Sunday, April 16, 2006

But there ARE some good left-wing blogs, right?

I've often argued that it's hard to discuss things with a liberal, because they don't understand facts or logic, and believe that a good string of explitives is a winning argument.

This is of course a bit of an exageration, but one has only to look at a few posts on the biggest of the left-wing blogs (like DailyKos or DemocraticUnderground) to see that the conversation, if you can call it that, rarely rises above the level of "he's a ".

Well, it seems that the Washington Post has noticed the same thing. The article "The Left, Online and Outraged", Saturday, April 15, by David Finkel, describes a day in the life of a "typical" left-wing blogger, and includes quotes from many left-leaning sites.

The blogger has arisen, and is trying to decide what to write about:

Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?

From Eschaton, we have this:

"I just want to see these [expletive] swinging from their heels in the public square," reads a recent comment from someone named Dave in a discussion about the Bush administration on a Web site called Eschaton.

DailyKos has gone so far as to turn off the google caching for their site, as well as other "history" collectors. This allows the owner to censor outrageous posts, not only from his guests, but from himself. For example, when the 4 contractors were beaten, killed, and hung in Fallujah, his first comments were that they deserved it. But since even the rabid elected democrats would have trouble with such statements, that comment was summarily deleted -- so when Reid appears at DailyKos, it doesn't look like he's supporting people even crazier than himself.

You can't really read these sites without a hearty stomach for crude, offensive language. In the post article, we find the following references:

"Laura Bush Talks; No One Gives a [expletive],"
"It was rather though[t]less of me to compare the most asinine, brutal, criminal, disgusting, enraging, felonious, gross, horrendous, incompetent, jaundiced, kleptocratic, lazy, malicious, nefarious, objectional, psychopathic, quarrelsome, repulsive, sanctimonious, treasonous, unfit, vindictive, wasteful, xenophobic, yahooish, zealotic piece of [expletive] inhabiting the White House and the planet to persons suffering with a neurobiological disorder."
Go [expletive] Yourself, Mrs. Cheney"
"Bush Must Be HIV Positive By Now (you can't [expletive] 500 million people and not get infected)."
"MAKE SOME [expletive] NOISE ABOUT DARFUR and you WILL be heard, and it WILL be addressed."
"George W. Bush is the anti-Midas. Everything he touches turns to [expletive]."
"I. Despise. These. [Expletive]!"
"I also wrote to my [expletive] congressman to get off his [expletive] [expletive] and do the right [expletive] thing."

Note that two of these comments were directed at the WIVES of the President and Vice President.

But maybe these are just fringe elements, and the mainstream democrats don't respond to this type of cheap dialog? Well, the Post continues about the main character in our drama, who decides to write a post about Darfur called "Wake the F*** Up":

She clicks the mouse, and "WAKE THE [expletive] UP" instantly appears on My Left Wing, where, at the moment, 57 people are signed on.

A few seconds later, to increase its chances for impact, she sends "WAKE THE [expletive] UP" to Daily Kos, where the number of viewers per hour is about 30,000.

Thirty-eight seconds later, she gets her first response.

"I'M AWAKE!!!!!!" it says

"I'm going to be proud of this," O'Connor says, as the responses keep building. Ten now. Twenty-five.
Nearing 50 now
Past 60 responses now,
Now, as the responses near 100, O'Connor has a cigarette.

Now, as they head toward 200,
"You know what?" O'Connor says. "I did a good thing today." And for a moment, anyway, she isn't angry at all.

If you try to get an account on DemocratUnderground, you may have trouble. If you make it on, and try to have an actual conversation about an issue, you will most likely be summarily dismissed. They don't much like people actually thinking over there.

Meanwhile, DailyKos is the biggest web site on the internet. As the Post says:

To what, effect, though? Do the hundreds of thousands of daily visitors to Daily Kos, who sign their comments with phrases such as "Anger is energy," accomplish anything other than talking among themselves? The founder of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, may have a wide enough reputation at this point to consult regularly with Democrats on Capitol Hill, but what about the heart and soul of Daily Kos, the other visitors, whose presence extends no further than what they read and write on the site?

It is hard to imagine this collection of what appear to be hate-filled illiterates is able to persuade the average person of anything, given that they present no facts, assert no arguments, apply no logic. When your entire communicative ability consists of being able to string 3 explitives together in a single sentence, one can only hope that the common folk are wise enough to turn away.

The Post article presents the entire discussion matter-of-factly, as if being angry and hate-filled and writing meaningless diatribes is simply an ordinary occurance. And maybe it is on left-wing sites, although I know of many small sites which are decidedly liberal but actually speak to issues (that they remain small simply proves the essense of this Post article -- screed sells).

Some on the left like to argue a symetry between these major sites and conservative sites such as But as a member and frequent poster to that site, I can tell you that FR has a very high level of content and political discourse, with only the occasional "starred-out" explitive. FR is in fact exactly what the internet COULD provide -- a site where people who have differing views on events can discuss, argue, and debate their opinions in a rational, logical way.

Update: Captain Ed (Captain's Quarters) has a take on this article in his post "The Fever Swamps, Exposed". Check it out.


Bill Garnett said...

Perhaps this blog may present some "left wing" thoughts without the expletives - I'd be happy to have a discussion with anyone as long as we are both willing to listen to each other.

Give my blog a quick read and let me know.

Charles said...

To put a reference in a comment, you can use some html (use "<" for "{" in the example):
{a href=""}March to a Different Drummer{/a}

It would look like this:
March to a Different Drummer

Jason Kenney said...

I think one of the biggest things blogs need to understand, left or right, is that the impact of what they are saying is limited as they are generally preaching to the choir, just as the Post and you pointed out. People will visit the sites that provide them with the information they want to get and hear. No one's visiting DailyKos to be convinced on anything, they're looking for someone who thinks the way they do and a place to vent.

Which is also what limits such blogs from ever truly competing with the MSM, but that's a different argument entirely.