BANALITY AND TOWN: Thomas Friedman gets it right...

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2021

...about one of our two major breakdowns: Has Thomas Friedman gotten it right? Are we "closer to a political civil war...than at any other time in our modern history?"

Friedman makes that statement right at the start of his new column in the New York Times. Below, you see the fuller text. In our view, he's understating:

FRIEDMAN (5/5/21): President Biden’s early success in getting Americans vaccinated, pushing out stimulus checks and generally calming the surface of American life has been a blessing for the country. But it’s also lulled many into thinking that Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, which propelled the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, would surely fade away and everything would return to normal. It hasn’t.

We are not OK. America’s democracy is still in real danger. In fact, we are closer to a political civil war—more than at any other time in our modern history. Today’s seeming political calm is actually resting on a false bottom that we’re at risk of crashing through at any moment.

Friedman says our failing republic is moving toward "a political civil war." He goes on to detail what he means. 

We'd say he's understating. Beyond that, we'd say he's only managed to see one of our two major breakdowns.

Are we moving closer to a political civil war? Focusing on the Republican side, we'd say it's worse than that.

We'd say we've already reached the point of a silent secession. And that's just what's happening Over There, on the Trump/GOP side.

As his column proceeds, Friedman describes the widespread rise of The Crazy among the Republican base as Trump's claims about the last election gain purchase. After describing the nuttiness of those widespread beliefs, Friedman describes a possible future event—a type of event which could imaginably happen:

FRIEDMAN: Imagine if all or many of these ["voter suppression"] measures are passed—and in 2022 and 2024 Republicans manage to retake the House, Senate and White House with, say, only 42 percent of the popular vote, effectively establishing minority rule. Do you know what will happen? Let me tell you what will happen. Disenfranchised Democratic voters will not sit idly by. They may refuse to pay their taxes. Many will take to the streets. Some might become violent, and our whole political system could become paralyzed and start to unravel.

Yet, this is precisely the path that Trump’s G.O.P. is setting us on.

Could the GOP ever take the White House, and both branches of Congress, with something like 42 percent of the vote? At least on the presidential level, the GOP came scarily close to doing so last November, in an election where Donald J. Trump won 46.9 percent of the popular vote.

Candidate Biden managed to win the electoral college by virtue of scarily narrow margins in Arizona and Georgia. Given the oddities built into our electoral systems, things have bene trending this way since Campaign 2000.

In 2000, Candidate Gore won by 550,000 votes—and yet he lost the White House. In 2016, Candidate Clinton won by 2.9 million votes. She lost the White House too.

Four years later, Candidate Biden won by 7 million votes, and he came scarily close to losing. The system is trending in the direction of the "42 percent solution" Friedman now imagines.

If the GOP managed to produce some such outcome, would "disenfranchised Democrats" refuse to accept the outcome in the ways Friedman imagines? 

We can't imagine why such things wouldn't happen. That would constitute a second silent secession, joining the one the GOP base has already engineered.

The current "silent secession" isn't being spoken out loud. That said, will the current GOP base ever accept the results of an election the GOP loses?

Under present arrangements, we see no reason to think that they will. We'd call that a "silent secession"—a type of secession which is already being played out in various ways, not excluding vaccination refusal.

Friedman imagines violence occurring if the GOP wins the world with 42 percent of the vote. We suspect that some such violence is already taking place.

We say that because we see two meltdowns occurring in our society where Friedman sees only one. We see The Crazy ruling the roost Over There—but we also see the banality which has taken hold in Our Town.

The craziness of the GOP base is tied to adherence to a Dear Leader, a classic human instinct. The banality on display in Our Town is tied to a different set of concerns.

We see that banality every day we we peruse the nation's newspapers. We se that banality every night as we watch Our Town's cable stars at work.

We wouldn't describe what we see in Our Town as "the banality of evil." The Third Reich engaged in behavior which can only be described as evil. That isn't the way Over Here.

The banality at play in Our Town is more "the banality of banality." That said, evil ends can flow, and are doing so now, from Our Town's preferred intellectual breakdowns.

(Our human brans are wired for this, top experts persistently say.)

Friedman ends today's column as shown:

FRIEDMAN: [W]ithout a war of ideas inside the [GOP], one that is won by principled Republicans, we run the real risk of a political civil war in America over the next election.

Things are not OK.

Unless more principled Republicans stand up for the truth about our last election, we’re going to see exactly how a democracy dies. 

[Friedman's italics]

Friedman sees only one breakdown. He persists in believing that "political civil war" (and the death of democracy) remains a matter of risk.

At this site, we see two breakdowns—and we're inclined to think the game is already lost. We base this on the surprising things we're repeatedly told by major credentialed top experts.

What kind of intellectual breakdown is already underway in Our Town? In what way is the banality of our conduct lighting the way to our democracy's dusty death?

You're asking excellent questions! Tomorrow, we'll return to the violent arrest which occurred in Loveland, Colorado. 

On Friday, we return to the banality of that front-page report about education at Manhattan's Grace Church School.

Tomorrow: Banality watch! Here in Our Town, our popular stars haven't said a word about what happened in Loveland

Friday: Banality watch! What happened next at that school


39 comments:

  1. Say what you will, but Micah X. Johnson was not "banal".

    He's a hero, and there should be a statue of him in every town square in this country.

    #secondamendmentrights

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  2. "Disenfranchised Democratic voters will not sit idly by. They may refuse to pay their taxes. Many will take to the streets. Some might become violent, and our whole political system could become paralyzed and start to unravel."

    Democrats have been in the minority in Congress before without any of this happening. There is no evidence whatsoever that Democrats would become as lawless as Republicans simply by losing house votes.

    This is another type of fear mongering, aimed at a fictional belief that Democrats would behave like Republicans have already done. It shows no understanding at all of Democratic values, tactics or concerns.

    It is much more likely Democrats would file lawsuits and hold peaceful demonstrations, infiltrated by Proud Boys hoping to magnify a dispute into an opportunity to provoke, as they have already done. But Democrats are not the party of disunion.

    Friedman does not explain why Republicans would vote against their own interests in 2022 or 2024, after experiencing the prosperity Biden's policies would yield. He only projects Republican behavior onto Democrats without explanation or consideration of what Democrats believe and do.

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  3. "You're asking excellent questions! Tomorrow, we'll return to the violent arrest which occurred in Loveland, Colorado. "

    Why?

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  4. "(Our human brans are wired for this, top experts persistently say.)"

    Now he is attacking cereal and pretending that experts care about grain!

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  5. So, dembot Thomas Friedman is on a mission to parrot the Very Serious common-sense-defying liberal talking point: that the 2020 election wasn't a major scam.

    Okay. That's normal; we wouldn't expect anything else.

    And dear Bob's nodding in agreement, producing all kinds of random numbers.

    Tsk. Oh well, we suppose this is normal too. After all, dear Bob is a liberal. He has rules to follow.

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    1. How can you tell that Somerby is no liberal? He is fear-mongering, a right-wing tactic, by threatening violence coming from the left (Democrats). Why would such an appeal affect Democrats? His arguments are aimed at Republican voters using Republican threats or Democrat violence that has so far done nothing approaching the Insurrection committed by Republicans themselves. This is not a message intended for conservatives.

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  6. "In 2000, Candidate Gore won by 550,000 votes—and yet he lost the White House. In 2016, Candidate Clinton won by 2.9 million votes. She lost the White House too."

    What is different now? First, Trump is gone and will not return. Second, Republicans are not promoting his Big Lie any more, even if they are not refuting it either. Third, Q-Anon has been discredited. Fourth, Russia is not being permitted to meddle in our elections and will not be permitted to do so in 2024. Fifth, there is a closer attention being paid to the stunts they pulled in 2016. Sixth, the Republicans will be engulfed by trials of the Insurrectionists and Trump himself, his henchmen and family. Those people will go to jail and that will put a damper on subversion of Democracy. All of this will be in the public eye and the desire to affiliate with Republicans will be diminished among likely voters as they see Republican leaders removed from power (this has already happened to an extent and will continue).

    Meanwhile, climate change will make itself more felt as a serious problem requiring leadership. People will look to competence demonstrated by Democrats and not empty bombast coming from the right. The right has had its last hurrah.

    Somerby's squeals today are the death throes of the right. He thinks that by threatening us with chaos, he can gain more votes for Republicans. Now that everyone can see who Somerby is, he too has lost the credibility to sway anyone here except his existing Trumptard base (e.g., Cecelia, Mao and David). Somer whimpering from the right is to be expected, and here it is, right on schedule.

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  7. Fear mongering = more concern trolling

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  8. There is plenty of time before the 2024 election for the Supreme Court to declare those voter suppression measures unconstitutional.

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  9. "In a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, fully 67% of respondents say GOP leaders in Congress are doing too little to compromise with Biden, while just 22% called their approach "about the right amount" and 10% said they were doing too much."

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/5/4/2028939/-Vast-majority-of-Americans-say-it-s-congressional-Republicans-not-Biden-dooming-bipartisanship

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    Replies
    1. Doesn't that seem like a big % to you, given Somerby's recap of Friedman's essay?

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    2. No, it doesn't to me. Not really. But I feel your pain.

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    3. 5:42 Has it occurred to you that some of the Americans polled may think dooming bipartisanship is a good thing?

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  10. "If the GOP managed to produce some such outcome, would "disenfranchised Democrats" refuse to accept the outcome in the ways Friedman imagines?"

    It doesn't surprise us, dear Bob, that demot Friedman is being willfully obtuse, pretending he doesn't know that he lives in a federation of states.

    But you, dear Bob? You, with your unstoppable pursuit of accuracy? Do you suffer from cognitive dissonance when you pretend - and this is not the first time - that you don't know the basics of the political structure of your own country? And you have the nerve to talk about secession, in the same post?

    That's ...umm... entertaining, let's say.

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  11. banality, banality. again today? the man is a broken record, and slippery banality means anything he elects.

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  12. Friedman is not getting it right. When has there ever been a secessionist movement on the left? Never.

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    Replies
    1. Where do you see "left" in any of this, dear Corby? We don't observe anyone advocating collective ownership of the means of production.

      Democrats do secession, dear Corby. Democrats, the party of slaveowners, whether the slaves are owned domestically (as in the past) or abroad (today).

      Delete
  13. "For decades, big business and the Republican party have had a symbiotic relationship. Big business donates large sums of money to the GOP and in return, Republicans pass major tax breaks.

    But over the last decade or so, the GOP has been getting soundly defeated in the culture war. And as Republicans try to pass legislation meant to harm other Americans, companies are breaking away from them."

    This doesn't sound like the Republican triumph that Somerby describes. Without corporate money, it will be hard for Republicans to win elections, and they are driving that money away.

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  14. "A new Morning Consult/Politico poll finds that 58% of voters say they support President Biden’s $1.8 trillion economic spending plan that would reshape how the country thinks about a wide swath of domestic policies, from child care to free community college."

    The huge public support for Biden's initiatives spells trouble for Republicans. It makes Friedman's and Somerby's predictions appear to be pulled out of their respective asses.

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  15. What possible excuse can there be for this kind of behavior:

    "Los Angeles sheriff deputies frequently harass the families of people they have killed, including taunting them at vigils, parking outside their homes and following them and pulling them over for no reason, according to a new report from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)."

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    1. What, in the Liberal Super-Paradise of Los Angeles, California? Oh noes, say it ain't so...

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    2. LA is a super paradise, but the police have never been liberal.

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  16. Democrats already refused to accept the election of Trump. Demonstrators chanted, "Not my President!". Congress acted to prevent or hamper Trump from governing. E.g., the Senate refused to act on some nominees for SEVERAL YEARS. Some restricted Trump's normal Pre3sidential powers. E.g., judges ruled that Trump lacked the power to make an executive action that would reverse an Obama executive action.

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    Replies
    1. This is bullshit.

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    2. That's what they are good at, bs.

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    3. Gobbledygook. Demonstrators chant all sort of things. No one cares. They chanted it about Obama. There was even a loudmouth reality TV star who claimed that Obama was born in Kenya and was not a natural born citizen. Do you know who that was?

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    4. Ilya - I suppose you're referring to Trump. However, Trump did not make that claim. He only asked the question.

      I would agree that I'm making a picky point. By asking the question, Trump intended it to imply that Trump was born in Kenya. However, I think it's fair to hold Trump critics up to their own standards. Those who criticize Trump for inaccuracy or exaggerations should be scrupulously accurate in their criticisms.

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    5. Trump peddled the notion on multiple occasions that Obama was born in Kenya and that his birth certificate listed him as Muslim. Is that better for you? Speaking of scrupulously accurate, are you aware that the senate was controlled by Republicans? You might acquaint yourself with how many judiciary appointments McConnell and his cronies held up during the Obama administration before you embarrass yourself by accusing those bootlickers of doing so to Trump.

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    6. Trump peddled the notion on multiple occasions that Obama was born in Kenya and that his birth certificate listed him as Muslim. Is that better for you? Speaking of scrupulously accurate, are you aware that the senate was controlled by Republicans? You might acquaint yourself with how many judiciary appointments McConnell and his cronies held up during the Obama administration before you embarrass yourself by accusing those bootlickers of doing so to Trump.

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    7. David is correct. Anyone who believes what Republican politicians say is a moron

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  17. Friedman is wrong. Principled and Republican is an oxymoron, with the emphasis on moron.

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  18. Friedman makes a good point. How much longer, will Americans go along with rule by the minority?
    A little back of the envelope arithmetic shows us something is not right when each electoral vote from Wyoming represents 168,843 people and each electoral vote from California represents nearly four times as many at 652,615.
    As of now, however, Republicans will never go along with any change in the Electoral College since it is becoming their only hope of winning a presidential election.
    Here's my proposal on how to get the Electoral College eliminated: Make a bunch of liberals stay home from voting in states like California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and New Jersey. If you take the 18 biggest states won by Biden in 2020 and make sure that in the most liberal states just enough people vote to win by a comfortable, but not landslide margin, you could add up the 276 Electoral Votes needed to win, and the Republicans could win the popular vote by millions.
    I guarantee that Mitch McConnell would have a Constitutional Amendment ready for approval before the next inauguration to eliminate the Electoral College.

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    1. They thought Bush would win the popular vote and might lose the electoral in 2000, so there are a bunch of right-wing opinions about getting rid of the electoral vote from that time.

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  19. One solution might be to call for substantive issue debates on Network TV. If the outright nonsense of the right were policed, along with calling to account some of the race obsessed politics of the left (along with other problems), it could do a great public service. But, at this point maybe no one would watch......

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    1. "race obsessed politics of the left"

      You think it's the Left who are obsessed about race?
      I seem to remember the Right trying to violently overthrow an election because black people's votes counted just as much as theirs.

      Delete
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