Whither Winds



[am-uh-choor, -cher, -ter, am-uh-tur]


1. a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. Compare professional.

I’ve always considered my blogging habit to be a hobby, rather than work. While it has opened professional doors to me and taught me things that I use in my work, I’ve never made any significant fraction of my income from blogging, nor have I ever set out a career path for myself that blogging regularly about politics or world affairs was ever a meaningful part of. It’s always been fun; I work ideas out in public, people correct them, I meet interesting people in the discussions – how can this be bad?

But for the last few months, it’s been a struggle rather than a joy. I’ve tried hard to power through and rediscover the pleasure but with no success.

It’s just not there. And worse, as my activity ramped down, traffic on the site ramped down and the interaction that really drove me to write started to slowly become thinner and thinner – which was no one’s fault but my own.

You folks – who are reading this now – are a core group who I enjoy debating, learning from, and too often – lecturing at. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.

But I don’t want a job in a think tank writing the occasional paper and responding to the news – maybe when I retire, I’ll try and start one. I’m not running for office, there’s really nothing I want from you all except the pleasure of dialog.

And to get that, it needs to be a pleasure and I need to be a participant. And, bluntly, I’ve been an increasingly bad one for the last few months.

Facebook and Twitter have some of the blame here; I fire off quick thoughts on both and that serves as an outlet (not as satisfactory, to be sure, but better than nothing.

But I’m just bored and unmotivated. And since I’ve always been an amateur at this, the difference between a professional – who delivers when bored and unmotivated – and an amateur – who doesn’t – is pretty significant.

So here’s my plan. I won’t be writing here for a while, if ever. I will move this site to WordPress, so that the archive can be preserved and maintained and others who have author raights may decide to pick up their participation. I will also relaunch the old content from my Armed Liberal site so it’s available as well.

And then I’m going to take a break from all this and think about what interests me and where I might fit. I’d love to hear from you what you think I ought to do – suggestions here are most welcome!

For now, some of it will be on Twitter, and I encourage you to follow me at @marcdanziger.

In the interim, some of it may be on other sites – I’m looking around for someplace where I can do the occasional piece and the guys at Blackfive have more than graciously offered to let me post there. I feel kind of weird about it – first, I’m not and have never been a soldier, and I don’t want to be perceived as something I’m not. It’s also a different audience, although one I respect as well. I’m looking at other sites, and welcome suggestions as to who might appreciate an occasional piece from me.

I’m not done thinking or talking about these issues. We face immense problems – and opportunities – and out political class is as feckless as they have ever been. Radical Islam still battles for dominance within the Muslim world, and the outcome of that fight will matter a great deal to me and to all of us. Middle and working class people here in America have no party that truly supports them – and they should. But I’m not sure where or in what format I can best participate in a dialog about these things. Maybe I’ll re-engage here or on a solo site. We’ll see.

There will always be commentators worth mocking (hi, Matt Yglesias!) and worth following (hello Leah Farrall). So I’m sure that at some point something will happen.

But this chapter is, as others have said about other events this week, closing. I can’t wait to see what the new chapter will bring.

So long, and thanks to everyone who had read me here, agreed with me or better still, argued with me. You’re all my teachers, and I’ve learned a lot.

19 thoughts on “Whither Winds”

  1. Dear Marc,

    I just wanted to point out that the latin root of amateur is amat, to love.
    Or something like that. If the love is gone, it’s time to stop. Good call. Great ride.

    All the best.



  2. And here I was, waiting for gossip about your recent romance with Jerry Brown 😉

    Enjoy yourself and don’t let the liberals get you down.

  3. Wow. You get so used to some things that you can’t quite wrap your head around a change. Well, its been damn near 10 years, guess its time I get some work done at the day job. Good luck Marc and thanks for the good times, and the rest of you fellas, its been eye opening (whether agreeing or fighting like cats and dogs) and i’ll miss it. Hopefully see everybody around. What’s going to happen to the domain?

  4. Thanks for everything, Marc.

    This forum was like no other, and it kind of kept alive my hope for a post-9/11 trans-partisan consensus. Unfortunately the Isms are retreating more and more into parochialism and tribalism, like genetically modified e coli that can only survive in perfectly non-competitive environments.

    When I became a man I put away childish things, only to discover that childish things rule the world …

  5. Marc:

    You have opened my eyes to many things, from Pat Buchanan and social choice theory, to all manner of interesting characters populating the internet. You’ve struck a nice balance between tweaking us to get discussions going, and setting a strong positive role model: from keeping it honest and real, to driving your hybrid, to encouraging us to support worthy causes. And along the way you’ve shared some mighty fine writing.

    I’ve come in on the tail end of your energy and enthusiasm for this site, so I’m only sorry I didn’t discover it earlier. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for keeping it going as long as you did.

    I agree with Glen, this forum has been special for many because of the earnest engagment we’ve enjoyed in wrestling with our thoughts and opinions, over a sustained period of time, and in a manner sufficiently robust to hopefully withstand some scrutiny and pushing. Even when not successful, I have found this endeavor enjoyable, worhtwhile, and formative. Thanks for making it happen.

    Thanks, and best wishes to all . . .


  6. @mark – the site and domain will stay up as long as I can keep writing checks to keep them up (which will be a looong time), unless Joe K or someone wants them back.

    I’ll leave commenting open, but moderated, so spam will be minimized.

    @Glen – thank you so much for saying that; that was always my core goal, and the fact that we achieved it makes me happier than the fact that I couldn’t sustain it makes me sad.


  7. I’m awfully sorry to see Winds go. I’ve been hanging out here since 2003. It’s one of the few blogs on any point of the political spectrum where I could get real debate by smart people who made genuine arguments instead of just name calling and _ad hominem_ (though there was some of that). Even people with whom I profoundly disagreed made sense and made me think. I’ll sorely miss it.

  8. I wish I could say I’m surprised, but when bin Laden’s death went uncommented I figured that was more than just “Marc’s busy,” and well into “Marc doesn’t want to do this anymore.”

    Which is a shame for us– despite the occasional hard elbows thrown (by myself and others) this has been a wonderful place for sensible conversation for a very long time. I’m happy to have been a part of it even as a commenter from the sidelines.

    Still, I have to make the same comment that I make to co-workers that I don’t want to see quit, when they’re wrestling with that decision: At some point, at some level, you have to do what’s right for you. If you’re not doing that, can’t do right for anyone else for very long.

  9. It has been a good place to get new ideas and good debate (although I have used too often big _howitzers_ instead subtle _backpack mortars_).

    Thank you for putting up with me, even not being me from your country. Best wishes to all and hasta la vista.

  10. I’ve been coming here (mostly lurking) since at least ’05. Winds has consistently been the best place I know on the web for thoughtful, in-depth discussion of current events and the history and thought behind them. That is a rare gift you have given the internet.

    Winds has been part of my ‘daily rounds’ of sites for years. I’ve been known to link Winds threads to friends/family in lieu of something from Wikipedia or a dedicated news website, just because the discussions here tend to be so thorough and well thought out.

    I really don’t want this group of people to go away, and very much hope that the discussion stays going … somewhere.

    As for Winds: Marc, you have to follow your heart. Thank you so very much for all you’ve given us; I hope you find what you are looking for. We’ll miss you.


  11. Marc, You probably don’t remember me. I did some commenting back in the day when it was truly a group blog. But I have returned to read almost every day since my last comment. I am on the other side from you in many issues. But, you are an honest and thoughtful man, who loves his country and his fellow countrymen. If you are ever in Pittsburgh, you have a place to stay, a tourguide, and all the beer you want.

    May the road rise to meet you and yours…

  12. Like everybody else said, I’ve been here for near 10 years, and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s really the only blog I’ve found where a debate is welcomed.

    Usually it’s a website with a pure liberal/conservative slant that doesn’t like their dogma being questioned… but I want questions. Especially intelligent questions. I want to be challenged, and see where my ideas hold up, and where they falter. I want to find the reasonable middle between two different parties. or find that there isn’t one.

    I’ve found some blogs with good posters, but comments are so large that debates are between hundreds, not a small dozen. I’ve tried going to liberal & conservative sites to bluster debate, but naysayers are crushed under many responses.

    That isn’t fun. It’s infuriating.

    So, again, I’d like to thank you AL for giving us a voice, and a dinner table to talk over. Even though at times it’s left me fuming, I always found the content at WOC worth it.

  13. So, a trial balloon:

    How many of you regulars – and regular lurkers – would be willing to commit to putting up a post here every other month. Either an original ‘think piece’ or a reasonably well thought out straw man in response to a current event (e.g., the requests for a killing of Bin Laden thread). If we get ten such commitments – better more for redundancy – then we’ve got 60 posts a year, which is better than the one/week that seems necessary to keep discussion going here.

    What say you? I’ll be 1 of 10.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t run this past Marc, and so can’t say if he’d be willing to be the editor- and arbiter-in-chief that’s implied. But sometimes you have to show you’ve got a community, and then draft the leader…

  14. So let me present a question to all of you (who are still reading) – what format would better encourage that kind of discussion and debate? Because with all humility, what you are describing is exactly what I strove for and enjoyed so much.

    I think I just need to find a way to make it a little self-sustaining.


  15. It could be more of a panel format with long term open threads and restricted commenting (which does rub me wrong in some ways, but could be done well). That would prevent the spam problems and drive by bomb throwing. That should encourage a higher level of discourse, since its a privilege to be allowed and gentlemanly and ladylike conduct is a requirement.

  16. Tim (16): That’s a fascinating idea.

    I remarked over at Belmont Club, when Marc made a brief appearance over there on the Goodbye-Winds post, that I really loved the older group stuff such as the area reports–but not nearly enough to take on such a commitment myself (e.q. running a weekly Africa Report.)

    But one post every eight weeks? I could surely manage that! Count me in for further consideration…

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