18 thoughts on “Send Michael Totten to Iraq”

  1. If I fund a bloggger right of center, the war is going great and democracy spreading like wildfire throught the region. If I send ablogger from the Left, we are a miserable failure and ought to get out and stay at home and fund scholarships for the Univ. of Chicago….the trouble with bloggers is that they have biases to begin with. The media has bias in editorial stance but in reporting they are more likely to be objective (AP, Yahoo, Reuters etc) than individual bloggers.

  2. “in reporting they are more likely to be objective (AP, Yahoo, Reuters etc) than individual bloggers.”

    *goes and gets a drink just so he can spit it out while reading this statement*

    More likely to be objective than a randomly selected blogger? Yes, if you include all the people from myspace, xanga, democratic underground, etc.

    More likely to be objective than that particular blogger? No way.

    There is some bias to everybody, and even if Totten was just as biased as the MSM, which he’s not… the best way to overcome bias is to see the same story through multiple biases. Totten is obviously bringing different assumptions with him than others are, and that means he’ll paint a different picture than they do. His picture won’t be perfect, but it taken in conjunction with whatever else we have will give us a better picture than we had before.

  3. Everyone is biased. I don’t trust people or institutions who claim not to be. I like to get information from multiple competing sources and decide for myself what it all means. The conceit of the old-line press is that it is both knowledgeable enough and dispassionate enough to filter information for me and tell me what it means. My impression is that the converse is true.

  4. By the way:

    “If I fund a bloggger right of center, the war is going great and democracy spreading like wildfire throught the region.”

    I take it you didn’t actually read Totten’s site, then. He’s not looking to ask “how’s the war going” or “is democracy spreading”, but “is the Kurdish part of Iraq as good as people say?” Since Kurdistan has been essentially self-governing and democratic-ish since the first Gulf War (protected by the no-fly zones), checking to see if it lives up to the hype isn’t really much of a reflection on GW2/OIF, but on GW1 and on the Kurdish people.

    Was this just a knee-jerk reaction on your part? Was your thought process “a guy going to Iraq is being linked to from a blog I consider right-wing, so therefore, he must be a Bush cheerleader trying to drum up war support”? I don’t want to accuse you of this, but I honestly can’t see what would’ve led you to respond the way you did if you’d actually read his site.

  5. Jonathan’s excellent point is one we might apply in various situations (for instance, is a whistleblower altruistic or someone who was passed over for a promotion?).

    But I would argue that some people do come closer to objectivity when they are disciplined by their respect for and love for a discipline or a work: e.g., I really loved & trusted some of my old teachers who had their own interpretations but were honest, close readers and so willing to admit that perhaps Shakespeare wasn’t saying what they wanted him to but something else. And a scientist who respects science and the scientific method sufficiently to accept that the data just isn’t what he wanted it to be.

    These seem to me the arguments both Roberts & Alito are making about their respect for the law – they may well want another interpretation (one suspects both might on, say, abortion) but they see their duty as reading the law, noting the precedents, judging “on the merits” as they keep saying.

    While I agree with Jonathan in general (and certainly about many of his examples), those hearings on the Supreme Court nominees remind us of an ideal (like most perhaps unrealizable) of objectivity derived from respect for the law (or truth or science or facts). Of course, journalism is seldom just facts, & never all the facts. Incidents are not in petri dishes or confined to one single text, etc.

    (And so, yes, we are donating $25 to Totten.)

  6. I have various projects and people I give money to. I’ll have to weigh and consider this one, and look at the other needs and requests that come up over this budget cycle. It’s likely that I’ll end up putting something in, but probably not while this thread is still active. (Giving money to Totten isn’t a requirement for participating here, is it?)

  7. just noticing here…
    it took you more time and thought to write “I have various projects and people I give money to. I’ll have to weigh and consider this one, and look at the other needs and requests that come up over this budget cycle…” blah blah blah
    than it would have for you to send $25 to anyone.

  8. Not a “…a requirement for participating …” But a small sum doesn’t require all that much deliberation. This is about aggregating micropayments. It’s not like I even asked you for a hondo. How about $10 now, and then you don’t have to deliberate anymore, which spares you the opportunity cost of the time spent mulling it over.

  9. Hey, give the guy a break. Whether or not one donates ought to be a personal decision of the kind that we trust individuals to make best for themselves. And not everyone who donates wants to discuss his donations publicly.

  10. Hey, we’re all pals around here.

    Lotharbot is one of our best backbenchers and we all know that and he can do whatever he wants.

    I have fundraised voluntarily and as a job. My finding is that if you don’t ask for money, rather aggressively, you don’t get it. So, I ask, and if I think a cause is good I’m not embarrassed to ask, or to say what I have given as a motivation to others to give. That’s how you do it. I don’t think it is all deeply private and personal or anything. If any good cause waited for the world’s spontaneous generosity, they’d all go out of business. And if someone is in a dialogue with you saying, well, maybe I’ll give something, the thing to do is get them to commit, otherwise it is a brush-off.

  11. That’s fine. I just don’t want readers to think that being solicited for donations is a cost of commenting here. This site runs on the donated effort of its posters and commenters. I am grateful to LotharBot for his many thoughtful contributions.

  12. I’m not a back-bencher, but I drop in from time-to-time.

    I get a bad taste in my mouth from these solicitations. They seem designed to test an interlocuter’s commitment to an argument. In this they resemble the “Chicken Hawk” argument, where it is implied that unless a commenter has donated, he/she has reduced grounds for comment.

    Personally I’m tapped out after the holidays, and Totten’ll probably do OK without my donation.

  13. “…a bad taste in my mouth …” No one likes to be asked for money. It makes them feel icky. Asking for it is yucky, too. But we put up with these things.

    But the MSM sells ads to pay its people, who then feed us a bunch of crap. I have no idea how much Totten needs. He’s asking for it, I’m passing it along.

    Libertarians are funny. Steve, you may not be one, but the pattern is one I have noticed. They like the idea of a voluntaristic society, but they are among the worst about getting all huffy if you ask them for any money to actually do anything on a voluntaristic basis. I suppose since in the future stateless utopia all needs will be met through the Market, it is a form of treason to that vision to support some cause that cannot pay for itself today. Anyway, that is my observation, and its cause will remain a mystery.

    If you think refusing Totten money is like someone saying you are a chickenhawk, understand that this thought emerged from your own mind, not anything I said — so look within and ask yourself why you had this response … .

    I have never had any problem with worthy causes asking vigorously for money. That is how they survive. I say yes, or I say no, but I understand that “the ask” is necessary.

    I will continue from time to time solicit money for worthy causes using this blog as a place to do it.

  14. If Totten gets enough money to go, then the market has shown that there is a demand for him to go. Like community radio, it suffers a certain amount leaching by the commons, but it still works.

    People get awefully testy about money.

  15. My wife and I have a process for giving money, which involves talking with each other with our financial status and a list of candidates (people, causes, etc.) in front of us. We have good reason for having developed this process (remember, microdonations add up BOTH ways), so as a matter of principle I don’t circumvent it.

    It certainly did take me longer to write this than it would to click on a paypal link and donate. But I wrote the previous post while my wife was busy, and this post while my wife was at work, so writing these posts hasn’t at all delayed the general giving process.

    I totally understand where Lex is coming from, though. For most people, “I’ll think about it” is their way of brushing you off, but if you keep pressing you can get an occasional “yes”. A single yes is probably worth dozens of maybes. I don’t brush people off, though — when I say “I’ll think about it” I honestly mean I’ll think about it; otherwise, I’ll say “no” or “yes”. I certainly don’t mind being asked, but now that I’ve made it clear how I’m going to go about making the decision (and that it’s not going to happen in the next 24 hours), I hope people will respect that.

    Lex, I consider myself somewhere between libertarian and capitalist, but I certainly don’t mind people asking for donations. Charity is another type of market, where people pay for a service not because they personally need to pay in order to recieve it, but because they feel putting their money into providing for that service is the best way they could use that money.

    I think sometimes people get all uppity because their definition of “market” is too limited. They recognize buying a gift for someone as fitting into the market model, even though the person spending the money gains only indirect benefits in the form of another person’s happiness from the product… but somehow, making a monetary gift / donation that has only indirect benefits to the giver doesn’t fit in to the model? As ElamBend said, if he gets enough donations, that market has shown there’s adequate demand.

    The only thing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to asking for donations is when the asking itself is done in bad taste. For example, once I was “on the clock” walking to a nearby store, and someone asked for a few minutes of my time. I told him I was at work (so the time wasn’t “mine”; my employer had exchanged money for it) so I couldn’t stop. When he kept trying and then gave me crap for not being willing to stop, that was in bad taste. It’s also in bad taste when people give me too much crap for saying “I’ll think about it”… ;)

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