Jonathan Chait spots a sociopath!

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2020

Mychal Smith's depression: With tires squealing and foghorns blaring, a fire truck bearing Jonathan Chait has finally arrived at the smoldering ruins of what was once a fire.

Putting it a different way, Chait has belatedly spotted a sociopath. His name is Donald J. Trump:

CHAIT (9/18/20): There’s a term for a person who views other humans purely as instruments for his own advancement, and is unable to conceive of the idea of caring about them independent of his own self-interest: “sociopath.” The United States has had some terrible presidents before, but probably never a sociopathic one. When his own aides warn the public that he does not care if the people he is tasked with helping live or die, we should take their warnings with the utmost seriousness.

That's the way Chait ended the post in which he named the sociopath he has now managed to spot. It's hard to imagine why anyone, let alone a major journalist, would think this is worth saying now.

Chait is basing his diagnosis on a newly released assessment of Donald J. Trump made by a former Pence aide. He apparently missed the best-selling 2017 book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.

The best-selling book was edited by Yale psychiatrist  Bandy X. Lee, but was then deep-sixed by the upper-end press corps guild at the direction of the New York Times editorial board. 

Chait's musings on this newly-discovered topic strike us as perhaps underfed. Has America "probably never" had a sociopath commander before? Why in the world would Chait say that? 

Professional estimates hold that something like 5 or 6 percent of American men are diagnosable as sociopaths. Within the realm of the general public discourse, these are extremely murky concepts, but we'd guess  the chances are good that we've had such a president before.

The guild has agreed that this can't be discussed. A commenter to Chait's bombshell helps us ponder the poverty of our discourse:

COMMENT: Is this supposed to be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention? He showed us who he is, and yes, he's a sociopathic narcissist. And much more, I'm sure. Just ask Mary Trump. She shares genes with him (she got all the good, he got all the bad) and she's a trained clinical psychologist. She knows of what she speaks. 

Just ask Mary Trump, the commenter says. After all, she's a trained clinical psychologist.

The problem is, our major journalists have agreed not to ask Mary Trump. Rather plainly, she is agreeing to play along with this industry-wide convention. 

When she spoke with CNN's Brian Stelter last Sunday, she was asked to opine about every conceivable topic except her uncle's psychological or psychiatric state. The same rules rather clearly obtained when she spoke with Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night. 

This code of silence was especially striking on that occasion because O'Donnell is one or the very few major journalists who has dared, on rare occasions, to bring a psychiatrist onto his show to discuss the commander's apparent psychiatric state.

In her recent best-selling book, Mary Trump explicitly diagnosed her grandfather, Fred Trump, as a sociopath. She spoke less directly about her uncle, the current commander in chief. 

By now, she has become an almost wholly useless part of the Pundit Industrial Complex. She goes on the air and she plays by its rules, offering the same non-medical assessments all other mainstream pundits could deliver in their sleep.

So it goes as our floundering species pretends to engage in public discourse. Last night, a fire truck bearing Chait squealed up to the remains of a fire, pretending to have discovered something several years after discussion was squelched.

The post was faux, all the way down. We'd say that Mychal Denzel Smith's recent column in the New York Times pretty likely was not.

Inevitably, Smith's column carried an identity line promoting a new book:

Mychal Denzel Smith is the author of the forthcoming book “Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream,” from which this essay is adapted.

That said, Smith's column offered an account of his long battle with depression. It may have been the most interesting and significant piece of journalism we've read in recent weeks. 

In Smith's account, his depression "took hold" when he was just 12, after his cousin died in a way which goes undescribed. As an adult, Smith has received therapy—though in the face of a certain challenge, the therapy ceased to help:

SMITH (9/14/20): Through therapy, I’ve become good at recognizing the signs of depression and warding off the worst of its effects. I can note my own social withdrawal, recognize that I have slipped deeper into an overwhelming sadness and correct some very basic things in my life—diet, exercise, sleep, returning phone calls—to help me get back to normal.

Since the day Donald Trump was elected, this hasn’t worked.

"I know I'm not alone," Smith writes. He notes that one psychologist has coined the term for a certain range of mental health disorders.

The syndrome is known as Trump Anxiety Disorder. "Some of us broke four years ago and haven’t recovered," Smith writes.

Depression robs good, decent people of their good feeling and their vitality. Antisocial personality disorder, the technical term for sociopathy, robs a different class of people of their basic decency..

(According to what we've read online, sociopathy may in part be a genetic disorder, and it may in part stem from a person's upbringing. That's what we've read onlinel By common agreement, such matters can't be discussed by medical specialists, whether on our "cable news" channels or in our major newspapers.) 

Sociopathy can't be discussed even as the commander's sociopathic behavior appears in the open air. Elites have settled on a euphemism, "unfit," as they refuse to tell us rubes what they actually think and believe.

Smith is much more direct and open about his situation as he understands it. Here is his account of the way he's been affected by the commander's election:

SMITH: Some of us broke four years ago and haven’t recovered. Along with so many others, I had to ask myself what it meant to live in a system that allowed for a proudly racist and sexist representative of the capitalist class to seize presidential power. I mourned for the younger version of myself that had cast his first vote for the first Black presidential candidate on a major party ticket and had his cynicism challenged when that candidate actually won.

In the beginning, I tried taking up Muay Thai, thinking that the endorphins and supposedly healthy space to place my anger would be able to buoy me. But as much fun as it was to strap on gloves and beat a heavy bag, I lost interest within a couple of months and gave in to my desire to do nothing. I saw all the familiar signs: I wasn’t answering phone calls. I was taking days and weeks to respond to texts, if I responded at all. I slept infrequently, fitful and afraid.

I know well that this moment in history is not an aberration. But I’m haunted by thoughts of the tens of thousands of migrant children who have been held in detention and away from their families, 100-degree days in Siberia, people dying alone of Covid-19 and the astronomical infection rates among American Indians and Black Americans. I feel an overwhelming sense of powerlessness.

No, I never assumed that in my lifetime we would defeat the entrenched forces of white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalism. But I had come around to believing that a slow, frustrating but ultimately sustainable victory and all the jubilation that would come along with it was something my friends’ children might someday experience.

That sense of possibility has largely dissipated. I am afraid every single day—of wildfires in California, of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, of the police and ICE, of going to the grocery store in a pandemic, of Electoral College math.

We think we recognize Smith's mental and emotional state. We're going to offer two reactions, the first of which may sound snarky:

First, if a good, decent person wants to achieve some sort of victory over "the entrenched forces of white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalism," we'd advise that person to avoid using terms like "the entrenched forces of white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalism."

Within our system, tribal language of that type tends to create and harden separation and to ensure defeat. 

At present, the sachems of our failing tribe—for example, the assistant, associate and adjunct professors—are  in love with our tribe's deeply inspiring though incoherent tribal language. But that deeply inspiring language is most likely self-defeating.  It sends a signal to the others that we are Other too.

We hope that doesn't sound snarky. Our second thought would be this:

We would advise a good, decent person like Smith to accept preemptive defeat. Here's what we mean by that:

He should accept the fact that he will never achieve a "victory" over the entrenched forces of which he disapproves. Those forces will always be active. Nothing resembling an ultimate victory will ever be experienced by the children of his friends.

Around the world, children will continue to see their parents die or be maimed in allied bombing raids. 

Children will continue to drown in the Mediterranean with their loving parents. Very young girls will be sold into marriage or into sexual bondage.  Smith will never live in a world in which the forces which create these events will have been "defeated."

Here at home, the hurricanes will only be worse. Human suffering will continue in every way Smith has described.

(Police misconduct won't be eliminated, though it could be lessened. Of course, misconduct within the overpaid guild to which Smith belongs could be lessened too.)

We'd advise Smith to give it up—to stop thinking that the forces with which he sees himself aligned can ever hope to "win." We'd advise him to come to terms with a basic fact:

Human suffering will never be "defeated," it can only be lessened. In setting an impossible goal for himself, Smith has guaranteed his own defeat and possibly years of anguish.

Might we also say this?

Almost no one ever does everything he or she can do in the fight against human suffering.  Mychal Smith hasn't done all he can. Neither has anyone else—not even [INSERT NAME HERE]! 

Very few people will ever do all they they possibly can. The trick may be to stop blaming the others and to focus, in a new approach, on doing the best and the most one can sensibly try to do. 

This may involve giving up one's own tribal identity. Chait, for example, has perhaps been running a bit of a scam. So have Stelter and O'Donnell and all the corporate stars, perhaps including the diagnostically silent though best-selling Mary Trump.

Smith seems to have himself tightly aligned with one tribal group. He might feel better if he dropped the narrowcast of their language and their framing and blew the whistle on imperfect human behavior wherever it might appear. 

Very few people ever go where the suffering is greatest. Almost all of us agree to stay in our lanes and to maintain our own relative safety and comfort. 

This is part of human nature and it isn't evil. When we pretend that we're doing something vastly more grandiose, it may consign us to defeat. It may bring the suffering within.


75 comments:

  1. Blah, blah, blah, Orange Man Bad, blah, blah.

    And with this endless drivel, your blog's value is diminishing quickly, dear Bob. Sad.

    "the entrenched forces of white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalism"

    Ha-ha, a good one, dear Bob. This has to be a zombie scientist speaking.

    But you know what, there are better zombie-science examples. Are you familiar with the "grievance studies affair", dear Bob? It's hilarious, trust us.

    To quote wikipedia: "Included among the articles that were published were arguments that dogs engage in rape culture and that men could reduce their transphobia by anally penetrating themselves with sex toys, as well as Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf rewritten in feminist language. One of the published papers in particular had won special recognition from the journal that published it."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. пиздуй отсюда

      Delete
    2. Trump got beat-up by a hoax virus.
      What a loser.

      Delete
    3. Mao doesn't understand how science works. You publish in order to provide info to the scientific community. Papers published are not deemed correct by editors but rather interesting, worth discussion, informative of thought. Then scientists criticize them in a process called the scientific dialectic, wherein scientists criticize each other's work and use ideas from others (including their mistakes) to improve their own work. Laughing at what gets published is just another form of ignorance. Like when Proxmire used a mathematical psychology paper by Duncan Luce (member of the National Academy of Science) as an example of wasted science funding, not realizing its importance to math and measurement theory, not just psychology.

      Any idiot can mock what he doesn't understand.

      Delete
    4. I do know how zombie science works, dear dembot: you submit some meaningless liberal drivel, it gets published, you get rewarded.

      That's what the "grievance studies affair" demonstrated.

      Delete
    5. How much do you think people get paid for publishing in academic journals? Hint: nothing.

      The Grievance Studies Affair was a sting that proved nothing more than that sometimes people believe lies.

      The lesson of this covid pandemic should be that everyone needs to take science seriously because it is the only way out of some difficulties we are facing. Instead, the right continues its relentless attack on science of all kinds in a self-destructive impulse unseen since the last lemming migration.

      Delete
    6. Orange Man is bad and incompetent and a loser with no courage as we all now know from his pathetic Covid response and as everyone who ever works for him claims when leave. Fuck Trump. 200k dead? Fuck that loser.

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  2. "The best-selling book was edited by Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee, but was then deep-sixed by the upper-end press corps guild at the direction of the New York Times editorial board."

    Somerby has no evidence that this is what happened.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "She [Mary Trump] goes on the air and she plays by its rules, offering the same non-medical assessments all other mainstream pundits could deliver in their sleep."

    She is adhering to the ethics of her profession. Because she is still working in that profession, she needs to maintain her license. It would put her career in serious jeopardy if her license were challenged. There is plenty of evidence that Trump and his minions do go after people who cause them trouble.

    She has said that Trump cannot be further diagnosed without testing that he will not agree to.

    Somerby knows this, but he continues to assert, without evidence, that there is a plot without the media to suppress discussion of Trump's mental problems. Trump's mental problems are not germane. It is his behavior that matters, and no one is suppressing ongoing discussion of Trumps words and deed as President. How and why Trump got to be the way he is will be a discussion for historians after he is safely out of office.

    Somerby should be focusing his efforts on Trump's removal. Instead, he rarely talks about the upcoming election, except to speculate that Trump may win. He does nothing whatsoever to aid the election of Joe Biden. That makes him unlike any liberal on the face of this earth.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Last night, a fire truck bearing Chait squealed up to the remains of a fire,"

    Somerby always manages to find the imagery that will scrape raw nerves. Much of the West Coast is on fire, many people are still evacuated, all are breathing bad air and worrying. So Somerby picks a "fire" metaphor that has utterly no relevance to anything in his essay. That's called empathy, but it is supposed to motivate aid, not show a jerk like Somerby how to grind sand in the wounds of others.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Stakes Is High -- Smith's book title. Why isn't that Stakes ARE High? Isn't that a plural noun?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stakes Is High is the name of an album from the nineties by a popular trio from Long Island.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the explanation.

      Delete
  6. "Antisocial personality disorder, the technical term for sociopathy, robs a different class of people of their basic decency."

    This is incorrect. Sociopaths do not feel much empathy and they have a difficult time learning from experience because pain doesn't deter them the way it does other people. But it is entirely possible for sociopaths to become good, decent people who abide by laws, have families and careers and do not become criminals or serial killers. It depends on their upbringing and environment. There are several professions where it is better to be a sociopath and there is speculation that most surgeons are sociopaths (because they must daily cut into people who have life-threatening illnesses and may not survive). This would be intolerable for someone with greater connection to others.

    Somerby would have read this in whatever books he has been looking up sociopathy in, but it is not in his interest to let his readers know such things. It interferes with the story he is telling.

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  7. Words like "heteropatriarchy" are not confined to the left, not tribal, but are the way educated people talk about theory in fields like political science, sociology and anthropology.

    Somerby dislikes educated people and regularly posts anti-intellectual attacks on them. Today, he equates educated language with liberal tribalism. That is the same argument the right uses, equating liberals with elites (when there is nothing more elite than being a billionaire whose residence is a membership-restricted resort).

    We know how Somerby feels about women, so he is unlikely to resonate to a term such as "patriarchy" and we know how he defends the right and alt-right, claiming that Trump is not the white supremacist we all recognize him to be (as did Mary Trump). Perhaps Somerby is squeamish about sexuality and sexual identity and doesn't like the term hetero either? But such a term has nothing to do with being liberal or progressive, just with having gone to college and having a bigger vocabulary to discuss what is happening in our society. If big words make The Other feel inferior, they have the same access to reference books and google as anyone else. No one is going to dumb down the world to their level just because Trump is a moron and they now feel it is their right to impose their imbecility on our nation.

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    Replies
    1. "No one is going to dumb down the world to their level". I regret to inform you sister, without question, yes, someone is going to dumb down the world to common people's level. The person that does will win the election.

      But I reject the assertion using the term heteropatriarchy connotes some sort of intellectual divide. (Where your side lands on the top of the mountain.) Sadly projecting, 'inferior' is the word you used. What if the term heteropatriarchy hardens separation not because because it is misunderstood by the Other but because the Other understands the term and rejects it as meaningless and simply a weapon the left uses?

      Delete
    2. So, you are saying there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual and no difference between patriarchy and matriarchy? In what universe?

      Trump may have appealed to the lowest common denominator in 2016 but he only won because Russia helped him out and James Comey broke the rules. Trump is not going to win this time.

      Delete
    3. You don't know to a certainty who will win, stupid fool. I'm not saying there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual and no difference between patriarchy and matriarchy, dumb, ignorant slut.

      Delete
    4. "What if the term heteropatriarchy hardens separation not because it is misunderstood by the Other but because the Other understands the term and rejects it as meaningless..."

      What does the word "meaningless" mean to you?

      "1 : having no meaning especially : lacking any significance. 2 : having no assigned function in a language system."

      I am arguing that the word conveys important distinctions. You are saying that it does not, name calling aside.

      Typical of The Other to call names when they cannot use their words well.

      I know for a certainty that if Trump wins again, the American people lose.

      I know that Hillary won the popular vote in the last election and Trump has only lost ground since then. He only won last time because of the manipulations by Russia and Comey (see analysis by Nate Silver at 538). Trump can send troops to the polls, tell his followers to block legitimate voters from exercising their rights, but he cannot win a legitimate election because no one wants to vote for him any more except his base of rock-stupid morons, like you apparently.

      Delete
    5. Who is going to vote for Trump? The 61 million who voted for him last time, because he was going to drain the swamp, and not at all because they were turned on by his bigotry? Fat chance, after he larded his cabinet with pieces of shit from the establishment.

      Delete
    6. Nate Silver did not say Trump only won last time because of the manipulations by Russia and Comey!!! What a stupid lie. No sane person would make a claim as stupid as that. That's is why you losers lose. You're liars and insane.

      "Nate Silver said Trump only won last time because of the manipulations by Russia and Comey!!!" Fuck you, lying sack of shit.

      Delete
    7. I would pay attention to the white working class and their concerns and needs. The candidate that does that the best, wins.

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    8. Meh. There's no such thing as "white working class". Working class has no different colors with different "concerns and needs" (interests).

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    9. The white working class are not the swing voters in the upcoming election. I realize that they consider themselves the most important people in the world, but to the extent that they are Trump's base, they are already accounted for and will not make the difference.

      Here is an article describing the voters who more likely will determine the outcome:

      https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-election-voter-profiles/

      Nate Silver showed via graphs that the change in Clinton's polling immediately after Comey's announcement was sufficient to account for her loss in the key states that determined the electoral college outcome.

      Note that Trump is losing to Biden by wide margins in those three blue states that Trump won in 2016. Silver also showed that it wasn't white working class voters who determined the 2016 outcome but the black and Bernie voters who either stayed home or went 3rd party.

      Namecalling and swearing are not actual arguments.

      Delete
    10. O.K. Biden shouldn't have any problem then. There's no need to worry. There's no need to stop looking down on the white working class or trying to understand them. Good plan.

      Delete
    11. Those members of the white working class who have embraced Trump are beyond redemption. They made their bargain and now must live with it. Part of the price they pay is being considered trash.

      Delete
    12. Voting for Trump is not an excuse to not acknowledge the class privilege of the elite. Isn't there something little off putting about privileged whites refusing to acknowledge their class privilege in comparison with less privileged whites on the ground that those other whites are racist?

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    13. "white working class"

      There it is. From the folks who pretend they hate identity politics.

      Q. How many Right-wing accusations are really confessions?

      A. All of them, Katie.

      Delete
    14. Anybody can go to community college or a state university. Cost is not a barrier. White working class people who claim they didn't have that privilege are blaming circumstances for their own wrong choices and unwillingness to put in the hard work to improve themselves. Resenting those who did the work is unfair. Class status based on inherited wealth and privilege is a different matter, but blaming those who sought education because they escaped the white working class is unfair.

      Anyone who has grown up white working class then gone to college knows the uncomfortable experience of coming home and having relatives and friends accuse you of think you are too good for the old gang, when you did nothing more than get educated. You can't go home again because those left behind won't let you. This reverse snobbery is a rude awakening for college age kids. It has to do with defensive anti-intellectualism entrenched in white working class culture, not anything more educated people have done to them.

      Delete
    15. Look at it like this. They hate identity politics when their identity is excluded. Just think in basic human terms if you can. They hate identity politics when their identity is excluded. It's natural. Ivory tower liberals are not street smart so they miss this often. Not only is their identity not included in mandatory, ivory tower liberal identity politics but white working class voters are also looked down upon, mocked and put in the deplorable, "beyond redemption" basket. What does history tell us about labelling enormous groups of people "beyond redemption"? Get over your snobbishness pleeeeeeeaseeeee!!! IBEGYOU~!!!!!!!!!!! Please get a hold of yourself and get over your snobbishnesss!!!!!It's killing the country! You're not that smart or great!

      Delete
    16. The snobbishness belongs to the white working class. When directed at minorities, it is bigotry, but they direct their hatred at so-called white trash too, and they fawn over but also resent those with higher SES. They love Trump because they recognize that his boorish dumb hatred makes him one of them. Trump is getting the revenge the white working class craves.

      These people are beyond redemption because there is nothing to say to them that will change their way of looking at the world. No liberal is going to behave the way Trump does, so there is no way to win their support. These are deplorable people -- pandering to them would make any candidate unacceptable to the rest of the electorate, and that is exactly Trump's problem. He has no way to increase his 40-42% poll numbers. And giving power to these people is what is killing the country. Trump should never have been embraced by Republicans and Trump's lack of ability to do the job is what has ruined things for us all. Trump must go.

      There is no virtue to being "street smart". It is just a term that working class whites use to salve their egos.

      What exactly are "working class whites" being excluded from?

      Delete
    17. 4:10,
      Dems are trying to take away the Rights of white people. Originally, they were just going to take away their privilege, but whites said there was no such thing, so here we are.

      Delete
    18. 4:10,
      You're doing it wrong. First you are supposed to accuse the Left of being "snowflakes". THEN you whine about how you're the victim.

      Delete
    19. What exactly are "working class whites" being excluded from?

      Discussions about inequality!

      But you have nothing to worry about. After all, they are beyond redemption. End of story.

      Delete
    20. "Anyone who has grown up white working class then gone to college knows the uncomfortable experience of coming home and having relatives and friends accuse you of think you are too good for the old gang, "

      But you are too good for the old gang, are you not? You just said you don't empathize with them if they feel inferior for disliking multi- syllable, gender department, technobabble and you supported not "dumbing down" the world to their level. You are better than them. You not only think you are better than them, you hate them and can't even feel compassion for them.

      Delete
    21. Do you really think that college aged kids who go to college come home hating their parents, friends and other relatives?

      They come home at Thanksgiving full of new ideas and discoveries and they want to share them with their parents, who interpret that as being an attempt to shame them. It goes down hill from there.

      A different kind of person would be happy their kids are learning and will do better than them in a higher paying job. Not working class white parents. Many do not pay for their kids' college education. They think getting them through high school is enough and after that they are on their own. It is the main reason why people born working class tend to stay working class. The middle class not only pays for college for their kids, but they also help them buy their first home. You can say that is because they have more money, but that isn't always true. Blue collar workers with equal pay have different attitudes about what parents owe their kids in terms of a start in life. White working class parents say "It was good enough for me, it should be good enough for you." They feel threatened by their kids' success, feel like it shows them up. But then, they feel that way about everyone doing better than they are.

      How do you feel compassion for people who are trapping themselves in a shrinking job market and won't even help their own kids? And then they vote for Trump and doom everyone else to the results of his incompetence. They have a lot to answer for to the rest of our society.

      Delete
    22. You're horrible. Good luck.

      Delete
    23. 5:23,
      Send me the names and addresses of these white working class folks. I'll send them each a "Trump: Fuck Your Feelings" t-shirt.

      Delete
  8. "harden separation and to ensure defeat."

    And yet Biden is winning in swing states that Trump won in 2016. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Smith seems to have himself tightly aligned with one tribal group. He might feel better if he dropped the narrowcast of their language and their framing and blew the whistle on imperfect human behavior wherever it might appear.

    Very few people ever go where the suffering is greatest. Almost all of us agree to stay in our lanes and to maintain our own relative safety and comfort."

    Somerby urges Smith to drop his tribal label -- in other words to stop calling himself liberal or progressive, stop belonging to the Democratic party. So, we see Somerby's goals finally revealed. He IS trying to pry liberals away from their affiliations with Biden, party, platform and beliefs.

    Then he discusses addressing suffering wherever it occurs. Somerby has never acknowledged that suffering by a wide variety of measures is greater in those Red States than in the Blue ones. There is greater poverty, lower education, fewer skills, fewer jobs in rural areas that vote for Trump. There is greater bigotry, racism and sexism there too. Greater religiosity, more likelihood of being bilked by faith healers and televangelists. Across the red states, there is greater divorce, greater heart disease and death rates from preventable diseases, greater domestic violence and child abuse, more bar fights, more traffic deaths, higher unemployment, and now, higher covid rates and greater refusal to wear masks. And of course, higher gun ownership, more gun accidents, more homicides, more executions for capital crimes, and more suicides.

    If people in red states feel like they are besieged, they are, but it is the result of their own choices and actions, including mockery of education and refusal to vote their self-interest.

    Somerby thinks that undermining liberalism will improve their fate, and encourages Smith and others to do everything they can to cure society, but volunteerism (outside of church participation) isn't big among red staters. Somerby is fuzzy about how leaving the liberal tribe is going to change people who steadfastly refuse change. I agree that helping others is a route out of depression, but I disagree with Somerby's efforts to undermine the part of our culture that is successfully helping people. He would do better to preach to The Other and encourage them to abandon Dear Leader and come into the light. Education is the only thing that really works to improve people's living conditions. Odd that this is what Somerby has chosen to attack in his own plan to better people's lives. Malala would not approve.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks to Bob Somerby. This is one of your best posts.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "We'd advise that person to avoid using terms like "the entrenched forces of white supremacist hetero-patriarchal capitalism."

    Agreed. There are billions of whites who don't believe whites are superior, there are billions of men who don't believe that men are superior, and there are billions of heteros who don't believe that heteros are superior. By lumping all those categories of people together into some imagined united and evil cabal of hate, Mychal Smith only serves to terrify himself and others into hopelessness and depression. Psychologists describe this type of thinking as catastrophizing, and it is one of the 15 common cognitive distortions that depressed people use to harm themselves by entrenching their depression.

    The most recent example of deliberate use of the cognitive distortion of catastrophizing on a mass scale is the corporate mass media-generated hysteria over police killings. The best example of this is in my state of Oregon where prominent leaders in the corporate mass media and elsewhere declare that the police have been waging a campaign of genocide against black residents, despite the only evidence we have showing that over the last seven years, out of a population of 4 million, 11 unarmed whites have been killed and only a single unarmed black person has been killed.

    As for capitalism, it is designed to do what it does no matter what gender, race, or sexual orientated person is running it. But if you don't like capitalism, again, if you drop the catastrophizing, there's no cause for despair, and there is ample evidence that alternatives to raw unregulated capitalism are popular and have been successful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Those terms are not describing someone's state of feeling superior or not. They describe how our society is organized.
      2. You probably should be more cautious about diagnosing someone's everyday thinking on the basis of an essay written for publication.
      3. The people who are the victims of police misconduct are not imagining it, nor are they catastrophizing. To my knowledge, no responsible leader of BLM has called this genocide. That is a gross exaggeration of a position in order to criticize it.
      4. Capitalism is not affected by anyone's catastrophizing and its effects are real, not imagined.

      You may disagree with Mr. Smith's essay, but calling it wrong because he is depressed and thus not thinking straight is an unfair analysis. You need to address his arguments directly, not claim that his mental state invalidates what he has said.

      You forgot to mention that there aren't a lot of black people in Oregon. Blacks are 1.91% because they were deliberately excluded by law during much of the state's history.

      Delete
    2. 1. Society is organized in a certain way. But if your goal is to change it into something better, you couldn’t pick a better way to fail than to describe it in the distorted way that you and Smith are describing it.

      2. When people like you and Smith publish your enormously harmful and destructive attitudes, truth and ethics obligate good people to expose it.

      3.Victims of police misconduct exist, just as victims of misconduct exist in all human endeavors. The point is, we being told that hysteria is the proper response to police misconduct. Burning stuff down is a clear sign of hysteria.

      4. Capitalism’s effects are real. Nowhere did I argue that they are not.

      I disagree with Mr. Smith's (and you're) use of cognitive distortions because it invalidates his (and your) assessment of reality.

      I know how many blacks there are in Oregon and the state’s racial history, that knowledge has led me to see through the hysteria that people like you and Smith are peddling. I can see that one unarmed black killed by police over the last seven years out of a population of 75,000 shows us that police are not conducting a race war against blacks. You and other irrational people like Mychal Smith seem to enjoy wallowing in hysteria and other forms of cognitive dissonance, see it differently. My writings are not for you, they are for people with critical thinking skills.

      Delete
    3. If you divide 11 by 4,000,000 and then divide 1 by 75,000, you will see that blacks are much more likely to be killed than whites. For the rate to be equal, no blacks should have been killed. Their rate is greater by a factor of 10.

      You cannot argue that anyone is showing distorted thinking, which was one of my points. Calling someone's thinking distorted because they have depression is inappropriate, since not all depressed people show the distortion you claim, and those that do are not showing it all the time. You need to look at the thoughts, not the person, to determine if they are appropriate -- you have not done that, you just assert your conclusion.

      The purpose of the terms Somerby complains about is not to convince anyone of anything or change anything. It is to describe society and the terms are part of theory. The purpose of theory is explanation and hypothesis generation, not change or persuasion.

      You switch from the term cognitive catastrophizing (another theoretical term) to hysteria (an offensive term used to minimize complaints by women and others outside of medical usage) which is something else entirely.

      You don't know what you are talking about, but you are entitled to your opinions, even when they make you appear foolish.

      I am fully prepared to believe that uneducated people resent theories and ideas they haven't encountered before, because it feels uncomfortable to not understand what others are talking about, and because it is so easy to make mistakes when you try to talk about things you are ignorant about.

      You need to stop putting your foot in your mouth and instead do more reading and try to figure out what other people are talking about, including the BLM protesters and those who want to improve policing.

      You are reminding me why I will never, ever take Somerby's suggestion about abandoning the tribe of the educated in favor of talking to The Other. Those terms are invented (or defined) because they are needed to talk about phenomena that don't lend themselves to everyday language. They have definitions and meaning that is specialized. Scientists do this all the time because the things they study have never been studied before. The same is true for social scientists. Just as with other sciences, you cannot join that discussion without understanding what the words mean. And in this case, you clearly do not, and perhaps neither does Somerby. That isn't the fault of those who do know what the words mean.

      This is the last time I will respond to one of your comments.

      Delete
    4. Agree with your posts except that the factor (paragraph 1, above) is 6.3 not 10. A characteristic feature of right wing tribalism is the tendency to generalize from the outliers. The first documented storefront break in and arson (Auto Zone store) in the Minneapolis riots was the work of a right wing extremist. When peaceful protests are usurped by extremists, right wing tribalists come forth with remarks like “we are being told that hysteria is the proper response blah blah blah”. No one told them any such thing. Right and left wing extremists and lawless criminals do not define the motives or intent of peaceful protestors, however much right wing tribalists would like to suggest such.

      Somerby is a self - described comic who spends his time bloviating as a concern troll. His motives are anybody’s guess.

      Delete
    5. Somerby dips his toe in the dumb nihilist pool today.

      It is exceedingly dumb to think Republicans are not already hardened in their separate tribe.

      Somerby would have made for a very poor slavery abolitionist: You want freedom? Give that pipe dream up!

      The relative total amount of damage done by protestors this year is not only minuscule (there are tens of millions of stores, businesses, buildings), but dwarfed by the damage done to black people by cops. It is not just cop shootings, it is daily harassment that whites never see. Fools like Gloucon are upset because protests actually work.

      Capitalism actually provides a tool for those in power to brutally wield their racism and sexism. Other socioeconomic systems like socialism are inherently less racist and sexist because the underlying principle is to diminish hierarchy.

      Delete
    6. Glaucon X,
      Didn't realize you were a Right-winger until you showed you don't understand math. Now I get it.

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    8. "hysteria and other forms of cognitive dissonance,"

      For the record, hysteria is not a form of cognitive dissonance.

      Gloucon is like the guy who tries to use big words to sound smart but doesn't use them properly and winds up making a joke of himself.

      Somerby says we should avoid all technical jargon because it embarrasses people like Gloucon and then they go and vote for Trump (who has all the best words). You'll never hear Joe Biden talk about patriarchy much less heteropatriarchy, but it is OK if Trump talks about what good genes the fine white people of MN have, while Trump cannot remember the word burqa and winds up complaining that women wear dresses -- them them up! It would be impossible to dumb down Democratic discourse enough to appeal to Trump voters.

      Too bad Somerby doesn't have any imaginary linguists in that cage with him.

      Delete
    9. Sorry for typos: 1. lock them up! 2. in that cave with him.

      Delete
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  13. "The researchers also found that demographic and socioeconomic variables were associated with differing rates of protective COVID-19 measures. “Specifically, the study reveals that individuals with higher incomes, insurance, higher education levels, large household size, age 60+, females, minorities, those who have asthma, have hypertension, are overweight or obese, and those who suffer from mental health issues during the pandemic were significantly more likely to report taking precautionary protective measures relative to their counterparts,” Qeadan told PsyPost."

    This means that if we get through covid alive, it won't be because of Somerby's Others. They are too busy selfishly doing the opposite of whatever keeps people safe.

    ReplyDelete
  14. From Democratic Underground, about Trump's rally in MN:

    "He also boasted that his overwhelmingly white supporters at the rally in Bemidji (Minnesota is 84% white) have “good genes,” raising an ominous Aryan specter from the 1940s. “You have good genes, you know that, right? A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory,” Trump said.

    He also asked sarcastically if Bemidji was “having a good time with your refugees” — then pivoted to Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim American. “How the hell did she win?” he asked.

    He suggested Omar and two other female lawmakers of color, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), be prosecuted for “buying dresses” — but offered no details. “We’ll prosecute them, yeah, why not?” he mused."

    "This is our President said Alice to the White Rabbit who was once again examining his pocket watch and mumbling about being late..."

    ReplyDelete
  15. “First, if a good, decent person wants to achieve some sort of victory over "the entrenched forces of white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalism," we'd advise that person to avoid using terms like "the entrenched forces of white supremacist heteropatriarchal capitalism."

    Within our system, tribal language of that type tends to create and harden separation and to ensure defeat.”

    Somerby, the Tone Policeman.

    “our tribe's deeply inspiring though incoherent tribal language.”

    Presumably, he includes Smith’s words as an example of incoherence.

    Smith’s statement isn’t incoherent. You may disagree, but it makes perfect sense.

    I don’t for a minute believe that Somerby really support’s Smith’s agenda. About policing, Somerby has previously stated that the idea of racism there is mostly imagined and that police misconduct is rare.

    He quoted from Andrew Sullivan likening the BLM protesters to the Red Guard and the Taliban.

    Somerby reminds me of the white moderate that MLK singled out for criticism in his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail”, someone who claims to support the goals of the justice movement, but doesn’t want to make waves.

    And throughout that letter, King uses phrases like: creating “tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism”; “privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily”; “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”; “Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”; “few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action.”; “the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."”

    Would Somerby give King an F on tone?

    ReplyDelete
  16. When people call Trump crazy or a sociopath, they haven't escaped from the forces of suppression or finally discovered the truth about him -- they have reached a point of frustration where name calling seems to be the only response left in the face of appalling events.

    We are all feeling that frustration and loss of hope on the left. But all the more reason why we must not give up this close to election day.

    I don't know why Somerby urges us to avoid certain "tribal" language with one breath, then urges us to call Trump crazy with the next breath. How will calling Trump a sociopath get The Other to pay attention? So, I don't trust Somerby. He has never said what all liberals are saying these days -- vote for Biden no matter how you feel about the guy, because he is our last, best hope. Liberals are muttering that in their sleep but Somerby cannot force those words out of his own mouth. That's how we know who he is.

    ReplyDelete
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  19. "the entrenched forces of white supremacist hetero-patriarchal capitalism."
    --quote from whiney-ass loser Mychal Denzel Smith

    From 2016 Presidential Election Results:

    LGBTQ: 5% of electorate.
    White men: 34% of electorate - 1.5% GBTQ.
    Hetero White Men = 32.5% of the US electorate.
    Everyone Else = 67.5% of the US electorate.

    The forces of everyone else outnumber the forces of hetero white men by more than 2 to 1! Let’s stop listening to whiney-ass losers and get out there and kick some white-hetero-male ass!
    We have nothing to lose but our chains!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why should the people who claim identity politics are killing us, be the only ones to save white men?

      Delete
    2. I truly don't understand this question. Can you rephrase it?

      Delete
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    Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email believelovespelltemple@gmail.com and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever

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