If you want to Revel in Blind Hypocrisy Read the Comments to an Attack on the Left

By William K. Black

We all know that the folks who comment on web sites are not a random selection of humanity.  They tend to have stronger views than the general public and on sites that have intense political views they are commonly nasty towards their political opponents.  An anonymous conservative author who writes under the pseudonym Leften Wright about being oppressed by liberals has just authored an article pitching his book.  The article claims that liberals are (uniquely) rude to conservatives.  Conservatives and liberals periodically write this article demonizing their opponents for the alleged crime of demonizing their opponents.  As befits the genre, the anonymous author relies on innuendo and ad hominem attacks that generalize to his/her political opponents based on slights to the author.  None of these personal slights can be tested given the author’s anonymity.

What lifts the author’s attacks on liberals from the usual clichés for this kind of piece is not contained in the article.  The delight emerged from the comments it generated on the first conservative web site I viewed.

There could be no more convincing refutation of the author’s thesis than the responses on the conservative web site to his thesis.  The commenters are conservatives and they raise the needle measuring rudeness off the chart.  At the time I write this column only one comment on the site is not strikingly rude towards liberals (and that comment was attacked by several commenters for its failure to be rude to liberals).  The reader can decide for himself or herself whether the commenters’ zest for rudeness demonstrates any creative flair, but it is unquestionable that rudeness is not unique to liberals.  Hypocrisy flourishes among the conservatives on this site.

Let me be clear in my thesis.  My thesis is that there is nothing unique about this conservative web site.  If a liberal author posted his version of the same column on a liberal web site the comments of liberals on the site on the column would likely be dominated by rudeness.  No one has a monopoly on rudeness.  I understand the dangers of accepting false equivalences.  The one thing I can safely say is that an article that purports to complain about rudeness should not be written in a manner calculated to be a one-sided attack on one’s political opponents and designed to generate greater rudeness.

10 responses to “If you want to Revel in Blind Hypocrisy Read the Comments to an Attack on the Left

  1. In my experience liberals are far more likely to be rude to leftists than they are to the right.

  2. Matt Taibbi has an article in the new Rolling Stone called “the-mad-science-of-the-national-debt”. While it doesn’t go full-onn MMT, it does hit the high spots. It sounds like Taibbi is most of the way there. Considering how much his Vampire Squid analogy resonated in the land of TV talking heads, I’m hoping this one gets some attention too and MMTers get a shot at explaining the realities of how our economy works.

    Now to Bill’s point, the reason I mention all of this is because I was going to comment on his story (as it’s posted on the rollingstone website) but after reading a few of the comments and the downright stupidity and nastiness of them, I’ve changed my mind. We live in a world nowadays where facts are irrelevant and even the most illiterate imbeciles think they should open their mouths and remove all doubt that they are indeed fools. Clowns with attitude.

    • reserveporto

      Interesting article, though he does accept many of the usual fallacies. Just to discuss one:
      “If you keep the giant money hose on full blast for too long, you risk overheating the economy and creating financial bubbles.”
      No, actually, QE finances its own inflation. In order to really BE a bubble, there needs to be a way for the money to suddenly, catastrophically, be withdrawn from the system as a response to one of any innumerable number of even minor shocks (like a bad earnings report). For central bank (base) money, one method this can happen is if the central bank decides to suddenly and radically increase interest rates. This is not credit (bank money) inflation which withdraws money from price support by the usual process of rapid deleveraging. Base money sits in the system propping up prices until, if ever, central banks decide to remove it or gov’t decides to tax it. As for overheating, that would require a functioning mechanism moving money from asset price inflation to wage inflation, but the tax code specifically disadvantages wage inflation, dramatically and automatically increasing base money destruction (through the appearance of a budget surplus) whenever it appears.

      “We were saved by, of all things, a record quarterly profit from the notorious state-seized mortgage-finance company Fannie Mae, which is paying the state $59 billion, enough to keep us in the black through the summer.”
      This is one of my favourite examples to demonstrate how ridiculous worrying about the debt ceiling can really be. The reason Fannie Mae has all this money is because the Fed has been busy propping up MBS prices, which left Fannie Mae with a very healthy balance sheet. On that balance sheet, Fannie Mae had a 50 billion $ item called deferred taxes. That’s just carried over losses that can be applied to future profits to reduce one’s tax bill. But, since this is gov’t accounting, they applied it all to last year, leaving them with a huge after-tax profit. No cash actually needed to change hands. When Fannie Mae made their deferred tax asset disappear, it also made the Treasury’s liability (debt) disappear giving more space under the “debt ceiling”. Fannie Mae could also reduce their substantial cash holdings (~25 billion $) and pay that out as dividends to its main shareholder, the rest of the gov’t.

      • reserveporto

        The ECB is also involved in heavy asset purchasing but it is directing all that purchasing through European banks leaving gov’ts in some uncertainty. I wonder, is there some piece of clever accounting similar to Treasury’s fanciness at Fannie Mae, that European gov’ts could apply to make their deficits, which are fabrications of their own kind, disappear by getting in on the ECB’s action?

      • I wish MMT economists were more clear about this: it’s not about money. Demand pull inflation has nothing to do amount of money out there, but amount of wealth. So you can exchange existing wealth like govt. bonds for money balances all you want but that does not make anybody spend more because they are not getting any wealthier.

  3. Thankfully, not every hang-out on the internet is filled with bile. This place, for instance, seems to do alright.

  4. Unfortunately many ‘conservatives’ have redefined debate and disagreement as ‘rudeness.’ It’s a habit they’ve picked up from the plutocrats they serve. After all, how dare the lower orders answer back when their masters have spoken? As all right thinking conservatives know, such outrageous behaviour can only lead to the Gulag, via that long road to serfdom paved by public libraries and social security.

  5. I often wonder at the motives behind extreme attitudes and what has to be termed verbal abuse. Rudeness can be abusive but verbal abuse tends to be generated by a moral ambiguity that holds with blasting away at opponents with high powered words that don’t address specific issues.
    Al Franken, in his book “Lies: And the Lying Liars who Tell Them : a Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” points out travesties worked on our popular culture by the likes of Ann Coulter. She of the most foul tongued gets regular air time on the larger media venues, I am convinced, mainly because she is abusive and cruel. Many, perhaps even a majority of the American populace at this point in our history has a penchant, a desire for titillating non bloody violence. Say, almost a need for pornographic involvement -as long as the content is pink and between consenting adults, the violence will continue.

  6. Fox news and Limbaugh have a monopoly on rudeness.