Open Forum

The Sunday morning edition.

Sound off.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dear Franklin Graham,

    Recently you tweeted about Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, writing that the Mayor “says he’s a gay Christian.” You then immediately implied that he isn’t—as if his sexuality somehow disqualifies him. I know that you’ve been sequestered within in the gilded gated community of your privilege and guarded by sycophants and yes-men for so long that you’re unaware of your catastrophic hubris here, so let me help you:

    You’re wrong.

    Pete Buttigieg is a Christian because he has chosen to follow Jesus. Full stop. His sexual orientation is irrelevant to the matter—as is your evaluation of him because he is a gay man. He doesn’t need your permission, doesn’t require your blessing, and isn’t waiting for your approval.

    -John Pavlovitz

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  2. Teve says:

    Osita Nwanevu
    @OsitaNwanevu

    I really cannot believe I used to fault people for not engaging with politics. For taking a look at this perpetual carnival of miserable bullshit and turning away.

  3. James Pearce says:

    The Nuggets beat the Spurs last night in Game 7 and will face Portland (yikes!) in the second round starting Monday.

    Jokic got another triple double.

    (Also, spoilers are actually good. Spoiler alerts? I seek them out. I want to know what I’m in for.)

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  4. Mikey says:

    Yesterday in Wisconsin, the Swine-in-Chief spouted some reprehensible bullshit about “extreme late-term abortion” and said “The baby is born, the mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. Then the doctor and mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.” This is, of course, a complete and ridiculous lie.

    It’s unfortunate few, if any, of the Trump-worshiping fools in attendance will ever understand what actually happens when a baby is born unable to survive.

    And the lies Trump and his followers spout do have actual, deadly consequences.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have a vague hypothesis to explain why people are losing their minds despite prosperity and since it’s open thread, WTF.

    By any rational, objective measure life for the average human today is infinitely more comfortable than life even a century ago. Dental, medical, food supply, water supply, access to education, child survival rates, life expectancy, on and on, pick your stat, life is way better for most humans.

    So why do we still see high suicide rates, rising religious fanaticism, reliance on anti-depressants, widespread drug addiction? Why aren’t we happy?

    For a million years homo sapiens wandered the savannah in small bands looking for low-hanging fruit, carrion and insects to eat. The human’s zone of concern (ZOC) was often very fraught, but also very limited. A human looking for a banana worried about leopards, but he didn’t worry about every leopard, just the ones close by. He didn’t worry about a single thing beyond his immediately-observable universe. Food, water, shelter, sex, that was it.

    Flash forward to the present day. The human ZOC now extends to every part of the globe the human is made aware of. Threats rather than being specific and physical – leopard in a tree, snake on the ground – are virtually unlimited. Did early homo sapiens worry about the actions of a tribe 50 miles away? What tribe 50 miles away? Did early homo sapiens worry about some new pathogen? Did he worry that an asteroid might come down out of the sky and exterminate him? Did he worry that Brazil is being deforested? Did he worry that a faulty switch might lead to global thermonuclear war? Um, no. All that and a million other factors are in the modern human’s ZOC.

    And the things we perceive in our ZOC’s are not just wildly more numerous, they are also far more intractable. Worried about a leopard? Have you got your sharp stick? Are you prepared to run away? OK, then, you’ve done everything any rational cave man can do. Contrast that with worry about climate change, Russian military adventurism, ethnic cleansing in the Caspian or terrorism in Pakistan, or whether biotech allows random loons to build deadly new diseases in their basement. The ZOC expands but with it the sense of powerlessness as well. More things to worry about, less capacity to defend yourself.

    This has all happened in the blink of an eye in terms of human evolution. We had established norms for hundreds of thousands of years and then overnight the ZOC expanded by many orders of magnitude.

    Here’s a ZOC worry we face every day that would have sent an early human shrieking in sheer terror: driving a car. On any two-lane highway a car in the other lane can by virtue of three seconds’ inattention, kill you and your entire family. You may have a second to react. You’ll need to react in that short time in exactly the right way or you’re dead. More likely you won’t even have the second. We put that out of of our conscious minds, but it’s there, along with a thousand times more worries and threats, almost all of them potentially deadly, and almost none of them within your power to ameliorate.

    Do you have the BRCA gene mutation in your DNA, you know, the one that gives you breast cancer? Which part of that is within the wheelhouse of a random cave man? Genes? DNA? Cancer? Medical bills? Hair loss? Ethical suicide? Is your will in order? Who is going to drive you to chemo? We didn’t even know about DNA until a millisecond ago.

    I think modern homo sapiens is too aware of too many threats, none of which he can do anything about. Helplessness often translates as depression. The ZOC expands exponentially, the individual’s ability to respond usefully to those worries diminishes, and we feel constantly threatened and helpless, angry and depressed.

  6. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Many years ago I was a News junkie and when a communications professor in college told me that she assiduously avoided news because it was worthless and damaged her mental health, it got me thinking.

    Plane Crash in Chengdu Kills 48
    Mosque Shooter Murders Rabbi
    Ebola Outbreak in Western Zaire
    Train Derailment in Caracas Agonizes Town

    All of that is ‘News’, all of it is stress-inducing, and all of it is absolutely useless to a random person.

    Yesterday I had to stop following a writer I like because politics has driven her around the bend. The fact that Gwyneth Paltrow was hosting a fundraiser for Pete Buttigieg meant Pete Buttigieg was an evil snake oil complicit cancer-patient abusing sonofabitch.

    News and social media became a net negative in my life for several years, until I started getting very liberal with the block buttons and other ways of excluding negative crap from my life, like ignoring particular topics, sites, writers, and commenters, who are more destructive than constructive.

    Powerful communications technology is like powerful weapons technology. If you use it cautiously and wisely, it will enhance your life. If you use it too frequently and too carelessly, it will cause more suffering than it’s worth.
    Unexamined media consumption is not worth living.

  7. Kylopod says:

    No mention of yesterday’s synagogue shooting?

    According to The Associated Press, Lori Kaye, 60, of Poway, California, was killed when a gunman opened fire at Chabad of Poway, said Chabad of San Diego County’s executive director, Rabbi Yonah Fradkin.

    Three others were hurt, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 34-year-old Almog Peretz and 8-year-old Noya Dahan, Fradkin said.

    CNN reported that Kaye was shot after she jumped between the shooter and Goldstein, whose index fingers were injured in the attack….

    Police identified the suspected shooter as John T. Earnest, 19, of Rancho Penasquitos. The Union-Tribune reported that he appears to have written an anti-Semitic manifesto and claimed to have tried to burn down an Escondido mosque in March.

  8. wr says:

    @Kylopod: “No mention of yesterday’s synagogue shooting?”

    Clearly it’s a terrible thing, but we have to remember there were very fine people on both sides of the AR-15.

    Besides, I like people who weren’t shot.

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  9. SenyorDave says:

    Trump has to be impeached. The Democrats can and probably should slow roll it, and have drawn out televised hearings to make the case for impeachment to the American people, but it has to end in impeachment. My two arguments:
    1. Justification – the founders put in the process of impeachment for precisely the situation we are in right now. We have a POTUS who clearly engaged in obstruction of justice. It does not matter that Mueller did not find a smoking gun for collusion or conspiracy regarding Russian involvement and Trump’s team, Trump personally, on multiple occasions, tried to impede the investigation, and admitted on television in an interview with Lester Holt that he fired Comey in part because of the Russia thing. Add in the Stormy Daniels payments in violation of federal election laws, and Trump’s behavior appears to meet the bar for “high crimes and misdemeanors”. The bottom line is if he is not impeached over his behavior, then when would impeachment ever be used? Also believe it normalizes the behavior, so when we hopefully find out more things he’s done it won’t seem to be such a big deal to many people.
    2. Political – The economy is in very good shape, the stock market at an all time high. Sure, some people are dissatisfied, but if the economy is like this next year Trump can run on it. Plus, this I would bet that he and the Republicans will try to jam through another tax cut, probably focusing on the middle class. There is no reason on earth for the GOP not to keep cutting taxes to boost the economy in the short run, because as long as they have the presidency the deficit doesn’t matter.
    Part of impeachment is to make sure Trump’s behavior is front and center during the election. People have short memories, they need to be reminded that he is completely amoral.
    I’m hoping that some of the Mueller referrals to the SDNY come to fruition soon, but as long as the AG continues to act as Trump’s personal lawyer, I wouldn’t bet on it.
    It’s great to say the Democrats should run only on policies, but most people don’t care too much about policy, especially if the economy is good and they can afford to stream all the movies they want.

  10. CSK says:

    Richard Lugar has died.

    Trump says that Andrew Napolitano “begged” him for a Supreme Court job, and that when Trump refused, Napolitano turned on him, and that’s why Napolitano is saying mean things about him now.

  11. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kylopod:..No mention of yesterday’s synagogue shooting?

    I took a shot at it yesterday in the Ollie North/NRA post. There was some response.

    Mister Bluster says:
    Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 20:45
    Mayor Steve Vaus: “This is not Poway.”
    Today it is…

    Pud: “It looks like a hate crime. Hard to believe. Hard to believe.”
    He doesn’t have a clue.

  12. CSK says:

    @Kylopod: Lori Kaye, the woman who was shot to death, died trying to protect the rabbi. She interposed her body between the rabbi and the shooter.

  13. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: There’s a great deal to what you say, but I think you’re crediting some of those O.D. suicides with a great deal more intelligence and awareness than they actually possess. Somebody living in a shack in Hillbilly Holler doesn’t know the BRCA gene from the BBQ gene.

    Henry David Thoreau is known for writing that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” to which James M. Cain responded: “No, they don’t. They’re too goddam stupid.” I paraphrase slightly.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Awareness is not required for depression or despair. People never know why they think or feel what they think or feel, not really. It’s a bit like radiation poisoning before Marie Curie. It still happened, people still got cancer and died from it, but they no idea the rocks they were digging out of the ground contained uranium.

    The thing is that objectively speaking an animal species that spent its entire existence perched on the edge of extinction by simple starvation, should, in a time of plenty, be happy. I mean, it’s mission accomplished for homo sapiens. We got the food, we got the water, we got the shelter. Our progeny almost always survives. There are zero leopards.

    I don’t think the correlation between unhappiness and prosperity is just a case of diagnostic bias. I think modern life is too much for a lot of people. The thing that I welcomed so openly – the internet and all it brings – has just exacerbated unhappiness because it hugely expands the ZOC. Increase the fear at the same time you increase helplessness and humans have a hard time adapting. Trumpism, radical Islam, settler Jewery, fundamentalist Hinduism, evangelical Christianity, campus attacks on free speech, veganism, anti-vaxism, the opioid crisis, one in 10 Americans on anti-depressants, incels, anti-trans bigotry, these can all plausibly be seen as reactions to and rejections of, modernity.

    The modern world is secular, pragmatic, data-driven, wide-screen, anti-nationalist, anti-tribal, materialistic, adaptive, morally flexible. Now, as it happens, all of that is brilliant for me, and for a lot of people. But how is it for some rando with an average brain raised in Iowa on a diet of Bible-thumping? How is it for a Wahhabi from Riyadh? I’m an atheist but I’m starting to see that the herd tends to need simple, semi-permanent rules and a dumbed-down cosmology. Reality scares them and offends them and makes them paranoid and depressed.

  15. al Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    Jokic got another triple double.

    Seems to me Portland and Denver are pretty evenly matched – with Portland having an edge in the backcourt, and Denver an edge up front.

    Jokic and Millsap should give Denver a slight edge but Denver’s backcourt disappears sometimes.

  16. Slugger says:

    Re Richard Lugar: I remember listening to the radio in 1988 when older Bush was running for President. It was announced that he’d chosen the Senator from Indiana as his running mate. At that time I thought that as a libby-lib I had some real disagreements with Sen. Lugar, but he was certainly someone I could respect despite our differences. I was gobsmacked to hear that Dan Quayle was the pick. I should have realized that I was totally outside the realm of American politics. A different Hoosier of German descent, Kurt Vonnegut, explained my situation; we’re all Billy Pilgrim now.

  17. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Have you ever read Schopenhauer? He is pretty interesting when we are debating about this. Or even depression in today’s times.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Never ceases to amaze me that so many of us are so fearful. We in the advanced nations are the safest people who have ever lived, yet some of us are so afraid. On the other hand, many of us aren’t.

    Recently read Prius or Pickup. A book in the ‘conservatives are different from liberals’ genre. Makes the point the big difference is fear. My personal opinion is it goes beyond a
    tendency to be fearful to almost a need for fear. Or maybe not so much a need for fear as a need for an enemy.

    I have come to dislike books like this. I have a mental picture of dozens of mercenary Psych and Marketing PhDs in the Wingnut welfare “think” tanks and the Kochtopus poring over every word, and all the references, for hints on how manipulate voters. This, I think, is why the psychological differences have become a problem in modern U. S. politics. Unscrupulous politicians and their backers have gotten so good at manipulating the fearful.

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:
    Not to sound any more like a pseudo-intellectual, but yes, I have read Schopenhauer, though it’s been a long, long time. I mostly recall him as an excellent epigrammatist.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    Makes the point the big difference is fear. My personal opinion is it goes beyond a
    tendency to be fearful to almost a need for fear. Or maybe not so much a need for fear as a need for an enemy.

    Very true IMO. It is very hard to stop being afraid, it’s natural for any prey species. A bit anachronistic in the apex predator species, but the fight-or-flight instinct is buried way deep in the human brain. But you need look no further for proof that guns. Why do conservatives feel the need so desperately while the rest of us go about our business armed with nothing more than a set of keys? They fear, we don’t. Ditto immigration, changes in perceptions of gender roles, a willingness to grovel and abase themselves any time they see what they think is an alpha male. They fear, we hope.

  21. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08:

    Recently read Prius or Pickup. A book in the ‘conservatives are different from liberals’ genre. Makes the point the big difference is fear.

    Which ones are the fearful ones?

    Between my liberal friends and my conservative family, I can honestly say it’s the liberals that are more likely to be talking about their anxiety treatments and their antidepressants and that good friend of theirs who wants to get a tract of land in Canada and build a compound so they have somewhere to hold up when it all hits the fan.

    The conservatives at least don’t talk about it.

    Reminds me of the old joke: how can you tell if someone meditates/is-vegan/does-yoga? Wait 15 minutes and they will tell you.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    Police identified the suspected shooter as John T. Earnest, 19, of Rancho Penasquitos. The Union-Tribune reported that he appears to have written an anti-Semitic manifesto and claimed to have tried to burn down an Escondido mosque in March.

    If his name was al-Jabar instead of Earnest, we would be surrounded by news of him, and his radicalization. But Earnest is quickly ignored. I guess that just shows the importance of being Earnest.

    ——

    I am not proud.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: People are terrible at estimating risk and danger. We overreact.

    We’ve brought the stimuli of far away danger into our daily lives, with our news and our smart phones and our housecats that stalk us as if we are prey.

    I don’t think conservatives are any more fearful than liberals, I think people react to fear differently. Actually, I don’t even think that, at least not in a “this person will become a conservative because of trait X” way.

    I think there are a number of ways people can respond to fear and stress, and we have cultural bubbles that promote one or the other, and it’s really hard to train yourself to change that behavior.

  24. Joe says:

    “Not to sound any more like a pseudo-intellectual,”@Mr. Reynolds, but I think that one excellent artistic treatment of the impact of an expanded ZOC is Horton Hears a Who. Here’s the elephant happily living in the Jungle of Nool, in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool, until his ZOC expanded exponentially when he alone becomes aware of an entire other civilization at risk. Once he takes responsibility for that dust speck, his life is wracked by anxiety and fear and obligation – no more cool, no more pool. For most of the rest of the book, the other denizens of Nool are heedless of this other civilization and, in fact, think Horton is crazy for claiming to be aware of it until, finally, with Horton’s coaching, the civilization makes itself known to everyone and now everyone in Nool has to be respectful of an entirely other civilization.

    Thanks, Horton. 🙁

    Incidentally, the whole Adam & Eve story is premised on the idea that A&E were forced into an expanded ZOC by being tricked into eating of the tree of knowledge.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: Don’t follow the NBA, so I’m wondering why facing the Blazers is a “yikes.” Is this “yikes” as in they’re a really scary team or “yikes” as in “how did that band of gangsta wannabes get in the playoffs at all?” I’m only curious because I live near Portland. (But not close enough to need to be afraid that my neighborhood will be burned to the ground if the Blazers take the title.)

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: [cue: rim shot and cymbal splash]

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:..burned to the ground…

    Not to worry. Good chance that Golden State Warriors will take another NBA title this season if they can blow up the Houston Rockets on the launch pad which will be no easy feet.
    Just ask the Splash Brothers.
    (Tied at the half game 1 right now.)
    If last years victory celebration in Oakland is any measure the Bay Area is safe from immolation.
    The only thing that burned was LeBron James’ jersey.
    Oakland police officials said no violent incidents had been reported.

  28. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: I left most of the main stream news some time ago. They have regressed to negativity, sensationalism, and loudness.
    The sources I go to now are calm, polite, positive, and have some good educational value.
    CNN does have some good science and tech. Scholastic is also a good resource for everyone.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    The 1st proof of fear is simple: who buys guns?

    A white male is twice as likely as a black male to own a gun despite the fact that the black male is in much greater danger on average of being a victim of a violent crime. Among white males it’s the most conservative who hoard guns. R = guns = fear.

    2nd: Who is more likely to believe in eternal life?

    Eternal life is the can-kicking approach to mortality, an unwillingness to face what we all must. It’s also deliberate self-deception, they know perfectly well it’s bullshit but it’s a comforting lie so they pretend to believe it. That’s fear.

    3rd: Which type reacts with fear-based propaganda to positive change like civil rights, gay rights, women’s right?

    Their go-to is always fear. Fear of the other, fear of change. Their pols go directly to fear because it works. It works because it taps into pre-existing fear.

    As for your leftie relatives, I live in Marin County and in Silver Lake. With Park Slope and Berkeley we’re part of the attenuated quadrangle of crazy. I do think Lefties have become more fearful, but only recently.

    Which supports my central point, which, getting back to it was that modernity is toxic to a lot of people. The fear reaction to modernity is traveling up the ladder: conservatives are just the most intellectually and emotionally unfit for modernity. But the wave is catching up to us, too. I f’ing hate it and call it out when I see it. Was a time when something as idiotic as anti-vax would have been all them. Now it’s us, too.

    Why so gloomy, as Joker might say? Life is objectively better in every measurable way for literally everyone on earth than it was a hundred years ago. And yet a large part of the human race wants to pull a U-turn and go back.

    I’ve been prosing on for decades now about the loss of narrative thrust. We Americans lost our last story about ourselves and we haven’t found a new one. What are we doing? Where are we going? Why so dystopic? Hope is a story we tell ourselves and we have lost the plot.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Joe:

    Incidentally, the whole Adam & Eve story is premised on the idea that A&E were forced into an expanded ZOC by being tricked into eating of the tree of knowledge.

    Both points interesting and true and thanks for making that connection for me. Ted Geisel (Seuss) has a strange genius of a man. He also wrote the best anti-fascist book with Yertle the Turtle. But props to Moses as well, who had his moments.

    I’ve drawn the connection between the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and Robinson Crusoe and one of my own series as all being about the reduction of circumstances: everything was great, then something happened and it all went away. But there’s no conflict really between a sense of loss and expanded awareness. It’s the loss of an illusion that reveals the truth. Greater understanding requires the removal of less accurate beliefs. At least in a reasonably disciplined mind.

    Pretty sure we should be high for this conversation.

  31. Joe says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Self awareness is a bitch.
    G.K. Chesterton had a particular great essay pointing out that only man needed to be told to “act like a man.” You would never have to tell a lion to act like a lion or an alligator to act like an alligator because they are incapable of acting otherwise. Only man (and woman) has the capacity to self-consciously change his behavior. Of course, the older I get, the more limited that capacity appears in me and in others.

  32. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The 1st proof of fear is simple: who buys guns?

    Who buys from L.L. Bean?

    It’s just not cool for liberals to have guns, or for black folks to shop at L.L. Bean.

    And it goes both ways — Who is so afraid of gun violence that they want to restrict people’s rights to have as many guns as they can fondle?

    2nd: Who is more likely to believe in eternal life?

    Eternal life is the can-kicking approach to mortality, an unwillingness to face what we all must. It’s also deliberate self-deception, they know perfectly well it’s bullshit but it’s a comforting lie so they pretend to believe it. That’s fear.

    Throughout recorded history, the vast majority of people have had some kind of religious faith. The default is faith.

    Lack of faith is more likely to push people towards liberalism because minorities tend to care about minority rights.

    3rd: Which type reacts with fear-based propaganda to positive change like civil rights, gay rights, women’s right?

    How many people are motivated by a fear of losing abortion rights? Not quite enough apparently.

    Their go-to is always fear. Fear of the other, fear of change. Their pols go directly to fear because it works. It works because it taps into pre-existing fear.

    Remember the collective freak out on the left when Trump was elected? That was fear. It might be justified fear, but it was clearly fear.

    I think you’re assigning as a motivation for policy decisions and horrific racial attitudes that you don’t like, and are then using the existence of those policy views and horrific racial attitudes to “prove” to yourself that you are right.

    A decent case could be made the opposite way — we know that stress increases perceived fear and fear responses, and that minorities tend to have more stress in racist America, and that they tend to be more liberal in their voting patterns.

    Find some value neutral fear — fear of spiders, for instance — and then if you can show that conservatives have a greater fear of spiders, and then you might be onto at least proving a correlation.

    A nice longitudinal study, showing children who are more afraid of spiders at an early age are more likely to grow up and become conservative, and then you would be edging towards demonstrating a causal relationship.

    ——
    I always thought it was a mistake for L.L. Bean to not hire LL Cool J as a spokesman.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t think conservatives are any more fearful than liberals, I think people react to fear differently. Actually, I don’t even think that, at least not in a “this person will become a conservative because of trait X” way.

    Above @gVOR08: I mentioned Prius and Pickup as saying conservatives are more fearful than liberals. Diving a little deeper it’s more complicated. They talk in terms of fixed and fluid personalities, which mean pretty much what they sound like. Their view isn’t that fixed people are inherently conservative, in fact historically it wasn’t much of a political driver. They see our politics as having evolved to exploit a fixed/fluid split.

    This (social media bubbles) is not the only, or even the greatest, threat that worldview politics poses to American democracy, however. As we will show in the next chapter, the country’s worldview-centered party system is now arrayed in a way that increases the chances for challenges to seemingly bedrock and uncontroversial democratic principles. Brazen appeals to xenophobia and fear are further undermining any sense of commonality the American people might feel. That is opening the door wider for worldview-motivated partisanship to enable a temperamentally authoritarian president to undermine the pillars of US democracy, including the country’s free press, judiciary, and institutions meant to check unchallenged authority.

    As I said above,

    Unscrupulous politicians and their backers have gotten so good at manipulating the fearful.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You’re also mixing fear (the emotion, and the automatic physical responses to that emotion) with the behavior a person exhibits in response to fear.

    I don’t think I want to use term like “bravery” and “cowardice” without defining them, as the most common colloquial definition of bravery is acting even though you’re afraid. The nutjob patrolling the border with his militia buddies might be terrified of brown people, and is acting anyway.

    In fact, you could describe this hypothetical nutjob as caring for his (white) community, putting himself at risk (of brown person cooties) to protect others (from racial mixing), overcoming his fear (of the brown terror) to act (offensively), and a terrible dresser (probably).

    Snark aside, these are good qualities bent to a terrible purpose.

    It’s not as simple as conservatives are more fearful, or that they are cowards. It’s a lot more complicated. Why does a slowly declining middle class lifestyle make them fear the people below them rather than the people above them?

    ——
    With my anxiety problems and sporadic anxiety attacks, my life is the greatest adventure. Some people have to go sky-diving or skiing to get that adrenaline rush — I can get it in a crowded room. Be jealous!

  35. James Pearce says:

    @al Ameda:

    Jokic and Millsap should give Denver a slight edge but Denver’s backcourt disappears sometimes.

    That’s what I’m worried about. We’ve got a young, multi-talented team that is not quite unstoppable. (I kinda wished they put the Spurs series to bed in six.)

    Still, I’m pretty stoked. The post-season is always interesting, but it’s even more interesting when your team is in it.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Is this “yikes” as in they’re a really scary team or “yikes” as in “how did that band of gangsta wannabes get in the playoffs at all?”

    The yikes is because I’m not sure the Nuggets will beat them.

  36. Gustopher says:

    This all gets into one of my pet peeves — the newish preference for terms like homophobia and transphobia, rather than the older terms like racist and bigot. No one cares if the God Hates Fags folks are afraid of gays, the only problem is they picket people’s funerals, try to repress their rights, and beat them up.

    When someone or something challenges your expectations of how life is, it’s scary. Two dudes getting married, some chick becoming a dude, a brown couple moving in next door talking their brown language… an initial fear response to the unexpected and unfamiliar is not abnormal. I think it’s wrong to judge people based on that. Judge them on what they do about it.

    (In all these examples, the correct behavior is to say “congratulations,” and quietly hope you get used it, because it’s not a bad thing)

    We don’t say that someone is negrophobic when they put on their Klan robes. We don’t sugar coat it. We just call them racist.

    And the people who are uncomfortable as they say “congratulations” to the brown couple next door who just bought that house? We should call them something between clueless and an ally.

  37. Teve says:

    John Fugelsang
    @JohnFugelsang
    ·
    32m
    If you wouldn’t:
    -own 200 humans as slaves
    -torture slaves
    -break up nearly every family you own by selling off child slaves
    -kill 100s of thousands of Americans to protect slavery
    -execute surrendering black troops
    …then congrats -you’re a better human than Robert E Lee.
    #MAGA

  38. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    This all gets into one of my pet peeves — the newish preference for terms like homophobia and transphobia, rather than the older terms like racist and bigot.

    That’s not as new as you are suggesting. Homophobia is several decades old, but the -phobia suffix more generally as a way of designating bigotry is much older. Xenophobia is from 1903. Negrophobia and Judeophobia are from the 19th century. (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary)

    It’s true that this practice has become a lot more common in recent years, but that’s mostly a reflection of the fact that our society has become increasingly conscious of a greater variety of bigotries, and -phobia is a convenient way of marking each one. At least, no one’s come up with an alternative that’s as easily applied. Older terms like racism and anti-Semitism arose organically and were originally neutral if not positive expressions; they didn’t at first carry the connotation of irrationality that we associate with them today. The -phobia suffix applies that connotation automatically.

    I agree that it’s problematic in that it implies fear is the defining feature of bigotry, but there’s no question it’s a major component of it. Just look at all the classic tropes: the scary black man; the Jew poisoning the wells and controlling the banks; the gay child-molester. At a deeper level, a lot of this stuff stems from a fear of people who are different from a prevailing norm, whether it be in their physical features, their religion, their language, their sexuality, and so on. Of course fear isn’t the whole story; a lot has to do with power, and people’s willingness to exploit those in a weaker position. But even there fear is never far behind, since the need to dominate others is itself a mark of insecurity in oneself.

  39. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Throughout recorded history, the vast majority of people have had some kind of religious faith. The default is faith.

    This is a common observation in theological debates. but Michael was addressing a belief in an eternal, and pleasant, afterlife. That belief is not automatically linked to religion. That is, many religions, or cultures, had no belief in an eternal and pleasant afterlife.

    The Greeks believed in an afterlife, which was dreary, boring, and dull, as did many others in the Mediterranean region, including the Hebrews.

    The Egyptians developed the belief in a pleasant afterlife in stages. It began with the King being admitted back among the gods (the belief was the kind was a god), and spread form there. The Book of the Death, began as the pyramid texts of a pharaoh named Unas.

    Ancient religions, like the Greco-Roman religion, was mostly about flattering the gods with prayer, offerings, and sacrifices, so they would show their favor in the form of good harvests, rain, wealth, victory in war, etc.

    Curiously, Rome’s first Christian emperor, Constantine I, converted to Christianity as a result of a vision. Or so he claims. In the vision he saw Jesus telling him to place his monogram (close enough) on his battle standard and the shields of his men, and that “under this sign you will conquer.” To me, this sounds like a pagan vision of a god, not concerned with the alleged priorities of Christianity such as sin and salvation. Also, I think Constantine made it up after converting to Christianity, not the other way around.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    Those who regularly read the comments here at OTB know that I frequently disparage the governance of what I call the failed Trump states, i.e. the states that are most heavily dominated by Republican policies and that went most strongly for Trump. But I came across a statistic in which these states seemed to outperform their non-Trumpian counterparts and in all fairness felt it should be shared. It concerns a specific facet of the maternal mortality rate.

    First, just to make clear, the overall maternal mortality rate is what you would expect. The United States as whole fares disgracefully, having roughly twice the overall rate as the European average. And, while bad in virtually every state, the Trumpian/Republican states are by far the worst. In the bottom 20, all but two are solidly Trumpian (NJ at #5 and NJ at #15. Ratings are from worst to best, so a higher number is better, and the most complete and latest study only got enough data for 46 states). This makes sense, as while individual Republican politicians no doubt feel as badly as anyone about the needless death of mothers, it’s simply not something that the Republican Party focuses on, or indeed, even feels is a legitimate area of government involvement. Despite this, there are a few surprises in the top half of the list. Alabama, almost always racing to the bottom with Mississippi and Louisiana, clocks in at #29 and North Carolina is #30. And the differences aren’t just statistical. 3 times as many mothers die in #1 Louisiana as in those states, a stunning difference. And to give an indication of just how high that death rate is, a Louisiana mother is 5 times as likely to die due to child bearing than in a car accident.

    Iowa and Nebraska are #33 and #34, putting paid to the excuses of the other big sky states that maternal mortality is inevitable in lightly populated areas. Utah is next, but that is not really a surprise, as that state does uniformly well on virtually all health care related measures for a variety of cultural reasons. But West Virginia, at #40, is truly astounding, especially considering the poverty rates. A West Virginia mother is one fifth as likely to die as one in Louisiana. And Nevada is ranked #44 out of 46.

    Massachusetts is #45, which is a credit to (and I don’t give this guy credit for much else) Mitt Romney and his OO (Original Obamacare). #46 California is truly astounding though. It has a tremendous immigrant population, a large migrant population, and endemic poverty. Yet it has a rate half that of the Massachusetts and an incredible 1/15th that of Louisiana.

    So there is some good news for specific Trumpian states, but overall it came out as expected with Republican run states dominating the bottom half of the list. So what was I referring to when I said there was one statistic where Republican states outperformed their Democratic or Purple counterparts? Kevin Drum put together a chart that shows the ratio of black maternal mortality to white for each state. Every state has dramatically higher rates for blacks than whites, with even the best of them weighing in at more than 50% higher. But 4 of the 5 best five states are solidly Trumpian (MS, WA, AR, MN, TN) while the 5 worst are purple or blue (WI, IL, CO, NJ, CT). And again these numbers are not trivial. Connecticut, despite having an excellent (by American but not world standards) ranking of #43 out of 46, has a black to white maternal death ration of 7 to 1. That’s a disgrace.

    Residents of Southern states often complain that non-Southern whites often act as if racism only exists south of the Mason Dixon line. This statistic helps show just how much of an error that is. (FWIW, having grown up on the south side of Chicago, I don’t often make that error myself. Heck, the first Blues Brothers movie had my generations Illinois Neo-Nazis as a prominent sub plot. And not all that much has changed on the South Side in the remaining years.)

  41. Kathy says:

    I finished Brave New World yesterday.

    Aside the fact that this is an odd dystopian with a kind of benevolent absolute dictatorship that is absolutely horrible, the gist is that life has become shallow and meaningless.

    But I think that about 80 to 90 percent of all people who have ever lived, would be happy in a world like that, including having one’s wants and desires conditioned, and including the incessant drug use.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    Just a little something for the anti-vaxers. This weeks Futility Closet podcast covers an under reported danger of the measles – that if a woman falls ill during pregnancy the chance of birth defects skyrockets. From the intro:

    At the height of her fame in 1943, movie star Gene Tierney contracted German measles during pregnancy and bore a daughter with severe birth defects. The strain ended her marriage to Oleg Cassini and sent her into a breakdown that lasted years.

  43. Teve says:
  44. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think modern homo sapiens is too aware of too many threats

    As always, there’s a classic SF story* about this:

    “And Now the News…”, by Theodore Sturgeon

    *OK, so it’s not actually SF, but it’s by an author known mostly for his F&SF. Never mind that many of his best works were not really either fantasy or science fiction — see for example “It’s You!” and “Slow Sculpture” and Some of Your Blood and “Bianca’s Hands” and…

  45. Teve says:

    @flyaway_k
    Bill Barr should be so fucking disbarred that he has to go by just Bill from now on

  46. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: I always forget that there is a difference between Theodore Sturgeon and Kilgore Trout. I tend to just assume they are both fictional Blahgore Fish authors.

  47. Tevr says:

    remember Jacob Wohl, who tried to get a woman to make fake allegations against Robert Mueller, and somehow isn’t in jail right now?

    Apparently now he’s trying to frame Buttigieg.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/far-right-smear-merchants-jacob-wohl-and-jack-burkman-try-to-slime-pete-buttigieg-with-bogus-sex-assault-claim

  48. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Willful disengagement from political news and what that “means” is a valid choice.