Neocon Watch: Another Wolfowitz Sighting

It’s nice to see that Paul Wolfowitz hasn’t been intimidated into silence by his many critics. He just published an article in “Foreign Policy,” entitled, “Think Again: Realism,” that addresses fundamental issues of worldview as they relate to foreign policy.

I do not agree with Wolfowitz on many things, and thought before and after the event that the decision to invade Iraq was wrong. However, he is a highly intelligent and experienced man, and his opinions are worth noting. Looking at the comments following his article, one finds the usual attempts, so typical of our time, to vilify him rather than simply refute his arguments. The Amity-Enmity Complex prevails. Wolfowitz cannot merely be wrong. Rather, as one who has assaulted the ideological dogmas that define the intellectual territory of an opposing “in-group,” he must be evil. Given the nature of our species, this type of reaction is predictable. It is also self-defeating because it excludes rational dialogue. Given our intellectual limitations, it is not to be expected that any of us will be capable of perfect accuracy in dealing with issues as complex as those associated with foreign policy. In other words, the best of us will make mistakes. If Wolfowitz was wrong about Iraq, it was not because he is evil, but because he is human, and, therefore, not capable of infallibly accurate analysis of highly complex situations. We would still be in the Stone Age if we had never listened to anyone who had occasionally been wrong. We become wise by learning from our mistakes.

Pundits Stephen M. Walt, David J. Rothkopf, Daniel W. Drezner, and Steve Clemons have written responses to the Wolfowitz article that are also interesting reads. I particularly liked the following from Rothkopf’s reply:

Reading Wolfowitz’s piece, I kept thanking Providence for giving me a concentration in English in college rather than say, political science. I actually was taught what words mean. (In fact, being an English major taught me that “political science” may be the humdinger of all oxymorons … even if calling “realists” realists and “neoconservatives” neoconservatives comes pretty darn close.) Economists have their “lies, damned lies, and statistics” and clearly, political scientists have their “lies, damned lies, and labels.”
It’s not just “neocons” and “realists” of course who are mislabeled or falsely advertising themselves. There is nothing “conservative” about the reckless fiscal policies of “conservative” champions like Reagan or Bush, nothing “progressive” about the New Deal nostalgia of many on the left, nothing “pro-life” about abortion opponents who also use a misreading of the Second Amendment to allow them stock up on assault weapons, nothing “liberal” about folks who think the answer to everything is greater government control of people’s lives. Say what you may about the underlying beliefs, the labels are meaningless.

As Rothkopf points out, labels such as “realism,” “idealism,” “constructivism,” etc., are best understood as a form of intellectual posturing, and have little if any actual information content. We are programmed to take advantage of the mental efficiencies of categorization. However, once the labels assigned to identify the categories become meaningless other than as boundary markers between ideological dogmas, they have outlived their usefulness. Take, for example, Walts use of the label “realism” in the piece that precedes Rothkopf’s:

I’d try to exclude Iraq from discussion if I were him too, because that tragedy demonstrates the virtues of realism and the follies of Wolfowitz’s own worldview.

Actually, the outcome in Iraq demonstrates no such thing, nor is it rational to claim that it could. One cannot even speak of a single, unified outcome. For example, as far as the Kurds are concerned, the outcome was hardly a tragedy. They might claim it was a vindication of Wolfowitz’ “idealism,” and not the opposite. Certainly, as far as the Kuwaitis are concerned, the elimination of Saddam Hussein was hardly “tragic.” Even if there were universal agreement that the outcome actually was a tragedy, it would not demonstrate the superiority of one general worldview over another, as Walt suggests. To refute such a claim, Wolfowitz could easily point to a plethora of other outcomes, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, that similarly “prove” the superiority of his worldview. One can certainly claim that some of outcomes of our intervention in Iraq were not those expected by the supporters of that intervention on either the left or the right. One can also plausibly maintain that these outcomes were not in our national interest. However, there is no rational basis for the further claim that these limited outcomes can possibly demonstrate the validity or lack thereof of an entire worldview.

I personally lean much more in the direction of Walt’s “realism” than Wolfowitz’ “idealism.” In particular, I strongly agree with his comment, “… that military force is a blunt and costly instrument whose ultimate effects are difficult to foresee, and that states should go to war only when vital interests are at stake.” However, there is an odd disconnect between the language Walt uses against Wolfowitz in his article and the “soft-pedaled” policies he claims to support internationally. For example, the architects of the war were not wrong, they were “dead wrong.” Wolfowitz only “bothers” to mention two realists, and he can’t be “bothered” to be better informed on realist doctrine. Wolfowitz was an able practitioner of “threat inflation” and “deception” while in office, and so on. Given the left’s documented attempts to distort what Wolfowitz actually did say, it would seem advisable for Walt and the rest of his detracters to refrain from accusations that he deliberately attempted to deceive unless they have proof thereof that they have not laid on the table to date. Absent such evidence, one is forced to conclude that Wald is himself a liar. His emotionally laden and pejorative language is better understood as an attempt to seize the moral high ground in a shouting match between ideological factions than to achieve a consensus concerning the type of foreign policy best suited to achieving common goals.

Release the Hounds! Glenn Beck and the Left’s Latest Witch Hunt

It is noteworthy that the response of the left to the release of the CIA Inspector General’s report on torture has been remarkably subdued. If the responses of Huffpo, Kos, TPM, and the rest of the usual suspects are any guide, the left is still as facile as ever in turning its virtuous indignation on or off as political expedience would demand. At the moment, their overriding concern is, apparently, health care, so they are reducing the usual moralistic posing on other issues to a minimum to avoid rocking the boat.

However, when it comes to the matter of Glenn Beck calling the president a “racist” the left’s familiar ostentatious public “outrage” is, once again, on full display. The professionally pious guardians of the nation’s virtue never seem to raise an eyebrow when charges of racism are thrown about recklessly by the likes of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. When Glenn Beck does it, however, it’s a different matter. First of all, you see, Beck has white skin, which disqualifies him from using the term “racism” in the first place. More importantly, Beck is smart, articulate, and an effective advocate of conservative causes. That’s the real reason for this latest display of contrived “indignation” on the left. You see, citizens who disagree with these “progressives” cannot simply have a different opinion about what’s best for the country. They must necessarily be evil. For today’s left, it isn’t a matter of debating opposing points of view. It’s a matter of demonizing and silencing them.

As noted here and there in the blogosphere, this time their campaign of vilification includes an attempt to muscle corporate sponsors into pulling their advertising from Glenn’s show on FOX. Those craven enough to cave to the bullying and collaborate in the suppression of freedom of speech include Geico, Proctor & Gamble, Sargento, and CVS, among others. Apparently Geico has already lost thousands of customers as a result. One hopes that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Israel, Sweden, and the Modern Face of Anti-Semitism

If events in Sweden are any guide, European anti-Semitism is in the process of reverting from the coded “anti-Israel” version to the full blown “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” version that prevailed in the days before the Third Reich. The “anti-Israel” form of anti-Semitism has been the prevailing flavor on the left for some time. For example, one can usually find artifacts of it in the form of a grotesque double standard on any given day at the BBC’s “news” site. Now, at least one Swedish tabloid has decided to dispense with the mask and promote the “blood libel” version in unvarnished form.

It has been the unfortunate fate of the Jewish people to fit perfectly into the role of an “out-group” for many centuries (see my post on the Amity-Enmity Complex). Obviously, things haven’t changed. Hatred of the Jews, hidden beneath a thin veneer of “anti-Zionist” camouflage for the sake of political correctness, has been a defining characteristic of the ideological left for some time. An interesting expression of this phenomenon has been the wholesale adoption of leftist “anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist” rhetoric by right wing Islamists.

The lesson here is the same one that history has been beating our heads with for millenia, but that we still stubbornly refuse to learn. It is that the spinners of ideological utopias and the authors of the latest “modern morality” will, inevitably, fail as long as they continue to ignore the facts of human nature. Those facts aren’t going to change any time soon. In the meantime, we must understand and accommodate them. Human beings must have out-groups. They must hate. These things are as much a part of their nature as the “good” aspects of their behavior. Our predisposition to hate and despise an “out-group” must and will have an outlet. One can easily confirm this by visiting any political blog or forum on the ideological right or left and reading the comments posted there. Unless we finally accommodate ourselves to what we really are, we will continue to stumble from one holocaust to another, even as we chase after the latest chimerical ideals. Let us finally accept the fact that we must hate, understand the roots of that hate in our nature as a species, and try to find outlets for it that are not self-destructive. If we fail, self-destruction may well be our fate.

Nixon and Palin

If you’re dubious about my “revisionist history” version of Watergate, just keep your eyes open. The legacy media’s modus operandi hasn’t changed. The only thing that changes is the identity of their hate object du jour. Then it was Nixon. Today it’s Palin. Notice the venom with which they keep beating on her, even though she’s out of office, because, against all odds, they still consider her a threat. When you see a story about her in the MSM, ask yourself, “Is this positive or negative coverage?” Now imagine all the hatred and malice they’ve directed at her ramped up about an order of magnitude and directed at a sitting President. That was Watergate. To grasp the reality of it, all you have to do is go back and read the newspapers.

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Whole Foods Joins the Dark Side

Say it ain’t so, ABC! Could a chain as impeccably politically correct as Whole Foods really have succumbed to the blandishments of the forces of evil? My impressions of the clientele, not to mention the cars in the parking lot, are in substantial agreement with those of Babalu. Will they now be replaced by the likes of Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy in their Hummers?

Well, if the “progressive” left wants to once again wear its allergy to any opinions not in accord with its ideological dogmas on its sleeve, that is certainly its perfect right. However, they might discover a denizen of the blogosphere here and there who finds their persistent attempts to bully anyone who disagrees with them tiresome. After all, it’s in poor form for the pot to call the kettle black.

As for the boycott, I can assure you I will be spending many more of my grocery dollars at Whole Foods from now on.

The Media Assassination of Richard Nixon: 35 Years Later

It has now been more than a week since the 35th anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974. Other than comments by an occasional blogger (for example, here, here and here) one finds little to commemorate the event on the Internet. The media silence over their “heroic” role in Watergate is particularly surprising. It’s as if they were afraid public opinion might finally catch up with them.

In fact, there was nothing heroic about the Watergate Affair. Its real significance shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s noticed the incredible venom and obsessive persistence of the legacy media’s attacks on Sarah Palin since the day she became McCain’s running mate. Imagine the attacks on Palin ratcheted up about an order of magnitude, continuing for a year and a half, with no blogosphere or talk radio to push back. That was Watergate. It amounted to the media assassination of a freely elected and effective President.

Oh, I know all about all of Nixon’s crimes and misdemeanors in excruciating detail. You had to know about them if you were alive during the affair, because the media hammered Nixon day after day. So obsessed were they that they hardly bothered to inform the American people about anything else. Their vendetta against Nixon was the be all and end all for them. He had dared to challenge them, and they were bitterly determined to get him. They kept up their attacks day after day, month after month, to the bemusement and consternation of foreign leaders, who couldn’t imagine what all the fuss was about. They weren’t stupid. They knew what Nixon had done. They also knew that any number American Presidents had done as much and worse with impunity. The idea that the media took Nixon down out of a noble sense of responsibility to the American people is one of the more absurd myths of the 20th century. They assassinated Nixon because they hated him.

It wouldn’t be easy for anyone living today to get a true sense of the reality of the Watergate Affair. Most of the book length accounts have been written by journalists, whose attempts to write history are almost uniformly useless, except, perhaps, to psychologists, because of their persistent tendency to interpret the world in terms of noble good guys and evil bad guys. One would have to go back to the source material. Archives of the Washington Post or the New York Times for the six months leading up the resignation would be a good place to start.

In the end, Nixon was forced to resign because his own party deserted him. They had tired of the struggle, and were even beginning to swallow the media propaganda themselves. Remember, there were no significant public voices to counter the media slant. If Watergate had happened today, I suspect they would never have dared to abandon their chief. Such an act would likely have been rightly condemned as a craven act of betrayal and treachery by the powerful voices that have risen to challenge the legacy media in the decades since Watergate. The changed nature of the media landscape is a development we should all be truly thankful for, and fight to protect.

It is a good thing that the aftereffects of Watergate were relatively benign. The outcome of the media’s blind rage and fury, culminating in the deposing of a democratically elected leader, could have been much worse. The destabilizing effects of their irresponsible abuse of the great power they controlled might have torn apart a country with a weaker tradition of responsible government and the rule of law. It is unlikely that the similarly irresponsible attempts to impeach Clinton would ever have happened without the precedent of Watergate. We must hope that the affair’s baneful effects won’t come back to haunt us at some future date.

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Consequences: The Great Question of Should, Part III

In two earlier posts I explored the consequences of the subjective nature of morality. We have already explored some of the ramifications of that conclusion as far as the individual is concerned. In this post we will continue that discussion.

I touched earlier on the virtual impossibility of amoral behavior. We are wired to be moral creatures, and there is a moral context to all our interactions with other human beings. It is for this reason that the argument that religion is necessary because without it we would have no reason to act morally is absurd. We don’t need a reason to act morally. We just do because that is our nature, just as it is the nature of other more intelligent animals that act morally even though they can have no idea of the existence of a God.

Morality did not suddenly appear with the evolution of homo sapiens. Rather, it evolved in other creatures millions of years before we came on the scene. I suspect the expression of morality in human beings represents the interaction of our high intelligence, which evolved in a relatively short time, with predispositions that have undergone only limited change during the same period. One interesting result of this is the fact that we consciously perceive morality as a “thing” having an objective existence of its own independent of ourselves. An artifact of this perception that we have noted earlier is the adoption of complex “transcendental” moral systems by some of our most famous atheists, who obviously believe their versions of morality represent the “real good,” applicable not only to themselves, but to others as well, in spite of the fact that they lack any logical basis for that belief.

We all act according to our moral nature, almost unconsciously applying rules that correspond to a “good” that seems to be external to and independent of ourselves. I am no different than anyone else in that respect. I can no more act amorally than any other human being. I act according to my own moral principles, just as everyone else does. I have a conscience, I can feel shame, and I can become upset, and even enraged, if others treat me or my own “in-groups” in a way that does not correspond to what I consider “good” or “just.” Anyone doubting that fact need only look through my posts in the archives of at Davids Medienkritik. I behave in that way because it is my nature to behave in that way. In fact, if I tried to jettison morality and, instead, rationally weigh each of my actions in accordance with some carefully contrived logical principles, I would only succeed in wasting a great deal of time and making myself appear ludicrous in the process.

However, there are logical consequences to the conclusion that good and evil are not objects that exist on their own, independent of their existence as evolved mental constructs. In the first place, they evolved at a time when the largest social groups were quite small, containing members who were generally genetically related to each other to some extent. They evolved because they promoted the survival of a specific packet of genetic material. That is the only reason they exist. The application of moral standards to the massive human organizations that exist today, such as modern states, is, therefore, logically absurd. Morality evolved in a world where no such organizations existed, and the mere fact that it evolved did not give it any universal legitimacy. We nevertheless attempt to apply morality to international affairs, and to questions of policy within nations involving millions of unrelated people, in spite of the logical disconnect this entails with the reason morality exists to begin with. We do so because that is our nature. We do so not because it is reasonable, but because that is how our minds are programmed. Under the circumstances, assuming that we agree survival is a desirable goal, it would seem we should subject such “moral” behavior to ever increasing logical scrutiny as the size of the groups we are dealing with increases. Our goal should be to insure that our actions actually promote the accomplishment of some reasonable goal more substantial than making us feel virtuous because we have complied with some vague notion of a “universal good.”

When it comes to our personal relationships with other individuals or with the smaller groups we must interact with on a daily basis, we must act according to our moral nature, because, as noted above, it would be impractical to act otherwise. In such cases it seems to me that if our goals are to survive and enjoy life in the process, we should act according to a simple moral code that is in accord with our nature and refrain from attempting to apply contrived “universal moral standards” to our fellow beings that are absurd in the context of the reasons that promoted the evolution of morality in the first place. In other words, we should act in accordance with the well understood principles of what H. L. Mencken referred to as “common decency.”

In the process, we should not lose sight of the dual nature of our moral programming, which can prompt us to act with hostility towards others that is counterproductive in the context of modern civilization. It would behoove us to take steps to channel such behavior as harmlessly as possible, because it will not go away. We cannot afford to ignore the darker side of our nature, or engage in misguided attempts to “reprogram” ourselves based on the mistaken assumption that human nature is infinitely malleable. We must deal with ourselves as we are, not as how we want ourselves to be. The formulation of complex new systems of morality that purport to be in accord with the demands of the modern world may seem like a noble endeavor. In reality, the formulation of new “goods” always implies the formulation of new “evils.” It would be better to understand the destructive aspects of our nature and deal with them logically rather than by creating ever more refined moral systems. To the extent that they fail to take the innate aspects of human behavior into account, these can be dangerous. Consider, for example, the new moral paradigm of Communism, with its “good” proletariat and “bad” bourgeoisie. The practical application of this noble new system resulted in the deaths of 100 million “bourgeoisie,” and what amounted to the national decapitation of Cambodia and the Soviet Union. In view of such recent historical occurrences, the current fashion of demonizing and reacting with moral indignation to those who disagree with us politically would seem to be ill-advised.

Morality is an evolved trait. Our problem is that we perceive it as an independent object, a transcendental thing-in-itself, something that it is not and cannot ever be. We must act according to our moral nature, but let us consult our logical minds in the process.

The Left and its Holy Causes: The Pose is Everything

As Byron York (via Instapundit) points out,

I attended the first YearlyKos convention, in 2006, and have kept up with later ones, and it’s safe to say that while people who attended those gatherings couldn’t stand George W. Bush in general, their feelings were particularly intense when it came to opposing the war in Iraq. It animated their activism; they hated the war, and they hated Bush for starting it. They weren’t that fond of the fighting in Afghanistan, either. Now, with Obama in the White House, all that has changed. . . . Not too long ago, with a different president in the White House, the left was obsessed with America’s wars. Now, they’re not even watching.

Instapundit adds, “Yeah, funny how the fierce moral urgency drained out of the antiwar movement as soon as a Democrat was elected President.” I suspect the level of “fierce moral urgency” has more to do with personalities than parties. After all, the level of antiwar activism on the left was much greater under Johnson, another Democratic president, than it ever was under Bush. Of course, Johnson lacked Obama’s charisma, but I suspect that the main driver of the left’s “noble commitment to peace” in the 60’s was fear of the draft. Once the draft went away, the level of devotion to the cause of world peace became a great deal more subdued.

In any case, it’s obvious that the level of “moral urgency” of the left’s assorted holy causes has more to do with emotional posing than logic. For the time being, peace must take a back seat to the health care issue, at least until the “progressives” succeed in enlisting state power to force their version of “compassion” on the rest of us. Meanwhile, Cindy Sheehan’s blog has become strangely inactive over at Huffpo, although I suspect she’ll surface again at some point as such useful idiots often do.

Emotion trumps reason when it comes to the left’s other pet causes as well. It never bothered them a couple of years ago that hooded anarchists who threatened violence to counter-demonstrators always tagged along at their “peace demonstrations,” but now let grandma and grandpa hold up signs and get a little raucus at a town hall meeting and they suddenly become “enraged, crazy” nut cases, mindless fools manipulated by “astroturfers.” Meanwhile, they would have us believe that they are really serious about reducing greenhouse gases while they continue to oppose nuclear power, the one most effective step we could take to do just that. They preach to us about saving the environmental but, at the same time, wax eloquent in their promotion of illegal immigration to the US and other heavily industrialized countries in spite of the massive increase in global environmental degradation that entails.

Irrational support for holy causes is hardly a monopoly of the left, although it tends to be more a more dangerous characteristic of those who want to change the status quo than those who want to leave it alone. I suspect political proclivities in general are better understood as emotionally conditioned behavior than as a logical response to a given situation. Perhaps we all have innate psychological characteristics that make it more or less likely that we will tend to adopt a “liberal” as opposed to a “conservative” world view. Once we do, our opinions on any given subject will tend to be aligned with the prevailing dogma of our group. Logic will only be brought in as an afterthought to prop up these highly predictable “opinions.”

In a later post I will revisit this subject in the context of an earlier day.

Astroturf and the Swiftboaters

I recently ran across an amusing piece of irony in another of Edge.org’s recent collections of essays by the intellectual avant-garde. It appeared in the introductory essay of the book, entitled “What Have You Changed Your Mind About?” edited by John Brockman. According to its author, Brian Eno, “There is now an almost total disconnection between the validity of a story and its media success. If it’s a good enough – or convenient enough – story, it will echo eternally around the media universe.” Eno then goes on to unwittingly prove his own assertion with the observation that, “The result is a diminishing accountability at almost every level of public discourse and a burgeoning industry of professional Swiftboaters.”

The rest of the essay is a ringing appeal to the virtues of intellectual flexibility and the ability to admit being wrong, closing with the sentence, “Changing our minds is our hope for the future.” The irony in all this is that, by using the term “Swiftboaters” in the context above, Enos identifies himself as both a denizen of the ideological left and an ideologue. He could no more change his mind about the Swiftboaters than a leopard could change its spots, because a particular perception of who the Swiftboaters were is part of his ideological identity. It defines the ideological box he lives in, and, if he changed his mind about it, he would lose that identity in the process.

The Swiftboat myth, which has been anchored in concrete in leftist dogma lo now these many years, is of a piece with the equally imbecilic “Astroturf” myth. The Swiftboat veterans served in Vietnam at about the same time I did. During the 2004 election campaign, we were to believe that scores of them, older men approaching retirement age who had everything to gain by their association with a heroic new President, suddenly threw honor, respectability and common decency out the door and decided to recite a pack of lies in unison like so many mindless zombies at the behest of Karl Rove. Absurd and implausible as this story was and is, it was seized on by the political left and believed implicitly because it was politically expedient to believe it.

Today we see the same phenomenon in response to the Tea Party Movement. Against all odds, we are to believe that all of the hundreds of thousands of people who have attended these events have no real political concerns of their own, but are merely the mindless tools of lobbyists, corporate bosses, and GOP operatives. Those who would foist this grossly distorted version of reality on us refer to the process as “astroturfing.”

Lacking expertise in such matters, I cannot presume to advise those who create these myths with respect to their political expedience. I can only speak for myself and note that, when the odor of the rotting corpse of the truth becomes too strong on the left, atheist that I am, I tend to turn to the right to avoid the stench.

Sweet Reason at Daily Kos

One can imagine the sage nodding of heads among the Kossites when they read this appeal to the noble virtues of tolerance and understanding by “high bitrate.” My favorite bit:

My personal preference is to listen quietly for a minute or two, and then say in a dispassionate way “yes, I understand that you’re angry, but the reasons for that anger are past. We need to come to a resolution of this issue, and anger isn’t going to allow us to do any productive work. What kind of solution do you see?”

This elevating appeal to the virtues of charity and tolerance was not without its effect on high bitrate’s fellow philosophers. Looking over the posts on the same page we find the latest calm analysis of Sarah Palin as a “whackjob quitter,” guilty of “sheer hysterical fantasy.” Apparently, as we are informed with philosophical detachment, she has been devoting her free time since retirement in the “killing of patients.” I need hardly add that this post also demonstrates the intellectual virtue of prudence, whacking away as it does at the Wicked Witch of the North, avoiding the reckless hubris of those who assure us that she’s dead,

The Wicked Witch is Dead!

and won’t come back

Or maybe not!!.

Next, there is the following dispassionate description of political opponents (or in the conciliatory words of the article, “frothing-at-the-mouth conservatives”), infused with passages written in the “find the good in everyone” spirit of high bitrate’s admirable appeal, such as:

As the hateful rhetoric and dangerous tactics of furious Birthers, raging Teabaggers and town hall intimidators edges towards the brink of violence, today’s bitterly divided Americans are still living in Nixonland.

Next, in keeping with high bitrate’s admonitions to listen quietly and speak softly, we find an article with the “dispassionate” title, “Idiot nation, idiot press,” followed by the meek admonition, apparently directed at a journalist who had trouble memorizing the days talking points, “You have to really, really try, in order to take a story so asinine and report it with such studious credulity. Well freakin’ done.”

Moving on to a more studious post, we find an anthropological discussion concerning the logical basis for the argument that we must assume some people are racists because they have white skin, especially if they are old and male:

You can almost sense (Florida Senator) Martinez’ slow realization that his party is fundamentally hostile to brown people.

A bit further on, we find more closely reasoned arguments to the effect that, if someone disagrees with you, and has white skin, he must be a racist:

The wingers are in a frenzy this week. It has something to do with the black guy in the White House. And to think, we still have 89 months in the Obama Administration.

So much for the voice of reason and the “unclenched fist” on the left. Do you, too, gentle reader, have a difficult time imagining what form this “reasoned discourse” might have taken if it were not inspired by high bitrate’s appeal for “quiet listening” and “turning off emotionalism?” I honestly suspect it might have sounded downright fishy.