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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Koz says:

    Actually, the main political issue of the last six weeks or so, (ie will the Repubs gain 45 or 85 seats in the House) is a tremendously important one for our politics and culture going forward. It’s just that there’s no compelling storyline for it that apolitical people will care about.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

      @Koz, I’m not talking about there being no issues of importance – elections, in addition to typically being hot-button topics, are certainly more important than most topics that are the subject of blogging. Instead, I’m saying that there’s an abnormally low amount of buzz in the political blogosphere (which is, by definition, anything but apolitical) these last several days. This kind of low level of buzz would be unremarkable at the height of summer in an off-cycle year. But a month before an election of any significance? Unheard of.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I’d suggest that the issues driving the election – the economy, debt, and tax policy – although they demonstrably do most of the motivating that gets people to the polls in most elections (2004, 06, and to a lesser extent 08 being exceptions), aren’t ones that really animate compelling discussions in an instant-analysis atmosphere. Dueling graphs and tables just doesn’t quite have the zing of saying if you elect the other guy you’re gonna die, or promising to get us out of wars we’re stuck in. What are the conversations that you think aren’t being had?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

      @Michael Drew, the one that *I* think isn’t being had goes a little something like this:

      2006/2008: Republicans being repudiated for being X.

      2010: Democrats being repudiated for being Y.

      Here’s the question I’d like to see answered:

      If we did a Venn of X and Y, how much overlap would there be?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, Do you have a blog?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

          @Michael Drew, nah, I just comment here.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Michael Drew says:

          “I was saying (BACK IN JUNE!) that the Republicans would win come November.”

          So all the times you’ve written here (in multiple threads) that the Republicans will be in the wilderness until X, Y, or Z you really didn’t mean in except to say they deserved to be?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

          @Koz, I don’t think I said what you said I said.

          Could you provide a cite?

          I provided a cite where I said the opposite of what you think I said along with a hypothesis that you don’t understand my argument.

          Could you provide a cite where I said this?

          Given that I’ve provided a cite where I’ve said the exact opposite, I’m getting all popper when I say that my “you don’t understand what I’m saying” hypothesis ain’t been falsified yet.

          I’m almost willing to make it a theory.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Michael Drew says:

          “Could you provide a cite?”

          Sorry for letting this slide for a couple of days. I’ll answer down below so the responses might look a bit less jumbled.

          Btw, is there some way our esteemed site proprietors could make it so that it’s easier to follow a thread of responses (more than say, four of them)?Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

        “2006/2008: Republicans being repudiated for being X.”

        Speaking of which, in some of our prior conversations you’ve mentioned that the GOP would never come back from the wilderness until X, Y or Z. I think it’s safe to say we can throw those theories into the dustbin of history, right?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, they’ll still be in the wilderness, Koz.

          All it will take is one election cycle and then, if the Republicans act like “the only hope for fiscal sanity” the way they did last time, we’re going to see a third party movement that will make Perot look like Nader.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

          “All it will take is one election cycle and then,…”

          Those are some cool moving goalposts there Jay.

          Look, this is a bigger deal than simply saying, you were wrong hooray for me. We have to evaluate the world as it is, not the way it would be comfortable or convenient for us.

          In this case, libertarians who claim to want limited government have to associate with those with the demographic and cultural center of gravity to get it (or acquire it themselves which seems like a much dimmer proposition).

          On a related note (perhaps this is more topical to Mark than you), I think we ought to be able to see that liberaltarianism is now and forever a crock. Supposedly, the point was to be able to maintain political and intellectual activism without undue influence from the GOP establishment. Well, that’s exactly what the Tea Parties have been doing, but the liberaltarians don’t like them any better.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, Koz how does a bunch of rebranded GOP voters paying lip service to libertarian values while not actually embracing libertarian principles discredit liberaltarianism? The liberals haven’t tried yet and I doubt they will while Obama is running things, such outreach would require political risk which Obama is wildly allergic to.

          As for the tea party, I’m with Jaybird. They’ve ginned up their voters and kept what could have been a rebel wing from bolting the GOP. But they’ve got to govern and when it comes to policy they’re wildly “keep yer govermint hands off my medicare” incoherent.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, Koz, at this point, the Republicans have not demonstrated that they are anything other than epsilon better than the Dems.

          If they prove that they are merely epsilon better than the Dems, you’ll see what I mean.

          The Republicans will not “win” the election in 2010. It’s just that Democrats will lose it.

          There hasn’t been an election that was “won” since, oh, 1988?Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

          “Koz how does a bunch of rebranded GOP voters paying lip service to libertarian values while not actually embracing libertarian principles discredit liberaltarianism?

          Because it shows that liberaltarians have spit the bit on supposedly libertarian values (limited government, autonomy, freedom etc.) as a lost cause in order to keep SWPL caste solidarity.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, They’d have to have started/tried before they can stop or fail Koz me lad. Liberaltarianism hasn’t ever evolved beyond an internet meme yet. Perhaps after the election when the contradictory policies of the current Tea Party/GOP alliance come to a head they’ll try a left wing version. Who knows?Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

          “The Republicans will not “win” the election in 2010.”

          No no no Jay. You told us, over and over again, that the GOP would stay in the electoral wilderness until …… something (it’s not clear what exactly).

          Can’t we acknowledge now that was not the case?Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, No time for a detailed comment, but in addition to what North and Jaybird say above, it’s probably worth pointing out that this was never the point for anyone of whom I’m aware:
          “the point was to be able to maintain political and intellectual activism without undue influence from the GOP establishment”

          To the extent the point, as far as I’m concerned (I do not presume to speak for others) had to do with undue influence, it was not the “GOP Establishment” in particular so much as it was “the Right” in general.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

          Ok, point taken. I was thinking of you in particular so thanks for clarifying.

          In any case, the problem is the same I think. The liberaltarians (and libertarians in general for that matter) want to write checks on someone else’s account. That really doesn’t fly unless the accountholder agrees to it.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, Interesting perspective Koz. My own observation: Pre Bush Minor the right was more or less united under the GOP banner. But Bush and the GOP under him were such a catastrophe that the libertarian and (g)libertarian wing actually revolted. The GOP has partially split; there’s a sort of sub (tea) party formed. Now the Tea Party is still mostly a GOP party, they vote for GOP candidates and support the GOP nostrums but they’re a lot closer to not being part of the GOP than before. So it doesn’t look so much like libertarians writing checks off the conservative account so much as libertarians at least making preliminary motions towards breaking up their joint checking account with conservatives. What I don’t get is why so many on the right seem to think, like you do, that this is a good thing for conservatives in general or the GOP in particular?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, here’s the thread I think you’re referring to:

          ordinary-gentlemen.com/2010/06/toward-an-organic-society/

          Reading it, I suspect you misunderstand what my argument was then.

          I still stand by what I said in that thread, for the record.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

          @Koz, oh, what the hell.

          I’ll quote myself.

          But first I’ll quote you:

          No no no Jay. You told us, over and over again, that the GOP would stay in the electoral wilderness until …… something (it’s not clear what exactly).

          And now, here’s me:

          The Republicans deserve the wilderness after what they did. Nothing they’ve said has convinced me that they’ve stopped deserving the wilderness. Hell, nothing they’ve said has convinced me that they understand why they might even be there.

          Here’s your opportunity to respond to my post by talking about the Democrats, liberals, and how Republicans are the only hope for fiscal sanity.

          And then a little bit later:

          For the last few cycles, the only reason Party X has won the White House, House of Representatives, or Senate is because Party Y has been actively malicious when they were in power.

          The Republicans will win this fall.

          Why?

          Because the Democrats are actively malicious.

          Once the Democrats are in the minority, it will be the Republicans’ turn to be actively malicious.

          I wasn’t saying that the Republicans would be in the wilderness. I was saying (BACK IN JUNE!) that the Republicans would win come November.

          I was also saying that it had nothing to do with Republicans on their merits.

          You didn’t understand my argument then.

          You still do not understand my argument now.

          But, please, explain to me how bad the Democrats and Liberals are and how Republicans are the only hope for fiscal sanity.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

          “Pre Bush Minor the right was more or less united under the GOP banner. But Bush and the GOP under him …… “

          This line of argument is fine but it’s not the same as what I was getting at before. The problem with libertarians writing checks on somebody else’s cultural/demographic account has been in play for a while and predates George W. Bush.

          (And the revolt against the GOP establishment during and post George W Bush was not at all confined to libertarians. In fact you could say libertarians didn’t have much to do with it considering they try to keep arm’s length away anyway.)Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

        “Reading it, I suspect you misunderstand what my argument was then.”

        This gets into the is/ought, or “normative sense”, distinctions which I don’t think you’ve been very clear on, in that thread and others. Ie, if you don’t mean to say that the GOP would never return from the wilderness but only that they shouldn’t (until X, Y, or Z), that’s fine but I don’t think that’s what you’ve written so far.

        This isn’t a screed about why you should vote Republican, yet. All that is downstream aways. The first point is that we should reevaluate our perceptions of what is possible, in particular as this applies to political or cultural coalitions. Most of us have internalized politics in America as a big Left v. Right war with libertarians and Reagan Democrats and some others worming their way through the cracks. Relatively few people appreciate the fragility of the coalitions making up the Left and the Right, especially today where the historic motivations for being in one coalition or the other very very quickly.

        In other words, we live in an era with lots and lots of freedom but very little control. Our political choices should be made with that in mind.Report

    • @Michael Drew, “What are the conversations that you think aren’t being had?”
      None in particular. It’s more that the political blogosphere seems to be abnormally dull and almost quiet, not only in comparison to past years but even in comparison to relatively dormant times of the year. My perception may be wrong, of course.

      “I’d suggest that the issues driving the election – the economy, debt, and tax policy – although they demonstrably do most of the motivating that gets people to the polls in most elections (2004, 06, and to a lesser extent 08 being exceptions), aren’t ones that really animate compelling discussions in an instant-analysis atmosphere. Dueling graphs and tables just doesn’t quite have the zing of saying if you elect the other guy you’re gonna die, or promising to get us out of wars we’re stuck in.”

      I’m not so sure about this. It’s certainly factually true, but I don’t think it really explains things since so much of the narrative that has been pushed by the Right (which now controls the most widely-followed news organization in the country) has set new levels for apocalyptic fear-mongering, while the narrative being pushed on the Left seems to essentially be “those guys are crazy racist morons.” If anything, I’m actually seeing less real argument over legitimate issues than usual, and the opposition’s official agenda for resolving those issues is an out and out joke. The only thing I can think of is maybe that the typical election-season hyperbole and memes started a year and a half ago, and they’ve just grown old and tired at this point.Report

      • @Mark Thompson, Just by way of evidence, we’ve actually seen less – or at least no more – traffic coming here via certain larger sites’ blogrolls than we did even during the slowest months of the year. This tells me that there’s been none of the usual pre-election uptick in readership at those sites.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        @Mark Thompson, I honestly just don’t know what behavior on the part of whom you are tracking here. It seems to me there are numerous substantive blogs on the right and left that are just churning along doing their things (Ezra Klein, McArdle, DiA, what have you), and political/partisan blogs doing their things -Talking Points Memo, etc. What’s different on the cintent front? And if it’s a readership question, well, how is my providing an explanation that you concede is “factually true” not just providing an explanation period? I don’t know what you’re getting at here. What’s different in what quarters, and what’s your theory about why?Report

        • @Michael Drew, That’s just it, though – everyone’s basically just doing their usual things, almost as if it’s June in an off-cycle year. Honestly, though, it’s just a sense I’m getting as I go through my usual routine. Even I feel like I’m just putting up content for the sake of putting up content. The seemingly widespread lack of an uptick in traffic (and admittedly I’m going on a relatively small sample size, albeit a couple of quality samples) tells me that overall people are unusually ho-hum about this election. I wish I could provide more evidence than that, but ultimately, the concept of “buzz” doesn’t lend itself to ready falsifiability or even very good definition.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

          @Michael Drew, Another explanation could just be that the narrative of the election has been written for months and there’s not that much more to add – just waiting to see exactly how it’s manifested at the polls.Report

        • @Michael Drew, I think that explanation’s more or less what I was trying to get at above.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

          @Michael Drew, But I guess I would say that that ties in with my first explanation – the previous three elections really had national security, and indeed the Iraq War and the various political tributaries it led to at their cores. I really think what you’re observing is the lack of high emotion that came with those issues. One reason that perhaps they played more into those elections was that the fundamentals in each of those were not so clearly decisive as this year. What is the upshot here, though? You’re saying you’d prefer elections to be met with a shrug?Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        “….narrative that has been pushed by the Right (which now controls the most widely-followed news organization in the country) has set new levels for apocalyptic fear-mongering….”

        Is that so? Truth be told, I don’t watch Fox News that much, but here’s my narrative: excessive government spending is turning the US economy (and others) into a long-term no-growth trajectory. In other words, continuing to live in a Democratic-Party folk-Marxist policy regime, we should expect our economic situation to deteriorate from where it stands now.

        Is that apocalyptic fearmongering or a legitimate issue argument for you?Report

  3. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Well, you do have a good point. For me the issue is the Tea Party. In the primaries the first edge of the TP Tsumani struck and many TPers were elected, “upsetting” some long time political leeches. This general election is the middle portion of the wave. Will the TPers knock off some long time commie-Dems or not? For me, that’s the story. That and if they do knock off these radical socialists will they actually move, legislatively, to limit spending, pay off the debt, etc.?
    That’s pretty big stuff. I think the mainstream commie media is holding its colletive breath.Report

  4. Avatar Graham J. says:

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”Report

  5. Avatar Koz says:

    “Could you provide a cite?”

    Yeah, I was thinking more along the lines of this:

    http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/2010/02/the-first-draft-not-the-compromised-second-draft/

    wherein you wrote

    “Well, good luck with that. We hope you’re happy with your 41-59 Senate, minority status in the House, and Obama in the White House.”

    and

    “Enjoy your cattle car.

    Until the Republicans can explain that they understand why the libertarians left, they can look forward to continuing to complain about how those grapes were sour anyway.”

    and a bunch of other stuff in the same vein. There’s also this:

    http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/2009/06/the-big-tent/

    “I’ll just say that Republicans need the people who walked away far, far more than the people who walked away need Republicans… and until the Republicans realize that, they will continue to enjoy the endorphins that come from realizing that they have finally achieved a relatively pure coalition (without enjoying the endorphins that come from winning huge election victories).”

    and I take it we could find more examples if we needed to.

    But even if we stipulate that you never meant that the GOP wouldn’t be electorally successful until X, Y, or Z, let’s agree now (unless you dispute it for some reason) that the GOP is in fact plausible majority party representing a plausible majority demographic. This is a neat little trick because to some extent at least it’s easier to dial down the irrationality and contentiousness to talk about what can happen instead of what should happen. And at this point I think it’s fair to say we can reject any idea whose premise is that the GOP will never revive within the reasonably near future.

    That just operates at far greater level of plausbility than anything involving the Libertarian political party, any other established third party, or that other guy in the New Jersey governor’s race who we’ve forgot about by now.Report