The Jury Talks Back


Announcing A Blog Comment Section That Is Like Being in My Living Room

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 1:11 pm

[This post will remain stuck to the front page for a few days. Scroll down for other posts.]

Big news.

I have decided to create an alternative comment section, for the purpose of creating an environment where people can discuss matters in the way that they might discuss them in my living room.

Over the years, there has always been an undercurrent of discontent among some commenters with the tone of the comments section. The bottom line is: some people like a more rough and tumble and environment, and others prefer a more polite and respectful tone. I have always leaned towards allowing a certain amount of aggression, while trying to encourage a respectful atmosphere.

But for a while I have contemplated the idea of setting aside a separate comments section for those who want to discuss and debate with an absolute minimum of personal rancor and a maximum of respect. The problem was: I was stymied by the logistics of how to create such an area, how to police it, and so forth.

Recently someone reminded me that I have this other moribund blog called The Jury Talks Back. There have been no posts there since 2011. It was originally designed as a place where many commenters could write their own posts. But it fell into disuse, and nobody has posted there since 2011.

So yesterday I thought: why not run a parallel blog there, with the same posts I have here, but an explicitly different ethic? One that emphasizes civility and honest debate?

I ran a little experiment yesterday with a few commenters who I thought might enjoy such an experience. The posts from yesterday were cross-posted there, and a handful of people discussed them. DRJ was there. Machinist was there! I liked the way it worked. The main problem was that there were not enough people. I want more.

I have trashed the posts there from yesterday so we can have a fresh start today, with the involvement of anyone who wants to be involved and can follow the rules. This is something I am going to continue it for a while. I hope for a long time.

Here’s how it’s going to work. Every post I write will be cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back. I’m going to try to get the guest bloggers to do the same, although there may be some logistics involved with that. I will include a link to the Jury version of the post at the end of the post.

It’s a public blog. For right now, everyone is invited, but the guidelines for posting are different.

The basic rule is this: imagine that you have been invited to my house as a guest. You and the other guests are sitting around a living room engaged in a lively and spirited political discussion in which everyone might not agree, but everyone treats everyone else with complete respect.

Before you post, make sure your comment has the same sort of tone it would have if you were saying it in my living room.

That’s pretty much the basic idea. Here are some further thoughts I have that may help illustrate what I am going for:

  • In my living room, people would not mischaracterize other people’s positions. If A characterized B’s position, it would be with great trepidation. A would be very concerned to make sure B agreed with A’s characterization. Strawman arguments would almost never occur. “So you’re telling me your view is” followed by something that sounds ridiculous is not something anyone would ever say.
  • In my living room, people might disagree, but they would always do so in a manner that showed respect for the other person.
  • In my living room, if two people disagreed, they would actually address the points made by the other person. There would be no filibustering while ignoring the points made by another person.
  • In my living room, there would be an adult level of discourse. Words like “slut” or “piggy” or “retard” or “stinkypig” would not be uttered. It would never occur to anyone to even try.

These are not exhaustive requirements, just illustrations.

I realize that there will inevitably be two related criticisms: that I am creating a “safe space” or that I am trying to exclude pro-Trump commentary there.

Let me address the latter criticism first. I speak for myself and I know I speak for other when I say that I want this to be a place where people can actually discuss different views. A polite echo chamber is boring.

But it takes real effort to disagree without being disagreeable, especially on the Internet, where there is no way to hear tone of voice and where misunderstandings cannot necessarily be corrected instantly. So bring your pro-Trump arguments, but bring an extra measure of civility with them, and I expect anti-Trump arguments to be made in the same spirit.

As for the “safe space” argument, I understand that concern. But here’s the thing. Once again, this is not a place to avoid debate. It’s a place to avoid rancor. To me, “safe spaces” are bad because they imply escape from points of view that are too uncomfortable. That is not the purpose of The Jury Talks Back. The purpose is to have discussions about uncomfortable topics in a very respectful and honest manner.

At one point I would have been very nervous about starting something like this, because I would be worried that all the civil commenters would abandon the main platform, with bad consequences for the main platform. It’s not impossible, but yesterday I noticed civil commentary on both boards, with many commenters participating in both parallel threads. And I think this experiment will bring some people back to commenting that may be put off by the tone of the main comment threads.

The point is, you have a choice. You think this is a stupid idea? You don’t want to participate? Then don’t participate. It’s the simplest solution in the world. The bottom line is: this is my blog, and this is something I want to do, so I’m going to do it. If you don’t like comment boards with a “living room” ethic, don’t go to the Jury comment threads. If you can’t abide a blog that even contains such an option, then leave. America still has freedom of choice! Ain’t it great?

As for the physical layout of the Jury blog: it’s not an ideal space. The comments look a little different, as the template has not been updated in years. Recent comments don’t work, although I am trying to contact Admin Guy to see if it is possible to make it work.

Anyone can participate, but I am going to be brutal about enforcing the norms. Brutal. I’m starting this on a Sunday so I can be active in monitoring it on the first day. If I think your comment is not in the spirit of The Jury Talks Back, I’ll just delete it outright. If there is whining about it, I’ll recommend that you simply return to the main comments section.

Another word of warning: I don’t know of a way of moderating people on one blog but not another. So if you venture to the Jury, and you can’t behave there, and it becomes a repeated problem, I may have no choice but to ban or moderate you from both blogs — even if your commentary is the sort of thing that would normally be accepted here.

I hope this is something that people try, even if just for the novelty of a comment board on the Internet with smart and interesting people who are bound and determined to discuss things in a civil manner.


Reader Poll: Which Would You Rather Drain: the Media Swamp, or the Government Swamp?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:30 am

Before you read any further, do me a favor and answer this question. I don’t want to prejudice your answers through any analysis that follows. Poll: Which would you rather see drained: the media swamp or the government swamp?
The media swamp
The government swamp

It’s a question a reader raised recently, and I think it’s an interesting one.

There are competing theories at play here.

The argument I see for the primacy of draining the government swamp goes something like this: the media can’t put you in jail. They can’t confiscate your hard-earned money through taxation, or take your property through eminent domain. Unless you move out of the country, you don’t get a choice as to which government rules you. (Sure, there is a theoretical collective choice, but that is not the same thing as a real personal choice. Your single vote will never decide a national election. But your singular decision to switch the channel or navigate to a new Web page can decide which media outlet you follow at any given moment.) Draining the government swamp is more important because it changes something over which you have no choice, which directly affects your life.

The argument I see for the primacy of draining the media swamp goes something like this: Despite the low approval numbers of all different types of media, the message put out by the media still has an outsized influence on what most Americans think and on how they vote. If you can change the media’s message, and undo the cozy backroom relationships they have with their favored politicians (who are always from the left), you can change who is elected. The election of Donald Trump does not prove the media is now weak; indeed, with the billions in free earned media they showered on him, you could say the media made Trump president. Moreover, more fundamentally, politics is downstream of culture. Change the media and you change the culture, which changes the politics — since our political choices inevitably reflect our collective personal opinions in the end. Draining the media swamp is more important because if you drain the media swamp, the government swamp will follow.

It’s an interesting debate. I’ll be interested to see what people say, even though this is obviously not a scientific poll.

I have cross-posted this at RedState, with the same question phrased the same way but in a different poll, so I can track the differences between the answers of the readerships of both blogs.

I have also cross-posted it at the main site, but the poll there is the same poll as the one here at The Jury. Since many people will be entering The Jury from the post at the main site, and will have already taken the poll before coming here, I did not think much would be revealed by having a separate poll here.


Trump Advisor: Spicer’s Falsehoods Were Just “Alternative Facts”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:26 pm

Chuck Todd asked Trump spokespiehole Kellyanne Conway about Sean Spicer’s pack of falsehoods in yesterday’s press conference on the trivial (but important to Trump’s ego) issue of crowd size at the inauguration. Conway did her usual shtick of aggressive deflection combined with aggressive horseshit, but one moment stood out: Conway’s statement that Spicer was simply offering “alternative facts”:

CONWAY: I did answer your question.

TODD: No, you did not.

CONWAY: Yes I did.

TODD: You did not answer the question of why the President asked the White House Press Secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on Day One.

CONWAY: No, it doesn’t. Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What it — you’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary — gave alternative facts to that. But the point, really —

TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered . . . the one thing he got right was Zeke Miller [about the MLK bust]. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look: alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.

Here is what Conway looked like immediately after making the “alternative facts” declaration.

Conway Realizes She Screwed Up 1
Haha, isn’t it funny when I say things like that?

Followed quickly by this:

Conway Realizes She Screwed Up 2
Hmmm. That one might actually stick. Crap.

I looked at these issues yesterday in a detailed and restrained post and laid out the facts. Spicer was flatly wrong, time and time again. I think this one is indeed going to stick, Kellyanne.

I’m going ahead and creating a new category called “Alternative Facts” to use if and when the Trump administration decides to baldly lie to the American people again.

Chuck Todd overall did a poor job in the interview, by the way . . . feeding into Conway’s narrative by mocking Spicer’s performance as “ridiculous” rather than calmly citing the facts that Spicer got wrong. Nevertheless, while it may not have been apparent to his viewers, Todd is exactly right that Spicer’s performance was indeed ridiculous and does indeed call the White House’s credibility into question.

By the way, Donald Trump offered some “alternative facts” of his own yesterday, as he told the intelligence community yesterday that the notion of a feud between him and the intelligence community was made up by the media.

So I can only say that I am with you 1000%. And the reason you’re my first stop is that as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on our Earth. Right?

And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the Intelligence Community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number one stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that too.

There was laughter and applause after his statement that the media is dishonest. There was no applause following his dishonest claim that the media made up his feud with the IC. This is the same man who compared the IC to Nazis less than two weeks ago:

When you’re comparing the Intelligence Community to Nazis, it’s not the media making up a feud between you and the Intelligence Community.

Peter Wehner has an excellent op-ed in today’s New York Times. Here is a sample:

Because Republicans control Congress, they have the unique ability and the institutional responsibility to confront President Trump.

What this means is that Republican leaders in Congress need to be ready to call Mr. Trump on his abuses and excesses, now that he is actually in office. It is a variation of the Golden Rule, in this case treating others, including a Republican president, as they deserve to be treated. They need to ask themselves a simple, searching question: “If Barack Obama did this very thing, what would I be saying and doing now?” — and then say and do it.

In anticipating a Trump presidency, I wish my hopes exceeded my fears. But Donald Trump has given us many reasons to worry. A man with illiberal tendencies, a volatile personality and no internal checks is now president. This isn’t going to end well.

The quoted language applies to conservatives outside of government as well. But the reverse side of the coin applies to Big Media. They should be asking themselves: “If Barack Obama did this very thing, why didn’t I speak out then the way I am speaking out now?”

After the last eight years, with “if you like your plan you can keep it” and the rest, it is quite interesting to watch the media all of a sudden concerned with falsehoods emanating from the White House. When they fly into a frenzy over lies told by the Trump administration, as they inevitably will continue to do, we should all bear in mind how so many of them circled the wagons around Obama for eight solid years.

I was right here that entire time, vociferously calling out both the lies from the White House, and the press’s failure to report them. I will continue to call out the lies from the White House for the next four years, if and when they occur (and I confidently predict they will). It is nice to know that I will, all of a sudden, have a companion in that effort in the form of Big Media.

But I will remember the ones who failed to aid me in that effort over the last eight years — just as I remember the ones who fail to aid me in that effort in the years to come.

The Experiment Worked

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:37 am

I am depublishing all posts and comments made yesterday. I think the experiment worked out well but needs more people. Leaving up the posts from yesterday would be a distraction. I want a clean break and a fresh start with everyone able to participate. I am going to announce it today on the main blog.


Dear Gregg Keller

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 9:02 am

For officially deciding that GOProud can’t take part in an “official” capacity at CPAC, I would like to say to you the following:

Go fuck yourself.

A shame. I was actually hoping to attend this year.


Does a picture tell 1,000 lies?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 6:21 pm

God knows that the intersection of Olympic and Bundy in West LA is a nightmare for drivers during the evening commute.  There are lots of reasons to think that maybe a major new hospital complex at that location is not a good idea.  Since I drive past that point every day, I can understand the opposition. 

But there is no excuse for the enormous lie that graces the cover of the mass mailer that went out today:

Anyone looking at this flyer would think that this huge campus was being dropped into the middle of a residential district, surrounded by a sea of houses with swimming pools and, no doubt, small children and pets who would all be at risk.

In fact it is a run-down commercial/light industrial area with a number of vacant and/or foreclosed properties, and no houses for quite some ways.

The REAL Olympic & Bundy

Shame on the “Fight Bundy Village” folks. As Congressman Weiner demonstrated, lies never help, especially when the truth will serve as well.


Six year-old rescued from drowning because of NFL lockout

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 10:26 am

From comes the story of Kansas City Chiefs tight end Leonard Pope, who saved a 6-year-old boy from drowning in a swimming pool. The Chiefs’ backup tight end on Saturday saved the son of a longtime friend from drowning in his hometown of Americus, Ga.  According to the boy’s mother, Pope was the only person at the party who knew how to swim. Pope jumped into the pool — wearing all of his clothes, “cell phone, wallet and everything” — and pulled her son, Bryson, from the water.  The tight end would have been at camp but for the NFL lockout.

School District refunds donations rather than allow Bible verses

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 9:18 am

In January 2010 Palm Desert High School announced a fundraiser for parents of graduates and other parents and community members.  For a donation of $100 or more, donors could purchase a brick or bench, engraved with a message, that would become a permanent part of the campus.  The order form did not specify restrictions on the messages.

Two community members paid for bricks to be enscribed with Bible verses.  Later the financially-strapped school district notified the two Christian women that their bricks were rejected, citing “separation of church and state.”  In response the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit on the women’s behalf.  In the lawsuit the plaintiffs noted that other religious messages had been accepted, including a Bible verse in Spanish and a Hindu quote from Mahatma Ghandi.

Last week the parties reached a settlement in which the school district refunded all of the money and destroyed the bricks and benches.   Although their goal was to participate in the fundraiser — not to stop it — the plaintiffs are being blamed as selfish and un-Christian by many in the community for the loss of the $45,000 that the school district returned to the donors.

The ADF attorney said regarding the settlement, “Christians should be allowed to express themselves on public school campuses just like everyone else. It is cowardly to shut down everyone’s participation in this program simply out of animosity toward Christian speech. There is absolutely nothing unconstitutional about a Bible verse on a brick when a school opens up a program for anyone to express a personal message. The school could simply have allowed the Bible verses, but instead, it chose to punish everyone.”


The world is a dimmer place.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 8:12 am

Just this morning, via Popehat, I learned of the passing of Joel Rosenberg.

I first got to know Joel – as much as anyone can be said to know someone via internet interaction – back in 2007.  While we certainly disagreed in that instance, I knew right then that I liked the guy.

Flash forward a number of years, and lo do we learn of Joel standing up for his rights again the jack-booted thugs of the Minneapolis Police Department.

An impressive man in all senses of the word.

I’ll be picking up his books soon, as I feel some certain amount of shame for never having read them before.

Farewell, Joel.


Royal Wedding

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 2:34 am

I did not watch it, but here are things I wish it had contained (I am informed none of them actually did, more’s the pity)

– “I, William, take you, Kate to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, or until I find some other whore to start banging…  Oh, sorry, looks like these were Dad’s…

– “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…”

– Instead of traditional wedding march, they use either Yackety Sax or Liberty Bells.


I have a problem with this

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 12:30 pm

I’m a “Rule of Law” kinda guy…  I don’t like drug laws, but I abide by them. I don’t like the Supreme Court’s ruling in Snyder v Phelps, but I recognize it as being the right decision. I dislike it when celebrities get virtually no punishment at all for crimes that would see one of us plebeians thrown into jail.

So I’m actually sort of upset by this verdict.

The jury in Charleston Municipal Court found Billy Spade of Hico not-guilty of the charge.  Spade was arrested when he spit tobacco juice on a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Look…  I hate the WBC and all it’s members.  I wouldn’t life a finger to assist them in any way regardless of what was happening.  Hell, I’d probably not help them even if it caused me to suffer the same fate. Seriously, my hate and loathing of those completely worthless fuckwits is a real and tangible thing.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the guy did commit battery.  He spit on her, for crying out loud. If I spit on – or even at – a cop, my ass would be soundly beaten and tossed in jail, and I would almost certainly lose my court battle. The man’s claim at trial that he was spitting on her sign, which she was holding over her head, is pretty damned weak. In my mind it doesn’t even pass “reasonable doubt”.

What happened here was the jury didn’t like the victim, and so the wrong-doer got a walk, and frankly that should scare the shit out of you.

What if the jury just plain didn’t like black people? Or gays? What if they don’t like Republicans? Or Jews?

Would you be OK with the a jury giving a pass to someone who just walked up and spit on a gay man holding a sign saying he wants the right to marry?  Would you be OK with a gay man getting a pass for spitting on a girl saying marriage should only be between a man and a woman?

If not, why would you find it OK to spit on a member of the WBC?

Either the law applies to everyone, or it should apply to no one.


Wisconsin Supreme Court election

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 8:10 pm

Now, to start with I would like to say that I dislike the idea of electing judges (or more specifically having to re-elect them). If anything might give an example as to why, we only need to look at Wisconsin.

The Kloppenburg/Prosser election is, you just know it, going to become a huge pile of fraud and litigation.  Kloppenburg currently leads with 204 votes, with supposedly 500 ballots being found in a precinct that went 73% for Prosser.

Look, the Franken election went the exact same way – boxes and boxes of ballots were found in fucking car trunks, for fuck’s sake.

There are reports of ballots being shredded, students voting multiple times, and then there’s the fun WI law where you can register to vote the day of the election and you’re eligible to vote after a mere 10 days’ residence.  Let that one sink in – stay there for ten days and show a couple of bills (I would suggest an VoIP phone bill and cell phone bill, personally), and you’re good to go.

Thankfully, the Wisconsin Attorney General is a Republican, so people who commit voter fraud might actually get prosecuted (though the SoS is a Dem, so no telling how much cooperation there will be).

Every person who voted twice needs to be prosecuted, every report of destroyed ballots need to be investigated like it was an attempt on the life of a US President, and any attempt at stone-walling or impeding efforts to prevent the stealing of an election needs to find the person sitting the fuck in jail.

No mistake, this is going to be long and dirty.

And don’t even think about what happens if litigation ends up in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court…

Update: With some votes still being counted, the totals have swung so Prosser has a very, very slim lead (double digits).

If you care to watch a man slowly go mad with rage and desperation, I highly recommend the twitter feed of one Michael Moore.

Kloppenburg has already declared victory! Repubs in WI r behaving like sore losers. Now they’ve hired Bush lawyer from FL 2000 recount.

I think I have a Shadenboner…

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