In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Sunday, July 21, 2024

Let’s focus on debate, not hate

O.K. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I thought hyperbole, satire and street language would infuse much-needed passion into political debate. It didn’t. Instead of debate, we got hate. Hate and debate cannot co-exist. One cancels out the other. We need honest, rational debate to resolve the many problems facing this country. We cannot have that debate as long as hate is part of the equation.

O.K. I was wrong. I’m sorry.

I thought hyperbole, satire and street language would infuse much-needed passion into political debate.

It didn’t. Instead of debate, we got hate.

Hate and debate cannot co-exist. One cancels out the other. We need honest, rational debate to resolve the many problems facing this country. We cannot have that debate as long as hate is part of the equation.

I’m guilty as charged when it comes to muddying the waters of political debate. I call politicians names. Too many readers see that as a declaration of all-out war on reasonable debate. As I looked over the many comments posted after Sen. Hillary Clinton’s surprise win in New Hampshire, I saw mostly hate directed towards her and her husband. A number of emails suggested I fostered that hate with my often vitriolic comments about the Clintons.

Please understand one thing. I don’t hate the Clintons. I also don’t hate George W. Bush even though a number of web sites and blogs claim that I do. I do, however, hate some of their policies and despise some of their actions.

In today’s testy political environment it is easy to mistake passion for hate. I’m a passionate man who loves his country and hates to see what is happening to it. But the debate on how to deal with these threats must focus on issues, not personalities. It must deal with policies not pandering to base elements of anger and fear.

I was impressed by Hillary Clinton’s recovery in New Hampshire. It proved, once again, that the biggest mistake anyone can make is underestimating the Clintons. They have been, and remain, a savvy political couple who know all too well how to work the system.

When Hillary Clinton choked up and showed emotion Monday the cynic in me kicked in and I suspected a setup. After going back and watching the tape of the event again, and talking to some friends who covered the event, I believe my column suggesting she faked the whole thing was wrong and, frankly, in poor taste. It has been removed from our database.

I also realize that a column written before the end of the year about Clinton and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi went too far in use of gutter language. I let my anger get the best of me. I was wrong and have edited the piece to tone down the language. I apologize for the poor choice in language and have sent written apologies to both.

This does not mean I have become a supporter of Hillary Clinton or George W. Bush or others that I have skewered in print. It means I have come to realize that when anger replaces passion, hate replaces debate.

I’ve promised before to tone down my writing style and focus on issues, not personalities and, unfortunately, I have backslid and fallen back into old habits. I’m like an alcoholic who falls off wagon and as a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 13 years, seven months and five days I know the dangers of backsliding all too well.

So I’ve asked a fellow journalist to review all my columns before they are published, beginning with the one today. A second check and balance will be my wife who has, all too often, read something I wrote and noted: “You could have said that in a better way.”

Hopefully, in the future, I will say things in a better way and what you read here will foster debate, not hate.

59 thoughts on “Let’s focus on debate, not hate”

  1. Hear hear! No one is asking anyone to “walk on eggshells.” Quite the opposite.

    Kay, when you call someone a name, it reflects poorly on you. Those who already agree with you won’t be too freaked out about it — but then, what good does preaching to the converted do? Those that don’t agree or who don’t know what to think will basically condemn you for namecalling.

    But when you expose the truth and stimulate people to take a harder, more critical look at someone, you cut them to the quick. You challenge those who support them, and you give those who are undecided something to consider.

    It’s always more effective to stick to the issues like a pit bull’s jaws stick to the mailman’s butt.

    A lot of us are angry, frustrated, disappointed right now, but if they get us to the point where we’re sputtering and swearing, then they’ve beat us. But the gloves are off when we stick to the issues and come back with sharply honed, well thought out challenges.

  2. My post was here and then it was gone! What I wanted to say was thank you Doug, anger is healthy but needs to be channelled into reasoned discourse to be productive.

    Peace, Pinky

  3. Doug, don’t be too apologetic. There’s definitely a middle ground here.

    I’m always suspicious of people who are quick to sling a term like “hate speech,” which often translates to: “Brutally honest, on-the-mark opinions that I’d rather not have to respond to.”

    On the other hand, some of the anti-Bush tirades have become downright laughable. It’s one thing to resent the fact that he’s in office and your favorite candidate isn’t, or to enthusiastically disagree with his policies or stances (as I often do).

    But when your emotional state reaches the point where you’re reduced to spewing comments that amount to, “I hate you, George W. Bush. I hate you I hate you IHATEYOU!!!!” and “Not only do I want Bush dead, but I want the worms to consume his decomposing corpse and be placed on fishing hooks, to be feasted on by a school of hungry carp and expelled from their bowels at the bottom of the river” … then it’s time to take some deep, healing breaths, log off the computer and turn on the Disney Channel.

    Look, you can disagree with Bush’s policies or stances (as I often do). But the notion that this president has trashed the Constitution beyond recognition — sorry, I ain’t buyin’ it. The Constitution is alive and well, thank you.

    Yes, new measures were imposed after 9/11, some perhaps too harsh and some arguably too lenient. But you can’t simultaneously complain that “Bush didn’t do enough to prevent 9/11” while you’re contending that it’s wrong to wiretap the phone calls of suspected terrorists and that Gitmo should be closed.

    Either there’s a threat of terrorism in the United States (as 3,000 dead New Yorkers would suggest) or there isn’t. Either we needed to impose stronger measures after 9/11 to confront a fanatical and unconventional enemy … or we should all live by the rule of unrestricted civil rights for everybody, including Al Qaeda members, and start praying or crossing our fingers every time we board a passenger jet. Because the most basic civil right of all is the right to be alive.

    More than anything, let’s get a grip. I don’t live my life in fear that the Nefarious Bush Administration is keeping track of every Dr. Seuss book my 6-year-old neighbor girl checks out, or is eavesdropping each time my Aunt Mabel in Des Moines calls Uncle Mel and tells him to pick up a loaf of Wonder Bread and a gallon of 2 percent.

    Nor do I believe the sounds of aircraft flying over my house at night actually belong to black helicopters sent to spy on me with their infrared, roof-penetrating, tinfoil-hat-defying technology.

    We can all keep things in perspective and engage in spirited political debate without trying to censor free speech or drowning in our own vitriol.

  4. Now you are getting it! That is exactly where we are today….hate and vitriolic diatribes that get us nowhere”. Which is why your grass roots idea was a good one. One thing most people can agree on about politics is that there should be another choice (other than the GOP, Dems, Libertarians, & Green).

    I have been advocating for the past 6 months making GWB irrellevant and finding a starting point that we can all agree on for the most part and then using that to find a solution that works for all.

    But it seems in this game called politics both the GOP and the Dems are locked into what you described above. That is what makes that meeting last week with Bloomberg and others, so important and significant.

    So here is an idea. Let us pick a 3rd candidatate…and independent candidate right here on Capital Hill Blue. We can wait until the GOP and Dems are all locked up and take nominations from the readers. All people, all parties included. Then we can have our own primary letting people vote on who they want as their candidate after fervent discussion of course .

    After that we can take the candidates withthe top 3 votes and then have another vote for who will be the final candidate. When we are done, we can use your grass roots organization along with Bloomberg’s group to get our own candidate on the ballot.

    If Perot could do it, hell, so can we. It could be your pennance for all the nasty rants ; a positive contribution to the over all dialogue if you will. One thing for sure though, it definitely would make this election more interesting.

  5. Kay, I have no intention to “make nice” nor do I intend to “walk on eggshells.” I just want to make sure that my passion is directed at dealing with issues, not personalities, and that anger is replaced by resolve to work for change, not endless invective that accomplishes nothing.

    There is a big difference between anger and passion. There is also a difference between vitriol and constructive criticism. My resolve remains. What I hope to change is the language that expresses that resolve.

  6. This forum is akin to a huge roll away toolbox filled will all that is necessary to tweak and adjust our opinions and views of the machinations of government and our leaders.There are drawers full of shiny little used tools and then there are those drawers filled with crowbars and pliers which we enlist to ensure we keep a firm hold on the politicians short hairs.There are few of our leaders that haven’t earned a well placed crowbar between the eyes to help their hearing and keep them conscious of our existence.They chose to put themselves on the hoist and expose their underbellies and exhaust.It is our duty to take them apart once in a while and more often than not the shiny tools will not work.

  7. Historically, the inflamed expression of political passions were far more incandescent than the mephitic ichor generally offered today. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton traded a series of escalating insults to the point that the former Secretary of the Treasury was killed in a trade of bullets with the VP. Thomas Jefferson was subjected to the crudest of references, both personal and political, by his Federalist critics. Andrew Jackson challenged to duels a number of political opponents because of their vile characterizations of his wife, Rachel, and the state of their marriage. John C. Calhoun, the Great Nullificator, caned both editors and fellow Congressmen for their remarks. Abe Lincoln was held in almost as much loathing by members of his own party – Edwin Stanton and Thaddeus Stevens come to mind – as he was by Southerners.

    We do not have that level of expression of passionate feelings – of love or hate – in our rather tame world. In our era, only Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy have engendered that level of reaction. Everything else is, to use General Patton’s reference to Field Marshal Montgomery, the pounce of a savage rabbit. Instead of genuine passion, we have smarmy references to “my distinguished fellow Senator from X…”. Whatever genuine feelings we have are either firmly masked or else trapped in a tar-pit of carefully chosen weasel-words.

    Would we be any worse off were Barak Obama to say out loud – for the record!! – that George Bush couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel? I think we know he really feels that way. Would our electoral algorithm be somehow short-circuited were John McCain to inform the world that Hillary Clinton couldn’t get laid at a Shriners convention? Heck, that alone might get him a standing ovation from all of the other candidates on both sides.

    Perhaps an occasional donnybrook in camera – such as happens in Taipei, Seoul and even Tokyo – might clear the air as well as defuse some of the tension.

    Most respectfully,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  8. I’ve been sitting here laughing thinking maybe you were trying to prove what you said in your post.

    BTW: Bless you too and I’m a Pawnee, so make anything of that you choose. lol

  9. I’m sorry for the multiple posts, guys. I don’t mean to be an arrogant douchebag. Something’s wrong with Mr. Windows Monstrosity, here. Better get a call into Calcutta…….

  10. Dave:

    I deleted the multiple posts. For the record, I neither removed you or let you back on. You were never removed. A couple of your posts were removed by the Akismet spam filter because it contained language that the filter considers anti-Semitic. The filter is automatic and you’re not the first person to run afoul of the system.

    I don’t, as a general rule, edit other people’s comments, censor them or bounce people from the site for being critical of me or CHB. I have, and will continue, to review posts that attack other posters and will, in some cases, remove the posts and warn the poster. I also remove posts that I feel are racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or encourage violence.

    The rules are simple: I’m fair game. Other posters on this site or not.


  11. Bless you, Seal…. I’m a Buddhist, not a Christian, so take that anyway you choose, but I love your comments. Same for Bryan and Steve….I’ve said this before… but it’s still true.
    Joyful C. I also agree with you, here. Ranting diatribes are not as effective at inducing change as reasoned, well researched and thoughtful essays, but let’s face it: this ain’t always possible, especially with idiots like me with very limited time and pathetic typing skills.
    An analogy I’d like to make, here. I’m a musician reasonably versed in many musical styles. (i.e. my musical vocabulary is a lot bigger than the one I inflict on you folks……) But anyway, it often happens that, in my line of work, some punk-rocker dude with the musical vocabulary of Der Chimpenfuhrer will get up on stage, and with all the eloquence of Chewbacca, play something that knocks yer socks off. Translation: Sometimes, with crude elegance, the truth manages to transcend the presentation or performance. That’s the real beauty of self-exression…. it truly is limitless. So often, despite being unable to reach EVERYONE, simultaneously, even Chewey has something to say that is worth hearing.
    The thing I love about CHB, more than anything else, is that even idiots like me are (usually) allowed their time on-stage, with the band. Thanks for lettin’ me back on, Doug.
    One more thing: Peace, (if I may borrow Steve’s sign-off) Dave Ellis (yeah, the mask is off. Never intended it to be on, anyway.)

  12. No filters, Doug. What’s valuable about the dialog that goes on here is that it is genuine, sometimes passionate, and OK, maybe sometimes politically incorrect. That last thing we need is another filtered news and opinion source like Fox or CBS. Just be you.

  13. Doug,

    I understand your wanting to take the “walk on eggshells” approach to this election season or for always when it comes to the people in the news, but myself and others are not ready to do that. In fact, the idea that we have to be nice when it’s been the Democrats in government who have been too nice (a major complaint of many members throughout the country) and have allowed the republics to continue to form the debate, is not something we should be doing. I understand attacking a person because of the color of their skin, their gender, or their religious beliefs is off limits (as it should be), but not attacking EVER makes me think the republics would benefit from that. Agree? Why do WE have to be nice? Americans are angry and sometimes it just feels good to let those feelings rip! Anger is a good thing. Without it sometimes, not much gets done.

    I’m not ready to make nice right now.

  14. I absolutely hated the fact that my hands and feet were so painful that I could not stand and walk or type or use eating utensils. I hated the drug that had caused this, the doctor, and his decision to use it.

    However, instead of allowing my hate to rule my actions, ranting derogatoraly about the doctor and the drug that caused my condition, I used the reasonable approach of entering the hospital to provide a common ground that allowed several doctors to debate and cooperate. Consequently, a solution was achieved. Once again I can walk and use my hands. Not normally, but sufficiently, with a minimal amount of pain and the knowledge that the condition will slowly improve.

    Upon my return, today, I was greated with a discussion confirming the wisdom of my decision as to how to handle my problem.

    Thank you Mr.Thompson and the members of CHB. Once again you have confirmed the value of belonging to this group.

    It’s great to be back.

  15. I cleared out of here yesterday when I felt overwhelmed with what was happening to our freedoms and liberties. Doug is right about the partisan platforms changing to fit the candidates and this is what is bringing up the emotions in all of us.

    I just saw a clip of the S.C. debate that was cut out of the televised version and it was Ron Paul talking about this issue that his party no longer stands for the principles that formed it.

    Welcome back SEAL and stay with us as we need your input.

  16. Thanks T.J. Flapsaddle for your enjoyable post. It keeps this current CHB “tempest in a teapot” in both historical and modern day perspective.

    I also learned two new words mephitic and ichor… 🙂

    mephitic, adj. noxious
    ichor, n. a thin acrid discharge as from an ulcer

    Together presumably meaning a noxious discharge either verbal or written.

    Carl Nemo **==

  17. Thanks to everyone for their comments. I’m concerned when I see comments that say “I hate all (one party or another)” or “I hate Bush, Cheney, etc.” Such comments suggest to me that rational debate is not possible when the issues are approached with blanket hate.

    No political party is either all good or all bad. I worked within the Republican Party for a number of years and found a number of their core beliefs worthy of consideration. The problem of the party today is their departure from those core beliefs.

    The same is true for Democrats. The basic beliefs of the party stems from good, solid ideas. Again, the problem comes when the party veers from its base.

    But when we take a hardline approach that declares all ideas of our opponents to be bad and unworthy of consideration and our opponents take the same approach towards us then there is no common ground between us and no room for cooperation, compromise or discussion.

    All that is left is hate and vitriolic diatribes that gets us nowhere.


  18. Hi KayInMaine…

    As you well know you are special to me. You are my modern day Boudica; ie.,the fiery red-haired Queen of the Iceni Celts who refused to be subjugated by the Romans. Her revolt failed, but she made the standard bearers of S.P.Q.R. pay dearly…!

    Your post was so spot-on…!

    Your friend in thought…

    Carl Nemo **==

    p.s. I urge folks to visit her site and enjoy a woman with “fire in the belly” and a take no prisoners attitude…!

  19. Popeye was a great philosopher,slow to anger and kind almost to a fault,but wrathful when provoked.What do suppose the basic tenets were of his creator other than the Bible?A well reasoned rant beats a dose of valium any day.It’s tough to displace Ire with eloquence and that at times will skew the intent.Like Kirk told Spock when his person was split into two personalities,I need my hate ,as I need my softness,It is what makes me Human.

  20. Doug, on the other hand there are indeed times when
    coarse feelings and coarse language describing those feelings is the only way.

    You don’t spew a continuous stream of hate filled invective.
    You’ve simply risen up and said what Popeye has been known to say on occasion:

    “That’s all’s I kin stand, and I can’t stands no more”


    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

    A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

    A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

    A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

    A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

    A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

    A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

    And yes, I did just try to link Popeye to The Bible.
    Hiding behind my egg-proof barrier now.
    Hold all my calls.

  21. Doug, your apology is no doubt appreciated by many; but you’ve done this before and then out of the blue fell off the wagon as with your two d***b b***d piece. I thought it was a little rough around the edges, the indictment of those two pol clowns, but was spot-on!

    I don’t have to forgive you because to me you haven’t done anything wrong, but in the interest of those who continue to soil their undies when they read “tough talk” I’m sure it will save on their laundry bill… :))

    For the bleeding hearts all I can say is you’ll surely have hatred among other emotions swell up in your craw when martial law is declared post some other NWO engineered crisis and your favorite candidate whomever; that you refused to nail with some tough talk, is responsible for you and your loved one’s demise. You’ll no doubt be politically correct and very obedient in Camp Halliburton too…no?!

    Doug, in a way I wish you hadn’t made a public apology again, but to simply mend your imagined errant ways editorially speaking. Actions speak louder than words.

    Keep up the great work Doug Thompson and long live CHB…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  22. It’s a lot more effective to expose the truth with details that make people think and stand up to scrutiny, than to simply cuss and swear. The latter is just wasted energy.

  23. Hate is never the result of words. It’s sometimes a result of people’s reaction to words, but that is their own choice, not the author’s.
    Do you know what you have when you take all the “bite” out of your words? A Democrat. That pathetic, slithering sub-species which lacks courage, self-assurance, courage, fortitude, substance, courage, truth and courage to ever make things better.
    Are you really naive enough to think that women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery would ever have happened without more than a few people GETTING MAD ENOUGH TO SPEAK THE TRUTH THROUGH SOMETIMES VERY ANGRY WORDS?
    Get over it, dude. Politics IS a fight, though hopefully a non-violent one. And this sickening mess we’re in won’t be fixed by Democrats being nice. All that will insure is yet another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory for decent people. And no one does that better than the cowardly liberals.
    This from a guy you censor for opinions you disagree with, if this post even makes it through your “gate.”

  24. So, Doug, it turns out you are just a man subject to human failings like everyone else. What a pity. Just kidding. We all backslide from time to time. And we all try to do better the next day. One day at a time, sir. One day at a time.

    — Kent Shaw

  25. I think you’re on the right track, Doug, and your leadership is greatly appreciated. Now’s a good time for cooler heads. Preaching to the converted has been shown to be pretty much useless. If we’re ever going to reach any common ground, we’re going to have to get some dialogue going — and that requires respect for other’s positions and a willingness to listen with an open mind. We need new ideas, and we’re not going to find them in old feuds and wounds.

  26. Barak, I feel the same anger you do. I have a son who will soon be going back to Iraq for a second tour, which helps fuel my anger. I do disagree on one major point. I don’t believe for a minute that it was personal gain other than power that motivated Bush/Cheney. I do believe they thought they were doing the right thing for the country. It was their incompetence, arrogance, ignorance, and a total disdain for the democratic principles they allegedly want to spread around the world that led to where we are. The thought that they get to skate away from the mess they made furthers my anger. Unlike LBJ, they show no remorse. I am sure Bush thinks he is doing God’s work, which absolves him of any guilt in his alleged brain.

  27. Bat

    I recall reading somewhere that fear inspired hatred: you hate what you fear.

    This whole regime, from the head honchos right down to the bootlicking toadies who support them and their frankly anti-USA-as-we-know-it policies, absolutely paralyze me with fear of what they have the power to do–and so have managed to actually do over the past 7 years–and the hatred that inspires in me is frightening, even to me.
    I am definitely not normally a hater, nor a fighter; in fact, I am usually a disgustingly upbeat Pollyanna who sees the world around me through the proverbial rose-colored specs who tries to rationalize all types of odd behavior.
    So I was appalled to discover the depth of antipathy and negative emotions that this motley crew have roused in me, even to the odium of actual, true hatred.
    And I believe that I am not alone. I hate what I fear, and there are a lot of others who are also afraid; but still looking for the light at the end of this 8-year-long tunnel, Pollyanna to the end, because I hate this hatred.

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