The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Michael Wolraich's picture


    I used to be proud to invite people to contribute to dagblog. Whenever I met a writer, I would encourage them to share their work here. We're not the biggest blog in the sphere, but I would boast about the intelligence and civility of our discussions.

    We still have plenty of those these days. I think that the interpersonal rancor has even declined. But the hostility and disrespect towards outsiders has grown. I do not feel comfortable inviting writers to contribute here anymore.


    A few weeks ago, a book publicist asked me if one of her authors could guest-blog at dag. I said sure. Fresh voices and ideas are good for dagblog. We have plenty of great voices and ideas here already, but everyone is quite familiar with them by now. I figured that if it went well, she might send more authors our way.

    I passed on instructions, and the author contributed a post about the Middle East. It was a fine post, unexceptional but not bad. People responded more or less respectfully at first, and I emailed the publicist to encourage the author to reply to the comments. I don't know if he ever read them, but I hope he didn't because the comments soon turned snide and derisive.

    If the publicist read them, I doubt she will send any more authors our way. Why risk upsetting her clients for the chance of a few readers from dagblog?


    Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo left his first comment at dagblog the other day. In another context, I would have been proud. Josh gave me a place for my voice to be heard--for all of our voices to be heard. He went out his way to help dagblog grow and to help me develop my career. I owe him a lot; I think we all do.

    But Josh's comment entered a thread full of insults and hostility directed at him personally. So I was not proud; I was embarrassed. I understand that people feel animosity towards Josh because of what he did with TPM Cafe, and I doubt that any of us thought that he would actually read the thread. After he commented, most people had the decency to leave well enough alone. But one person replied that his comment was, in essence, a piece of shit. (Don't go running to find it; I deleted the reply.)

    I'm sure that Josh's feelings were not hurt. "You've got to have a thick skin in the business," he wrote to me. But I doubt that he will ever go out his way to help dagblog again.


    Yesterday, an author who has blogged occasionally at dag announced to me that she finished her second book--self-published. I congratulated her, bought the book, and encouraged her to blog about it at dag, which she did. The first comment was a complaint about people "marketing their crap" at dagblog. I replied to that comment, but I don't know what happened after that. The author got upset and deleted her post. I'm sure that she will never post here again.

    As Josh wrote, you've got to have a thick skin in the business. But that's easier said then done. You may never have written a book, but I imagine that most of you have created something that you were proud of and in which you had invested yourself. Perhaps you can recall how vulnerable you felt when you shared it with other people. And if you have ever tried to sell your work or search for a job, you may be familiar with the distress of having to market yourself. It's hard enough when the audience is actually polite. Why would anyone subject themselves to open derision?


    Perhaps I shouldn't care about how people respond. Their comments are not my comments, not my business. If I don't like how people treat those I invite to dagblog, maybe I should just stop inviting people.

    But the moment I stop caring is the moment that I stop trying to grow dagblog. It's the moment that I stop spending my time making dagblog run. It's the moment that I stop writing here.

    In the past few days, some of you have offered to make donations to support dagblog. That's very generous of you, and we appreciate it, but we don't need your money. If you want to help dagblog, then the best thing you can do is try your best to make dagblog a place where people would actually want to write.




    I had no way of knowing she was invited by you - I assumed (yes, indeed I do know what it means) it was an attempt for someone to use the site as a marketing forum for their product.  Other times when any have tried to do same (not books to my knowledge, that is true) their post has been removed. 

    If you would have done a little note or if there had been a 'thanks to Genghis for the opportunity to introduce you to (or post this) .......', the welcome mat would have been gladly honored and utilized.

    If she has a public email I will write her explaining and ask her to please repost.

    If I don't like how people treat those I invite to dagblog, maybe I should just stop inviting people.

    I hope not.  I'm sorry you are upset and promise that next time if there is a post marketing something, I will email you to find out if it's sanctioned, but not comment. (I'm fairly certain I wasn't here for the Josh Marshall debacle, if so, I have no recollection.) 

    I guess that answers my first question.

    Aunt Sam, I did not mean to single you out. If it had just been that one episode (which was the only one that you were involved in), I would have handled it with you by email.

    I wrote this post because of my feeling that dagblog has developed a culture of nastiness where people feel entitled and perhaps even encouraged to insult guests and newcomers, such that hostility has become the first response rather than a more justifiable retaliation against asshole-behavior by outsiders.

    I invited Kat to write, but I didn't submit her piece, and I didn't even have a chance to write a comment. Moreover, Kat has blogged here before, as you would have seen if you'd clicked on her name, so she could have blogged about her book even without my invitation.

    The point is, you jumped to a conclusion that you led you to react with hostility and actually upset this person. I think that tendency to shout first and insult without hesitation has been encouraged by many people here, and I really want it to stop.

    PS For the record, we spend time every day deleting spam. Some of spam comments do get through, as you know, but there are no spam blog posts because we have to individually approve every blogger before they're allowed to post to the public.

    Regarding the third example: Was it made clear that she had been invited by you to post something about her work?  I consider it bad form for someone who has never participated at a blog site like this to just show one day trying to sell something she or he wrote.

    Regarding the first example: There are a few topics that generate uncivility here, e.g. the Civil War.  And the Middle East, given Israel and the wars, and drones, etc. is a topic any blogger should know in an open forum can quickly degenerate. 

    I guess I would also add that a site that has a humor piece about how Mitt is friends with Sandusky (civil is not the first descriptor I use for this piece) also opens itself to an atmosphere where biting humor (or attempts at it) and snide wise cracks are viewed as completely ok.  This is not always a salon of refined political and social discussion.  And I've felt that is exactly how y'all envisioned it.  Dag stands for dagger.

    I get what you're saying - I'm just pointing out those points that I think you might consider in trying to come to terms with the invite no invite issue.

    Afterwards, it was noted that she has posted here sometime previously, but I was not aware of this and I did not know this and did not recognize the name.

    I remember looking up dag when Genghis offered to migrate our TPMCafe posts here (due diligence ;) and discovered there were many possible interpretations but given his use of the typographical symbol assumed that must be why he chose the name.  But then you know what they say about assuming.  For all I know it may have something to do with sheep. :D

    Ha! Leave it up to the Kiwis and the Aussies to have a word for that.

    On my first post here, Genghis left the first comment, in which he informed that I would not be treated with kid gloves.  So you're right that there's a seed of that political combativeness here, even on the part of our hosts.  I think there was much of that at the Cafe as well.

    I don't know whether Josh Marshall likes that part.  Personally, I think I prefer it to bland and tame discussions that are circumscribed too much by , but it sucks when it devolves into mere personal animosity.  Vigorous debate is good.  Personal rancor is cathartic for the parties involved, but pretty much toxic to everyone else.  And you're right to observe that there are certain topics that will almost guarantee that level of toxicity is reached.

    It's funny that you remember that. Political combativeness certainly isn't the problem, even if takes on an edge. I think you have to like to brawl a bit to enjoy dagblog.

    But no matter hard I came at you, I hope that you never had the feeling that I didn't respect you. It's the contempt and derision that disturbs me, particularly when its directed at guests.

    No, I certainly didn't mean to imply even that you were coming at me hard.  I agree with you that's it about finding the balance between being combative in the sense of being challenging in argument versus being combative in a needlessly personal way.

    I consider it bad form for someone who has never participated at a blog site like this to just show one day trying to sell something she or he wrote.

    Why? I'd have no problem with that if it was a descriptive blog, something more than just a "buy my book" ad. If there were lots of blogs trying to sell stuff and they never engaged the readers after posting the blog I'd have a problem. But that's not happening. There's little to no spam on this site so I don't see a problem if an occasional author blogs about their book, whether invited or not.

    My experience has been that those who are trying to sell something they have written tends to lead to blogs that in and of themselves have little meat to them.  The blog acts as the "tease," and if you really want to know the author's solution to the banking crisis, or whatever its about, you need to buy the book.  In other words, most blogs who intent it is to plug a book have as much substance an the interview with an author on a talk show plugging their book, or the inside cover of a book. 

    This is different than say someone who writes a blog about the money corruption of the current election, and then at the end plugs their book about the 2004 election or the dynamics of Iowa politics in this election.  In this kind of case, the blog itself is a stand alone, and the plug is more of a "if you like how I write and think, check out this book."  The plugging of the book, thus, is a secondary purpose of the blog (even if it was the primary purpose in author's mind), because as a reader and possible commenter, I can enjoy the blog without considering have to go purchase something else.



    Well Trope, that's a different argument. The problem is you think most author's blogs are dross. Would it be bad form if an author posted a interesting informative blog about their book on a site they haven't previously participated on?

    I can pretty quickly skim the dross and as quickly forget it so I have no opinion how often authors post dross on blogs but I do know I've seen some interesting post by authors selling their book. I expect some dross on a reader's blog site. I don't much differentiate between a poor writer's blog or an author's trashy marketing ploy. There's just not enough of either here to upset me.

    The problem with prejudging author's blogs as most times without substance is one person's dross is another's valuable metal. Its the same with any blog. I've seen blogs I thought were worthless get praised by other participants, even here.I don't feel a great need to point out I think its worthless. I'd like to see Dag become more active, that inevitably means the dross as well as the gold will increase.

    The issue for me is that for all my blog surfing I haven't stumbled upon "this interesting informative blog about their book." It is a hypothetical scenario that does see any real manifestation in places like dagblog. 

    So lets put it this way, "an interesting informative blog about their book" is not just marketing their book.  It is a blog that does not require one to go check out their book to get the meat, so to say.  I would like some examples of this because like I said I haven't seen this except for the rare case here and there - which makes them the exception to the rule, in my book.

    So maybe someone who has a book to sell should first make a commitment to writing quality blogs for dagblog.  In the process, they can plug their book. Win win. If someone want to write a blog once in a blue moon only when one is motivated to sale books will probably lead to a bad blog and bad writing in my opinion (profit motive tends to do that).


    Moreover, this is not prejudging.  If someone is able to write an excellent blog in their attempt to plug their writings, I'd be the first to applaud the blog.  I could care less that it is plugging the book.  It is the quality of blog.  So please provide some examples of these outstanding blog plugging one's book.  If they are so out there, you should have no problem providing three or four links.

    Hey Genghis, I'm glad you said something about this. 

    I do think there's something to be said about being clear about your hopes and expectations for a given piece of writing, especially if it comes from someone who is new here. In this context, it would be totally fair to say "Hey, X doesn't know you guys and is very proud of having her work newly published. Please try to be both kind and fair in your comments, and since I want to encourage her, I'll be deleting really mean-spirited comments, hopefully before she sees them."  Your clarity and leadership would be important, so the group knows that it's not just same-old, same-old.

    The issue with Josh is different. Personally, I tried to be somewhat careful in my comments about Josh because I fully expected he'd be taking a look at the thread. And he didn't deserve a lot of what was said about him. He was way out in front of the pack when it wasn't easy to do that, and in the early days of the cafe was very supportive.

    But then he fell behind on the technology aspects of what he was trying to do, seemingly got very mediocre technical advice, and was consistently behind the 8 Ball when it came to dealing with technical issues and the frustrations they caused his readers. I never cared all that much because I'm not that technical either; I never even bothered to try to post videos or do the things that so frustrated other readers. But when even mild-mannered AA is tearing out her hair and saying mean things about Josh, you have to figure that his behavior helped prompt that somehow. I don't think you need to feel that you should have somehow protected Josh from hearing folks' frustrations with him. 

    Sadly, I'm pretty sure Josh still hasn't absorbed the lessons about getting out in front of the technology, or managing expectations and behavior, as demonstrated by the rollout of TPMPrime. I noticed the other day that TPMPrime could not process foreign credit card transactions--they generate an address mismatch. Now, what does it say if the person installing your "store" module for you doesn't realize that some patrons of your soon-to-be-internationally recognized journalism salon are going to be actual international people? Reading this example of technological provincialism actually made me drop my head in my hands and massage my forehead until the cringe went away. It's an honest mistake, sure--and one that anybody could make--but anybody doesn't make it, Josh does, and he does this kind of stuff pretty often, which is why people get frustrated. There's no excuse for being mean, but I do understand the frustrations.

    Whatever your frustrations, you do a better job of dealing with technology and with your writers than Josh did, which is why people like blogging here. If the group's getting a bit insular, lay it out there, say you want to make it bigger and more diverse, and keep saying  how. There may be some fits and starts, but I think it will work out.


    The case with Josh is clearly a bit different, as I tried to acknowledge. My concern is not with people criticizing his handling of the Cafe or the TPM Prime. It is the lack of the respect that he was accorded--even after showed up on the thread.

    I thought about titling this post R.E.S.P.E.C.T. It's such an easy concept in ordinary life.   Think about how often you disrespect people outside the Internet. Maybe some jerk who cuts you off on the road, but someone you're having a conversation with? Even if you don't like someone or disagree with what they're saying, they would have to be a real asshole for you to feel entitled to insult them.

    But on Internet, it's nothing. Don't like Josh Marshall, well then fuck you Josh! Don't think much of someone's book, when then your book is a piece of shit! Disagree with someone's politics, when then you're a moron!

    I think the issue with they way people talk about Josh was that many would say "it wasn't that he ended the reader blogs, it was that he didn't show the people of that community any respect."  Sometime disrespect comes not from calling them a moron, but with silence. In fact, one of the ways one can say "fuck you" the loudest (or at least be perceived as saying so) is to ignore the person.

    It did take guts for Josh to show up and say his piece. I hope that he'll take the long view, and understand that the weird rancor that boils up on the Internet is an artifact of the Internet, and not a characteristic of DAG specifically.

    I will email him and tell him so.

    DF, I think makes a point that you are making as well, that it's hard to create real-world consequences for bad blogging behavior. Maybe we should have teams--and if somebody on the team gets banned for a day, the others do too. (That might force people to police each other a bit :^)


    Erica, I'm going to piggyback on your comment here because it sets up very well something that has been rolling around in my head.  I wasn't really all that upset that Josh shut the Cafe down.  By the time he did, I spent very little time there anyway.

    At least some of this can be attributed to mismanagement.  In the TPM Steakhouse thread, a lot of people were sticking up for Josh with respect for complaints about how TPM has dealt with technology.  Here's the thing though: these complaints are completely valid.

    Without belaboring the details, I've worked as a developer and admin for almost 15 years.  Web stuff is what I do for a living.  I could build a TPM-like site for you by myself over the weekend if the price was right.  So, when I say these things, I know what I'm talking about.  That's what my clients pay me for.

    I'll just give two brief examples.  In the other thread, Josh said he didn't add comments to his site because the technology didn't exist.  He cites the years 2000-2003.  Josh may not have been aware at the time, but this just isn't true.  Greymatter came out in 1999.  It was pure PERL-cgi, no database required.  With comments.  Blogger was created by Pyra way back then, too.  It existed before Google bought it in 2003.  Phpnuke also existed prior to 2003.  By 2003, I was running a site of my own on a platform that had been forked from Phpnuke.  The other thing he said was that they were still adding posts by hand back then.  Certainly that was not necessary from a technology standpoint.

    Maybe Josh was just making an excuse, but I think the truth is that he really didn't know.  He did not know what the state of the art in web technology was then.  I think he probably knows more than he did then, but the technology is even more sophisticated now.  The impression I have always had is that Josh is not a web person and doesn't really know web technology.

    I'll give an example of why I think this.  There are issues that TPM dealt with where they no doubt ran into something like a hardware constraint.  Say, for example, your web server is just being hit by so much traffic that your app can't keep up.  I think this is the kind of stuff people have in mind when they want to defend Josh on the tech side.  Even so, this is always either a matter of 1.) putting more resources into software by giving your developers additional time to work the issue and/or hiring new/better developers or 2.) putting more resources into hardware by renting a bigger server, more pipe, etc.  However, there was one persistent issue at TPM that should not have been subject to such constraints: the login issue.

    You all remember that, right?  How you were logged in but then weren't but then were again?  Except that you really weren't?  Here's the thing: this is an incredibly simple issue to address.  TPM was written in PHP back then.  Session handling, which was still possible and done all the time back in the CGI days, has been built into PHP since version 4, which was released in 2000.  We're talking about login problems of this nature in 2008.  From what I could tell, TPM had written their own user management system, which is fine, but it didn't work and they left it broken for a long time.  That was a choice. The technology was there.  All it would have taken is for the boss to say, "Make this happen."

    Try to think of one other site you visited in 2008 that had a persistent problem with login. This is web programming 101 type stuff.  Nothing these sites do is complicated with respect for technology.  It's basic CRUD.  Most sites are running someone else's framework these days anyway: Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, whatever.  The only thing that really becomes an issue is volume, either of users or of data in the database, but that can always be alleviated by 1 or 2.

    More than anything, that's really why I don't have any interest in Josh's vaporware right now.  It's not that he shut the Cafe down.  Why would he shut this thing down with subscribers?  And maybe it will work better that way.  Time will tell.  The big reason I have no interest is not in how it ended, but why it ended, which was because Josh either didn't know how to or didn't want to manage it.  I'm not sure he intended to create what he did last time around.  I'm not sure what he's creating this time around.  If it's good, word will get out.

    Yes, the "computers r tuff" bit got old, with the obligatory "X is doing a bang-up job getting it back up". Once there was funding from Andreesen, it was especially ironic.

    Your history is probably correct.

    I can really empathize with Josh on these issues, and at the same time I understand why it's so frustrating to others who do get the technology and tried to let him know what was out there. I love having the advantages of technology but when it comes to the details I like to stick my fingers in my ears and sing a happy tune until my boyfriend fixes it all for me. Whenever I try to learn what I know I probably need to know, it's so overwhelming and so not my thing that I just learn the minimum, and adopt a new and marginally more knowledgeable default position of uncomfortable ambivalence. If I had tried to do what Josh did, I probably would have done it much the same way, being behind, struggling to catch up and then being a little defensive about it, because after all, I am TRYING!!!! (In fact, I know I do it that way, because I hear about it from my bf all the time. He gets quite frustrated with me and is mystified about why I get so cranky about it.)

    I don't think Josh had anybody really great to let him know what was out there, hear his ideas and close the technology gap for him. And unfortunately, hearing it from readers must have been overwhelming and seemed quite insulting. It's too bad, because by all accounts his handling of non-technical, face-to-face matters is very good. (Probably more his style and what he's interested in, anyway.)

    I'm going to lay Josh to rest now (not literally, of course.) I just don't think there's anything more to be gained by talking about how he did stuff back in the day or should have known more, etc.   I hope he'll be able to do what he needs to do to make TPMPrime work out the way he wants.

    I saw Kat did write a blog yesterday and I just hadn't had a chance to read it, she is funny and smart and I really enjoy her writing.

    I am sorry that she took the post down. But it's up at her blogsite, so I'll read it there.

    What is a blog for if it isn't to market your own books, your own talent? I don't get the animosity towards writers and them marketing their own work, it is a new world, many writers self publish and this is the new way of marketing. It almost feels like the worst kind of jealousy, one where people are jealous of another success. Wow, awfule. It's all about change and dealing with change and DAG should have the chance to expand her readership to many more people.

    I don't like the knocks against Josh either, who has never not responded to any email I've ever sent him, I wouldn't know about DAG if it weren't for Josh linking to DAG. He is growing his audience too, and marketing the best way  he can.

    There is much bitterness out there, too much. I am glad you wrote this blog.

    Can't speak for all people, but the animosity towards people marketing their own work I think comes from two things

    1) deep down, people associate marketing and blogs with the spam comments selling sneakers and what not that suddenly appear in the dozens, taking over the latest comments section, etc.

    2) some regulars see the blog as a gathering place to discuss things, etc. and find it unseemly that someone who is perceived as not a regular of that community would interrupt the discussion for what amounts to a commercial break.  Rather than members of a community, people feel perceived as mere consumers to be marketed to. 

    On liberal sites, there is the added slant of a not-so-fond feeling for capitalism among some of the commenters.  On this site, I think the support Genghis has received for his book endeavors shows there isn't much jealousy over another's success in the writing realm.

    I'm sorry it's come to this, G.  Ultimately, it's your house.  You have to set the tone and push the vision.  This seems like a good step in that direction.

    I'm remembering now discussing the future of Dag way back when.  You were talking about putting up reader blogs and we ended up talking moderation a bit.  Having moderated forums before, I anticipated what a hellish job moderation might become.  I've seen enough firmly worded TOS warnings from you and A-man to know it's been that way for a while.

    I'm not sure that I have any helpful advice to give.  Moderation sucks.  Internet forums give people an opportunity to say whatever they want whenever they want without any real world consequence.

    On the Josh thing. You're lumping different things together here and it's not useful. For starters, the fact that he helped you on your book etc. somewhat confuses the field, I think. So let's set that on one side. 

    Now. I've always been very clear about Josh. Starting with, very thankful for him setting up and building his site. However, I felt the way he shut that site down showed real disdain for people. And then when he finally folded it under pressure from the Right following a particular episode, that that was shameful.

    The reason there's a Dag of its scale and composition today is, quite largely, down to Josh. But not in a good way. Dag is the way it is because of his shoddy behaviour. 

    Beyond that, Josh Marshall never even gave people the courtesy of coming in and telling them a straight story about how and why he was doing it. It was, as ArtA more or less said, just a load of shifting tosh.

    I disagree with ArtA and others here on a lot of things, but about Josh's poor performance in that chapter there's widespread agreement. 

    In short, he deserved some buckshot in the ass. And so maybe - to use a favourite phrase of another Dag original - Josh should pull on his own goddamn Big Boy pants and take a shot from the big, ferocious, Dag bloggers.

    But instead, what did we get from him? The sum total of his re-engagement? A whiny defence against ArtAppraiser. It was pathetic. He found her comments to be bizarre and dumbfounding. Well, it's odd that when you blow the shit out of a place like TPM Readers where so many people first came to think, write and engage on the Internet with others, and do so while offering an absolute nonsense set of "explanations," and then engage in no real straight-up talk with those affected, then what ideas grow in that vacuum are likely something you'll find "dumbfounding."

    Now, as to your view that my particular comment was even less than decent, let me just say this. Bull shit. Straight up, bull shit on that Genghis. What Josh Marshall did was indecent. And he never faced the consequences of that, at all. So I don't need any lectures on how to behave around or to Josh Marshall, thanks.

    You want some truth-talking about this? Ok. Fact is, most people are scared of big names like that. You've seen it 1000 times on his own site. Most people just go all shy and reverent. And that's why they all shut up once he came on. Now, I tend to not pay much attention to the ways we should act towards our betters. But I'll tell you, calling out his comment as "Bristol bullshit" is pretty goddamn weak tea on the indecency scale. 

    Think about this. (1) There were the facts of what Josh Marshall did. Which were felt as a real-life, emotional and social body-blow by a lot of people. A lot. Think of all the bloggers who disappeared after that - and not all of them did so in any happy, "moving on" way. That's a real-world act he committed, and one for which he has never apologized or even fairly faced those he damaged. (2) And then he comes back, for his first time facing us, and he uses it to whine at ArtAppraiser? What a punk performance, dropping in to whine and be defensive, then buggering off again. His closure of TPM Readers was shameful, he never faced up to it with those involved, when he came back he was pathetic, and I called it for what it smelt like to me - bullshit.

    So if you have any more little lectures on how to behave decently, how about you save them for Josh Marshall. 

    As for your comments on how we greet other writers and new bloggers, that's a different story. Some of them have come on and been obnoxious from Day One, including with some fairly nasty stuff. For those ones, a swift kick in the ass isn't unwarranted. For those who have blogged and written and are on here flogging their work, well, all power to 'em. Tough world to sell your work in, I know that. Which is why I don't show up spitting on their boots. 

    But Josh Marshall? That guy already showed me the bottom of his boots. I hope someday to tell him over dinner and a drink - I'll buy - how he might better have handled it all. Because coming back here for a one-shot whine isn't it. 

    Then there was the issue of whether Greg Sargent was shut down because he was too friendly to the Hillary camp, or just coincidence that it looked that way....  

    (or maybe he was already prepping for his new job at WaPo and didn't want to commit political suicide)

    At the time when it seemed the site became Obama central, did not help the community feeling - the blog that fell down and couldn't get up.

    When you have a dinner and a drink with him, then I'd like to see you call him a piece of shit. You can even show him some of your graphics. And you can cogently explain to him that he deserved to be called a piece of shit because of some comment that he left at in 2012 which was in your opinion entirely too whiny. Also because he closed down a website in 2010 that you liked even though it operated at a loss and you never paid a damn cent for it.

    But even you, the fearless Quinn, wouldn't do that. You might challenge him, but you wouldn't insult him. Because you're chicken? No. Not at all. Because it takes a rare kind of asshole to insult his dinner guests, no matter how famous, and I somehow suspect that the real you is not as big an asshole as your online persona.

    No, what's chickenshit is comparing someone to human feces from the anonymity of the Internet. Why don't you fax him your poopy pictures? I think that would really show off your "Big Boy pants" as you put it. Or call him up and tell him directly. If he doesn't take your call, you can leave a voicemail. Show us the true nature of courage by personally cursing out a man you've never met who had the audacity to leave a comment that you found whiny.

    Ok then, we'll do the dance your way.

    Since when do you get your shorts knotted because somebody called bullshit on someone else? Gee, ummmmm.... yeah. Not very ever.

    You're reacting like this because he's Josh Marshall. That's it, that's all. Spin as you wish.

    Now, as for me being an "asshole," glad you could find a polite way to work that in. I'll use it as a teachable moment. Because, ummmm, how indecent. I may just have to drop out of blogging for life. I sure hope that Josh Marshall character is more hardened than I to all this rough debate. Because the use of "poo" and "asshole" pretty much means Armageddon must have begun.

    And also,"Genghis," good to see you criticizing from behind "the anonymity of the Internet." Sure you want to have that debate again? And from that stance? I doubt it. 

    And on a rhetorical and literary note, well done with making him into Saint Josh and me into the poop-flinger who has no manners. I believe your set needs some adjustment, however:

    For starters, let's try to stay at least slightly real world in our comparisons, shall we? There were a lot of people for whom TPM Readers Blogs meant an enormous amount. Why don't you ask Dick, or the hundreds of others who started blogging over there. (Oh yeah, that would include me.) And for whom, when Josh shut that site down, he took something of real value to them, without ever once giving a useful explanation. And something which had a value beyond that he placed on it, I would argue.

    And you need to stop nonsense about why he did it. It wasn't money, Genghis. No matter how many times that polite little cover is put over it, it remains a claim untainted by fact or sense. Why do I know this? Because people offered, repeatedly, to put up money. No dice.

    Josh shut it down because it was a bit of a hassle, and a place where he was being criticized, and then - in an event that marks it almost to the day, but which we're all unhappy talking about - someone who posted as a Reader got caught up in a mucky event, and the Right-wing blog sites started smearing Josh like crazy over it. Were they right? Hell no. Was Josh at fault? Hell no. But did he then fold the tent? Damn right he did. ASAP.

    And not once was there a straight-up explanation, not once an extended sit-down with those affected to walk through the why's and what next's, just as not once was there a "let's raise money" campaign. 

    As for me facing him and saying what I said, I'll repeat my suggestion that I need no lectures on morality around this, thanks but no thanks. Let's weigh the immorality and discourtesy out here shall we?

    Josh shut down an entire site for thousands of writers/readers....

    Vs., Quinn, who compared Josh's actions and comments to poo.

    Gee, let's all go to work on this difficult moral dilemma, and see if we can determine precisely who the grand moral and manners sinner is. 

    As for telling him straight-up to his face, it's kindof what I do. And have for a long time. I know precisely how hard it is, and I know the 1001 reasons people find to avoid it. One of the key things I've found is that I can differentiate between the person and the act, between the person and the comment. Which makes it possible for me to tear an act or comment down to the ground, and still think the person has loits of good in them, and perhaps even end up being friends. So, to repeat, Josh Marshall has done some good, even great, stuff. Smart, useful, kind and socially-constructive.

    But he's also done some crap stuff, Genghis. And to get right on the sharp point of what this is about, he just threw away a chance to make up for the lousy thing he did. In fact, he came here, 100% petulant, and just made it worse. 

    Thus, Josh Marshall is not a piece of shit. His comments, however, were. And his act of shutting that site down, as well as of coming back here today and making nothing but a whiny little addition, were also crap.

    My manners and my sense of courtesy remain, as I've said, just fine. I'm quite comfortable in my ability to speak what I regard as the truth to people, friend and foe, poor and powerful alike, without permanently writing them off as people. If they choose to write me off, then that's their call. And if they find my bad words and occasional poo pic too much for their sensibilities, then hey... that's their call as well. 

    But I still get to make my own call. And Josh Marshall, no matter who he is, did a lousy thing, and coming back into the Cafe here, without apology or explanation, is no way to carry on a conversation. 

    Peace out.

    My name is Michael Wolraich. You'll find it on the About page. What's your name?

    The Josh Marshall thing irritated me, but what set me me off was the Kat Nove thing. Kat Nove (not her real name) runs a bookstore in Texas. She's trying to make it as an author. She doesn't have millions of readers. She doesn't have a publicist. She's the reason I wrote this blog post. Josh Marshall just happened to fill out the picture. But you just continue right along on your with your fantasy that you are the only one brave enough to speak truth to power.

    Because that's your shield, dude. That's how you rationalize behaving like an asshole when you're in a foul mood. Truth to power, brave Qnonymous. It's an odd notion of courage.  Somehow I don't think that folks who actually put themselves at risk, say a blogger in Belarus, would see it the quite the same way.

    But I get it. If you convince yourself that insulting people is matter of honor, of honesty, of bravery, then that makes it OK to be dick. It's your way of giving yourself license to say whatever you feel like saying to whomever you want to say it to (at least in the blogosphere). Yeah, that's courage, that's Big Boy pants.

    I'm confused.  These pants?  The green ones?

    OMG is that Andre the Giant! I loved him in Princess Bride.

    As a kid, late 60's, early 70's, we used to watch the wrestling out of Montreal. They had some amazing guys - Mad Dog Vachon, Killer Kowalski, Don Leo Jonathan and greatest of them all, a fellow then known as... Le Géant Jean Ferré.

    Later, Andre the Giant. 

    As a side note from that era, there was a little black guy from Nova Scotia that wrestle, and usually lost, named Rocky Johnson, whom we LOVED. My absolute #1 favourite. He basically had one move the Flying Drop Kick. Which would work great the first 3 or 4 times in a row that he'd try it. Of course, rocky would always try it 4 or 5 times. And miss. and get beat. We kids would all be screaming at the TV, "NO ROCKY NO!" And the dumb bugger would try it once more, miss, and get counted out. It drove us nuts. 

    Anyway, he went on to have a kid. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Life is funny.

    I saw Andre the giant in a hotel at breakfast one morning.  He was big. And hung over. Friendly, though---smiled as he tried to focus his bloodshot gaze on various objects in the room....

    Genghis. Go reread this little exchange between the two of us. In it, you're the one who keeps escalating this little chat between the two of us, making it more and more personal. And more and more nasty, actually. 

    1. First off, you blogged that I (albeit unnamed) had behaved without decency. I had said nothing to you at the time, at all.

    2. I responded by talking about the way Josh had acted. Not you. Nor did I claim any grand courageous stand. In point of fact, I suggested that on the scale of things, what I said was it was "pretty goddamn weak tea." All I said to you was that you should save the lectures on how to behave for Josh, not me. Go on. Go back and read it. 

    3. You then escalated, and made it more personal again. With the fearless Quinn thing, and me being an asshole, and hiding behind anonymity and so on. Go on Genghis, go back and read it. I'm not ripping you in my responses, but you seem to feel entirely fine about insulting me. 

    4. I then replied one more time, at length, about the details of what Josh had done. And responded that you were treating my simple call of "bullshit" a hell of a lot differently for Josh than for others. And since you had suggested I wouldn't have the courage to say this stuff straight up to him, I suggested that in fact, I would. Go on, reread it, Genghis. You're the one who is all pissed off, and over-reacting about Josh. And each time, escalating your insults of me. Go on back and see if it was me doing it.

    5. And then, one more time, you again started in on the insults. WTF is up today?? If I disagree with Josh, big whoop. But suddenly I'm a dick, an asshole again, I have some fantasy about courage, etc. etc.

    You're way over-reacting. Something pissed you of, whether Kat Nove or Josh, I donno, and you're off your food. Jesus, chill a bit buddy.


    One more comment.

    Yes, sometimes I'm an asshole. Sometimes I have foul moods. And sometimes I'm even a dick.

    However, I don't actually take it lightly. I'm actually aware of a fair number of the instances in which I behave badly. And it bothers me. And I try to do something about it. I try to get better. Sometimes I come back and make up with the person involved. Sometimes I apologize.

    This is life. I fail sometimes. 

    And since you've just taken a bit of a whiz on my honour, no, I'm not the world's most courageous man. I'm fully aware that there are approximately X tens of million more courageous. And I'm plenty glad for them.

    But what I am, is courageous enough. For my own life, and what has arisen, I have had enough.

    Strange though it may seem to you, I have actually faced the mob, across a table, and come out without giving way - as well as mob goons following me to the door of my house. I have taken political stances which required me to leave my home region, as well as another such clash later on, requiring me to steer clear of an entire UK city. I have been called on the carpet by Ministers. I have been on the wrong end of riots, as well as mobs with torches. I have called out university bosses and dons and professors for their misdeeds, and put a rather significant amount of money and prestige at risk. I have quit a permanent civil service position twice, in order to do what I felt needed to be done, each time losing my pension, seniority, etc. I have had entire year's worth of salary held back by my political opponents, and had to live on what I could. I have worked with the homeless, been the first politician into entire native reserves, helped fish friends out of the depths of post-partum madness, and walked through ovarian cancer with my partner. 

    Which is to say, life can be strange, even for non-Belarussian bloggers. And life pretty much demands courage from all of us, because I already know, from peoples' stories here, that many have seen worse than I.

    Are my comments always driven by noble ends? Not bloody likely. Sometimes I'm just being boring, or foul mooded, or wanting to chat.

    Did it take much courage to - more or less - call Josh out for some "bullshit"? Nope.

    But did I do it because of some foul mood? Not at all, I'm actually in quite a good mood these days. 

    I said it... because I think now what I thought then... which is that he hurt a lot of people, and he could have avoided it, and he did it without ever facing them properly... and then for him to come back here and snipe at ArtA, as his one and only re-engagement... was just plain shoddy. Sad. Pick your word. 

    To me, it was... bullshit. 


    And a couple of extra things in case I haven't said them enough:

    - I truly appreciate the work you (and company) have done to create this site. It works well, and I know that's taken time and effort from you all.

    - Also, I understand how hard it is to moderate. Truly. And I know it's essentially beyond my skill-set or patience. I disagree with some of what you all do as moderators, but on the whole, it's appreciated. 

    - As a site, it's run light-years better than TPM was, for instance. So, it's quality. 

    - I also appreciate your efforts to defuse through humour, and general tolerance. Those are good things and aren't just natural talents - you've had to work at them.

    - I even get that some people may actually be different in real life than they are online, no matter their name or avatar or whatever. Sometimes, I dislike a person's persona - as you mentioned above - but I am able, over time usually, to come to the realization that a person's online persona is likely different than their real life nature.  My point though, is that I get these differences. Even with Josh Marshall. (Though I'd damn sure still ask him what crawled up his butt about the Readers Blogs a few years back.)

    - As for the anonymity thing? Can we just tell the truth here? As a site administrator, you know my real name. I suspect half of Dagblog does, from offline chats, and for the record, as does Josh Marshall - I emailed him with it years ago. So.... as I think people understand, the "name" issue is more around work, and for those of us who must go out an drum up new work, with governments and such, we actually face a much higher standard than long-term employees, for instance, would face, as they usually have established rights to speak out in their personal life. As a consultant? Not so much.

    - Anyway, I genuinely hope no real harm comes from the Josh episode. I thank the guy for his past work, and hope he does well in the future. I just think he fall below the standard in this past chapter, and recently bluffed his chance to make it better. Nuff said. 


    I'm going to work to tone down my reply in response to your graciousness. I'm really angry about this stuff, as you might noticed, angry that the environment is so toxic here that I do not feel that I can invite anyone I know to contribute to dagblog. I did not and do not single you out, but you surely are a contributor.

    Had you owned up to it and acknowledged that Josh really just ticks you off and that maybe you crossed the line, I would have just let it go. But that's not your style. We've been around this circle a few times now, and every time, it's the same self-righteous defense about how someone has to take the big boys down a notch.

    So what I'm doing is calling your bullshit. Because that's exactly what it is. You call Josh's comment a piece of poop and then insist that he's behaving immaturely. You devote pages of text to a two-year-old grievance and then accuse him of whining. You flame the guy--which he of course ignores--and pretend that you're accomplishing something for all the little folks he has oppressed. Only in some upside down fantasy blogworld does any of this make the slightest bit of sense.

    When you strip away all that bullshit, all the shallow rationalizations and exculpations, what is left is that you behaved like an ass. This is hardly the first time. And whenever someone calls you out for behaving like an ass, the same bullshit comes out.

    The thing is, I actually really like you when you're not being an ass. You can be very smart, very funny, very astute, and very gracious. And I really appreciate that you've been a dagblog regular from the very beginning--even before everyone else made the migration. It's hard for me to imagine dagblog without you. You might call me your defender-in-chief. But I do not have anymore patience for your bullshit.

    If you feel that you are unable or unwilling to control the urge to be a jerk--that someone has speak poop to power, as you would have it, and that you have to be that someone--then please do not blog here. I really hope that you don't feel that way--truly, I would miss you--but I cannot abide the rudeness and nastiness around here anymore. It has to stop.

    You're madder than I am. Rare enough, that I should just walk.

    Hope things get better, peace out.


    "The reason there's a Dag of its scale and composition today is, quite largely, down to Josh. But not in a good way. Dag is the way it is because of his shoddy behaviour."

    I think we have to stop relitigating the demise of TPMCafe.  For one thing, Dag existed while TPM still had reader blogs and while there was no indication that the Cafe was going anywhere.  I registered with this site well before TPMCafe closed. But, yes, I became far more active after.  And, yes, the proprietors here offered a home to the castaways.

    And, that's all ancient history that's largely not important to any of the millions of strangers out there who we might want to have come read what we're writing now.  What would a stranger think, reading anti-Josh posts on this site after so much time has past?  We need to get over it already because it's undermining what we're creating now.  Who cares how we got here?  What we're doing is what matters.  If I were a stranger and came here and saw this, I might never come back.  It just screams "losers."

    I would disagree with you only in the sense that I think there is some historical value to the collective understanding of what this blogosphere community is and not only where it is going but where it should go, you know the reason why we study the history of anything.  Of course, when it comes to the demise of TPMCafe, the comments here become less historical/sociological analysis and more personal testimony (to be used later by some historian). 

    One of the more interesting dynamics is that there seems to be in this case the classic tension between the owner of the site, who is as Genghis points out, losing money keeping the site going, and those participating in the site who view it not from a business perspective, but a social community perspective which has no price tag.

    I agree with this Destor, past is past, but you really can't make that point when at least in recent history its one of the progenitors of Dag that's bringing up the subject of Josh. If it were the readers who were writing blogs and beginning the discussion you'd have a better case. Given the history of many Dagblog participants its inevitable that when the subject comes up even peripherally relitigation will happen. Clearly a blog about tpmprime, whether intentional or not, invites comparisons and relitigation of tpmcafe history.

    No, Destor, what this screams is that someone posted up a blog inviting people here to a guy's site. A guy who had trashed their previous online "home. And who had never adequately explained or apologized for it. But who was now setting up a site almost exactly like the one he had once killed. With the main difference being that he was going to charge money. An odd thing, because people had offered to pay money back then, but were ignored.

    So... some people on this site lost something back there, which can't be regained. And they're pissed. Where as others stand to perhaps gain more by having a positive renewed relationship with the person running the old site. More power to them, but calling those who remain angry "losers" makes no more sense than some others are called "self-interested," right? 

    My motivations have nothing to do with self interest.  They are, however, sinister.

    I knew it. 

    And while we're at it, gotta give you max points or good-naturedness, Destor. Good man.

    I knew it. 

    And while we're at it, gotta give you max points for good-naturedness, Destor. Good man.

    Too much Tv, Trope. You need to take up something more wholesome. 

    Knitting, maybe.

    I think I saw Extreme Knitting on Spike TV once...maybe I'm just Russian in my soul.

    I think some of it really is that we all tend to have a thick skin around here, when we're around people we're familiar with.  But we have been too quick to run some people off and the topic of Josh always seems to stir the collective emotional conscience.

    Our first guests, with the post about the middle east, weren't accepted too badly at first.  I think that they kind of did a hit and run and if they had stuck around and engaged with their commenters, they would have fared better.  When they didn't, somebody followed their link and publicly dismissed the whole post as a freebie advertisement and then some abuse set in.  Frankly, their publicist should have told them that if they want to sell books that they have to do more than put together a generic blog post to be posted around the web.  It's up to them to build the relationships that sell ideas.

    However, Dag would clearly be better off with more participation from authors and all authors, particularly those embarking on self-publishing, have a financial incentive.  They have to eat, too!  Maybe Kat can be persuaded to give us another shot.  I didn't see her posts, but I think the well was poisoned by the first authors.

    That said, when it comes to mercantile interests, maybe this community of all communities, should hold books and websites and films and plays and ideas in special regard.  It is bad when somebody tries to use the site to sell knock-off designer shoes and we police for that.  But if the worst thing that happens is that somebody tries to sell you a book, try not to be offended.

    As for Josh -- I've been on the less skeptical side and I signed up for TPM Prime.  If I feel like I threw $50 away, I know I won't feel bad about the money going to him.  Mother Jones and The Nation are foundation supported and those foundations are run by old money families.  Nothing wrong with that.  It's one way of doing left wing journalism and it's worked for a long time.  Another is to be like MSNBC and be part of something bigger.  And then you can be left wing until the bigger part doesn't want you to be any more.  Another way is to come from a wealthy family and then you can travel around the world documenting your own caring for the oppressed.  Josh doesn't have any of those things.  He has a history degree and once had a journalism job that he augmented with a blog.  He worked.  I respect that.

    And, now let's get to what's important: us.  There's a lot of smart stuff written here.  There are a lot of good debates that should be shared and read more widely.  We should attempt not to undermine that by being a-holes to strangers.  Ultimately, we should try to bring people in, or we shouldn't be surprised when they keep getting their news and views from the same old, flawed sources.

    But if the worst thing that happens is that somebody tries to sell you a book, try not to be offended.

    There are appropriate and inappropriate ways of doing that.  Just cutting and pasting marketing copy seems both inappropriate and disrespectful to the intelligence of the readers.  If Kat has something interesting to say, why doesn't she try saying it?  One thing I hate is inauthenticity.

    Why all this sudden interest in book publicity?  Why Genghis's post yesterday about supporting writers?  Why hawking Josh's new initiative?  Do you guys have some side deals in play?

    There's no side deal with TPM Prime.  I suspect that the math would not work out to support sides in any event.  The opinion business isn't exactly commodities futures, as you know.  nobody was hawking TPM Prime.  Genghis never said to sign up for it.  I said I was going to and I did.  My celebrity endorsement can't be worth much.

    Why shouldn't Genghis put up an article about supporting writers?  In my view, writers do need more support and we're logical people to want to lend a hand.  But there's no real interest in book publicity.  From my perspective, there is interest in having authors come here to discuss their work.  How good those discussions are will be, like anything else, a mixed bag, right?


    The article was whiny.

    You want to support writers?  Support a growing, prosperous economy that can support the broad consumption of the craft of writers.  Don't support Obama's gloomy Bowlesification of America.

    My wife and I are barraged these days by phone calls from charitable organizations asking for more, more, more.   I feel for them.  We are enduring a miserable, contracted landscape of US prosperity that can no longer support the level of charitable giving it once did.  The charitable organizations all seem increasingly desperate, and are in competition with one another, and as a result they resort to increasingly annoying techniques.  But we're tapped out, as are most people I suspect.

    Not every precious love with a keyboard and a head full of self-adored words deserves support.  And they certainly don't all deserve a check.  I write things in various places around the internet because I am committed to the points I am trying to defend and the ideas I am trying to spread.  Nobody pays me for it, and nobody is going to pay me for it - because in the new world of mass electronic communication words are produced in incredible abundance.  Even thoughts of very high quality, insight and precision are available everywhere for free.  That's the new world we live in.  People should adjust to it and understand that very few people will be able to make a living at wordsmithing.

    If you have something important to communicate, by all means try to communicate it.  But don't expect prizes and admiration.  Communicating worthwhile ideas in the new world is like paying your taxes.  It is something we all can do, and all should do, and all have to do - but nobody is going to pat you on the head for it.  Nor should they.

    I think one thing we especially don't have any more time for these days is yet another cheeky, snarky display of self-indulgent hipster wit.  We have more than enough of that.  It's not entertaining any more.   Why is it that people have such a hard time simply deciding what they believe, and then arguing for what they believe in unadorned, straightforward prose?  Maybe they don't have anything important to say after all, something that can stand on its own without all the larding of writerly ornamentation?  And if they don't, what is the basis of their plea for support?

    "I think one thing we especially don't have any more time for these days is yet another cheeky, snarky display of self-indulgent hipster wit."

    And Lena Dunham just got a $3.5 million advance.  Keep fighting, DK.  It's a strange world out there.


    But don't expect prizes and admiration. 

    I'm not asking you to give anyone any prizes or...(the horror)...encouragement. I'm asking you not to be a jerk to people. I understand that this is a great sacrifice for you, especially in this terrible economy, but this is no time to be self-indulgent. Think about it this way, the less time you spend denouncing self-indulgent hipsters, the more you time you will have to devote to straightforward communication.

    Hmmm.... this sounds familiar to me.. like a time when I tried posting a comment on TPM last year or so and found was attacked intensely  for disagreeing with the president.  And as I recall there were times that things were really rank and heated in the cafe there at times.

    I have not experienced that same animosity here at Dag but I tend to keep a low profile so maybe I just don't see these things.  I enjoy intelligent discourse and diverse opinions that have an added perspective of getting to know something about the writers here over time.

    It would be helpful for us to give new posters a little space to say hello and reveal themselves and perhaps to be 'inquisitive' as you might be when meeting a new person in real life.

    On the other hand I think new posters could also be encouraged to engage and find there way and everyone always has the option to invite dialogue to a higher level including Josh:)

    Representative of human nature it might be healthiest for us all to learn as a community how to uplift conversation or move it to a more constructive place when it devolves as your post does.  Thanks for posting this.

    Genghis, authors post essays on blogs and in print periodicals to promote their books.  That's normal and there is nothing wrong with that.  But usually when an author is invited to publish something of that sort, they are given to understand that they are supposed to write something worth reading.   It might be an edited excerpt from their book.  It might be a stand-alone piece that gives some background on the book and explains what they were trying to accomplish.  But neither of the two pieces you are talking about were like that.  Both were embarrassing pieces of cheesy marketing tripe, transparently uninterested in serious engagement and written from the level of insipid commercial distance that is immediately obvious to anyone who has even minimal cultural radar.  Both were simply "Hey, read this book" publicity statements.

    A publicist is not an author.  And an author who wants to be taken seriously shouldn't write like their own publicist.  Your embarrassment is misplaced.

    Maybe we can teach people instead of running them off.

    I didn't make any comments on the most recent post myself, destor.  But I think you need to ask yourself why some of the other commenters reacted so negatively.  Disrespect is met with disrespect.  If someone insults the intelligence of readers by slapping them in the face with a spammy junk post, they are going to get a like insult in return.  The post was immediately taken down.  If it were still there then I think people who didn't get a chance to read it would see what we are talking about.  I can't believe we are even arguing about this, because it really was embarrassing.

    Did you ever get a call at your home from some fast-talking huckster?  Do they deserve respect too?  If someone wants to try to write for a living, then I guess they are going to have to get used to a world of critics.

    Not to bring up TPM again, because I have no desire to get into that debate too.  But TPM Cafe used to run a pretty good feature called the "TPM Book Club", I believe.  Writers would post essays as part of that series, and they were obviously trying to promote their books too.  But the essays were serious pieces that could stand on their own and generate discussion.  They weren't just vulgar spam.  Spam doesn't turn into non-spam just because someone invited the spammer to post the spam.

    Maybe invitations to review a new book could be done differently from the blog post format where one or a few ideas are put forward and people respond to those points.

    When I made my comments on the Drew post, I was expressing actual confusion, not employing a rhetorical put down. I had gone to the link for the book and it did not let one "look" inside it, not even an introduction.

    I can understand why an author hoping to garner interest in their writing might not want to write an essay for the sake of posting on a particular web site but that essay should be available somewhere.  I have read some interesting work via the Creative Corner where people just pointed elsewhere to view them. Maybe a "New Book" heading could encourage the same sort of interest and encourage both poster and reader to treat the matter differently than when responding to a self contained exposition.

    Moat, I don't even remember who said what on that thread, and it's not important.  Whether it's an author promoting a new book or a first-time blogger or some guest contributor, I want people to be able to come here and receive some modicum of respect. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't challenge them. It means that we shouldn't insult them.

    She insulted us.

    Thank you, Dan. When the world requires a serious blogger to ride into town and round up all the inferior writers who do not meet his standards for important literature of the straightforward variety, I'm sure that you will receive a call. In the meantime, please don't pretend that you're doing the world or the economy or the blog or anyone but yourself a favor by being an asshole.

    PS That was an insult. I trust that you're clever enough to discern the difference.

    I don't know what has got you all twisted up.  I didn't even comment on the damn post when it was up.  But it wasn't even a blog post.  It was an ad.  It was ad that was cut and pasted from the marketing copy on the web site for the book.  Does this look familiar?:

    Hey, you!  Yeah, we’re talking to all you feeble-minded cadgers, down-and-outers, guttersnipes, freeloaders, paupers, vagrants,  laggards, slugs, lollygaggers, sloths, homeless, wastrels,  entitlement seekers, moochers, slackers and all around non-personal responsibility takers.  You know who you are.  And so does Mitt Romney.

    We have to assume that in those brief moments you shake off your apathy, you’ve wanted to read Waiting for Karl Rove.  But unfortunately for you, food stamps cannot be used to purchase great literature.

    Great news!  You have one last chance to get Waiting for Karl Rove FREE on your Kindle.  (Sure, don’t feed your kids or pay your taxes, but make damn sure you have a Kindle.)  LAST CHANCE is Wednesday, October 10, 2012.  After that, you’re going to be out $2.99.  Hell, you tip more than that for your coffee at Starbucks!

    We suggest you get off your lazy asses and take advantage of this great offer!  After you read it, take some of those tax dollars you don’t pay and buy the sequel: Kat and Jeni’s Terrible, Horrible,  No Good, Very Bad Day, Kindle version now available on Amazon.

    And Karl Rove?  Remember that dinner party where that guy told you about our book?  Remember how you said you’d check it out?  Well, here’s your chance you cheap bastard!

    When you invited her to post something, maybe you should have suggested that she actually write a post instead of using dagblog as just a billboard for her book ad.  I mean, she wrote a whole book.  How hard could it be to write a few original paragraphs - maybe even a few words about what the book is actually about?

    You goofed.  And now you are embarrassed for dagblog because some people didn't appreciate reading an advertisement in the spaces where posts are supposed to go?  You're the one who re-opened this can of worms by writing a post about it.

    Hey, I've got some stuff to sell too.  Want to buy a subscription to Publisher Alley?  Or how about my used telescope that my wife is begging me to get rid of?  I can also give Hume lectures for my new low, low rate of $500/hr.


    Moat, I don't even remember who said what on that thread, and it's not important.

    Wha? Not important? Isn't what this entire blog entire blog about- what was exactly said.  The moment I read your blog, knowing your knowledge how any meta blog will blow up and that throwing Josh and Q into the mix, all the while asking for civility, I expected you wanted, maybe subconsciously (channeling my inner-Maureen Dowd) want things to disintegrate to justify your walking away from dagblog, which you threaten to do at end of the blog. 

    If you want to walk from having an open forum political blog so be it.  But be honest about it.  People will never never never never respond in a way that correspond with the way you think they should, just as people will never never never never respond in a way that correspond with the way I think they should. 

    Maybe you are more aligned with Josh than I thought you were.  And now in a weird way I am finding myself in Q's camp and wondering whether I want to spend any more time at Dagblog.  Even though I just posted a blog.

    Maybe I'll just be gadfly at firedog and redstate.

    AT   -    I'm delivering the same message to you that I did to Ramona:  You best not even think about it.  I will hunt you down and give you the same 'I heart Mitt' tat that I threatened her with and well, I will.

    This whole thing has been exhausting.  I feel somewhat responsible.

    And if I can get he strength to watch the debate tomorrow night, I am counting on you to be there (open thread of course) too.  So, best show up or .............wink

    Now you'll have to excuse me, I need to go read your latest blog.

    The Rumble in Hempstead. I'll be there (i..e I'll be here at Dagblog).  But doesn't the fact that hemp is involved in the site of debate favor Biden?

    Well, if it means what I think it means, perhaps Lyin' Ryan will succumb to the lure and be laid back with slow speech?!?  cool

    Dude seriously? Geez Trope, reading is hard isn't it. Genghis/Mike didn't threaten to leave, he wrote that if he ever didn't care about the blog and about the contents of the blog and about what people were saying to each other he would know it was time to hang up his hat, that is completely different than how you twisted his words. And he was completely honest about it, from what I actually read in his blog.

    I think Kat is funny, ironic, and a good writer. But I'd like to know what your definition of quality is? Because you know that is a pretty loose term and everyone would think quality is different. I for one hate those  Patterson books, I think he can't write, but he sells a ton of book so someone must think he can write.  Kat is a self-published author, self-published, if you are so up on the anti-corporate, anti-capitalism BS that you wrote about above, then she is just the type of author you should support or at least give a chance to, not just knock her because she wrote a blog about the book she just published. And she would have interacted with everyone, had anyone given her a chance.

    Well, if Kat her blog up I could comment on it.  Since she deleted it, I have no reference.  I respect your opinion, but without anything to reference Kat is just a three letter word to me. Maybe if she just let her work stand here, in spite of some comment made below it, I would be shouting her name to the stars.  I doubt that Wilder or Wolfe would let some comment on a blog keep them from posting their writing if they were writing in our time. So what does it mean "giving a chance"?  If I post something of my creative writing in an open forum, I expect some serious ripping (similar to ripping one gets in the writing workshops in the academic ivory towers). Which is why you don't see my poetry (of which I do have degree in)

    My comments about anti-corporationism was not so much my view but one finds on sites as this.  I have my issues with multinationals, but just because a company has become a corporation does not make it evil de facto in my book. As I have said before, the non-profit I work for is legally a corporation. 


    Maybe I am wrong, but I believe the text I posted just a few comments above this one is the very same text she posted to dagblog.

    I want what we have always wanted, why we started dagblog in the first place, a forum where people can feel comfortable expressing and debating a variety of political ideas, where intelligence, wit, and civility are valued. Folks around here are pretty good with the intelligence and wit. Civility has always been more lacking. After two years of cajoling and warning and mocking and banning and scolding, we still have a blog where people thing OK, even a good idea, to act like a jerk. I'm sick of it. That's why I wrote this uncivil meta post.

    No Dan, she didn't.  I was the one who replied to her initial post and she wasn't insulting at all.  Her post was satirical and actually inviting any to download a free copy of book onto Kindle (for those who have one). 

    I had no idea who she was and reacted as if she were some huckster. 

    If any are to be held accountable for this specific issue, that would be me.  I didn't curse or anything, but wrote something like, 'Gee, if anyone can come on site and peddle their stuff, let me know 'cuz I know people who would pay me ten percent if they could sell their crap here.' (something like this.)

    I was too quick to quip and, not to shock you, but was being a bit of a smart ass.

    Genghis had invited her (I wasn't aware), but even so in retrospect I should have emailed him and asked if this post was sanctioned.

    So, I bad and I apologize.  I was wrong.

    I appreciate that, Aunt Sam. Unlike flaming, apologizing does actually take courage.

     I too appreciate Aunt Sam's apology and understand her explanation.

     I hope Jeni and kat return. If you have further contact maybe you will opass that on. I just looked at my kindle to remember their names and from what I remember of them I am looking forward to reading their book. 

    Aunt Sam, you are falling on your sword to save Genghis from embarrassment, but you have no reason to apologize.  You responded to her post "like she was some kind of huckster", because the post was written like the post of some kind of huckster.

    But maybe now the story is that it was actually some very witty faux-huckster irony.

    And I have nothing against the book.  It might be great.  But an ad is an ad.

    Now I'm sorry for being such the asshole here.  But I don't see how Genghis gets off coming here to wag his finger at people who responded poorly to his own decision to invite someone to post a vapid book ad on a blog.  And he's being a bit off a cad to graciously accept this apology he wrung from you over something you have no business being embarrassed about in the first place.


     Dan, I cannot speak for nor control anyone but myself.  I do believe I could and should have crafted my comment better.  As my momma said, 'It's no what you say, it's how you say it.'

    I'm a bit insulted that you think Genghis (or any) 'made me apologize' and/or 'wrung' an apology from me.  If I have ever given you or any the impression that I am that weak or easily led, well I'd sure like to know how and when.

    If I didn't feel the personal need to issue an apology, believe me, I never would.

    I understand Genghis's angst and feelings.  He has invested much into this site and it is because of him and the other moderators that we have dag.  I agree with his overview about too much vitriol and nastiness, personal attacks.  Reactionary wars so to speak. I abhor them, but have no doubt gotten riled enough to join in a time or two.  Not proud of it. And nothing positive comes from these negative 'uprisings'.

    Sometimes we get so stuck in attempting to get another to share our views, that we only end up polluting the whole discussion.

    I swear, there's more really smart people on this site (you included) than I could find in the town where I live.  Why is it that we can't debate without the pettiness and ad hominem attacks?

    I very much appreciate  your talking with me about this, but honestly Dan, it's very rare that anyone can manipulate or make me do something I don't want or feel the need to do (venture to say we have that in common).



    Well, I believe that Sam.  So I'll accept that you honestly do feel sorry.

    I really am not trying to pick on Kat Nove.  I didn't say anything about the post when it went up.  I know how hard it is out there.  I know everybody is trying to survive and make a buck, and maybe even achieve some kind of dream or notoriety along the way.  But is it too much to ask that certain spaces remain commerce-free zones?  Everywhere you go on the blogosphere, as I'm sure you are aware, there are ads pressing in from the margins, in popups, in banners.  I think a lot of people naturally feel that when this junk starts breaking down the dikes and pouring into the content spaces themselves, that's when you have to put up the red flag and start piling up the sandbags.  I react poorly to endlessly encroaching commerce in cultural and intellectual life, just as I react poorly to essential democratic debate on important issues being replaced by horse race political infotainment.

    Expanding the topic, you can go to all kinds of liberal sites where a writer is trying with all her might to defend some liberal position, and where an ad right next to it says something like "Click here to get more information on Antrichrist Obama's phony birth certificate!"  The single ad and the clicks it gets probably undermines most of the work the writer is doing.  And yet liberal sites are apparently compelled to run these things due to financial constraints.

    People maybe think I talk about economic issues too much.  But isn't this symptomatic of our predicament?  Commercial power owns us.  It owns our lives.   It forces us to bow and scrape and surrender and behave in the most humiliating manners.   Liberals should feel the same way about seeing their blogs plastered with conservative ads as conservative Christians would feel if all of their churches were forced to rent space from a national chain of whorehouses and erect steamy billboards on their steeples.  Why do they put up with this horror?

    Going completely off the present track now ...

    Liberals seem frozen in paralyzed, bestial terror and are unwilling or unable to fight.  The capitalist leviathan now owns the formerly liberal political party.  Pete Peterson runs your economic policy.  Jamie Dimon and Tim Geithner make the political decisions.  They are destroying everything; destroying prosperity; spreading inequality; destroying democracy and replacing it with technocracy.   They are buying the universities and the right to teach our children - creating a new capitalist Magisterium that will bury us all in another dark age.

    You guys say, "Well we have to win the election first, and then we'll start fixing it."  But you won't.  You will continue to let the steamroller flatten you and say that the President is "doing the best he can."

    I've intentionally refrained over the past several weeks from writing about the things that are on my mind because I know they won't be received well, and I don't want to start fights - and because I know nobody will be in the mood to talk about anything but the election, or the narrow band of issues that come up as campaign talking points, until election day is past.

    But, with due respect, you guys are utterly crazy lately.  You don't even write posts on the theme of what you hope Obama will achieve in the next term.  You have been writing about Republicans non-stop since the Republican primary.  All you seem to have left is white-knuckled fear about Republican onslaughts and your hopes are now down to desperately hanging on to the last few scraps of the New Deal and Great Society - that you know Obama is going to trade away in his next term.

    I think Obama deserves a huge part of the blame for this.  He is a fearful and owned man in a permanent defensive crouch - a Democrats all over the country seem to have internalized his weakness.  Demand more from him and stop making excuses for Chamberlain-like surrender!


    Dan,  There's a lot you are stating that I agree with......

    But for now - I'll pick this to reply to.....

    You don't even write posts on the theme of what you hope Obama will achieve in the next term. You have been writing about Republicans non-stop since the Re publican primary.

    You are absolutely right, we continue to give them to much power and ignore what I do believe we would be better off contemplating and discussing.  So, I'm going to think of which one to post about and try to write about it.  Thanks (we all need a bit of a bump in the tush sometimes to redirect our energies and refocus).

    I'm going to copy and paste this to reference for future discussions with you as well as to use as 'food for thought'.

    I agree with much of what you posted. The shift right ward by both parties has been terrible. I admit to being in bestial terror that republicans might win and will be very little satisfied if democrats win. But you know liberals haven't been silent for most of Obama's term, we've just lost. As many predicted Obama is not willing to fight or is much more right than some supposed.

    But that's not why I decided to respond. You pushed one of my buttons with this:

    Liberals should feel the same way about seeing their blogs plastered with conservative ads as conservative Christians would feel if all of their churches were forced to rent space from a national chain of whorehouses and erect steamy billboards on their steeples.  Why do they put up with this horror?

    And this from another comment:

    Even thoughts of very high quality, insight and precision are available everywhere for free.  That's the new world we live in.  People should adjust to it and understand that very few people will be able to make a living at wordsmithing.

    I am so tired of this expectation that we don't need to support those who offer space and content on the internet. No one likes ads but how do you expect people to get paid without them. We're facing a real crisis as reporters and news sites lose revenue. Information doesn't appear by magic, someone does the investigation. We are able to post these blogs only because someone has done the reporting we read. Newpapers are going out of business and news aggregators are taking their place. If news isn't supported in some way there will be nothing of value for the aggregators to link.

    There was a time when people were willing to pay for news, to support reporters. My parents subscribed to two newspapers, a morning paper and the local evening paper. We had several monthly magazines in our house. My father and all of my uncles and aunts had at most a high school education, no college, but there were newspapers in all their houses. Even when my dad was a lowly  paid laborer at the Bethlehem Steel we had a subscription to at least a newspaper.

    "The internet wants to be free," what a fucking crock. Its a damn excuse to steal music and movies. Most people on the internet are also stealing their news. We have a role to play in helping news sites find a new business model as the traditional news papers and magazines fail. If that means I need to ignore some crappy ad for dick cream to make my pecker bigger or viagra to make it hard longer so be it. If I have to put up with conservative ads on my liberal sites so be it. No one, no one will produce the news I want for free.

    Josh claims about 4 million monthly users and he's begging to get 3000 to sign up for tpmPrime. So maybe he created some difficulty himself by his previous treatment at the readers blog and cafe but still, out of 4 million he can't get 3000? If people are getting their news online and they're not paying at least one site for it they are the problem not the conservative ads on the liberal sites. If we want an internet of value its not the wordsmiths that need to adjust to the new world its the readers.


    Leaving the final paragraph aside...amen to what you wrote.  Even if one does not make it his concern whether people producing value in these ways are able to eat and put a roof over their heads, there is no something for nothing in this context that I can discern.  The air we breathe is free.  It's a gift that we need to treasure and protect.  Any human being producing something of value, or trying, needs to be able to pay their grocery bills--when you go to the checkout line, last time I checked you still have to pay whether you just created the writing equivalent of the Mona Lisa or not.

    Interesting how you managed to get the Obama-bashing even into a blog post about the internals of dagblog, but since I'm one of those who prefers to go after the Republicans for the next three weeks--and intend to do just that--I'll answer your claim that we liberals are crazy.

    We're not.  We know exactly what we're doing.  This election is as important an election as we're ever going to see, mainly because this country is being threatened by a rogue bunch of billionaires, religious righties and bald-faced liars. 

    I do believe if the Republicans take over we may not be able to survive what comes after.  We're on the edge right now, and there are no heroes riding up on their white horses ready to save us.  We have to do that ourselves, and the last thing we should be doing is giving rogue billionaires, religious righties and bald-faced liars the keys to the kingdom.

    I'm going to vote for Barack Obama because he's the best we have at the moment.  If you don't like it, that's your call, but I'm not going to let you call me crazy because I'm seeing something out there that you're not.

    Frankly, I don't know how you could miss it.  The Republicans are practically begging us to vote for them so they can take away everything we've gained since Obama took office.  Our gains may not seem like much to you, but it's a start and I'm not going backward without a fight.

    Now, if you want to take this argument further, I suggest you start a post about it and leave this one to its original intent.


    That's not the crazy I'm talking about.  I haven't told anyone not to vote for Obama.  I just think you should all demand more for him.

    But for the life of me, I can't even tell what most of the people at dagblog want him to accomplish in the next term.  Obama seems to have become a cause-in-itself that is unmoored from any kind of larger program or agenda.  The only thing I see you guys talking about is whether his daily poll numbers went from 48.3% to 48.7%.  That's the crazy stuff - pure formalistic politics devoid of policy debate.

    And it's not like the politics is just one part of the picture.  There is a whole world of events happening out there that most of you never even talk about.

    Truth be told, I'm angrier at you people than I am at Obama.  He requested that people "make him" do the right thing.  But you haven't.  You have cut him slack for every failure, and manufactured endless excuses and rationalizations for everything he does.  If Barack Obama said next week, "Maybe Social Security wasn't such a good idea after all" or "Workers are spoiled and have too much power in America" I would fully expect the majority of you to fall in line with the new message.

    We now live in a much more conservative and brutal country than we did when Obama took office.  That's shocking.  Obama's weakness is a big part of the reason why.  And the weakness of Obama is just a symptom of the weakness of modern liberalism.

    You are kind and awesome Auntie.

    I'll always think that.

    tmac, back atcha!   Appreciate you.

    If it is not important then my words come to an end.

    Fare forward. I wish you all the best.



    By the way, I just reviewed the Mike Drew post, and the comments don't seem all that harsh, although many are quite critical.  And if a publicist steers client away from exposure to critical comments of that sort to protect the author's fragile ego, they are in the wrong business.

    I have written some essays lately that were picked up by web sites with large readerships, and some of the comments I received were brutal.  They mocked my thesis, my argument, my writing style and even my byline.  It goes with the territory.  Guess what.  When your ideas are exposed to readers a lot of people don't like them.  You try to learn from the ones  that make good points and say an inner "F you, Jack" to the stupid ranters.


    Yeah, there are a bunch of stupid ranters at too. I never bother to read the comments there.

    But dagblog is not Our contributors are encouraged and expected to read and reply to the comments. That can only work if the commenters are not stupid ranters--or jackasses.

    The authors of the recent post in question posted a book advertisement, a spiel, a pitch, a piece of marketing copy.  I am not using these terms just for rhetorical effect.  I think I'm describing the post 100% accurately.  That's all it was - a marketing pitch.  I ask people to read the text of the post which I re-posted above to form their own judgments.

    It wasn't a piece of substantive content with a marketing pitch subtly worked in at the end.  It wasn't an excerpt from the book  It wasn't a post aimed at engaging with the readers and provoking discussion.  It wasn't clever satire on the nature of marketing and commerce.  It was pure, fly-by marketing copy.

    So is the standard now that people can't use the reader post privileges to post marketing pitches for flowers, tobacco or legal services, but they can use them to market books?  Because book writers are creators whose unique service to humanity earns them a special license to hawk their wares in whatever forum they want?  That's good to know.  I work in the book industry and know many struggling publishers who are always happy to find more venues for disseminating their marketing materials.  And I can personally vouch for several of them as very nice people.

    I wish I didn't have to say these things since they are probably embarrassing now to the author of the post, who probably wishes she had written something different.  It could have been dropped.  But it's the host who is not dropping it.  My understanding is that dagblog expects readers to do a certain amount of self-policing of the site, and some of those readers now are being charged with responding inappropriately to a guest in a way that embarrassed the site host, when it seems to me they responded appropriately to a kind of content that thankfully does not now clog the site.  It's no different than when you see someone drop some litter in your neighborhood and you say, "Hey, pick that up.  We don't do that around here."

    Dan, I think you're a talented writer, often eloquent and passionate on issues that concern many here.  But with you there is *never*, AFAIK, a f'king benefit of the doubt granted to the site moderators, and often not to others, either.  Is it conceivable to you that the moderators might have known who the person was who posted marketing their product, and had, if not reasons you would in the end agree with, reasons worth your listening to on why they did this before going off on them?  Is it a crime against humanity--yet another intolerable reminder of this intolerable economic system--if it can pass without it leading to vitriol?  Aunt Sam, whether she needed to or not, apologized for being a bit quick on the draw and sought to move on from this.  Why can't you move on from it?  Why do you have to be so gratuitously nasty to individuals?  There's a business world phrase--you've probably heard it--that goes something like "be tough on the problem, not on the people".  Personally I think there is wisdom in that.

    Maybe you've seen the movie "Reds"--it's one of my favorites.  There's a scene where the co-lead character, Jack Reed, played by Warren Beatty, is meeting with 3 or 4 fellow comrades/activists in his home.  They are plotting strategy.  One of the fellows, I'll call him "Joe" here, shows up late.  Worse, because his kid was sick or something legit like that, Joe was unable to get an important message to another one of their activist friends.  Reed dresses down his comrade, telling him not to fuck up, to be reliable.  Afterwards, his wife Louise, played by Diane Keaton (she was the character in the film who showed remarkable personal intellectual and emotional growth and insight) says to him privately "You were a little rough on Joe, don't you think?"  He pops a few more pills for his high blood pressure. 

    You're so anxious to kickstart the revolution that you've forgotten how to practice the values it is ostensibly based on. 

    You espouse views that are on their face grounded in treating other human beings with a certain degree of compassion, respect, and humanity.  I hope you'll try harder at practicing that here.  Unless you want to chase away people who agree with you on many things but will not go anywhere you are going because you give them easy excuses to think you're a jerk and that your espoused public values bear little or no relationship to your personal ones.   

    They let you come in here and you still crap in their home.  On a regular basis.  Say whatever you want about anyone's views but please stop being a dick to so many other people in this forum on an interpersonal level.  Oh, and please stay every bit as tough on the problems as you are.  Just not so hard on the people.  Please.

    If the moderators now wish to kick me off the site for awhile for a harsh personal attack, I accept that consequence, and will not sulk or whine or do passive aggressive or any of the other horseshit ways some folks here concoct to dump on one another.

    My experience over the past few years has been that I often have to be a bit of a jerk and a squeaky wheel to accomplish anything, and that being courteous and ingratiating are not always effective.  If you don't fight and irritate and offend people, you are probably losing the battle and getting walked over.  My experience is also that a lot of modern liberals are giant babies who have lost the will or ability to fight for the future, who cave in at the slightest opposition, and who need to have their tender egos stroked all the time.  Sometimes they hang out on blogs where all their friends will tell them how awesome and wonderful they are.

    But they are standing by and letting their children and grandchildren get steamrolled by history - or at least other people's children and grandchildren.  I don't respect that, and so really don't have a lot of compassion for their delicate feelings.  If some people are thinking, "That Kervick - what an asshole!" then good.   That means they are angry and out of their comfort zone.  And their comfort zone is a place of co-dependent weakness.  I don't care if people detest me.

    Maybe I'll try writing some more evocative and heart-tugging things about the people I do care about and what I see happening to them, and that will elicit the requisite sense of compassion.  But my experience in the past has been that people don't really want to hear that stuff if it comes packaged with any explicit or implicit indictment of the present administration, and they will just ignore it, and will come up with a million excuses for why it couldn't be anything but thus - especially if the President says so.  Every time I write about someting on that score - no matter how measured and objective I try to make my comments - I take an aggressive hit from several Dagblog readers.  My own compassion is limited these days.   There are the people I feel it for, and the other people I want to hit.   And the difference doesn't line up along the usual Team Blue and Team Red divide.

    The idea seems to be that we shouldn't talk about the failures and the bad stuff during the election season, because it will lower morale.    But you know what?   Dagblog jumped full-on into "election season" somewhere around the middle of last year!   And after this election is over, we will be in a new "election season" by January 2014.  Seems like its enforced happy-talk all the time these days.

    I have read the post and the comments; and what Genghis is trying to say is:

    Before you post, think about the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory (GIFT) and don't be the guy in the cartoon.

    Those not familiar with GIFT may find enlightenment at Google images.

    For those who won't Google it for whatever reason, the reference is to this Penny Arcade comic:


    I'm sorry that "we" were rude to people you'd invited or to anyone who wandered by and wanted to post something with a basic amount of integrity.

    I've been on both sides of this--not here so much, but elsewhere-- as the basher and bashed.

    Sometimes, when people continue to hold what feel like very irrational views, and especially when those views strike me as hateful or dangerous or whatever, it is hard to control my temper.

    However, I find that emotionally draining and non-productive.

    Better to walk away, "block" them on FB, or just not respond if they are too far out to reel in.

    One of the things the Internet has done is bring us into close contact with people whom we'd never meet otherwise (probably) and whose views can be pretty bizarre. There they are on our very own computer! This can be a serious stressor.


    Hey Everybody,

    It seems to me like we've well exhausted this topic and that everybody has had their say.  Certainly, some good things happened in this thread.  If you'll consider something, I hope it would be this: that you post and write here to make the shindig a better place (funnier, more creative, inspiring, intelligently critical, whatever that means to you) and that you'll encourage others to do the same, whether that means helping some one out or mercifully letting some offense against taste or reason slide the first time. 

    We should move the discussion back to other topics of life and how we live it, though.  I'm going to go ahead and close up this thread now.  I don't want Barack Obama to surf by the site and think we've given up the crucial argument of whether or not he and the Democrats deserve our support in a few weeks.

    If I've cut off anybody's saber-like retort to anyone else, I apologize.  Write it down and use it in a short story, blog post, poem or letter to the editor to somebody.  Nothing ever has to go to waste.

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