Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 25, 2008

THE 'RIGHROOTS'.... The Washington Post ran an interesting, 2,300-word item today on conservative blogs and their future within (alongside?) the Republican Party. As far as leading conservative activists -- online and off -- are concerned, the right is far behind the left when it comes to online presence, and there's apparently a renewed push to do something about it.

As that process begins in earnest, I'd encourage them to consider this fine post from Outside the Beltway's James Joyner. He argued the other day that, despite his conservative beliefs, he finds "most of the best analytical blogs are on the center-left," and fleshed out his reasoning yesterday.

Part of the reason I'm drawn to the center-left blogs, including those cited above, Kevin Drum, Steve Benen, and others despite disagreeing with them while finding it increasingly difficult to find center-right blogs worth my time is that the former are much more likely to get beyond the debates of the 1980 election. There's almost no serious analysis of health care reform, urban planning, education, and many other issues that regularly crop up on the best lefty blogs on their conservative counterparts. If we read about those issues at all, they're framed as if Ronald Reagan were still aspiring to high office: Say No to socialism! Abolish the Department of Education! Government IS the problem!

While traditionalist grand theory is still valuable and worth discussion, it doesn't work as a blanket response to micro-level issues. And defining conservatism solely by "What would Reagan do?" is a political non-starter in a world that simply looks much different than in did twenty-eight years ago. It would be as if Reagan constantly droned on about the evils of Harry Truman. Time marches on. Debates must, too, in order to be interesting.

So, where are the right-of-center counterparts to Yglesias, Klein, and company?

I've long wondered the same thing. For more than two years, I was the editor for Salon' "Blog Report," featuring posts from the left and right. It led me to read dozens of conservative blogs every day, and I quickly realized that when it came to depth and seriousness of thought, the two sides weren't close. (James Joyner, who is both thoughtful and knowledgeable, is a noticeable exception.)

Indeed, to help drive the point home, earlier this year, Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can't quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they're too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot.

Worse, Kevin noted that when these blogs do consider key policies, such as global warming and growing income inequality, they tend to believe the problems don't exist.

"Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn't even exist in 1980, which means there is no 'Reaganite' solution to appeal to," Kevin concluded. "There might still be conservative takes on these things, but they won't do any good until conservatives actually accept that these are real problems that people genuinely care about. That day still seems pretty far off."

Republican Party leaders are anxious to take advantage of conservative blogs' dynamism as part of the rehabilitation of the GOP. Maybe these folks should crawl before they walk?

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Comments

The sad fact is that many RWers are pretty goddamned stupid, anti-intellectual, crazy or cognitive dissonant or some combination of the above. Case in point? The recent push by RedState to drive the intellectuals out of the Republican Party.

Lefties have no monopoly on intelligence/sanity/cognitive ability either, but most of the stuff I've seen on the internet seems to show there is lots of it in abundance.

Posted by: Former Dan on November 25, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

The right-side blogs I've been to basically have one schtick that goes like this:

"X sure does piss off liberals! Hahahahaha! They're a bunch of poopy heads who hate America and freedom!" and so on and so forth, generally culminating in "But liberals don't want to engage on the issues because they can't win an honest debate! Poopyheads!"

I think Malkin's "challenge" to debate any liberal blogger anywhere at any time on healthcare is the epitome of the syndrome: When Ezra Klein stepped up to take that challenge, Malkin retreated behind a barrage of personal attacks on Ezra. Similarly, Jonah Goldberg's unfortunate run-ins with, well, just about everyone.

Posted by: Domage on November 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

excellent commentary in general, steve, but please tell me (i won't bother to click through) that erickson was kidding: he can't possibly be that deranged, can he?

Posted by: howard on November 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Very very interesting post, CB. I've been looking for awhile to get some fresh conservative viewpoints, but didn't realize why I hadn't been finding it. I will seek out James Joyner today.

Posted by: Franklin on November 25, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Let's see...Ruffini and Finn are at the fore of this project? I seem to recall they were heavily inbvolved in a couple of primary campaigns that failed spectacularly...

Posted by: Blue Girl on November 25, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

Honestly, that's just about the funniest thing I've ever read. I swear to Jeebus, The Onion can't hold a candle to these chowderheads...their Right Wing cartoonist is a comparative amateur!

Posted by: neilt on November 25, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

The rights attempt to put down some netroots should be interesting. The problem with conservative politics, and the reason this push will fail at least initially, is that conservative thought is almost by definition about uniformity and conformity. The rank and file on the right think they are doing a good job if they all agree on everything. At its core, it is a fraternity culture. If Limbaugh or O'Reilly said it, everybody falls in line or risks alienation. Nobody is interested in your diverging opinion, the sin you committed was to disagree.

What makes the left netroots so vibrant is its diversity. At its core it is a dialogue and a debate. Of course, there are those on the left that are looking to tie their boat to the meme of the day, but those are the exception, not the rule. The old saying "I am not part of any organized political party, I am a democrat," speaks to the core of why the left's web presences is so powerful.


Posted by: Alex Kirby on November 25, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Authoritarians rarely engage in thoughtful discussion because their first instinct is to blindly accept the opinions of their leadership, lest the forces of evil prevail. Their leadership of course likes it this way, all they have to do is exploit the existing wingnut fears and make wild allegations about the bogeyman du jour, and their followers get in line. Palling around with terrorists! Marxists! Fairness Doctrine!!!

Theirs is a fear-based mindset, and they fear whatever their leaders tell them to. Since the wingnuts really don't have any leadership right now it's particulary amusing to hear them trying to form a coherent argument.

And like all of us they project, so they think Markos sens all the Kossacks a memo every week and we DFHs dutifully parrot his liberal decrees, little do they know that the hundreds of thousands of leftie bloggers are actually thinking for themselves, and learning from all the others they engage with. We all have ownership of the process. This collaborative process gives much finer results, and until the wingnuts learn to collaborate instead of play follow the leader, they will be at a disadvantage.

Posted by: Racer X on November 25, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

The lack of intelligent right wing thought on the web isn't due to "an asymmetry in free time," it's due to the fact that anyone right of center that rises above silly ad hominem attacks on the left has been drummed out of the right wing circle as some sort of left-wing co-conspirator. Righty bloggers have imposed their Manichean worldview on the entire spectrum of political thought so you're either one of "them" or you're just another left-wing socialist, or worse, a left-wing fascist.

Posted by: petorado on November 25, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I regularly read Redstate and some of the other right wing blogs, just to see what they are saying. Every post is ideologically driven. There is NEVER any policy discussion, it is all pure opinion and speculation surrounding their ideology.

They put things in God's hands (until which time what they wanted to happen doesn't - and then forgot that they put whatever it was into God's hands. I am not sure how that works but that's how it is.), they say what they don't want (socialism!!), but never have I seen any post which addresses a policy situation with a single solution. The only mantra available is Let the Market Handle it (hello, bailout!) which isn't a solution at all.

One exchange I enjoyed was a woman who lived in California and was all for the coastal Drill Baby Drill if she could get payments like the people in Alaska (which taxes the oil companies and then those tax dollars are doled out in annual lump sum payments of about $3500.00 to each Alaskan), but she was avidly against socialism. But this is not socialism, she claimed, it was a contract between the people of the state and the big oil corporations.

I keep looking for any intelligent discussion of anything relating to political policy on the winger sites, and thus far, it has not presented itself. Ideology in spades. Other than that, nothing.

Posted by: MsJoanne on November 25, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen quoted Kevin Drum: "Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn't even exist in 1980, which means there is no 'Reaganite' solution to appeal to."

Since Steve Benen is recycling Kevin Drum here, perhaps it is not inappropriate for me to recycle the comment I posted on Kevin's blog in response to that ...

With regard to global warming, Kevin is wrong to suggest that the problem "didn't even exist", or even (as I suspect he actually means) that the problem was not recognized, in 1980.

According to the UC San Diego Environment and Sustainability Initiative:

"This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through ... a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels."

If you were to guess which leading US politician made this statement to Congress, who would you go for: Al Gore? Bill Clinton? Jimmy Carter? It was in fact president Lyndon B Johnson - in 1965.

[...]

By the time Lyndon Johnson issued his warning, the science of global warming had been long understood. In the 1890s, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius calculated that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would lead to global temperature increases of 5-6 degrees. Over 100 years later, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has borne out the uncanny accuracy of his calculations.

In 1957, US scientists Roger Revelle and Hans Suess warned that human-generated greenhouse gases could destabilise the climate, with profound consequences.

The following year another scientist, Charles Keeling, began systematically measuring atmospheric CO2 levels. Within just seven years, Keeling had pinpointed a steady, year-on-year increase in CO2. In early 1965, the US president's Science Advisory Committee stated: "By the year 2000 there will be about 25 per cent more CO2 in our atmosphere than at present and this will modify the heat balance of the atmosphere to such an extent that marked changes in climate, not controllable through local or even national efforts, could occur."

[...]

The evidence continued to build during the 1970s, when US president Jimmy Carter commissioned major studies to examine the likely impact of increasing US coal usage in the wake of the oil shocks. In 1979, the Jason Committee reported that at then-current rates of fossil fuel burning, atmospheric CO2 levels would have doubled by 2035, and this would "perturb . . . [the] climate by altering the radiative properties of the atmosphere".

Understanding of the mechanism of anthropogenic global warming by scientists predates 1980 by nearly a century; scientific appreciation of the serious dangers involved predates 1980 by a generation; and awareness of the danger by national politicians predates 1980 by at least 15 years.

Meanwhile it is also worth noting that a study commissioned by President Harry S. Truman in 1952 advised that with appropriate investments, the US could be getting much of its energy from solar power within a generation, and predicted millions of solar heated houses could be operational by 1975. Then came the Eisenhower administration, and "Atoms For Peace", vast resources squandered on nuclear power and funding for renewable energy gutted (as Reagan would do again after 1980).

It's not really true that there was no "Reaganite" policy to deal with global warming: there was. Reagan had Jimmy Carter's solar panels torn down off the White House roof and aggressively pursued an energy policy designed to enrich the fossil fuel corporations at all costs.

It's the same policy favored by so-called "conservatives" today: both John McCain (who does recognize the reality of anthropogenic global warming) and Sarah Palin (who does not, though she nonsensically tried to have it both ways during the VP debate) disparaged and discouraged investment in wind and solar energy and aggressively promoted the increased extraction and use of fossil fuels, as well as gargantuan government subsidies for nuclear power.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 25, 2008 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Oh yes, Erickson really is that crazy (and a double perversion of a great name). Check out "Project Leper." To go all ad hominem, most of the "conservatives" I've known preach the virtues of hard work and independence while living off inherited undertaxed incomes, high level government welfare and jobs arranged for them through family connections. To be fair, Democrats do give you a chance to volunteer all you want while contributing to their campaign chests.

Posted by: ericfree on November 25, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

but please tell me (i won't bother to click through) that erickson was kidding: he can't possibly be that deranged, can he?

Oh, yes he can.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on November 25, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Benen you ringside doctor you!

I read many different blogs every day and listen to liberal talk radio for much of the day while I work and lately I've been taken with the hand-wringing liberals have been doing about how the Republican party is going to rehabilitate itself, what they should do to get back on their feet, what steps they should take, which ideas should be embraced and which should be abandoned. It strikes me as a little ridiculous. Not that they would listen to our (collective "our") advice but why are we sending THOUGHT ambulances after the conservatives when REAL ambulances are needed by so many Americans out there?

Conservatism deserves the beating it took and it deserves to die on the boxing mat.

Posted by: Badass4Peace on November 25, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, that's why they call it the Stupid Party!

Posted by: CT on November 25, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

A propos the conservatives being stuck in 1980: when McCain started ranting about capitalism vs. socialism, I had a double-take of the end of El Cid, except that it was the dead Reagan who was propped on the horse instead of Charlton Heston.

Posted by: davidp on November 25, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can't quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they're too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot."

That's because so-called "conservatism" in the USA is a fake, phony, trumped-up, scripted, focus-group tested pseudo-ideology, crafted by corporate propagandists to brainwash legions of weak-minded, ignorant dittoheads into voting for right-wing extremist Republicans who will use the power of government to advance the ruthless, rapacious class warfare of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. against everyone else.

It is a corporate-sponsored cult.

Not only are the mental slaves of the right unable to deal with "policy disputes or serious analysis", but their so-called "ideology" has no real content other than hatred of "liberals", just as the pseudo-ideology of mid-1930s German brownshirts had no real content other than hatred of "Jews".

Take any old Nazi diatribe about "powerful Jewish elites" and replace that phrase with "powerful liberal elites", and you've got the religion of hate that Rush Limbaugh preaches to millions for hours every day.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 25, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

I'll second what Badass4Peace wrote.

I doubt the right will ever catch up on blogs. Their side works by having somebody or some thing to hate or despise.

When that's your core, it's hard to build anything constructive.

Posted by: Mark-NC on November 25, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Ignoring Erickson's pathetic attempt at a slam, the "asymmetry in free time" argument is pretty weak. The millions of wingnuts who listen to Rush Limbaugh for three hours in the middle of the workday clearly have plenty of free time when most of us are doing our jobs.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on November 25, 2008 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Rush Limbaugh is like a blogger with a radio network, and let's face it: the wingnuts have a point about time. I could easily waste a whole day just reading and commenting away, whereas I can get stuff done with the radio on.

Posted by: Aatos on November 25, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think a key difference between the right and left in the cyber is that for the left, it filled a long standing vacuum. For the right, it's a redundant extension of their mass mailing machinery.

This presents 2 problems for the right. As a fundraising mechanism, it is as likely to displace their existing structure as enhance it. That's to say, a good portion of money raised online, will likely correspond to a decline from direct mail.

But more importantly, their message now needs to reflect more than an appeal to the most idiological and unhinged. They could say crazy stuff in direct mail, because it wasn't designed for mass consumption and analysis. By porting the direct mail scheme directly to the internet, they lose the capacity for their outright lies to go unchallenged. As a result, repubs have gained a reputation for being divorced from reality.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. If the party decides it needs to moderate it's image, they'll push for more rational voices online. If they decide the problem is that they haven't been conservative enough, the inmates will continue to rule the online asylum.

Posted by: JoeW on November 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

just wanna add a point or two..

first...i think that generally speaking the reason there is no " right-of-center counterparts to Yglesias, Klein, and company" is because there are NO real answers to today's problems that are rooted in conservatism...."small government" is a fail in a post-katrina world..."smaller government" is the only topic left....

second, the netroots best opinion guys write rings around what passes for pundintry in the daily papers...and they're considerably younger and [occassionally]} better looking too....

they'd rule the world if pbs newshour and the sunday shows started calling....

imo
ps
folks i like...the coles: juan and john, andrew,[tho' economics is a blind-spot for him], larison [sometimes], matt, kevin, ezra and steve....
greenwald and digby, too...if only they had decent editors...["longwinded" doesn't BEGIN to cover it...]

Posted by: dj spellchecka on November 25, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating subject, post. Secular Animist stole my thunder on global warming (well, more than stole it, since he knows a lot more about its history than I do), but Kevin's remark that "Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn't even exist in 1980, which means there is no 'Reaganite' solution to appeal to," is equally erroneous on income inequality. In fact, I dare say it has been with us since the dawn of civilization, when money became synonymous with power. It has been one long, unending struggle between those at the top and the rest of us peons since then, with us being on the losing side most of the time, and currently getting clobbered. Witness the spectacular succession of bailouts, all intended to help restore the lost fortunes of the rich, while we look on meekly and approvingly.

But anyway, seems to me that right wing "thought" isn't that at all. It's nothing but ideology, like religion, and it has its own bible. Not a published one, but its chapters and verses have been memorized by all those on the right. And there's simply nothing more that these folks have to say. It's like those people who quote the Bible at you, ad nauseam, whenever you want to engage in thoughtful, philosophical speculation. They have nothing to say beyond the verses in that Bible of theirs.

They have the answers to all the world's problems in their right wing bibles. Their only thought process is to choose the right chapter and verse to quote at you.

I know that seems utterly simplistic, but the proof seems to be in the dearth of original thought on their blogs. Or what they say on talk radio or television. There's nothing but a monotonous recitation of puerile talking points, sounding like chants and group prayers at times.

Posted by: hark on November 25, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

When RedState started, Markos highlighted them and wished them well. If they had remained a rightwing version of Daily Kos, they might have succeeded and even enriched the discussion, but like the rest of the significant right, they became more dogmatic, less willing to put up with criticism that isn't part of the right-wing orthodoxy and resorted to banning those who didn't post echo-chamber answers.

As long as the right is dominated by those who demand fealty to their doctrines, it will not recover from its self-inflicted failures. The right needs to listen to their tiny libertarian wing. It needs to have the business right call out the neocons and other dogmatists in the party for the harm they have done to the country. It needs to take responsibility for the disaster that is the Bush Administration and try to learn how to do better.

Posted by: freelunch on November 25, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

ps

another BIG difference for me is the QUALITY of the COMMENTS at the best leftish blogs....

case in point, the two from SecularAnimist upthread.....joew, racerx and MsJoanne, too

Posted by: dj spellchecka on November 25, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

I miss the Daou/Blog Report on Salon.

But thanks for the tip on where to find decent right-of-center commentary (James Joyner). I've had a hard time coming up with any.

Posted by: TG Chicago on November 25, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

The conservative movement has a real problem facing the Internet as a communications medium. For decades, the organizational nervous system of the conservative movement has been finely tuned to operate over broadcast media like radio, television, print and direct mail. Those media have reinforcing mechanisms that help to perpetuate conservative framing. The Internet isn't very good for broadcast, but it kicks ass at interactivity. Interactivity promotes liberal/progressive framing, and it erodes conservative framing.

The reason conservatives have such a hard time operating with Internet media is that they either A) try too hard to make the Internet into a broadcast medium and fail miserably at it, or B) spend all their time and effort enforcing "discipline" on the interactive aspects of their sites by purging all the moderating influences of civil expressions of liberal/progressive viewpoints.

What I predict will happen is that the Overton window will move left, and today's center-right blogs will become the new conservativism. Today's conservatives will tail off into the unmentionably reactionary nether-regions of the Internet where they will join sites like Stormfront and Freeperville in richly-deserved obscurity.

Posted by: s9 on November 25, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

One exchange I enjoyed was a woman who lived in California and was all for the coastal Drill Baby Drill if she could get payments like the people in Alaska (which taxes the oil companies and then those tax dollars are doled out in annual lump sum payments of about $3500.00 to each Alaskan), but she was avidly against socialism. But this is not socialism, she claimed, it was a contract between the people of the state and the big oil corporations.

So, let's do the math. Stipulate that California produced as much oil as Alaska, divide that lump-sum by the ratio of populations (36,000,000 vs 683,000) and we wind up with a whopping $66 per year per Californian.

Such a windfall!

Posted by: thalarctos on November 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I have to chuckle now. I'm one of those wingnuts who is supposedly incapable of rational thought, lives in an echo chamber, and can only debate with people by hitting them over the head with my Bible. ;)

(I got here from Outside the Beltway, if anyone is curious.)

Seriously, do you READ your own comments? There's just as much name-calling, unfounded attacks, and other silliness on this very page that I'm reading now as there is on any of the most unhinged right-wing blogs. Why? Because that's the nature of the Internet. It's easy to type a bunch of nonsense about people. It's much harder to really understand anyone. And very few bloggers or blog commenters -- on the Right or the Left -- make the effort.

Ironically, Steve's actual post is thoughtful and respectful. I think he's wrong, but at least he's doing more that slinging insults at the Right. I wish I could say the same for his commenters....

Posted by: Naaman on November 25, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

The reason wingers don't do well on the internet is that they cannot control it. Sure, you can control what is posted, but then you either have to lock down comments (so not to be completely embarrassed by all the corrections and refutations to come), or you lock out any dissenting voices (which many sites, including "news" sites do).

It is hard to control your lies on the internet. The teevee is a one way medium (aside from reading the occasional email from a viewer) and you can push out any message you so desire.

You cannot do that on the internet. Not for a site and not for a message (read: lie).

Posted by: MsJoanne on November 25, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatism has no ideas because it isn't a philosophy. Never has been, not in America. The james Joyners of this country are conservatives becasue they see the political process as a means of serving themselves--"I'm alright, jack". Screw everyone else. All expressed very politely by the James Joyner type Republicans, of course, but it isn't a philosophy; it's just, as John Kenneth Galbraith noted, a rationalization for selfishness.

Other than selfishness, what is American conservatism? Well, secular animist summed it up very nicely.

Bottom line: thoughtful, insightful analysis and creative thinking isn't possible within a conservative context because conservatism is a faith-based belief system which exists to re-enforce the predictions (selfishness, hatefulness, fearfulness) of the believer, not a political philosophy.

And such people don't want to think. They want to keep on believing.

That's why the closest thing Joyner is going to find to the righty blog of his dreams will be one that focuses on some kind of reality based strategy for getting power back in the hands of Republicans so that they can do what they always do which is serve themselves.

Probably that means adopting more moderate stances and language.

Posted by: wonkie on November 25, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

With supporters like Erick Erickson who needs enemies.

Einstein said to paraphrase, you cannot solve a problem with the same minds that created it.

Posted by: ET on November 25, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I concur with all the points raised.

Though one should not underestimate the power of spreading data based on misinformation.

Let's not forget that nearly 50 million people voted for John McCain. If one assumes a certain % of those voters consists of people who get their data from these traditional sources (and their rightroot counterparts) without bothering to correct their information when wrong or question it - it's likely that these people will return to these sources again. Sadly, 'Ignorance is bliss' will likely remain true here. As long as that exists, these sources will continue to dump their misinformation into them, and these folks will continue to act on that.

In other words, don't think for a second that the Democratic Party election gains will suddenly mean a shift in the country's political thinking.

The debates must continue, the arguments must be made, people need to continue to advocate. Even after plans are made to solve problems and they are executed upon, never let the debate and discussion stop.

Never let the ability to question abate. When you stop questioning, you stop thinking.

I find myself on such center-left sites because debate is always there. And I try to always remain on the side where the facts are.

Posted by: Mathew on November 25, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Is this meant to inspire a party that has now been recognized as the party of plumbers and anti-intellectualism?

No one has blamed the republican party of thoughtful policy ideas for more than two decades. In fact I would challenge that republicans, in the past 100 years, have put forth any policy with the citizenry in mind. Save for the defend democracy, defeat commu-terrorism propaganda and corporate tax breaks sold as economy drivers.

None of their ideas have been real and the genius has been how they've been able to keep the country culturally fractured and afraid.

Posted by: TBone on November 25, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The internet is the tool that Leary and his mentors were looking for with which to combat the authoritarian mindset. Too bad it came 50 years too late.

I never ever watch Charlie Rose but did last Friday and his guest was Lawrence Lessig. I suggest everyone seek this program out as well as any and all writings by Lessig. Conservatives are basically doomed because the generation coming of age right now cannot identify with it. It's a joke to them as an ideology. I give Republicans credit in trying to fear the young into becoming afraid of the world. Alas, the internet is way too powerful.

Posted by: grinning cat on November 25, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

IMO, Joyner's problem is easy explain. After years (decades?) of the right's assault on intellectualism, their assault on measured, reasoned debate backed by facts their base is made up, largely, by people who want black and white answers to complex problems. Those who ignore nuance, drill down issues to meme's and sophomoric reasoning.

The right does not want an educated middle class, and their base is showing that loud and clear now. There are quite of few really bright people writing from the right but they are either blinded by partisanship (and thus some really really twisted logic) or simply pushing stupid meme's as a way of protecting their little class war.

I've been wondering how the left would break through this soundbite and headline mentality to the greater public. We certainly are not there yet, however I think having a thoughtful and pragmatic president is certainly going to help.

Posted by: simp on November 25, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

"So, where are the right-of-center counterparts to Yglesias, Klein, and company?"

They do exist but for the most part are not in the Republican party. The American Conservative Blog, for instance, often has thoughtful comments on various issues. While one may not agree with them, they are critical in the sense that they apply a critical mind to various problems and don't just indulge in ad hominem attacks.

The Volokh Conspiracy, Andrew Sullivan, and parts of The Moderate Voice are all examples of thoughtful intellectual approaches from a conservative side. One of the hallmarks of their thoughtfulness is that they can agree with the left on some issues, the way that Goldwater seems to now when you look at his writings and speeches in light of current events. (Gays in the military, for example.)

Remember, conservatives are no more monolithic than liberals and there are a range of ideas out there. Just because the Republican party is anti-intellectual (more like non-intellectual as they just want the power after years of having it) doesn't mean that there is not a principled argument from the right on various issues.

If you look, you can find the right of center counterparts that you are asking about. The problems is that there are far more emotional thoughtless blogs out there on both sides and it is sometimes hard to find the needles in the haystacks.

I might add one more thing: there are plenty of thoughtful blogs whose comments sections are anything but thoughtful. Granted, if you added up the ignorant rantings on one side and subtracted the ignorant rantings from the other side the result would be a net gain for the left of center blogs, but that isn't saying much. The production of real ideas from commentors on both sides is generally sparse. In fact the most productive of the blogs I read is usually the Volokh Conspiracy, but that may have something to do with the readership who tend to be constitutional lawyers.

Posted by: mikeyes on November 25, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Not all conservatives are stupid people, but most stupid people are conservative." - John Stuart Mill

Posted by: Solar Hero on November 25, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I too had wondered where can I find any Conservative thoughtful responses to policy and perhaps some criticisms of the party and their direction.

I wanted to read conservative blogs that wanted to make the Republicans better and provide more answers than just fear and "against" the Democrats kind of responses. I just don't see this. I'll take a look at "The American Conservative Blog" and see what I can gather from their site.

Currently I see no leader - Bush is the lamest duck ever - so much so Obama has to give the American people confidence that he as pre-president can do a job the "Real President" is supposed to be doing. Bush is phoning it in - "senioritis" has set in. If I were a Republican, I would be very annoyed with my party.

Posted by: Elsie on November 25, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

As I'm sure you know, Larison is also a serious and analytic conservative. His issues tend to be more to do with foreign policy and theory than domestic policy questions from what I've seen, though, which is perhaps why you've omitted him.

Posted by: miwome on November 25, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist said:

"That's because so-called "conservatism" in the USA is a fake, phony, trumped-up, scripted, focus-group tested pseudo-ideology, crafted by corporate propagandists to brainwash legions of weak-minded, ignorant dittoheads into voting for right-wing extremist Republicans who will use the power of government to advance the ruthless, rapacious class warfare of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. against everyone else.
.
"It is a corporate-sponsored cult."

SecularAnimist's screed has solid underpinnings. Check this piece, "Feast of the Wingnuts", by Jonathon Chait (I found it via John Cole's Balloon Juice).

The subtitle on Chait's piece is "How economic crackpots devoured American politics".

Yes, conservatism is a corporate-sponsored cult.

Any rational, thinking person who doesn't want "a cult-like fringe taking control of a political party and using it to wage class warfare on behalf of a tiny minority" would rant.

Posted by: tee-hee on November 25, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

From what i've seen the only truly intellectual thought from a right of center perspective that attempts to tie a worldview to its policy recommendations (aside from the if a liberal is for it i'm against it worldview) is libertarianism.

The problem is that libertarianism is a utopian worldview, in as much as it requires complete adoption of itself in order to have a chance of success. Half measures, kind of open, kind of regulated markets where no one is quite sure what's up, are simply dangerous without a social saftey net.

There's been some attempt to argue from this worldview (that government caused the collapse of the financial sector by forcing poor people to buy homes, for example) but they've been obvious expressions of conservative angst, not serious attempts at creating an understanding of post new economy reality.

Republicans will give themselves their best shot if they kill healthcare on the floor (not in filibuster) and pass some tax cuts which they can then plausibly claim turned around the economy. In 2010 and 2012 they'll be able to argue that more aggressive tax cuts are necessary, while a responsible Obama administration will likely see fit to raise taxes and balance the budget.

Doesn't sound like their chances are so hot to me, either.

Posted by: mark r on November 25, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Naaman said:

Seriously, do you READ your own comments? There's just as much name-calling, unfounded attacks, and other silliness on this very page that I'm reading now as there is on any of the most unhinged right-wing blogs.

Seriously, Naaman, if you think these comments are anything like those found on Redstate (or Michelle Malkin's site or any unhinged conservative wingnut site du jour) then you are obviously one clueless person.

This brings up a point as to why there is a dearth of intelligent conservative blogs: One cannot engage in intelligent thought with someone who is unable to distinguish intelligent thought from sophomoric wingnuttery.

You, Namaan, are an idiot. And that's not unfounded name-calling.

Posted by: tee-hee on November 25, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from the editorial content, the major difference I've seen is in _what_ is advertised on the right wing blogs:

"Gold! Prepare for the apocalypse!"

"Six-pack abs in six minutes!"

"These pads extract the toxins from your body through the soles of your feet!"

"Old school conservative" - a Reagan t-shirt.

Advertisers know their markets.

Posted by: capacious on November 25, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

The problem for the right-wing is that blogs are all about discussion and disagreement, two things that are not tolerated by today's Republican Party.

Posted by: mfw13 on November 25, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

"That's because so-called "conservatism" in the USA is a fake, phony, trumped-up, scripted, focus-group tested pseudo-ideology, crafted by corporate propagandists to brainwash legions of weak-minded, ignorant dittoheads into voting for right-wing extremist Republicans who will use the power of government to advance the ruthless, rapacious class warfare of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. against everyone else."

Whew!

But true.

Thanks, SA.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 25, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

" Stipulate that California produced as much oil as Alaska, divide that lump-sum by the ratio of populations (36,000,000 vs 683,000) and we wind up with a whopping $66 per year per Californian.

Such a windfall!"

Yeah, but to be REALLY like Alaska, we would have to limit payments to the native born Californians also. That would bring down the numbers even.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on November 25, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, naaman, at least your comment APPEARS here.

The wing-nut blogs generally screen out comments from those who disagree.

Posted by: Cal Gal on November 25, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Marginal Revolution
Andrew Samwick
Greg Mankiw
Megan McArdle
Arnold Kling

In other words, the conservative blogs that are thoughtful are economics blogs, by and large.

MR is damned hard to argue with (sometimes) although Alex Tabarrok's piece re wind power today just descends into the worst misrepresentation re nuclear power. He and Tyler Cowen sometimes just buy the conservative talking points hook, line and sinker (although sometimes firmly with tongue in cheek).

The content of many of the commenters on these blogs is much poorer-- global warming denialists etc. But not all.

Posted by: Valuethinker on November 25, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Naaman,

One of the biggest differences in the blogs is that moderates and liberals are willing to defend their ideas and change them if they are shown to have made mistakes in arriving at them. Conservatives are far more willing to ban those who question how they arrived at their conclusion or challenge them to defend their positions.

Posted by: freelunch on November 25, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

As far as leading conservative activists -- online and off -- are concerned, the right is far behind the left when it comes to online presence, and there's apparently a renewed push to do something about it.
Looks like we need that Fairness Doctrine the Dems are pushing for.

Posted by: Luther on November 25, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Urban planning?? Did Joyner mention urban planning?? I wish some left-wing bloggers would talk about it. Even the occasional presidential candidate. I think I like James Joyner.

SteveB, AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners)

Posted by: SteveB on November 25, 2008 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, to help drive the point home, earlier this year, Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

A tidy encapsulation of the "asymmetry" right there: Erick E. can't even respond to a meta-question about the relative influence of lefty/righty blogs without reflexive resort to puerile insults, seasoned with a healthy dash of self-righteousness. AND: he apparently remains blissfully clueless that stupid answers like this merely make the (negative) point against him better than any "leftist's" argument ever could.
QED

Posted by: Jay C on November 25, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

About the Erickson comment. I have read this type of comment from many right wingers on the Internet in different forums. It goes to the right wing theme that the only productive Americans are right wing/conservative citizens. They truly believe they carry the entire freight and load of the country. From the military to truck drivers to doctors, it is only right wingers who make the country work in their vision of America. Palin directly tapped into this theme of "real America".

Of course, the other half of this colllary is that liberals and left wingers are societal and economic parasites.

This would be idiotic and naive, but it plays into the eliminationist rhetoric of the right wing that that sounds like Nazis during the 1930's (find a propaganda piece and replace Jew with liberal). Liberals and socialists, like the Jews and Slavs are traitorous parasites who must be handled appropriately by the pure, patriotic citizenery.

Posted by: MrWebster on November 25, 2008 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

my e-mail to rebuildthparty.com:

Since the right doesnt innovate, instead just sticks with the same old saws (smaller government, evangelical Christian morality, free market etc.), what is it you are going to write to each other about? Are you just going to paraphrase statements from Hayek, Kristol, Limbaugh and Hannity to one another? Have fun.

If any folks on here have the answers, please post.

Posted by: Unc G on November 25, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP admitting their problems is like an alcoholic admitting he has a morning coffee addiction. They know something is wrong, they just can't admit that what they need to change is what has been ailing them for decades.

Reaganism is the alcohol they keep getting drunk off of. They think that Reaganism is the future, though it's height of popularity was nearly thirty years ago. Small government is a great idea--but that also means keeping government out of the bedroom. Lowering taxes is also great--but that doesn't help much when corporations are sending jobs overseas. The GOP has no answer to health care, except for some fancy math that would have us believe that we can buy a great insurance plan with a measly tax credit. The average health plan costs $12,000 a year for a family.

And presenting an attractive young woman as VP only works if the people you are hoping to win over are drunk and ready to accept just about anything that resembles the man that has long ago left them.


Posted by: Mia on November 26, 2008 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

If you have a substantive, candid discussion with what's known today as a "conservative," and get into real-world outcomes of right-wing policy prescriptions -- something I have occasion to do from time to time -- it quickly boils down to, "Most people will get screwed. They don't deserve any better."

Not too persuasive a bottom line for substantive policy discussion, is it? No wonder right-wing bloggers stick to attack lines and snark.

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Posted by: mearmflenny on November 27, 2008 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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