Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BLOGS AND THE MEDIA....Jonah Goldberg makes a point about blogs and the media that I think is exactly correct:

I've toiled in the cyber-fields for close to a decade now (I was the founding editor of National Review Online), and what fascinates me is how the Internet is allowing the nation to return to its historical relationship with the media, not how it's changing everything.

In the 19th century, newspapers played a different role from the one we think they're "supposed" to play....American newspapers were never as unapologetically and uniformly partisan as European ones were (and still are), but they were still mostly creatures of specific political biases. There were Republican and Democratic newspapers, populist and communist newspapers, union and anti-union newspapers. These publications served as vehicles for partisan education and crusading personalities, in much the same way leading blogs do today.

Take another look at the most flagrantly partisan websites today: the liberal Daily Kos and its conservative doppelganger, Red State. What you see are media outlets trying to serve the same function as newspapers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Yes, blogs are often shrill, boisterous, and unapologetically partisan. But that's a good thing. People who prefer reading to listening or watching haven't really had a rabble-rousing mass medium at their disposal for a long time, and blogs are a chance to recreate a part of Americana that we've sorely missed for the past half century. Hooray for us!

(On the other hand, Jonah's contention that "the 'problems' of the human condition are permanent" and therefore, presumably, barely worth trying to improve in any deep rooted way is quite another thing. It's why I'm not a conservative, and it's why, in the end, conservatives rarely have any long term positive impact on politics. After all, if you don't really believe that the problems of the human condition are addressable in any meaningful way, what's the point?)

Kevin Drum 12:27 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (95)

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Comments

God will show us the way

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on June 22, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

KD: After all, if you don't really believe that the problems of the human condition are addressable in any meaningful way, what's the point?

Conservative: He who dies with the most toys wins.

Liberal: He who plays with the most toys wins.

Posted by: tripoley on June 22, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

The point, for Conservatives, is to use politics to enrich yourself and to preserve wealth if you've already got it.

Posted by: bink from daily kos on June 22, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Errrr.... I don't read Goldberg, so I don't know. But does he often contradict himself within two sentences, like this:

... American newspapers were never as unapologetically and uniformly partisan as European ones were (and still are), but they were still mostly creatures of specific political biases. There were Republican and Democratic newspapers, populist and communist newspapers...

If so, no wonder Towson alumni laugh at Goucher grads.

In other news, today Davey Broder discusses how he "scanned" some of the despicable blogs, and found them distressingly full of attacks against our leader, and lacking any pleasing bipartisan solutions. It's enough to give a guy the vapors....

Posted by: sglover on June 22, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Same reason it always confused me why conservatives ran for office (and why anyone would vote for them). If you think government is powerful but it can't do any good, what are you going to do with the power of government? Clearly, nothing good...

Posted by: theorajones on June 22, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody offer a Democratic Party credit card?

Posted by: gar on June 22, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Honesty demands that agendae be overt. Faux "respectability" is merely a way to lie.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on June 22, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK
Anybody offer a Democratic Party credit card?

Yes.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

The newspaper in my city holds a monopoly on civic opinion, which it uses to advance the interests of the wealthy and Republicans in particular. I believe the newspaper Mr. Goldberg writes for has similar power in LA, so it seems like a LIE to say newspapers are not politically partisan.

Re: the "problems of the human condition are permanent," I did not know Jonhah Goldberg was a Spanish priest in Mexico in the 1700's.

Posted by: Hostile on June 22, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but since the "human condition" is intractable, including inherent inequality, then government should just get out of the way so the strong, smart and unscrupulous can just exploit everyone else and get filthy rich, and there really isn't much for government to do but foreign affairs and defense. And how hard can that be?

Posted by: Mimikatz on June 22, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin diminishes himself by paying attention to what an idiot says.

Posted by: nut on June 22, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldberg makes a point about blogs and the media that I think is exactly correct:

A sentence that begins with "Jonah Goldberg makes a point" should never, as a general rule, end with "is absolutely correct." And yet, there is some sense in what he says regarding how blogs resemble 19th century media....

Is it my imagination or did the skies outside just darken?

Posted by: Stefan on June 22, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK


Jonah Goldberg got something right rather than simply far right? I remember looking at an inventory of Minnesota newspapers from the late 19th C. and among the descriptive columns, along with circulation and location, was political orientation including one from the Iron Range that listed its political orientation as simply "red hot."

Posted by: john s. on June 22, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin "presumes" something that Goldberg did not say and certainly cannot be fairly presumed from what he did say -- that "problems" of the human condition are not worth trying to improve. Pretty bizarre approach by Kevin.

I think the long term effect of the blogs will be to change the MSM either into accepted partisan publications again or truly objective publications. For example, the image of objectivity at the NY Times is justifiably a wreck, largely because of the blogs. The Times at some point will need to decide on whether to concede liberal bias (unlikely, but perhaps unnecessary as its reputation continues to fall) or restructure to seek genuine and transparent objectivity/full disclosure. I think long term newspaper reporters will disclose their political leanings as part of a full disclosure approach to readers.

Posted by: brian on June 22, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus said: The poor will be with us always.

Posted by: TreeTop on June 22, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

What's bizarre about Kevin's assertion? The conservative pose of optimism hides a deep-seated pessimism that is connected with their almost hysterical Old Testament impulses -- a punitive nature, you could say, masquerading as righteousness. And that fucking Ronald Reagan gave them a smile face to paste over it, like a plastic daisy decal on a bathtub full of fetid water.

Posted by: Kenji on June 22, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Is it my imagination or did the skies outside just darken?

USA just lost to Ghana. F...ing Ghana!

Posted by: nut on June 22, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

American newspapers were never as unapologetically and uniformly partisan as European ones were...

I've got to disagree with that point. Up until midway through the 20th century, newspapers were fiercely partisan. When newspapers started to die out, the ones remaining moved to the middle to attract more readers.

But I agree on his point about blogger partisanship. I've never understood the problem with blogger partisanship. When I visit Wash Monthly, or Atrios, or Kos, I know they provide a liberal point of view, that's why I go there. I know to take some things with a grain of salt, but I think we ought to give readers the benefit of the doubt here, most of us are at least a little savvy.

Goldberg's point about the human condition is idiotic. From a larger context, yeah, I guess poverty, racism, sexism, etc will always be with us, but does that mean you do nothing to try to improve it? What a shitty, fatalistic viewpoint.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 22, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

After all, if you don't really believe that the problems of the human condition are addressable in any meaningful way, what's the point?

The point then becomes to transfer as much wealth as possible to you and your friends. After all, the world's going to hell anyway, right?

Posted by: craigie on June 22, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, Jonah's contention that "the 'problems' of the human condition are permanent" and therefore presumably not worth trying to improve is quite another thing. It's why I'm not a conservative, and it's why, in the end, conservatives rarely have any long term positive impact on politics.

I think the worldwide decline of socialism and the continuing rise of market-oriented economic policy is a rather clear example of a huge long-term positive impact of conservatives on politics.

And I seriously doubt that Goldberg believes that human societies are not worth trying to improve. His statement about the permanence of problems in the human condition reflects a somewhat tragic view of human nature that is echoed by some on the left, notably Peter Singer. The idea is not that it is impossible to improve human society, but that there are serious limits to our ability to do this. Singer summarizes this view in his book A Darwinian Left, in which he says:

"A Darwinian left would not:
Deny the existence of a human nature, nor insist that human nature is inherently good, nor that it is infinitely malleable;
Expect to end all conflict and strife between human beings, whether by political revolution, social change, or better education;
Assume that all inequalities are due to discrimination, prejudice, oppression or social conditioning. Some will be, but this cannot be assumed in every case;"

Posted by: GOP on June 22, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

brian: The Times at some point will need to decide on whether to concede liberal bias (unlikely, but perhaps unnecessary as its reputation continues to fall) or restructure to seek genuine and transparent objectivity/full disclosure.

Just out of curiousity how are you defining "liberal" as it applies to the Times? Personally I find them a bit schizophrenic: they certainly weren't being particularly "liberal" during the run-up to the Iraq invasion. But obviously they aren't a consistently "conservative" newspaper.

Posted by: cyntax on June 22, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

As Singer manages six strawmen (presuming that he intends to contrast his "Darwinian Left" with the actually existing Left) in only three bullet points, its unsurprising that GOP quotes him, here.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, I don't get your point. I look at your long list of wealthy Democrats and I see people who've voted -- just to cite two iconic issues -- to raise the minimum wage, but against repealing the estate tax. The poster's complaint was not against wealth, but against wealthy folk who do everything in their power to gild their wealth while preventing others from acquiring any.

Why do I seriously doubt you were ever a liberal?

Posted by: demtom on June 22, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Re Doughy Pantload, as my revered Civil Procedure used to say, "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day!"

Posted by: brewmn on June 22, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

As Singer manages six strawmen...

Great. So you agree with Goldberg and Singer about the permanence of problems in the human condition. Now if you can just persuade Kevin....

Posted by: GOP on June 22, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

"The point, for conservatives, is to use politics to enrich yourself and to preserve wealth if you've already got it." You mean like the billionaire Democrat John Kerry? Or like Democrat Diane Feinstein? Or Democrat Barbara Boxer? Or Dem. Jon Corzine? Or Dem. Maria Cantwell? Or the Dem. Kennedys? Or the Dem. Clintons who were poor when they started in politics? Or Dem. Congressman Pete Stark of California? Or Dem. Herb Kohl? Or Dem. Jay Rockefeller? Or Dem. Phil Angelides"

I can't speak for all of them, but the main difference I see between the Democrats you listed and the typical Republican lawmaker is that the Democrat became rich BEFORE they ran for public office.

Plus there is nothing inconsistent with being wealthy and thinking that government can be an agent for positive social change, you stupid troll.

Posted by: brewmn on June 22, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: Is it my imagination or did the skies outside just darken?

Not your imagination; your post was followed by a veritable plethora of winger trolls spouting the usual nonsense. I can see where one might confuse them for frogs.

Posted by: S Ra on June 22, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I think long term newspaper reporters will disclose their political leanings as part of a full disclosure approach to readers.
Posted by: brian

That's absurd. Why? What if a reporter has no political affiliation? What if he lies to get a good gig? If a reporter is openly partisan, it becomes apparent pretty quickly. If you don't trust the source, look for other news services to see how they cover the same story.

It is amazing to me how rightards continue to push this "liberal bias" myth, even after the "liberal" Times and WaPo continually hammered at Clinton for transgressions that never occurred. Yet these same flagships (one of whic, WaPo, endorsed GOP prez candidates in 3 of the last 4 election cycles) give Bush a free pass when WMD's aren't found (but we wanted to free Iraq from tyranny!), when a memo condoning torture is found, when illegal wiretaps obliterate the 4th ammendment...

Heh.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 22, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

TreeTop: Yes, Jesus said the poor will always be with us, but he also said you're going to hell if you don't try to do something about it.

Posted by: Fog on June 22, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

The ideo of permanence of the human condition is patently false to anyone except those who believe that the material world is an illusion. I am sure that Jonah Lucianne wouldn't want to align himself with the Hindus' well developed concepts on the subject.

Posted by: nut on June 22, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg never said "do nothing" to improve the human condition - just accepting the REALITIES of the human condition, that's all.
Posted by: Cheney

You're partly right. After re-reading it, I realized he was referring more to how humans use (or misuse) technology, but he certainly went further than "accepting the realities of the human condition". Unless you agree that all human conditions are permanent. If so, why do anything about them?

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 22, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Walt Whitman wrote for the Brooklyn Eagle, a fairly horrifying Copperhead newspaper.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 22, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK
So you agree with Goldberg and Singer about the permanence of problems in the human condition.

Pointing out that Singer is grossly misrepresenting the views of the mainstream left is not the same thing as agreeing with either Singer's point, your claim that Goldberg is ultimately saying the same thing as Singer, or Goldberg's point.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

nut,

The ideo of permanence of the human condition is patently false...

So Jesus was wrong about this too?

Posted by: GOP on June 22, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

>After all, if you don't really believe that the
> problems of the human condition are addressable
> in any meaningful way, what's the point?

To keep others from "solving" what conservatives see as false problems.

Posted by: goethean on June 22, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Pointing out that Singer is grossly misrepresenting the views of the mainstream left

Since he wasn't claiming to be representing the views of the "mainstream" left, he could hardly have been misrepresenting them.

is not the same thing as agreeing with either Singer's point,

Well, if you don't agree with Singer's point, that point cannot be a "strawman," can it? Make up your mind.

Posted by: GOP on June 22, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

The problems of Jonah Goldberg's condition are permanent.

Once a pantload, always a pantload.

On the other hand, Goldberg's not human, so he's not qualified to comment on the human condition.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on June 22, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK
So Jesus was wrong about this too?

Whether Jesus was "wrong", or whether you are just misinterpreting what he said, the human condition is clearly changeable; furthermore, insofar as "human nature" is largely a composite of biology and environment, and both of those are alterable, human nature is also malleable (though there are quite sharp limits on our present ability to do that, do to limits of our knowledge, and its unknowable how much ability we may in the future gain in this regard.)

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK
Since he wasn't claiming to be representing the views of the "mainstream" left, he could hardly have been misrepresenting them.

Look, I'm not going to repeat the caveats from upthread (see my 1:05pm post, in this case) in every post, I'm going to assume you've read the posts you are responding to; if you can't follow the conversation, feel free to drop out.

Well, if you don't agree with Singer's point, that point cannot be a "strawman," can it?

The contrast Singer attempts to draw can be a strawman without me agreeing with his point, and, more importantly, I can agree with his point without agreeing with your characterization of Goldberg's claim as being identical to Singers, and therefore without agreeing with Goldberg.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK
To keep others from "solving" what conservatives see as false problems.

Because if other people solved them, that would reveal that they were real and soluble problems, not intractable elements of the human condition, and that the conservative worldview was wrong.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

So Jesus was wrong about this too?

I have no idea.

As I said, the concept of permanence of human of human condition can be right only in an extra-material or trans-material world, and, thus, is a quesion of belief, and, therefore, not subject to any rational argument.

Posted by: nut on June 22, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Whether Jesus was "wrong", or whether you are just misinterpreting what he said,

So what's your "interpretation" of "The poor will always be with us?" The poor will not always be with us?

the human condition is clearly changeable;

Some aspects of the human condition are changeable.

furthermore, insofar as "human nature" is largely a composite of biology and environment,

Human nature is entirely a composite of environment and biology. What else is there?

and both of those are alterable, human nature is also malleable

We might one day know how to change the aspects of human nature that Singer is talking about (competitiveness, aggression, the desire for status and wealth, differences between the sexes, and so on) through genetic engineering, but that doesn't mean we would want to do so, and it would raise the question of whether the nature of such a reengineered human being would be "human nature," or some other kind of nature.

Posted by: GOP on June 22, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Look, I'm not going to repeat the caveats from upthread ...

You don't have to. As I said, since Singer wasn't claiming to be representing the views of the "mainstream" left, he could hardly have been misrepresenting them.

The contrast Singer attempts to draw can be a strawman without me agreeing with his point,

Singer's "point" cannot be a strawman if you disagree with it. Do you even know what "strawman" means?

I can agree with his point without agreeing with your characterization of Goldberg's claim as being identical to Singers,

I didn't claim they were "identical."

Posted by: GOP on June 22, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Is it my imagination or did the skies outside just darken?

USA just lost to Ghana. F...ing Ghana!

Yes, and in news of real sport, Raleigh, North Carolina is now home of the Stanley Cup.

Redneck Hockey Supremecy!

Oh, and some billionaire who owns some team in Texas had a hissy-fit earlier this week, but as any true basketball fan will tell you, basketball season ends in April.

One more time for my culturally superior countrymen north of the Mason-Dixon and beyond:

Redneck Hockey Supremecy!

Posted by: We got your cup on June 22, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

AH, come on...conservatives don't believe "the problems of the human condition aren't addressable"...they just don't give a damn...they're of the "I've got mine"...now "...try to get yours!" mentality. And if they're evangelical wingnuts they think it doesn't matter cause they'll all be raptured up to the pearly gates. Course I'd love to listen in to the conversation when they're asked about keeping ALL THE COMMANDMENTS (you know like not bearing false witness and coveting thy neighbor's...you get the idea!)....

Posted by: Dancer on June 22, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK
So what's your "interpretation" of "The poor will always be with us?" The poor will not always be with us?

Well, first, its a misquote, not merely a misinterpretation, since the actual quote in every translation of the Bible I can find is some variant "the poor will always be with you"; second, the idea that that is intended to refer to a permanent part of the human condition, rather than the fact that, to his direct audience, the poor would always be around while they had limited time with Jesus himself, or even more likely as simply a rebuke of Judas Iscariot's feigned concern for the poor, is, well, questionable given the context:

(John 12:1-8, NAB)

  1. Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
  2. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.

  3. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

  4. Then Judas the Iscariot, one (of) his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,

  5. "Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?"

  6. He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.

  7. So Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.

  8. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Blogs like KOS and REDSTATE are more like indie campaign operations than journalistic enterprises. Kind of crowdsourcing in the campaign arena. The fact they are not candidate-specific (until election time) and are capable of turning on candidates just illustrates the new mode of campaigning is as net-nimble (fickle?) as the rest of online society. Calling them roaring 1890's throwbacks misses what they are in today's context.

Posted by: DS on June 22, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK
Singer's "point" cannot be a strawman if you disagree with it.

I never said Singers point was a strawman -- that, itself, is a strawman. Singer's apparent point is that there should be, but is not, a "Left" that agrees with a bunch of points he makes. (Not "A Darwinian left would..." not "The Darwinian left does...")

What I've called a strawman is the implicit contrast drawn with the actual left, since most of the actual left agrees with each of those points as written.

Whether or not I personally agree with each of them is irrelevant to whether the implicit contrast is a strawman.

I didn't claim they were "identical."

The characterization was implicit in your (otherwise unwarranted) inference that I agreed with Goldberg from the (false) premise that I agreed with Singer.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Where I said "(false)" above in regard to the premise that I agree with Singer, I only meant to say that that premise too was, as I have an pointed out before, an unwarranted conclusion from my characterization of Singer's various implied contrasts as strawmen, not to claim that I disagree with Singer's "point" that there is a need for a left which agrees with the various positions that he states, all of which are common positions on the left.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldburg went to an all women's college and he still couldn't get laid. What a loser.

Posted by: noplay on June 22, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

jeez, I came over here because i heard this was one of the few liberal blogs where there was an intelligent comments section, unlike the 12 yr olds and their left-wing circle jerk over at John Cole's, or the dipshits at Atrios.

Thanks for proving them wrong.

Posted by: Jeff on June 22, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

...and it's why, in the end, conservatives rarely have any long term positive impact on politics.

This is just plain wrong. Conservative reforms tend to outlast radical reforms. Compare the Jeffersonian v Hamiltonian reforms, or the American Government after independence with the post French Revolutionary regime. The men behind the American Revolution and the Hamiltonian Federalists had the same outlook on human nature as Goldberg is expressing in this column. Benjamin Disraeli is another counterexample.

The point Goldberg is making that our desires mean we'll always have strife and dissatisfaction. Look at poverty. Poor people in America would be considered rich by the standards of 1900, yet we still talk about poverty. Why? Because inequality still exists, and it will still exist one hundred years from now. This is a permanent fact of the human condition.

The biggest flaw in Goldberg's philosophy is not his recognizing this reality, but his obtuse refusal to apply it to his utopian foreign policy, which pretends we can democratize the world at the point of a gun.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 22, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

This is just plain wrong. Conservative reforms tend to outlast radical reforms. Compare the Jeffersonian v Hamiltonian reforms, or the American Government after independence with the post French Revolutionary regime. The men behind the American Revolution and the Hamiltonian Federalists had the same outlook on human nature as Goldberg is expressing in this column. Benjamin Disraeli is another counterexample.

Without delving into the conservative view of human nature, weren't the real conservatives of Hamilton and Jefferson's time the vanquished and/or lately departed Tories?

Posted by: sglover on June 22, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff: And yet, with comments like that one, an intelligent comments section wouldn't have you.

Ironic, n'est pas?

Posted by: S Ra on June 22, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Derek Cupold, I hate to break it to you, but the Founding Fathers were actual, literal revolutionaries. The conservatives of the time were, as sglover points out, monarchists.

And the monarchists struck back after Napoleon, and kept the reins, in Europe at least, for most of the century. But where are they now?

Posted by: S Ra on June 22, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, 'Copold'. My apologies.

Posted by: S Ra on June 22, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"the 'problems' of the human condition are permanent"

So is arthritis, but we don't stop making pain relievers, right?

So is falling down, and scraping out knees, but we still tand back up on our two feet, right?

The whole idea that we should throw up our hands and stop trying because some amount of trouble will be with is failure via not trying.

And we didn't get anywhere in the world by not trying.

Posted by: Crissa on June 22, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, Kevin.

Posted by: JJ on June 22, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah Goldburg went to an all women's college and he still couldn't get laid. What a loser.

Jonah got all the affection he needed at home.

Posted by: Lucianne Goldberg on June 22, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

So, was Washington Monthly in on the Kos Pay-for-Play deal?

Is it now ignoring the Ko$ Payola story now as part of a pact to protect Chariman Markos?

Posted by: Blue Dave on June 22, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

if you don't really believe that the problems of the human condition are addressable in any meaningful way, what's the point?

Further enriching your friends and more deeply entrenching your class in power.

Posted by: Nell on June 22, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Does Kos really think he can cover up the Townhouse Agreement? In the age of the internet?

"My request to you guys is that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story."

-- Chairman Markos

Did he really think he could get away with such blatant corruption?

Posted by: Blue Dave on June 22, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Without delving into the conservative view of human nature, weren't the real conservatives of Hamilton and Jefferson's time the vanquished and/or lately departed Tories?

Once you set aside loyalty to the Crown, what real difference in philosophy was there between someone like Washington or John Adams and the Tories? That's why you can't glibly brush aside the "conservative view of human nature." In fact, the Federalists wound up favoring England, while the Jeffersonian Democrats favored France, so they turned out to have something of the Tory themselves.

The conservatives of the time were, as sglover points out, monarchists.

In what sense? George III was hardly an absolute monarch. In fact, the Constitution created a President just about as powerful as the English king was at the time (and far more powerful now). It also copied the bicameral legislature.

And the monarchists struck back after Napoleon, and kept the reins, in Europe at least, for most of the century. But where are they now?

You're totemizing forms of government. You can have liberal monarchies and conservative republics. Many of the European reforms you're pointing to were established and consolidated under center-right parties. In fact, the current French government is the creation of men like Charles de Gaulle, who was hardly a radical.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 22, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kos to Kevin Drum: "Jump!"
Kevin Drum: "How high"

Posted by: BlaBlaBla on June 22, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kos to Kevin Drum: "Jump!"
Kevin Drum: "How high? And would you like a hand job, sir?"

Posted by: Former Kos Reader on June 22, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Once you set aside loyalty to the Crown, what real difference in philosophy was there between someone like Washington or John Adams and the Tories? That's why you can't glibly brush aside the "conservative view of human nature." In fact, the Federalists wound up favoring England, while the Jeffersonian Democrats favored France, so they turned out to have something of the Tory themselves.

Well, I didn't mean to "glibly brush aside the 'conservative view of human nature.'" I just didn't want to veer off in that direction. For what it's worth, my understanding (such as it is) of what many genuine conservatives have to say about human behavior leads to admire them very much. I suspect we'd both agree that 1) the political structures established by the Founders were designed to check and mitigate the worst forms of human excess, that 2) they were very shrewd to do so, and that 3) they were in many ways quite successful. Gotta say, though, that what passes for "conservatism" nowadays is a long, long way from that kind of practical wisdom.

I don't know enough about Tory ideology to do more than guess, and I think it's likely that most people who called themselves such were more invested in the status quo than any particular social outlook. Even so, I suspect that many of them might have:
-- been favorably inclined toward an aristocracy;
-- thought that chattel slavery was the natural order of things;
-- considered land the only true measure of wealth and social standing.

And then there's that whole notion of government by dynasty, which is kind of a biggie.

Sure, similar notions were spread among the revolutionists, too. But I'm guessing that your average revolutionist didn't hold all of them with the same fervor. One could say much the same about liberal/conservative differences today.

Posted by: sglover on June 22, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hey wait a sec:

In fact, the Constitution created a President just about as powerful as the English king was at the time (and far more powerful now). It also copied the bicameral legislature.

I thought the bicameral legislature was intended to represent both popular will on the one hand, and the states as kinda-sorta independent entities on the other -- rather different from the Lords/Commons division in Parliament. Also, by setting up a separate executive branch, they went out of their way to make sure the Congress would be quite different from the English Parliament -- their biggest error, if you ask me.

Posted by: sglover on June 22, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

American newspapers were never as unapologetically and uniformly partisan as European ones were (and still are), but they were still mostly creatures of specific political biases.

Forget American newspapers.
American newspapers are in love with "he said, she said". They dont dare calling any American politican a liar unless they can quote some opponent. Even if shes totally insane.

European newspapers certainly are more "partisan".
Theyre not afraid to tell their readers that a politician is insane (or a liar).

Just look at the difference between the Wall Street Journal editorials and any serious European newspaper.

Posted by: Detlef on June 22, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Gotta say, though, that what passes for "conservatism" nowadays is a long, long way from that kind of practical wisdom.

On this we agree.

And then there's that whole notion of government by dynasty, which is kind of a biggie.

But that really wasn't the issue between England and the Colonies. As I said, King George was hardly an absolute monarch.

I don't know enough about Tory ideology to do more than guess, and I think it's likely that most people who called themselves such were more invested in the status quo than any particular social outlook.

The differences are bit more subtle than that. Bear in mind that, while there were Tories who fit your descriptions, there were also very intelligent and middle-class intellectuals like Samuel Johnson and Jonathan Swift who were Tories. Also, Britain had some rather strong claims on the colonists' loyalties as well. She imposed many of the "outrageous" taxes to recoup the costs for the Seven Years' War, which was largely fought on the colonies' behalf. Many of the colonists were also annoyed with Britain because she was too liberal towards the Indians, most of whom sided with the Crown.

Posted by: Derek Copold on June 22, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK
I thought the bicameral legislature was intended to represent both popular will on the one hand, and the states as kinda-sorta independent entities on the other -- rather different from the Lords/Commons division in Parliament.

The Lords were tied to fixed bits of land (parallel to the States) and had traditional prerogatives over it (which, sure, eroded with time, but...) parallel to, though distinct from, the subordinate "sovereignty" of states. The Commons were elected by and represented the people at large.

The Senate/House distinction neatly parallels the Commons/Lords distinction, rather than sharply differing from it.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 22, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

I've toiled in the cyber-fields

Well, I guess if you consider "toiling" as being so fucking lazy you have to ask your readers to do your research for you because you're a fat, lazy mendacious partisan hack...

Posted by: Ken on June 22, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

The differences are bit more subtle than that. Bear in mind that, while there were Tories who fit your descriptions, there were also very intelligent and middle-class intellectuals like Samuel Johnson and Jonathan Swift who were Tories. Also, Britain had some rather strong claims on the colonists' loyalties as well. She imposed many of the "outrageous" taxes to recoup the costs for the Seven Years' War, which was largely fought on the colonies' behalf. Many of the colonists were also annoyed with Britain because she was too liberal towards the Indians, most of whom sided with the Crown.

Wait a tic -- I think there'd have to be some significant differences between English Tories like Swift and Johnson, and the colonists who wwent by the name "Tory". For one thing, I'm not aware of any noteworthy American Tory political testament or pamphlet. Were there any?

As to the Revolution, you don't need to persuade me: I always thought that the outcry about measures like the Stamp Tax was pure, bogus single-issue politics. What's more, I think -- no lie -- that we would have done well to remain under the Crown. Slavery abolished in the early 19th Century! Of course, that might have led to a little dust-up on its own....

Posted by: sglover on June 22, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Lords were tied to fixed bits of land (parallel to the States) and had traditional prerogatives over it (which, sure, eroded with time, but...) parallel to, though distinct from, the subordinate "sovereignty" of states. The Commons were elected by and represented the people at large.

But those lands were their own hereditary property. Quite a different from state with its own government and citizens. Sure, they're both bits of geography, but otherwise pretty dissimilar, no?

Posted by: sglover on June 22, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody offer a Democratic Party credit card?

Yes, according to cmdicely, who provides a link that shows the card is offered by Juniper Bank...

AVOID JUNIPER BANK LIKE THE FUCKING PLAGUE! YOU'LL THANK ME LATER!

Providian (which, actually, is nearly as bad) offers a Democratic Party Visa card. Doesn't matter though, because I paid our Dem card off and don't plan to use it. I'm not planning to be strapped with high-interest debt when the inevitable recession/depression arrives.

Posted by: Ken on June 22, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

After all, if you don't really believe that the problems of the human condition are addressable in any meaningful way, what's the point?

I thought the point of conservatism is to make laws that help the powerful to insulate themselves from the problems of the human condition. That's the best explanatory principle I can come with, anyway.

Posted by: clb72 on June 22, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Do you think Jonah walked on his whorebait mom, Lucianne, when she was fellating LBJ's massive Texas schlong and that's why he hates liberals so much?

Just wonderin'...

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger on June 22, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Reading Jonah makes me sleepy.

Posted by: secularhuman on June 22, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Well, first, its a misquote,

You do have a big problem with ordinary English words, don't you? Since no one claimed it's a quote, it can hardly be a "misquote," can it?

... not merely a misinterpretation, since the actual quote in every translation of the Bible I can find is some variant "the poor will always be with you"; second, the idea that that is intended to refer to a permanent part of the human condition, rather than the fact that, to his direct audience

Brilliant. So your "interpretation" is that the "you" refers only to Jesus' "direct audience," rather than to people in general. In that case, we may assume that his exhortation to "follow me" a few verses before also refers only to his "direct audience" rather than to people in general. If you can find a single Bible scholar who agrees with your "interpretation," let me know.

All this time, Christians have believed that when Jesus told the people around him to "follow me," the instruction applies to them as well. But now, cmdicely, in a remarkable new breakthrough in scriptural exegesis, has determined that Jesus' statements apply only to his "direct audience" at that time, and not to other human beings.

Posted by: GOP on June 22, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Drum's long been the easiest lay around. But to sip a Chateau Goldberg '06 so enthusiastically and then to beg to be raped on the barroom floor is going too far.

Drum should recognize what most of his superiors have known since Whitewater's earliest drips---Goldberg ideas conform to his roots and should never go any further

Posted by: Duke Mantee on June 22, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

THE POINT, REGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS, IS TO STOP YOU FROM TAKING PEOPLE'S HARD EARNED MONEY AND WASTING IT BY MAKING THINGS WORSE:

EVIDENCE: 1965-1980.

IF YOU WANT TO HELP POOR PEOPLE, PROTEST POOR PEOPLE'S UNWILLINGNESS TO CHANGE THEIR SELF-DESTRUCTIVE AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOR.

[NOTE, ANTICIPATING THE RESPONSE, "POVERTY LEVELS WENT DOWN: 1965-1980", I'LL RESPOND THAT THE INCOME INCREASE THAT POOR PEOPLE RECEIVED WENT STATITISCALLY AND CUMMULATIVELY TOWARD AFFORDING THEM THE OPPORTUNITY FOR INCREASED SELF-DESTRUCTIVE [CRIME/DRUGS/IRRESPONSIBLE SEX] AND ANTI-SOCIAL [CRIME/DRUGS/IRRESPONSIBLE/SEX] ACTIVITY THAT, MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, MADE THE LOT OF THE POOR, PARTICULARLY THE URBAN POOR, QUANTUM LEAPS MORE MISERABLE.]

Posted by: The Objective Historian on June 22, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Drum's long been the easiest lay around.

I'll say! He asked to be a part of the Townhouse Group (you know -- where the left side of the blogosphere secretly colluded, and then pretended that it didn't, all while criticizing the right side for doing such things ... your basic Leftist hypocrisy, laid bare).

Anyway, I told Drum he could suck on little Kos. He did, of course. But I still wouldn't let him in. The little bitch.

But the best part is that later on, when I issued the dictat that NO ONE TALK ABOUT ANY OF THIS, he swallowed, just like I told him to, again!

The best part about Kevin Drum is he knows where he stands in the food chain.

Posted by: Markos Moulitsas on June 22, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Holy cow. Who knew that Jonah reads McChesney? Too bad he doesn't go a little bit further, like we see here, which might elicit some disturbing thoughts about our 'free press':

During the early days of the republic, the press system was highly partisan, often subsidized by government printing contracts or partisan contributions, politically motivated, and relatively noncommercial. In this period, even small political factions found it relatively easy to establish and maintain all shades of political organs. One need only consider the broad array of abolitionist and feminist newspapers in the first half of the 19th century to appreciate the capacity of the press system to accommodate a wide range of political opinion. Later, during much of the l9th century, the partisan press system was replaced by a highly competitive, yet still fairly political, commercial press system. But even in this system, there was still relative ease of entry to the market. A cursory glance at any city of moderate to large size would disclose a diverse press representing nearly every segment of the population. The press systems of the republic's first century were far from perfect, but they were by no means a primary barrier to political democracy.

All this began to change toward the end of the 19th century, when the press (and, later, the media generally) became an important capitalist industry, following the explicit logic of the commercial marketplace. Over time, the media system became vastly less competitive in the economic sense. Not only were most media industries concentrated in the hands of a small number of large firms, but barriers to entry made new competitive challenges almost impossible. Hence, the "ease of entry" to make free press protection in the First Amendment a near-universal right for citizens was effectively eliminated. As a consequence, virtually no new daily newspapers have been successfully launched in existing markets in the United States since World War I, despite their immense growth and profitability...

And that's not all. The media have become increasingly dependent upon advertising revenue for support, which has distinct implications for the nature of media content. Modern advertising was an outgrowth of the arrival of corporate capitalism in the past century, and advertising is conducted disproportionately by the very largest corporations. (In the business press, the media are often referred to as simply a branch of the advertising industry.) This corporate media system has none of the intrinsic interest in politics or journalism that existed in the press of earlier times. At its worst, this commercial "marketplace of ideas" is a hideous parody of the free marketplace of ideas inspired by John Milton and John Stuart Mill. Truth is less something to be respected and argued over than it is something to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Truth, as such, loses its intrinsic meaning. The system's commercialized newsfare, if anything, tends to promote depoliticization, and all evidence suggests that its fundamental political positions, such as they are, are closely linked to political and business elites. In view of the ownership and subsidy, anything else would be astonishing. To be fair, the formal right to establish a free press is exercised by dissidents on the margins; but the commercial system is such that these voices have no hope of expanding beyond their metaphorical house arrest.

Posted by: Bill on June 22, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

As I said on another thread, this blog is becoming a freak show. Now I see the ill-named Objective Historian has found his way over from the History Network to plague this blog with his idiotic drivel.

I'm outta here. See ya...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 22, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

I don't, or didn't, ever think blogs would change the propaganda and political/corporate bias of the MSM too much $$ to be had. The blogs have come to be the drive thru variety...
Opinion du jour please Jack!

What does change, to me, is people get to post some factual rebuttals to an article or opinion that may be masquerading as fact. I hope thru blogging people come to recognize the amount of disinformation thrown around by our politicians and corporate media serving to confuse the vote instead of educate it.

Posted by: ][ RIGHT ][ on June 23, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: norks on June 23, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

THE INCOME INCREASE THAT POOR PEOPLE RECEIVED WENT STATITISCALLY AND CUMMULATIVELY TOWARD AFFORDING THEM THE OPPORTUNITY FOR INCREASED SELF-DESTRUCTIVE [CRIME/DRUGS/IRRESPONSIBLE SEX] AND ANTI-SOCIAL [CRIME/DRUGS/IRRESPONSIBLE/SEX]

Well that certainly explains limbaugh's lifestyle.

Posted by: ][ RIGHT ][ on June 23, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

"And the monarchists struck back after Napoleon, and kept the reins, in Europe at least, for most of the century. But where are they now?"

In the White House?

"Once you set aside loyalty to the Crown, what real difference in philosophy was there between someone like Washington or John Adams and the Tories?"

Opposition to having a state religion.

Of course, the current "conservatives" want a state religion. And a king, too.

Posted by: Anon. on June 23, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

Red State is a "doppelganger" for Daily Kos? How did THAT slip by without criticism? It's like saying Fox News is a doppelganger for... hold it, I'm trying to think of a credible broadcast network now...

Posted by: sullijan on June 23, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK


GOP: no one claimed it's a quote


GOP POST: So what's your "interpretation" of "The poor will always be with us?" The poor will not always be with us?


gop was against quoatation marks

before he was for them...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 23, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK


or was GOP


gop for quotation marks

before he was against them...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 23, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

From Jonah (Care to respond, Kevin?):

"The Human Condition [Jonah Goldberg]

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough, but I think Kevin Drum misunderstands something about conservatism. He writes:

On the other hand, Jonah's contention that "the 'problems' of the human condition are permanent" and therefore, presumably, barely worth trying to improve in any deep rooted way is quite another thing. It's why I'm not a conservative, and it's why, in the end, conservatives rarely have any long term positive impact on politics. After all, if you don't really believe that the problems of the human condition are addressable in any meaningful way, what's the point?

Me: This is something of a classic distortion of the conservative position. Conservatives, generally speaking, don't believe that no problems are fixable. Rather, they simply believe that some problems are permanent. As Leo Strauss wrote, in a slightly different context, "Finite, relative problems can be solved; infinite, absolute problems cannot be solved. In other words, human beings will never create a society which is free from contradictions." (I wrote about conservative comfort with contradiction here ). Permanent problems of the human condition can be lumped under the rubric of "sin" or human nature and the like. But whatever you call them, I am at a loss as to what permanent problems of the human condition Drum thinks we've solved. Certainly not war or greed or envy or lust. Yes, we have better dental care and rising crust frozen pizzas good stuff, to be sure but they don't change the human equation very much. I don't think any conservative in the American tradition or, at least, many of them believes that the "problems of the the human condition" as Drum understands them can't be ameliorated. That certainly wasn't the vision of the founders and it's not mine. I really like air-conditioning.

Meanwhile, the history of the left is chock-a-block with people who thought that all problems are indeed solvable. And their record is nothing to brag about.

Posted by: SunBeltJerry (not a troll, an idiot!) on June 23, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Whoa whoa whoa...goldberg is a GOUCHER GRAD?!!??? How in god's name did he survive goucher? Its very liberal school.

And please...the only people I ever met from towson were, no offense, not the brightest candles on the chandelier. I mean the lights were on, the wheels were turning, but the hamsters were always dead. Or stoned/drunk so much as to seem dead.

One idiot (if he's actually from goucher) does not a college make.

Posted by: qkslvrwolf on June 23, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah did not say permanent problems couldn't be addressed, he simply (too simply for some of you, I see) noted that they were permanent. The impolication is that one develops processes or erects institutions to address the problems. Let's depart for a moment from all the simplistic nattering about hoarding wealth and power (which usually is a reliable indicator that the natterer feels poor and powerless)and employ some common sense, as does this e-mailer to NRO:
"The implication of having permanent problems of the human condition is that Conservatives know that we need to fashion institutions (marriage, police,armies, etc.) to compensate for or to control these problems. Over the millenia, society has developed these institutions to deal with various problems.

"Liberals feel (note: not think) that these problems can be sufficiently addressed through additional education of the humans involved, while degrading or disassembling the very institutions designed to throttle the
problem behaviors.

"The problems ARE addressable. Through careful control. But the problems are not ignorable, which is what the liberals advocate, when they claim that they can educate the problems out while disassembling the controlling institutions."

Sounds about right to me, but then I'm an eeevil rightwinger with a hidden agenda.

Posted by: Kane Rogers on June 23, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

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