Monday, November 15, 2010

Humanity vs. Vanity - Part Two

The following is a message board conversation that ensued in response to "Humanity vs. Vanity", which I posted as a Facebook note in the exact same form that it appears here. These comments have not been edited or altered in any way (except for the last post, which was omitted).

Max Price
conservatism is what he champions. i challenge you to listen to the guy for a week, as much as it might drive you nuts. you listen to him, that's obvious, but to think that his ego gets in the way of clarity is not quite true. more than once he's explained why he wants the president to fail, and his reason is logical. Compare it to Billy Mays vs a tough stain. Billy Mays would never want the stain to succeed in ruining a nice shirt. He wants his oxyclean to succeed in removing all of the dirt and grime from the stained material. If his product isn't effective, then what good is his time in advertising? Limbaugh wants the president to fail because he believes the president's policies are a stain on the fabric of this country. i appreciate that you want the ascending republicans to succeed, tho i like to view them more as a new class of politicians, even tho (R) shows up next to their name. I hope they ignore the special interest groups, something many of their upperclassmen R's have failed to do, and truly vote according to their constituency, even if it's something i disagree with.

Matthew Rozsa
With all due respect, you didn't understand the message of this article. The whole point of what I was writing is that, if you genuinely want what's best for America, then you should hope that the opposing side's ideology winds up achieving that result, even if it is not the one with which you agree at this particular point in time.

Incidentally, I have listened to Limbaugh. While I can't say that I did so for a solid week of programming, I have certainly tuned into a dozen or two of his shows over the course of the past couple years, whenever the opportunity presents itself. The man presents arguments that are riddled with logical flaws, does not engage in even the most rudimentary fact-checking, and has a terrible record of refusing to acknowledge when he has been shown up (see, as just one example, his handling of the Michael J. Fox controversy).

As for his explanation of "I hope Obama fails?"

It's baloney, plain and simple. His argument against liberalism has always been that its philosophy is bad for the country because it will harm prosperity, security, etc.; if you really believe that, then you should hypothetically be thrilled to see it succeed and thus prove you wrong. Limbaugh's feeling to the contrary is a reflection not just on how he really views the issues, but on who he truly is as a human being.

Max Price
i wouldn't go as far as to judge his character, matt. i skimmed your post as well, not much time at work to read it thoroughly. i'll look closer later.

Kevin Reagan
I think it should be stated for the record that Limbaugh's "I hope he fails" comment was taken drastically out of context. Go back and look up how he originally said it. He said it when considering the liberal-progressive agenda he assumed Obama would pursue. It was in this context that Limbaugh said, "I hope he fails." He wanted any transformational liberal agenda pursued by the president and Democrats in Congress to fail because he believes that it is not the right policy course to pursue. It was not, as you make it seem, a personal attack against the president. In fact, I remember Limbaugh wishing Obama the best personally, just not politically. While the idea of wanting his policies to fail because that would prove your side partially correct is somewhat vindictive, it certainly is not as bad as wishing for the other side's personal failure...

Matthew Rozsa
Once again, I did read the initial context in which he said it; indeed, it was from reading that that I was inspired to write this article in the first place!

Did you read what I wrote, Kevin? I never claimed Limbaugh was wrong for wanting Obama to fail personally (in fact, I never even broached the subject of what he thinks of the man as a human being). What I said was that he was a bad American because, if he really wanted what was best for this country, then he would have been hopeful for liberalism to bring that about now that it happened to be in power, just as I hope that conservatism can bring that about now that it has retaken charge of the House of Representatives. Even though he may think liberalism won't succeed, just as I think conservatism won't succeed, the fact that he places the triumph of his movement over the best interest of his country is bad patriotism.

Dan Reagan
Matt, I'll try not to be too long winded here but I think your friend Max said it well regarding Rush. His analogy w/Billy Mays was a good one. Plus, as I've tried to caution you before as someone who has known you your entire life, you rea...lly should stay away from quoting Rush unless and until you decide to listen to him on a daily basis. There is no one person in the world whose words are taken out of context more than his. Plus, you can read what he said all you like but unless you're a Dittohead like moi, you're never really going to "GET" what he meant by his "I hope he fails" remark.. I submit to you, that with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and even without it, Rush's remark was truly patriotic!! ONLY Rush, and Hannity as well, took the time to vet this radical. The MSM didn't do their job that they would have done had Obama had an R next to his name. Rush and Sean played audio clips from his 2 autobiographies. They looked into ALL his radical associations. They knew that he was a phony from the word go and tried every day to tell us that this "Moderate" as he was portrayed during the campaigned was nothing of the sort. Thus, Rush said, I hope he (his policies fail!) AND...They hAVE...RESOUNDINGLY!!! And the people spoke and said as much on NOv.2nd. AND...they'll speak again in 2012!!! btw..I did read your piece so you made a little bit of sense at the end but your premise that we have to root for "the President to succeed otherwise we're not patriots " I don't buy into. Didn't buy it with Clinton either. Ask Harry "This WAR IS LOST" Reid if he agrees with you...

Matthew Rozsa
‎1) For the umpteenth time, I actually did read the entire monologue in which he made that statement. That was what inspired this article in the first place.

2) I find it fascinating that you, Kevin, and Max keep repeating the same argument without even acknowledging my earlier response to it. Logically deconstructing someone's response is a rebuttal; ignoring it altogether is an admission of defeat.

3) Do Limbaugh fans not realize how utterly apt the term "dittohead" is when used in reference to them?

4) I've read Obama's autobiographies and seen nothing radical in either of them. His so-called association with Bill Ayers has always been distorted way out of proportion to reality (in no small part thanks to professional right-wing mudslingers like Hannity and Limbaugh), while the views of Jeremiah Wright, though repugnant, are no more so than the ideas of countless Christian Right-wingers who are inordinately influential to this day in the Republican Party(I cite Pat Buchanan, Mike Huckabee, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, etc.)

5) As for the success or failure of Obama's plans:
- His health care reform bill passed and will insure thirty-two million people while ending insurance company injustices and reducing the budget deficit by more than one trillion dollars over the next twenty years.
- He ended the war in Iraq.
- He passed laws prohibiting many of the exploitative credit card company practices that contributed to our current economic crisis.
- He passed stricter regulations on Wall Street that will likewise prevent a repetition of many of the actions that got us into our current mess.

What's more, although Obama did fall short when it came to economic policy, this failure came about NOT because of radicalism but rather because he prematurely capitulated to Republicans.

Allow me to explain:

The fundamental premise behind Keynesian "pump priming" theory is that, when a recession or depression takes place, you use the government to bring about the recovery that the private market is no longer capable of providing by injecting a stimulus into the economy equivalent with what has been lost in GDP.

In the case of the recession with which Obama was confronted when he took office in January 2009, that amounted to approximately $2 trillion, which was what liberal economists like Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, and Robert Reich were all saying he should include in his bill (I also said that at the time, although I hardly have the prestige and credibility of these other three great minds). Instead he never proposed higher than $500 billion in stimulus, one-fourth that amount, and even wasted $287 billion more on tax cuts that were virtually useless when it came to addressing this problem.

Why did he do this? As aids from Rahm Emanuel to David Axelrod made clear, he wanted to show good faith to Republicans concerned about increased spending by making his stimulus bill as small as possible.

What was his reward for this show of good faith?

Republicans refused to vote for the bill anyway, continue to accuse him of being a runaway spender despite all of his centrist efforts, and because the economy has failed to recover under his watch, his party suffered serious losses in the 2010 midterm elections.

Note, however, that I said we lost because the economy failed to recover. It WASN'T, as Republicans like to believe, because America took a hard turn to the right, just as it wasn't (as many Democrats like to believe) because Obama wasn't liberal enough. In the words of James Carville, what matters in times like this is "the economy, stupid." If Obama had passed a $2 trillion stimulus package (applied over a two-year period), arithmetic suggests unemployment would have fallen to between 6% and 7% right now; had that been the case, we would have triumphed in 2010. Instead the package was only large enough to keep unemployment at a plateau after it began to take effect in May 2009, hovering between 9% and 10% now just as it did back then (it would have been between 16% and 17% had there been no stimulus at all, but American voters tend not to notice counterfactuals).

6) Don't worry, I'll be brief.

I never said that we should root for our president to succeed no matter what. This is my position, rearticulated so often that I've lost count:

I am a liberal because I believe liberal programs will work best for this country. If it turned out that conservative policies were more effective at accomplishing those objectives than liberal ones, I would acknowledge that and revise my positions accordingly.

That said, there is one concession I need to make; initially I had said that most conservatives also cared enough about America that they would rather have our nation succeed under liberalism than fail under conservatism. After reading the arguments of you, Max, and Kevin as you defend Limbaugh, I'm beginning to think I should retract that.

Dan Reagan
One simple question because all the rest of not worthy of comment..when someone..anyone..take me for instance says they are a "Dittohead" what in the context of The Rush Limbaugh show does that mean?

Editor's note:

Notice how Dan Reagan, when confronted with a large quantity of objective data that he can't refute, simply brushes it off
("... all the rest of THAT..."). I wish I could say this wasn't a classic approach among conservatives, but sadly that isn't the case.

Matthew Rozsa
From The Urban Dictionary:
Dittohead - While the term may have originated by Limbaugh encouraging people who enjoyed the show to just say "ditto", the word has now evolved to mean a blind follower of Rush's twisted logic. A true dittohead would follow Rush Limbaugh blindly into the depths of hell if they thought he would allow them to touch one of his Oxycontin stained fingertips.

Now that's their definition, not mine. Frankly, I prefer to deal in fact and logic, but since you didn't feel like my offering either of these to you was worthy of response..

Dan Reagan
Matt, my question was asked to YOU! and you alone..the fact the needed to
resort to "looking it up" in the " Urban Dictionary" is nothing short of pathetic and only drives home my point that you should refrain from ever
typing his name again.....because like all people of your ilk, your distorted
and misinformed prejudice views of Rush come from out of context, 1/10th
truths you read on Daily Kos, Slate, or other far left websites that know nothing about what Rush says 3 hours every day. It's sad because you have potential to be a talented, intelligent writer but your version of
liberalism is more important to you than getting the facts most libs..sad...such a waste

Matthew Rozsa
‎1) Clearly the obvious humor involved in my choosing to use "The Urban Dictionary" eluded you.

2) I read the entire monologue in which Rush Limbaugh uttered that comment AND I have listened to numerous episodes of his show.

Have I listened to every single program that he has ever aired since I was old enough to follow politics?

Of course not, because (a) I have a life and (b) I try to listen to a variety of sources, left-wing and right-wing, rather than using just one as the basis for formulating opinions.

Does that disqualify me from offering informed and intelligent opinions about him?

Absolutely not. I would be disqualified only if I hadn't read the monologue from which his "I hope Obama fails" comment had been culled. That said, the notion that I have to read not only the entire piece from which that quote was taken, but EVERYTHING else the man has ever said in his whole body of work, is absurd. Limbaugh is not Spinoza; he neither requires nor deserves that kind of comprehensive scholarship.

3) On what basis do you claim that I gleaned my arguments from Daily Kos and Slate? Have I cited any of them in this debate?

Just because you need to be a dittohead for a conservative commentator doesn't mean that I need to be a dittohead for a liberal one.

Incidentally, I read Slate at about the same frequency that I read Limbaugh's monologues - i.e., just often enough so I can have idea of what's buzzing around over there - and I only rarely go to Daily Kos.

4) I am an intelligent, talented writer.

5) I am a liberal.

6) I do get my facts right.

7) Like most Dittoheads, you will be happy to know that none of those last three statements can ever be accurately said of you.

Matthew Rozsa

I have but one question...

Would you rather have America be prosperous, peaceful, and productive under liberalism or impoverished, warring, and stagnant under conservatism?

I've already answered this question as it applies to me (with the roles of liberalism and conservatism swapped), which you know if you've read my article. Now it's your turn.

Dan Reagan
Nice try..but it's impossible to be "prosperous, peaceful, and productive
under liberalism" see the US circa 2009 and 2010 under Pelosi, Reid, and Obama...let us not forget...Pelosi and Reid took control in
2007..unemployment was around ...4.6 back then when "the republicans where
driving the economy in the ditch," EVEN THOUGH..the DEMS controlled BOTH
HOUSES of CONGRESS and Bush was President. NOW...Obama comes January 2009...FULL PEDAL TO THE MEDAL..."Prosperous, Peaceful, and productive under liberalism" WHAT A LAUGH!!!!

Let's start with PROSPEROUS...the debt has gone up 4 TRILLION since THE ANNOINTED ONE TOOK OFFICE...He spent or presided over more debt from

Now we go to "Peaceful" your FANTASY that Obama "ended the war in Iraq" is nothing short of LAUGHABLE!!! He came in AFTER BUSH HAD DONE ALL THE HEAVY LIFTING IN A WAR HE VOTED AGAINST...VOTED AGAINST THE SURGE...AND NOW..LIBS

Now...Productive???? Oh yeah...I forgot.this was the SUMMER OF RECOVERY!!!
Good night Matt!!.. .

Matthew Rozsa
You see, that right there is why extreme conservatives can't help this country. It is impossible to have an intelligent and sound philosophy if you refuse to acknowledge the potential validity of an opposite point-of-view.

Matthew Rozsa
PS: The next time you decide to call someone an ass, make sure you spell "you're" correctly.

Dan's argument, incidentally, was an exercise in willful stupidity:
- First, the notion that Democratic control of Congress as of 2007 can somehow be connected to our current economic problems is patently absurd; although Dan provided a correlation, he failed to establish any causation, and what's more, the 4.6% unemployment rate under Bush at that time was still significantly higher than it had been when he first took office six years earlier. That said, most economists agree that the three main causes of our recession were the growing income disparity between the wealthy and the middle-class, the Wall Street meltdown, and the credit crisis, all of which are directly connected to policies pioneered by Ronald Reagan and furthered under George W. Bush.
- Similarly, his position on Bush ending the war in Iraq goes against the grain not only of what liberals believe, but what conservatives themselves have argued; after all, his deescalation and gradual troop removal in that region was vehemently opposed by the same neoconservatives who shaped Bush's policies precisely on the grounds that they felt the war shouldn't come to an end.
- Finally, his argument about the national debt is a fiction, plain and simple. Obama's health care reform bill will actually reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next twenty years, while his stimulus package - though increasing the deficit by $987 billion - is still more than $300 billion smaller than the Bush tax cut package in 2001.

What lessons did I learn overall from this experience?

The only people who can make meaningful contributions to political discussions are those who recognize the potential validity of other points-of-view. When individuals have already made up their minds that those with an opposing ideology are incapable of being correct, they cripple the intelligence of anything they may have to say on those subjects.

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