re-enter rational debate.

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  9. Of course there is a point at which you have more productive things to do with your time than argue with a person who isn't listening - in which case telling them your too busy might be the way to go.

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  10. I've given the Republican party 15 years of unrelenting maliciousness, deception, and crypto-fascism. Democratic Senators assumed that Bush was operating in good faith when it came to Iraq and what was the cost? The greatest strategic catastrophe in American history.

    No, they only understand brute political force. They want to convince me otherwise, the burden is on them.

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  11. I think he WAS, generally speaking, operating in "good faith" just he had a Scotoma the size of Texas.
    I would say it is your adverserial system, in part, that creates that. ie he is so used to completely partisan attacks that he gets out of the habit of having reasonable discussions involving critical evaluation of evidence.

    If you know the left will oppose you and the opposition party will play for votes no matter what your proposal is, then there is no new evidence added by either of these things happening.

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  12. Same effect for the left in regard to attacks from the right but there is probably more diversity (in most topics) on the left.

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  13. That's just nonsense. The Democrats spent two years after 9/11 trying to cooperate with Bush. They cooperated on the Dept of Homeland Security, on Iraq, and on tax cuts.

    Tom Daschle bent over backwards to cooperate with the Bush Administration on the GWOT and related issues. What happened? He got swift-boated, knifed in the back, and booted out of office.

    As for Iraq, Bush said he would pursue a new UN resolution, build a genuine coalition, allow the inspection regime to work, and use force as a last resort but that he needed the AUMF to negotiate.

    Senate Dems joined a vote to give him AUMF. And the President...did none of those things. He just went to war.

    I must believe that you haven't been paying attention to American politics and didn't watch the craven Democratic response to the Bush Administration for the last 6 years so that you could argue that Bush's and the GOPs tactics are the result of Democratic harshness or intransigence.

    You are still bringing a knife to a gun fight.

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  14. Maybe we get a twisted view of the US from here but the impression one gets is that you are at each others throats - even if it is "the left" vs. "Democrats and Republicans". And that the standard of your debate is low (regardless of who is debating).

    Also you don’t seem to be giving examples of "knives in a gun fight" your giving examples of the soldiers turning their guns around and shooting at their own citizens.

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  15. Anyway, do you really think you can defeat the republicans by calling them evil enough times?

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  16. It seems obvious that you don't really understand American domestic politics. You basically have a changing political dynamic where you used to have two "big tent parties" that required bipartisan cooperation in order to get things passed (this was helped by the fact that the Dems controlled the legislature while the GOP controlled the presidency (or vice versa). Now, the Delay-Rove-Bush-Cheney axis has lead to a style of governance that is more like Bristish parliamentary democracy with strict party discipline. Combine that with GOP control of all branches of the government.

    The lack of institutional checks, the gerrymandering of congressional districts, the ideology of the modern GOP have all combined to create an environment where the GOP simply doesn't respect any substantive principles of deliberative democracy.

    The Democrats have learned this the hard way over the last 5 years. Compromises made during the process are gutted during conference committee, longstanding Constitutional rules are violated, bills are passed without adequate time to debate, a culture of corruption so pervasive that the FBI had to decrease counter-terrorism activities to investigate campaign and voter fraud, and campaigns are characterized by the worst kind of ugly character assassination (one of the low points was a Democrat who was a veteran who lost 3 limbs in Vietnam being attacked as unpatriotic because he wanted government workers in the Department of Homeland Security to be unionized).

    I could go on and on, about every major issue.

    It has nothing to do with calling them "evil" (great strawman). It has everything to do with adopting a strong tone of opposition: calling lies lies, liars liars, and corrupt hacks corrupt hacks.

    This strong tone isn't to convince died in the wool Republicans. If the last 5 years can't convince these people that the GOP is a disaster, then nothing will. Rather, the tone is adopted for the sake of motivating the base and convincing moderates and independent who are turned off because they don't think that the Democrats stand for anything.

    It is almost certainly the case that the Democratic attempts at bipartisan cooperation and civility have lead worse legislation to be passed and the GOP having more power than it otherwise would have.

    P.S. As for the crack about the standards being low, Aussie and British standards don't seem all that impressively greater, but maybe you were referring to France.

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  17. You seem to be inclined to take an aggressive posture not just to GOP supporters but to people like me (who would absolutely vote democrat if I was an American).

    > And campaigns are characterized by the worst kind of ugly character assassination.

    I find it hard to believe this happens just via one side. Negitive strategies are like an arms race, you take it up a level in response to the other side doing the same.

    > It has nothing to do with calling them "evil" (great straw man).

    By evil I mean - someone you oppose as opposed to trying to understand and negotiate with (and I understand that is what you are proposing). I don’t really know any other way you could mean it, except maybe something religious.

    > Rather, the tone is adopted for the sake of motivating the base and convincing moderates.

    How is that working for you?
    As far as I can tell it lost you the last election. The moderates thought you were crazy. (And I am quite god at picking elections)

    > P.S. As for the crack about the standards being low, Aussie and British standards don't seem all that impressively greater, but maybe you were referring to France.

    No French standards are even lower (than british). I am from NZ of course.

    And you might not be impressed by it but they do seem to be better in all those countries.

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  18. And BTW even with me all the posture results in is geting me more defensive.

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  19. I haven't held any posture towards you. I have only pointed out that you don't understand American politics. And you quite clearly don't.

    Take this claim, right here:

    "How is that working for you?
    As far as I can tell it lost you the last election. The moderates thought you were crazy. (And I am quite god at picking elections)"

    Since self-identified moderates and independents went overwhelmingly for Kerry, it doesn't seem like you get it right here.

    It HAD NOTHING TO DO with Kerry being considered "crazy." That's just false, and is supported by exactly NONE of the data. Exit polling indicates that the margin of victory was primarily made up of people who did not trust Kerry to defend them from terrorist attacks. A smaller group was that also played decisive role consisted in movement social conservatives (the base) ramped up by anti-gay marriage amendments in key states (particularly Ohio). These were people who were motivated by a Bush campaign that portrayed Kerry as pro-gay etc etc. There was no negotiation there.

    This is almost certainly a result, partially, of the Bush Administration's various smears (including the Swift Boat attacks) against Kerry (you could also think of the Republican Convention keynote speaker who said that Kerry wanted to military with spitballs). Kerry failed to respond promptly with those attacks.

    So, it seems clear that you haven't closely followed most recent Presidential campaign in the US.

    And the central premise is just false. The period of greatest negotiation with the GOP extremists was 2002, which was also the scene of the Democrats greatest electoral defeat.

    And it is clear from polling data after the election that the problem with the Dems is that it isn't clear "they stand for anything" and NOT that they are "crazy."

    And this also reflects a certain degree of ignorance:

    "I find it hard to believe this happens just via one side. Negitive strategies are like an arms race, you take it up a level in response to the other side doing the same."

    If you can't see that the Kerry/Gore campaigns had a substantially different tone than the Bush campaigns, then you just aren't following American politics. Hell, you want compare electoral tampering and fraud convinctions on both sides? Do I need to point out which side has violated campaign finance laws? Which side routinely violates deliberative democratic constraints? Which side consistently operates in bad faith?

    I have provided countless examples of Republican duplicity and I can provide countless more. Your response has been "Well, I don't really know anything about it, but they can't be THAT bad and both sides must be just as bad because I say so."

    A person who thinks that Bush decided to act in bad faith because of partisan attacks against him has gotten the dynamic so backwards that I can't even... As I said, only a liberal from outside the US who hasn't been following American politics closely could possibly believe that. Which is what I said.

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  20. > Since self-identified moderates and independents went overwhelmingly for Kerry, it doesn't seem like you get it right here.

    You lost. So all that means is that too many voting democrats now identify as moderates (what does that say?).

    > It HAD NOTHING TO DO with Kerry being considered "crazy."

    Did I say that? I think we are confusing various issues here.

    >Exit polling indicates that the margin of victory was primarily...

    This sort of logic is an over simplification of psychology. besides if we belong to a club and loose an election by one vote was it my vote, or your vote?

    > The period of greatest negotiation with the GOP extremists was 2002.

    1) I am trying to move beyond any suggestion that democratic Members are the problem in general, maybe they aren't. Maybe they are doing the best job possible to cover up for the far left - or maybe they are turning on the left because deep down they are just a bunch of brutal pragmatists.

    I will accept your point, if you like, that Kerry's campaign and that of the democrat’s leadership was pretty civil. But it is the overall impression that matters. The impression that results in voting moderates ending up as voting republicans, and voting democrats becoming moderates presumably so they don’t have to associate with the far left.

    > The period of greatest negotiation with the GOP extremists was 2002, which was also the scene of the Democrats greatest electoral defeat.

    You should have destroyed the republicans in the last election - you must have looked pretty terrible to a lot of voters to have lost.

    ----

    Your obviously a partisan (no offense intended), But as per my original point I can't take what you say as anything other than only one side of the argument any more than I would take a republican to be telling me both sides of the argument.
    The same would be true for any intelligent person who discussed these matters with you.

    ---

    BTW if you don’t know you are taking a posture towards me its worse than I thought

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  21. I also suggest many people would see it this way.

    *If the democrats voted for the Iraq war to give Bush a stick but opposed war - they are either hypocritical to oppose it, or too stupid to be in parliament.*

    If you can't read mr bush how you going to fair with a genius leader from an actual real other country!

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  22. Look, you are jumping all over the place here. You don't even have a coherent position.

    You said:

    "How is that working for you?
    As far as I can tell it lost you the last election. The moderates thought you were crazy. (And I am quite god at picking elections)"

    The obvious implication here is that Kerry lost because thought he was crazy.

    I am going to simply the argument here.

    ---You have argued that the harshness of Democratic partisans is what resulted in their electoral defeat. That the harshness of the partisanship backfired on them.


    ---I proceeded to tell you that this was wrong for several reasons. Let's look back at them. Okay?
    1) Most self-identified moderates and independents voted for Kerry. So obviously, most moderates couldn't think that Kerry was crazy. (There are a lot fewer of these people than you might think)

    2) Bush won the election because he used smear campaigns and anti-gay initiatives to ratchet up his base and convince moderates in key electoral battlegrounds that Kerry was weak on national defense and propogating a radical social agenda.

    3) The reason that Bush was allowed to do this was because Kerry himself was unsuccessful in defining himself as a genuine alternative to Bushism and Kerry was too weak in responding to attacks on his character: flip-flopping, Swfit boats.

    4) The time of greatest civility and cooperation by the Democrats was the point at which they suffered their greatest electoral and legislative defeats. In 2005, when they established themselves as a genuine opposition, they delivered a series of legislative setbacks to the Republicans, the most important of which was the protection of Social Security.

    5) The GOP's behavior in the last 15 years has been characterized (since the 94 elections that brought Gingrich and company) by fraud, manipulation, the destruction of deliberative democratic institutions, and a contempt for their opponents as well as the process.

    6) The biggest long-term image problem the Dems have is that the voters tend to think of them as wishy-washy and not standing for anything (see Kerry as flip-flopper and Gore as exaggerator). People generally favor the Democratic position on policy, but they some of them vote Republican because Republicans are seen as "tough" and as "straight-shooters" and as "principled."



    Your response was twofold:

    1) Dems lost the election.
    2) I am a partisan.

    Both things are true. I will respond two fold. (1) is irrelevant. I pointed out that the electoral defeats of the Democrats is probably due to insufficient strong partisanship and not because of a lack.

    (2) is merely an ad hominem. You are saying I can't be trusted because I have a political viewpoint. Do you provide any evidence that I am wrong? Any argument? No. I am a strong partisan, therefore I am wrong.

    That is a weak argument. I was not always a strong partisan. I am a partiasn now because the facts are partisan. There are not always too equal and opposite side to an issue. You have an argument to make? Counter-evidence to provide? If so, do it. If not, stop wasting our time.

    I guess I can only conclude that you yourself are arguing in bad faith. Which is an odd thing for a person who thinks that civility should be treasured to do.

    ____________________________________

    " also suggest many people would see it this way.

    *If the democrats voted for the Iraq war to give Bush a stick but opposed war - they are either hypocritical to oppose it, or too stupid to be in parliament.*

    If you can't read mr bush how you going to fair with a genius leader from an actual real other country!"


    I love it! You think that the Democrats should negotiate with Bush and they are too stupid to be in "Parliament"[sic] if they do so! So, your own position points you to doing something that you think is really dumb. Great.

    That's precisely my point. The Democrats were wrong to negotiate. In fact, they were wrong to even think that Bush was someone that they COULD negotiate with in good faith. Thanks for backing me up.


    How is it hypocritical to oppose a war that is fought under conditions that you never supported?

    If I say, you are only justified in fighting a war if X, Y, Z are met, then you fight a war where none of those conditions are met, leading me to oppose it. That is not hypocritical. This isn't all that hard.

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  23. It seems you are having a bit of difficulty understanding my position.

    >The obvious implication here is that Kerry lost because thought he was crazy.

    I did not mean "Kerry" when I said "you".

    > (1) is irrelevant.

    This is twisted by the fact that you are talking about democratic senators and I am not.

    And the current strategy isn’t working because if the strategy was "to win if the republicans don’t try" then it isn't much of a strategy.
    You of course would say they didn’t fight hard enough which is a potentially valid position - but apparently the Democratic Party thinks you are wrong since they elected Kerry over Dean and will probably elect Hillary next time.

    > (2) is merely an ad hominem.

    No I don’t mean it that way - I stated what the implication was, you seem to have ignored that. Ways out of this are for you to cite neutral sources etc.

    > I love it! You think that the Democrats should negotiate with Bush

    No don’t. You have confused two things.

    1) being civil and realizing that they are rational people with rational motives
    2) Realizing that those motives are counter to your motives.
    I personally think 1 actually helps you get your way.

    > How is it hypocritical to oppose a war that is fought under conditions that you never supported?

    You are responsible for the predictable consequences of your own actions. Are you saying they were not predictable?

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  24. I have worked in the quasi-law enforcement field for 13 years, and I have learned the need for argumentative adaptability. When I am standing in a burned out, crack infested neighborhood, tactful articulation will get me killed. It is not the same tone or demeanor that I would take with the wait staff at a restaurant. It is not the meaning of the words, per se; it is the intent. A lyric diatribe can be just as cutting as a terse tongue-lashing.
    The Writhing Of Something Nailed Down In Torment

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  25. I’ve found careful appropriately targeted conversation allowed me to avoid ever being in a physical fight that I didn't want. Still, I am happy you are the quasi-law enforcement person and not me - I’m sure your much better at it.

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  26. I am having a difficult time understanding your position because you don't clearly articulate.

    "I did not mean "Kerry" when I said "you".

    So presumably you mean Democratic partisans. But I have already pointed out that moderates did not vote for Bush because they thought the Democratic base is crazy. Kerry was the standard bearer for the campaign. All of my arguments apply to Democrats as to Kerry. Kerry was an example.

    So, still no evidence for your thesis.
    ______________________________________

    You say:
    "And the current strategy isn’t working because if the strategy was "to win if the republicans don’t try" then it isn't much of a strategy.
    You of course would say they didn’t fight hard enough which is a potentially valid position - but apparently the Democratic Party thinks you are wrong since they elected Kerry over Dean and will probably elect Hillary next time."

    This makes precisely zero sense. I am not sure these sentences represent coherent thoughts.

    My position is about the usefulness of being harsh and strongly opposed to those not operating in good faith. Sometimes presenting a strong and uncompromising front is necessary. I am using examples that further my position.

    Couple things:
    1) Dems elected Kerry, and HE LOST!
    2) Dean is now the head of the Democratic Party (chairman of the DNC).
    3) I don't say anything about what the Republicans try or not try. I said that the Democrats electoral and legislative defeats over the last 5=6 years are at least partially caused by incorrect strategy of accomodation and negotiation with a GOP that is singularly unwilling operate in good faith.
    4) Maybe they will elect Hillary or not elect Hillary (it is far from a mortal lock right now). That's irrelevant.
    You are confusing being a moderate on the issues and being a partisan in tone. One can be a moderate on policy positions yet think that one must be partisan in one's political tactics.
    ___________________________________

    Do you want me to footnote my posts? What counts as a neutral source? Exit polling data? Electoral fraud convictions? Corruption inquiries? Every constitional law scholar in the country?

    Tell me what evidence I need to provide and I will.

    Again, this is just an ad hominem. I have provided a series of arguments and evidence that counters the claim that Democrats were and are too harsh, suggesting strongly that they should be much more partisan and fierce in their opposition.

    Your response has been "You are a partisan, you can't possibly be right." Have you engaged any of the evidence or the argument? No.

    _______________________________________

    You say:
    "1) being civil and realizing that they are rational people with rational motives
    2) Realizing that those motives are counter to your motives.
    I personally think 1 actually helps you get your way."

    First of all, what do you mean by rational? One can be rational and not negotiate in good faith, lying and cheating to get what one wants.

    But I agree that being civil and accomodationist, seeking good fatih agreement and consensus, is the way to go. MOST OF THE TIME.

    My suggestion is that, looking at the modern GOP, seeing their behavior and realizing their goals (that are counter to mine), it is the case that they are not seeking good faith negotiation and consensus. They seek to impose their agenda through brute political strength. Negotiation with such people is pointless, and it only leads to political defeat.

    Why on earth should I engage in a strategy that will lead to my defeat in the name of getting what I want done done?
    _______________________________________

    Let me get this straight about the AUMF.

    Senate Dems says that Bush can only go to war if X Y and Z.

    Bush says: I will do X Y and Z.

    Bush doesn't do X Y and Z.

    Therefore, Senate Dems are hypocritical* because they SHOULD HAVE FORESEEN BUSH'S MENDACITY.

    Isn't the correct conclusion from this line of reasoning that the Senate Dems were WRONG to think that Bush was someone they could negotiate with in good faith. Didn't they make a mistake by following your prescription to not be partisan?

    * It clearly isn't hypocrisy if they thought the war was a good idea then, but not now and they oppose it now. In fact, it would be really stupid to continue to support a war you now think is a bad idea simply because you supported it in the past.

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  27. Ill try to represent the issue I guess

    This is a random example of pretty bad strategy/debate
    http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040402-025421-2416r.htm
    I’m sure there are tons more of these I think I can remember a whole (basically neutral) website devoted to this sort of complaint about the level of debate.

    In places many of the recent elections I have noticed the loosing leader making a huge fuss about something that the far left (or right) cares about but are just not things that change voting decisions or that are vote losers. I suggest the members loose the plot because they are too worked up fighting (in terms of the public front). They also alienate midle voters and motivate their opposition.

    > But I have already pointed out that moderates did not vote for Bush .

    My point, again, is that since you won the elections under Clinton, and won the moderates, it would appear since then you have converted democrats into moderates and moderates into republicans OR you got non voters to vote republican - either way you have a problem. Do you have another explination?

    > 2) Dean is now the head of the Democratic Party (chairman of the DNC).

    I don't think that is addressing the point I raised. Presumably one picks one's candidate to win an election - one picks one's chairman for other reasons (maybe his political connections?).

    > One can be a moderate on policy positions yet think that one must be partisan in one's political tactics.

    I think you are annoyed at a "straw man" here. I don't think democrats should lie down and take it.

    > Do you want me to footnote my posts?
    > Again, this is just an ad hominem.

    Aren't you an academic? Maybe I’m getting confused.

    > Your response has been "You are a partisan, you can't possibly be right."

    You are engaging in what Richard or a more hostile debater would call "blatant intellectual dishonesty" I.e. clearly misrepresenting my position and attributing it to me. However I would look for a reason and instead say that you really did read what I said as saying that because of the way you are invested in the argument.

    > One can be rational and not negotiate in good faith, lying and cheating to get what one wants.

    Good faith is a nice thing to have in a debate, so is civility, as is rational debate.

    > But I agree that being civil and accomodationist, seeking good faith agreement and consensus, is the way to go. MOST OF THE TIME.

    I’ll take any agreement I can get at this stage!

    > Didn't they make a mistake by following your prescription to not be partisan?

    Being partisan prevents you from understanding the other side. Not understanding them prevents you from winning. This is part of the reason why bush is in so much trouble with Iraq Al Quaeda etc he doesn’t understand his enemy (or the Iraqi people etc), he is a faith based planner not a pragmatist.
    Understanding someone, talking nicely to them and respecting their opinion doesn't mean you can’t shoot them in the head if absolutely necessary.

    Also Osama is just another example of the effect of partisanship. He has been shaped by what many people say about the USA (Although largely a dynamic in his own country).

    I know some (very powerful) Chinese businessmen who feel the same way. Basically that the USA is guilty of everything the partisans accuse it of (some of which are half true and some of which are totally untrue) and as such China needs to utilize "appropriate strategies" - making me wonder how high up the attitude goes (and what effect it will have when they are much stronger than you are).

    > It clearly isn't hypocrisy if they thought the war was a good idea then, but not now and they oppose it now.

    The AUMO was for a specific president as opposed to a theoretical document that is pretty fundamental to it's nature. It is a bit like authorizing police to do things without warrants. It is no problem, if they only ever act as you want them to (and they will probably act with good intentions too).

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