Patterico's Pontifications

12/13/2009

A Commenter Simplifies This Entire Brouhaha Into Two Sentences

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:16 pm

Thanks to Orbital:

Jeff G. said Patterico called McCain a racist. Patterico did not call McCain a racist.

Yes. It really is that simple.

Jeff Goldstein Plays the Race Card

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:07 pm

Jeff Goldstein has regularly raged against the concept of falsely accusing others of racism or prejudice against a minority group.

But, as daleyrocks noted yesterday, the rules he sets for others don’t apply to him.

And so, back in March, when I was having a bitter fight with him, I was very upset at what I considered to be a pattern of distortion of my arguments. In particular, Goldstein accused me of not caring about the intent of the author — a charge that I utterly refute in this page that I published today.

In the midst of my anger, I posted this comment on his site, theorizing as to why he was mischaracterizing my views so badly. At the time Pajamas Media had cut him off, and he was trying to start a “foundation” that would make him money to make up for the loss in revenue from Pajamas, which would end on April 1. With all this context, I posted this comment:

Goldstein needs a foil. So he can start a movement. April 1 is coming fast. Money’s running out. So you take a conservative who has been busting his local paper for six years, falsely caricature him as a wimpy turncoat, mobilize the forces against him, and start a foundation. Donation requests coming soon. Who’s in?

You can say what you like about that quote, but I don’t say a goddamned thing about his Jewish heritage.

And yet, I got this in response:

Goldstein Anti-Semitism Attack
(click to embiggen)

Here’s the text of this angry response:

Wow.

I guess Pat’s done hit rock bottom.

No matter. It’s not like a lot of the lefty blogs haven’t accused me of being a money-grubbing Jew opportunist with no real ideological core. Hearing it come from a true conservative like Mr Frey makes me aware that I best know my place.

WE WILL HAVE DECORUM!

Note who said “money-grubbing.” Note who said the word “Jew.”

It wasn’t me.

Note the tone. It’s very angry.

Goldstein here accuses me of anti-Semitism — completely out of left field. This occurred during a bitter and heated dispute — where I said something that many might disagree with, but that unquestionably had nothing to do with Jewishness, and everything to do with Goldstein personally.

Note that this is not analogous to the R.S. McCain situation at all. McCain’s quote appears racist on its face. My commenter JD, who hates false accusations of racism, conceded that McCain’s statement was racist. Most of you agreed, when I asked you. Even if you disagree, you can see that McCain is discussing race.

By contrast, my quote above does not contain the slightest hint of anti-Semitism. It doesn’t even mention Goldstein’s Jewish heritage. I am simply suggesting that a blogger is engaged in a dishonest caricature of my position to stir up a controversy. You can agree or disagree, but it’s crystal clear that I am saying nothing about his Jewish heritage.

Leviticus has aptly summarized the mindset behind this maneuver:

So this is some hypocritical bullshit on his (their) part, correct?

Indeed it is. Goldstein claims to be against phony screams of victimhood — but the second he gets mortally offended, he reaches for the victim card and slaps it down on the table triumphantly. Without blinking.

So pardon me if I find it just a bit ironic that Goldstein was willing to do that which he regularly (and recently, with McCain) has railed against.

P.S. Goldstein is now claiming he was speaking ironically. This is really getting in the weeds, but if you care, that transparent lie is demolished here.

P.P.S. Did I mention that he deleted the comment? And the subsequent post that he wrote about the exchange? That’s why I have a screenshot.

Yeah, he wanted to hide it. I’d want to hide hypocrisy like that too.

UPDATE: In comments, Goldstein boasts of his plan to parade a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism against me on his site — and then poll his readers as to whether I’m an anti-Semite (and of course they will all vote that I am). Listen to the glee with which he greets this prospect:

When you find yourself a few days from now writing “some of my BEST FRIENDS are Jews,” think of me at home, smiling and enjoying a snack cake.

You can almost picture one of the Al Sharpton race hustlers making a similar comment. If they were going to be honest about how cynical they are.

UPDATE x2: PatHMV in comments gets it:

Patrick accused you of acting in a particular way because you needed to stir up a way to make some money, after you were dropped by Pajamas Media. You responded to that, at least initially, by saying that he had called you a “money-grubbing Jew opportunist with no real ideological core.”

To me, that does indeed sound exactly like something Al Sharpton would say. In the words of RS McCain and his fans, you were calling RAAAAAACIST on Patterico, simply because he criticized your motives. You attempt to immunize yourself against any criticism of inappropriate pecuniary motives by attacking anybody who suggests such as an anti-semite.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

UPDATE x3: Icy Texan:

It comes down to this: Patterico said “You’re full of crap, Goldstein,” and Goldstein — whose ego obviously cannot absorb such a blow — played the card in defense: “You’re an anti-Semite, Patterico; therefore, your opinion of me being ‘full of crap’ is invalid”.

I thought he was against that sort of sophistry.

New York State’s Budget Crisis

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 10:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

New York State has run out of money:

“As he has threatened, Gov. David Paterson on Sunday said he is withholding $750 million in local aid that had been scheduled to go out starting Tuesday. The move was prompted by a looming shortfall for the current fiscal year that’s estimated to reach between $500 million to $1 billion.

The delays include more than $500 million in scheduled school aid payments and $112 million to cities and counties. Additionally, the governor will hold back $47 million set to go to health insurance firms that cover state employees. That change, however, should have no direct impact on those workers.

“I can’t say this enough: The state has run out of money,” Paterson said during a news conference in New York City to announce the move.”

Paterson describes this as a cash flow problem and says these are payment delays, not cuts, although they may be made permanent if the Legislature doesn’t act:

“The Legislature, under pressure from powerful teachers unions and school lobbyists, refused to cut any school aid midyear. School officials contended the midyear cuts would force layoffs and hurt instruction.

“The question is, who is going to wake up and face reality and who is going to continue sleeping on the job?” Paterson said.”

Some municipalities and local governments may have to borrow to cover short-term deficiencies. I’m not familiar with how New York financings work but in theory that won’t be good for their bond ratings.

– DRJ

UPDATE 12/16/09: Paterson’s polls aren’t great but his tough budget talk has reportedly helped his standing with New York voters.

Obama on the Afghan Exit Strategy

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 8:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a preview yesterday of a 60 Minutes interview of President Obama scheduled to air tonight, Jake Tapper said Obama described the territory between Afghanistan and Pakistan as the “epicenter of the violent extremism directed against the West” but nevertheless insisted on a July 2011 exit deadline for Afghanistan. Why? Because we don’t need an American protectorate in Afghanistan:

“The president said, “the answer is: in the absence of a deadline the message we are sending to the Afghans is ‘It’s business as usual, this is an open-ended commitment.’ And very frankly there are, I think, elements in Afghanistan who would be perfectly satisfied to make Afghanistan a permanent protectorate of the United States. In which they carry no burden. Which we’re paying for — a military in Afghanistan that preserves their security and their prerogatives. That’s not what the American people signed off for when they went into Afghanistan in 2001. They signed up to go after al Qaeda.”

The United States has active duty military personnel in over 130 countries so it’s disingenuous of Obama to suggest that having troops in Afghanistan makes it our protectorate. But Obama specializes in making strawman arguments like this, so this isn’t news.

However, it is backwards reasoning. If the United States is going to provide long-term military protection to any nation in the world, providing it to one of the two nations at the “epicenter of the violent extremism” should be high on America’s list.

– DRJ

Illinois’ Early Release Program *Halted*

Filed under: Crime,Government — DRJ @ 7:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The AP reported that Illinois’ budget crisis prompted its Governor to implement a secret early release program for state prisoners to help balance the budget:

“Records obtained and analyzed by the AP show that since September more than 850 inmates have been released weeks earlier than they ordinarily would be. The Corrections Department is saving money by abandoning a policy that requires inmates to serve at least 61 days and awarding them discretionary good-conduct credit immediately upon entering prison.”

Some released prisoners served mere days, including a wrong-way drunk driver released after 18 days who hit two cars and hospitalized another driver for weeks; and a previously convicted felon who served 21 days for armed robbery and was arrested with an illegal weapon and a bag of cocaine.

ADDENDUM: I hadn’t even published this post before the Illinois Governor announced he was rescinding the early release program in response to the AP’s article.

– DRJ

Jeff Goldstein’s Views of Language Will NOT Prevent You from Being Misinterpreted

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:04 pm

Many believe that Jeff Goldstein espouses a theory of language that prevents speakers from being misinterpreted. Are you kidding me? This guy misinterprets me all the time.

Stick with me, because this isn’t about Robert Stacy McCain, except incidentally. It’s about language and interpretation. And how Jeff Goldstein’s views on those issues don’t protect you from being misinterpreted.

Take Goldstein’s post about Robert Stacy McCain, in which he writes:

Frey called McCain a racist . . .

Not so. In my first post naming McCain, I was very careful not to call McCain “a racist” as a person, and prominently said: “I’m not saying that one racist/prejudiced quote brands you as a racist for all time.”

I have very consistently said that one racist statement does not necessarily make its utterer “a racist.”

Why? Because I limit my claims to that which I can prove. And so I said only that this is a racist statement:

As Steffgen predicted, the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.

It has surprised me to learn that people disagree whether this statement is racist. I do. Jeff Goldstein doesn’t. Goldstein defends a statement in which McCain rages that the media “force” those awful “interracial images” into the public mind, causing rational people “revulsion.” Fine. We’ll have to disagree on that one.

But I didn’t call McCain “a racist” and I clearly said I was not saying that.

Again, I made that clear because, as regular readers know, I try not to let my statements get ahead of the evidence. Sure, I was aware of other allegations of racism by McCain. Commenters have noted, for example, that on a Civil War listserv group, a “Robert Stacy McCain” proposed a bumper sticker reading: “Have you whipped your slaves today?” I was aware of allegations that he used to link approvingly to sites run by white supremacist groups while posting comments at Free Republic. But at the time I wrote the post, I didn’t have time to look into any of these other allegations or their context. So I stuck to the evidence I had, and was very careful to note that one racist comment does not brand one as a racist for all time.

This did not prevent Jeff Goldstein from coming along and distorting what I had said. Showing that famous regard for the speaker’s intent, he ignored my words and context and declared that, in fact, I had branded McCain as “a racist”:

Frey called McCain a racist . . .

The full context of Goldstein’s claim, and the statement of mine to which he referred, is long and beyond the scope of this post. So I have placed it on a separate page, where I place it in the context of my views of how language works. Don’t defend Goldstein’s comment unless you have read the full explanation on that page. For our purposes here, the key point is that Goldstein claimed I called McCain “a racist” when I had not.

When I explained that I had not, Jeff Goldstein immediately privileged the speaker’s intent above his own told me that I was wrong, and that I had, in fact, called McCain “a racist” because if you say that a person has made a racist statement, you are calling that person racist at the moment of the utterance. In a very slippery way, he changed the terms, saying that I was calling McCain “racist” and using that to defend his claim that I had called McCain “a racist.”

But that little word “a” in front of the word “racist” — IN THIS CONTEXT — makes all the difference.

Uttering one racist statement does not make someone, inherently, “a racist.” It would be like saying that, because everyone reading this post has undoubtedly at one point in their life committed a crime, everyone reading this post is “a criminal.”

What an idiotic statement it would be to say: “Patterico.com is a site whose commenters are exclusively criminals.” This is so, EVEN IF you had all committed crimes (like most humans) at some point in your lives.

Yes, at the moment y’all committed your crimes, you were acting in a criminal manner. At that precise moment, even, you could apply the dictionary definition of “criminal” and say you were a criminal. But it would not be fair to label you a criminal for all time on the basis of that one act. For me to take one of you, at random, and call you “a criminal” on the basis of that evidence would be preposterous.

Imagine that, in a discussion about the overabundance of criminal statutes, you said to someone in comments: “Look, everyone commits crimes. You have committed a crime. Of course, by saying you committed a crime at one point in your life, I am not branding you as a criminal for all time.” You can see how it would be pretty galling if Jeff Goldstein came along later and accused you of calling the other commenter “a criminal.”

This is no longer about McCain, but about language. The larger issue, for me, is that Jeff Goldstein’s views on language don’t protect you from being misinterpreted by people. I have now explained my intent about McCain to Goldstein until I’m blue in the face — getting angry at times, to be sure, because I know what the hell I said — and he will continue to maintain that I didn’t say what I think I said.

I get that many people of good faith somehow missed my statement in my original post where I clearly said I wasn’t branding McCain “a racist” on the basis of one statement. We could debate whose fault that is, but surely once I have explained it, you can accept what I’m saying. I’m the guy who said it, after all — and I’m not backtracking — despite Goldstein’s false statements that I am.

So I am being misinterpreted — and very unreasonably so.

Many of you like to claim that this is ironic, because he has convinced you that I espouse a theory of language that gives primacy to the listener’s intent rather than the speaker’s. This is the Big Lie that he has gotten you to buy into, and this fundamental misunderstanding of my views colors everything about how people view this issue. My view, as stated in March 2009, is: “Interpreters should try to divine the speaker’s true intent.” I have made this crystal clear on more than one occasion, and Goldstein knows it. Here’s another sample from March 2009:

Communication is a two-way street. Listeners must try to divine the true intent of the speaker. Speakers must clearly communicate their intent if they wish to be understood.

Yes, I understand that listeners must try to divine the speaker’s intent, and Goldstein goddamned well knows that I understand it. And that’s not backtracking, any more than I have backtracked on McCain. (An allegation Goldstein made and has refused to substantiate.)

This post is already long, so if you want to get even further down into the weeds, follow me to this page. In it, I discuss my views of language, and how they have been misrepresented by Goldstein — as well as the full context of his claim that I called McCain “a racist.”

UPDATE: Goldstein tries to discourage his readers from reading this post: “Does anyone else find themselves not caring what Patrick Frey’s take might be?”

So much for his claim to be a guy who takes on every argument on the substance.

UPDATE x2: Evidently realizing that this position would undercut his claim to take on all arguments, he has now linked this post. Good. The argument is here for those willing to read it.

UPDATE x3: Evidently Goldstein is mocking my claim that he was trying to discourage people from reading the post. One wonders why he bothered to imply that his readers shouldn’t care about my take, if it wasn’t an effort to persuade them not to read it. But fine: if he claims that wasn’t his intent, I’ll accept it. It’s all a distraction anyway. The real issue is the arguments in the post. I’d rather see people discussing the arguments.

UPDATE x4: daleyrocks has a very cogent explanation of how Goldstein selectively employs intentionalism in the comments. Excerpt:

The problem is that a lot of people have read Jeff’s work on intentionalism, myself included, and see him apply it selectively in debates with people as Patterico pointed out at Little Miss Attila. . . . In Jeff’s world of intentionalism, he gets to both make up the rules and violate them and hope that nobody is watching too closely.

If somebody is watching too closely and questions Jeff’s process, that’s when the personal attacks start, the allegations of not understanding language are repeated, and as a bonus feature a failure to communicate is also added if confusion is raised on the part of the listener.

That’s about it.

“Obama’s Big Sellout”… and what the Right can learn from it

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:06 am

[Posted by Karl]

Matt Tabbi has a piece in the new Rolling Stone, titled “Obama’s Big Sellout,” about the number of people with ties to Bob Rubin (of the Clinton administration, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup) or other Wall Street insiders who assumed positions of responsibility in the Obama transition and White House. Taibbi is a progressive not prone to mince words:

What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

As a result, Taibbi has taken friendly fire from people like Tim Fernholz at the American Prospect:

The piece is a factual mess, a conspiracy theorist’s dream, doesn’t even indict Obama for his real failures (which I’ll discuss in a post later today) and of course invokes the cold hands of Bob Rubin like a bogeyman at every turn. This is pernicious for a lot of journalistic reasons, but politically it’s bad for progressives beacuse conspiracy theories stand in the way of good policy analysis and good activism, replacing them with apathy and fear.

Fernholz goes on to list what he sees as problems with Taibbi’s piece. Taibbi has admitted to one factual error, but argues that the “factual” issues Fernholz raises are mostly disagreements over how the facts should be interpreted. At Reuters, Felix Salmon basically agrees with Taibbi.

However, it is the areas of agreement that should interest the Right. Fernholz, for all of his criticism, writes:

Is the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street problematic? Yes. Does the Administration take it too easy on the banks? Absolutely. Are White House advisers too centrist for progressive tastes? Sure.

Taibbi, in response, writes:

[Fernholz] argues that “the problems Taibbi tries to describe aren’t some ridiculous cabal” but instead “come from group-think and structural influences.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was exactly the point of the article. The issue with the modern Democratic party is that its leaders all share a world view that’s extremely narrow. They genuinely believe in Rubinite ideas, have grown accustomed to an incestuous relationship with Wall Street, and they probably think that the right people were put in charge.

The notable point of this Lefty consensus is that you heard nothing like this from the Left or its establishment media outlets when the Wall Street meltdown struck during the peak of the 2008 campaign. They were not remotely interested in the financial ties between Wall Street and the Democrats, or the role of Clinton HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo in plunging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the subprime markets, or the Fed’s role in dumbing down lending standards, to name just a few topics.

Moving forward, the Left — from Pres. Obama on down — should not be allowed to whine about having inherited a bad economy from the Bush administration. By their own admissions, Clinton-era Democrats were among the “very people who caused the crisis in the first place” — and they now hold high offices in the Obama administration.

–Karl


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