We'll be on hiatus a few more days!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 26, 2016

But first, these observations:
We'll be on hiatus a few more days as we resolve our post-thunderclap connectivity and equipment replacement problems. But first:

Yesterday, we spent three hours in a workshop with an array of federal managers. This led us to move about the parlous partisan state into which the nation has fallen.

To what extent has our basic functioning broken down? Let's run through the three branches of government:

Due to our current dysfunctional state, the Supreme Court is operating with only eight members. There is no way to break a tie in the event of a 4-4 vote. Nor is there any assurance that there will ever be a ninth member.

It's a very peculiar state of affairs. That said, consider the current state of the Congress, the body which is failing to act on the nomination of a possible ninth Justice:

The Congress is in such a divided partisan state that it's virtually impossible to pass any legislation. This didn't start in the Obama years. It dates at least to the government shutdowns of the first Clinton term and to the subsequent stream of temporary "continuing resolutions" which were need to keep the government functioning.

Presumably, someone will be elected president in November. That said, will that person be able to pass any legislation next year? Evidence suggests that our current state of partisan breakdown makes that an unlikely prospect.

Finally, consider the status of that new president. Alas! The current state of our partisan breakdown means that the two major party nominees carry the highest "unfavorable" ratings of any nominees in modern history.

Whoever ends up in the White House, that person will be widely loathed. For better or worse, all parts of our federal government seem to be in highly unusual states of breakdown.

What explains this state of affairs? Yesterday, we suggested two basic ways in which the press corps has helped fuel this breakdown.

First, the rise of partisan news orgs of the left and the right has flooded the discourse with disinformation and misinformation. Also, with steady streams of messaging designed to make liberals and conservatives fully loathe each other.

If we might borrow from CSNY: Loathe the others well!

This sort of behavior from partisan orgs has fueled the types of division mentioned above. Meanwhile, our big mainstream legacy news orgs have persistently failed to challenge the conduct of such partisan players and orgs. Misinformation and deliberate confusion are routinely ignored—ignored and permitted to stand.

For the last ten years, we've been begging our big mainstream orgs to accept a basic principle: When major players mislead or misinform millions of people, that is in itself a news event, a news event which should be addressed in front page news reporting.

Over the past several decades, our big news orgs have largely ducked this role. In just this past week, the New York Times has finally begun to break out of this mold, challenging some misinformation being sold by Sean Hannity.

Such action is long overdue. That said, we don't expect to see such work done on a regular basis. Meanwhile, the skill level of our big mainstream orgs is often extremely low.

More and more, we resemble a failing banana republic. Players of the left and the right have happily driven this downward cycle. When will big news orgs, and us the people, finally say that the joy of loathing The Other must be subjected to a full frontal challenge?

We offer those thoughts as we start to address our post-thunderclap issues. As a nation, we've managed to achieve a clownishly dysfunctional state of affairs. Gloomily, we offer these thoughts:

Our skills at addressing this problem are few. Beyond that, the spirit seems weak.

Our mainstreamers tend to play along with disinformation and confusion pretty much as they find it. They tend to avoid rocking powerful boats. If you doubt that, listen to any mainstream pundit discussion.

Go ahead! Start with discussions on NPR, as we just (depressingly) did. Then branch out from there!

One final point: We liberals may instinctively claim it's all being done by Them, Over There. In that instinctive claim, we'll be counterproductive and wrong.

Example: We think Paul Krugman is right today. After that, we think he goes wrong!

19 comments:

  1. I have sincerely tried to reach out to other people who I know hold different views than I do. It doesn't work. It is impossible to talk to them.

    I belong to a club where talking politics (or religion) is forbidden in order to maintain harmony within the group. I like nearly all of the members but about half are for Trump. I have surreptitiously tried to discuss Trump with them but they are impervious because they operate with a different set of facts and don't acknowledge or care about the flaws in Trump that seem obvious to me and to disqualify him as president. Yet these are nice people who I enjoy spending time with when we focus on our club's purpose.

    Trump has earned his unfavorable ratings. Hillary has not. As she points out, she has extremely high favorability when she is not running for office. It is only when she runs that her unfavorable go up and her favorable down.

    Once she is president, I fully expect her favorable to go up. But I agree that there are a substantial number of people who will never be happy with her as president. I don't know what to do about that, any more than I know what to do about the opinions of people at my club.

    I suspect that our nation has always been divided like this but that the internet with its increased chances for everyday people to state their opinions is making it more obvious that we are a divided country when it comes to certain issues.

    I see the malfunctioning of congress as a political problem that needs to be solved by our elected representatives. Waiting for consensus just isn't going to happen, but democracy provides a way to achieve progress without consensus.

    ReplyDelete
  2. He posts a message to tell us about his continuing connectivity problems? What's wrong with this sentence? "I just called to say my phone's been disconnected." Did the "thunderclap" take off his roof? Ring his personal bell? Fry his brain? Why doesn't the man come clean and admit the dog ate his homework?

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    Replies
    1. Did you"wake up on the wrong side of the bed" today?

      Delete
  3. While Somerby slumbers, here's Joe Conason today:

    "Unlike the Clinton Foundation, however, Judicial Watch [spearheader of the email witch-hunt] doesn’t disclose the names of the donors who provide almost $30 million annually to finance its ongoing harassment of the Clintons and their aides, which has continued for decades. Unlike the Clinton Foundation, which has saved millions of lives, Judicial Watch exploits its nonprofit status to advance the partisan objectives of its unnamed donors. And unlike the Clinton Foundation, which enjoys a four-star rating from the watchdog Charity Navigator, the nonprofit and “charitable” Judicial Watch only gets two stars, because its operations are inscrutable and it spends an excessive percentage of its revenues on salaries and fundraising.

    Perhaps it is time for someone in the media to investigate their conduct."

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  4. Setting aside my unpleasant single day hire of me to advise Clinton Co on their stage setup for appearance which left me wondering if the Clintons do anything well..what if..Trump steps down, endorses another or party replaces at the last hour? Could we get president Ryan after the dust settles in this nightmare?

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    Replies
    1. Or, to better fit your leadership vision, Paul LePage.

      derp

      Delete
  5. Dems say inner cities are hell holes, where racist police murder them all the time and where real black youth unemployment is 50%. When Dems point this out, it shows that they care. But, when Trump makes the same point, it shows how ignorant and out of touch he is, according to Krugman.

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    Replies
    1. "Dems say inner cities are hell holes"

      Link?

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    2. Trump has been making the point that racist police murder blacks all the time?

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    3. Hey David. Newsflash for you. Real WHITE youth unemployment also is around 50 percent. Know why? We're counting kids in school, where they belong, as unemployed.

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    4. Anon 10:49 - I don't think school children were included. That statistic comes from Bernie sanders and was found to be true by one of the fact check columns.

      BTW -- Krugman's column is an exercise in statistical spin. He omitted statistics that didn't support his argument. E.g., he didn't mention that 6000 blacks are murdered each year or that blacks are much more likely to be murder victims than whites.

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    5. Summer employment is reported separately from unemployment (inability to find work by those seeking permanent employment. Also you need to look at stats for just 16 year olds, not 16-24. 42% of black teens have summer jobs compared to 57% of white teens. Unemployment rates for black youth are double those for white youth, regardless of age. Kids in school are not included in unemployment rates. More black kids are dropouts looking for work at younger ages. Unemployment rates by age and race do not control for amount of education.

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    6. White unemployment at age 17 is about 17%. Who wants to hire a dropout with no academic skills and no work experience?

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    7. @ 8:39 PM - VDARE or the Trump campaign.

      Delete
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  7. I prefer a 4-4 Supreme Court without Scalia any day of the week.

    ReplyDelete
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