Part 5—Divided we (liberals) fall: We were intrigued by a letter in Sunday’s Washington Post.
The writer’s values are beyond reproach. We’d call his politics hopeless.
One of the analysts had gone a bit further—unwisely, we suspected. Angrily, he called the writer one of the Dreamers, one of the people who have been brought up to believe that they’re liberals.
“Stop plagiarizing Coates!” we cried. After that, we read the letter, which concerned guns:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (10/18/15) According to his Oct. 5 op-ed column, “On guns, aim higher,” Fred Hiatt thinks the United States should strive to be a gun-free society, like Australia. But Australia is not entirely gun-free; its 1996 law banned automatic and some semiautomatic weapons, not all guns. There was a massive weapons buyback, but it did not capture all outstanding firearms.After scolding the analyst, we read the letter. We knew then that we had failed.
The Aussies, led by conservative then-Prime Minister John Howard, were so outraged by a massacre in the community of Port Arthur that they agreed as a nation to do something.
They then did the something in a matter of weeks; no handwringing, moral turpitude, feckless excuse-making, gun lobby obfuscation, etc. They got the job done.
The United States needs comprehensive, national, strict gun regulatory reform, and we should use Australia as the template. We should do it quickly.
Remember: Each day that passes without us doing what needs to be done means more lives lost. Public safety is Job One for government. What are we waiting for?
Now we were borrowing from Coates!
On the surface, the writer’s values are beyond reproach. His politics, though, are strangely uncomprehending.
In fairness, he notes that Australia is not completely gun-free. Still, he says we should institute a “massive weapons buyback,” “using Australia as the template.”
“What are we waiting for?” he asks. Borrowing from our MacArthur genius, we knew then that we had failed.
“What are we waiting for?” The writer may as well suggest that we should become an island nation, modeling ourselves on the Aussies.
According to the letter writer, we should perform this massive weapons buyback in the immediate future. The writer’s values are beyond reproach, but he seems to know nothing about our politics—or about the 330 million people with whom he shares theoretical ownership of the United States.
Film critic Pauline Kael was once famously quoted, by her own New York Times, saying she didn’t know anyone who voted for Candidate Nixon. This brings us to the very bad politics happily performed by us liberals when we dissemble about the evil put on display by The Others.
Alas! The writer wants the federal government to stage a massive action. He shows no sign of understanding why this can’t currently happen.
Alas! Our constitutional system is built around roadblocks to such action. If we the liberals seek federal action, we must overcome such obstacles as these:
The need for sixty votes in the Senate. The tilt in current Senate math which favors conservatives (at present, our smaller, rural states tend to be red). The tilt in population patterns which tends to favor conservative control of the House (liberal voters tend to be heavily concentrated in a relatively small number of urban and urban ring districts). The veto power of presidents, who are sometimes Republicans.
In short, it’s hard to produce “massive” action by the federal government. To achieve some such action, we liberals have to persuade many people from outside our tribe that our position is right.
Indeed, we have to find a way to foil those modern conservatives who, as a general matter, don’t want the federal government to act at all. To do so, we have to undermine the culture of hard-core tribal division, which strongly favors the interests of people who hold such views.
If we the liberals want to see substantial government action, we have to undermine the culture of tribal division! At present, those of us who were raised to believe that we’re liberals have settled on a rather strange way of accomplishing that task.
We keep telling The Others they’re racist! Then, we shake our heads and wonder why they won’t accede to our policy stands, which we of course know to be brilliant.
Those of us raised to believe that we’re liberal seem to love this practice. We love attacking The Others as racist so much that we’re willing to cheer as our multimillionaire corporate leaders clown, cavort, dissemble and lie to give us the porridge we crave:
MADDOW (10/2/15): Out of all God`s great green evolving earth, Alabama Republicans really did manage to pick this one spot, this center of African-American life in their state in the Black Belt as the place where they could really save some money by cutting all those offices where you get what you need to vote.That statement was baldly false. But to us, that statement felt good!
Maddow has performed four additional segments on this topic without correcting that groaning misstatement. Essentially, she has cherry-picked everything she has said to give us liberals a pleasing impression, in which The Others are evil and vile and We Liberals are moral and good.
Basically, Maddow has been lying. But dear lord, it has felt so good!
That letter writer seems to be living inside a Dream. One day earlier, in that same newspaper, we saw what happens when corporate hustlers like the weirdly grinning Maddow stuff disinformation into our heads, and big sacks of corporate dough into her self-impressed pants.
It happened on Saturday, October 17. At the Washington Post’s web site, reporter Vanessa Williams did a blog post about Alabama.
Williams didn’t present a full set of facts about the driver’s license closings. (By now, Maddow had misled her viewers about the closings on three separate programs, grinning weirdly at us the rubes as she did.)
Williams didn’t present a full set of facts about the office closings. But, in a rare departure, she mentioned the availability of free voter ID in every county in Alabama.
Even worse, she quoted Alabama’s governor denying a racial motive in the office closings.
Mercifully, Williams’ blog post didn’t produce a lot of comments. It did let us see the type of gap-toothed yokels we liberals become when we let corporate hustlers like Maddow feed us the porridge we love.
Williams’ blog post produced just 18 comments. Among them, the people raised to believe they’re liberal managed to offer the comments shown below.
We’ve done light editing for clarity. Pay special attention to OLDPRPOGESSIVE. Also to Samoset, who exhibits all the signs of a Maddow victim and rube:
OLDPROGRESSIVEFROMWISCONSIN: So I guess the fact that most of the proposed closing would be in predominantly Black Counties was just a coincidence? These guys need to get better at lying.Someone had led the Old Progressive to think that “most of the proposed closing would be in predominantly black counties.”
Chris Smith: Alabama one of the poorest, fattest, least educated, most backward states in the union. In other words, a red state.
Ham Biscuit: The volk here in Alabama’s capital, Pretoria, don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
Samoset: The governor is a bold-faced liar. Just look at a map. Color in the counties that make up “the black belt.”
Originally named because of the rich black soil that was best for growing cotton—now a predominately black resident region.
Those counties were the only ones where the DMVs were closed. Only Ones.
That’s pleasing. But it just isn’t true.
Samoset took the gap-toothed commentary even further. After repeating the history lesson with which Maddow killed time in her first report, he said offices had been closed in Black Belt counties and nowhere else.
That claim is just pitifully false. But that’s what the weirdly grinning Maddow has persistently said and implied.
By the way, each fellow insisted that Bentley was lying. They didn’t know that the information shortfall had perhaps struck a bit closer to home.
You’re looking at comments by a pair of gap-toothed “progressives”—a pair of Dreamers who somehow managed to become grossly misinformed. We almost thought we heard banjos playing as Samoset rattled his Maddow scripts in the face of facts like these, facts Maddow has disappeared:
The eight largest counties which lost an office:To Samoset, none of those counties exist. Lauderdale County is Brigadoon. Also, Bentley’s a liar!
Lauderdale County: 92,709 (86.4% white)
Lawrence County: 34,339 (77.6% white)
Chambers County: 34,064 (58.8% white)
Franklin County: 31,704 (83.0% white)
Geneva County: 26,790 (86.3% white)
Cherokee County: 26,021 (92.7% white)
Winston County: 24,484 (97.3% white)
Bibb County: 22,597 (75.8% white)
Trust us. This really isn’t a very good way for liberals to execute outreach. The situation only gets worse when folk like Ken Black show up.
Ken Black is a trouble-maker. For unknown reasons, he had decided to research the facts about the office closings.
In the comments to Williams' blog post, he kept trying to offer information to us liberals. This was his response to the brilliance of OLDPROGRESSIVE:
OLDPROGRESSIVEFROMWISCONSIN: So I guess the fact that most of the proposed closing would be in predominantly Black Counties was just a coincidence? These guys need to get better at lying.Reams of information followed. In an earlier comment, he had listed population figures for every county which lost an office, resulting in this overview:
KEN BLACK: They weren't. Keep paying attention to the liberal media instead of thinking for yourself.
I actually took the time to go to the US Census Bureau’s quick facts site and got the populations for the affected counties. It also lists the % of the populations in each county. Here is a list of counties with DMV closures that have a majority of whites over 80%. For comparison purposes I also included all of the counties that are majority black populations (9 of them)...
KEN BLACK: Here is a list of counties who are closing the DMVs. The closures affect 67.8% whites and 28.8% blacks in those counties. That is comparable to the overall percentage rates of the total population in Alabama, which is 69.7% white and 26.7% black...Black made at least one error in his compilation. He thought majority-black Dallas County lost its office, which it actually didn’t.
(To review Drum's numbers, click here.)
That said, Black kept trying to introduce information into the discussion! We the rubes simply persisted with our pleasing story.
From the liberal perspective, in what way do people like Black make the situation worse? We’ll now tell you something which we people who think we’re liberals generally don’t understand:
Increasingly, people in the red-state orbit are being exposed to an unpleasant fact. They’re being told that we liberals aren’t obsessively truthful. Increasingly, this familiar old claim is now being supported with actual accurate facts!
Most of our liberal tribal dissembling and lying involves matters of race and gender. Trust us: People all over the red-state world will end up learning what Maddow has done in this latest episode.
We the liberals will never find out. The loud noise from our dueling banjos drowns this info out.
This only hardens the tribal lines which currently define American politics. Unfortunately, tribal division serves the ends of conservatives—of those who oppose federal action.
People who long for “massive” federal action need to break that division down. We need to conduct winning outreach to Those People—to people like those described in Tuesday’s New York Times.
David Herszenhorn reported from Monticello, Georgia, in that state’s 10th congressional district. This is “what we are waiting for” with respect to that massive gun buyback:
HERSZENSHORN (10/20/15): A lot of people in this small town, an hour’s drive from Atlanta, get their news from talk radio.Those people own the country too. Given the obstacles built into our constitution, we liberals have to perform outreach to our co-owners if we want to succeed in politics.
“We all listen to WSB,” said Marion Pearson, the owner of a photo studio, who was at a “Coffee and Conversation” recently with Representative Jody Hice at the local Chamber of Commerce.
“In the morning we have Herman Cain out of Atlanta,” Ms. Pearson said. “Then we have Rush from noon to 3, and then Hannity from 3 to 5, and then—oh, what’s that guy’s name?—the RedState guy, Erick Erickson, from 5 to 7.”
Georgia’s 10th District got Mr. Hice, 55, from talk radio, too. Before seeking office in 2014, Mr. Hice, a Southern Baptist minister, had his own show, syndicated on 400 stations, on which listeners heard him weigh in against Islam and homosexuality and for gun rights and traditional Christian values.
Constituents say they do not agree with Mr. Hice on everything but trust him to represent them.
“He represents my values,” said Bruce Henry, a Jasper County commissioner. “We’re a rural community. He’s a Bible-believing man. He believes in the Second Amendment. He’s honest.”
We have to imagine the possibility that they may know something we don’t. We have to accept the fact that our values aren’t the only values possible.
Meanwhile, is Jody Hice honest? We don’t know, but Hannity pretty much isn’t. If liberals hope to succeed in politics, we have to find ways to help other people see that.
Proving that point isn’t real easy when Maddow keep lying her ascot off and we keep cheering her on. (People in Monticello are going to hear about this.) When people listen to Cain each day and we keep insisting they’re racists.
In the most recent Iowa poll, three of the top four Republican hopefuls are either black or Hispanic. Because we only think we’re liberals, that’s when we turn to our own Hannity and ask her to help us feel good.
It's almost the only story we know. As our banjos get picked and our TV stars grin, we love our tribal story.
This dates to prehistory: Your lizard brain will reject all this. As has been true through the (war-ravaged) annals of time, your lizard brain is wrong.
Shoot. Darn. Dangit. Aw Shucks!!ReplyDelete
Accuracy And Precision Troll was wrong? It ain't 9, it really is 8?
It don't a matter much to Somerby's point (Drum's point [Ken Black's point]) though, but galdurnit -- Precision and Accuracy Troll ain't worth a cuss, is he?
What's become a this old world?
Fiddle. Diddle. Alas/ you are one ignorant b!tch* @ 12:28.Delete
Just because Precise Bob corrected Ken "One Ignorant B!tch" Black's number you think the one you call Precision and Accuracy Troll made the same mistake. He didn't. Bob did.
P&AT never included Dallas (Selma).
But good try. You Hannity Rubes have such a nice whistle between your teeth when you talk, by the way.
* One Ignorant B!tch is a King/Ghandi/Malala like love expression employed by Ken Black as a very good way for outreach to gap toothed liberals.
Hey there, Precision and Accuracy Troll. Nice day for it, no?Delete
I been over at Kevin Drum's little old blog lookin' at his chart a them counties. I coulda counted them counties wrong, but I only counted 8 of 'em mesself. Same as Awful Somerby done.
Like I say, I don't think it matters too durn much: my lovable Maddow just plain pointed me the wrong way on it, whethern it's 8 or if it's 9. It ain't most. That's fer true.
You take care now, Precision n' Accuracy Troll, y'hear?
Well Gaaaawleee! Like our Uncle Bob we look forward to a future comment box where we announce that the office we thought they closed due to red lettering on the ALEA website was not closed, but never ever even open.Delete
Looky here, in other Alabama news, Sophomore D'leisha Dent had a monster game with four kills in Miles College's match against Lane College.
Looky here, indeed. Look Over Here Troll shows his spots.Delete
I am surprised Bob has neglected one statistic.Delete
Counties With Offices Closed
Black Majority: 8 of 11...72%
White Majority: 22 of 56...39%
Why does Alabama hate young people?
You forgot to mention how tiny those black counties were and how small a % of the overall black residents of the state were affected. (72% of 100 is 72 people for example)Delete
Bob - Maddow had a disclaimer that you conveniently omitted to suit your own perverted, non-sensical, anti-liberal agenda because you never rose above the blog and didn't do well in comedy so your assumptions here are clearly false when you look at it logically. .ReplyDelete
When Maddow states a disclaimer and then goes on at length to show she does not believe her disclaimer, it is clearly pro forma and not her view. Somerby represents her view correctly. You don't.Delete
Bob uses the exact same disclaimers. Which is why his fans can claim that, while he now claims harbored inner secret suspicions Hunter Biden spilled the Beau Biden deathbed speech to Maureen Dowd, he really didn't accuse her of making it all up as a novel because he disclaimed "it might be true."Delete
So diddle yourself on your shag. You can do that blindfolded or with you head up Bob's kiester. But put some lotion on your rough thumbs first.
Somerby's use of disclaimers doesn't negate anything I said about Maddow. The disclaimer isn't the message. Whatever follows the disclaimer is. As I recall, he held Dowd accountable for her actions whatever their undisclosed source. Enumerating the possibilities for sourcing only made it clearer she did not source her information. In Maddow's case, her disclaimer was ignored in the rest of her segment, contradicted by her conclusions.Delete
The diddling is also a repellent metaphor Somerby uses to convey the strength of his feelings about Maddow's prostitution to the plutocracy. I wish he didn't use that language but it doesn't sound any better coming from you. Unbalanced by any substance it just comes across as crudeness -- but what else have we come to expect from our trolls.
Exactly, @1:27...Somerby's use of disclaimers doesn't negate anything YOU said about Maddow. It only reflects on someone dishonest enough to use that tactic to cover his own butt and who also:Delete
1) deliberately leaves out the disclaimers of others when it interferes with his narrative, or
2) uses the disclaimer of others to argue a person really didn't mean what others attribute to that person.
Somerby does all three, at times within the same post.
And, FYI, the maturbatory reference you deplore was aimed at Maureen Dowd. Do you think Bob was whacking with one hand while typing with the other when he wrote that? We have no way of knowing. It is possible. I understand some men his age have a habit of playing with themselves without knowing it.
Cicero had a funeral to attend.Delete
Back in the 1980's, I spoke with Bruce Clayton who is a survivalist, ecologist and expert on forest fires. He told me about his disillusionment with the environmentalist movement back when he was a doctoral student. He believed in environmentalist causes but found that, as an ecologist and biologist, he could not go along with the blatant distortions of fact, outright lies being told by environmentalists to advance their cause. Someone earning a Ph.D. is more committed to values of research, the search for knowledge, but after his graduation he continued to ally himself with those dealing with facts as they were instead of those promoting propaganda.ReplyDelete
In my view, we lose other bright, motivated supporters when we dumb down our message by rounding off the corners on the factual support for our arguments. We don't seem to be willing to trust those we are trying to convince. We don't believe they will have the ability to reach our conclusions unless we sweeten the deal by ignoring complexity and manufacturing an easy-to-swallow outrage. The right does this too, but the left has also being doing it as long as I have been politically active (which goes back a long time).
I believe Somerby may be idealistic when he tries to convince either side to give up its lies. Our cause is just and we should be able to succeed without them, but most people don't want to expend the effort to think about hard things.
When Somerby uses his rube analogy and the hill folk dialect of this current post (which I find repellent), he is pointing out the dumbing down, the assumption of stupidity with which we approach those who do not already agree with us. The trolls here are mocking the tone, but they don't understand his purpose at all. We need to make smarter arguments and trust that those who expend the effort will follow them to the right conclusion -- and not try to manipulate or bully people into agreement. I hope that will win enough additional votes to accomplish our goals. But then I talk to a few Trump supporters and get depressed.
"The trolls here are mocking the tone."Delete
The opening commenter, who is the only one who mocked the tone, is one of Bob's two or three staunch defenders.
Give them time.Delete
Narrowly focusing on only today's troll behavior ignores the ongoing campaign to deride Somerby conducted here. The trolls are nothing if not predictable.
The trolls are indeed predictable. There is even a certain pleasure of sport in predicting them.Delete
The mockery in the first post here clearly is directed at some of our persistent trolls. They merit the disdain.
I agree that there is a "campaign to deride Somerby." It's an open question what form the response to that campaign should take. (It's probably wrong to suppose that there is only one such campaign, by the way. Most of the media figures coming in for stick at this blog have interns and devoted fans...)
I'd argue that any response should be multifaceted. The trolls should be alternately ignored, ridiculed, and even -- occasionally -- treated as though they are in good faith presenting counter-arguments to Somerby (yeah, right).
Trolling here takes many forms, but they are nevertheless finite, suggesting that it may be possible to develop a general taxonomy of troll comments. This may or may not prove useful, but it does sound like a bit of fun.
One of my favorites, and certainly a top-ten in post volume, is the Look Over Here Troll: the Look Over Here Troll doesn't engage the substance of Somerby's argument but instead directs attention elsewhere. There are so many sub-categories to this type that it provides probably the bulk of all troll comments. Look Over Here, you ignored what Clinton did. Look Over Here, there are more important things than what Maddow said. Look Over Here, conservative media is bigger and worse.
"are mocking" is present tense, not future. Gaps in the teeth among you Hannity rubes do not contribute to grammar gaps but may add to the pleasure reading about gaps gives you when turning to Somerby for online debasement of the liberal "others.'Delete
Yes, it's a broad campaign to bring Somerby down before he changes the world! And a deep, dark conspiracy behind it.Delete
Couldn't possibly be a handful of people who take a guilty pleasure in watching a pompous, arrogant blowhard make an ass out of himself on a daily basis.
Or the guilty pleasure of watching a handful of his remaining fans "prove" that their buck-naked emperor is superbly dressed.
@ 2:01 PM: We are mocking you tomorrow.Delete
I would posit there is only one troll. There is no way to know the actual number when they sign off as 'anonymous.' I say this because I would like to think only one such asinine nitwit could exist.Delete
The auxillary verb will is more precise, but many rubes be partial to disappering it.Delete
Hill folk dialect? Didn't Thomas E. Dewey have a gap between his front teeth? My mother used to complain about seeing a newsreel in which a woman said she wasn't voting for Dewey because he had a gap in his teeth and that was a sign of the Devil.Delete
My mother voted for Dewey becasue of that. She had a gap in her front teeth, too. Shortly after Ike became President I was born. He was bald. So was I at the time. I liked Ike. He didn't demonize Alabama but he sent the 82nd Airborne into Arkansas.
Was the life form Orval Faubus human? Bob says the freedom riders thought Bull Connor was, even if he was named after a farm animal.
Mostly we are so dumb.Delete
We coulda had class. We coulda been a lot smarter. We coulda been somebody, instead of a liberal.Delete
Well, Somerby reader cicero obviously agreed completely with this post. As we know from comments by astute Bobfans, when Bob's readers agree with a post, they tend not to comment.ReplyDelete
Cicero had a funeral to attend.Delete
Bob Somerby cherry picked blog comments from the Washington Post.ReplyDelete
How many comments were there? Somerby doesn't say. He has spent a whole week promising a post on this commentary, yet he prints only four to make his point. That is one third as many comments as a recent lazy New York Times reporter presented from interview in just a day after the Republican debate. Editorial judgments at the Howler rarely cease to amaze. That said, let us take a guess.
Hunter Biden did it. With a vibraphone. In the living room on the shag.
Minutes away from the Clinton interview on the Maddowsketter program.ReplyDelete
I hope HRC doesn't have to take the Friday Night News Dump Quiz. Rachel will probably ask her to name the Alabama state turtle. When she wins she can be given a Clinton Gore "Stars and Bars" pin from 1992 (fits on any four button suit lapel) and we will be able to see her break out in a big gap tooth grin.
"We’ll now tell you something which we people who think we’re liberals generally don’t understand:ReplyDelete
Increasingly, people in the red-state orbit are being exposed to an unpleasant fact. They’re being told that we liberals aren’t obsessively truthful."
Yes, increasingly they are. Thanks for telling us what we don't understand.
"However, we will not be intimidated by the vultures of the liberal left-wing press. We will not be deceived by their lies and distortions of truth. We will not be swayed by their brutal attacks upon the character and reputation of any honest citizen who dares stand up and fight for liberty."
George Corley Wallace
Governor of Alabama
July 4, 1964...Time of the Gatekeepers
Thank you. An excellent example of why it is important for the left to be honest. We should never give our enemies ammunition to use against us.Delete
Haven't been reading Somerby for long, have you? We have no "enemies". Just poor misguided people who need to be reasoned with according to the genteel Marquis de Somerby rules. You know, exactly the way Bob doesn't.Delete
What would Ghandi, Mandela, King and Malala say about such talk as "enemies"?
I am surprised that our host does not know the full story behind the Kael quotation, which she meant from the start as a self-deprecating joke. Also, I don't believe Kael ever wrote for the New York Times. Her primary affiliation was with the New Yorker.ReplyDelete
I almost hesitate to post this. Bob made an excellent case against the possibility of using Australia as a template for gun control. The chances of it moving through our legislatures, which have already inertia designed into them, wouldn’t stand a chance in a government further paralyzed by extreme partisanship.ReplyDelete
But I’m going to do it anyway. This essay strikes me as one of the best “solutions” to the problem of gun violence I’ve ever read.
Alas, Bob tempers my intrigue with these ideas with his downer about the reality of legislative action. But we have to start somewhere.
Warning: If anyone here does read this, it’s almost as long as this posting by Bob. But worth the same read, even if you’re not a fan of Bob.
Crap, should have read "already have." gdmtDelete
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