OTHERS AND US: Commenters quickly savage the Others!

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

Does this say something bad about Us? Can it possibly be true, this gloomy thing Kevin Drum said?

Drum was reacting a column by Pamela Paul in Monday's New York Times. Quoting the published views of debate champion Bo Seo, Paul made some rather fuzzy suggestions about the way we could improve the quality of our failing public discourse.

Should we attempt to conform to the standards of formal debate? In his reaction to that suggestion, Drum offered this gloomy assessment:

DRUM (9/12/22): Formal debate is all about introducing facts—as many as possible—and then refuting them. In real life, this is not called debate, it's called the most boring thing in the entire world. It persuades no one.

[...]

Sadly, people are not persuaded by facts. They are persuaded by emotions. They are persuaded only when they're listening to someone who shares their worldview. They are persuaded by "arguments" that are beneficial to them—perhaps monetarily, perhaps in conferring status, perhaps in vilifying people they already didn't like. This is how you win in real life.

And don't make the mistake of thinking that you're the exception. Oh, you might be. The odds are a thousand to one against, but there are a few of you. The other 999, however, from PhDs down to ninth-grade dropouts, have no interest in dull facts and have no way of evaluating them anyway. They just want their biases confirmed and their status in the world elevated. Do that, and you too can win the presidency.

We human beings just wanna have fun—and we want to have our pre-existing worldviews confirmed. And please note:

Drum says this is true across the board. Almost surely, you aren't the exception to this!

It follows that our own blue tribe can't be the exception either. But can this possibly be the case? At present, the Others are notably closed to debate—but is the same thing true about Us?

We think there's a great deal to recommend the view Drum stated or suggested. (We assume that he was embellishing a bit for effect. Also, that he was talking about the types of issues which dominate our failing public discourse.)

At present, the Others are often amazingly bad—but all too often, the same is true about Us. Needless to say, as we scrolled through comments to Drum's post, we quickly came upon this:

COMMENT TO DRUM: Yes, MAGA's don't need no stinkin' facts—they know what they want. But what has to be realized is that the most powerful motivations are often those involving group loyalties. People will obviously give up their lives for their country or their side in a civil war or for some smaller group. People often think they are dedicated to some noble cause, but for most people what they are really fighting for is the group they identify with. When the group divisions get strong enough, nothing that the other side does is right while everything that your side does is right. This is not just cult behavior, it is universal human behavior. Cult leaders and many national political leaders are those who can tap into basic group identification factors such as race and religion, even if there are no real material conflicts.

And it is not inherently stupid people who join these tribal divisions, it is those who have been most thoroughly indoctrinated in cultural things like racism or religion.

Drum had seemed to be floating the possibility that our own blue tribe was no better than the MAGAs. But in this, the fourth comment to Drum's post, one reader adopted a standard position:

He didn't argue against Drum's suggestion. Instead, he seemed to make an assumption:

He seemed to assume that the MAGAs were the group Drum had been talking about, what with their racism and the way they cling to religion. At one point, the commenter seemed to say this behavior is universal, but he only mentioned the Others.

At present, it may well be that "MAGA Republicans"—however membership in that group is defined—are considerably worse than Us. On the other hand, our own tribal thinking may quickly emerge in reactions to posts like Drum's.

Indeed, before encountering Drum's gloomy post, we'd read Paul's column in the Times—and sure enough! Early in comments to that column, comments like these had appeared:

COMMENT: I keep looking at this insight through the lens of our modern political arguments and one thought recurs: All of these techniques only work if both sides have valid, thoughtful perspectives worthy of informed consideration. The MAGA crowd simply does not come to the table with anything close. Using old-fashioned approaches with new-crazy lunacy just won’t work. This well-meaning stuff is from the 1950s.

COMMENT: I do try to acknowledge that the other side is sometimes right. In particular, I think they have a point about cancel culture and how social justice movements on the left are also becoming authoritarian. I also acknowledge that the left has its own dogmas (i.e., that nuclear power and GMOs are inherently bad) that are not really based on facts. But I have yet to meet a committed MAGA person who is similarly open-minded and willing to question their side. They will tell you how they are much more open-minded than you because they question the mainstream media. But I do that sometimes too, and I listen to the right-wing critiques and am willing to change my mind if I see actual evidence that holds up. In my experience, a MAGA person starts, not by questioning, but with the assumption that the mainstream media are wrong.

COMMENT: Nice column, except I don’t see how it applies when we can’t agree on what constitutes a fact, what constitutes truth, or which reality is real.

Appreciate that hard-core MAGAs don’t care about any of those things. They don’t matter. MAGAs have been whipped into and are kept in a state of angered frenzy. Logic doesn’t apply. Reason doesn’t apply...

There is no debating with that. They don’t care about the truth, right, or wrong. They only care about being angry and getting what they want. High school debate etiquette won’t do anything to help when there is no common basis of truth. 

COMMENT: I would love to see Bo Seo moderate a debate between a MAGA fanatic and a normal person. It would enlighten the rest of us on how to argue better.

COMMENT: I'd love to see him try this with Trump/MAGA crowd and see how far this gets him. MAGA world—there's no logic in their thinking, so there's no basis for discourse. 

COMMENT: ...[I]t is impossible to have any kind of constructive conversation with anyone that doesn't believe in facts, objective truths, or reason. Anyone who has had a debate with a MAGA adherent knows this all too well. There is no debate, there is only Trump's truth, which as we have learned over the last 5 years, means nothing to the majority and everything to the minority, leaving us in the mess we are in for the foreseeable future. You cannot debate true believers or cultists, because reason has left the conversation.

Those comments appeared rather quickly. We'd make several observations:

First, it isn't hard to understand the frustration these commenters feel concerning current Republican voters.

Especially in the age of Trump, Republican voters have seemed to accept a steady string of claims which are either false or unsupported. (Our tribe now describes all such statements as "lies.") 

The claim that the last election was stolen has probably turned out to be the most consequential of these bogus claims. Among the Republican rank and file, this claim is widely believed.

That said, the vehemence with which these commenters slam the Others starts to point at possible flaws within our own tribe's tendencies. These comments tend to reveal an ancient human tendency—the tendency to generalize extremely widely, especially about the very bad qualities found in the Other tribe.

At present, our public discourse is a clownish, god-awful mess. That said, please note the way these commenters picture the situation:

You can't have a discourse with these Others, they say. You can't hope to conduct real discourse with Them because they're closed to reason and facts.

In many cases, of course, that may turn out to be true. But note the way these commenters reason:

These commenters picture the world in a way we've described in the past. When they think about the Others, they tend to picture the least persuadable such person. They then generalize about the group based upon their description of that person.

In the first comment we've posted, the commenter simply speaks about the shortcomings of "the MAGA crowd." Needless to say, a lot of shortcomings exist within that group, depending on how you define it.

At present, "the MAGA crowd" can be less than ideal! But note the language used by the other commenters:

In the second comment we have posted, the commenter pictures the attempt to reason with "a committed MAGA person." In the next comment, we're asked to picture "hard-core MAGAs."

After that, another commenter pictures "a MAGA fanatic" (in contrast to "a normal person"). In the final comment we've posted, we're asked to imagine debating "a MAGA adherent," who is later described as a "cultist." 

It's true! Blue tribe members will have a very hard time persuading "cultists" or "fanatics" or "hard-core" Trump supporters. In a rational world, this is a way of stating an obvious fact:

In any public debate, there will always be people who remain unpersuaded. Agreement is never 100 percent. At present, there isn't even full agreement on whether the earth is round.

That said, note the way these commenters portrayed the situation. They could have pictured themselves debating the most persuadable Other. Instead, they chose to picture the least persuadable such person, using that to draw a sweeping conclusion:

You can't possibly reason with the Others! These fanatical hard-core MAGA cultists are all just alike!

Fanatical cultists are indeed beyond the pale, but how many people is that? Deep inside our lizard brains, even those of Us in our infallible tribe are inclined to say that the Others are all like that!

An apparent majority of Trump voters believe the last election was stolen. At present, does a majority of our own blue tribe hold to any bogus claim of so much significance?

We're inclined to say that We murder sleep in our own uniquely blue tribe ways—for example, by insisting that the Others all have to be "irredeemable" racists. For today, we'll close with this observation:

Even in our own infallible tribe, we're strongly inclined to generalize about tens of millions of Others. It's hard for Others to reason with people like Us when we reason that way.

Tomorrow: Charles Blow would punish all the Others!

Friday: Trying a little tenderness! What Biden might have said


92 comments:

  1. "We human beings just wanna have fun—and we want to have our pre-existing worldviews confirmed. "

    Formal debate is a competition with rules. Two sides are assigned to argue positions that they do not necessarily hold, then judges decide which side has done the best job of presenting facts and arguments according to debate rules. It has nothing to do with persuasion and it has nothing to do with the strongly held opinions people hold in real life, where debate is neither formalized, nor does it adhere to rules of competition. In fact, many people avoid discussing points of conflict in order to maintain harmony and many cultures consider confronting people on their opinions to be rude or hostile.

    Somerby and Drum have no idea what they are talking about when they try to compare Seo and Paul with real life beliefs and attitudes, and how the latter change with experience.

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  2. "That said, the vehemence with which these commenters slam the Others starts to point at possible flaws within our own tribe's tendencies. "

    I didn't see the so-called vehemence in the comments Somerby excerpted, but why wouldn't that be the appropriate reaction when someone, in good faith, attempts to talk to a MAGA Republican and gets nowhere? I see bewilderment and regret in the excerpts Somerby chose for today's essay.

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    1. You're never going to get anywhere with a decent person if you try to sell them on voting for a Democrat.

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    2. And here we see the lack of good faith among the so-called others.

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    3. Not bad faith. We love our Democrat brethren and don't want them to suffer for their own misguided ideology. This is a notable difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats hate.

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    4. Relax.
      Democrats aren’t going to suffer just because black people have equality. That’s an old wives tale told by ignramouses.

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    5. "You're never going to get anywhere with a decent person if you try to sell them on voting for a Democrat."

      Why doesn't Somerby preach to the MAGAs here about being nicer to their others, the Democrats?

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  3. What do Republican voters want?

    How many times do we have to tell the other side? We are keeping our guns, we want to end mass babykilling, we want to end gay "marriage," we want to imprison psychotics who sterilize and mutilate children, we want to require work for welfare, we want long prison sentences for violent criminals.

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    1. Q. What do Republican voters want?
      A. Bigotry.
      Q. When do they want it?
      A. Always.

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    2. 20;57,
      Why would Republicans want work for welfare?

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    3. I agree that the sentences for the violent offenders on 1/6 should be longer. I don't agree that long sentences should only accompany violent crimes. If Trump mishandled those classified documents, jeopardizing our national security, he should go to jail for a long, long time. Similarly, those who have committed fraud and bilked Republican supporters should receive long sentences too.

      See, we do have some common ground!

      Somerby, on the other hand, doesn't believe in locking anyone up, even violent criminals such as rapists and those who shoot mentally ill people at protests or shoot up churches or supermarkets (and the parents who give their kids guns when they are having mental problems and are mad at the world). And Somerby never met a cop who killed black people who he didn't defend.

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  4. Republicans aren't motivated because they are "told" these things, they see it for themselves.

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  5. "At present, our public discourse is a clownish, god-awful mess."

    I would not use these terms to describe the President's recent speeches. I would not use it to describe the 1/6 hearings either, which were well-organized and quite clear in their messages to the public.

    The messiest part of our so-called discourse is that different pundits have different opinions, but that is their role. We do not have a single authoritarian voice speaking for any aspect of public discourse, because we are not a totalitarian state. Messiness is inherent in democracy and it is how we work out our competing opinions. After the messiness of debate, we vote and the country coalesces around the emerging majority, which is why the failure of Republicans to accept voting results is such a threat to democracy as a system.

    Somerby seems to think that there should be a single voice or some form of consensus in order for our "discourse" to be less messy. I don't see that as a public good or a value to be sought at all. When people come from diverse backgrounds with different experiences, all sides of an issue tend to be brought out and fully explored before voting occurs, and that is a positive benefit, not a liability. Somerby may be yearning for peace and quiet. If so, he needs to stop following politics and spend more time with friends and family. Disagreement is the spice of life for younger people, but only if we protect our means for resolving the inevitable conflicts that arise when people are different from each other. That means we must protect our way of moving forward after voting, our means of making sure everyone gets a chance to vote, and the integrity of our courts and executive branch, so that the president does not usurp the will of the people and accountability and transparency to that will are ensured. These are all being threatened today by Republican desires to win at any cost.

    This isn't about who has the best facts. It is about keeping our democratic system afloat in the face of interference from enemies of our state, foreign and domestic. Oddly, Somerby has never addressed that aspect of Biden's speech.

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    1. Anonymouse 11:01am, excluding the lies about Somerby, all that stuff about “competing opinions” being an indispensable process is a novel thing on the lips of anonymices.

      It really was quite extraordinary for 15 seconds or so, until further down you made it clear that your commitment to vibrant discussion and debate runs the gamut from whether your political contrarians are Hannibal Lecter or Freddy Krueger.

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    2. You didn’t say anything substantive. You accused Bob of somehow wanting to put parameters upon discourse by expressing himself here daily on a variety of matters and by allowing you to do the same. Then you proceeded to say that Republicans in general want to shut you down too.

      You can champion debate in 1000 words every day of the week, but your reaction to a liberal blogger who doesn’t share your militancy and to your Republican contrarians speaks 10,000.

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    3. I did say something substantive. I asked why discussion shouldn't be messy and questioned the value of it being a non-mess, neat. You responded by calling anonymice hypocrites, an ad hominem attack, not an argument in a rational discussion, tidy or messy.

      Your summary of what I said is bizarre. I said nothing about Republicans -- just about trolls. Somerby keeps complaining about messy discourse. That is debatable. I didn't accuse anyone of wanting to shut me down. Project much?

      Somerby is militant, but he is not liberal. The only Republican here who speaks to substantive issues is David in Cal. You are a nuisance and you seem to like putting words in other people's mouths that they didn't say. I am generally a lot happier when you are elsewhere. I think I hear your mother calling you...

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. You might consider the difference between describing it being a “mess” where a house or institution is being torn down, from a living room where there is a board game strewn on a table, pillows on the floor, and dirty dishes about. In other words, the things that denote social and civil interaction as opposed to destruction.

      You claim to be all for the former, but only within your own clique. That you would be generous to even a dissenting colleague is highly dubious, we’ve SEEN you in action toward a fellow liberal who gets off your tune.

      So of course, you won’t distinguish between a demolished house and a living room in disarray, because that wouldn’t be helpful when intentionally misconstruing a blogger’s argument. You would rather suggest that he’s an authoritarian who wishes to limit and rope off “messy” and unpredictable discussion, when you’re the one who ends a screed by denouncing nearly half of your fellow countrymen

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    6. Good attempt at being substantive. I am arguing that instead of discussing things and reaching consensus, we can vote on things with the minority following the will of the majority. It saves a lot of discussion time and effort when sides are intransigent, as is true with MAGAts.

      Somerby does not allow that alternative. He says we are all sliding into the sea because we don't play nice with conservatives by respecting the others. I disagree, since I do respect their right to vote and pursue the American dream according to our constitution, but not at the expense of it.

      Somerby has said nothing that allows liberals to have the same freedom as conservatives. He is advocating an authoritarian solution by demanding consensus. I do denounce MAGA Extremists (along with Biden) but they are not half of my fellow countrymen. They are at most 10%. Because they advocate violence to achieve political goals, they are beyond the pale and do not deserve respect. If they have committed crimes, they belong in jail.

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    7. Anonymouse 4:47pm, here you go with the caricature of what Somerby said.

      Here you go disappearing the depth and breadth of your own stated contempt toward your political contrarians.

      Far from talking about reaching consensuses, Bob and Drum bemoan a state of affairs where logic and facts are meaningless. They say that’s already massively true on my side and I can live with that. I might not agree with them on that matter (and many others), but we share a *consensus that this a dire problem worth talking about.

      THAT is the starting point. It’s where consensus starts and often, unfortunately, that is where it ends.

      Getting to that basement level of consensus is important in a nation. You may never come to complete agreement as to why an issue exists, who did it, etc.. but civilization is all about that starting point. Politics is about getting to where Bob, Kevin and Cecelia agree there’s an issue and attempt to reach other consensuses having to do with how to fix things.

      That may not happen. It often comes down to majority rule in the end. However, democracies that last don’t dismiss consensus by engaging in stark rhetoric about majority/minority dynamics.

      Still, this was not Bob’s focus or “starting point”.

      Bob is alarmed about something more basic than you’re suggesting. He’s afraid that we can no longer meet at any point as human beings, let alone as countrymen of good will.






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    8. “meet as countrymen of good will”

      Let me introduce you to America, ca 1860. Has there ever been any actual consensus opinion here? Republicans called FDR a socialist. Do you think Trump represents a step in the right direction? Give me a break.

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    9. It’s Bob’s intention that we not be introduced to another 1860.

      Asking me if Trump, as the nominee of his party, is the path to that introduction says more about your inclinations than mine,

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    10. “Avoid another 1860”
      Even Lincoln couldn’t do that. He had what are called “principles”.

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    11. On that basis, let me state that there are no current situations that pique my principles into advocating another Civil War.

      Just so we see that you’re the nutcase here.

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    12. Where did I say that I am advocating anything? I am pointing out that consensus has never really existed, to the point that the lack of consensus caused a major war. Besides, Somerby has been using that sort of rhetoric, and he is the one referring to division of us and them as it relates to politics. And thank you so much for illustrating how much of a consensus and how much of a civil discussion you were interested in having by calling me a nutcase, asshole.

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    13. Oh, I get that you think that Somerby’s position that we can longer logically communicate with each other anymore is the same as chiding your side for not unrealistically surrendering your principles to some impossible dream.

      What I don’t get is why your reference to the horrific past Civil War wouldn’t be all the more reason to amen him over his concern.

      Again- because you’re suggesting that it may be necessary.

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    14. You didn’t read the critique of Stephens op-ed that I posted last week. It covered the problems with the civil war analogies.

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    15. Consensus means we accept the constitution, except MAGA Republicans have decided they don’t, from Trump on down.

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  6. How many Republicans have ever seen a reptilian? How many have seen Democrats kill children and use adrenochrome to stay young (and why don't they look younger)? Why couldn't any voter fraud be proven if Republicans all saw that for themselves? On the other hand, we did all see the highly classified documents Trump had at Mar a Lago, for ourselves. Why didn't those convince the Republicans who saw them for themselves?

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  7. “ we want to have our pre-existing world views confirmed”

    Facebook’s entire business plan says otherwise.

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  8. In the 2020 debate, one candidate interrupted
    and talked over the other candidate, making
    it a pointless exercise. Subsequent debates
    had to be canceled. Any decent person
    would see that candidate is a cheater,
    a petulant child. Alas that’s what supporters
    of Trump WANTED, so they voted for
    him. Such people, in Bob’s world, must
    never be accountable for anything. Their
    Excruciating behavior must be hung
    on the other side.
    Of course reasoned debate is always
    possible. Trump supporters simply don’t
    believe in it an neither does Bob.

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  9. Continuing to discuss truly irreconcilable differences only widens the gulf between people. But I really don't see any willingness on the part of MAGA Republicans to discuss anything. They do want to proselytize but mostly they engage Dems in order to "own" them, score points and win, and that isn't how people form meaningful relationships or connections with each other. I don't see why Somerby keeps trying to force this, when it has very little to do with politics. Politics should operate as a method for moving forward without agreement, but that only happens when everyone respects that majority rules. This is the crux of today's problems, not Somerby's claim that liberals (blue tribe) doesn't respect conservative (red tribe). Respect for groups is irrelevant.

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    1. Anonymouse12:08am, are you doing a baby with the bath water thing on the Constitution now?

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    2. Where did I say I want to throw out the constitution?

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    3. I love the Constitution, because Supreme Court justices have zero right to privacy enshrined in it.

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    4. Ever hear of the Ninth Amendment?

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    5. @7:57 Did you ever read Alito’s decision in Dobbs?

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    6. Did he throw out the Ninth Amendment? Or better yet…majority rule in duly elected representatives?

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    7. Seems like it. The ninth amendment talks about (unspecified, meaning not specifically listed in the Constitution) rights that are retained by the people.

      Alito found no right to abortion in the Constitution, thus it was unconstitutional.

      So there are apparently some rights retained by the people but not listed in the Constitution that are rights, even though not listed, but some that aren’t, subject to Alito discovering what those are.

      The original Roe decision was based on a right to privacy, by the way.

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    8. In other words, he doesn’t view it as an unalienable right (any more than you or your doctors having the right to amputate your arms because you don’t like your tattoos) and should be left up to state “majority rule”.

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    9. If you can cite Supreme Court precedent for granting people the right to remove their arm, please do so.

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    10. People can’t. That’s the point.

      Ginsberg was right in that abortion was wrongly prefaced on the right to privacy.

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    11. You were the one who responded to the commenter who said Supreme Court justices have no right to privacy by referring to the ninth amendment.

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    12. The guy mentioned here may differ with you.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.politico.com/amp/news/magazine/2022/02/23/supreme-court-ninth-amendment-bork-biden-00010847

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  10. Democrat policies are inhumane, unworkable, and unintelligent but they never stop trying to inflict them on reasonable people.

    "The result is a city that has already ejected from office its district attorney and three school board members. Unhappiness with law enforcement has led to rallies by Asian Americans protesting violence against their elders and a lack of police protection and prosecutions. Frustration over homelessness and its impact on street life in the Castro district led to a threat by the neighborhood’s merchants’ association to withhold business taxes.

    John Whitehurst, a political consultant, said he has “never seen voters more upset and angry in San Francisco than they have been over the last two years and continue to be, and that anger gets expressed in many ways. Two ways, recently, include the district attorney recall and the Board of Education recall.”

    Roughly one-third of the respondents said they were likely to leave within the next three years. A large majority, 65%, said that life in the city is worse than when they first moved here. Less than one-quarter of respondents said they expected life in San Francisco to improve in two years. More than one-third said it would worsen."

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    1. We’ll see, when 3 bedroom houses in San Francisco are selling for under $200k.

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    2. Americans hate “San Francisco values” so much, they’ve driven housing costs to the highest in the country.

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    3. Supply and demand is an economic concept, so it goes completely over the head of the Right.

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    4. So why did I have to reference it?

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    5. Cecelia, look at San Francisco on a map and notice how limited the space is on that peninsula. The high number of people who want to live there, compared to the space available to build homes, is why the prices are so high. In New York, Manhattan addressed this by building skyscraper condos for people to live in, but California hasn't been able to do that because of the large earthquakes there. So this is not really a zoning matter. It is a supply and demand problem.

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    6. You’re a liberal and you can’t understand or reference what an impact exorbitantly wealthy tech magnates and their wealthy subordinates have had on housing in SF and on zoning laws that protect their turf?

      Anonymices are not a liberals.

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    7. "Frustration over homelessness and its impact on street life in the Castro district led to a threat by the neighborhood’s merchants’ association to withhold business taxes."

      I was living in Berkeley in the 1990s when San Francisco addressed its homeless problem by banning panhandling and enacting other measures against homeless people. As a consequence, they took the BART to Berkeley and created an overwhelming problem there. Berkeley tried to address their flood of incoming needy people by creating a voucher system and directing beggers to programs. The homeless refused to accept the coupons for food instead of cash, and would not use the programs either. They wanted to keep panhandling and using drugs and sleeping on the streets. (Some were not actually homeless but this was their means of support.) So, this is a difficult problem to address and get tough policies don't work either.

      Some states are having success by putting people in homes and secondarily addressing their social problems, once they are settled. It has been shown that homelessness gets worse when housing prices go up, as more people lose their homes. For many, this is a transient problem and they will move out of the population quickly. Others are long-term street people who do not want to change their lifestyle. But I really don't think this has anything to do with zoning.

      The resentment of street people and homeless is a different problem. Republicans are notoriously judgmental and intolerant of those who are different, so they are likely more bothered by the problems associated with homelessness than liberals. I spent a week at a bridge tournament where there were many complaints about the nearby homeless and panhandlers. They didn't trouble me at all, and I was surprised at what the tournament organizers considered a problem bad enough to warn attendees about. It is also a matter of perspective.

      It is ironic that the Asian people who are being attacked on the streets are being assaulted by right-wingers who are whipped into intolerance by Trump and then throw public hissy fits that target immigrants (not solely Asians) whenever someone is under stress. That is what scapegoating results in. School controversies that resulted in the recall of school board members were over the restriction of opportunities for Asian students in districts where Asian parents are flexing their political muscles, much like the dispute in NYC over places in special science high schools, where attempts at equity are seen as limiting Asian American student opportunities. It has been a sore spot in SF because of the quotas imposed by UC Berkeley and lawsuits to integrate schools in which asians were segregated, in the 70s. It is a joke that Republicans borrow these issues without fully knowing what they are about.

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    8. People shitting and shooting up in the streets troubles normal people, as do the Democrat policies that produce these outcomes.

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    9. Right, prolix and fatuous Anonymouse 1:36pm, SF is a bastion of Asian attacking MAGA members who are also wielding their powerful influence in preventing the allocation of limited and highly sought property for affordable housing and less restrictive zoning ref.
      They also opportunistically co-opt the issue of limiting the number of Asian admitted to exclusive schools. Just ask Jusse.

      You’d make a great cartoonist, circa Germany 1935.

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    10. Cecelia,
      1:18 is definitely a liberal. Only Conservatives resent the rich.

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    11. Anonymouse 2:27pm, you’re starting to get it.

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    12. Cecelia, SF is not full of rich tech magnates. They live somewhere else. Many who live in SF were there before prices increased.

      Here is where Silicon Valley execs live:

      "Traditionally, in Atherton, Portola Valley, and Los Altos Hills. These days many have taken to Billionaire’s Row in Palo Alto. The venture capital execs prefer Woodside, because it is such an easy commute from there to their offices on Sand Hill Road. All of these areas have the most perfect climate between San Francisco (too cold) and San Jose (too hot). Most of them involve higher elevations than the rest of the valley."

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    13. This is how Cecelia respects those who disagree with her:

      "Right, prolix and fatuous Anonymouse 1:36pm..."

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    14. "You’d make a great cartoonist, circa Germany 1935."

      Unfortunately, this was the reality in Germany:

      "There was almost no organized resistance to Hitler's regime in the period between his appointment as chancellor on January 30, 1933, and the crisis over Czechoslovakia in early October 1938. By July 1933, all other political parties and the trade unions had been suppressed, the press and radio brought under state control, and most elements of civil society neutralised. The July 1933 Concordat between Germany and the Holy See ended any possibility of systematic resistance by the Catholic Church.[40] The largest Protestant church, the German Evangelical Church, was generally pro-Nazi, although a few church members resisted this position. The breaking of the power of the SA in the "Night of the Long Knives" in July 1934 ended any possibility of a challenge from the "socialist" wing of the Nazi Party, and also brought the army into closer alliance with the regime.[41]

      Hitler's regime was overwhelmingly popular with the German people during this period. The failures of the Weimar Republic had discredited democracy in the eyes of most Germans. Hitler's apparent success in restoring full employment after the ravages of the Great Depression (achieved mainly through the reintroduction of conscription, a policy advocating that women stay home and raise children, a crash re-armament programme, and the incremental removal of Jews from the workforce as their jobs were tendered to Gentiles), and his bloodless foreign policy successes such as the reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936 and the annexation of Austria in 1938, brought him almost universal acclaim."

      Delete
    15. Anonymouse 2:52pm, I mentioned both tech magnates and their extremely wealthy subordinates.

      They don’t want you living anywhere near their piets-et-terre.

      Quit trying to minimize what I said about zoning in that city because you wish to prop up a specious point you made about property values.

      One that is really more supportive of what I’m saying about the city than your silliness.

      Delete
    16. anonymous 2:27,
      Don't let the Right confuse you. They hate capitalism. And they only call Liberals "Marxist commies", because every Right-wing accusation is really a confession.
      -----
      Special thanks to Cecelia, for pointing it out.

      Delete
    17. Anonymouse 2:57pm, that person is prolix and fatuous.

      Compare that to being labeled a traitor snd someone who wants to destroy the democracy.

      Delete
    18. That's pied a terre, not piets et terre (which means feet and earth).

      Delete
    19. 4:35,
      The Right hates political correctness with all of their hearts...up to the moment you tell the truth about them.

      Delete
    20. It’s the plural of piet-et-terre.

      Delete
  11. 1200 years ago a philosopher from India, Vacaspati, wrote that sole aim of any debate should be to reach the truth.

    We have not even begun in that direction, 1200 years on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This may be true for philosophers, but otherwise, I disagree. Scientists and academics are involved in the search for truth. You know, the people Somerby disparages? In science, debate is called dialectic and peer review. Nearly every published paper contains a literature review at the beginning and a discussion at the end, in which the work and ideas of others are evaluated and addressed. Leaving this out (or doing a sloppy job) will prevent a paper from being published.

      Delete
  12. "When they think about the Others, they tend to picture the least persuadable such person."

    The MAGA Extremists mentioned by Biden are, by definition, the least persuadable because they are extremists. They are not just the Others, but MAGA Others. Note that the comments Somerby has selected are nearly all talking about MAGA Republicans, not these hypothetical persuadable Republican others. That makes it a bit dishonest when Somerby shifts from the people described in the Drum comments to his own fantasy of other Republicans who are good, decent people who will supposedly listen to the right approach, conflating the two.

    MAGA Extremists are the folks who will commit violence in the name of Trump, and many have already done so. They are the people sending money to Trump without caring about where it goes. They are the people who believe in the big lie and are working to undermine democracy in our country by engaging in stochastic terrorism (death threats to school boards and poll workers). These are not good, decent people. They are extremists who support Donald Trump and Q-Anon and other conspiracy theories and watch Fox News obsessively (nearly as much as Somerby does) and are not open to discussing their views, only flaunting them. They are in-your-face uncivil people who ignore rules (which are for other people, not them) and have made a mess of our local communities with their ignorant trouble-making. And they are people who kill their wives if they don't believe in their garbage, punch out neighbors, and take guns to fast food joints to terrorize children and the people who work there. Somerby's urging that we talk to such people as if they were the good, decent Republican others, is not only ludicrous, but it endangers our lives unnecessarily, since there is not a chance in hell of having a real conversation with them.

    And comments like mine are no doubt the reason Somerby won't read his own comments, given that he is so put off by the NY Times and Drum's comments, which are more temperate than those here (on both sides, although Somerby has only excerpted liberals in today's dishonest essay).

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anyone here remember how the film Easy Rider ends? Today's Turning Point young Republicans want to know when they get to use the guns. That's because Republicans are using domestic terrorism to manipulate people when they cannot win at the polls or in the popular press. Some of us are feeling fear about interacting with those who enforce their views using violence, but Somerby keeps urging us to engage with them. No thank you. Not until they put the guns away, and that includes Lauren Boebert.

    ReplyDelete

  14. "At present, does a majority of our own blue tribe hold to any bogus claim of so much significance?"

    Bogus, dear Bob? You, dear Bob, know perfectly well -- as knows every one of your tribesmen who still has two brain cells to rub together -- that the 2020 election wasn't kosher. Not even close.

    It's the common knowledge, dear Bob: the Hunter's laptop incident, the ban on signature verification in PA, the ballot trafficking (2000 Mules) etc., etc., etc.

    These are the facts -- y'know, those things you and your dembot friend Kevin pretend to like so much.

    But hey, dembots and facts are incompatible...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All I know is that Mao is not kosher.

      Delete
    2. Mao,
      I see you have no facts to back up those claims. Instead, all you have are “feelings” that something wasn’t kosher about the 2020 Presidential election.
      BTW, in the spirit of bipartisanship, allow me to quote Trump voters about that.
      “Fuck your feelings.”

      Delete
    3. If you ask Mao nicely he will provide links to the lizard people eating Trump ballots, etc.

      Delete
    4. Spock! I know, right?? The person behind the Mao persona tries to present him or herself as this vastly superior intellect that blithely dismisses contrary opinions with a condescending (and overly repetitive) "meh" and "dear" and "dembot." But they apparently swallow whole some of the nuttiest bullshit propaganda that the right pumps out. Just surreal.

      Delete
  15. "Fanatical cultists are indeed beyond the pale, but how many people is that? "

    Estimates are that they are 10% of all voters and 30% of Republican voters. However, the Republican party is nearly 100% in the thrall of its MAGA minority. About 54% are saying they want to see someone other than Trump running in 2024, the leadership of the Republican party is kowtowing to Trump and repeating his mantras, even though some will run for the nomination if Trump steps aside. No one is willing to challenge Trump. Why not? Because he is a vindictive SOB who has the means to enact revenge on those who displease him, he still has a loyal following, including the Republicans who are not MAGA but will vore for Trump anyway.

    Somerby portrays this situation in an extremely simplistic way. How many of the citizens of Germany were actual Nazis in the 1930s, and yet they followed and supported Hitler throughout the war. Why? Because Hitler could have people sent to camps, beaten up, tossed out of their jobs, and even killed for challenging him. He held power using totalitarian power (neighbors and family members who were true believers turned in their associates). MAGAs are no different. They now are using stochastic terror to keep other Republicans in line and Trump controls the party. That's why Somerby's stupid arguments about having discussions with the persuadable others are nonsense.

    But Somerby is playing his Quisling role to the hilt. Pretending Republicans have a choice about whether to behave like idiots when no one wants to become Lynn Cheney.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Pretending Republicans have a choice about whether to behave like idiots when no one wants to become Lynn Cheney."

      Neither Liz Cheney nor any other Republican who stands up to Trump will be sent to a camp or beaten up. The worst fate they will suffer is to be voted out of office, which is no excuse for buying into the Big Lie or other such idiocy.

      Delete
  16. IMO conservatives know more about liberal facts than vice versa. The reason is that the liberal POV is presented by the mainstream media. Conservatives can't avoid seeing it. However, liberals need to make a special effort to learn the conservative POV

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If conservatives have been exposed to liberal facts (aka facts), why do they continue to believe conservative disinformation, such as about covid or Trump's classified documents, or what happened on 1/6, or even whether there was 2020 election fraud?

      Delete
    2. A real crybaby response, even for David in Ca. That Mainstream Fox was just too liberal, they weren’t covering the lizard people. Poor baby.

      Delete
    3. David,
      Why is it the corporations who own the media are Liberal?
      In your humble opinion, is it because Conservatives are Marxist, commies who hate capitalism?
      Or is it because Conservatives know nothing about economics?

      Delete
    4. "...need to make a special effort to learn the conservative POV"

      Meh. For the most part it's not a matter of listening to talking heads or reading opinion articles.

      All a normal ordinary person needs to do is paying attention their own life and their immediate surroundings. And, of course, to ignore the talking heads, which is what normal ordinary people do anyway.

      According to Gallup, in September 2020 56% of the registered voters said that they and their families were better off than 4 years ago -- the highest number on record (only 45% in 2012).

      And that's all you need to know.

      Delete
    5. "All you need need to know" rolled around for you in about the third grade, pig boy.

      Delete
    6. Be careful, Mao. Once people start focusing on their own lives and immediate surroundings, they might find out gay marriage has zero effect on straight marriages after all.

      Delete
    7. Rupert Murdoch's own son quit the board of Newscorp , later stating that it was because he had no control over content in that role and could no longer participate in an executive level in a company whose business model involves disseminating misinformation. So no, I won't be watching the conservatives' favorite hate- filled media outlet anytime soon, on the advice of Charles Murdoch, whose statement only reaffirms the results of multiple media studies confirming that Fox viewers are not particularly smart about the world they choose to believe in. We understand you plenty well DinC.

      Delete
    8. Trump's approval rating per Gallop was the lowest ever recorded. On his departure it was 34%.

      Delete
    9. @5:07 AM
      Naturally. He didn't manage to stop the steal...

      Delete
    10. 9:11,
      In Trump’s defense, he was far too busy larding his cabinet with Establishment elites, and giving corporations and the rich a HUGE tax break.
      It’s no wonder Republican voters, who hate the economy that is rigged to favor elites— and not at all just bigots—nominated him for re-election.

      Delete
  17. I guess Bob gave up on trying to salvage Trump on the
    Document grab. Smart move.

    ReplyDelete
  18. How many Republicans believe this crap as opposed to Democrats who believe that gender is not based upon anatomy or genetics?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Don’t you care what scientists have to say about anatomy or genetics?

    ReplyDelete