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It’s Devil’s Day and I’ve Got Hell to Pay

June 6, 2006

Thanks to Deborah White and Tim (aka Rufus) for their thoughtful dissenting comments to my extended diatribe on Deborah’s blog. I know my piece was strident, and you both resisted any temptation to up the rhetoric. As I have come to expect, frankly. I have a long way to go in terms of developing my own style that would both communicate my views strongly but also impart a sense of Chesterton-like good humor that I so earnestly desire to posses. (Perhaps if you had more of it personally it would come out when your write. — ed.) I have found that the only way for me to post regularly is to write as quickly as possible and worry about shortcomings in grace later. In that, I do rely on the graciousness of my few readers, which is not the best strategy, but for now, it’s all I have.

Semantically, I think I have to stand by my description of Deborah; she does tend to feature Democratic emails on a regular basis with an enthusiasm not matched with anyone else I have read. Tim points out a few examples of conservatives covering Ken Mehlman- as of course they should- but mere covering was not my point. Deborah’s language often has a kind of beaming contentedness that to me seems odd. I know she has her issues with the Democrats- but that just makes the cheer-leading all the more odd to me. As she points out, there are so many way she fails the Democratic litmus tests on abortion, gays, women’s issues that I wonder what makes the strong attachment to the party. She makes more sense to me as a liberal Republican.

As for the charges of sexism in my language, I suppose I should plead no contest. I was aware of those issues as I wrote, noted it as interesting, and kept typing. It’s something to think about. In my defense I would say that since I do believe in differences between sexes, there are ways in which men and women can be forcefully wrong. Perhaps because Deborah does go to a Conservative Christian church, she is unapololgetically female in her writing style. Perhaps I should applaud it instead! But there is a tendency- in my limited exposure to her writing- to dismiss critics with a pat-pat on the hand and some christian platitude tacked on to a Democratic platitude that does remind me of the classic caricature of "church lady" behavior. I don’t think I have something extremely positive to say about my other Flingers though, and when I do, it’s because they tend to have arguments that carry more weight with me.

However, in the interests of encouraging dialog and civility, I’ve updated the description of Deborah’s blog to reflect more clearly (and more civilly) what I consider her viewpoint to be. Deborah probably now has the nicest description. Call it chivalry!

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2006 10:46 am

    Tim- Obviously I’ve responded to Deborah already , but I thought I’d answer you as quickly as I can.

    Again, I appreciate your tone and thoroughness as always. And I was being a big wacky towards the end of my post, partly because Deborah seems so wacky to me sometimes.

    It’s a tricky matter, delineating one’s positions and one personally. Can someone support rascist policies and not be a rascist? What does the racial and religious make-up of the two parties mean?

    What I have not seen from any of you is a vigorous defense of the idea that conservatives are not rascists. And parsing of Deans big-mouth statements not withstanding, I think is quite reasonable to assert that a great number of Democrats believe that Conservatives are by definition, greedy white rascists.The criticisms of Katrina come to mind, as do the desire to claim sole ownership of the legacy of Lincoln and Martin Luther King. I consider them both to be the heritage of all Americans, as I do Regan, Roosevelt and Kennedy etc. We are all Liberals in a sense.

    What has changed is the Democratic stragegy to use race and victim status to divide the electorate and fill their ranks. Without a domestic victim class to defend, the Democrats would have little purpose. I don’t know if that makes them rascists, but I do think they have proven successful my depicting themselves as the party favorable to minorities, and the Republicans as the party hostile to minorities. I would prefer a dialog with the premise that both parties care about the welfare of all people, with different polices towards that end.

    Your comment also strings together some things that I didn’t intend to be connected. As I said in my follow-up post, Deoborah’s language strikes me as much more excited than even the examples you have selected. I don’t read Townhall, and even my powerline reading is almost down to nil because of that reason. Hewitt has repeatedly asked Dean onto his program, and is turned down. He also fails the excited language test, in my view.

    Lord knows I’m not against partisanship per se. I prefer to think of myself as someone who is passionate about issues, rather than a party. Of course, that leads me to vote Republican at this time, but that could change if the party changes.

    As for Lincoln, and his policies, I’m not sure how much they translate into the present. What was good then may not be good today, especially vis-a-vis economic policies. What Lincoln did personify above al else is a politically involved Christian who used Christian language profusely- something the party of choice for atheists is now markedly uncomfortable with.

  2. June 6, 2006 10:03 pm

    I will happily accept the new description, since you express sentiments shared by many of my relatives and friends. It’s fair.

    Yes, I write unapologetically and joyfully as woman, because that’s what I am. I am also a devoted and proud wife and mother.

    FYI…I AM reformed liberal Republican, whose mind was changed primarily by the current President and his administration. (I confess…I still occasionally vote for the Republican, because he/she is the better candidate.)

    And lastly, after four years at a conservative evangelical church, we left a year ago, and returned to mainline Protestantism. We have found our true church home as Lutherans, in the Evangelical Church in America.

    Count, thank you for your civility in this post. You are a gentleman.

    Deborah White
    US Liberals at About.com
    A New York Times Company

  3. June 7, 2006 8:21 am

    Correction: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), same denomination in which Mark Daniels is a pastor.

  4. June 7, 2006 8:36 am

    Thanks Deborah for your gracious interaction here. I’m glad that my sharp elbows have not caused you to think of me as less than a genteman. I think we can agree that we are called to defend the side we’re on- and as Christians, there are important bonds between us that are ultimately more important than politics.

    Still, I wish there could have been a little more substantial discussion of some of my points. Perhaps in the future. Ultra-centrist? What on earth are you talking about?

  5. June 7, 2006 2:39 pm

    Now that you’ve called it to my attention, “ultra-centrist” IS a strange and imprecise term. LOL I should be far more careful in my word choice.

    He’s considered a moderate, of course, and has been labeled the Democrats most liked by Republicans. At times, the Republican equivalent would be Chuck Hagel or even Arlen Specter.

    He’s angered Dems (including me) endlessly on the Iraq War, and on many Bush Administration nominees. I should have dropped the cute word, and been more specific.

    Thanks for keeping me honest on that one. 🙂

  6. June 7, 2006 5:08 pm

    Going back to your original response to me, Dave, I’ll note that it’s revealing to me that you call it a “stinging rebuke” from me.

    I believe you can dish it out pretty good, as even your, er, apologies contain barb upon barb. Yet your cyber-feelings are easily hurt in online discourse. Same old issue: You can dish it out but don’t like to take it.

    Going back to David Smith’s point re the previous post, I’m not saying that I should be able to criticize Hugh Hewitt while you must lay off Deborah. Rather, I’m saying that we each need to bring a Golden Rule here. I’m candid about Hewitt, and if he were to ever be as tough on me as I am on him, then I’d fight away happily. You, on the other hand, demand to be treated nicely and complain loudly about what mean people others are; all the while, you ridicule “church ladies” who are “whacky,” etc.

    As for the fact that Rufus tagged you pretty good on the Ken Mehlman point, I think you need to admit that you lost that round, rather than saying “that wasn’t my point.”

    Your point, in your own words was: “I’ve never read any conservative blog that begins with ‘I got a mass email from Ken Mehlman today for Republican insiders…’ nor would I be interested in reading one.”

    Rufus clearly showed that Republican stalwarts indeed quote Mehlman with just as much “breathless fervor” as Deborah. Lay down and admit defeat already, dude!

  7. Rufus T. Flinger permalink
    June 7, 2006 10:58 pm

    Hey Count:

    Glad you toook my comments in the spirit intended: trying to be constructive criticism…

    You wrote:

    “What I have not seen from any of you is a vigorous defense of the idea that conservatives are not rascists.”

    Ok. In short: being conservative does not equal being racist; there is nothing inherently racist about conservative political philosophy. The vast majority of conservatives are not racists.

    Hope that helps…

    Longer version:

    I think you have to start by admiting that in their past, both major US parties did have overtly racist elements to their history. Slavery split the Democratic party and after the Civil War, there were a large number of anti-integration Democrats. Strom Thurman and Robert Byrd are two well known Dems who fit that category at the time.

    Dem leadership worked hard in the 1930’s-60’s to purge racism from the party ….starting with FDR’s Fair Employment Practic Committee and his adding civil rights in the Dem party platform for the first time in 1940, Truman’s executive order integrating the millitary and continued support of civil rights plank into the Democratic party platform (causing Strom Thurman to organize a walk out of southern delegats to form a 3rd party whose slogan was “Segreation Forever!”), Kennedy’s New Frontier domestic policies and proposal of what would be come the 1964 Civil Rights act, moveing to LBJ’s Voting Rights Act and his passing Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act.

    A few important points:

    1. None of these would have passed without moderate and liberal Republicans alligning with Dem leaders
    2. Republican President Eisenhower also is responsible for two key Civil Rights laws passed during his tenure, and he chose to send troops to enforce the Little Rock integration, Bravo!
    3. Democrat leaders had thier blind spots, too: FDR’s Japanese internment camps come to mind.

    But by the end of this process, the Dems purposely fractured a very useful coalition with Southern political Dem leaders and had largely driven out the overt racist portions our of their Party.

    My view (open to correction) is that Republicans own effort at purging elements of their party wasn’t really fully done until the 80’s-90’s….

    Nixon’s “southtern strategy” to take the south by appealing to racist conflict was wrong, and Ken Melhmen was right to aplogize for it — the first Republican ever to come out and call that strategy as what it was:

    “Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” Mehlman said at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.”

    I percieve that some elements of that Southern strategy tactics survived in in the Republican party as seen in Repub chair Lee Attwater, who when running Bush I’s campaign was responsible for the Willie Horton ad — and was quoted as saying “by the time this election is over, Willie Horton will be a household name.”

    (I guess this is in the eye of the beholder, but the Anti-Dukakis ad featuring a black man who raped a white woman seemed to me unquestionably aimed at racial fears in it’s audience)

    In a NY Times interview in 1991 he admited that overt racism had given way to a more “abstract, coded” political speech while still touching on the same nerves:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires.
    So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites… But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

    So I think both parties have had their demons to exorcise. And I think that both have done a pretty good job at it.

    And just as there was nothing inherent in liberal political philosophy that was racist, and couldn’t be purged in the 60’s neither is there anything inherently racist in conservative political philosophy that couldn’t be purged in the 80’s or 90’s.

    For instance:

    Jack Kemp cares just as much about the plight of the black or latino poor, as does say John Edwards… and it’s been interesting to see the two of them allign on helping the poor, while maintaining vastly different prescriptions as to how to address it.

    I do think you can make a historic argument for which political and economic policies best help the poor. But that’s for another post.

    Flinger out.

    PS:

    (Opps, not quite yet: what is up with the dig at the end of the comment “party of choice for atheists?” The largest survey I’ve seen shows the party of choice for atheists is “independent parties” by 43%, Dems do come in at about 30% but Repubs have a larger than I expected 17% of the atheist vote…Dems are also the “party of choice” for theists of many stripes: the strong majority of Jews, for the vast majority of Black Christians, as it is the party for the strong majority of American Muslims and Buddhists, and 1 in 4 white evangelicals)

  8. Rufus T. Flinger permalink
    June 7, 2006 11:21 pm

    P.S.S.

    Just looked over what I wrote and wanted to be clearer. When I wrote “Lee Attwater, who when running Bush I’s campaign was responsible for the Willie Horton ad…”

    Although Lee Atwater was not the creator of the Willie Horton ads (that was a Swift Boat like idependent group) he was responsible for amplifying this ad to his candidates benefit, and later when gravely ill “apologized to Dukakis for… saying he would make ‘Willie Horton his running mate.'”

  9. June 7, 2006 11:54 pm

    Robbie- Huh? Now, it’s not unreasonable to assume that I’m obsessed with all things Asghar, but the “stinging rebuke to the ultra-centrist” was not directed towards you in any way. I like to make my post titles funny, interesting, or a play on a song title etc. It’s not always good for information flow. I just took the most absurd piece of Deborah’s writing and used it as it was superficially related to my new found identy as a Centrist. Perhaps it’s revealing that you assume it’s about you. Perhaps it’s not.

    Rufus may have tagged me, but not for the point that you raise. The few times I’ve gone to Deborah’s site, she’s quoting mass emails, at least one not even sent to her. That is unique in my experience, and Tim did nothing to disprove that point. Quoting a mass email, unless to critique it, isn’t news, it’s spam. It has the tenor of a starry-eyed fan. Her language such as “Have you taken the pledge?” or the report of Dr. Dean “exulting” in the fact that his party is actually going to campaign in every state, also tends towards an naive enthusiasm that I find odd. Hey, tasters choice. I never said Dean or Mehlman were off limits, I didn’t criticize her for taking conference calls with Sheehan (and perhaps Dean too?), because that’s a more legit reason to blog, especially for someone of her stature.

    Even if you can find a few posts where someone is specifically quoting an email form Melhman, the difficulty of finding it would only prove my point that it is a rare occurence. Maybe it’s my bad fortune, but I could not believe that when I re-checked her site, she was again quoting mass emails. No defeat there.

    Tim did have some good points about the official democrat position on how racist Repubicans are. I knew that was a weak area in my post, but I have to say from personal experience, the belief that Republicans are closet rascists who don’t care if little girs have jackets and such is so culturaly prevalant it’s going to take more than a few googled points to change my mind on that.

    As for dishing it out and taking it- huh? Seriously, I have no idea what you’re talking about. You leveled that charge against me some time ago and it still makes no sense to me. Sometimes I get depressed by the divisions between me and my friends. Sometimes I don’t have the time or inclination to respond in depth to your particular views which I see as hostile or wrong. Sometimes your anger seems out of porportion to me. Again, boo hoo. I’d never deny you the opportunity to have it. I just don’t always understand it. That’s why we do this.

  10. June 8, 2006 12:22 am

    Thanks Tim for the clarification. This is a great topic for more discussion. If you have some links for your quotes, I’d love to see them. I’m glad you noticed the Mehlman speech- it was pretty mind-boggling. I was under the impression it didn’t get much attention.

    You’ve mention Atwater more than once- interesting, but so long ago. For me, the political clock really started on 9/11. I agree both parties have had problems with racism in the past, Repubicans possibly more so and more recently. But racism is dead in our country and has been for most of our lifetimes. Sadly, I feel that what’s replaced it’s opposite: now you can say “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobe” instead of “nigger”, or hint at those slurs though careful language. That has to change too, because it’s poisoning our political discourse.

    Dig at atheists: try non-church goers:

    Pollsters are finding that one of the best ways to discover whether a voter holds liberal or conservative value stands is to ask: How often do you go to church? Those who go often tend to be Republican, those who go rarely or not at all tend to be Democratic.

    Frequency of church attendance has become a better indicator of partisanship than income or education: Among whites who go to church more than once a week, Bush won by a decisive 79 percent to 20 percent. Among those who never attend religious services, Gore won 59 percent to 33 percent, according to VNS.

  11. June 8, 2006 2:04 pm

    Count,

    You write, “The few times I’ve gone to Deborah’s site, she’s quoting mass emails, at least one not even sent to her.”

    That particular email WAS sent to me. You misunderstood or misconstrued my words. I am on Howard Dean’s email list. Dean does not consult me directly and personally to ensure I, alone, understand his schedule or most recent thoughts. Being on an email distribtion list is standard MO. I don’t understand why this bothers you.

    Please know that over the past 18 months or so, I have written and published more than 650 posts and articles. You referred to perhaps five or six of them that bothered you.

    Yes, on occasion I do quote Democratic leaders, because that’s what I report on: Democratic politics. NO reason for me to paraphrase when the words can be quoted from the source.

    My site is not meant to be all Deborah White all the time. It’s large part my viewpoints, and large part Democratic news.

    At times, I’m thrilled to support and urge others to support a Democratic action, and I do so generously. A good recent example is Al Gore’s global warming film. Did you take the pledge, Count? :>)

    Today, I quote John Kerry on Ann Coulter, for instance.

    At other times, I tear into Democratic stupidity. My most recent example is lambasting Robert Kennedy’s article in Rolling Stone. I’ve notably attacked Howard Dean on several occasions.

    It IS an odd and unique hybrid at About.com/NYT, part news and part op-ed. It seems to me that you’re chafing for the US Liberals sites to fit some traditional journalistic mold. By design, that will not happen.

    I need to get back to a book review I’m writing. Again, I don’t understand your at info I might receive from Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, TEed Kennedy, Harry Reid or the Democratic National Committee in an insider email.

    (Yes, I do hear directly from candidates and elected officials and their staffs, but that’s usually private communication.)

    Regards,
    Deborah White
    US Liberals at About.com
    A New York Times Company

  12. Rufus T. Flinger permalink
    June 8, 2006 11:43 pm

    Grec:

    Just a couple last threads. You wrote:

    “Quoting a mass email, unless to critique it, isn’t news, it’s spam. It has the tenor of a starry-eyed fan.”

    …I think Deb has well articulated her philosophy of her postings at about.com, but like Rob I don’t really get the distinction of quoting from a mass email, vs quoting from a mass conference call with one of them quoteing from it verbatim while it’s going on… Which was certainly not critiquing it, but passing it along pretty directly.

    You wrote: “You’ve mention Atwater more than once – interesting, but so long ago. For me, the political clock really started on 9/11.”

    Yep, but Atwater was the Rove of his day, and later later the chairman of the party in 1991 and he was directly Karl Rove’s mentor…so it isn’t THAT distant history.

    You wrote: “But racism is dead in our country and has been for most of our lifetimes.”

    Hard for me to say that. Maybe a distinction is helpful: Laura was watching a documentary on Gypsies trying to assimilate into modern Hungary. One of the men from the Gypsy community talked about the issues he faced from the predominant culture:

    “We see both ‘big racism’ and ‘little racism.’ Big racism is when they burn your house down. Little racism is when they simply hate you.”

    In my lifetime as an anglo I’ve faced nearly zero racism personally but I’ve seen a lot of both big and little racsim. Feels pretty active a problem to me.

    In growing up in Miami I remember huge and overt verbal and other racist stuff on all sides between the Blacks and Whites and Jews and Cubans in Southern Florida. Mean directly racist stuff.

    And I lived in Miami during the 3 or 4 days of the Liberty City riots sparked when white police officers where found not guilty of murder in beating a black man to death.

    When I asked my wife Laura’s Dad his permission to marry her, his response was that “I always supported Laura marrying whomever she wanted to, as long as she didn’t bring home a colored boy. I won’t have my daughter marrying a nigger.” Nice, how welcome I felt after passing that test.

    I worked at a major US company where after a certain level there were very few blacks or hispanics or women. Some, but very few. Now that may be just “the invisible hand of the market” at work, but it stuck me as an oddly selective invisible hand.

    I was in LA during the LA riots…I was working in a Hollywood center studios and barely made it out before rioters mostly black, set fire to surrounding mini-malls, specifically targeting Korean stores.

    One of my black friends told me about certain LA neighborhoods who station gang members at major intersections keeping an eye out for cars driven by members of the wrong race that they then target.

    My perception is that while anti-discrimination laws have helped lower the occurance “big racism” (As MLK said ” the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me”) …but I’m not at all sure how to quantify “little racism” nor how to quantify the echoing effects of past “big racism.”

    On another topic, I think you’ve agreed that the “party of choice” for atheists comment wasn’t accurate, but tried to point to church attendence stats and the last election…I guess calling Dems the “party of choice of those who skip church a lot.” We’ll even that isn’t so accurate…

    The WP quote doesn’t mention that 41 percent of those who attend church weekly (rather than multiple times a week) voted Democratic, and for those who attend several times a month they were evenly divided between the parties: 49/50%.

    You really should retract “the party of choice for atheists” comment sometime.

    Flinger out.

    http://people-press.org/commentary/pdf/103.pdf

  13. June 11, 2006 4:04 pm

    Word Rufus, Word! (Remarks to Deoborah at the end of this comment)

    I was all set to retract… I really was. But brutha, look at the numbers:

    •Those identifying themselves at “secular” voted for Kerry 2-1 (67-31%)
    •Those thatn never go to church voted Kerry by a similar margin (62-36)
    •There is a clear progression towards voting Republican based on church attendance. Yes, voting is evenly split among the demorgaphic you cite. And 41% of weekly churchgoers voted Democrat. But about 15% more (58%) voted Republican.

    It’s not that the Dems are all made up of secular people. But they are certainly are the majority, and will insist on the unlimited abortion license despite your pro-life views.

    The most unexpected result of this poll is that

    what has been largely overlooked is Bush’s success with less religious voters. In fact, compared with four years ago, Bush made relatively bigger gains among infrequent churchgoers than he did among religiously observant voters.

    I read into that if Bush had not stole the infrequent churchgoers, there would have been an even greater imbalance between the parties. White Evangelicals did congeal around Bush, but even then, twice as many people cited “strong leadership” and “clear stand on the issues” than “strong religious faith”. Very interesting.

    I don’t undertand your Lee Atwater point. You generously said that “there is nothing inherently rascist about Conservative philosophy” but then seem to imply that the leadership of the party is rascist. Atwater mentored Rove- but Atwater seemed to repent at the end of his life, but you seem to doubt that Atwater passed on that part of his life. Maybe you’re just referring to Rove’s gift of finding good issues that split more people into voting for Repulicans. You seem like you want to have it both ways. Don’t we all!

    I agree, it’s weird how few black people there are behind the scenes in Hollywood. I can’t rationally posit rascism as the reason. Some of the biggest stars are black though; they also happen to be extemely talented. My favorite phrase from the Bush administration is “the soft rascism of low expectations”. That IMHO is the most prevalent form or rascism today.

    Racism, ugly hate-filled bigogry certainly still exists, I’ll certainly grant yout that. But it’s socially and politically unacceptable in the extreme. More than ever, people are likely to give you a chance based on merit only. Democrats need to stop fighting that particular war, station some troops there, but find something else to do with their energy. That war has been won.

    Finally, Deborah, about the emails. Maybe it’s just my thing, but I find quoting emails in a blog kind of silly, and even worse, boring. I only brought it up to justify my “regurgitation” moniker for you, because that’s what was on my mind when I wrote it. Other points were later brought out to show that you were a partisan Democrat- a description I think you embrace. As I’ve also tried to explain subsequently, a partisan to me is not someone who agrees with everysingle thing a party stands for, but someone who (wisely) makes common cause with the party that is most likely to achieve most of their goals.

    If my criticism seems silly or incomprehensible to you, that’s really OK.

    You’re an odd bird Deborah. I don’t understand how anyone so ardently pro-life could hope for embrace or results from the Democrats. I guess you’ve decided that their anti-war stance makes up for their pro-choice stance. The numbers don’t add up for me. So many babies are aborted because of your parties policies. So many children died in Iraq because of UN Sanctions that didn’t work. Despite the mayhem, many more people are alive in Iraq today than if Sadaam had been allowed to continue to fill his mass graves.

    I do appreciate the time you’ve spent responding to me though. I’m surprised I even merit any attention from you.

    I hate to keep disagreeing- but you have made me think- you and Tim both- and I hope to continue the conversation in another thread!!

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