Waldman says we're all alike!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2020

Plus, urges loathing of Barrett: Paul Waldman agrees that we the humans aren't "rational" beings at all. Here's what he says about the way we evaluate court decisions:

WALDMAN (10/14/20): Let’s be honest: All of us, whether we’re laypeople or lawyers or Supreme Court justices, believe that the outcomes we want to see are justified by the law and the Constitution. Human beings have a limitless ability to rationalize their own preferences to themselves. It almost never happens that a justice says, “The position I’m taking is constitutional baloney, but it gives me the outcome I want.” (The conservative justices in Bush v. Gore said as much, but that’s the rare exception.)

According to Waldman, we humans "have a limitless ability to rationalize our  own preferences to ourselves." 

According to Waldman, we act on this limitless ability when we evaluate legal rulings. 

"Let's be honest," he says. We all "believe that the outcomes we want to see are justified by the law and the Constitution." 

In short, if we support the right to abortion, we believe that right is guaranteed by the Constitution. If we oppose abortion rights, we have a limitless ability to rationalize that preference too.

Man [sic] is not the rational animal, Waldman thereby says—though in fairness, he's just being honest. He agrees with the formulation we posted this very morning. That overview, offered by Jennifer Senior, went exactly like this:

SENIOR (10/7/20): Back in the 1950s, the psychologist Leon Festinger came up with cognitive dissonance theory, which can essentially be described as the very human desire to reconcile the irreconcilable. Our brains, he realized, will go to baroque lengths—do magic tricks, even—to preserve the integrity of our worldview, even when the facts inconveniently club us over the head with a two-by-four.

According to that formulation, our brains "will do magic tricks" to justify our preferred beliefs.  

Waldman cops to this behavior. We humans "have a limitless ability to rationalize our own preferences to ourselves," he says--and where Senior described this state of affairs with an air of lament, Waldman toughly says that's just the way it is.

Is that really the way it is? Not necessarily, no. For ourselves, we support the right to choose, but we aren't at all sure that the reasoning in Roe v. Wade actually "passes constitutional muster." 

Beyond that, we've watched our own liberal senators the past several days with a sense of dismay. Our team is very, very weak. Somehow, we're able to see this.

Our floundering team is extremely soft—and this helps explain how we got here. That said, in his tough-minded piece, Waldman exhibits yet another part of our tribal weakness:

He seems eager to urge us to loathe the other, in this case the future Justice Barrett.

Barrett is going to sit on the Court because our tribal leaders persistently rolled over and died over the past thirty years. (People like Waldman won't tell you that, because it isn't done.)

Who lost Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett? We did, when our leaders refused to push back over those many long years. You aren't allowed to hear about the endless ways they failed.

Rachel clowned us endlessly; we were dumb enough to buy it. Before that, Chris Matthews engaged in endless trashing of Candidate Gore and of future Candidate Hillary Clinton.

He called her every misogynist name in the book. People wanted to get on TV, so no one said a word.

Our team rolled over again and again, bowing to growing conservative power. Along the way, we never abandoned our greatest pleasure—the joy of looking down on the others.

Now, Waldman wants you to loathe Barrett too.

Go ahead—read his angry piece! This is the history of our own flailing tribe, but also of the reflexively tribal, war-inclined human race. 

First we fail, then we loathe. Later, we get our wars. Anthropologists have been telling us this for the past several years.

Who lost this latest Supreme Court seat? At this site, we've been naming the names, and counting the ways, for the past 22 years!

We're just as bad as they are, he says. And not only that—we're better!


30 comments:

  1. "Paul Waldman agrees that we the humans aren't "rational" beings at all."

    Quelle surprise. Of course he does, because he's one of 'em brain-dead liberals.

    Please concentrate, and tell us something we don't already know, dear Bob.

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  2. ""Let's be honest," he says. We all "believe that the outcomes we want to see are justified by the law and the Constitution."

    We all tend to believe that others think the same way se do about things. Trump believes that all people are self-serving, prioritize money and would do the things he does, if they had the chance. Somerby thinks that all people think the way Waldman suggests, perhaps because Somerby thinks that way himself.

    But people are different and they do not share the same opinions and would not do the same things necessarily in the same situations.

    There are some people who do not set aside their principles in order to justify their preferences, especially when appointed as Supreme Court justices. That's why we select them, for exactly that kind of integrity. The person without integrity, thinks everyone else has lost it too, that all are as craven as himself.

    And people routinely overestimate the number of people who agree with their preferred beliefs.

    Personally, I believe in the right to abortion because a woman should have control over her own body and health choices, but I was surprised back when the Supreme Court said it was supported by an implicit right to privacy that was part of the Constitution. For me, not everything needs to spring from the constitution. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, I hope Congress will pass a law guaranteeing everyone (including women) the right to make their own health choices. It seems like such an obvious right that I wonder why anyone makes a fuss about it, but religious people want to take away lots of things I consider rights by virtue of being human (not because of the Constitution).

    So, Waldman's statement and Somerby extension of it strike me as unnecessary and by no means universal, as they want to claim.

    Just as Somerby keeps returning to the idea that Trump is crazy, he keeps returning to the idea that human beings are irrational and don't think properly. That undermines something that is part of our Constitution, the idea that democracy is a workable form of government because people will make wise choices, that an informed populace can be left to decide what is best for our country. Somerby's repeated claims about the deficiencies of human reasoning work against that and are in major conflict with our country's chosen method of governance.

    As someone who spent a career studying people and trying to understand their functioning and behavior, I find Somerby's uninformed claims about the nature of humanity to be offensive and in major conflict with my own strongly held values. I think his thoughts about us would comfort a dictator, providing a rationale for abuse of people's right to think and make choices for themselves and for the polity. In that sense, Somerby is subversive to small-D democracy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Now, Waldman wants you to loathe Barrett too."

    What's not to loathe?

    ReplyDelete
  4. For what it's worth, at the time the constitution was written abortion was perfectly legal until "quickening" which took place between three and four months into the pregnancy.

    Therefore, the window in which most abortions are performed was considered perfectly fine, legal and constitutional by our founding fathers.

    Original intent, Baby.

    It is also specifically stated by the 9th amendment to the constitution, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This, I think would include the right to privacy, although as a non-feminist I don't buy the argument that a woman's right to control her body necessarily trumps all other considerations. When a fetus can exist outside the womb, such as your standard premie, it seems just a bit callous to ignore the potential child's rights at that late stage of the game.

    The great thing about nuanced opinions is that there's always something to piss people off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "When a fetus can exist outside the womb"

      Every state only allows abortion up to viability, some states allow late term abortions but only in special cases, such as to preserve the life of the mother or due to fetal abnormality. Late term abortions account for 0.17% of abortions; over 90% of abortions are done at the zygote/embryo stage - a clump of cells.

      Delete
    2. Very few people cared whether someone had an abortion, until the Religious Right made it a wedge issue for Republicans in the late 70s.
      Pro-life Republicans have been voting for corporate tax cuts ever since.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous 2,

      What you just said is pure bullshit. When Roe v Wade came along abortion was illegal in most states. That's why they had the court case: to make abortion legal. What this means is that abortion was not made legal by democratic means but over the heads of duly-elected legislators. Saying "very few people cared," therefore, is obvious nonsense.

      I don't know what planet you're living on but please do not rewrite history.

      Delete
    4. Back here on Earth:

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8274866/

      Delete
    5. If Roe v Wade was not controversial then please explain to me how it is that only New York State had abortion on demand at the time and that all other states made it illegal in most cases (60% had abortion illegal in all cases, including Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey, which tended to lean left)? If there was no serious objection to abortion why was Roe even necessary?

      Yes, it took awhile for active opposition to grow but that doesn't change the fact that Roe v Wade was decided in the face of huge, if temporarily quiet, public opposition.

      Throwing one politicized paper at me doesn't prove squat.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This easily the best political commentary I've read or heard in a long time. Give this man a job on cable.

      Delete
    2. HB,
      Not enough fealty to corporate interests.

      Delete
  6. “He seems eager to urge us to loathe the other, in this case the future Justice Barrett.”

    This is false. Waldman is telling us to be skeptical of Barrett’s presentation of herself as having no ideology, when her views on Roe v Wade and the ACA, for example, are quite clear, and the publicly stated principal reason for her nomination is to oppose Roe v Wade.

    Somerby creates this false characterization of Waldman’s piece so that he can launch into his usual “it’s all liberals’ fault” diatribe.

    ReplyDelete
  7. “Our team rolled over again and again, bowing to growing conservative power.”

    Their “power” rests on smaller and smaller numbers of people.

    Conservatives have been unable to repeal Social Security and Medicare, despite railing against them for years. They couldn’t even repeal Obamacare through the honest mechanism of a vote. So they resort to using the courts to do it for them, dishonestly, hoping to sidestep responsibility for its demise.

    When even red states like Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kentucky vote in the ACA, the GOP knows it stands on the wrong side of this.

    They are acting out of weakness, not strength.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday blamed South Dakota’s recent surge in coronavirus cases on an increase in testing, even as the state saw a new high in the number of people hospitalized by the virus.

    There are currently no open general-care hospital beds in the southeastern part of the state, which contains the two largest hospitals, according to the Department of Health. Hospitals are dealing with both an increase in COVID-19 patients and people needing other medical care. The hospitals in Sioux Falls do have about 41% of their Intensive Care Units available."

    ReplyDelete
  9. TDH: Our team is very, very weak. Our floundering team is extremely soft—and this helps explain how we got here... yet another part of our tribal weakness...our tribal leaders persistently rolled over and died over the past thirty years…our team rolled over, again and again, bowing to growing conservative power. First, we fail, then we loathe. Later, we get our wars.

    OK, so the way to win is to be strong and hard, not weak and soft, and to not get rolled over. But then there’s the don’t “loathe”, don’t start “wars” against conservative power part. It’s all very vague and contradictory, Bob. How about you use some of that forlorn rationality and give us a snark-free and concise statement of what a victorious Democratic strategy looks like, and also explain why this failed tribe appears to be headed for victory on Nov 3.

    ReplyDelete
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  12. Hey Bob, if we had any questions about your use of the term “flailing” before reading your meandering diatribe they were certainly answered by it. Liberals lack backbone and the appropriate push back, you posit. Meanwhile you have vague misgivings about the outcome of Roe v Wade. Maybe spend a little more time crystallizing your thoughts on that one, It’s an important ruling. Go read up on it and get back to us when you have decided where you stand there.

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