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Three Quotes to Ponder from this Week

discussion-conversation-speech

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history”–Senator John McCain, October 16, 2017.

“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication”-President George W. Bush, October 19, 2017.

“If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that is something highly inappropriate”-White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, October 20, 2017.

McCain and Bush both warned about a retreat by the US from its values of the past.  Huckabee-Sanders warned us against about exercising free speech (and reason) when criticizing our betters.  Of course, that warning was, in its own way, exactly the same warning that McCain and Bush were making.  Military service should not be seen as a stand-in for truth.  Further, public servants should always be open to questioning.

McCain’s passionate assessment of the moment is especially important, but I fear it will be ignored by those who most need to hear it.

I only wish McCain, and especially Bush (as a former president of the same party as Trump), would be move explicit in naming the current administration in their critiques, so as to make it impossible to spin his meaning.  I note this particularly because I happened to catch Karl Rover and Dana Perino doing just that on FNC yesterday afternoon. The clip is here, in fact:

BTW: the notion that because a speech was planned over a year ago means that the content of the speech should be interpreted as if it was written a year ago is utterly absurd.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    McCain brought Palin down from Alaska, and normalized Trumpism (which is really just Palinism, with a dash more white supremacy). He tried to ride the crazy base into the White House, but just couldn’t get it done.

    George W. Bush criticizing others for fabrications seems a bit rich, as he led the US into a war of choice with fabricated evidence. Still waiting on those Weapons of Mass Destruction, George. Heck of a job screwing up the Middle East more than it was before…

    Huckabee is just vile. And Kelley isn’t a four star general at this point — if he were, he would be studiously avoiding politics.

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  2. @Gustopher: While I get where you are coming from, if the words are true, the words are true If we are going to eschew truth in the face of Trumpism from sources who might be able to penetrate the Trump bubble, then we just empower Trumpism,

    If we want criticisms of Trump to resonate widely, we need prominent Republicans to do much of the criticizing. If the critics are only Democrats, many will just ignore that criticisms as partisanship.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  3. Modulo Myself says:

    Bush and McCain are terrible, but they can relate and please people face-to-face. Trump and his breed can’t do this. I was struck by the story about Neil Gorsuch being loathed by the entire Supreme Court. It’s probably true–he seems like nothing more than a dumb spoiled 17 year old prep school kid in the body of an adult. That’s all the GOP is now. Even arch-reactionaries like Thomas can get along with people, simply because growing up dirt poor means you need to do this. But Trump and his ilk aren’t poor. They’re just angry. His voters are basically well-off whites whose children were/are too stupid to get into Ivies.

    And let’s not even get into the Evangelical home-schooled brainwashed privileged idiots like Sanders. She’s been raised to deceive and obey. That’s it. That’s what God wants from her.

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  4. Scott says:

    “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that is something highly inappropriate”

    Actually, I’m not sure what she is trying to say here. Sounds like the same nonsense Stephen Miller spouted early in this misbegotten administration: ” the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” Of course, the little twerp was laughed at. Likewise, Sanders doesn’t sound very educated or experienced. Amateur hour all around.

    As a retired officer, I can say that Generals who use their ranks for access and privilege are just tacky.

    There is also a saying: “What do you call a retired General? Mister.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  5. Jc says:

    “If we want criticisms of Trump to resonate widely, we need prominent Republicans to do much of the criticizing.”

    That did not seem to work very well during the nominating process. You could dig up Reagan and have him renounce Trumpism, but it would not even move the needle. Things do not resonate when you live in an echo chamber and everyone else is an “idiot”. The only way change comes about in that case is when the people who carry those banners die off. Likely 40 years before we see this perverted form of nationalism die off. And likely longer if we maintain a perpetual state of war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  6. Modulo Myself says:

    Also, Trump has ‘honest’ Republicans in a bind. Those emails that Buzzfeed released a couple weeks ago showed how connected a racist idiot like Bannon was to a racist moron like Milo. What is someone going to say? “Republicans are cool with white supremacy.” Of course not. They can’t say anything. People have to pretend there’s no connection at all between anguish about students shouting at Milo and the shocking fact that 3 nazis took a shot at some protesters. They can’t say that the people who treasure the free speech rights of racists can barely care about shooting people protesting racism. Just as they can’t say that a white guy like Kelly probably digs his nails into his palms and thinks the uppity n-word when an African-American congresswoman speaks up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  7. James Pearce says:

    McCain and Bush both warned about a retreat by the US from its values of the past.

    And:

    I only wish McCain, and especially Bush (as a former president of the same party as Trump), would be move explicit in naming the current administration in their critiques

    Perhaps McCain and Bush didn’t mention the current administration in their critiques because the current administration is not the only one who has retreated from its values of the past.

    I mean, when I heard Bush say “Bigotry has been emboldened” I don’t think only of the white nationalists marching on Charlottesville, I also think of the folks who won’t shut up about the unique awfulness of white males.

    I guess what I’m saying is that Trump is a symptom of the problem. He’s not necessarily the problem himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15

  8. @James Pearce:

    I also think of the folks who won’t shut up about the unique awfulness of white males.

    Oh, please.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  9. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yeah, but even so, I see his point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: I don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Oh, please.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. When a woman says you hurt them, you’re supposed to listen. When a person of color says you hurt them, you listen.

    But when a white man says it, the response is “Oh, please.”

    I didn’t vote for Trump and I never will. But man…..I see why so many did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  12. @James Pearce: sigh.

    I will confess to feeling more than a bit cranky at the moment, but I just don’t buy the notion that white men are under attack in any way that is significant, especially as compared to our problems with race (or equivalent to the sexual harassment that women deal with).

    Are some people unfair towards white men? Sure, but let’s be proportionate in our evaluations.

    And I am sick and tired of the trope that because people point out racism that that is why Trump won.

    Yes, whites feel criticized. Their power is being challenged–and that is why a lot them voted for Trump.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  13. Seriously: what is the evidence of massive bigotry against white men?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  14. @James Pearce: And come on, “the unique awfulness of white males.” This is hardly the dominant narrative, and is a gross exaggeration of what the prevailing view of white males in society, let alone their power position. This is why you got an “oh, please.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I will uncharacteristically jump in on @James Pearce’s side a bit. It doesn’t really matter whether there is a historical justice in criticizing white males, nor does it matter much whether white males are overreacting. What matters is that white males – and white females as well – believe they are under assault. It matters because whites still hold virtually all the power.

    The other day, while sitting in the “Cigar Shack” of the York, UK Hotel du Vin, I wrote up a quick analysis of the demographic illusion, the majority-minority nonsense, for the benefit of the people in publishing (most of my Facebook people) who can’t do basic math. https://www.facebook.com/authormichaelgrant/posts/10155977830103109. Long story short, white people will be the majority of voters in this country for the foreseeable future, for at least the next dozen presidential elections.

    Practical politics suggests that it is foolish and self-destructive to pick fights with guys bigger than you, and the white vote is bigger than the minority vote. If whites begin to see themselves as beleaguered – already well under way – they will begin to vote as a bloc, and if whites vote as a bloc it will be a bloc forming a majority in pretty much every state, possibly forever. If the Left insists on pursuing racialist politics it will lose. The Left needs to stop playing the wrong game, we need to promote ideas and policies which reach across racial lines. We need to be talking economic inequality not pushing our own version of tribalism. The Left can win on economic issues, we will lose if we make this tribal.

    The tipping point for western liberal democracy may have been Angela Merkel’s well-intentioned but catastrophically stupid notion of opening Europe to a million Syrian refugees. When Obama jumped in with his own me-too, albeit at far lower levels, I think that, along with the Left’s incoherence on immigration generally, and various social changes, set off panic alarms among the more vulnerable or paranoid elements of the white population. Practical politics suggest to me some effort to mollify the white vote rather than continuing to poke them with sticks.

    We must not give back anything, but it is just pointless to continue to feed the narrative of white victimization because this bunch of ‘victims’ has the votes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  16. @michael reynolds: I can acknowledge and discuss the fact that some whites feel under attack and that this fact motivates their voting (indeed, I think I acknowledged that above). White identity politics is a real thing, sure.

    What I find frustrating in a conversation like this is the notion that there is some significant movement to assert “the unique awfulness of white males.” That is Fox News grade propaganda.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  17. @michael reynolds: I will push back a bit on this:

    Practical politics suggests that it is foolish and self-destructive to pick fights with guys bigger than you, and the white vote is bigger than the minority vote. If whites begin to see themselves as beleaguered – already well under way – they will begin to vote as a bloc, and if whites vote as a bloc it will be a bloc forming a majority in pretty much every state, possibly forever.

    The push-back being that all whites are rather unlikely to vote as a bloc, so I think you are over-stating your case. Of course, you are correct that if all whites did vote as a bloc, that bloc would utterly dominate electoral politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  18. Modulo Myself says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There is a movement: it’s called the Republican Party. Do you think it feels good to be like we used to treat women as sacred objects, but now our culture is crap, and oh yeah I’m here defending Donald Trump? There’s a price to pay for lying and deceit, and the people who feel attacked feel attacked in the same way that right-wing Christians do by gay people after leading efforts to persecute them legally for decades. That is to say they have incredible guilt and self-hatred, but are unable to deal with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    In my little kidlit neck of the woods there is definitely an effort under way to stigmatize white males and whites in general.

    You know my politics – I doubt 10% of the US population is to my Left – but it’s annoying enough that I’m bailing out of kidlit and moving to adult books. The atmosphere in kidlit is absolutely toxic now, and it will get more toxic still when the political and economic weight of whites inevitably asserts itself. For now publishing is way liberal and inclined to attempt to be allies to POC, but whites not only have the votes in this country, they have a disproportionate share of the money, and votes+money will beat high-minded virtue ten times out of ten.

    The Left should be subverting the legitimacy of tribalism not feeding it, and at least in my little sector of the world the Left is absolutely pushing a racialist (not racist) agenda. It’s a political loser, in my opinion, and dangerous to the very minorities we on the Left are supposedly championing. It is extremely frustrating, because I’m watching ‘my side’ handing ammunition to the enemy. Echoes of the radical Left in 1968, overreaching, abandoning core principles, alienating middle-of-the-road voters and helping to elect Richard Nixon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  20. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What you said. Have a drink on me. Wish I could join you. I love York.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  21. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I will confess to feeling more than a bit cranky at the moment

    You too, huh?

    Are some people unfair towards white men? Sure, but let’s be proportionate

    Whenever I hear about proportionality these days, it’s usually in the context of solving problems for people of color and then doing absolutely nothing for white people who experience those same problems. (Police shootings!) I’m assured that this is an “anti-racist” approach, but….no, kinda sounds racist to me, by definition.

    I am sick and tired of the trope that because people point out racism that that is why Trump won

    There’s “pointing out racism” and there’s “being racist while pointing out racism.” A lot of people on the progressive side of the aisle fail to appreciate this distinction, and their obnoxiousness on these topics does not help.

    Yes, whites feel criticized. Their power is being challenged

    Just because the people in power are white doesn’t mean that white people have any power. We’re ruled by the 1%, not the 70%.

    hardly the dominant narrative

    It is, in fact, the dominant narrative, not in the mainstream, but in certain leftist/progressive circles. I can catalog plenty of examples* –which will be dismissed as anecdotes, no doubt– if you want, but it hardly seems necessary.

    I’ve seen it first hand, experienced it first hand, and when those experiences are dismissed or devalued, I don’t think “Oh, look, these guys are on my side,” I think, “Hmm, maybe I should go find a more sympathetic ear.”

    Multiply that across 50 states and 300 million people and that’s how you get Trump. He’s the sympathetic ear that the progressive left refuses to be.

    And hey, if all of this resulted in more racial equality, more people able to live happy, free lives, then I probably wouldn’t be such a critic. But the results are in, and “President” Donald Trump is it.

    * See American Heart, Kirkus

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Echoes of the radical Left in 1968, overreaching, abandoning core principles, alienating middle-of-the-road voters and helping to elect Richard Nixon.

    This! But because Clinton, among others, was so good a making triangulation work, a lot of younger people don’t quite get that era.

    Speaking as a left coaster before the sobriquet “left coast” existed, we coulda burned the place to the ground back then. These days, I regret whatever role I had in stopping it from happening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    When a woman says you hurt them, you’re supposed to listen. When a person of color says you hurt them, you listen.

    But when a white man says it, the response is “Oh, please.”

    Wow, I think I finally understand where you’re coming from.

    You have entirely missed the distinction between “you hurt me” and “your system is rigged against me”. Amazing, but it does explain pretty much everything you’ve said on this topic in the past…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    It was my first time in York, and I only got a few hours to wander around the streets, which is more than I usually get on book tour. I’ve ‘been’ to many places and seen only schools, train stations, airports and hotels. The river was over its banks, and the locals were complaining of the blistering October heat – I think it was about 62 F, which for a Californian is parka weather.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds: Good post, and thanks for “uncharacteristically” backing me, even if only a bit. (Major thumbs up for the themes of a white/POC alliance –truly the only way– and the importance of voting.)

    I’ll add just a little bit to this:

    What matters is that white males – and white females as well – believe they are under assault.

    I mean, I feel attacked…sometimes….but most of the time I just feel this massive indifference. How many time have I been told, by people who don’t know anything about me, that I won the lottery because I was born a straight white male? How many times have I been told I live life on the lowest difficulty setting?

    But, and this should surprise no one, I got problems too.

    @DrDaveT:

    Wow, I think I finally understand where you’re coming from.

    I can’t tell if you’re being facetious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  26. @James Pearce:

    Whenever I hear about proportionality these days, it’s usually in the context of solving problems for people of color and then doing absolutely nothing for white people who experience those same problems. (Police shootings!)

    You will have to elaborate on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  27. @James Pearce:

    There’s “pointing out racism” and there’s “being racist while pointing out racism.”

    I don’t see how I did that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  28. @michael reynolds:

    The Left should be subverting the legitimacy of tribalism not feeding it,

    I don’t disagree, but I also think that we cannot ignore the realities of race and of our history and the ongoing problems that race generates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  29. al-Ameda says:

    “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history”

    –Senator John McCain, October 16, 2017.

    I’ll remember John McCain a LOT for Sarah Palin, for in retrospect, giving Trump voters their first important seat at the national campaign table.

    Sarah Palin let us know that there were a lot of angry resentful white voters out there, who were highly motivated, and ready to mobilized, as it turned out, by an even more impulsive and less informed and less thoughtful person than she was – Donald Trump.

    Thanks John. Vaya con Dios.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  30. @James Pearce:

    How many time have I been told, by people who don’t know anything about me, that I won the lottery because I was born a straight white male? How many times have I been told I live life on the lowest difficulty setting?

    But, and this should surprise no one, I got problems too.

    First, I don’t think that being born a straight white male equal winning life’s lottery. I do know, however, that it probably means a better starting spot in life than being born a black homosexual female. But certainly any given case may vary wildly than patterns in the aggregate.

    Second, I am am sure you have problems, and I am sorry if anything I have ever said suggests that your problems aren’t important or real.

    Third, but when talking about broad socio-political phenomenon, it is necessary to talk in broad patterns. It is not unfair, therefore, to talk about the way race has clearly mattered in the United States, and continues to do so.

    I understand the complexities of these discussions, and I also understand how individuals can feel like their stories aren’t being taken as seriously as other stories. I am unconvinced, however, that ignoring race and gender will get us where we need to be.

    It is telling that a post that started off about concerns about burgeoning bigotry has somehow become about how bad white people have it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  31. Seriously, we need look no further than the way society deals with mass shootings and see that there really is no overweening social belief about “the unique awfulness of white males.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. @al-Ameda: History will remember McCain’s selection of Palin, of this I do not doubt (and it will be a well-deserved memory). I do not disagree with that at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. dmichael says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I appreciate your posts because they are uniformly careful and meaningful; however, I question your assertion that having some Republicans criticize this administration will break through the “bubble.” Witness the immediate and vitriolic response from the right wing, including Bannon and Brietbart who have dumped on Bush W. and McCain. Sen. Flake is up for reelection and will face a far right wing challenge. Others who aren’t sycophantic to Trump will trashed. This is why I have severe doubts that attempting to reach Trump voters will be in any way, worthwhile. This is also where I depart from Pearce and Reynolds who somehow assume that some of them, deep down, are rational and reasonable and therefore reachable. Trump voters are the tribal members.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  34. @dmichael: I would agree that true trumpistas will not be persuaded. I think that there are some at the margins, however, who need to wake up to what they have voted for.

    Regardless of that: I just think that the critiques from McCain and Bush are noteworthy and true, and therefore worth noting and even celebrating, despite their own shortcomings. I further think that it is counter-productive to only accept “our” side (however defined).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  35. Put another way: given the margins in the last election, just convincing a handful of voters of just exactly how problematic the Trump administration is could be enough to avoid a 2nd term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  36. Ratufa says:

    @dmichael:

    This is why I have severe doubts that attempting to reach Trump voters will be in any way, worthwhile. This is also where I depart from Pearce and Reynolds who somehow assume that some of them, deep down, are rational and reasonable and therefore reachable. Trump voters are the tribal members.

    I agree with Steve Taylor’s responses. Also, Keep in mind that there are two ways for Democrats to “win” Trump voters. One is to have them vote for the Democrat. The other, lesser win, is to have them stay at home or vote for a third-party candidate. In order to get voters to do one of those things, Democrats have to run a campaign that appeals to those voters, and/or effectively attacks Trump from the viewpoint of those voters, things they mostly failed to do in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  37. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You will have to elaborate on that.

    Every time I argue the fact that police kill more white people than black people, the response is, “Yeah, but they ‘disproportionately’ kill more black people.” Police kill with impunity, and that is the injustice. It is not an injustice that chaotic reality doesn’t fit some arbitrary pattern. (ie, “proportionality”)

    I do know, however, that it probably means a better starting spot in life than being born a black homosexual female.

    That was certainly true when I was born. It may have even been true when the last millennial was born. But I don’t think that’s true now.

    I am am sure you have problems, and I am sorry if anything I have ever said suggests that your problems aren’t important or real.

    No need to apologize. (I do have problems –we all do, right?– but they’re not really that important.) My point with that is this: The left is more interested in becoming a problem for white men than being a solution to the problems that white men face. They do this because they have turned their backs on “equality for all” and “racism is stupid” and embraced a vision of society that considers white men themselves to be the problem.

    And yes, there are some subtitles there, but in its crudest most prevalent state, white dudes are the problem, in the same way that black dudes were the problem for my Grandpa and Mexican dudes were for my Dad.

    It is not unfair, therefore, to talk about the way race has clearly mattered in the United States, and continues to do so.

    I talk about it all the time, so obviously I don’t think it’s unfair. And contrary to popular opinion, I’m not trying to silence anyone or shut them up. I’m trying to change minds. I’m trying to move away from a crude, and frankly unhelpful (I’d like to stress this point on this day in Donald Trump’s America), view of race and racial relations to one that is a) more helpful and b) more accurate.

    Also, I don’t think this degenerated into a discussion about “how bad white people have it.” Might it still be a discussion about how bigotry manifests itself on the left?

    Truly, I want to hone this stuff. I don’t want to be a Republican. I really, really don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  38. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Also…

    Put another way: given the margins in the last election, just convincing a handful of voters of just exactly how problematic the Trump administration is could be enough to avoid a 2nd term.

    I don’t expect the margins to hold, and I’m not sure it’s going to be about convincing just a handful of voters.

    The corruption has 3+ years to spread, and I think we’ll see stuff that would have turned Nixon’s hair white. We’ll need to find us someone so virginal and pure they can’t be touched, or someone even dirtier and meaner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. An Interested Party says:

    It is hardly surprising that those on the left talk so much about ethnic and other minorities…these minorities make up a significant portion of the Democratic Party so of course their concerns will be addressed…it’s not like conservatives deal with the same dynamic as their main political party is made up mostly of very pale people and that party doesn’t even need to worry about minorities…that someone like James Pearce has his fee fees hurt because anyone would dare to suggest that he has it a bit easier in certain regards than those with more melanin content or those whose sexual orientation is in the minority is amusing…it’s not like that observation is untrue…of course everyone has problems, that’s not a contradiction to that observation…what DrDaveT wrote seems to fit in perfectly here…

    You have entirely missed the distinction between “you hurt me” and “your system is rigged against me”.

    Quite the distinction, that…meanwhile, all these white people who voted for Trump because he supposedly gave them a sympathetic ear…what do they do when they realize that they’ve been played for fools, that Trump and his cronies don’t really care about them and are pursuing polices that are directly harmful to them…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  40. Tyrell says:

    This will be another important week for Trump, the country, and the history books. Trump has said that he will release secret JFK files and this will most likely include information about the assassination. Trump is between a rock and a hard place (that wall of his!) on this one. And let me say that I am not some conspiracy nut.
    If Trump doesn’t release them, people will holler cover up. If he does and it is the same old, concocted “lone gunman” theory, people will not be happy. The real files will not be released. They will not be released in our lifetime. The government still has not released all of the classified documents relating to the Booth conspiracy!
    I happened to see an interview with President Johnson and Walter Conkrite in which Lyndon was asked about the assassination and Oswald. Johnson became nervous. He was clearly troubled with it*.
    In 2013 there should have been a committee formed and a new investigation opened. Technology has changed a lot and the various theories could have been tested. More evidence has come to light. A lot of questions could have been finally answered and put to rest.
    * “Oswald will be dead before the week is out” : a statement commonly heard in the days following the assassination. Oswald was paraded back and forth in the police station like a target at the county fair. And Jack Ruby just walks in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Every time I argue the fact that police kill more white people than black people, the response is, “Yeah, but they ‘disproportionately’ kill more black people.”

    Which is true — black people are at more risk than white people from unjustified police violence. There are are structural, societal reasons for this that DO NOT AFFECT white people, but do affect black people. You want to ignore this. You want to use the fact there there exist white victims as an excuse to not address the fact that there are processes that selectively produce black victims.

    Police kill with impunity, and that is the injustice.

    Police kill with MORE impunity when the victim is black. You want to ignore this. You also want to pretend that liberals have no interest in fixing the broader problem of police impunity — which would fix the problem for both whites and blacks. Somehow, you find the (true) assertion that blacks are disproportionately victimized to be some kind of denial that whites are ever victimized, or evidence of lack of concern with those victims.

    It is not an injustice that chaotic reality doesn’t fit some arbitrary pattern. (ie, “proportionality”)

    If there is any meaning in that sentence, it didn’t come through. If police abuses were randomly distributed, blacks would be victimized proportionately. They aren’t.

    That [being a straight white male is a better starting place than being a black homosexual] was certainly true when I was born. It may have even been true when the last millennial was born. But I don’t think that’s true now.

    OK, I take it all back. I was giving you a lot more credit than you deserved. This is the stupidest thing you have ever said on the internet. Of course, believing that institutional racism and sexism have been eradicated does explain why you think talking about racism and sexism is counterproductive…

    Just out of curiosity — how do you explain the fact that white kids playing with toy guns never get shot dead by cops?

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  42. dmichael says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: In the abstract, I might agree except that the solution is not to convince Trump voters of the errors of their ways but to get more of our voters to actually vote, especially in critical states. This will require aggressive actions to challenge and void Republican voter suppression activities. It is more of what we can do rather than hope that others change. As one example, I have a high school classmate (an old white guy like me) who spent his adult working life in the military. He sent me his holidays greetings last year saying he was very pleased with the presidential election. Am I supposed to be able to convince him that Trump is a security risk and totally unfit to be a president of this country? What evidence would he consider convincing that wasn’t obvious two years ago?

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  43. @James Pearce:

    The left is more interested in becoming a problem for white men than being a solution to the problems that white men face. They do this because they have turned their backs on “equality for all” and “racism is stupid” and embraced a vision of society that considers white men themselves to be the problem.

    This is the crux of our disagreement, as I think it is a gross over-simplification. While I am sure that such people exist, the notion that this is an accurate description of “the left” strikes me a incorrect (but it depends on what “the left” is, of course).

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  44. M. Bouffant says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Left needs to stop playing the wrong game, we need to promote ideas and policies which reach across racial lines. We need to be talking economic inequality not pushing our own version of tribalism.

    As soon as the average reactionary idiot understands the basics of economic inequality, you can tell them how we’ll improve things. Until then (or until they are all dead, as mentioned) their only concept of “economic inequality” will remain “The [insert any group here, from women to …] are takin’ are jerbs!!!”

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  45. MarkedMan says:

    I’m with Michael Reynolds (and Hillary Clinton) on this. I’ll support people who are more concerned with advancing the cause of justice than in trying to convince random people they are wrong in their beliefs.

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  46. @James Pearce:

    Every time I argue the fact that police kill more white people than black people, the response is, “Yeah, but they ‘disproportionately’ kill more black people.” Police kill with impunity, and that is the injustice. It is not an injustice that chaotic reality doesn’t fit some arbitrary pattern. (ie, “proportionality”)

    I agree that police violence and overreach is a major problem.

    But, proportional effects do matter when trying to assess these things.

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  47. There is no such thing as “driving while white” and that matters.

    White parents do not have to give their sons “the talk.” That matters.

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  48. @DrDaveT:

    Of course, believing that institutional racism and sexism have been eradicated does explain why you think talking about racism and sexism is counterproductive…

    That may be the key to the whole discussion, as I agree with you: I think being a straight white male is still a more advantageous starting spot than black lesbian.

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  49. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: You can keep shoveling if you wish, but I’m pretty confident that there’s no pony here. Or unicorn either.

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  50. Liberal Capitalist says:

    There is a great video on YouTube that visually quantifies the benefits of institutionalised racism.

    I would like to post to post the link, but right now, I’m in China, and YouTube does not exist.

    This is what matters… not white, black, straight, gay, religious, atheist, rich or poor… but freedom.

    Without that, nothing else matters.

    No one party has the claim to freedom. It’s our birthright. Passing laws to limit human freedoms diminishes us all.

    If we were truly free and equal, then none of this crap would matter. If you are (fill-in-the-blank) and you feel under attack for some perceived bias… I hate to say it, but it’s probably right.

    As a white male I know that I got a head start when the race started… even though I was a poor immigrants kid.

    So shut the f@vk up, man up, and do something nice for someone else.

    (Ps… why aren’t there any female contributors to Outside the Beltway? Seriously Doug)

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  51. James Pearce says:

    @An Interested Party:

    meanwhile, all these white people who voted for Trump because he supposedly gave them a sympathetic ear…what do they do when they realize that they’ve been played for fools, that Trump and his cronies don’t really care about them and are pursuing polices that are directly harmful to them…

    Yes, absolutely Trump is playing them for fools, and most of them know it. I wish I could convey how tragic I think it is that so many people would rather be played for fools than embrace the racialist dogma coming from the left.

    @DrDaveT:

    There are are structural, societal reasons for this that DO NOT AFFECT white people, but do affect black people.

    I’ve heard this so many times, and yet, I have a completely different understanding of this than most people.

    Police kill with impunity even in places where black people don’t live. In places with a high black population, police still kill more white people. There is not a single city or state in this country where black people are being killed and white people aren’t, nor is there a single city or state in this country where more black people are dying.

    Police will kill anyone, even people they can’t identify. They do it because it’s expected of them. Since it’s expected of them, we tend to be quite lenient when it comes to punishing mistakes. That lenience encourages recklessness. That recklessness results in bad shootings.

    That’s the problem, not “institutional racism.” You know, a lot of black people are in law enforcement, right?

    how do you explain the fact that white kids playing with toy guns never get shot dead by cops?

    When I was a kid, I was walking down the street with my pale face and my laser tag gun and a cop stopped me. Because I was carrying this. If I would have pointed it at him, he would have shot me, pale face or no.

    A meme I saw said, “If you think police never harass white people, obviously you’ve never heard the story of John J. Rambo.” It’s a joke, yeah, but I got the talk. I’ve been harassed by cops. You haven’t?
    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think it is a gross over-simplification.

    It may be, but it’s also the stop where I, and a lot of other people, get off the bus.

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  52. Nikki says:

    @James Pearce:

    Police kill with impunity even in places where black people don’t live. In places with a high black population, police still kill more white people. There is not a single city or state in this country where black people are being killed and white people aren’t, nor is there a single city or state in this country where more black people are dying.

    You don’t believe there is a racist aspect to the number of unarmed black people killed by cops in this country either because you don’t want to believe there is a racist aspect to the number of unarmed black people killed by cops in this country or you don’t understand how math works. Because math proves there is a racist aspect to the number of unarmed black people killed by cops in this country.

    Do you believe admitting that more white people are killed by cops will get the establishment to admit that cops have become too brutal and need to be trained to use less force and brutality when dealing with the public or will the establishment continue to resist de-militarizing the local police forces because a lot of blacks kill each other in Chicago, Baltimore, and Los Angeles?

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  53. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Adding a bit to my previous comment, I think there are three things you can do if you feel motivated to engage on the issue of unjustified and unpunished police shootings. Let’s say, like me, that you know that statistics show that those victims are disproportionately POC but that there are still very significant numbers who are white. If white, they are significantly more likely to be on the poorer or less educated end of the spectrum.

    1) If you are primarily motivated by wanting a good argument, then by all means, find people who disagree with you and try to convince them they are wrong. I recommend especially doing this on the internet. You won’t change anyone’s mind, but you’ll definitely be able to argue till the wee hours. Have a few drinks while you’re at it.

    2) If you are primarily motivated by wanting people to understand that they are wrong, well then, I don’t know what the best strategy is. People just aren’t wired to change their mind based on stranger’s challenges.

    3) If you want to create a consensus for action to reduce the incidence of these things, then it is more effective to understand their perspective and see if there is a way to align your interests with theirs. Pointing out that as long as the political and police establishment can keep the focus on race rather than, say, the militarization and fear-training of police (“Remember! Every routine stop for a busted tail light could result in your spouse and kids sobbing over your coffin!). It’s more likely to be effective if you point out that there are hundreds of kids and young adults and even middle agers, white as well as black, who are shot or beaten up by police, whose colleagues then cover it up and frame the victims with bogus crimes, and that this is done primarily to people the cops feel they can abuse without consequences. That if the person you are talking to has a son or a nephew (or even themselves) who drive an old car rather than a Mercedes, and didn’t shave for the last couple of days, well, if they have the serious misfortune to run across one of these Rambo-fied cops they are much more likely to get shot than the guy with expensive clothes, car and education.

    Such an appeal will usually fail, especially the first time. People’s minds rarely change quickly. The best you can hope for is the next time they and their buddies are rambling on about kneeling at the football game, they have a niggling doubt. And maybe the next time it is a little more of a doubt. They are unlikely to challenge their buddies because, hey, why get into a huge fight. But if there happens to be someone running for mayor or DA that mentions the importance of the police treating all people equally, white or black, rich or poor, well – maybe he throws the lever towards that one rather than the Trumpista.

    Internet flame wars are conducted with the most fervent moral absolutes on both sides, which of course means they never go anywhere. Social change takes place one determined step at a time. A decent society isn’t a pyramid, it’s a garden. By that I mean that we can’t make it once and it endures for thousands of years. Instead, without constant attention and effort, it quickly falls back into chaos.

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  54. @MarkedMan:

    Internet flame wars

    I wouldn’t call the above an internet flame war, would you?

    And yes: police militarization and training are a huge part of the discussion.

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  55. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    That’s the problem, not “institutional racism”.

    Where did you get this bizarre idea that there can only be one problem at a time?

    Most of the things you say about cops are true. (The bit about “If I’d pointed my gun at him, he would have shot me” is not.) What you seem totally unable to grasp is that these things interact with institutional racism and implicit bias (no scare quotes needed, look them up and do some research if you’re skeptical) to create a completely different risk environment for black men and boys than for whites. Also a different culpability environment for cops, who get less grief for killing black men than for killing other people.

    I’ve been harassed by cops.

    I’ve had the chicken pox. Neither of those facts is in any way relevant to this conversation.

    Let’s try an analogy. Most concussion victims are not NFL players. Does that convince you that NFL players are not at significantly higher risk of concussion than other people? If you had been concussed once, would that convince you that there’s no special problem in the NFL? That’s the argument you’re making here. Well, except that actually you’re saying that because you bumped your head once and it hurt, there’s no concussion problem in the NFL.

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  56. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Definitely not a flame war. OTB is generally civil, and that’s why this is the only blog I comment on or even read the comments. But for what it’s worth, this is how I see the discussion:

    Steven L. Taylor: The most important thing that I want to discuss is that Black males are more likely to be shot than Whites.

    James Pearce: The most important thing I want to discuss is that Dems alienate whites by focusing exclusively on shootings of Blacks

    Steven L. Taylor: You should care about my thing and forget your thing. My thing is more important. Here are some facts about my thing.

    James Pearce: You should care about my thing and forget your thing. My thing is more important. Here are some facts about my thing.

    I’m not trying to give either of you grief. This is the nature of human discussions. As much as I try not to go down this path, I find myself on its well worn byway more often than not. Just ask my wife 😉

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  57. PT says:

    It seems to me the argument that Pearce is making is that because he’s white and because he also either previously experienced, or is currently experiencing hardship, that the scales have somehow been balanced. They haven’t.

    We can’t simply ignore our long history of systemic racial inequality because some white dudes have also (insert example here)…

    But we do indeed need to find a way to have a conversation about it that doesn’t send these voters running. Its hard for some to see beyond their own circumstances though, and voting is about self interest isn’t it?

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  58. @MarkedMan: I take the point, although I think that the conversation has been more than that, although comment boxes have significant limitations.

    Speaking for myself, conversations, even like this one, are more than just the interchange of words in the moment, but also the thoughts sparked apart from the interchange as well as over time.

    And yes: we are not prone to change our minds, but it isn’t as if minds can’t be changed. I know I have changed my mind on a host of issues over time–partly because of conversations such as this.

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  59. @PT: Indeed.

    Really, the sad thing is a lot of people will see self-interest in bigotry (to try and return to the original point). In terms of the quotes, I have some hope that at the margins, at least, some voters will come to see the risk of the Trump/Bannon approach and vote accordingly.

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  60. PT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    McCain’s quote in particular. Not only with regard to the inherent bigotry of the Trump/Bannon rhetoric, but how they seemingly ignore how we arrived at the current world order and the actual security that it provides.

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  61. @PT: I agree–it is a significant statement of the problems we currently face.

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  62. MBunge says:

    Just to expand on what I wrote when Mataconis posted on this Bush speech and the pitiful reaction to it, George W.Bush is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, he is responsible for the torture of prisoners, he is responsible for warrantless spying on Americans, and he is responsible for leading this nation into the greatest economic crisis since The Great Depression. By just about any standard, George W. Bush left America and the world in worse shape at the end of his Presidency than it was at the beginning.

    And Steven L. Taylor doesn’t care about any of that. He doesn’t think any of it matters. You could add up every awful thing Donald Trump has ever done or said and it wouldn’t hold a candle to the tangible harm George W. Bush has done, but it doesn’t matter to Steven L. Taylor. And the worst part of it is I doubt he has the self-awareness to understand why that is.

    Mike

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  63. Monala says:

    @DrDaveT: Great analogy. May I borrow it?

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  64. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Nikki: I believe that if the focus is on brutality to blacks, it will be difficult to move the establishment. If the focus were to become brutality to anyone, the needle would still be hard to move–nobody cares about poor whites (those people? remember from past posts on this very site?) being brutalized by police anymore than they care about POC so treated–but if it moves, it will move more.

    And please note that the police never use Pearce’s argument to refute claims of racism. I wonder why?

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  65. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT:

    (The bit about “If I’d pointed my gun at him, he would have shot me” is not.)

    I see you don’t remember Airsoft guns a few years back. Oh well, attention spans are getting shorter all the time.

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  66. @MBunge: I really get under your skin, don’t I?

    BTW: at the moment I agree with you. Materially speaking, GWB was a worse president in terms of the outcomes of his 8 years. If Trump resigns today his presidency will be less damaging than Bush’s. And, if we are lucky, after 4 years Trump will not have done as much damage as Bush.

    None of that is to say that I don’t think Trump has done damage. He has. But I cannot dispute the Iraq War was an utter disaster.

    That doesn’t make the quote above wrong.

    Still, what makes you think I am an apologist for the Bush administration is beyond me.

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  67. Tyrell says:

    @Modulo Myself: Look at some of the recent comments from Jimmy Carter about Trump. He stated that he would work for Trump (I assume in a cabinet or advisor position). Jimmy also said that the news media has treated Trump harsher than any other president. While Carter made some mistakes and misjudgments as president, most of those came from inexperience at a national level. No doubt that he is a good, Christian man.
    continue to have compatability problems running older programs; particularly video games (“Toon Town”) and have tried

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  68. Franklin says:

    @MBunge: As I said in the GWB-specific thread, give Trump time. Perhaps he won’t cause as much damage simply because his administration isn’t as generally respected as the GWB administration originally was, or given the leeway it was after the 9/11 attacks. But then again, Trump is the current owner of the nuke codes and my opinion is that is an unstable situation.

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  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    I see you don’t remember Airsoft guns a few years back.

    I remember. 80-some killings. I don’t remember that any of them were white juveniles. About 2/3 were white adults.

    How many of Cliven Bundy’s crowd were killed for pointing their non-fake guns at police officers?

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  70. DrDaveT says:

    @Monala:

    Great analogy. May I borrow it?

    Be my guest.

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  71. gVOR08 says:

    When W made the above statement he was also fund raising for Ed Gillespie, who is running a Trumpian vicious, lying campaign for VA guv. Actions speak louder than words.

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  72. @gVOR08: On the one hand, sure.

    On the other: sigh. Polarization is all we are going to be left with.

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  73. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Polarization is all we are going to be left with.

    It’s not ‘polarization’ when only one side is doing it. The Democrats in Congress today are almost uniformly more conservative than their counterparts 40 years ago. They are not occupying a pole; they are basking at the equator.

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  74. @DrDaveT: If we, in general, can only support “our” side even when “the other side” says or does the right thing once in a while, it is not just one side acting.

    The Democrats in Congress today are almost uniformly more conservative than their counterparts 40 years ago.

    Trust me, I understand that. I suspect I was pointing out DW-Nominate scores on this blog well before it was mainstream. But that really isn’t what I am talking about here.

    If we judge words by whether the speaker is on our “side” instead of judging the quality of the given words, then we are helping to deepen the general polarization of our current political era.

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  75. Bush can both deserve a profound amount of criticism and still be right in a given position or statement.

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  76. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If we, in general, can only support “our” side even when “the other side” says or does the right thing once in a while, it is not just one side acting.

    Hmm. An interesting point. Do you have any actual examples in mind of Democrats opposing Republicans doing the right thing, in the past 10 years or so?

    I follow the Armed Services committees fairly closely, and I see no evidence at all of Democrats opposing Republicans for being Republicans in that context. But perhaps you have other examples in mind?

    …but regardless, at a certain point, when an organization has become an enabler of evil, it is morally correct to seek to undermine them overall, even when they are not currently doing evil, so that they might be hindered in their larger agenda. The current GOP exists to increase wealth disparity, fight racial and sexual equality, court pointless war, increase the debt in order to enrich the already rich (and fund those wars), kick the poor while they’re down, give legal preference to certain Christian dogmas, and generally make life suckier for anyone not already part of the top 5%. You could look it up, as Yogi would say. I wish that this were hyperbole, but the voting record speaks for itself.

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  77. @DrDaveT:

    Do you have any actual examples in mind of Democrats opposing Republicans doing the right thing, in the past 10 years or so?

    The relevance of that question to this discussion escapes me. How is that relevant as to whether the quote from Bush has value or not?

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  78. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The relevance of that question to this discussion escapes me.

    How so? You are the one who just above that asserted that both sides do it:

    If we, in general, can only support “our” side even when “the other side” says or does the right thing once in a while, it is not just one side acting.

    I’m calling your bluff, and asking for instances in which the bulk of Democrats “could only support their side, even when the other side did or said the right thing”, over the last decade-plus. I assumed that you had some examples in mind when you made your claim, but I can’t think of any myself.

    How is that relevant as to whether the quote from Bush has value or not?

    You’re the one who introduced the claim into the conversation; presumably you thought it was relevant.

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  79. @DrDaveT:

    I’m calling your bluff,

    There is no bluff to call, nor do I see any need to take a confrontational approach to the conversation.

    Regardless, I was describing a general type of behavior which strikes me as noncontroversial.

    I am not really sure what point you are trying to make.

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  80. PT says:

    @DrDaveT:

    how did you get “both sides do it” out of

    If we judge words by whether the speaker is on our “side” instead of judging the quality of the given words, then we are helping to deepen the general polarization of our current political era.

    ?

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  81. @DrDaveT: Maybe this will help: in this post I pointed out what I believe to be a true and relevant statement by two Republicans. Several people, yourself included, have taken me to task not because of the message, but because of the messenger.

    This is what I was referring to above: choosing a position based on “side” rather than the content of the message.

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  82. This is what I meant by “Polarization is all we are going to be left with” if we are going self-select who and what will listen to based on side rather than the truth or untruth of the message.

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  83. DrDaveT says:

    @PT:

    how did you get “both sides do it” out of [quote]

    Um, I don’t. I get “both sides do it” out of the part I actually quoted, which was:

    If we, in general, can only support “our” side even when “the other side” says or does the right thing once in a while, it is not just one side acting.

    Do you not think “both sides do it” is a reasonable paraphrase of “it is not just one side acting”?

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  84. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Maybe this will help: in this post I pointed out what I believe to be a true and relevant statement by two Republicans. Several people, yourself included, have taken me to task not because of the message, but because of the messenger.

    I searched back through the thread to try to find the comment you are interpreting as “taking you to task because of the messenger”, and I can’t find anything like that. All I can find is a mild objection to blaming “polarization” as if it were a general thing, rather than the outcome of one particular side’s actions. I suspect you are confusing me with someone else, or assuming an argument not in evidence.

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  85. @DrDaveT: I am back to really not having a clue as to your point.

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  86. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There is no bluff to call, nor do I see any need to take a confrontational approach to the conversation.

    It was a figure of speech, perhaps poorly chosen. Say rather “questioning the claim you seem to be making”.

    Regardless, I was describing a general type of behavior which strikes me as noncontroversial.

    And I’m pointing out that it _is_ controversial, in that I don’t think it’s true in the context you are talking about. Both sides do not, as best I can tell, support only their own side even when the other side is saying or doing the right thing. All of the examples I can think of are on the same side, but I am open to correction if you could remind me of the instances I’m apparently forgetting.

    I am not really sure what point you are trying to make.

    I am trying to make the point that “polarization” is not an accurate diagnosis — it is a mischaracterization of a process that can better be understood as the GOP fleeing the center as fast as they can. To call it “polarization” is to implicitly (or explicitly, in this case) make a “both sides do it” argument that apportions the blame for the gulf between the parties roughly evenly. That’s what I was objecting to — not because I’m defending “my side”, but because by any objective measure of how the parties have changed over the past ~40 years, only one pole has been involved.

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  87. @DrDaveT: Two examples of what I am talking about as it pertains to this thread here:

    @Gustopher: @gVOR08:

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  88. @DrDaveT:

    I am trying to make the point that “polarization” is not an accurate diagnosis — it is a mischaracterization of a process that can better be understood as the GOP fleeing the center as fast as they can. To call it “polarization” is to implicitly (or explicitly, in this case) make a “both sides do it” argument that apportions the blame for the gulf between the parties roughly evenly

    From a political science POV, that is polarization: the movement of political adherents to very distinct poles. That one side moved more than the other doesn’t make the situation any less polarized.

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  89. And, I would add, one can talk about polarization in the Congress or in public opinion.

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  90. Part of my point is that by rejecting good words because they come from a specific side deepens the polarization.

    I understand you aren’t happy with Republicans, but that doesn’t change the basis of my point.

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  91. As I track back to the beginning of this (DrDaveT) it would seem you have focused a bit too heavily on “polarization” without the broader context of why I used the term in the first place.

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  92. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Two examples of what I am talking about as it pertains to this thread here:

    OK, that explains part of the talking past each other. It hadn’t occurred to me that you were talking about blog comments; I had assumed that you were talking about the behavior of party representatives (e.g. elected officials and party officers). I’ll certainly concede that both sides do it when it comes to kneejerk comments in blogs.

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  93. At any rate, I have done my best to explain myself, and it is probably time to move on.

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  94. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    From a political science POV, that is polarization: the movement of political adherents to very distinct poles.

    But that’s exactly my point — that only one side has moved to a pole. The Democrats now occupy the center, not a pole. There is still a pole out there on the Left, but no American political party wants anything to do with it.

    If you define any difference of opinion as ‘polarization’, the word loses its meaning. Polarization is what happens when there is movement to opposite extremes — and you can’t define ‘extreme’ as meaning “different from the other guy” without making every difference of opinion, no matter how trivial, ‘polarization’. You have to have a scale that exists independent of the current positions.

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  95. @DrDaveT: I was not talking about elected officials in this discussion.

    And a point of clarification: I also never defined extreme as “meaning ‘different from the other guy'” largely because I never used the word extreme (I am pretty sure I never even inferred it).

    I think you are reacting to the word “polarization” as opposed to what I was saying.

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