OUR RHETORIC, OURSELVES: Statistics can be amazingly hard!

FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2022

Our rhetoric emerges: At the top of our "highly educated" press corps, statistics can be quite hard.

Consider the report by German Lopez in today's New York Times. Its headline is simple: "America's Gun Problem." Its first presentation looks exactly like this:

LOPEZ (5/27/22): This chart, looking at public shootings in which four or more people were killed, shows how much the U.S. stands out:

Number of mass shootings
Developed countries, 1998-2019
United States: 140
France: 8
Germany: 5
Canada: 4
Finland: 3 ...

The numbers continue from there. Surely, though, you can see the statistical problem. The chart directly compares raw numbers of mass shootings in countries with vastly different sized populations. 

Adjusting for population, Finland's rate of mass shooting would actually be larger than ours! That said, the New York Times didn't adjust for population as it presented these data today. 

This is an astonishing type of journalistic bungle—but it's a type of bungle which is astonishingly common in a newspaper like the Times.

In fact, the U.S. does have a major "gun problem," compared to other developed nations. Within the past few days, that very same New York Times republished this 2017 essay by Nicholas Kristof

Does our country have a type of major gun problem? Kristof's essay makes that point quite clear through the use of non-bungled statistics.

Kristof's statistics were adjusted for population! Even so, they define a major problem for our country—in "Gun murders per 100,000 population," to cite one example.

Today, the New York Times tried to address this matter again. But statistics are often amazingly hard at this famous, peculiar newspaper.

Basic assessment can be amazingly hard

At newspapers like the New York Times, basic assessment can also be very hard. Consider the "Interpreter" essay by Amanda Taub in this morning's print editions. The essay carries this headline:

In the U.S., Backlash to Civil Rights Era Made Guns a Political Third Rail

Why have "gun control" / "gun safety" laws become a major battleground in American politics? Taub presents a thesis which pleasingly serves blue Storyline:

She says that conservative America's focus on gun rights emerged as a backlash against the civil rights era, especially the Brown decision.

Any such thesis will warm the cockles of blue tribe hearts. Who knows? Taub's assessment may even be accurate in some basic sense!

That said, Taub's analysis draws on the conclusion reached in a single academic study. Any journalist can prove any thesis if that is the standard of proof.

In many fairly obvious ways, our struggling country does have a major "gun problem." According to Kristof's numbers, our rate of gun murders—after adjusting for population—is six times the rate of the nearest developed nation, and things get much worse from there: 

Our nation's rate of gun murders is more than 30 times the rate in Australia, in Germany, in England. That's a fairly obvious type of "gun problem." But our society is suffused with journalistic problems as well.

Rhetoric can be very hard

Two weeks ago, a teenaged boy, or a teenaged man, shot and killed ten people in Buffalo, New York. On the "cable news" programs designed for viewing by our own blue tribe, multimillionaire pundits quickly got busy establishing our floundering tribe's preferred rhetoric.

It seems to us that the judgment of these well-known players was often extremely poor. On the May 18 Morning Joe program, it fell to pundit emeritus Mike Barnicle to establish the prevailing narrative, in which the horrific behavior of one teenager was somehow said to have somehow established "who we are:"

BARNICLE (5/18/22): One of the more shopworn phrases that we’ve heard repeatedly over the past few days with reference to Buffalo—this, the latest example of who we are—is the phrase “This is not who we are.”

That’s not true. This is who we are. 

"This is who we are," the shopworn pundit fuzzily said. He was contradicting President Biden. For videotape, click here.

In the face of that assessment, let's take a look at the record! There are toughly 330 million people in the United States. By way of contrast, one person (1) had engaged in an horrific act of murder.

Somehow, though, the gruesome behavior by one teenager had now shown who "we" are. As the pseudo-discussion continued, Barnicle pseudo-explained:

BARNICLE: There will be another Buffalo! And what happens with social media is, the outrageous becomes normal. 

And our fury, our anger, our unrest, our divisions about what happened in Buffalo, where people shopping for groceries were killed because they were Black—That’s all! That’s the single reason they died, their skin color. 

So we’re shocked. We’re upset. We’re angry. We’re mystified. Until next weekend.

MIKA: Right.

BARNICLE: Until a playoff game begins. Until another shooting occurs. And then we’ll start this all over again. I don’t know whether it’s beyond legislation or beyond hope, but I do know one thing.

This. Is who. We are.

Loathing Americans first, Barnicle explained what "we" would do in the wake of these vicious murders. "We" would be angry and upset, he explained—until the next playoff game starts.

The aging mouthpiece didn't explain how he could actually know this. Instead, with Mika chiming in, Barnicle slowly and dramatically restated his fuzzy thesis:

These racial murders show "who we are," he slowly / dramatically said.

At this point, there's something you very much need to know about pundits like Mika and Barnicle. Judged by normal intellectual standards, they just aren't especially bright.

They spend lots of time in makeup and hair. They know about their Q ratings.

As Chris Hayes explained when he went prime time, they absorb their lessons in "showmanship" from their corporate employers. But nothing about these famous figures suggests that they're especially bright. 

This helps explain how our own blue tribe manages, with such regularity, to generate the types of rhetoric which stand in the way of achieving political / policy success.

In what way did that racially-motivated mass murder show the world "who we are?" Consider:

Mike Barnicle didn't commit the murders. In what way did these murders show us who Mike Barnicle is?

The murders in question were committed by one person—by one deranged teenager, out of a total of 330 million people. In what way did those murders show the world who anyone is, aside from that one deranged teen?

What could Barnicle possibly mean by his sweeping assessment? It's possible, though highly unlikely, that he could have answered that question had a real discussion occurred.

In fact, real discussions rarely occur on tribally segregated "cable news" show like the current iteration of Morning Joe. Instead, carefully-selected groups of tribunes will all state, and then restate, the current tribally-sanctioned, mandated points of view concerning the day's basic topics.

Things were somewhat different this day; Joe Scarborough quickly pushed back against what Barnicle said. The racial murders didn't show who we are, Scarborough said at extraordinary length. 

At one point, he seemed to say that they only show who Trump voters are.

In point of fact, no Trump voters had murdered anyone that day, but that's what Scarborough said. Finally, the Princeton peacock rose to defend the original claim:

GLAUDE: I want to say something to Joe, because I was thinking about his hesitancy to agree with Mike that this is who we are. 

Joe, I want to say that this is who we are as a country. I understand, I understand your impulse. I think we have to admit it, man...

"We have to admit it," the peacock said. Along the way, the Princeton professor had offered what may pass for a clarification in these analytical killing fields. 

"We have to admit it," Glaude had said. "This is who we are as a country." Eventually, though, he further explained what we have to admit:

"That racism, that white supremacy, that this ugliness is baked into us from the very beginning."

Professor Glaude told Joe that we have to admit those things. But is that white supremacy, that ugliness, baked into Glaude himself? In what way did the Buffalo murders display any such fact about Professor Eddie Glaude, or about anyone else? 

The professor had committed no racist murders. In what way did the racist murders show us who he is? Rhetoric was being established, but very few answers emerged.

To the extent that this was a discussion at all, it was a very dumb one. Such performances now dominate "cable news," a profit-based format which is now almost wholly segregated by viewpoint.

Quite a ways back, our corporate news orgs abandoned the Crossfire model, in which opposing pundits barked at each other, red tribe offset by blue. Instead, they turned to a more pleasing "homogeneous viewpoint" model, in which satisfied viewers will near nothing in the course of a morning, or in the course of an evening, with which they don't agree.

On that morning's Morning Joe, Mike and Eddie and Mika herself were defining the new rhetorical normal. In these ways, we routinely let corporate-selected multimillionaires define the way our embattled blue tribe is going to lose, lose, lose.

At present, our blue tribe would like to find the way to win certain political fights—fights about abortion rights, fights about gun purchases. The chance to win those fights almost seems to be present. But when we let our peacocks decide, we often manage to invent rhetorical ways to lose.

Unfortunately, when we establish our tribal rhetoric, we define our political selves. It seems to us that these peacocks were making the road to victory extremely long and hard.

Tomorrow: "Exactly who we are"


67 comments:

  1. Because one male went to Buffalo and killed in the name of bigotry, doesn't mean that Republicans in statehouses all throughout the United States, who are suppressing the votes of minorities, are bigots.

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  2. Arm the school boards.

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  3. Bob,
    Of course they're confused. They bought the bullshit about "good guys with guns" stopping bad guys with guns, and noticed the utter lack of "good guys with guns" in this country. No wonder they think this is "us".

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  4. "This is an astonishing type of journalistic bungle..."

    Meh. It's nothing like "bungle". It's garden variety dembottery: your liberal tribe's shamans doing exactly what your liberal tribe's bosses tell them to do.

    ...anywho, what's with this liberal claptrap about a "gun problem", dear Bob? Do your liberal tribe's shamans crave more stabbing murders? More arsons, more explosions, just as long as no guns are involved? WTF, dear Bob?

    That's what it sounds like. What do you think, dear Bob?

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    1. What's with the Right-wing claptrap about banning abortions. Does Mao's Right-wing tribe want more classrooms full of children to be used for target practice?
      That's what it sounds like. What d you think, dear Bob?

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  5. "Mike Barnicle didn't commit the murders."

    You don't know that, dear Bob.

    If a dembot says he did commit murders, we'll take him at his word. And so should you.

    Besides, all of your liberal tribe's shamans participated in "Russiagate", orchestrated smear campaign involving 17 "intelligence agencies", plus all of your dembot media, and, possibly, at least one murder (Seth Rich).

    So, yes, that's what they are.

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    1. “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

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    2. Russia, if you're listening, keep giving Mao his talking points.

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  6. "This is who we are" is a statement made neither
    correct or incorrect by statistics. One could say,
    "Liberals deny Lacrosse defines the American
    character, but day after day Americans play lacrosse,
    it is who we are."
    It is one way of looking at America. But, glad
    Bob thinks school shootings are no big deal. At
    least he hasn't started berating the kids who escaped
    this time.

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    1. Greg, TDH didn't say anything of the kind that the "shootings were no big deal." He pointed out the stupid narrative that this is "who we are." Given that we have 340,000,000 people, any statement about "who we are" is by definition banal and mindless. People try to make sense out of the senseless, and want to blame someone, particularly one's opponents. That said, In Massachusetts, in order to get a handgun license, you need permission from the chief of police in your city/town (I'm not sure about rifles / assault weapons). Seems like this would be a good idea nationally (and no court has found this system violates the 2d amendment). I won't hold my breath.

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    2. AC/MA your comment is so stupid, it is stunning.

      But hey, at least it does not involve a direct lie, your preferred m.o.

      The "who we are" narrative is in effort to progress our society towards less gun violence - not only is it not stupid, but it is moral; furthermore, Somerby's own narrative is putting his thumb on the scale - he is re framing how people are using that phrase. Nobody is saying we are all violent teenagers engaging in mass murders, it is quite clear both from the direct words as well as the context of the words that people using that phrase are saying that "who we are" is a society that leads to and permits this kind of murderous rampage to happen. This is not to blame anyone, but to encourage progress. That is vastly different than the nonsense Somerby is trying to push. (I would note, with morons like Somerby and AC/MA, it is well known that righteousness is just a smokescreen for guilt.)

      While AC/MA does not directly lie today in their comment, it is deeply dishonest.

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    3. An aggressive retort but lacking in substance and therefore failing.

      "in which the horrific behavior of one teenager was somehow said to have somehow established "who we are:"

      Read it for comprehension. And then read what you wrote:

      "Nobody is saying we are all violent teenagers engaging in mass murders"

      Correct. Not even Bob.

      Now identify AC/MA's lie. Quote it and explain how it's a lie... so we can all learn some more valuable lessons from your continual mistakes.

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    4. Somerby:

      There are toughly 330 million people in the United States. By way of contrast, one person (1) had engaged in an horrific act of murder.

      Somehow, though, the gruesome behavior by one teenager had now shown who "we" are.

      what's lacking in substance is you offering any counterpoint to 2:33.

      AC/MA lied about testimony in the Zimmerman trial, as well as the jury in that trial.

      2:48 go back to responding to your own comments, a sad lost soul is better than an idiot with an idiotic comment.

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    5. Somerby always reduces an argument (usually a liberal one) to its most absurd and narrowest possible meaning, a meaning that no one intends who is making the argument. That is his way of attempting to ridicule the argument and the people making it. I agree with Greg that, whether he intends it or not, Somerby is arguing for complacency in the face of these massacres. Somerby himself won’t attempt to persuade others who may not agree with the call for more gun restrictions, (he claims he supports restrictions), and he is here trying to ridicule those who are attempting moral persuasion.

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    6. The pettiness of 2:48 is shocking.

      Cops stood by while a shooter killed a bunch of brown kids only a few days after another shooter inspired by right wing rhetoric and values killed a bunch of Black people.

      Defending the petty notions of TDH and its fanboy commenters with more pettiness demonstrates a complete lack of integrity and moral compass.

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    7. Okay, back to the blather.

      "had now shown who we are"

      You are thinking he meant to write "had now come to represent who we are." No. Shown/established as used both show the intent that through his acts it had illuminated or brought to light who we are. He clearly quotes the individual he criticized which makes the distinction. He summarizes it:

      "Loathing Americans first, Barnicle explained what "we" would do in the wake of these vicious murders. "We" would be angry and upset, he explained—until the next playoff game starts."

      Gee, no mention we would go commit horrific acts? Could it possibly be that you are incredibly wrong... again? How many times can lightning strike the same spot?

      "While AC/MA does not directly lie today in their comment, it is deeply dishonest."

      Deeply dishonest but not a lie. Okay... so then challenged... "Quote it and explain how it's a lie..." the response is:

      "AC/MA lied about testimony in the Zimmerman trial, as well as the jury in that trial."

      Nice dodge.

      "2:48 go back to responding to your own comments, a sad lost soul is better than an idiot with an idiotic comment."

      LOL are you serious when you write this? Do you think the commenters that aren't you are doing that simply because that's how you operate...? Well I’m pretty pathetic myself for responding in depth to this… ahem… stuff. So somewhat embarrassed, I shall withdraw.

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    8. I'll just add that the murders were horrible and shocking and upset me deeply. But go ahead and use them to try to score points on your perceived opponents, and then accuse others of trivializing them.

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    9. Agree with mh.

      Also 2:33 pretty much nailed it.

      I do not understand Somerby's stance, it seems kind of demented and mean spirited.

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    10. Yeah 3:45 that is a bunch of blather, except for basically you seem to be agreeing with 2:33, and I guess apparently not realizing it?

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    11. anon 2:33 I guess I got under your skin on comments I made concerning the Zimmerman trial. You keep defaming me. I've asked you several times to explain what "lies" I told, but you've never responded. If anything I said was inaccurate, you can explain that, but I really am not interested in lying here to prove a point - that would be senseless. You think my above comment was "so stupid, it's stunning." No doubt, there is, compared to other advanced countries, a greatly disproportionate number of horrific mass killings, and homicides in general. To that extent that is a characteristic of the United States. If there were various gun laws that could get passed, that likely would reduce the amount of homicides and mass killings, and I'm all for that. I do think it is banal and mindless to say "this is us" about anything, given that there are 340,000,000 Americans and they all shouldn't be lumped together by some catch phrase.

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    12. Fine, 6:06. Let’s be more precise: this is who The Republicans are, since they are intent on never enacting any gun restrictions again, ever. I was willing to say that we’re all in this together, and it’s up to all of us to change things, but I’m happy to blame the GOP solely. Thanks!

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    13. There may be 340,000,000 Americans, but there are also more than 340,000,000 guns in American homes. In that sense, when there is gun violence of any kind, it seems fair to say that this is who we are as Americans.

      When we have 30 times more gun mass shootings than the nearest competitor, it seems ridiculous for Somerby to argue that statistics are misrepresenting the situation. Finland may as well have 0 shootings, when it has as few as 3. It makes no sense at all to divide by the population size and calculate a shooting rate when there are 140 such shootings in the USA. There should be 0 shootings in both countries. No level of shootings are acceptable. They are all a heinous aberration. Treating them as some sort of natural phenomenon, such as birth rates or sunny days per year, makes no sense.

      This is a man-made phenomenon that results from deliberate actions to permit teens who are suffering from major stress and depression due to covid, to go buy AR-15 rifles on demand, enter schools without being stopped, and lock themselves in a classroom in order to shoot defenseless children. No statistical manipulation by Somerby is going to make any of that seem acceptable in any country.

      Berating the press for not masking the seriousness of this individual act with statistics is offensive in the extreme. It suggests that Somerby has no sense of proportion when it comes to discussions of crimes, no empathy for the parents and children, no ability to be horrified by the horrifying. Focusing on rhetoric instead of what happened may be some sort of distraction for Somerby, or an attempt by Republicans to distract the populace from their complicity, but it minimizes the seriousness of this increasing wave of dangerous use of firearms, which our society condones and abets, making all of us part of a very large gun culture, the likes of which exists nowhere else in the world.

      Sane people call for this to stop. The remainder are insane, including Somerby, since I have nowhere heard him advocate for any sensible response to any of these shootings.

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  7. Liberals have put themselves in a very dangerous position in this way. In a total cocoon of confirmation bias that inevitably diverges from reality or good sense. Just look at Russiagate. People still believe a lot of that nonsense and the liberal information sources that promoted it have not fessed up to the fact that there never was anything there and that the stories were coming from the Clinton campaign from the beginning. It's really bad for Democrats to all vocally support a cockamamie theory that has been proven false. This is why these bubbles of confirmation bias are a really bad thing.

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    1. How many times does it need to be pointed out Russiagate came from the corporate-owned press?
      These corporations love Republicans for the tax breaks, but they want to feel high-minded, and don't want to be seen as cozying-up to bigots.
      Instead, they made up a ridiculous fairytale about how it took a foreign enemy to get Republican voters amped-up to vote for a guy who's bigotry they crave like junkies waiting for their next fix.
      Russiagate was ALWAYS a corporate-press project, designed to bury the fact that their tax breaks come from a party of bigots.
      I'll also note the NY Times, the folks who spent 2016 pretending to care that Republicans were pretending to care about Hillary's email protocols, was one of the main propagandists for Russiagate.
      Nice two-step.
      the corporations got the tax break, and Russiagate got them distance from the obvious bigotry of the GOP.

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    2. 12:59,
      It could have been worse.
      The public could have bought the "economic anxiety" shtick.
      A begrudging props to the public for "only" falling for Russiagate.

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    3. "Russiagate" was solely about how corrupt Trump is.

      That turned out to be quite accurate.

      Nobody cares that you didn't bother to read the Mueller Report, we all are aware of your idiotic comments, repeating them convinces nobody that they are not complete nonsense.

      Also it is sad that you respond to you own comments. Get help before your nonsense turns violent.

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    4. "Also it is sad that you respond to you own comments."

      Talking to a mirror again?

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    5. "Russiagate" didn't turn out to be quite accurate. It was solely about how corrupt Trump is but it was false and invented by the Clinton campaign. That's the problem. So, you're wrong. That's the point. It's bad to have Democrats argue something that is false as true. This is the danger of consuming information sources "wholly segregated by viewpoint". It leads people like yourself to make false responses as you have here. And that makes Democrats look bad.

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    6. 3:26, arguing that Trump is not corrupt will only make people either mock you or feel sorry for you.

      You keep responding to your own comments, me pointing it out may trigger you, but it still is very odd behavior.

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    7. If you argue Trump is corrupt based on Russiagate, people will either mock you or feel sorry for you - but only people who are stuck inside the "wholly segregated" bubble of confirmation bias. This is my point -based on the fact "Russiagate" didn't turn out to be quite accurate and there's nothing in the Mueller Report that connects the Trump Campaign to Russia's election interference activities. And advocating an alternative, false reality like this one is really bad for Democrats. That's why the "wholly segregated" bubble of confirmation bias is such an unhealthy thing for Democrats long term.

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    8. I would feel triggered, incoherent and foolish also if I had gotten caught in a cocoon of confirmation bias that led me to advocate false claims that "Russiagate" turned out to be quite accurate. Claims like that actually make Tucker Carlson look good to his viewers because they give him the ability to tell the the truth when he tells his audience "Russiagate" didn't turn out to be accurate at all and there's nothing in the Mueller Report that connects the Trump Campaign to Russia's election interference activities.

      These honeycombs of confirmation bias feel good but that's the problem. So does junk good. But ultimately, like junk food, these honeycombs of confirmation bias make Democrats sick and weak and actually give their most hated, sleazy opponents ammunition to accurately accuse them of promoting lies and falsehoods. Somerby has made another brilliant point on his amazing blog.

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    9. 12:06,
      Your confirmation bias is that it was Democrats, and not the corporate media who pushed Russiagate, makes you look like a fool..
      Get out of your bubble.

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    10. 1:57,
      Hold off on giving props to the public. I heard someone, just yesterday, say they didn't believe Ginni Thomas was behind the January 6th insurrection.
      Don't expect me to applaud such delusional fools.

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    11. 1:53 of course. Please just show me the evidence the conclusively proves your claim when you have a chance.

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    12. Is Adam Schiff a Democrat or a part of the corporate media? I forget.

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    13. Actually it was the corporate media that paid for the Steele dossier. Except, actually, (checks notes), yes, actually it was the Democrats. It was the Democrats that paid for it and brought it to the corporate media. Not the other way around. So, I think you need to check your sources 1:53 because your claims are not checking out. Not at all.

      Welcome to the "you're wrong" thread. Let's keep it going all weekend. You bring me evidence showing the Democrats are not responsible for pushing the Russia gate story from the beginning, and I will show you how you are 100%, completely, and totally, wrong.

      Let's do this again and again and again all weekend.

      Let's all not forget that these segregated cocoons of confirmation bias have led to both sides believing in completely cockamaming, provably false stories. Just like this one. Let's keep proving it over and over and over all weekend, shall we?

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    14. The Steele Dossier?
      That's what you're going with, Tucker?
      Remind me again, why Democrats would try to make it look like Republican voters wouldn't crawl across a football field of broken glass to vote for a bigot like Trump?

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    15. I guess 153 didn't have any evidence that it was the media who started Russiagate and not Democrats.

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  8. THOSE MOTHERFUCKING COPS STOOD BY WHILE CHILDREN WERE MURDERED.

    Somerby has no moral compass, just like his fellow right wingers.

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    1. Can't tell if this is a joke or not. If not, try to have a relaxing weekend!

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    2. 2:52 wow you are one cold hearted person.

      It is not a joke, and not really a time to be concerned about having a relaxing weekend, you psychopath.

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    3. Maybe the murdered children would want us to have a relaxing weekend.

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    4. This is the quality of troll Somerby is now attracting. He must very proud of his fanboys.

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  9. I am not sure that we can just normalize the statistics per unit of population. That would presume that the problem of mass shootings is linear in nature, simply proportional to the population. However, it appears that most mass shootings actually occur in smaller communities and not necessarily in the most populated cities.

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    1. Yeah, this was also Somerby's error about the Covid stats too. He is fond of putting his thumb on the scale in his attempt to manufacture ignorance.

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    2. As usual, Somerby is completely correct. Either way, it's a base rate fallacy and should be spotted by any editor or serious thinker from miles away.

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    3. It is hard to call the murder of 18 children a "base rate fallacy." Talk about cold.

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  10. Bemoaning America's surfeit of guns is stupid or malicious or political posturing. We are stuck with our Constitution, for better and for worse. A sensible comment would deal with how to reduce mass shootings given the reality that we won't be able to reduce the supply of guns.

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    1. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,…”…why do Republicans pretend this clause doesn’t exist in the second amendment? And why do “originalists” think the second amendment means that AR-15’s can’t be banned? Don’t recall such weapons in colonial times, do you?

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    2. MH - Scalia's opinion brushed the "well regulated militia" language of the amendment aside,. In my view it was a terrible decision, joined by 4 other conservative justices. You should read the decision yourself. However, I would note that under the decision (I don't recall the name of it and don't feel like looking it up) there is a lot of room for legislatures to regulate guns, and they do in a lot of states (basically "blue" states). Republicans or conservatives or the NRA or anyone else who argues, for example that the second amendment means assault weapons can't be banned because of the 2d amendment are making arguments not supported by Scalia's famous decision.

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    3. It's ok, AC/MA.

      We know the radical right's motto is, "States rights for me, not for thee"

      There is a case right now before the SC in which the conservative majority is expected to make short work of New York State's gun regulations.

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    4. mh - I'm no lawyer, but to me the 2nd Amendment is ambiguous. It doesn't explicitly say that the right to bear arms is only for the purpose of serving in a militia. But, if that's not the meaning, then why mention the militia at all?

      However, here's a different argument. Suppose the 2nd Amendment is interpreted to mean that we have the right to bear arms only to serve in a militia.
      Then, arguably, we do have the right to bear, say, a semi-automatic rifle because we might get called up into a militia. Granted, nobody has been called to serve in a militia with their own weapon for a long time, but nothing in the Constitution says that could not happen.

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    5. mh's point was that semiautomatic weapons didn't exist when the constitution was written

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    6. How many of the 72 million gun owners belong to a militia?
      Is this what the right means when they say we should enforce the laws we have?

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    7. Jesus Christ, AC, Scalia looked at the well-regulated clause, and simply decided it meant nothing. In other words, he essentially pretended it didn’t exist, and now gives every other sick paranoid Supreme Court baby killer, I mean Republican, an excuse to pretend that clause effectively doesn’t exist. Which is what I said. The decision was the Heller case, by the way.

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    8. @David
      Yeah, exactly.

      Because the state needs militia, people need to be armed and trained (the NRA provides training these days). So that they could immediately pick up their guns and be ready to fight as a militia.

      Minutemen, remember? Most likely, Minutemen is the context here.

      ...and by the way, even now Switzerland has a similar arrangement. Except that they get their rifles and the ammo from the government, to keep at home...

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  11. I’m sure Nazi Germany was a lot of things: parents loved their kids, took their dogs for a stroll in the park, went to church. Worked hard, had fun with their friends, etc.

    But certain things clearly differentiated Nazi Germany from other countries. The fascism and the anti-semitism were kind of “who they were.”

    As America continues to project conservative and Republican “values”, as the Republican Party becomes more and more extreme and more devoted to power by any means, holding federal power (when they do) by representing a minority of the people, then yes, there is a sense that their “values” represent who we are. Regular gun massacres, subsequent grief and inaction are a defining American characteristic.

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  12. Somerby is being ridiculous. The number of mass shootings isn’t a function of the population.

    If that were the case, then China should have had 594 since 1998.

    And death rate? 69 people died in Norway in the single Breivik incident, the only year out of 2009-2015 with any gun massacre at all in Norway. But that 69 is well skewed if you calculate it per capita.

    But that would be stupid.

    Now cue TDH…

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  13. Where is the flaw in Somerby‘s idea of calculating the per capita number of mass shootings by taking the number of mass shootings in these countries over a 22 year period and dividing it by the population of that country?

    Guess what: the total number of mass shootings is likely to be higher for a larger number of years for each country. So, for example, let’s say that we look back over 44 years instead of 22, 1976-2019. France may have double its number quoted by Somerby, let’s say 16. So, 16 divided by the population of France is twice eight divided by the population of France…

    Wow. That just doubled the number of mass shootings per capita in France!

    And that is totally bogus, statistically speaking.

    By the way, Finland’s rate of mass shootings is 0.14/year, whereas ours is 6.36/year. Ours is a significantly higher rate than Finland’s. Don’t let Somerby’s bogus statistics fool you.

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  14. The gibberish of Joe & company is the gibberish of any morning show in America. So what? They need to sell advertising first: That's who we are.

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  15. And now Somerby is attracting white supremacist trolls. He must be very proud.

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  16. I'd like to hear Somerby address the points made here:

    https://www.theroot.com/son-they-shook-uvalde-massacre-separates-true-heroes-1848986325

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  17. From The Root:

    "Daniel Defense, the Georgia company which manufactured the guns that were bought legally and then used by the 18-year-old assassin in Uvalde, earlier this month proudly posted a grotesque image to its Twitter account of a little boy holding–you guessed it, an assault rifle. The caption? A Bible verse, Proverbs 22:6 specifically: “Train up a child in their way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

    But after their product was used to extinguish 19 children’s opportunity to be trained up in any way possible, Daniel Defense lost its moxy and locked its Twitter account. They’ve also decided to pull out of participating in the NRA’s annual convention, which is unconscionably being held in Texas as we speak. No more scripture for them, although Revelations 21:8 comes to mind: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers…and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    Amen.

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  18. Former Chief Justice Warren Burger on the 2nd amendment:

    “the Second Amendment "has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

    https://www.npr.org/2018/03/05/590920670/from-fraud-to-individual-right-where-does-the-supreme-court-stand-on-guns

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  19. Bob, you note that Finland has a higher rate of mass shootings when adjusted for population. That's true, but the same isn't true about France, Germany, etc.

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