Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm a totalitarian?

I love my critics. I figure if they're reduced to attacking me personally instead of refuting my points, I'm doing my job pretty well. Occasionally one stands out though and I have to give the lifetime achievement award for most voluminous and creative arguments against what I didn't say to Lee at Postpolitical in a post his friend Lance at Second Hand Conjecture finds brilliant...
In this take down of the Libby Spencer smearing Manny Lopez. It also has one of the better analysis of the totalitarian mindset I have read in a while. A must read.
Maybe Lance believes that, or maybe he's just mad at me for blaming him for Lee's other post but if anybody can read the few short grafs I wrote -- follow the links to my comments at The Reaction -- and come to the same conclusions as to my politics and my point, please explain it to me.

As far as I can see they're both still engaging in the same conduct they're accusing me of, that being smearing the critic -- me -- to avoid addressing the points of the argument. It appears to me that neither of them are Venezuelan nor do they spend much time there, however they continue to dismiss the views of those who do live under Chavez' rule as inconsequential and beneath consideration. For myself, I find it rather amusing to be called a communist and a totalitarian for pointing out that alternative views exist.

If you read my comments at The Reaction, you can see they ignored my apology to the extent that I made a declarative statement on Manny's social background. I certainly had no intent to smear Manny, I happen to like the guy, and I should have said he was espousing the oligarchy's talking points without implying he was one himself. But otherwise I stand by my posts and in fact, let's just try that little thought exercise these two guys refuse to address. It works no matter who is pitching the anti-Chavez line. Lee said in this last post:
For a fuller breakfast, is Libby willing to trade her right to freedom of press, for one where criticism of the president is criminalized? Is she willing to trade a liberal society for a paramilitary cult, so that she has a cheaper health service?
For the record, I am disturbed by Hugo's censoring of the Venezuelan opposition press however, I'm more concerned that our own president censors our press. And Lee might want to ask Brett Bursey, or the Denver Three or the schoolteachers who were ejected from a public rally for wearing t-shirts that simply said "Protect our civil liberties" before he condemns another sovereign leader for criminalizing dissent.

If he wants to talk about press suppression, perhaps he could explain why the White House is so willing to vigorously pursue press leaks that expose their malfeasance and yet conduct no investigation into leaks from within the White House that compromised national security, despite our president's assurances that he welcomed investigation into the matter and falsely assured us no one in his administration was responsible.

And if we're to speak of a "paramilitary cult", perhaps Lee would like to address the White House ploy to negate Posse Comitatus.
In October 2006, Bush signed into law the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Quietly slipped into the law at the last minute, at the request of the Bush administration, were sections changing important legal principles, dating back 200 years, which limit the U.S. government's ability to use the military to intervene in domestic affairs. These changes would allow Bush, whenever he thinks it necessary, to institute martial law--under which the military takes direct control over civilian administration.
I'm sure you get the point, so I'm done with this little spat. I find it hard to take critics whose arguments rest on ad hominem attacks all that seriously and I'm not going to waste my time defending Chavez when his own countrymen are willing to do so. If you have a burning interest in the question, I suggest you read this comment at the Detroit News from Nestor, who apparently lives there and underscores the few points I did make.

As for Lee and Lance, I'd respectfully suggest they leave Chavez bashing to Venezuelans and focus their considerable efforts on the disintegration of democracy in our own country.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Lance said...

Libby,

My calling to my readers attention Lee's post had nothing to do with your failure to attribute the post in question properly, but because it is so well done. I am not mad at you. The only reason I know anything of you is Lee's post. Though I did follow all the links so I understood who is misrepresenting who.

I do have a couple of issues with your response.

1. "For myself, I find it rather amusing to be called a communist and a totalitarian for pointing out that alternative views exist."

Lee, and certainly not I, never called you a communist or a totalitarian. Please read more carefully.

2. I engaged in no conduct to "both be engaged in" though I do believe Lee gets it exactly right. I have never written of you at all other than to link to Lee's piece.

3."they continue to dismiss the views of those who do live under Chavez' rule as inconsequential and beneath consideration."

Just like your assertion of Manny's class background, do you have any basis for this claim? Of course not. You know little of Lee and nothing of me.

4. "you can see they ignored my apology to the extent that I made a declarative statement on Manny's social background."

Flat out false. It was the focus of Lee's post.

5. "creative arguments against what I didn't say"

Since you seem to say things and claim things which were not said by people and about you, I would appreciate it if you would quote exactly where Lee attributes anything to you that you did not say. I may have missed something, and if so I will note it in an update to my link.


6. As for the rest of the post, you do exactly what Lee criticized you for in his post. You have just reinforced his point.

12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Lance, by approvingly linking to Lee's post, you by inference aver and affirm his premise, which is flat out wrong. He focuses on one sentence in my comment, I see nothing in his post to suggest that I apologized for making a wrongly declarative statement about Manny's background. He merely points out that I now said I knew nothing about his background without noting that I made the apology and in fact mocks me for my inconsistency.

When you say Lee makes a great analysis of the totalitarian mindset in the same sentence as my name, one might assume you were referring to my own mindset which could not be farther from the truth.

Neither of you have linked to the alternative views promoted by Venezuelans living in that country that I provided. I would suggest that is dimissive and misleading. Lee in fact sneered at the suggestion that he should read Hardy's work on the matter.

I don't have the time or the inclination to make a point by point rebuttal of Lee's ad hominem smear against me. I'm in the process of moving and there's bigger news about our own country that needs addressing which I can't fail to notice neither of you acknowledge. How about you address my points on how Bush is guilty of the exact same conduct the Chavez bashers are complaining about. What do you have to say about Americans who have been arrested for constitutionally protected speech and the negation of Posse Comitatus? If you want to get into a pissing match about this, those are the points I'm making and would care to debate.

Otherwise, just because the two of you are pronouncing me as wrong, doesn't mean I am. I think I made it clear that I don't post on Chavez because I'm not current on the situation there and was merely pointing out that not everyone agrees with your collective point of view. To cherry pick isolated quotes out of context and then suggest my remarks are some full frontal defense of the man is simply dishonest.

However, I'd suggest we simply agree to disagree since I really don't have the time to pursue this and my policy in general is to ignore critics who attack me personally instead of refuting my points with verifiable facts.

1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

"Lance, by approvingly linking to Lee's post, you by inference aver and affirm his premise, which is flat out wrong."

From what I can read you seem not to have even written what you believe his premise was. I do agree with it though. If that is the conduct, linking, that offends you so, then I guess I am guilty.

"He merely points out that I now said I knew nothing about his background without noting that I made the apology and in fact mocks me for my inconsistency."

He quoted your apology. That seems sufficiently making note of it. They also were inconsistent. You were not unclear, you claimed knowledge you didn't have. Pointing that out for his readers may embarrass you (and he and I will credit you for admitting it. It was a true retraction. You admitted your assertion of familiarity wasn't a mistake, but a falsehood. Good for you) but it seems rather germane given the rest of his post.

"When you say Lee makes a great analysis of the totalitarian mindset in the same sentence as my name, one might assume you were referring to my own mindset which could not be farther from the truth."

You can if you want do many things, that doesn't make them correct. If the fact that your name was in the same post is what gives you the right to assert whatever you want, not only about me, but Lee (who had nothing to do with my post) that is very poor reading analysis.

Worse, it isn't even true:

"In this take down of the Libby Spencer smearing of Manny Lopez. It also has one of the better analysis of the totalitarian mindset I have read in a while."

They are not only not in the same sentence, the word "also" clearly shows that is an additional feature of the post. Reading Lee's post, it is quite clear what I am talking about.

"Neither of you have linked to the alternative views promoted by Venezuelans living in that country that I provided. I would suggest that is dimissive and misleading."

We didn't because that isn't what we were writing about. I was just linking. I didn't discuss it at all. It was a two sentence intro to Lee!

As for Lee, what he was writing about was also not connected to Mr. Hardy.

Even if it was you make two errors of rhetoric, though, as Lee pointed out, typical techniques of obfuscation. One is that not discussing your particular sources is somehow problematic in and of itself and gives you the right to make claims far beyond what that could possibly signify. Two, that because we don't discuss your "evidence" it means "they continue to dismiss the views of those who do live under Chavez' rule as inconsequential and beneath consideration."

How would you possibly justify such a claim? You cannot. You have no idea who we have read, corresponded with or spoken to. The interview in question shows it is not true since Manny's interview was based on his discussions with people in Venezuela. That was in fact the point of the interview, to get the reactions of the people he spoke with and what he observed. So once again the charge is demonstrably false, and assumes things that you could not possibly know, much like your smear of Manny. Which you only "apologized" for after Manny called you on it.

I also will point out that for you to clarify with some "those views were just the views of the oligarch's" type excuse and therefore do not count or are suspect is once again based on something you do not know, and reinforces exactly what Lee said in his post as well. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

"Lee in fact sneered at the suggestion that he should read Hardy's work on the matter."

Yet another misrepresentation. Lee sneered at you using something not relevant to his discussion of you, not that Mr. Hardy is irrelevant, though I am sure he and I both wonder why Mr. hardy in particular is such an important source considering our wide research and curiosity on the matter of Venezuela.

"I don't have the time or the inclination to make a point by point rebuttal of Lee's ad hominem smear against me."

You need to look into what an ad hominem is. An ad hominem would be dismissing someone for not being from the right "class" for example rather than directly addressing their arguments. Taking your argument and scrutinizing it is not ad hominem. It may be unflattering, you may not like it, but it isn't ad hominem.

"How about you address my points on how Bush is guilty of the exact same conduct the Chavez bashers are complaining about."

That you repeat this only shows that Lee characterized your argument and attitude correctly, and therefore did not post on things you did not say or believe. That you actually believe they can be equated is sad, but the reason we will not discuss it is we are not talking about those issues. We are talking about Venezuela. It is a tactic to distract from the subject at hand and to avoid discussing the issues we are discussing, Venezuela and the ways you improperly and dishonestly smeared Manny, and the rhetorical tactics you used to discredit him and apologize for a man who is turning his country towards a dictatorship. A Man who plasters signs which say socialism or death as if that implies anything other than what we have seen from Mussolini to Mugabe. If you want to defend those arguments go ahead, but whining that you don't want to because you would rather equate George Bush to a dictator is not only beside the point, it shows a complete lack of seriousness about actual tyranny. George Bush hasn't put you in jail or threatened to seize your paper, require you to attend mandatory Karl Rove designed courses on proper political thought, organized bands of roving young Republicans to break into your house and beat you, steal your property and intimidate you into silence or any of that. George Bush is a bad enough President without doing the same thing every defender of a dictator over the last century has done, which is act as if the US for all its faults is really no different. It makes you sound as if you are just the flip side of the David Dukes of this world.

As for my fifth point I asked you to somehow back up, as with the others, you don't do so. They were scurrilous claims. You had no basis for them. Lee had the respect in his criticisms to back them up. If you feel you need to counter some of them because you gave the wrong impression, or Lee is misunderstanding you, do so. Don't just start making things up, mischaracterizing, claiming things were left out that were not or attributing motives for which you cannot possibly have a basis to believe.

4:36:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Lance, I seriously don't have time to pursue this any further. To sum it up in as few words as possible, it appears we disagree that a comparison between what Bush is doing to our country and what you say Chavez is doing to his is relevant. I think it is. You don't. So be it.

I've been blogging for four years. I post actively to five blogs. If you had been able to read the entire body of my work you would see your accusations against me are baseless. Perhaps mine against you and Lee are baseless as well. I just read you for the first time a few days ago also.

I'm not embarrassed by your criticisms. Hell, I'm not even offended. I've suffered worse barbs. I think you and Lee make a mistake in not presenting opposing views so your readers can judge for themselves whether your opinions are valid. I remain suspicious of arguments made on behalf of the oligarchy whom I believe oppressed the majority of the Venezuelan people for their own benefit for the many decades they held power. I hold that view based on anecdotal evidence from Venezuelan natives. But as I said, at this point, the only sensible thing to do is to agree to disagree. We're not going to change each other's minds and it's up to our readers to make their own judgements.

Perhaps someday we can revisit this. I'm actually quite interested in why folks like you and Lee hold your views so vehemently. For the moment, let me just say thanks for visiting my blog and offering your thoughts. I welcome opposing views here and there's nothing I like better than being proven wrong. Perhaps some day you will convince that I am, but that day hasn't come yet.

6:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jim M said...

Libby
A hippie totalitarian. I wouldn't have thought it possible.

8:50:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL Jim. I knew you would understand my amusement. And somebody called me a Marxist-socialist at the DetNews this week. I'm on a roll.

9:40:00 PM  

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