ACTUAL STATE OF THE RACE: We're taking a bit of a "Heart Attack Thursday!"


We'll post this afternoon: Very frankly, we're taking a "Heart Attack Thursday" this morning. Our written excuse would be this:

Early this morning, it seemed that our computer system had died. Miraculously, we managed to bring it back to life—but at least three hours of preparation had been lost.

Eventually, we got "the joy of rediscovering" our connection to the wider world. But our heart had been in our throat for three hours, and all that time had been lost.

(On the brighter side, a bit of housecleaning got done.)

As we prepare to take our partial sick day, we'll offer a few basic points:

Yesterday morning, we took a look at a conversation reported by Barton Gellman at The Atlantic. For people who want to understand the breakdown in our failing society, Gellman's text is potentially quite instructive.

Yesterday, we adumbrated a basic point, courtesy of a group of despondent future logicians. That basic point was this:

There is no assertion of fact or logic which can force some other person to comply with your own point of view.

When powerful disagreements exist, Person B can (and will) always find a way to reject some claim by Person A.  This points us toward a basic fact, agreed to by future logicians and future anthropologists alike:

In the end, successful societies must always function by means of a type of consent. In the end, there must be a sense, on the part of the society's members, that they're all part of a single "people"—that there aren't lots of Others around.

Once competing tribal groups have descended into Otherization, there's no easy way back. More specifically, there is no way to form agreement on any particular question. 

In the end, each group will cite its own preferred facts. Each group will disappear other unwanted facts. 

Each group will invent inaccurate "facts." Members will recite the cartoonized versions of reality which result from this ancient process.

Our failing society has currently entered these possible death throes. Over here in our own liberal tribe, we show little sign of understanding the nature of this existential problem.

Regarding Gellman, we'll offer this:

Gellman performed a major service by publishing his lengthy account of that conversation. Here's why:

Under current arrangements, we almost never see conversations between people from competing tribes. 

Our "cable news" channels are now completely segregated. On CNN and MSNBC, "talking-point blue tribe voters" speak only to other such voters. On Fox, "talking-point red tribe voters" speak only to their own kind.

The disagreement-based Crossfire model is gone. It's all repetition now.

People watching these corporate profit centers have little exposure to the reactions, observations and viewpoints which may exist on the other side. Accurate facts which one group of people hear will routinely be withheld from those in the other tribe.

Often, viewers will be exposed only to the least intelligent reactions and viewpoints found on the other side—and even then, those points of view may be presented in embellished form.

This afternoon, we'll offer a classic example of this ancient syndrome—a classic example (good God!) from last night's Maddow Show. For now, we'll only say this:

The conversation posted by Gellman was perhaps a bit one-sided. As presented, it matched a thoroughly competent major journalist—Barton Gellman himself—with a highly credulous person from what seems to be the deepest fringe of the red state tribe.

Blue tribe voters may form an unwise generalization from that presentation. In fact, we have highly credulous people in our blue tribe too!

Adults believe the darnedest things! That's especially true at times like these—at times of societal breakdown. 

At times like these, the credulity tends to be general over afflicted nations. In the process, traditional claims about "the rational animal" may tend to become exposed. 

Under the guidance of leading experts, we may be able to see ourselves, at times like these, for who and what we actually are. We may be able to see ourselves as a highly tribal species, whose individuals are given to saying—and to believing—the darnedest things.

At times like these, adults say the darnedest things—and other adults believe them! Our human wars have always begun this way, including the internal wars which tear nations apart. 

As long as the sense of separation exists, there is no way to fix this. This is the actual state of the (human) race, skilled major experts all say.

As we continue with these reports, we'll look at Lara Logan, who recently said one of the darnedest things. In our view, we need to give a lot more thought to the possible reasons for such statements because, as times like these, many adults will believe them.

That said, our own tribe is full of people who say the darnedest things too! (According to the aforementioned experts, it isn't helpful when we rush to say that the other tribe is worse.)

Our own tribe's corporate TV stars say the darnedest things too! Please come back this afternoon for Maddow's latest (world-class) example.

In the end, there is no way to force agreement based on logic or fact. There is only the sense that "a people" exists—and many in our own self-impressed tribe don't want an outcome like that!

Tomorrow: Logan says the darnedest thing. Why would someone say that?


  1. "When powerful disagreements exist, Person B can (and will) always find a way to reject some claim by Person A."

    You need to address the disagreement, not the claims.

  2. "In the end, successful societies must always function by means of a type of consent."

    This has been majorly untrue throughout most of human history. Democracy was a modern experiment because it included consent of the governed. Kings and emperors didn't rely on consent because they were annointed by God. People couldn't live outside the church because their livelihoods depended on community that was inseparable from the church. Only in America was that bond broken between church and state.

    Somerby really really needs to read some history. He is saying things that don't make sense, even on his supposed day off.

  3. "In the end, there must be a sense, on the part of the society's members, that they're all part of a single "people"—that there aren't lots of Others around."

    There has always been a gap between the rich and poor in most human societies. For the wealthy, the poor constituted an Other who they took great care to differentiate themselves from by means of where and how they lived, including clothing, manner of speech, what they ate, who they spoke to, and daily activities. The rich were The Other for the poor. And then there were foreigners and strangers who were certainly The Other to those within a community. Unless very isolated, there were The Other who were of a different religion (historically Jews, for example) and those in adjoining territories who spoke differently or had different cultural practices. Us versus Them has always existed in human societies, not always in animosity.

    And then there is the tendency of men to define women as The Other, unfathomable in their difference and set apart in social practices.

    I don't think Somerby knows much about the topics he is trying to discuss today.

    We have divisions in our society today, but they are hardly as deep as those during the religious wars in Europe, between Catholics and Protestants, for example.

    This is how Somerby pulls things out of thin air in order to lend credence to whatever he proposes. But his analysis is superficial and mainly just self-serving and lazy. And once again he is promising to talk about Lara Logan but not doing it.

    I don't know anyone with (1) only one computer, and (2) a computer that is so crappy that it breaks down regularly, as if it were a beater of a car. If Somerby wants to take time off, he doesn't need a stupid excuse -- he can just say he is taking time off.

    Even a poor blogger deserves some happiness in life.

  4. Most of us have engaged in our own conversations with Trump supporters, including friends and family. We know first-hand what that is like, without having to see numerous such conversations in the media.

    There is a saying, Daniel Patrick Moynihan — 'You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.'

    This has changed recently with the false facts (misinformation) invented and spread by the right wing via Fox News, talk radio hosts, and other sources. The left does not do this, nor does the mainstream media. This is a tactic of the right in order to manipulate conservative voters. Trump himself told more lies than any politician in our history and his conservative allies followed his lead, making shit up. There are many bad examples of Republicans doing this, but it was going on when politicians were making things up to support their beliefs about abortion, climate change, the economy, and other issues too. Trump just made it worse.

    Somerby's pretense that this is what human beings do is incorrect. Our society depends on truth-telling and most people are honest when it counts, because trust is important to human interaction. This lying from the right is unprecedented and perhaps represents the first attempts to weaponized the internet for political purposes. It is cynical, illegal in many cases, should cause voters to avoid such candidates, and is not good for our political process. Instead of calling out such practices, Somerby attempts to sow distrust of liberal candidates by pretending that everyone is doing this. That is just another lie emanating from the right wing, through Somerby's lips.

    There are reliable ways to find out the truth about issues and events. People need to use them and not assume that what they are being told, especially by the right wing, is correct. Our journalists may not be perfect, but they do try to get stories right and the facts are largely accurate in the mainstream press -- not at Fox or other right wing propaganda sources though.

    In a time when the truth has mattered, during a major pandemic where health decisions affect life and death, the right has persisted in its lies, largely for its own personal and political gain. History will treat that harshly, but in the meantime, people need to protect themselves. Somerby has been no help in that effort. He is clearly aligned with the right and his massive screeds are unhelpful to his readers (at best) and dangerous (at worst).

    It shouldn't be the case that people are left on their own amidst a massive influx of information, without tools for telling truth from fiction. But that is the way things are right now. Hopefully our society will learn how to help citizens navigate information and disinformation, but until that happens, it is everyone for themselves, even when dealing with friends and family.

    Somerby is an asshole and anyone who believes him is going to be misled. With that warning, you are on your own and if you get things wrong, you will be the one who suffers, not Somerby.

    1. @11:33 - IMO the left (as well as the right) does spread false facts and disappear true ones. Here's an example from today's news: the left spread Jussie Smollett's preposterous description of a racist, homophobic attack in the middle of the night in Chicago. Do you remember those stories? Do you still believe them? Are you aware that Smollett is on trial for presenting those lies? Have you managed to push this incident out of your thoughts?

    2. And has the left continued to spread wrong facts, once the truth was uncovered about Smollett's hoax? Being misled by liars isn't the same as concocting lies.

    3. Fair question, @12:30. IMO the falsity of Smollett's claims was obvious from the moment he uttered them. Liberal opinion leaders s and media ought to have been EXTREMELY cautious about reporting his claims.

    4. The left still spreads the false fact that "Manafort shared polling data with the Kremlin".

    5. There are facts showing that Manaford did that.

      If a journalist were "cautious" about Smollett that would itself show bias. Better to let the story be corrected as new facts emerged.

    6. "There are facts showing that Manafort did that."

      Please share them!

      So you can further disprove your assertion "The left does not spread false facts and invented misinformation"

    7. Corby -- Every day thousands of people make assertions. Very few of them become front-page, national news. There was no need for the media to make this particular highly dubious story front-page, national news.

    8. I have better things to do with my time than point idiots back to the Mueller Report and other sources of information on Trump-Russia collusion. This has been all over the internet. You can be led to water but you won't drink. Just don't keep telling that big lie about how Manafort didn't coordinate with Russia to help Trump and certain Republicans win in 2016.

    9. David, the standard is whether or not the claims made by Smollett would have warranted the same attention if they had been true. If they kept reporting the story after it was revealed to be a hoax, you would have a valid complaint.


    11. Mueller Report pg 131:

      Because of questions about Manafort’s credibility and our limited ability to gather evidence on what happened to the polling data after it was sent to Kilimnik, the Office could not assess what Kilimnik (or others he may have given it to) did with it. The Office did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort’s sharing polling data and Russia’s interference in the election, which had already been reported by U.S. media outlets at the time of the August 2 meeting. The investigation did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts.

      There are NOT "facts" showing Manafort shared polling data with the Kremlin. It is a false fact invented and spread by the left wing via MSNBC and other sources in order to manipulate liberal voters.

      You say you don't have time to back up your claims but the truth is you CAN'T.

    12. Schiff is lying to you idiots. There is not proof of Manafort sharing polling data with the Kremlin ANYWHERE. It's a perfect example disproving the hapless rube Corby's stupid claim that the left doesn't peddle in false facts.

    13. Liberal does not equal Left. The Left never had an interest in the Smollett story, it was barely covered by media, relatively speaking, and only covered because it involved an actor. The White girl killed in Utah last summer was covered probably 100 times more by the media. Right wingers commit social injustice daily, it is rarely covered. White and wealthy people have monopolized freedom by oppressing The Other; when they do suffer, it is usually of their own making. Somerby and all the moronic fanboys here are crybabies obsessed with victimhood.

      Right wing philosophy is founded on notions like racism and inequality; those aren't bugs to the Right, those are features.

      Right wingers make up only a fraction of our populous yet dominate our culture and policies, in no small part due to media manipulation; Somerby's current efforts are without merit.

    14. You say you don't have time to back up your claims but the truth is you CAN'T.

    15. David is worried about liars! Bwahahaha! The absolute chutzpah of this guy. You can't make it up.

      “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,”

      "So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break."

      David is very concerned about the dishonesty of the press! Bwahahaha!!!

  5. "Once competing tribal groups have descended into Otherization, there's no easy way back. More specifically, there is no way to form agreement on any particular question."

    And yet Mitch McConnell cooperated on a debt-ceiling deal in the Senate. Go figure!

  6. "Logan says the darnedest thing. Why would someone say that?"

    Somerby won't tell us. All that stuff about how Fox News had better facts about Rittenhouse but Somerby never said what they were. He just claims liberals are telling lies without challenging them or even describing them. His so-called lies amount to tiny nitpicks that mostly aren't even correct. So I won't hold my breath about Lara Logan (who isn't liberal, by the way).