Friday’s Forum

You try to feel the beat.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. 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. de stijl says:

    Everybody, be well.

    Do something today that makes you feel good.

    Do something today that makes your loved ones feel good.

    Address at least one item on your personal to-do list you’ve been ignoring.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A happy TulsaRally free Juneteenth to all.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    cutefuckingpancake
    @BLUERASB3RRY

    I can’t fucking stop watching this tik tokkkk

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  4. Mister Bluster says:

    This morning (Friday, Juneteenth) Mulvaney said about Trump “…he didn’t hire very well…”.

    Go ahead Nick. Stick your neck out!

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  5. de stijl says:

    Reflective Juneteenth to all.

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  6. CSK says:

    I was just thinking that you really have to be some kind of imbecile to attend this Trump rally in Tulsa tomorrow. Even if I loved the guy, I wouldn’t do it. Even if there weren’t the threat of disease, I wouldn’t do it. What drives someone to spend four days camped out on a sidewalk only to be crammed into a hot, sweaty convention center for four or five hours just to listen to some windbag churl bloviate? Is that fun? Is it just to own the libs? Is it just so you can scream “lock her up” or whatever the current favorite mantra is? What? Tell me.

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  7. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Cultism is a helluva drug.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Trump Administration Paid Millions for Test Tubes and All They Got Were These Stupid Mini Soda Bottles

    The state officials say that these “preforms,” which are designed to be expanded with heat and pressure into 2-liter soda bottles, don’t fit the racks used in laboratory analysis of test samples. Even if the bottles were the right size, experts say, the company’s process likely contaminated the tubes and could yield false test results. Fillakit employees, some not wearing masks, gathered the miniature soda bottles with snow shovels and dumped them into plastic bins before squirting saline into them, all in the open air, according to former employees and ProPublica’s observation of the company’s operations.
    …………………………………..
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency signed its first deal with Fillakit on May 7, just six days after the company was formed by an ex-telemarketer repeatedly accused of fraudulent practices over the past two decades. Fillakit has supplied a total of more than 3 million tubes, which FEMA then approved and sent to all 50 states. If the company fulfills its contractual obligation to provide 4 million tubes, it will receive a total of $10.16 million.

    Officials in New York, New Jersey, Texas and New Mexico confirmed they can’t use the Fillakit tubes. Three other states told ProPublica that they received Fillakit supplies and have not distributed them to testing sites. FEMA has asked health officials in several states to find an alternative use for the unfinished soda bottles.

    “We are still trying to identify an alternative use,” said Janelle Fleming, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health.

    I’ve thought of an alternative use, but torture is against international law.

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  9. mattbernius says:

    Happy Juneteenth.

    Also, is it me or did Amy Klobachar effectively knife Elizabeth Warren in the back as Klobachar was exiting the VP stage?

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: D) All of the above.

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  11. de stijl says:

    @Mikey: @CSK:

    Jim Jones comes to mind.

    That the rally ticket comes with a disclaimer that we are not culpable for any infection is frankly hilarious. And really sad.

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  12. de stijl says:

    @mattbernius:

    Did not initially read it that way.

    If a message it was way subtle.

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  13. Teve says:

    Inside the cult of Trump. His rallies are church and he is the gospel

    Jones is only the second person I’ve met at the rally, so I don’t yet know just how common this perspective is. Through a season of Trump rallies across the country, before the global pandemic forced the president to retreat for a while from the nation’s arenas, I spoke with dozens of Trump supporters who believe that the Democratic establishment primarily serves as a cover for child sex trafficking. Some were familiar with “QAnon”—the name claimed by believers in a host of conspiracy theories centered around an alleged “deep state” coup against Trump and his supposedly ingenious countermeasures, referred to as the coming “Storm,” or “Great Awakening”—but most were not. It was, they told me, simply known. “Perverts and murderers,” said a woman in Bossier City. One man, a Venezuelan immigrant, explained that many socialists are literal cannibals. There were the Clintons, of course, but a youth pastor promised me that Trump knew the names of all the guilty parties and was preparing their just deserts. The president himself, in speech after speech, intimates that Judgment Day is coming. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, he spoke of “illegals,” hacking and raping and bludgeoning, “relentlessly beating a wonderful, beautiful high school teenager to death with a baseball bat and chopping the body apart with a machete.” And that, he added, was only what he could reveal. There was more, he said, much, much more. Believe me.

    Such is the intimacy of Trumpism: innuendo and intimation, the wink and the revelation. Jones gets it. To demonstrate, he pops up his Trump mask, bends over, and begins sniffing the wet blacktop like a hound. “Creepy Joe!” cries another supporter. Jones bounces up and beams. It’s his imitation of Joe Biden, on the trail of young boys to molest. Biden as child sniffer is a popular right-wing meme, but it’s not really Biden himself who matters. They know Joe is one among many. “Demons,” says Jones, speaking of the Democratic Party leadership in general. “Not even human.” Which is why it will take the Great White Hope, chosen by God, to confront them. They’re too powerful for the likes of ordinary men such as Jones. He’d tried.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:
  15. de stijl says:

    Juneteenth is not the day of the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Juneteenth is a US general showing up in some dusty Texas burg and told the black people that they were indeed free. Their “masters” had not passed that news along apparently.

    Rejoicing commenced because slavery is bad and freedom is good.

    Juneteenth should be a national holiday.

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  16. Jen says:

    This Twitter thread from Seth Abramson is something else. Trump apparently knew about the coronavirus/potential for a pandemic back in November, and ignored the intel because he wanted a trade deal to help him with farmers, so he’d get reelected.

    Re: Klobuchar and Warren–Klobuchar is trying to repair the damage she’s sustained to her reputation in Minnesota and on the national stage with her handling of cases from when she was a county attorney. I really doubt it has anything to do with Warren.

    Re: Political rallies. I’ve attended a few, and I hate them with a passion. As a former political operative I understand the function, but they are tedious and not a remotely fun activity. Yuck. Even without a pandemic I wouldn’t go to one, particularly not one of the large ones. The last one I went to was a Buttigieg rally sometime last year. There were a couple hundred people there, and that was just about too much for me.

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  17. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    I’m in the middle of reading this. It’s bloodcurdling.

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  18. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    Re: Political rallies.

    Aren’t they kind of a holdover?

    In the past, without mass communication other than newspapers (limited given low rates of literacy*), rallies were how politicians campaigned to the majority of people. I’ve read lots of people held rallies for candidates, without the candidate being present or even expected. This makes sense in a national campaign with nothing better than railroads and newspapers for transportation and communication.

    Then, too, people had fewer entertainment choices available, and nothing like the very cheap entertainment we get on TV and online these days. Rallies were a cheap means to pass the time, and meet friends and family.

    I’ve never attended a rally, nor even want to. They seem to me mostly as echo chambers to generate enthusiasm and press coverage.

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  19. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    I was not taught about Juneteenth in school.

    I was not taught about Tulsa in school.

    Jim Crow was briefly addressed.

    These are true and vital facts that many Americans are utterly unaware of.

    Trump claimed the other day he made Juneteenth famous. Sorry to be crude, but fuck him, fuck him, fuck him.

    Your uneducated act made this an issue. Btw, fuck him.

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  20. Jen says:

    @Kathy:

    Aren’t they kind of a holdover?

    They serve a different function now. They used to be a way of getting a candidate’s platform out to the masses; you are correct that with modern communications they no longer serve that particular function.

    However, they DO accomplish other campaign objectives, primarily encouraging people to maintain a level of excitement (an important factor in voter turnout is voter enthusiasm), and the sense of community is important too. People who are excited about a candidate will TALK about a candidate to friends and family–this is incredibly important in GOTV efforts.

    I still hate them.

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  21. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:
    @Jen:

    Rallies are sanctioned performative behavior for the attendees. Public adoration.

    That’s perfectly fine.

    Well, pre Covid 19.

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  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: Btw, fuck him.

    I wish you’d stop beating around the bush and tell us how you really feel.

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  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A beautiful piece of writing in this weeks New Yorker by Elizabeth Alexander:

    I call the young people who grew up in the past twenty-five years the Trayvon Generation. They always knew these stories. These stories formed their world view. These stories helped instruct young African-Americans about their embodiment and their vulnerability. The stories were primers in fear and futility. The stories were the ground soil of their rage. These stories instructed them that anti-black hatred and violence were never far.

    They watched these violations up close and on their cell phones, so many times over. They watched them in near-real time. They watched them crisscrossed and concentrated. They watched them on the school bus. They watched them under the covers at night. They watched them often outside of the presence of adults who loved them and were charged with keeping them safe in body and soul.
    ………………………
    Yes, I am saying I measure my success as a mother of black boys in part by the fact that I have sons who love to dance, who dance in community, who dance till their powerful bodies sweat, who dance and laugh, who dance and shout. Who are able––in the midst of their studying and organizing, their fear, their rage, their protesting, their vulnerability, their missteps and triumphs, their knowledge that they must fight the hydra-headed monster of racism and racial violence that we were not able to cauterize––to find the joy and the power of communal self-expression.

    This essay is not a celebration, nor is it an elegy.

    We are no longer enslaved. Langston Hughes wrote that we must stand atop the racial mountain, “free within ourselves,” and I pray that those words have meaning for our young people. But our freedom must be seized and reasserted every day.

    People dance to say, I am alive and in my body.

    I am black alive and looking back at you. ♦

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  24. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Rallies are very creepy. Could easily be called idolatry.

    Tiktok Riefenstahl’s are shooting these events now.

    The photo where Trump is hugging the American flag creeps me out so hard.

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  25. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I thought I was fairly clear on my point.

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  26. Kathy says:

    I left an asterisk hanging on literacy.

    I deem literacy rate to be abysmally low if any people free of learning or developmental disabilities don’t learn to read.

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  27. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That was powerful.

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  28. @de stijl: I was taught about Juneteenth in 7th grade Texas history (that would have been the early 80s). It was taught as a Texas thing (and was celebrated by black communities at the time). Once I moved to CA in HS, I don’t think I heard about save in passing for many years. The Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery (which is part of my university) has had a Juneteenth celebration for several years now.

    I barely heard about Jim Crow in school in either TX or CA.

    I did not learn about Tulsa until about 10-15 years ago (so, at that point, K-12, BA, and Ph.D. and a tenured prof). I remember being in my car driving to work (I can still remember the road I was on). I am pretty sure it was interview on NPR.

    We are woeful in our education (and yet some numbskulls claim that all schools do is criticize the US).

    I didn’t learn about Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone Speech in school, either.

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  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: There was a little bit of gray area between the 3rd and 4th “fuck him”.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    Stuck it in and twisted it real good.

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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t think I learned any of it in school, either grade school or high school (’60s-70’s), but I do have a clear memory of learning about carpetbaggers right down to a political cartoon caricature.

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  32. Teve says:

    That Vanity Fair article…jesus.

    Later, as I listened to my recording of our conversation (made with Diane’s permission) I found myself thinking, I can’t use any of this. It’s too much. This doesn’t represent anything but one woman’s delusions. Then I googled the Las Vegas shooting. And holy shit—Diane is far from alone. The belief that the Vegas massacre was the work of a nefarious “they” is actually much closer to the world most of us inhabit than the outer reaches of QAnon. It began with Alex Jones, then gathered force via a 51-page PowerPoint document by a retired senior CIA officer and Rich Higgins, Trump’s former director of strategic planning for the National Security Council. The theory notes that the Islamic State claimed credit for the attack; that a man on the same floor as the shooter had reportedly eaten Turkish kebab; and that this man was also known to have supported transgender rights on his Facebook page. Which adds up to—obviously—an ISIS-antifa attack on American soil. From Jones to Higgins and then to Tucker Carlson, who several months after the shooting invited Scott Perry, a GOP congressman and retired Army National Guard brigadier general, onto his show to promulgate what he described as “credible evidence of a possible terrorist nexus” behind the massacre.

    Which may seem to you insane. But it is also, compared to this article, “mainstream.” Carlson’s show alone has three times the viewership of this magazine’s print circulation. Add to that Jones’s Infowars empire, and countless tweets, posts, and threads online—not to mention the conspiratorial anti-Muslim musings of Trump himself—and what you get is this: Diane is not fringe. She may be closer to the new center of American life than you are.

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  33. KM says:

    @Jen:

    However, they DO accomplish other campaign objectives, primarily encouraging people to maintain a level of excitement (an important factor in voter turnout is voter enthusiasm), and the sense of community is important too.

    Not only the sense of community but the sense of importance in that community. Humans have a problem with a sense of scale. Tell them millions of people support a candidate and it’s meh; show them a stadium full of people and it leaves an impact that they are part of something great. They *matter*, even though they’re a single snowflake because snowflakes make up the avalanche. Now add in seating – how close can they get and what does that say about how important they are? Did you see, they score a seat behind Trump and their sign’s on the news!!! They’re VIPs in their own mind simply for having attended this one thing and been within 100 miles of their idol.

    It’s very similar to church, especially a megachurch or cliquey one. Many go under the impression they will be “seen” and so dress up to impress. Where you sit matters and god help you if you take someone else’s preferred seat. You sing and you chant and you reaffirm your belief that you are Many and Strong and and Blessed and your Leader was sent by God to lead you to Greatness.

    MAGAts’ sense of identity and importance with their chosen community suffers greatly if it doesn’t have that constant buffering of rallies. Twitter and FB just isn’t enough because at it’s core, this is an emotional connection and the internet can’t convene that. They need the old time revival fervor to counteract reality’s drag.

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  34. Kylopod says:

    Roger Ebert once described a rock concert as “arguably the most sensually overpowering nonwartime spectacle in human history, and which may have been invented, in form and in its focus on a single charismatic individual, at Hitler’s mass rallies.”

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  35. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Not knowing, not being educated on basic facts on Reconstruction and how and why it failed, Jim Crow era.

    It it so sad because it was so preventable.

    That is an institutional failure. A society failure.

    We came close to reckoning with our past in 1965 and it focused reactionary white nationalism unto a path that criticism was un-American from then until now.

    Pray to whatever god you worship or not that we do it better now. We have to get this right eventually. I hope, anyway.

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  36. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    In order to address my sloppy rhetoric that created this confusion:

    Fuck him, fuck him, fuck him, fuck him, and fuck him.

    That’s five.

    I believe I have adequately addressed any concerns you might have had as to my opinion on this matter.

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  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    A charismatic alpha male leader.

    Patently absurd beliefs.

    Utter devotion and absolute loyalty.

    Suicidal behavior.

    Paranoia.

    Sudden reversals of previous beliefs.

    Vilification of all dissent.

    Insistence that there can be only one source of truth.

    Assertions of divinity.

    Gotta say, it sounds way more like a cult of personality than a political party. I’m trying to think of anything like this in American politics.

    ‘Come to my rally in a state I already own politically, despite the serious possibility of disease and even death.’ Reagan? Nixon? Clinton? Obama? FDR? Which previous US president could have commanded such prostrate, self-harming devotion?

    The Jim Jones cultists in Guyana didn’t know the Kool-Aid was poison, but some suspected it. And still, they gave it to their kids and their spouses and took it themselves. There will be children at the Tulsa rally.

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  38. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Juneteenth should be a national holiday.

    Holidays are supposed to commemorate an event, yet for most people it’s just a day off with some traditions thrown in, which may or may not have a connection to the event being remembered.

    That said, I find it odd there’s more participation int he US for Cinco de Mayo* than Juneteenth.

    *I also wonder how many people getting drunk on that day even know what it commemorates.

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  39. Teve says:

    Friday, June 19, 2020 at 10:33
    A charismatic alpha male leader.

    Patently absurd beliefs.

    Utter devotion and absolute loyalty.

    Suicidal behavior.

    Paranoia.

    Sudden reversals of previous beliefs.

    Vilification of all dissent.

    Insistence that there can be only one source of truth.

    Assertions of divinity.

    And a common enemy to despise: Democrats/Media.

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  40. reid says:

    @CSK: I imagine it’s like going to a football game. Quite a party environment. Go team Red, team Blue sucks. So yes, “lock her up”, basically. But I’m just guessing.

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  41. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I had some painters in to prep my house for sale and one of the dudes was super freaked out about MS-13.

    Dude, this is Des Moines, you numpty fool!

    I didn’t say actually say anything. I shut that down by talking about football. Detailed questions about Philly’s offensive dropoff.

    That may not work much longer. RW Americans are boycotting the NFL over kneeling.

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  42. @Michael Reynolds:

    Gotta say, it sounds way more like a cult of personality than a political party.

    I have repeatedly noted that I have no problem talking about the rally-goers specifically as different than the broader GOP. I still think that “cult” and even “cult of personality” are more colloquial than analytical terms, but I always acknowledged that the rally-goers are a specific sub-group.

    Rally-goers, however, do not explain the broader GOP or Trump’s win in 2016.

    I have tried to explain aggregate voting behavior over and over again.

    But, Michael, given how mad you got at me for criticizing your position on this, I don’t understand your need to obviously poke me about this. As is clear, I am happy to talk about it, but you sent me a clear signal I wasn’t allowed to really criticize your position.

    So I ask (calmly and without any animus–honestly, as I don’t want my tone misunderstood): do you want to argue about this (in the intellectual sense of the word) or not? I remain a little perplexed about why you got so mad at me last time in the first place.

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  43. @Michael Reynolds:

    The Jim Jones cultists in Guyana didn’t know the Kool-Aid was poison

    As I recall, many were forced to drink at gunpoint.

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  44. Kingdaddy says:

    These are not accidents:

    1. Scheduling a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Juneteenth.

    2. Scheduling the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, so that Trump would accept the party’s nomination on the anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, a Klan-led white riot.

    3. Trump campaign ads on Facebook that, in screaming about Antifa phantoms, uses the red triangle that once designated leftist political prisoners in Nazi concentration camps.

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Quite the opposite. However, someone in the Trump inner circle is clearly responsible for these non-coincidences. Perhaps more than just the obvious junior Himmler. Whoever it is, they’re not being identified, fired, and sent to the political equivalent of the far side of the moon, never to be heard from again. They retain the President’s confidence and support. Even if there had been an astounding string of unlikely coincidences, born out of astonishing ignorance and indifference to the worst parts of our history, no one responsible for this should still have that position.

    The fact that this issue is not on the front pages every single day is the clearest sign of how we’ve decided to live with this moral and political cancer.

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  45. @Kingdaddy:

    However, someone in the Trump inner circle is clearly responsible for these non-coincidences. Perhaps more than just the obvious junior Himmler. Whoever it is, they’re not being identified, fired, and sent to the political equivalent of the far side of the moon, never to be heard from again. They retain the President’s confidence and support. Even if there had been an astounding string of unlikely coincidences, born out of astonishing ignorance and indifference to the worst parts of our history, no one responsible for this should still have that position.

    Agreed.

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  46. KM says:

    @Kathy:
    Hasn’t it always been that way? We use the word “holiday” mostly in modern English but really what were talking about are “festivals” – that’s certainly how we treat them. They’re not true holy days in the original sense of the word or in the sense that strict rules of behavior and solemnity are expected. Instead, they are festival days of merriment, relaxation and enjoyment nominally in someone’s honor or memory to serve as a pretext. Who, what or why don’t matter to most since the entire point is to have the day off.

    America really doesn’t do national days of mourning past the initial crisis. You would have though 9/11 would have become a more important day due to sheer national trauma but only a few years afterwards, it was largely a sad day for those affected and everyone else got the annual news flashback. Nearly 20 years later and the impact has been almost forgotten and there’s only token ceremonies, not national tears.

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  47. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think it’s because the teachers of American History invariably drop behind in their schedule (especially those who love lingering over the battles of the Civil War) and suddenly find themselves having to shove everything after 1900 into a 45 minute class. That’s a hell of a lot to cram in.

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  48. Teve says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    The fact that this issue is not on the front pages every single day is the clearest sign of how we’ve decided to live with this moral and political cancer.

    Or it just means 2020. Every time you turn around there’s a new horrendous surprise. In July we will find out the people who die from COVID-19 come back to life as zombies a la The Walking Dead. August, we’ll have an accidental nuclear detonation. In September we’ll find out that if you ate too much Splenda, 15 years later your eyeballs pop out…

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  49. @Steven L. Taylor: And let me note, I am not rejecting the “cult” frame as a way of defending the modern GOP let alone Trumpismo broadly defined. I think, however, it isn’t ultimately all the helpful (I am not sure it is especially helpful in regards to Hitler, to be honest). “Cult” connotes people being hoodwinked or fooled. It is crazy people lured away from normal life to go live on a compound.

    To @Kingdaddy‘s point, this is much more purposive manipulation and it is tapping into a very real white supremacy that exists in the US.

    That is more insidious and problematic than a cult of personality.

    My harping on partisanship and its linkages to institutions is that party identification reinforced by electoral rules that reinforce and perpetuate a binary choice at the polls allows the GOP to be taken over by its white nationalist faction.

    “Cult of personality” focuses on the moment and on Trump. The partisanship/institutions frame helps us really understand how we got where we are and warns us about where we possibly going.

    I would note that the DACA ruling yesterday, as James noted, was mostly based on Trump’s incompetence. The next white supremacist behind the Resolute Desk may not be able to pull off a rally, but he/she may well be able to navigate the Administrative Procedure Act.

    So, tell me what is actually more important, hammering about cults or understanding the power of partisanship/identity in our system?

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  50. And, BTW, I think that part of the impulse to attend this rally in Tulsa is a political statement about rejecting the shutdown (and is fueled by people who want to go outside and socialize).

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  51. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    @Kingdaddy:

    Stephen Miller brought in a crew of acolytes.

    It is not currently provable, but dollars to donuts, Miller pitched Tulsa on Juneteenth for the lulz. Trump bit because he loves an adoring crowd and is an uneducated moron.

    Apparently, one of his Secret Service protection folks had to clue Trump on Juneteenth.

    Unlike Gorka, Miller figured out how to embed.

    Gorka may now get a second shot via VOA.

    I disdain lefties calling righties Nazis. It’s cheap, lazy, and untrue.

    Miller and Gorka are actual Nazis.

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  52. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I think you have to agree that if the rabid Trumpkins, as a group, don’t possess every single attribute of a cult as strictly defined, they certainly possess a number of the traits that are most characteristic of a cult:
    1. They have a living leader to whom their commitment is absolute and unquestioning.
    2. Dissent and questioning are discouraged and often punished.
    3. Us versus them mentality.
    4. They cut ties with family or friends.
    5. They claim an exalted status.

    We saw this to some degree with the followers of Sarah Palin. She bailed on those people, but Trump emerged only a few years later to take her place.

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  53. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Yes, it is. And there’s an element of “owning the libs” as well, the libs being those public health officials discouraging attendance at this rally.

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  54. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Public health officials are elites.

    A sub-species.

    Taxonomically akin to professors.

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  55. CSK says:

    Trump just Tweeted a threat:
    “Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes [sic] who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!”

    And he’s complaining that “Fox News is terrible!” because they’ve come out with another of their “phony polls” done by “haters” who “got it even more wrong in 2016.”

    de stijl: yep.

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  56. Mikey says:

    @CSK: And he lumps in protesters (a Constitutionally protected activity) with “anarchists, looters [and] lowlifes.”

    This is, of course, intentional, because fascism.

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  57. @CSK: Here’s the thing, if people want to colloquially refer to rally-goers and MAGA hat wearers as “culties” ok, fine.

    If people want to describe the impulse to camp out to go to a rally as the result/manifestation of a “cult of personality” ok, fine (but I still find it to be a colloquial application of a not especially useful term, analytically, in my opinion).

    But if you want to explain Trump’s election in 2016, his potential re-election in 2020, or the behavior of GOP politicians between the two, the “cult” frame is not useful.

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  58. Scott says:

    @CSK: Of those 5 groups, only one is illegal. Trump would like nothing more than have these people show. If violence ensues, so much the better.

    Also: Tulsa mayor implements curfew around site of Trump rally

    The mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has declared a civil emergency and set a curfew for the area around the site where President Donald Trump plans to hold a campaign rally this weekend.

    Here is another city that’s going to be stuck with a security bill.

    I wonder if he is going to roust all those Trump supporters in line that are violating the curfew.

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  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve, in yesterday’s Bolton post said:

    I can’t hold it against anybody that they skipped Vietnam.

    Normally, I would agree with him, but since we’re talking about a man who never met a Mid-East war that he didn’t want to sent someone else’s child to die in, I’ll make an exception for Bolton.

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  60. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Doesn’t he know the lowlives will be inside the arena?

    This threat is the best argument for staging a protest outside. Either the authorities will allow it to proceed peacefully, in which case EL PITO’s threat will look hollow and he will look weak, or there’ll be repression which will make him seem wantonly cruel.

    His base (ie cult) may love the latter, but it will most likely cost him votes in November.

    But them he’s like the scorpion in the fable. He can’t help himself even if it kills him.

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  61. Scott says:

    @Mikey: Anarchists and lowlifes are also constitutionally protected as long as they don’t break any laws.

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  62. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    My earlier analysis of “fuck him” was spot on, then.

    That is an explicit threat of state violence.

    Dude openly wishes he had Putin power over press and state.

    48% willingly voted for him.

    God help us.

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  63. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @de stijl: All of a sudden, this reminds me of Reagan going to a cemetery in Bitburg and getting embarassed because Pat Buchanan didn’t clue him in that there were SS dead buried there.

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  64. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “Cult” connotes people being hoodwinked or fooled. It is crazy people lured away from normal life to go live on a compound.

    Well, anyone who idolizes Trump as anything other than a racist carnival barker who failed upwards is being hoodwinked and fooled. It really is an impressive job of failing upwards though.

    But a lot of his supporters weren’t lured away so much as they were given a voice and permission to say the awful things they’ve been wanting to say. Being able to gather and shout racist slogans and demonize their neighbors and let it all out… that must be very freeing.

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  65. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    No, I don’t think it’s particularly useful to attribute Trump’s win in 2016 or possible win in 2020 to the actions of a cult, either, if I understand you correctly. Nor do I think “cult” accurately describes much of the GOP, either–those people whom the Trumpkins actually despise, such as Mitt Romney or Charlie Baker or Larry Hogan.

    I do think that “cult” is accurate shorthand for the rabidly pro-Trump fan club, given that their behavior is very cultish.

    And, although it’s by now probably a tedious observation, the Trumpkins aren’t really conservatives or Republicans.

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  66. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t think the “cult” framework can (or should) fully replace the partisanship/institutions framework. But I do think it actually helps to explain some of what we are witnessing.

    The partisanship/institutions framework, for instance, cannot adequately explain how the party of (former) Cold War warriors got suddenly sucked into subscribing to a Russian conspiracy theory about Ukrainian servers.

    So perhaps we need something more.

    “Cult of personality” focuses on the moment and on Trump.

    I disagree. Because to me it is clear that this is the end-result of years of propaganda by Fox News et al. – which was actively supported by one party’s institutions.

    Also, Trump wasn’t the first GOP leader to get treated like a cult figure. I still remember Codpiece Bush and Starbursts Palin. Not the same as Trump, obviously, but there were steps in that direction.

    I am not sure it is especially helpful in regards to Hitler, to be honest

    Again, I disagree.

    Perhaps the cult framework doesn’t explain very well why Hitler came to power, but it does explain why Germany fought on in 1945. Not because everyone was a cult member, but because there were enough cult members around to ensure that deviating from the paryt line was very, very dangerous.

    Likewise, it is very hard to explain the almost total GOP obsequience (I think) without the electoral threat posed by the cultists.

    In short, I think there are at least a couple of indications (in addition to the fact that we have actual cultists attending Trump’s rallies) that the cult framework can add to our understanding of what is going on (rather than replace what political scientists already know).

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  67. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    No one here besides Reynolds is pushing the cult of personality thing hard.

    There are some vague connections, but nah.

    I am more into tribal identification run amok linked to xenophobic white nationalism.

    Reynolds raises some strong points, but he does not speak for the commentariat. He’s one guy.

    You really dislike that framing, but he is going to continue it.

    (Reynolds is a self admitted asshole, btw. Much respect. I like a person who knows who he is.)

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  68. Jay L Gischer says:

    Earlier today I watched a YouTube video by a music blogger. No political content there. It served me a banner ad that asked the question, “Should Hillary Clinton Finally Get The Punishment She Deserves?” with an unflattering picture of her, of course.

    I’m like, “wat”. How is that remotely relevant to the current situation? My guess is that it isn’t. It’s an attempt to change the subject, to get followers to think of anything else. And they’ve got money to burn on shotgunned YouTube ads. These days I get lots of them pushing conservative memes and conservative lies.

    But why would anyone think, well Trump has done nothing about Hillary for 4 years, but NOW he’s gonna do it? And yet I know there are people who think that way.

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  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “Cult” connotes people being hoodwinked or fooled.

    Setting aside Trump and other specific examples, I found this a surprising statement. I had to think about it for a while, and I concluded that I don’t think this is quite right. What makes it a cult is irrational loyalty, with or without deception. From our rationalist viewpoint, it’s tempting to say that anyone who willingly sets aside rationality has been “fooled”, but I think psychologically that’s inaccurate. It’s a cult whether or not the leader believes his own patter; it’s only a con if he doesn’t.

    Again, I’m not trying to say anything about Trump (or Hitler) here; I was just surprised that you thought “deception” was a defining element of cults.

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  70. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: From the comment that our friend Dr. Taylor linked to:

    I’ve invented hundreds, maybe as many as a thousand characters. I know how they think, I know how they feel, I know what they’re afraid of, I know what they want, I know their limitations, I know how they process information.

    So, of the two of us, objectively, who is more likely to understand people? The guy who studies political systems? Or the guy who earns millions creating characters sufficiently compelling that people tattoo their names on their bodies and write ten thousand word fan fiction and launch endless YouTube videos, all inspired by those ‘people’ and narratives I made up?

    Remember James Pearce and his bus rides where he would try to imagine what the other people on the bus thought about things, and then claimed he understood people better because of this and lots of people laughed at him? He was trying to be empathetic and understand things from others‘ perspectives, and people mocked him for it because people are awful.

    Also he would argue that he really understood people because of these exercises and seemed to lose track of the fact that these people were mostly made up.

    You’re doing the same thing as James Pearce.

    Creating believable, compelling characters is not the same thing as understanding people. There’s overlap, but characters are generally way less complex than people. Characters have to behave semi-rationally from a set of motivations and flaws.

    My brothers are Trumpy. They would make really shitty characters in a YA novel*. They break character all the time.

    The painter John Mallard William Turner didn’t understand light, he understood paint and how to evoke the feeling of having seen light in the viewers of his paintings. A physicist will understand light and optics. You’re the painter, not the physicist.

    ——
    *: Some 800 page Russian novel about man’s inhumanity towards man… they might fit right in, but there’s a reason 800 page Russian novels about man’s inhumanity towards man aren’t on the best-seller lists…

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  71. Gustopher says:

    @drj:

    The partisanship/institutions framework, for instance, cannot adequately explain how the party of (former) Cold War warriors got suddenly sucked into subscribing to a Russian conspiracy theory about Ukrainian servers.

    To use a sports analogy: the team traded for a new star player.

    A lot of people who supported the Republican Party didn’t care about any of that, that was just what was printed on the jerseys. New year, new jerseys.

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  72. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The Qanon set believes that Hillary in particular and establishment Ds are frankly child molesters and probably cannibals.

    It is what prompted that DC pizza place freak-out which had no basement sex dungeon because it had no basement.

    Qanon alleges “The Storm” is coming and any day now Trump will give the green light to non-deep state feds to arrest the Deep State lackies, Clintons, Pelosi, and Schumer, and the usual suspects.

    It is recycled Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion bullshit.

    Millions believe it.

    There are also three percenters and boogaloos. The dregs of American right wing obsessionalists have many idiotic ideas.

    It’s basically inventing a reason to justify hatred and a desire for retribution. It is bonkers nonsense.

    They are your neighbor.

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  73. drj says:

    @Gustopher:

    To use a sports analogy: the team traded for a new star player.

    Sports analogies are just that. I’m not sure how helpful they are.

    But to use another sports analogy (despite my reservations): what if the new star QB suddenly wants to kneel during the anthem?

    It wouldn’t pass without comment. Identity isn’t that malleable.

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  74. MarkedMan says:

    Like so many endless arguments, the “cult” argument arises because there is no consensus on what the term means, and no attempt to reach one, but a haste to argue.

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  75. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    Hasn’t it always been that way?

    I think so. In Rome, Egypt, Greece and other ancient Mediterranean civilizations, holidays were explicitly festivals, with food, drink, and entertainment provided by the ruling class. Rome even had a magistracy, the Aedile, in charge of funding such festivals from their own purse (there were usually 4 aediles serving at a time in the city).

    But they probably took their festivals more seriously, especially those devoted to a deity. To the ancients, the gods were not only real, but to be handled cautiously. Making a mockery of a festival to a god would ensure catastrophe. The Greeks mounted their famous plays only on such festivals.

    So it’s still some of the same, but not all of the same.

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  76. CSK says:

    Well, NBC reporter Paula Reid finally asked Trump the question we’ve all been pondering: “Mr. President, why do you keep hiring people that you believe are wackos and liars?” Trump declined to answer, though the query apparently displeased him.

    I, too, long for a response from Trump on this issue. He claims to hire only the best. Yet, gosh darn it, 86% of them turn out to be “losers,” “dogs,” “overrated,” “dummies,” etc.

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  77. de stijl says:

    @drj:

    It’s not unuseful.

    Romney was the man in 2012.

    Now he’s a scrub after he got traded to San Francisco.

    I’m going to do a Reynolds and offer a theory that others will criticize:

    Tribal identity. In-group, out-group reactive thinking.

    I remember Romney getting a lot of R votes.

    Now, Romney is a traitor because he pushed back at Trump.

    There is some pathology there. It is trending towards more provocation.

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  78. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The define your terms fallacy?

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  79. @MarkedMan:

    Like so many endless arguments, the “cult” argument arises because there is no consensus on what the term means, and no attempt to reach one, but a haste to argue.

    So much this. This is why I referred to it repeatedly above as “colloquial”–and I am content to leave it be as that.

    Meanwhile, I have probably written several thousand (if not tens of thousands at this point) trying to explain “partisanship.”

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  80. @drj:

    But to use another sports analogy (despite my reservations): what if the new star QB suddenly wants to kneel during the anthem?

    Actually, sports analogies are pretty powerful.

    If Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliot starting to kneel at Dallas Cowboys games, there would be a backlash and some would rebel at being fans. But a lot of fans would find ways to rationalize their star players behaving as they are.

    Indeed, that is kind of my point about Trump. Some Rs have quit R fandom, while others have rationalized him because he is the leader of the team.

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  81. @DrDaveT:

    is irrational loyalty

    All loyalty is, to some degree, irrational (i.e., not due to a reasoned conclusion). Cults tend to reflect a real deviation from the norm.

    Trump is not that big a deviation for a certain segment of the population. He is giving voice to their views on race and ethnicity and what America being “great” supposedly means.

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  82. Sleeping Dog says:

    In, It’s all a Hoax News.

    Five Phillies Players, Three Staff Members Test Positive For Coronavirus

    Difficult to see how pro and college sports can come back with out playing in one of Dr Fauci’s bubbles. The NBA & NHL maybe able to play out the season and the playoffs in a bubble as the time commitment is weeks, but 3-4 months for baseball and 8 months for football? Not likely.

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  83. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’ve seen cults in action. I had a college friend get sucked in by a cult. Whether it was a “cult” was controversial at the time. I went to a weekend with this group because of my friend, and concluded that their teaching (nominally “Christian”) was unhealthy and I wanted no part of it. I could not dissuade my friend, though. My observation was that their unhealthy message was wrapped around a seeming promise to give him something he desperately needed – approval and love. Their approval was contingent though – on parroting exactly their teaching and never questioning it. So manipulative.

    Some parties have learned to scale up this dynamic using Facebook. Because Facebook commodifies human friendship. It turns my stomach. The lies are mixed in with the promise of friendship, approval and love. They are contingent. Challenge any of them and you will be cast out.

    There’s a performative aspect to this. Some of the more outlandish beliefs articulated and demonstrated may not be fully embraced by the actors, but the performance of them is praised and elevated within the group. They sort of know that Trump is also performing, and exalt him as better at performing than they are. However, it’s important to understand that the whole dynamic runs on a promise of approval, acceptance and love.

    And the consequence of this is that certain kinds of behaviors maintain this structure. For instance, provocation of outsiders, often prompts those outsiders to attack or demean members of the group. This has the effect of denying them the love and approval they might seek from outsiders, and strengthens the ties within the group.

    There was a time in the 70’s when “cult deprogramming” was a thing. I think it was a lot like “conversion therapy” for gay people. I don’t think that’s going to work all that well – though maybe it works for some people, just like a Twelve-Step program will work for certain sorts of personalities. I feel a lighter, more long-term focused approach will do better with many.

    Is this “the Republican Party”? I don’t think so, but unless others who care about the brand of the “the Republican Party” manage to do something about it, it will be. This kind of organization quite naturally drives out all the ‘non-believers’.

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  84. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Many Americans equate greatness to dickishness.

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  85. Michael Cain says:

    @Kathy:

    Aren’t they kind of a holdover?

    They are in the same class of events as religious rallies, rock concerts, and professional wrestling house shows. They are an opportunity for the believers to reinforce one another in person, with passion. If you’ve never attended such an event, trust me when I say that it’s enormously more emotionally intense than anything you can experience by television. There will always be a place for that kind of spectacle in the media arsenal.

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  86. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Cult deprogramming and conversion therapy are not related.

    On the surface level, kinda. But fundamentally no. So very no.

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  87. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl:

    The define your terms fallacy?

    ?

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  88. de stijl says:

    I’m rationally loyal the Vikings.

    We’re totally due.

    I remember watching the World Series with a guy who did not get BA. “He’s so due!”

    After two attempts I just bit my tongue.

    In the end Gene Larkin did in fact get a hit and drove in Gladden, so in a way, dude was right.

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  89. Teve says:

    @itsjefftiedrich

    look, I may not agree with the way our president is threatening peaceful protesters, but he is our leader and I will defend to the death his right to be impeached, removed from office, arrested, stripped of his wealth, tried for his crimes and thrown straight the fuck into prison

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  90. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Normally, I would agree with him, but since we’re talking about a man who never met a Mid-East war that he didn’t want to sent someone else’s child to die in, I’ll make an exception for Bolton.

    I mean, you’ve got a point.

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  91. MarkedMan says:

    A tangent: what is the definition of a cult? I don’t have a good answer, but I suspect any useful one would have the same component as the “are you an alcoholic” questionnaires: “Has your actions led to problems at work, with family or with friends?” Obviously not sufficient in this case. If your drinking caused you a problem at work, you have a drinking problem, whether or not you’re an alcoholic. But if your beliefs caused you a problem at work, the fault may lie with others.

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  92. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Again, I’m not trying to say anything about Trump (or Hitler) here; I was just surprised that you thought “deception” was a defining element of cults.

    Notice that Steven used the word “connotes” rather than “denotes.” The term “cult of personality” has strong connotations of dangerous demagoguery, typically for an evil cause, even though none of those things are a necessary part of the definition of the term. It partly goes back to the word “cult” itself, which has long been used as a way of describing religious groups that are deemed unusually deviant or threatening, even though there isn’t any bright line separating cults from mainstream religious groups. (It has been said that the difference between a cult and a religion is 100 years.) That, I think, is where the connotations of mind control and mass deception in the term “cult of personality” come from.

    In reality, cults of personality are a fairly normal part of democracy, as strange as that may sound. FDR was definitely a cult of personality, as was Martin Luther King (whom some of the Freedom Riders mockingly referred to as “De Lawd”). A couple of months ago Michael here referenced the song “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. The song repeatedly juxtaposes the names of people commonly regarded as villains (Stalin, Mussolini) with those regarded as heroes (JFK, Gandhi). It could have just stuck to the bad guys. But that would have been too easy.

    I am not being relativistic here. My point is that cults of personality exist on a spectrum, and it’s only at the extremes that they become truly deranged. But cultishness itself–turning certain people practically into demigods–is a very normal human trait.

    What makes Trump stand out is his blatant and obvious buffoonishness, and from listening to Trump supporters over the years and the way they rationalize their support for him, it seems to me there’s a strong element of self-deception involved. They aren’t just deluded. They’re deluding themselves. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard defenses of him that begin “He may be a jerk, but….” or “He may be crude, but….” or “He may be an idiot, but….”

    You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned his racism. That’s because there have been many racist demagogues who weren’t anywhere near as cartoonishly ridiculous as Trump. (Has there EVER been a political leader as cartoonishly ridiculous as Trump?) There’s just such a powerful emotional drive among these people to rationalize away his ridiculousness. The trick is to focus less on Trump and more on the horrified reactions of the bourgeoisie, the libtards, the coastal elites to Trump, to take pleasure in the effect he has on them. I’ve seen him compared to the Rodney Dangerfield characters in Caddyshack and Back to School, the boorish nouveau riche guy who puts all the snobs in their place. I’m not saying that’s an accurate description of Trump. But it is an accurate description of the way his fans see him. He represents, to them, a cathartic release against all the mockery they’ve received from the snooty, high-falutin folks who look down on them. That’s why it’s impossible to get through to these people: they know Trump is a straw-man, and the more he acts like one, the more they love him. For them, that’s the entire point.

    It reminds me of an article I read about the Flat Earth movement in the 19th century, where it noted that one advocate “loved the idea [of flat earth] more for its poke in the eye it gave to the scientific establishment than for reasons of biblical fealty.”

    That’s what enables Trump’s fans to be so totally detached from reality. It’s more than just a normal “cult” phenomenon (though in fact a lot of actual cults function this way), as it represents not just an indifference to the truth but a stubborn denial of it. Everything about the Trump movement contributes to this extreme level of denial in a way we really haven’t seen before in this country.

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  93. Kit says:

    @drj:

    what if the new star QB suddenly wants to kneel during the anthem?

    Yeah, ok, but this really isn’t the analogy that we are reaching for. Imagine instead that the star QB denounces the players on his team who kneel, denounces the coach for his limp support, goes after the owner for not firing the lot, and encourages his fans to go after the journalists covering the games. What he never does is challenge the views of his fans.

    The point is not that identity is malleable, but that behind a weak identity is lurking a stronger one.

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  94. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    “We cannot possibly have this discussion unless you address my previous demand to define in concrete terms what “establishment” means.”

    A define your terms fallacy is a debating dodge used when people don’t want to talk about the actual point and make you define what x means.

    Instead of talking about an opinion, you spend much back and forth defining what x means.

    In this instance it is the definition of cult.

    There may be another name for it. The “define your terms” fallacy is my shorthand name.

    A means to re-direct to the argumentative flow.

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  95. Monala says:

    @de stijl: I recall an incident when Romney was at a campaign stop in 2012, and the people there kept cheering for and shouting Paul Ryan’s name. Romney made a pathetic attempt to get the crowd to shout, “No, it’s ROMNEY-Ryan, ROMNEY-Ryan!” to no avail.

    In other words, a lot of Republicans may have voted for Romney in 2012 because of the R beside his name, but they didn’t love him. He wasn’t “their man.”

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  96. de stijl says:

    @Kit:

    OSU is living through this because Coach Gundy and his OAN shirt.

    Many players were not amused and said so publicly.

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  97. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: Hmmmmmm… Ida know, I detect a touch of ambiguity.

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  98. Roger says:

    @drj:

    But to use another sports analogy (despite my reservations): what if the new star QB suddenly wants to kneel during the anthem?

    It wouldn’t pass without comment. Identity isn’t that malleable.

    We’re getting to watch something like this happen in real time in KC. I’m a long time Chiefs season ticket holder. The animosity in the stands toward kneeling players was not universal, but it was widespread and sometimes ugly. It’s interesting to watch the reaction now that Pat Mahomes says the words Black Lives Matter in a video. For some people, the combination of the Floyd video and a sports hero (who is black but not too black) affirming that this stuff is real seems to be shifting attitudes, while others just double down on the racism.

    It will be interesting to see how the numbers in each of those groups change if Mahomes continues to talk about this, or even kneels. But I suspect the biggest driver of those numbers will be whether or not he continues to perform at an MVP level. That’s my biggest disconnect on Trump’s support. He’s playing like Ryan Leaf but they still cheer him like he’s Joe Montana.

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  99. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kylopod:

    Excellent post. I only offer to add, tongue in cheek, that an apparent ability to force others to accept lies denotes power, and Kissinger tells us the kind of drug power is.
    Many cultists aren’t as delusional as they seem, not really.

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  100. @de stijl: And a lot of OSU fans will defend Gundy and even decide they love OAN without knowing what it is. But if Gundy is fired or quits, those OSU fans will stay OSU fans in the main–they won’t follow Gundy to his next team.

    Gundy’s influence is heavily a function of the position that he holds. This is analogous to what I am saying about how a lot of people react to Trump.

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  101. Jay L Gischer says:

    @de stijl: Well, I don’t know that much about either one, so you are very likely better informed than I am.

    However, you might just be reacting to the fact that the goals of cult deprogramming are something you endorse, but not so much for “conversion therapy”. I share your values.

    I’m talking not about goals, though, but about methods. My suspicions stem from my understanding that those of these procedures come out of the same subculture – a subculture I associate with evangelical Christian groups such as Campus Crusade For Christ. They feature intensive ‘counterprogramming’ sessions and so on.

    But, as I said, I’m not that well informed and I would be happy to be educated on the subject.

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  102. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    How many will it take?

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  103. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: I think it was because I was born in 1958 and my parochial grade school was using 2nd hand textbooks, and my public highschool was far more concerned with shoving us out the door than they were with educating us.*

    Well. that and the fact that I grew up in STL the “most northern Southern city in the US”. Racism was baked into daily life.

    * True story: My first day of American History my junior year the teacher got up and said, “I don’t care if you fail every test, I don’t care if you sleep in class, if you show up to every class you’ll pass with a D-.” I spent every class hanging out in the smoking area. I had a classmate tell me when the tests were and showed up to get my certain 95%.

    Damn near every class I had was like that.

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  104. @Kylopod: Thanks for your comment, and I endorse your points.

    Especially:

    Notice that Steven used the word “connotes” rather than “denotes.” The term “cult of personality” has strong connotations of dangerous demagoguery, typically for an evil cause, even though none of those things are a necessary part of the definition of the term. It partly goes back to the word “cult” itself, which has long been used as a way of describing religious groups that are deemed unusually deviant or threatening, even though there isn’t any bright line separating cults from mainstream religious groups. (It has been said that the difference between a cult and a religion is 100 years.) That, I think, is where the connotations of mind control and mass deception in the term “cult of personality” come from.

    I agree with all of this.

    To me, almost the entire deployment of “cult” and “cult of personality” in these conversations is connotative, not denotative.

    In reality, cults of personality are a fairly normal part of democracy, as strange as that may sound. FDR was definitely a cult of personality, as was Martin Luther King (whom some of the Freedom Riders mockingly referred to as “De Lawd”). A couple of months ago Michael here referenced the song “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. The song repeatedly juxtaposes the names of people commonly regarded as villains (Stalin, Mussolini) with those regarded as heroes (JFK, Gandhi). It could have just stuck to the bad guys. But that would have been too easy.

    Indeed. I have acknowledged this in past conversations, to include a direct reference to FDR.

    And, to pick up on the “bright line” distinction, at what point does admiration or even deep loyalty turn into a “cult of personality”? Does having an Obama “Hope” poster on my way qualify? Does waiting in line to see him speak? For how long? Is a 2-hour wait normal, but 12-hours is cult territory? Do I have to be willing to camp out to be considered in a cult?

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  105. de stijl says:

    @Roger:

    Did you just compare Pat Mahomes to Ryan Leaf?

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  106. @Monala: There is no doubt that some politicians are better able to rouse a crowd than are others.

    For example: Obama and Bill were better at it than HRC (and all three were better than Dukakis or Mondale).

    And not to just pick on electoral losers, how electric do you think Jimmy Carter was in 1976? (I recently visited his presidential library, and oratory electricity is not what you come away with from all the clips, not to mention I do have some memory of the 1980 campaign).

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  107. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: Not to argue with you but, what did one call a German who joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party only for business reasons?

    A Nazi.

    My point only being that the Republican Party as presently constituted is racist, xenophobic, plutocratic, demagogic, corrupt, amoral, and no doubt a few more less than savory things. Whatever one’s reasons are for being in the GOP, they own it all.

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  108. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Conversion therapy is being forced to go to a camp where the goal is to convince you your last name isn’t Gischer.

    I am not here to educate you. I assume you can Google.

    I was being circumspect and polite earlier.

    Comparing cult deprogramming to conversion therapy is a terrible comparison and really quite offensive.

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  109. @Roger:

    It will be interesting to see how the numbers in each of those groups change if Mahomes continues to talk about this, or even kneels. But I suspect the biggest driver of those numbers will be whether or not he continues to perform at an MVP level.

    Mahomes won the SB. Fans will adapt to his kneeling, should it occur (with a few vocal ones at least pretending to no longer watch).

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  110. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Nice, I’m gonna have to look for that.

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  111. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I get the analogy, but the specifics bug me.

    If Gundy apologizes to his team and does the requisite media mea culpa he will continue to rake in millions of tax payer dollars.

    Those kids are going to be characterized as malcontents and pushy SJWs.

    The disparity of power in college football is vast.

    In good news the SEC told Mississippi that their flag meant no league championship games.

    History is bending to the right. Finally.

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  112. de stijl says:

    If the SEC says you’re too racist, you’re pretty goddamned racist.

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  113. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    What’s amusing is that Reid’s question is one that the Trumpkins, like Trump, have to ignore because there’s no answer to it that doesn’t make Lardass look like an incompetent fool. What, after all, can they say?
    1. Only losers want to work for Trump.
    2. Trump is a lousy judge of character and qualifications.
    3. Trump hires losers, liars, and wackos because honest, stable winners make him feel like a schmuck by comparison.

    Can you think of a good reason why Trump only hires liars, wackos, dopes, losers, and dogs?

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  114. de stijl says:

    And NASCAR banned the Confederate flag.

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  115. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    To me, almost the entire deployment of “cult” and “cult of personality” in these conversations is connotative, not denotative.

    Fair enough.

    But I don’t need to remind you that nobody was gushing about the size of Obama’s junk or claiming that Hillary Clinton was sending little starbursts through the screen. And that’s even before Trump.

    So what word WOULD you use to denote the current qualitative differences between Democratic and Republican partisanship?

    Assuming you don’t think it is pointless to be able to express these differences in words.

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  116. @drj: Well, Chris Matthews did get a tingle down his leg when Obama spoke, so there’s that. But, of course, we are both simply providing anecdotes at this point.

    Or, really, the entire Bernie Bros phenomenon might also yield some examples.

    So what word WOULD you use to denote the current qualitative differences between Democratic and Republican partisanship?

    As I have noted repeatedly: in the aggregate, not that much.

    I think, actually, that there is a combination of events that could spark a Trump-like figure on the left. I think if Bernie was the nominee it would be easier to find some specific examples (although no, I am not saying Bernie is a Trump analog, but he would have been a significant deviation for the party).

    That Trump is a true outlier in his behavior doesn’t change the basics of what I am talking about.

    And the reality is that there is a white nationalist faction of the GOP and it is largely in control at the moment.

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  117. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Why would anyone willingly work for Trump?

    If you see the job through he will sue you.

    If you bail, he will call up Page Six and pay them to have them slag you. On top of the shit Trump will fling your way because spite.

    Mattis, Kelly, that crowd thought they could contain and reign him in and prevent him from destroying everything he touched.

    Trump is the anti-Midas, fools. You lost your standing and reputation by enabling him.

    DoS, DoJ, DoD. Check, check, and check. Trump ruins and corrupts everything he touches.

    Trump is a kaiju stomping America.

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  118. Teve says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And the reality is that there is a white nationalist faction of the GOP and it is largely in control at the moment.

    Yup.

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  119. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: These are the same people who have been “one Congressional election” away from a Human Life Amendment since 1980. Hope springs eternal.

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  120. Teve says:

    Well his is interesting:

    “Gorsuch was indeed “grown in a Federalist Society lab” — the Federalist Society was created to nurture a steady supply of conservative judges who could be pre-vetted and delivered to a Republican administration for quick appointment. But who do you think is lavishly funding the Federalist Society to make sure their interests are taken care of? It’s not social conservatives. It’s corporations.”

    linky

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  121. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: I think that if you do the last one inBOLD ITALIC ALL CAPS, he’ll concede…

    …or he may be just trolling you. 😉

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  122. Teve says:

    Wow, I knew there were rehydration solutions that worked a lot better than water at being absorbed but I just made the basic UN recipe and shit, it worked almost instantly. Way better than just straight water. I felt better in minutes.

    1 liter or quart of water
    3 Tbsp sugar
    1/4 tsp salt. 

    For some reason the sugar and salt make your body just absorb it like crazy. I drank 2 L of that solution and within 30 minutes it was like I’d never been dehydrated.

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  123. Jen says:

    Looks like they’re going ahead with Covidpalooza 2020 in Tulsa.

    I hope Oklahoma and surrounding states have enough hospital beds.

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  124. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: What’s interesting is that, like you, I’ve *always* known about Juneteenth because, like you, I attended early grade school (and also 8th grade and half of 9th) in Texas. I got a lot of Jim Crow/ MLK/civil rights but maybe that was because I attended 4th through 7th grades in Defense Department schools. I may or may not have gotten more of that when I moved to Alabama for the second half of 9th grade.

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  125. Monala says:

    @de stijl: it may have changed, but I recall reading articles back in the ‘90s about cult deprogramming. It often involved luring the person away from the cult under false pretenses (e.g., “we need you to come home because Mom has cancer”), holding them against their will, depriving them of sleep and/or food, and inundating them with information about why the cult was evil. In other words, the process was often just like the one that got them into the cult in the first place, only with the opposite goal. So, quite similar to conversion therapy.

    The process may have changed in the last two decades; I haven’t heard much about it in recent years.

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  126. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As I have noted repeatedly: in the aggregate, not that much.

    I suspect you are not engaging with my point. (This is not criticism, just an observation.)

    My point was about the qualitative differences in partisanship. A response that brings up a quantitative assessment of voting patterns (or other partisan expressions) misses the mark.

    I think that these qualitative differences matter, especially because the two parties are not symmetrically positioned on the political spectrum.

    If your position is that these qualitative differences are not particularly interesting and that we should only care about electoral outcomes, just say so.

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  127. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: But it’s worth noting that we overlooked their Nazi affiliation for the most part. We differentiated the ‘true believers’ in the leadership who carried out Hitler’s atrocities while letting bygones be bygones for most of the rank and file because even the likes of George Patton understood we needed to get in with rebuilding Germany and needed their skill sets.

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  128. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Honestly, I’ll be shocked if the NFL doesn’t come around to my long-standing position that it should simply stop playing the national anthem ahead of games. It’s bad for business to have something that divisive happening and yet they can’t simply force players to stand at attention. So, just remove the issue.

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  129. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I swore a little this week. Gotta admit it.

    It was Andrew Sullivan and Trump. Totally deserved f bombs.

    Do you think I am some wind up monkey.

    (clank) fuck him

    Like I’m a clown here to amuse you?

    (clank) fuck him

    I am not your toy!

    What spiked me this morning is not that it was originally scheduled for today of all days…

    but it was that Trump said he made Juneteenth famous.

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck him. That narcissistic braggart.

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  130. @drj: I took your question to mean: how does partisanship as partisanship effect Dem and Reps. I don’t think, qualitatively, it is different.

    I am not trying to be obtuse and just repeat myself.

    Now, if your question is about the content of partisan beliefs at the moment, or a normative (i.e., value-based) assessment, I clearly see the GOP as highly problematic. After all, I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago that called Trump at least fascist-adjacent.

    When you say “qualitative” do you really mean “values judgment”?

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  131. @James Joyner: I actually think we are headed to the League endorsing kneeling.

    But yes, the whole “kneeling is putting politics in my sports” is undercut by playing the anthem in the first place (or by flyovers, or military appreciation month, or cancer awareness, or any number of other things). Politics in all the things, dontcha know.

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  132. Jay L Gischer says:

    @de stijl:

    Conversion therapy is being forced to go to a camp where the goal is to convince you your last name isn’t Gischer.

    I don’t disagree at all. And still you are angry with me, and don’t want to talk about why. I’m not here to force you to talk about anything at all, it’s pretty clearly a painful subject. I just wish that I felt you understood me, and I don’t.

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  133. de stijl says:

    @Monala:

    Please stop comparing cult deprogramming to conversion therapy!

    It’s extremely offensive.

    I can’t believe this needed to be said three times.

    Comparing these two is really uncool.

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  134. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I was slightly annoyed.

    Now after Monola’s comment, I am trending a bit towards anger.

    Can you not discern a difference between the two?

    I am not here to hand hold through the absolute basics of 101 first day compassion and empathy stuff.

    You are comparing orientation to a cult. That is insane.

    You are a functioning adult. When someone says they are offended, there is an extremely high percentage they actually are offended.

    Are you incapable of Googling conversion therapy? I guarantee there is a Wiki article with links.

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  135. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    Covidpalooza

    Totally stealing that.

    BTW, the BLM protests began around 20 days ago. Does anyone know of any related spikes in COVID-19 cases as a result?

    Contagion doesn’t depend on politics, of course, but from the footage I saw, many did wear masks, even if they didn’t keep much distance, and all events took place outdoors. That’s different than cramming people in close quarters inside an arena, with few wearing masks, as we expect Trump’s 90-minute hate to take place.

    I am concerned about the protest spreading SARS-CoV-2, but I’m more concerned about the planned rallies doing so.

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  136. de stijl says:

    Certainly the protests spread the virus.

    Too many people in too small a space.

    Even if everybody was masked that it is not a prophylactic.

    We are now in a post-lockdown mindset as a population.

    I’m not. I am introvert. Many are not. Want to
    get out and about.

    The appetite and forbearance for a lockdown protocol is seemingly spent. Likely way too soon.

    Expect to see a lot of people sporting masks on the streets while our neighbors die.

    Not inevitable, but really close.

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  137. Monala says:

    @de stijl: Tell me why. I just described what used to happen (I am unsure if it still does) in cult deprogramming (basically, kidnapping and reverse brainwashing). Even if the goal is a noble one, while conversion therapy is not, the ends do not justify the means.

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  138. Monala says:

    @de stijl: no one is comparing orientation to being in a cult! Certainly, I’m not. I’m saying that what they used to do to get people out of cults was similar to what happens in conversion therapy. As someone (Jay?) said above, it’s a comparison of methods, not purpose, and certainly not a judgment of the individuals who are victims of conversion therapy.

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  139. Michael Cain says:

    @James Joyner:

    Honestly, I’ll be shocked if the NFL doesn’t come around to my long-standing position that it should simply stop playing the national anthem ahead of games.

    IIRC, the anthem used to be played but before the players came on the field. The networks used that time to run a last bit of studio analysis or the last of the pre-game commercials. The seats were often half empty as people made their last-minute bathroom or beer run. DOD offered money and free color guards if the owners would arrange for it to be carried, the league moved it to after the players came onto the field, which in turn required the networks to show it. DOD got a 60-second ad spot for almost nothing. I expect the league to move it back to where the networks don’t show it. Heck, I expect the networks to insist on it when the contracts are up for renewal — no more freebie commercials.

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  140. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    I am introvert.

    There seems to be quite a few of us here.

    Introverts of the world unite!

    Separately.

    That’s our big problem.

    Back on point, I’m sure the protests spread the virus. The question is by how much. It’s hard to quantify protest attendance accurately, but it’s not that hard to determine which were the largest. From there, one can count the number of cases starting 14 days after each protest, and compare them to the averages before the protests.

    Then do the same with the Trump hate rallies and see the difference.

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  141. Jay L Gischer says:

    @de stijl:

    You are comparing orientation to a cult. That is insane.

    I am doing no such thing. It is as if I were to say that cold calls about kittens are similar to cold calls about rapists in some technical way, and you were to reply that I’m saying that rapists are like kittens. I am decidedly NOT saying that.

    Consider the following statement: The Nazis invented freeways. This is factual. Does it assert that everyone who builds freeways is a Nazi? Does it assert that everyone who drives on a freeway is a Nazi? It does not.

    I am in no way describing orientation as a cult. I AM asserting that certain people have treated it as if it were a cult. And that’s precisely what makes that treatment so terrible. But the truth be told, I don’t think that method is all that great for getting people out of cults.

    So, I was right that you didn’t understand my statement, like, at all. The thing is, if you’re going to be angry with me, I’d prefer it be over some belief or action that I actually have, or actually have done, rather than something in your imagination.

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  142. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    People who frequent OTB seem to spend their free time reading and thinking, which are activities to which introverts are given. And no one seems to have suffered undue psychological stress from being confined to home. I don’t know what I’d do if I were the kind of person who desperately needed lots of company 24/7. Go nuts, I suppose.

    The fact that Trump doesn’t seem at all worried that the attendees at his rally might fall ill themselves, and infect thousands of other people, illustrates just how much he’s driven by his demons. I don’t expect that he’d care if huge numbers of people die. But you’d think he’d worry about the bad publicity that would accrue to him if that happens. That this doesn’t appear to concern him is shows how overwhelming his need for attention is.

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  143. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:
    @Michael Cain:

    Or the networks and the league could take a page from the original Rollerball film, and play the corporate anthem.

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  144. Tyrell says:

    “FBI finds thousands of classified documents in Air Force worker’s home”
    It seems that a contract worker at Wright-Patterson AFB managed to take tons of secret files to his home.
    Wright-Patterson is the site of Hangar 18. I would love to see those papers. Maybe he will write a book about them.
    “Hangar 18 Secrets Finally Revealed”
    Even Senator Goldwater was not allowed in there.

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  145. Teve says:

    @Kathy: I’m an introvert in a commission sales job. My introversion actually helps me because I like geeking out on things and reading. And I am an introvert but I’m not shy, I can chat up literally anybody in America*. You can put, in my hands, an iphone, any of the 24 models they’ve released in 13 years, and without looking at the screen I can tell you which model it is. It’s like a parlor trick.

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  146. de stijl says:

    @Monala:

    OMFG.

    Orientation is not cult programming.

    JFC. grr.

    I cannot deprogram you out of your green eyes.

    This is not complicated. At all!

    If you have further questions, ask Google, please.

    I am so done with this absolute nonsense where people don’t get that comparing orientation to a cult is okay. Your ignorance is now your problem.

    You two total simpletons might one day understand why saying so is highly offensive.

    That is not my issue. Do or don’t. Your call. Don’t @ me about it.

    @Jay L Gischer:

    It’s not personally painful. I’m not gay. I have witnessed many friends either been shut off from contact by their family, or they were forced shut off contact to their family because of the pain and anxiety.

    Every time the phone rings it might be dad saying I am pervert because I like girls.

    It is no way to live. I will not abide it.

    In future, think reaaaaly hard about comparing conversion therapy to deprogramming.

    It’s a bad comparison

    It’s really fucking offensive

    You seem like a person who means well. I don’t believe you were intentionally offensive. I hope you decide to not be in the future.

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  147. Teve says:

    * Back in the day at several of my barista jobs, the customer would be standing a few feet from me for two minutes while I prepared their drink. And you’re in that situation 300 times a day. If you’re just standing there silent for two minutes it’s kind of weird and uncomfortable, so I would start making conversation. As a result of those coffee jobs, and the trial and error I did, I can literally chat up anybody in America at any time, effortlessly. It took a hell of a lot of effort, to get to that point though. I fucked up, embarrassingly, a thousand times. (The big trick is to get people talking about themselves, because it’s everyone’s favorite subject.)

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  148. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    I don’t know what I’d do if I were the kind of person who desperately needed lots of company 24/7. Go nuts, I suppose.

    Isn’t it very obvious such people are already nuts?

    But you’d think he’d worry about the bad publicity that would accrue to him if that happens. That this doesn’t appear to concern him is shows how overwhelming his need for attention is.

    He may believe he’s invulnerable. Or he may be like an addict who has to get his fix, and damn the consequences. Or he may think he’s smart enough to counter negative publicity. Or, most likely, he can’t think past the present, and what happens tomorrow is a problem for someone else, namely future-Trump, to worry about.

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  149. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    To me, almost the entire deployment of “cult” and “cult of personality” in these conversations is connotative, not denotative.

    This may explain a fair bit of talking past each other, because I (and I’m pretty sure at least some of the others) are using it in a purely technical, denotative sense. It has characteristics A, B, C, … holy crap, it really is a cult. How did that happen?

    I think the thing we continually struggle with is that you (understandably) want to see Trumpism entirely within the framework you have developed over your career for understanding political movements and parties. Some of us, on the other hand, are trying very hard to understand the obvious qualitative differences between Trumpism and every other successful mainstream political movement of our lives. For me personally, the big one is the rejection of objective truth — that is such a huge thing that it dominates (for me) all other differences. Analyzing Trumpism as a cult has more explanatory power, to me, than analyzing it as an extreme case of partisan politics as usual. It’s not just an epithet — it’s an attempt to understand the mechanisms.

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  150. gVOR08 says:

    @drj: I keep bringing up Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized, but I only do it because it’s a very good book length treatment of all the stuff we keep talking about. He hits all the same themes Dr. T does.

    Most observers saw Trump as a radical break from the Republican Party’s traditions and narratives. (Norm) Ornstein saw him as the logical next step for a party that was transforming itself, its institutions, and its leadership into vessels of revanchist rage.

    But Klein does see differences between the parties. He doesn’t argue that Ds are better people, but sees three factors that drive them to be more open minded:
    Diversity,

    In their book Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats, Matt Grossmann and David Hopkins offer the most careful study yet of the differences between the Republican and Democratic coalitions. What they find is that the Democratic Party is a diverse collection of interest groups held together by policy goals, while the Republican Party is built atop a more united base that finds commonality in more abstract, ideological commitments.

    The Fox News effect, surveys show Ds get news from an array of sources, Rs favor FOX and other conservative sources.
    America, the undemocratic, because of the rural bias of our system; the Electoral College, the Senate, gerrymandering, Rs can win with a right leaning minority, Ds need an absolute majority, so they need to appeal to the middle.

    If I pull up a dictionary definition of “cult”, it’s hard to see how the rally attending MAGAts aren’t one. BUT, they are not typical Trump voters. They may be important at the margin, but most people who voted for Trump voted for him because they always vote for the R. And our partisanship is so strong, most of them will again: country club Republicans, white men, Evangelicals, whatever. Having said that, I found it fascinating how quickly the country club Rs of my acquaintance adopted Trump and his positions. And how many of them say they wish he’d stop tweeting.

    Some Republicans are cultish, some are ignorant, many are racist. But I think Dr. T sees these elements as having always been present in the electorate. An R of my acquaintance blamed volcanoes for global warming. I kept asking him for evidence volcanism had increased. Have we any evidence the electorate is any more gullible or ignorant than they used to be? (OK, FOX News, but every major city used to have a Dem daily paper and an R one.)

    Klein offers a thought I haven’t seen elsewhere, that this is an atypical time. We have roughly equal parties, a political solar system with two suns. Generally we’ve had a sun and a moon. Republicans dominated national politics from the late 1800s until the Great Depression, interrupted briefly when Teddy Roosevelt split the Republicans. Then Ds dominated until the early 80s. Since then Rs have had the best of it, but not been dominant. If you’re a Dem in 1925, or an R in 1965, the only way to get any cheddar for your supporters was to cooperate with the other party. But if you’re Moscow Mitch in 2016 it makes sense to refuse to consider Merrick Garland hoping for an R prez in 2017.

    Maybe Trump has poisoned the R brand enough we can hope for a return to D dominance for awhile.

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  151. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    How can you stand that job?

    I can tell counterfeit bills by touch alone. I worked counting piles of cash for a while, and I spotted a few.

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  152. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    You must need so much down time between shifts.

    I could not cope. Good on you.

    I had a job where it was 75% attending to my task list that I created with the bosses’ input and direction. That and mostly pointless meetings that should have been an e-mail.

    Even then I needed substantial down time to recover.

    You are kinda a hero.

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  153. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    When you say “qualitative” do you really mean “values judgment”?

    Not primarily, no.

    I understand “political partisanship” as a strong preference for a political party that represents an interrelated set of values and desired policy outcomes. Not everything has to be made explicit, but there has to be a substantive choice between e.g. favoring labor over capital, law-and-order over libertarianism, nationalism over internationalism, etc.

    So when I look at the Democratic coalition, I see a collection of desired policy outcomes and represented interests that is not without its tensions, but sort of makes sense together.

    But when I look at the current Republican party, I see displays of mindless loyalty and outright magical thinking taking precedence over what once was at least a subset of the party’s (formerly) coherent core values.

    This is the qualitative difference I am getting at. (And also why I think the “cult” framework isn’t entirely misplaced.)

    To give a specific example, hating on face masks (as quite a few GOP governors are doing) is pretty far from the most optimal path to making America’s economy and military strong – which is what the GOP should be all about.

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  154. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I’m not sure that you are as introverted as you imagine. I’ve had similar jobs where the person is waiting while I perform the service. My experience was that I couldn’t actually do the job if I had to be able to converse with them at the same time. It’s part of the reason that when I make a coffee order, I walk a few steps away from the counter so the employee won’t think they have to entertain me while working.

    Not being introverted is not a crime, btw. It’s actually a good thing. I really wish I wasn’t as introverted as I am. (For example, I would never even apply for a job like yours, nor, do I suspect, would I be good at it.)

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  155. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Yep. Trump is like an addict in need of a fix, only in his case it’s adoration rather than heroin. As for worrying about the future–what’s the future? Trump exists only in the present. Reality is only what he wants it to be. He’s a toddler version of some crazed European monarch, spoiled, petulant, rageful, self-obsessed, and surrounded by a crew of fawning courtiers busy conspiring against each other.

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  156. Monala says:

    @de stijl: I apologize for offending you. I definitely didn’t mean to suggest that sexual orientation and cult involvement are the same thing.

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  157. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: i’m an introvert, but I’m not shy. I prefer no people, no noise, but I can deal when I have to. And for coffee jobs I had to. And it was an unpleasant time in my life, but having to make conversation with all kinds of people from all walks of life from scratch, really taught me a lot about how to chat people up. And now that I’m in commission sales, I make a lot of money from that ability. A couple weeks ago, a salesman from a mobile home company tried to poach me to a (barely) six-figure job, and so I must be doing something right. 🙂

    (I like selling iPhones, I don’t think I’d like selling mobile homes)

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  158. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I’ll have to try that. Thanx.

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  159. sam says:

    Rod Dreher has made losing his shit into a vocation.

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  160. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    How did you get the conversation opened up?

    Share your best gambits.

    Asking for a friend.

    Actually I am, sorry my friend is, is not terribly socially awkward. But is interested in new techniques.

    I was always a straight black coffee guy no cream (or room) or sweetener.

    In and out in a minute. Eventually it got to the point where if they saw me in line, I would step up and they would hand me a large, say “hi” to the crew, give them a couple of bucks, and walk away. Perfect transaction.

    Nothing wrong with fancy two minute drinks. Just not my preference.

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  161. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: But it’s worth noting that we overlooked their Nazi affiliation for the most part.

    And that’s on us* because it’s worth noting that they didn’t.

    *this is not to say that the occupying forces weren’t between a rock and a hard place and that in the greater interests they didn’t have to make a few deals with the devil, just saying that let’s be honest and note that there is no corresponding need to employ competent Republicans who were just fine with tearing it all down to help rebuild our democracy.

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  162. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: I swore a little this week. Gotta admit it.

    Sheeeeit, you are the picture of civility compared to me. I swear with every breath.

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  163. Teve says:

    @de stijl:

    Oh, what kind of watch is that?
    Are you going to work?
    What do you do?
    How’d you get into that kind of work?
    Do you have to have a degree for that?
    How are the kids doing?

    And if they’ve told you something, and you absolutely cannot figure out what to say, you ask:

    why?

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  164. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I actually think we are headed to the League endorsing kneeling.

    And it took a white cop kneeling on a black man’s neck to make that acceptable. Irony is dead dead dead dead dead.

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  165. de stijl says:

    @sam:

    When is Rod Dreher not losing his shit?

    Don’t tell me. It’s about equal job protection for LGBTQ folks and how it is an affront to religious liberty and freedom of association.

    Now I am curious as to how bad he losing it. I thought of him the other day when the ruling was announced might as well see with my own eyes.

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  166. Teve says:

    @de stijl:

    I was always a straight black coffee guy no cream (or room) or sweetener.

    See, then I start talking about how I used to drink a half a gallon of gourmet coffee a day but I had to stop when my eye started twitching involuntarily, now I only drink a fourth of a gallon of coffee. Then they say something and then you say something. 😀

    If you know a lot about watches and shoes and handbags etc. that always works too. I’m pretty sure I got my current job because I started talking to the interviewer about the exact shoe model he was wearing, and how I like this and that and so forth. There are three men and five women who work in my sales department, and all three of the men are shoe nuts. Like, we have texted each other when a certain Adidas went on sale. Just got lucky on that one. Being an introvert, I read a lot, so I have a little warehouse of knowledge that I can bring up on lots of different subjects.

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  167. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Back on point, I’m sure the protests spread the virus.

    I suspect that being arrested, having one’s mask seized, and thrown into a crowded holding cell for 20 hours will spread the virus far more than being out on the street and masked.

    Cops are doing this for a reason. They are dicks.

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  168. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Being an introvert, I read a lot, so I have a little warehouse of knowledge that I can bring up on lots of different subjects.

    Being an introvert, I read a lot so I have a little warehouse of knowledge that I have NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in sharing with anybody I meet. Really. Once had to show the ropes to a new carpenter on a job hanging drywall. He talked for 2 hours straight, never shut up. Finally he says, “So Tom, what do you like?”

    “Peace and quiet.” I replied, and I finally got it.

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  169. de stijl says:

    @Monala:

    Appreciated.

    Good will to you.

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  170. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Awesome.

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  171. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I’m okay at small talk. Unless I get overly self-conscious. Not noticeably bad anyway.

    I genuinely appreciate the gambits, btw.

    I’m not half bad at all on big, deep talks.

    I suck in the middle bit. I ask too many questions in a weird way. Anxiety is such a fun little trait; it does make every conversation memorable, though.

    On my own or with friends I can let go and just be. With new others I am presenting as an amalgam of me and my best interpretation of a normal person.

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  172. de stijl says:

    @sam:

    With my own eyes I concur completely; Rod Dreher is indeed losing his shit.

    [Nelson Muntz ha ha]

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  173. Kathy says:

    For some reason, I got it into my head to read “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis.

    Overall, it was a book of baseball stories, which surprisingly was not as boring as watching a baseball game. But I found it sparse on the meat of the subject of building a winning team at bargain-basement salaries.

    I did learn something important. Too many people who find success in an unconventional way, give the impression their path is the One True Way that everyone else will Follow if they want to really Succeed.

    What the Oakland team, the focus of the book, did was find one path out of many. They were neither the only winning team, nor the most successful in the post season. Nor is their path guaranteed to last, certainly not if other teams imitate their methods.

    it’s like when Miami tried the wild cat offense. At first they were very successful with it, and even made top offenses ni the league seem boring in comparison. But as other teams figured it out and then started imitating it, the wild cat ran headlong into the wall of its limitations.

    I also don’t think Lewis’ characterization of baseball scouts is fair. Sure, he makes a good case why traditional statistics are near useless in many cases, but I doubt they are as shallow and hung up on image as Lewis makes them out to be.

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  174. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    The movie is pretty sweet. My favorite Jonah Hill role bar Wolf of Wall Street.

    Old school baseball guys were nuts for players like Johnny Damon. Scrappy guys.

    One factor you did not mention is that Oakland had relatively little money. Competing with the Yankees and other big market teams.

    How can we get to playoffs given our salary pool in this ballpark? Maximize OBP divided by salary.

    Get people on base. The runs will follow.

    Basically, they were trying to get more runs for the dollar with journeymen and utility guys.

    It wasn’t This Is The Way, but more how can small market teams compete with the big boys.

    Oakland had a really shitty ballpark and I watched hundreds of games at the Metrodome so I know shitty ballparks.

    My friend Jodi did the graphics for the right field “baggie”. Cub Foods, TCF, big-ass Ford trucks. She applied and designed most of it.

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  175. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy: Re: Moneyball

    There’s actually a strong (and I hope predictive) analogy between Moneyball and the present Republican Party.

    I was deeply involved in baseball analytics in the late 80s into the 90s. At that time, quantitative analysis of baseball was almost entirely an outsider activity. Major league teams were still in deep denial not only about the recommendations coming from the analysts, but about the ability of quantitative analysis to ever teach them something important. They literally said things like “If you’d get your nose out of that statistics book and actually watch a game, you would know that…”

    Since then, the tables have been turned 100%. Every team has a large quant group, and they listen to them. The old guard is gone. Moneyball was the publicly visible tip of the analytics iceberg that sank them.

    The Republican Party has, like the old baseball guard, hitched their wagon to anecdote, dogma, and science denial. One can only hope that they will end up similarly buried and forgotten.

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  176. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    Nor is their path guaranteed to last, certainly not if other teams imitate their methods.

    This is an important point. Oakland used analytics to identify undervalued skills, so that they could hire inexpensive talent and win. At the time, those talents were “not making outs” (on-base percentage), effective but unconventional pitching styles, etc. The market has corrected — today nobody undervalues OBP or ignores effective pitchers with funky motions.

    The quants are always looking for a new market failure — hitters that shifts aren’t effective against, or pitchers with high spin rates, or catchers with exceptional “pitch framing” skills. Every time they find one, their team exploits it until eventually the word gets out and everyone adapts. The volume of data and the computational power applied to it today were literally inconceivable in 1990, when the only way I could get complete batting and pitching statistics on every player and game was to copy them by hand out of the print editions of USA Today Baseball Weekly…

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  177. Moosebreath says:

    @Kathy:

    “But I found it sparse on the meat of the subject of building a winning team at bargain-basement salaries.”

    The book leaves out that the teams being built by Billy Beane had a number of top flight players whose tenure with the A’s predated Beane becoming GM, including Miguel Tejada (AL MVP in the year covered by the book), Eric Chavez and Tim Hudson. Or that by far Beane’s most successful draft picks were people like Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Nick Swisher, who were on everyone’s radar when they were drafted.

    The track record of the 2002 draft picks discussed in the book is far less than what Beane expected, with only Nick Swisher becoming a star, and beyond him, only Joe Blanton and Mark Teahan being anything close to league average in the Majors. Most of the highly touted picks discussed in the book either never made the Majors, or had a very short career (such as Jeremy Brown, described as the fat-a$$ catcher, who had a grand total of 11 plate appearances in the Majors).

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  178. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    I apologize.

    You did say bargain basement salaries and I totally missed it. Sorry.

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  179. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    As to the Wildcat offense in the NFL.

    It faded because defenses could hard counter it with a few adjustments. You still see it occasionally.

    It is a gimmick rather than an offense strategy. More than a trick play obviously but not a full blown offense.

    Some of things in college football can work in the NFL.

    Very often college games are superior talent across the board versus adequate talent. So it looks unstoppable. It isn’t.

    Put equivalent guys on the field with decent coaching and an unstoppable juggernaut suddenly looks blah.

    The widespread use of no backfield spread is newish. OLBs today are so fast it can be countered. But it is situationally very useful if you have a QB that can shuffle through 15-18 permutations in less than 3 seconds.

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  180. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    It’s cool to meet a fellow hard core geek.

    I had an NES. I bought a copy of Final Fantasy. Not Final Fantasy I. It was just called Final Fantasy then because the sequel was years away. Now it is possible that game has pretty close to 30 sequels.

    I would try to optimize the gear and squad actions. I had maps. I had charts. I was calculating average damage per turn. It was fascinating.

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  181. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    The demand for iPhones is relatively inelastic. The demand for RVs is extremely elastic.

    I could not cope with commission sales. One month lobster, the next ramen.

    Plus with phones people have essentially talked themselves into the purchase before they enter the store. You get to demonstrate features and differences. That’s basically facilitation rather than sales. You are helping people who want a new phone get a new phone that is right for them.

    Your life is yours but an introvert needs to be mindful of chaos and you did the math…

    Why am I going down this path? Your life. Your choice. Not my business so shut up, idiot.

    Please ignore that.

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  182. de stijl says:

    Can we please change the name of the Washington NFL team now?

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  183. Gustopher says:
  184. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I saw it was The Onion. I expected shenanigans.

    I did not expect that.

    You gave me a good laugh. That was funny.

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  185. Grewgills says:

    @Kathy:
    On Oahu we had a small spike in cases in the right time frame to be associated with the BLM Protest. At the time of the march we had been seeing new cases in the low single digits, often 0 or 1 each day. About a week after the protest we were seeing new cases in the high single digits and at about 2 weeks out we saw one day with 19 new cases.
    This does coincide with some loosening of protocols (mask wearing now only required indoors, etc) that occurred about a week after the march. There were thousands at the march and a little less than 1 million on this 26mi x 40mi rock in the middle of the Pacific. The protesters were nearly 100% compliant in wearing masks (with some breaks for drinking).

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