IMITATIONS OF LIFE: Lawrence and Krugman, working from script!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2022

Next "civil war" emerges: Much as the Chinese warned, we live in interesting times.

We mean that as a matter of anthropology. We live in times which make it all too easy to see the truth about our war-inclined, vastly self-impressed species:

Man [sic] is the tribal animal—the creature which works from script.

In his new column today, David Brooks quotes René Girard, "a French thinker who is enjoying a vogue." As quoted, Girard is voicing that very same bromide, though in a fuzzier form:

“Man [sic] is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind.”

That's what the late philosophe is said to have written. Presumably, Girard is being quoted in translation. 

Is man [sic] the creature who turns to others in order to make up his mind? Is man [sic] the creature which works from script?

We'd say there's a great deal of truth to such claims! Last night, Lawrence O'Donnell, sans Dorchester accent, opened his "cable news" hour with this pitiful though thoroughly human statement:

LAWRENCE (2/10/22): Well today, a federal judge responded to the unanimous declaration by the Republican National Committee that the attacks on the Capitol on January 6 were, quote, "legitimate political discourse."

He challenged no one to a fistfight this time. Sadly, though, he said that. 

Lawrence then went on to quote the federal judge to whom he had referred. Unsurprisingly, the federal judge hadn't made the statement Lawrence attributed to her.

Unsurprisingly, Lawrence had misparaphrased the judge. That said, he had made a truly remarkable claim, speaking in his own voice. 

Had Lawrence made a remarkable claim? Just consider:

During the January 6 attack on the Capitol, substantial numbers of people conducted vicious, violent assaults on members of the Capitol Police. 

As the weeks and months have passed, reams of video footage have emerged showing those vicious attacks.  Everyone has seen the footage of those violent attacks. No one hasn't seen it.

Everyone has seen the reams of footage of those vicious, violent attacks. And yet, according to Lawrence's statement, the RNC has unanimously declared that those violent physical attacks were—and he even used the word "quote"—"legitimate political discourse!

Has the RNC actually said that? In all honesty, it seems fairly hard to believe.

Briefly, let's be clear. As a general matter, the RNC's members don't tend to be the sharpest knives you can find in the drawer. 

Their views may sometimes tend to be strange. They may not always be compulsively honest.

The RNC isn't the world's most impressive bunch. But had its members really said that? Lawrence hadn't sought a fistfight this time, but he had made a truly remarkable claim.

In a world which wasn't inherently tribal, such a remarkable claim would be hard to believe. But we live in a world which is thoroughly tribal, and deeply unsettling.

We live in a world whose creatures don't necessarily know what to say, and so they may be inclined to turn to others in order to make up their minds.

Anthropologically, we humans are the animal who repeats whatever it is the last ten tribals have said. For that reason, everyone in our failing blue tribe has been making the remarkable claim which Lawrence made.

By now, that claim qualifies as mandated speech. Here are two of our tribal intellectuals in today's New York Times:

LEONHARDT (2/11/22): On Tuesday, [Mitch McConnell] criticized the Republican National Committee for its response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The committee—the party’s official organization—had described the events of Jan. 6 as “legitimate political discourse”...

KRUGMAN (2/11/22):  I wonder how many voters remember how close the Trump administration came to repealing the Affordable Care Act...That effort failed only because three Republican senators had the courage to stand up to Donald Trump.

Does anyone imagine that we’ll see a similar display of courage if a party that considers a violent attack on the Capitol “legitimate political discourse” regains control of Congress and the White House?

Leonhardt and Krugman have said it too! According to the RNC, those vicious beatings at the Capitol were "legitimate political discourse!"

Members of the RNC are rarely the sharpest knives in the drawer. But did they really make a crazy statement like that?

To be honest, no—no, they actually didn't. Unless you're just a frightened child who wants a newer, even crazier claim to make about The Others, as you yourself crazily beat the drums for a good solid tribal war.

Did the RNC "unanimously declare" that those violent attacks were "legitimate political discourse?" In yesterday's award-winning report, we showed you the full text of the resolution which has been paraphrased in that way—and no, they never even mentioned those violent attacks, except in the minds of the frightened children on MSNBC and in the New York Times who hand you the scripts you should now run out and repeat.

They tell us what scripts we should recite. We run off and repeat their creative paraphrases, just as it ever was. 

They did this to Candidate Gore in an earlier day. Today, these hapless, frightened children are directing their skills at misparaphrase at a group of more hapless players.

The RNC has never been especially bright, dating all the way back its years under Chairman Nicholson. (At the 2000 Democratic Convention, we interviewed him for MSNBC.com, but failed to pull the trigger.) 

The RNC has never been especially bright. Perhaps not unlike the DNC, the RNC has often seemed to perhaps be slightly less than compulsively honest.

That said, even the RNC isn't so utterly stupid as to have made the crazy statement in question—the crazy statement our frightened children now say that the RNC made. 

The statement simply doesn't appear in the text of their resolution. Over the course of the past week, its members have said, a million times, that they don't regard those violent attacks as "legitimate political discourse."

They've said it and said it, then said it again—but so what? The Krugmans, Leonhardts and Lawrences continue to state the preferred tribal claim. According to disconsolate experts, this is the way our benighted species has always invented its wars.

Did the RNC actually say that those vicious physical beatings were acts of "legitimate discourse?" If you live with Alice, in Wonderland, it's possible that they did.

Otherwise, we're sorry, but actually no—they didn't. On Tuesday night, "CNN political commentator" Mike Shields offered an account of where that claim had come from.

Years ago, Shields was chief of staff as the RNC. On Tuesday, spoke with John Berman, who was subbing for Anderson Cooper. 

Berman began with a poorly paraphrased account of something Mitch McConnell had said. Shields then offered this account of where that standardized claim had come from:

BERMAN (2/8/22): Mike, as a Republican, I'm curious—why do you think Mitch McConnell felt the need to be so forceful in rebuking the "legitimate political discourse" notion? And you agree with him?

SHIELDS: Well, look, I think that this was a resolution passed at the RNC that's not binding, it doesn't carry the weight of law. They passed four other resolutions that day.

When it was passed in the room, none of the reporters in the room thought that they were talking about the violent part of January 6. But afterwards, a reporter said, "Hey, we can make this connection." 

And now, here we are on Day 5. Mitch McConnell is being asked about it. We're talking about it—and it's not the position of the Republican Party.

The RNC has said many, many times, including today, including yesterday, that they condemn the violence, okay?...

We'll actually no, it's not OK! During this segment, Berman and Van Jones went on to embarrass themselves as they pushed back against Shields' claims. 

We thought their behavior was almost shocking, but was also entirely human.

Meanwhile, it was true! The RNC had already said, many times, that it condemned the January 6 violence. But any such statements will disappear when frightened children in a failing tribe need an even more astonishing claim to lodge against The Others.

We can't speak to the overall accuracy of Shields' novelistic account. Expressed most simply, he was saying that journalists had invented the remarkable claim about what the RNC had supposedly said.

We don't know who invented the claim, but the supposed statement by the RNC doesn't exist in the text of the resolution. It's a thrilling, imaginative paraphrase—and by this morning, everyone including Paul Krugman is repeating the thrilling claim while ignoring (while disappearing) those endless disavowals.

Anthropologically, this is the way our species behaves when its members divide into tribes, then begin longing for war. (We often mention the silly Southern boys who pranced about, telling Miss Scarlett what they would do to the Yankees.)

Your lizard brain will tell you it's true—that the RNC actually said it. We showed you the full text yesterday. Except in the minds of frightened children, the crazy statement in question simply isn't there.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our coming "civil war" has begun to take shape. 

What would a modern "civil war" look like? It would start by looking like a bunch of truckers, with very large trucks, bringing international commerce to a major halt.

The scenes would continue from there. Last night, Tucker went on and on, then on and on some more, about the greatness of the way the truckers were blocking those bridges between the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, our silly Northern boys were all over our own channels, repeating the crazy statement the RNC had supposedly made.

More such scenes are likely to come. This is part of the shape of a new "civil war," modern post-American style.

All in all, our own corporate stars don't know what to say or to do. And so they're doing what our species always does:

Engaging in imitations of life, they repeat whatever it is that the last ten people have said. The craziness of what they're saying about The Others just makes their statement more pleasing.

On the whole, the RNC is a gong-show organization. But no, they didn't actually say what our children are now standing in line to say that the RNC said. 

He didn't challenge anyone to a fight, but Lawrence was pleasingly wrong again last night. How do we like our blue-eyed boys now, as Cummings once thoughtfully asked.


42 comments:

  1. "Unsurprisingly, the federal judge hadn't made the statement Lawrence attributed to her."

    Unsurprisingly indeed.

    What is surprising however, dear Bob, is why anyone with functioning brain would want to watch this Lawrence dembot.

    Especially someone who knows -- like you do, apparently -- that every word uttered by him is a lie.

    Did that philosophe care to opine on you, dear Bob, as a phenomenon?

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    1. "Every" word uttered by him is a lie??? Seems a bizarre thing to say. You couldn't even apply that charge to the Insane Clown President.

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    2. Meh. No need to exaggerate, dear dembot. Scummy as career politicians are, Brandon is just an old, nearly brain-dead man now.

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    3. Book title by the excellent Matt Taibi about a president other than the current one, you know the psychotic one who is trying to turn US into a banana republic.

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  2. Imitations of life. Exactly. People now live with representations of beliefs, plugging themselves into various media ecosystems that will confirm and encourage whatever beliefs they have no matter how insane or illogical. Objective truth does not matter. It only matters that the representation is maintained and the loss of control that comes with the ambiguity of objective knowledge be avoided at all cost.

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    1. Sophistry. This is what happens when ignorant people use words without knowing what they mean.

      For example, how can objective knowledge be ambiguous? If it were ambiguous, it wouldn't be knowledge.

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    2. These armchair theorists and philosophers, like anon 10:14 and Somerby himself, are just as condescending as Somerby claims liberals are, if not more so. These self-proclaimed “enlightened” ones, the anon 10:14’s of the world, are of course exempt from the idiocies that the rest of humanity suffer from, the rest of us idiots. They judge not just a political party, or ideological group, but all human beings.

      No matter what opinions people have, anon 10:14 is here to tell us how insane and illogical they are.

      Unless it’s Ronna McDaniel’s clarification, that is.

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    3. Objective knowledge is very ambiguous and frightening to a person whose beliefs are manufactured subjective representations of knowledge masquerading as objective knowledge. These “beliefs” don't come from inside the believer, they are manufactured and distributed to groups. Ie. they manufacture their own "objective knowledge", thank you very much. And this false objectivity allows the participants to never be challenged. It's safe and warm. Facing and accessing their own true beliefs through true objective knowledge could not be more ambiguous and frightening. Doing so requires courage and leaving the herd and by now, a large percentage of us have been exposed to manufactured subjective representations of belief and knowledge for so long that we don't really know what our true belief is or what it feels like. Plus, why pursue or consider objective knowledge when you can have subjective thoughts magically turned into objective knowledge and actually these representations of belief and knowledge constantly confirmed without having to ever change or be challenged?

      You see this here every day and everywhere on the Internet. Objective knowledge is a thing of the past.

      The GOP has called the events of 1/6 political discourse. It's objective knowledge that can not be challenged.

      Trump and Russia colluded. It's objective knowledge that can not be challenged.

      Doing so requires stepping out of the spectacle of manufactured representations of knowledge and objectivity.

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    4. 12:18
      Anyone who really cares about this would admonish both sides to clean up their act, and they would also recognize that, contrary to your statement, there are still knowable things, facts. Political tribalism doesn’t wipe out facts. The fact is that liberals are often right about Republicans. It’s not accurate to simply push the idea that any belief generally shared by a “group” as you call it is automatically wrong, or that “groups” automatically suppress truth in favor of false belief. Who decides what is true or false? You? You proclaim yourself not a member of the herd? Congratulations. Baloney, but congratulations.

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    5. Somerby said it clearly. “We live in a world whose creatures don't necessarily know what to say, and so they may be inclined to turn to others in order to make up their minds.”

      We do not know what the real truth is. We've been turning to manufactured representations of truth for so long, we cannot see objective truths when they are staring us in the face. “Guess, what guys? Did you hear the GOP labeled the events of 1/6 as ‘legitimate political discourse??’. Yes, that side feels like what happened that day was simply discourse, that nothing wrong happened. It’s a FACT (any further clarification they made is obvious bullshit, no, this is a fact.”. Can’t you see how stupid that is? How impossible it is for that to be objectively true? No, you can’t because doing so means leaving the spectacle of beliefs whose spell you are under. I don’t really blame you. That’s just what happened to the world..

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    6. 12:42
      Why don’t you try stepping off a ten story building and see if gravity cares if you know what the truth is or not.

      Delete
  3. "Man [sic] is the tribal animal—the creature which works from script."

    This is Somerby's opinion, which he has attributed to anthropologists and generalized to the entire human species. It is not supported by evidence. It is simply an assertion and it happens to be incorrect, according to actual experts on such things.

    I think it is useful to ask why Somerby says such things. What are his motives?

    For example, we are living during a time when there have been fewer wars than at any other point in history. We are told that humans work from script, but does that imply that the scripts are not factual, do not accord with what has actually happened? Not necessarily. Human generally have the ability to tell the difference between fiction and reality. For Somerby, "script" implies only fiction. What does Somerby gain by calling humans "animals"? It is often a disparaging term. And what does it mean when Somerby calls us "self-impressed"? Obviously, the animals we share the earth with are not going to walk around admiring us, so who will be impressed if we are not? Is self-esteem a bad thing? Somerby certainly makes it sound bad -- it is another of his insults. So why is Somerby so down on humanity? I doubt that bears or pigeons walk around thinking of themselves in such negative terms.

    If you were to examine Somerby's views in Catholic terms, it would be a sin of pride to consider human beings to be so bad, when we are as God made us. So where does this come from?

    I think much of this is sophistry. Because it is aimed primarily at liberals (this is purportedly a liberal blog) and it is so relentlessly negative, I believe that Somerby's aim is to reduce the self-confidence of liberals, to undermine their faith in their own beliefs and to make liberals less effective in pursuing their goals. And that is something that only furthers the right wing. Given that only the right wing benefits from Somerby's gaslighting of liberals, it seems fair to conclude that Somerby wishes them to gain, and that this is his objective. Asking cui bono often reveals the motive of an inexplicable act.

    And this makes Somerby evil. Because the right wing is not only misguided but engaged in active wrongdoing that hurts people, whether by spreading covid, looting our planet, hastening global warming, or keeping the majority of our workforce in poverty. So, I am willing to admit that there is something wrong with Somerby and what he is doing, but I will not generalize that beyond him, nor do I agree that liberals are complicit in such activities, the way conservatives are.

    The rest of what Somerby writes is just window-dressing -- a frame to hang his hit job on the left upon.

    I'm done explaining this, so you can cue the trolls now.

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    1. You're not a troll? who woulda thunk

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    2. “ And this makes Somerby evil. Because the right wing is not only misguided but engaged in active wrongdoing that hurts people, whether by spreading covid, looting our planet, hastening global warming, or keeping the majority of our workforce in poverty. So, I am willing to admit that there is something wrong with Somerby and what he is doing, but I will not generalize that beyond him, nor do I agree that liberals are complicit in such activities, the way conservatives are.”

      All this gaslighting Bob does about a mindset that could lead to another civil war.

      Inexplicable.

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    3. Yes, inexplicable, Cecelia. Also inexplicable: the political party, the GOP, led by a psychopath, members of which (psychopath included) tried to steal an election and helped plan and participated in an attack on the US Capitol is never called out for its evils by you or Somerby. At most, they are “dumb” or “clowns” or “not very sharp”. And yet they are the ones who have actually engaged in violent insurrection, a “civil war” as you call it. Shameful.

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    4. One way we might be able to avoid another civil war is if people who supported the orange megalomaniac traitor got down on their knees in abject disgrace and asked the country for forgiveness. You up for that Cec?

      Or else, go ahead and start another civil war and we will kick your sorry confederate traitorous asses worse than the first time. Have a nice Friday.

      Delete
    5. mm, mh, you show up at my house in uniform and the worse I’m going to do to you is to make you load the dishwasher.

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    6. No apology then, huh Cecelia?

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    7. But of course. I’m sorry you’re psychotic,

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    8. Cecelia,
      I'd love to call Republicans "funny" instead of "bigots", but they refuse to engage with humor.

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    9. I absolutely love to say you’re lying whenever you preface a sentence with “I’d like to…”

      That’s the difference between you and anyone with a brain.

      Delete
  4. "Except in the minds of frightened children, the crazy statement in question simply isn't there."

    Pure gaslighting...

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  5. From Wall Street Journal:

    "The Republican National Committee issued a statement Wednesday evening condemning the violence in Washington, D.C., but offered no criticism of the party's top leader, President Trump, for fanning the flames.

    "These violent scenes we have witnessed do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles," the committee said in a statement. "Our Founding Fathers established a nation of laws, not a nation of anarchy. We call for all those involved to listen to law enforcement officials and help restore order in our nation’s capital.”

    Notice that there was no acceptance of responsibility for the violence. Not only was Trump not mentioned, but neither was any other conservative organization.

    If you will recall, first antifa was blamed. Then it was a plot by the FBI. Then the Capitol police were blamed for failing to act. Meanwhile those who were identified via photos and arrested and pled guilty, those who gave statements, mostly said that they were there because Trump told them to come. And now we are seeing that 1/6 was part of a larger plot to overturn the election by pressuring Congress members to fail to certify the electoral results.

    This was a conservative-organized, conservative-led plot. The RNC's statement was about the least they could say under the circumstances. Their current censure resolution is wrong to blame partisan Democrats for the findings coming of this investigation when the perpetrators themselves have named Trump as the reason they were there.

    Mitch McConnell disavowed the insurrection. So have Murkowski and Young. Most of the rest of the Republicans have hung tough, which is what the unanimous vote on this resolution indicates. It is stonewalling and subterfuge. Somerby is incorrect when he points to the RNC's origianl disavowal as a meaningful statement about what happened.

    Everyone seems to know what happened except Somerby.

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  6. “Has the RNC actually said that? In all honesty, it seems fairly hard to believe.”

    Their party is led by a psychopath who demands fealty to his whims and is their prime candidate for 2024.

    Why would it be hard to believe that the RNC would say anything to stay in his good graces?

    That’s what happens when you allow yourself to be led by a psychopath.

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  7. And yet, according to Lawrence's statement, the RNC has unanimously declared that those violent physical attacks were—and he even used the word "quote"—"legitimate political discourse!

    Has the RNC actually said that? In all honesty, it seems fairly hard to believe.

    Briefly, let's be clear. As a general matter, the RNC's members don't tend to be the sharpest knives you can find in the drawer.

    Their views may sometimes tend to be strange. They may not always be compulsively honest.


    Yes, their views may sometimes tend to be strange. Like making repeated speeches invoking the threats of "2nd Amendment Solutions" if they don't get their way in the democratic, small "d", way. Or making campaign commercials holding or shooting assault weapons. Or republican Senators talking about seceding from the Union if they don't get their way. Or supporting the Bundy's and the Randy Weavers of their base who take up arms against the Federal Government. Yes, that is actually beyond strange.

    It is amusing that TDH finds it so hard to believe they might support the coup plotters.

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    1. Or telling their constituents to show up at the polls "armed".

      Very fucking strange, Bob.

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  8. When the GOP national committee, as part of their rationale for the censure, that the two turncoats are "participating in a Democrat led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discussion" by joining in the House investigation of the Jan. 6 events - what does TDH expect? Seems to me the GOP were guilty of excessive bullshit and ambiguity with that one. They left themselves open to it, given the nature of current politics. TDH seems to be going on and on about this a tad excessively.

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    1. "Seems to me the GOP were guilty of excessive bullshit and ambiguity with that one."

      Meh. We detect neither bullshit nor ambiguity, dear dembot.

      Just a polite description of the silly show trial run by your liberal cult's clowns.

      ...but then it's perfectly obvious to anyone who is not a dembot. Oh well...

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    2. Meh Cheng Ji, good point from a "Goebbelsian perspective.

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    3. Oh dear. Same as always: reply to a dembot -- get an agitated word salad in return.

      Anywho, we wish you peace love and happiness. Get well, dear.

      Delete
    4. Mao was funnier when he pretended he wasn't the biggest Establishment ass-kisser in the world.

      Delete
  9. “In a world which wasn't inherently tribal, such a remarkable claim would be hard to believe. “

    Another ridiculous statement.

    You can’t claim to understand humanity and then say something like this.

    It is easy to believe such a claim not because of “tribalism”, but because Republicans engage in idiocy and double talk in fealty to lunatics like Donald Trump.

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  10. It was legitimate political discourse with the Gespatcho Police.

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  11. Meanwhile, we have this:

    "A U.S. Congressman is calling on Americans to own “sufficient” weaponry to overthrow the government, suggesting they should do so “if 30 to 40 percent agree” the nation is living under “tyranny.”

    “If 30 to 40 percent could agree that this was legitimate tyranny and it needed to be thrown off they need to have sufficient power without asking for extra permission – it should be right there and completely available to them in their living room in order to effect the change,” U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said in a video (below) posted by Right Wing Watch."

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  12. Simple take: the phrase "ordinary citizens" is not equivalent to party members who weren’t at the Capitol that day, yet were caught up in the Jan. 6 committee’s broader investigation.

    RNC got busted. Liberal leaning media has fun with it to get clicks and views.

    I wish Bob would let this one go.

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    1. Never mind. Go fix us some popcorn, would you?

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    2. Alright, done. Don't know how to get it to you though, guess I'll just eat it myself... munch munch

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    3. That’s how it is with rationalists. Pragmatism over figuring out how to bring me popcorn.

      Delete
  13. Should point out Al Gore never said he invented the Internet, extemporaneously or otherwise. I guess Bob decided long ago to die on Trump Hill, quite the waste, but waste is the order of the day.

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  14. The Republicans gave an ambiguous statement about terrorism that can be read in different ways. That's not responsible, and people should read it in bad faith absolutely.

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  15. Bob,

    Here is the RNC Censure resolution:

    https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/rnc-censure-resolution/58226d40412e4f18/full.pdf

    Here is the "legitimate political discourse" language:

    WHEREAS , Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating ina Democrat-led
    persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse , and they are both
    utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power
    for partisan purposes, therefore, be it

    YOU SHOULD CORRECT THIS POST.

    Best,
    JSP

    ReplyDelete
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