Elsewhere in the blogosphere

by Henry Farrell on May 19, 2006

I’ll be at “Firedoglake”:http://www.firedoglake.com/ on Sunday, leading the discussion in the second part of their Rick Perlstein book club. If you’ve read my “previous post”:https://crookedtimber.org/2006/05/16/the-wager-won-by-losing/ on the topic, you’ll have some idea of what I’m going to say, although I hope to expand my argument, and also respond to “Brad DeLong’s critique”:http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/05/losing_by_losin.html. It should be a fun discussion – Rick himself will be participating in comments. I’ve said before that us more wonkish types need to be talking more to the netroots people – I’m hoping that this will be a good opportunity to help build that conversation.



JE Meyer 05.19.06 at 5:16 pm

Why are you slumming with the rabblerousers?


Henry 05.20.06 at 5:35 am

I don’t know whether you’re being sarcastic about me or about them. If it’s about them, then the unsarcastic answer is that it’s because they deserve to be taken seriously, and not to be dismissed as rabblerousers. I get pissed off with netroots people sometimes, disagree with them often, but think that they deserve respect.


JE Meyer 05.20.06 at 1:19 pm

I think you’re head-and-shoulders above the Jane Hamsher crowd, which is too illiterate even to be aware of the literary technique of sarcasm.


JE Meyer 05.20.06 at 1:21 pm

And why exactly does Jane Hamsher deserve respect? What has she done to deserve respect? Is she a notable thinker? Is she particularly witty? Has she ever come up with an interesting observation about anything? In perusing her blog, I see only two qualifications that she brings to the table: 1) anger, and 2) lots of traffic. Also an extensive use of illustrations for her posts, probably because her readership can’t handle too many words on a page.


Ellen1910 05.20.06 at 10:59 pm

Boy, I just don’t see it — that the Scaiffes and Coorses won for losing. Try a little history. They wanted to break the unions, roll back social programs, and reduce the progressivity of federal taxes. How did their newly empowered “vocabulary” do that? It didn’t.

What broke unions? Growing international trade, deregulation, loss of jobs to European and Japanese companies, and the move of manufacturing to the South — as well as lack of enforcement of union benefiting rules, the latter done, surreptitiously.

Roll back of social programs? Like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, earned income tax credit? Yes, after 30 years of questionable results, there were changes in welfare programs under Clinton, but can it really be argued that the conservative vocabulary accounts for it?

True; reduced tax progressivity was accomplished, but to the greatest extent it was done, confusingly and subterraneanly, by the Greenspan Commission.

And topping all else, the growth of television as the politician’s prime media connection to the voting public — television’s expense and the control corporations gained over policy by funding that expense.

At bottom the conservative “revolution” is a manifestation of 30 years of changes in technology and communications. Claiming the change is the result of intellectuals setting (selling?) new terms of political discourse is self-satisfied preening.


jane hamsher 05.21.06 at 1:19 am

“Sarcasm?” Predicated on a bigoted notion — that blacks have a higher crime rate than whites (they don’t), and that therefore aborting them would reduce crime in America.

We may be rabblerousers but on the whole we do a rather good job of keeping bigoted trash out of our comments section, especially those that like to truss it up with intelletual pretense. That is, I understand, not everyone’s policy.


Henry 05.21.06 at 8:43 am

And rather obviously, one person’s rabblerousing is another person’s political activism. Or how do you think political change occurs? Through polite scholarly debate? Scholarly debate surely has a role – but it’s no substitute for movement creation. On this, I’m definitely with the rabblerousers.


JE Meyer 05.21.06 at 8:49 am

blacks have a higher crime rate than whites (they don’t),

You lack basic familiarity with statistics, I see. As you can see from Table 43 here, around 48% of the nation’s murders are committed by blacks, who are about 12% of the population. This means that the black homicide rate is about 8 times the white homicide rate. You might be able to dispute a few of those cases, but there is absolutely no reasonable case to be made that the murder rates are identical.

In the Fr. Neuhaus piece that you criticized, Neuhaus was taking on Steven Levitt’s theory that because blacks have a lot of abortions, the U.S. has lowered the crime rate. Neuhaus is a strong opponent of abortion, and he was merely describing Levitt’s position sarcastically.

“Sarcasm.” Look it up.


JE Meyer 05.21.06 at 8:54 am

And rather obviously, one person’s rabblerousing is another person’s political activism.

I don’t object to activism, but I prefer that it at least tries to be honest. Henry: You are a literate person, and you can figure out sarcasm. You know that what I’m saying (about the Father Neuhaus piece that Jane criticized) is unarguably correct. Yet you can see how Jane digs in and refuses to back down from an idiotic reading of Neuhaus.


Henry 05.21.06 at 11:07 am

Dismissing people whose views and ways of arguing you don’t like as “illiterate” and too stupid to understand sarcasm hardly qualifies as serious argument. Yes, Jane is angry. She’s right to be angry. I’m angry too. As stated – I sometimes get pissed off with people in the netroots crowd, and I argue with them. Sometimes they pay attention, sometimes they don’t. But more often than not I agree with them. Further: they deserve a hell of a lot of respect in my book for organizing that anger, and for beginning to turn it into real politics. Even if that weren’t true, they deserve a level of basic respect in argument which you’re not giving here. If you want to convince Jane that she’s wrong (I haven’t followed this controversy), you’re surely not going about it the right way – you’re turning it into a pissing contest instead.


jane hamsher 05.21.06 at 11:09 am

I apologize sincerely, I did not realize I was in the presence of intellectual greatness. You’re right, I’m not quite smart enough to understand the towering heights achieved by one of the great 9/11 conspiracy theorists such as JE Meyer.


Maybe you could take the trouble explain the whole BYU physicist “bombs planted in the World Trade Center” thing so even a simpleton like me could understand?

And please don’t stop until you get to black helicopters, the UN and fluoridated water. I want the Fully Monty.


jane hamsher 05.21.06 at 11:22 am

Oh and as for the thoroughly dishonest crime figures, this according to the FBI:

By Age, Sex, and Race

Law enforcement agencies that contributed arrest data to the UCR Program reported information on the age, sex, and race of the persons they arrested. According to the 2004 data, adults accounted for 84.2 percent of arrestees nationally. (See Table 38.)

A review of arrest data by age from 2003 to 2004 showed that arrests of adults increased 1.6 percent. Arrests of adults for property crimes increased 2.1 percent, but arrests of adults for violent crimes dropped 1.6 percent over the same time span. In contrast to the 2-year arrest trend of adults, the arrest total for juveniles in 2004 decreased 1.7 percent from the 2003 figure. Over the same 2-year period, arrests of juveniles for violent crimes declined 1.0 percent and for property crimes dropped 2.9 percent. (See Table 36.)

By gender, 76.2 percent of arrests in 2004 were of males. Males accounted for 82.1 percent of the total number of arrestees for violent crimes and 68.1 percent of the total for property crimes. (See Table 42.)

A review of the 2004 arrest data by race indicated that 70.8 percent of arrestees were white, 26.8 percent were black, and 2.4 percent were of other races (American Indian or Alaskan Native and Asian or Pacific Islander). Of all arrestees for violent crimes, 60.9 percent were white, 36.9 percent were black, and the remainder were of other races. Of all arrestees for property crimes, 69.3 percent were white, 28.2 percent were black and the remaining 2.5 percent were of other races. Whites were most commonly arrested for driving under the influence (893,212 arrests) and drug abuse violations (821,047 arrests). Blacks were most frequently arrested for drug abuse violations (406,890 arrests) and simple assaults (288,286 arrests).(See Table 43.) (my emphasis)

As the saying goes, the hood fits…


jane hamsher 05.21.06 at 11:25 am

Sorry, that shold read “If the hood fits…”

But a smarty pants such as yourself already knew that, right?


JE Meyer 05.21.06 at 1:10 pm

Jane proves my point: She can’t understand the most elementary statistics. She said that blacks don’t have a higher crime rate than whites. (That was relevant only because she thought it was “racist” of Father Neuhaus to point out — using sarcasm, remember — that he objected to Levitt’s theory that aborting blacks reduces crime.)

And here she produces statistics showing that: blacks commmit 37% of the violent crime, or 3 times the percentage that one would expect if crime rates were equal. Voila, Jane has proved that blacks do commit proportionally more crime.

This is not something that I care to point out (Jane’s ridiculous invocation of a “hood” is as scurrilous as one would expect from her). I think there are many historical and sociological reasons that a higher crime rate would arise in the black population. That said, given that such a higher crime rate does exist, that is what gives a surface plausibility to theories like Steven Levitt’s, i.e., that aborting more poor [black] people means less crime. Anyway, for the umpteenth time, Neuhaus was DISAGREEING with Levitt, and he was using sarcasm to do so.


jane hamsher 05.21.06 at 2:58 pm

I would like everyone to note what this conversation has now devolved into: black people are criminals. I think we all see where this is coming from.

I just love bigots. They take the bait every time.

Hey JE — Duck!!! WOLVERINES!!!”


JE Meyer 05.21.06 at 3:31 pm

Jane — on reflection, I’d like to apologize to you. I certainly have my disagreements with you (and for the record, I’m not bigoted in citing FBI statistics any more than you are in doing the same). Still, it can be easy to forget in online debates that the other person is just a human being like myself. I was out of line to start insulting you and bringing up off-topic subjects. That wasn’t a good thing to do, nor was it conducive to a useful discussion about anything. Please accept my apology.

Harry — if you wish to delete this entire thread, feel free.


jane hamsher 05.21.06 at 4:14 pm

I appreciate that, JE, and I offer the same. No need to delete it on my account.


Henry 05.21.06 at 5:18 pm

je meyer – no need to delete this thread I don’t think, and all credit to you for apologizing (doesn’t happen very often in these kinds of disputes in my experience).

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