I have met a few of you in “real life” but most I know only through what we discuss on this blog. At this end of another year, I just want to thank you all for your comments. It has been fun for me and taken the pressure off acquaintances who otherwise would have been inundated by my “ideas”.

I don't think that blogging as we - as I - do it has much of a future. It makes me a little sad, but I think the future belongs to the twitter folks and the more overtly partisan outlets. I have seen my "audience" dwindle, but there is nothing I can, or at least nothing I indent to do to adapt. That makes me double grateful for those of you who still hang around.

I started blogging to learn about the medium. I read a lot about it, but you don't really know something until you do it. Actually doing blogging has taught me a lot.

IMO blogs are generally LESS influential than many people think. A blog gets influence only when it can leverage a bigger story. (People like me cannot do that because we do not produce primary content. I was surprised when I did indeed produce eye-witness content from Iraq but few believed me, so maybe that doesn't work either.) Blogs are also useful as an adjunct to a more general PR campaign.

The problem with blogs used as part of a campaign is that they get bowdlerized. The value of a blog is its glimpse into real opinion. Candidates and others in a PR program tend to write their blogs based on their focus groups. Everybody plays it safe.

Watchblog was a little different than some blogs because we had liberals and conservatives in the same place. But we have been unable to maintain the rigor or talent to continue to attract new readers. Or maybe the idea of a blog like this is obsolete.

What did I learn from blogging with you all?

On a negative side -

I learned to be a little more defensive. I always tell the truth. I understand that it is the truth from my perspective and may be "wrong" but I do not lie. However, I have found that truth is not a valid defense. Some people who disagree with you will attribute this disagreement to mendacity or malice.

I also learned that most people will not read linked sources or even read to the end of a post before going on the attack. I admit that even I do that sometimes with long posts.

On the positive side -

Most people who post here seem patriotic,well intentioned & usually polite.

Some people take a lot of time and expend effort to write responses.

I also think most of us sincerely believe what we write. There are not too many instances of just cutting and pasting talking points, although many are accused of that.

On the just interesting side -

People tend not to change their opinions even when the conditions on which they were based changes.

Some people have some really strange ideas, but do not act on them. On the practical level, we can usually cooperate/agree on specific tasks, even if we arrive at similar conclusions from very different paths.

In other words, we can get along most of the time and our political disagreements do not make a practical difference in how we behave. Most Americans are pragmatic and that is good.

Many people cannot really tell the difference between wanting something and taking the actions needed to make it a reality. This gives big advantages to politicians who can talk big.

Roosters who crow loud enough often get credit for the sunrise.

On a more personal level, I learned that I really am conservative. I instinctively choose decentralized, non-hierarchical solutions. I believe human nature remains more or less the same and that we cannot achieve perfection on this earth. I dislike the idea of equality of results and tolerate and even celebrate inequality. I distrust concentrated authority, even my own & I believe in restraint, i.e. politicians and other leaders should not do everything they can or take as much power as possible even to accomplish "good" results. I did not know that all such things were conservative. In fact, I thought that some of them were liberal ideas. I learned that they were "conservative" each time I tried to express these "truths" and ran into leftist opposition, at first to my surprise.

Anyway - thanks for all the interesting exchanges. Maybe the new year and the new political debate will give us some new vigour around here.

Posted by Christine & John at December 28, 2011 7:59 AM
Comment #333625


First of all thanks for posting here and at “world-wide-matel”. I followed your posts from Iraq with interest.

“People tend not to change their opinions even when the conditions on which they were based changes.”

People tend to pigeonhole other people, especially if they disagree with them.
People are more interested in being “right” than they are in being correct. They cherish their own opinions, even if they don’t have a clue, and when they are confronted with their cluelessness, they either ignore the truth and move on, or even worse, they make fun of those that have pointed out the incorrectness of their opinions.
Strangely enough, people will also continue to spout the same baloney aud nauseum even after they have been proved wrong repeatedly.

One of the things I have learned about myself by frequenting this site is that I am neither Liberal, nor Conservative. I have found that I am fully capable of agreeing with points made from both sides.
Also, I have found I don’t have a problem with being wrong, if I am actually proved wrong. Show me the truth, with actual facts to back it up, and I am willing to change my opinion.

Anyway Jack, I hope that your holidays are pleasant, and good luck to us all in the coming year.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 28, 2011 10:04 AM
Comment #333628



I found that I don’t have so much trouble being wrong, but I like to fight. I have to resist going down some of those paths that go nowhere, but are fun to pester people.

Re changing opinions - I think that some of that has to do with pragmatic behavior. We don’t need to change some of our big opinions because we know that it will not make a practical difference. This is a good thing.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 11:22 AM
Comment #333629


“I dislike the idea of equality of results and tolerate and even celebrate inequality.”

I will take the liberty to amplify that. Who should we be equal to?

If everybody were equal to me, the world would be in a larger mess than it is now.

Posted by: tom humes at December 28, 2011 11:22 AM
Comment #333631
Watchblog was a little different than some blogs because we had liberals and conservatives in the same place. But we have been unable to maintain the rigor or talent to continue to attract new readers. Or maybe the idea of a blog like this is obsolete.

Don’t give up C&J. People in general like to go to sites where they can get their opinions verified, but not all of us.

Myself I find that I learn more by disagreeing with others here on WB than I do reading from some site that has just one point of view.

God I hope your wrong about Twitter, as I find it to be pretty much useless and IMHO will fade as people tire of tweets of usually small substance. Perhaps it is just because I am not a twit ;).

Posted by: j2t2 at December 28, 2011 11:27 AM
Comment #333632


I hate twitter too, but seems to catch the imagination of lots of people.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 11:38 AM
Comment #333633


“I hate twitter too, but seems to catch the imagination of lots of people.”

Yeah, but only those with no imagination.

Have we become so overwhelmed with our own self-importance that we have the need to share every minute detail of our daily lives?


As someone who grew up with one (count it, one) rotary phone (it had actual bells in it), in the entire house, I find it nauseating that people have become so wrapped up in this sort of “advancement” in our civilization.

Frankly, I believe it allows us just one more way to stick our foot in our mouths.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 28, 2011 12:16 PM
Comment #333634

I think Twitter is fine but just not for me. I like a larger space to do my work and to argue my views with others. In politics Twitter can lend itself to shallow, brief swipes or snark toward others. I hope people continue using political blogs and news sites for political talk and leave Twitter to the youth, the social networking friends, and those who relish the finer parts of pop culture.

I’ve enjoyed my conversations with you, Jack and I look forward to many more in the coming year. Most political sites regard dissenters at trolls and idiots so I hope Watchblog always remains a place people can comfortably dissent as part of the site’s process and not as an outsider who dares to disturb the views of the site authors.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at December 28, 2011 1:13 PM
Comment #333644

C&J, I think we shot right through your previous post on being grateful way too fast. I was just beginning to gain interest in the comments. JMHO, but it seemed to me, that conservatives are much happier and satisfied with life; whereas the left seemed to be angry and very unhappy with life. I think this is something that should receive further investigation.

Posted by: TomT at December 28, 2011 6:08 PM
Comment #333646
JMHO, but it seemed to me, that conservatives are much happier and satisfied with life; whereas the left seemed to be angry and very unhappy with life. I think this is something that should receive further investigation.

Tom T conservatives like to believe this but it seems to me the same statement could be said about older versus younger people as well. You would consider me to be on the left yet I am quite satisfied with my personal life and am not the least bit angry. I however do not go quietly when told to shut up and be grateful. Nor do I think that we as a country should rest on our past accomplishments as many conservatives here on WB seem to think we should.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 28, 2011 6:17 PM
Comment #333648

Tom & J2t2

Nobody should rest on his accomplishments until they are resting in peace.

However making progress requires accurate assessments of both plus and negatives. The idea that things have just gone wrong is just wrong. Life is much better for most Americans than it was in 1980. MOST of this is not political. We have made leaps in technologies and methods of operation.

I have noticed this in several key areas. I ride a bike to work a lot. My bikes have improved and are cheaper in inflation adjusted dollars. The same goes for cars. You don’t have to do hardly any maintenance and new cars almost never break down. Computers are orders of magnitude better and everybody can afford one now. Cellular phones were as big as suit cases in the 1980s and expensive. Now nobody has to pay long-distance charges. You can skype for free and get quality that Presidents Reagan or Carter could not have had at any price. The cancer that killed by mother is now curable. Lazer surgery has become cheap. Kids no longer have cavities due to better toothpastes. Most teenagers no longer get serious ache. Over the counter medicines like Aleve make it possible for people with formerly nearly crippling arthritis to function. Flat screen TVs are available for a few hundred dollars. You can get 100% cotton shirts that you can crumple in your backpack and then put on and still look like they just were professionally pressed.

The list goes on. MOST of these developments helped the poor more than the rich. The rich could afford lots of these things in their older forms. Now everybody can have a fresh pressed shirt and make long distance calls.

Posted by: C&J at December 28, 2011 6:56 PM
Comment #333650

Tom T,

“JMHO, but it seemed to me, that conservatives are much happier and satisfied with life; whereas the left seemed to be angry and very unhappy with life.”

Oh, that old chestnut.

Seems to me that anyone who feels happiness depends on their political affiliation is leading a rather shallow life.

Look, I have worked all over the world, and I have worked all over America as well. I have worked with a vast spectrum of people, and “liberals” are no less happy than anyone else I have met.

People are people, happiness is where you find it.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 28, 2011 8:35 PM
Comment #333655

I’ve surfed around, and continue to do so, in looking for a serious minded blog and WB is the best I’ve found. So many sites have a writer of some intellect with a bevy of ‘snarky/nerdy’ responders, one liners, no objective but cute.

I remain pretty much amazed by those who are willing to carry water for the duopoly. Akin to a farmer stomping on a snakes head while the snake responds like ‘oh yes, please, give me another shot, oh that felt good, etc. And, I don’t know of a single person who has changed their opinion an iota over time.

I am hopeful that some virgin readers pass thru and remember something about a 3rd party being a possibility. Once in a while a ‘reader’ pops up and makes a comment on WB proving there are some interested in taking in information.

Education must mean something. No movement can surface without a good number of people having sufficient information re the movement. I’ve learned a lot participating in the give and take.

Still, I’m not one to get down into the weeds/noise blogging about my grandmothers high grocery bill, etc. I see the struggle as being about national sovereignty, abuse/disregard of the Constitution, AVC, CFR, CP, money influence, etc.

For example: Broken borders - unknown people working/living in the country, jails full of young people re drug charges, $100B business which seems to big to fail, 40k killed in Mexico (Am. mother and 2 kids recently), ad infinit. Howsumever, search my posts and you won’t find where I confer terms like ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ on such policy. I leave it to the reader to apply applicable judicial judgement.

Again, for the New Year I am hopeful to find a centrist or two willing to support a 3rd party with a diff pol - - -

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 28, 2011 9:23 PM
Comment #333687

For me, blogging has always been an extension of what I previously did writing essays in college. It’s not an accident that the long form is my favored form, even in my comments.

It’s not always been easy, or pleasant to do political blogging. As far as twitter goes? At best it serves the market for fast-twitch response, but it’s brevity only occasionally yields wit. Sometimes its shortness yields mainly vagueness.

Blogging, in my opinion, has never been about fast-twitch responses. Sure, you can quickly respond to events, but you can also sit back and research something, and then bring forward your results.

The curse and the blessing of blogging is that it literally makes journalism a pursuit your average American can engage in. Ironically, though, the market’s become saturated, so only a fortunate few, some talented, some not, can really stand out from the crowd.

Me? I mind a little, but I remember starting out on Watchblog as one of the representatives of a party out of power, with public opinion still against my position, and absolutely no national audience then, either. So, communicating to a few, wondering whether I’m getting things out to people is nothing new.

My output’s dropped recently mainly because I reprioritized my pursuits to allow me to do other things. I was kind of running myself dry, and the principle I would promote her is that our politics should always be meant to relate to the real world, and the real world to our politics. There should be a feedback between the two, because some compelling ideas are false and misleading despite their appeal.

I’m not too changed in my politics, besides the fact that I’m not as interested as I once was in the Democrats playing ball with the Republicans. The Republicans have abused that propensity enough that I feel comfortable advising Democrats to push back against the Republicans and make extracting concessions more difficult. That said, I would like more cooperation in government, but I don’t think the problem mainly lies on my side. I think the current conservative movement is dying of its inflexibility, and I would suggest to them that the time has come to seriously reconsider their party’s place and responses in modern society, and quit trying to drag along the corpse of the party’s former glory.

We all have to rework things, eventually, if only to just express the same principles we started out with in an appropriate way.

Party movements die, and they are reborn. What the Democrats were in the 80’s and 90’s is changing, just as what they were before Reagan changed. Change comes to all parties, all movements, and resisting it often comes at the price of making that change all the more overwhelming.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 29, 2011 6:42 PM
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