...but also our national discourse: Technical problems have been afflicting our computers. If we're not up and running on Monday, the answer will likely lie there.
"Technical problems" are also afflicting our failing national discourse. Consider the ongoing effort to decide whether Tara Reade's accusation is true.
Nothing's quite so depressing as running back through the accusations which have dotted our electoral landscape since early 1992. It's demoralizing to review the way the mainstream press evaluated the claims of Gennifer Flowers and Kathleen Willey. Then too, we have the widely believed but false accusations in the Duke lacrosse case and the UVa gang rape accusation.
You can add Julie Swetnick's claim to that group. Do we liberals still believe that her claims were true? And why did that question disappear?
In the broader sense, have we liberals ever tried to come to terms with the way we fell in line behind the tribal pied piper, Michael Avenatti? Have we ever tried to explain why we regarded his client, Stormy Daniels, as a "feminist hero," rather than as a misguided person who hoped to score some major cash in the midst of a White House election?
It's depressing to recall the way the mainstream press failed to discuss the credibility problems displayed by Flowers and Willey. A similar impulse plays out today in the case of Reade, who very much may, or perhaps may not, be telling the truth about Biden.
Involved in this is the hard-wired human attraction to so-called "motivated reasoning," in which we tend to believe the claims which align simplistically with our preconceived view of the world. In which we embellish the evidence which supports the claim we want to believe, while disappearing sources of doubt.
One "progressive" after another has embellished the evidence which seems to support Reade's claims. This doesn't just happen Over There on the crackpot right. Our self-impressed but failing blue team has long been sunk in this practice.
Tied up in this is The Silence of The Logicians. In the current matter, we're dealing with an aspect of "epistemology," the study of what sorts of things we can reliably claim to know.
For thirty years, our discourse has turned on whether we could or couldn't believe a series of sexual accusations, some of which were surely true, some of which were not. We've been struggling with this daring back to Gennifer Flowers, but Have you ever seen a philosophy professor descend from his or her aerie to lead us through the types of steps we must make in such situations?
Citizens, please! We've been almost wholly abandoned by our academic elites. At the same time, we've been left to the devices of twenty-something pseudo-journalists who often reason in the manner of brainwashed true believers.
The Professor Mannes are always there to further embarrass a lapsed profession. To bring the note of comedy in, consider a somewhat comical term—"credibility."
Is Tara Reade's accusation "credible?" It all depends on what the meaning of "credible" is!
That said, almost any claim can be scored as "credible." Surely, no term is more forgiving and all-encompassing in the whole English language.
Almost any claim can be scored as credible, but "credible" isn't the same thing as "true!" Unfortunately, it's often played that way by people who want to move from the possibility that Reade's accusation is true to the statement that we should believe it.
In truth, almost any claim is "credible," including Joe Biden's denial. This is especially true given the logic our tribe has created, in which an accuser's reversals and self-contradictions can almost be taken as further evidence that her claims really are accurate.
True believers will announce that Reade's claim is credible, failing to note that Biden's denial is "credible" too. Consider this passage from a recent news report in the Washington Post:
LINSKEY AND SULLIVAN (5/3/20): Even so, the Biden allegations are prompting a struggle for many activists.LaCasse is a frequently cited "corroborating witness." According to LaCasse, Reade seemed believable back in 1996 when Reade told LaCasse whatever she actually told her. But Biden's denial seems believable too! To her credit, LaCasse doesn't seem to know quite what she should think!
“Two things can be true,” said Rebecca Katz, a liberal Democratic operative. “There may be allegations that are credible, and also that Joe Biden might make a much better president than Donald Trump. And it is a real struggle trying to confront that.” She added, “If you’re going to say that you believe women, then you need to believe women.”
Even Lynda LaCasse, the former neighbor who provided some corroboration for Reade by saying Reade told her about the alleged incident several years after she said it happened, voiced ambivalence after seeing Biden’s MSNBC appearance.
“He looks very believable, too,” LaCasse said Friday in an interview with Democracy Now!, an independent news program. “But I’m hearing this today, and I heard Tara a long time ago telling me that. So, I’m struggling with it, with the election now.” She still intends to vote for Biden, she said.
This second judgment by LaCasse—Biden seems believable too—is rarely stated by the true believers. Meanwhile, there is Katz, seeming to toggle from "credible" to "true," at least as she's been quoted.
Also, because Reade's claim is "credible," Katz seems to think that we should believe it. She even seems to be back in the world where we should believe all such claims, as long as they're made by women. This is the comically awful parody of logic with which our failing tribe is hopelessly aligned.
Our national discourse has been in a freefall for many decades. We started building this site in 1997 because we thought the situation could no longer be ignored, even then.
Trump has taken things to a new level, but we liberals and progressives are ripe with Our Own Trumps. Meanwhile, a code of silence surrounds decades of howling incompetence by the upper-end mainstream press.
This includes the decades of war against Clinton/Gore/Clinton which put Donald J. Trump where he is. By rule of law, that long war cannot be discussed.
The upper-end press corps won't tell you about it. Neither will our legion of sleeping professors, who burble, slumber and snore.
During the twenty-month War Against Gore, our logicians could have helped us ponder the logic of paraphrase. Over the course of the past many years, they could have helped us with the epistemology of sex and assault accusations.
We don't know of a single philosophy professor who ever stepped forward to help. Instead, we have the Professor Mannes offering hapless parodies of competent professional service.
We've been in freefall for many years. Given the rise of partisan tribal media, we see on particular way out of this cascading mess.
Biden is awful, Trump is worse. Each candidate may be cognitively impaired. But just look at everyone else!