Sunday, August 15, 2010

Speaking of a Right Wing Nut House...

Rick Moran didn't like the list that a bunch of conservative bloggers came up with, and said so. And called them the "Dumbest Conservative Bloggers."


Okay, a little background. John Hawkins at Right Wing News asked conservative bloggers to list their choices for the 20 worst figures in American History. And to submit an unranked list. Just a list of 20 names. Then, he would take the separate lists and compile them into one list of the 25 Worst Figures In American History.

43 bloggers responded ... including me ... and Hawkins posted his list.

Now, let me restate how the voting went. Each list submitted was unranked. No one said "this person is worse than that person." Rather, they all said "these are the 20 worst." And, for each list that named a particular person, that person got one vote.

Here's the complied list, including the number of lists on which each person appeared:
23) Saul Alinsky (7)
23) Bill Clinton (7)
23) Hillary Clinton (7)
19) Michael Moore (7)
19) George Soros (8)
19) Alger Hiss (8)
19) Al Sharpton (8)
13) Al Gore (9)
13) Noam Chomsky (9)
13) Richard Nixon (9)
13) Jane Fonda (9)
13) Harry Reid (9)
13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
11) Margaret Sanger (10)
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25)
Nowhere in the submissions did anyone say Jimmy Carter is worse than Barack Obama. Nor did anyone say Barack Obama is worse than Timothy McVeigh. What did happen is that 2 more people included Carter than Obama on their list of 20. And 12 more included Obama than McVeigh on their list. That's a slight difference. But an important difference.

I have no idea how anyone else approached this poll. But here's what I did: I thought of Americans that I thought were really bad people and wrote them on a list.

I did remove some people from the list as it was being built, because I thought, "this person is bad, but not as bad as that person." On a few, I went back and added the person back to the list.

This went on for a bit, and I still wasn't happy with my list.

Then, I decided to make it a somewhat representative list. You see, is a serial killer a worse person than a president that causes hundreds or thousands of deaths? Or, like Melissa Couthier wondered, "(who) was the dumbass who convinced people that DDT was worse than dying from malaria and by extension participated in the deaths of over 25 million African children? ... Also, is a dude who buried grandma and 20 bodies in the backyard more evil?"

Dr. Clouthier has a valid point. Me, personally? I think the DDT guy is worse, because good intentions don't excuse bad behavior. Good intentions count for something, but millions of dead people count more.

Anyway, back to my methodology. I decided to become more diverse in my list. I thought specifically about traitors, and came up with a few, including Aldrich Hazen Ames, Benedict Arnold, Julius Rosenberg, among others.

I figured killers needed to make the list. So, I included Theodore Robert Bundy, Edward Theodore Gein, Timothy James McVeigh, Howard Barton Unruh, among others.

My list included politicians (who have the ability to do more harm than the killers on my list ever did) such as Edward Moore Kennedy, Frank Forrester Church III, Barack Hussein Obama, among others.

Throw in George Soros, Roger Nash Baldwin, and a few others, and my list of 20 was done. And, no, it wasn't the list I wanted. But, it was probably as good as any list that someone like me could come up with. Besides, it was 6:44 PM, running up against a 7:00 PM deadline. So, I sorted the list alphabetically and clicked "send."

I think I under-represented the 19th century in my list. And probably the 18th century as well. But, it's done.

42 others responded, as I mentioned, John Hawkins compiled them, and posted the results.

Which ... after that brief introduction ... brings me back to my point.

Some, like Rick Moran, seem to have got their panties in a wad over it.

He takes the gang of 43 (who he calls "The Top 43 Dumbest Conservative Bloggers" ... which is funny; funny/ha-ha, not funny/strange):
And what did all that 10 Watt brainpower come up with? ... Absolutely astonishing. One mass murderer (McVeigh) and one assassin (Booth) made the list. No gangsters. No old west gunmen. Both Woodrow Wilson and FDR in the top 5 worst? If you’re going to penalize presidents so severely for having wrongheaded ideas about economic policy, why not include George Bush? Or the modern Republican party who never met a deficit they didn’t embrace as long is it was caused by tax cuts.
Let me say that I like Rick Moran. Actually, I've never met him. I've never corresponded to any degree with him (in fact, he didn't respond to a recent, unrelated-to-this-list query to him). I guess it would be more accurate to say I enjoy reading his blog. I don't always agree, but it's still a good read.

He left enough weasel-room with his "perhaps not all 43 of this list of conservative bloggers" statement at the top of his post -- though I really don't think he cares if the insult hits me or not.

The thing is, though, Moran criticized the 43 for having more list Obama than Dahmer. Then he turns around and, in a Top Five ranked listing, positions William Randolph Hearst as worse than Ted Bundy. Hearst didn't personally kill a bunch of people. And he was one of the few newspapermen to point out what Nazi Germany was doing to Jews. That's not to excuse the Father of Yellow Journalism from his sins. But criticizing Hawkins' list for having Obama but not Dahmer ... then saying Hearst was worse than Bundy? Moran is typing out of both sides of his keyboard.

Then, there's this:
Frankly, this is embarrassing. Putting the Clintons, Pelosi, Reid, Gore, Sharpton, and other contemporary Democrats ahead of someone like Nathan Bedford Forest who was at least partly responsible for creating the KKK after the Civil War and spent his spare nights riding around the countryside whipping, lynching, and burning at the stake innocent African Americans demonstrates an extraordinary ignorance of American history.
I suppose the fact that the Ku Klux Klan that did all the lynching in the 1900s is not the same Ku Klux Klan that Forrest founded, but a same-named organization, doesn't "demonstrate an extraordinary ignorance of American history."

I think Moran's going a little overboard in his criticism of the list. My list doesn't match the final list. Of the 20 names I submitted, 10 made the final 25, and 10 didn't. My list matches the final list by a range of 40-50%, depending on how you look at it (10/20, or 10/25).

And I'm not the only one who thinks that Moran is a little off the mark in his criticism. Paul Mitchell called Moran's post "stupid." However, Andrew Ian Dodge and William Teach both compare Moran's comments to Charles Johnson.

That's not a fair comparison. Johnson is who he always was. He was bat-sh*t crazy opposing Bush before September 11, went gung-ho pro-Bush for a bit, then settled back to where he started.

Moran isn't like that. I certainly believe he's not like that. I think he's honest in what he writes, and isn't bat-sh*t crazy. But I think he went overboard in what he wrote.

Having said that, the compiled list is flawed. After all, it left off 10 of my picks!

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