The Impossibility of Discourse

The liberal notion that people are persuadable through airing of ideas is obsolete.

My decreased participation in this forum has been due to a number of factors. I’m simply busier in my professional and family life than I was in the early years of the blog. Twitter has replaced OTB for simply passing along links with a one- or two-line response. The descent of my former political party into nihilism has deprived me of a “team” in the political fray, other than in the negative.

Mostly, though, there no longer seems to be much of a point to engaging in the dialog at all.

Outside of the intellectual class, which has mostly joined me in the #NeverTrump camp, my Republican friends seem immune to evidence that President Trump is a malign actor. Even with virtual transcripts of his phone call strongarming a foreign head of state into using his intelligence and security services to dig up dirt on a domestic rival—and matter-of-fact admission by the President and his aids that that’s what he was doing—they think the impeachment process is some sort of attempted coup by the Deep State, the Democratic Party, and their allies in the corrupt press.

On the left, anything other than lockstep repetition of the latest Social Justice Warrior talking point is dismissed as sexism, white privilege, or some other ad hominem rather than engagement with the issue. Any criticism of a Democratic politician is greeted with “but Trump is so much worse” as though that were somehow the standard.

Given that Trump occupies the White House, is unlikely to be removed through the impeachment process, and is almost certainly going to be the 2020 Republican nominee for President, the former problem is bigger than the latter. (Indeed, it’s largely the reason why Trump is incredibly unlikely to go the way of Richard Nixon and being forced to resign by his own party’s leadership in Congress.) But the latter problem reinforces the former.

While my former party is comprised of a much larger white nationalist segment than I understood prior to the 2016 cycle, I still believe that there’s a large segment that would prefer something closer to a John McCain or a Mitt Romney to a Donald Trump. But the rhetoric on the left makes it much harder for them to defect to an opposition party that treats them as indistinguishable from Trump and the “deplorables.”

It’s rather clear that Trump is intent on doubling down on his 2016 strategy of igniting the base to energize their turnout. I think his support base is so small and the opposition sufficiently energized that it won’t work this time. But I fear that the opposition will rely on the same strategy, making it an identity politics election for both sides. And the end result will be a country that’s even more angry and divided.

FILED UNDER: Society, US Politics
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. Barry says:

    James,

    The reason that you got such strong pushback with your Warren post was that we Dems understood that we made huge mistakes not calling the Tea Party and Birthers what they were – lying scum. At this point, overreaction doesn’t look like *over*reaction.

    As for blame, it falls 100% on the people of the GOP. As President Obama said (quote from memory), ‘When you lose, you’re mad. When you win, you’re mad.’

    The GOP blames us for their choices, most of which were apparent decades ago. It’s not our fault.
    As

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  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    I appreciate and value your commentary, James. I hope you know that. It’s very valuable to hear from people who don’t just agree with me. Frankly, I think the advent of the Internet has put most, if not all, of us into some sort of bizarre performance mode where we become extreme examples of our best selves.

    I have a friend whom I know, in person, to be a good and generous person, who is fun to be around. You would not know this from reading his posts online. In some ways, this is because he is likely to be spectrum, with all the issues that implies. In other ways, it’s because online, you can’t see his face while he’s talking. More and more, I think that’s a big deal.

    That and the urge to protect some sort of identity. Mass online media always trends that way, away from common conversation and toward tribal identity. I suspect we will learn more about this in the years to come, and with that we will learn how badly adapted certain media are to the needs of human beings.

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  3. Blue Galangal says:

    The sitting president* – who was placed into his position due to Russian interference and who is actively breaking the law with the aid and comfort of the DOJ in public *as we speak* – is not “somehow” the standard.

    He *is* the standard that the GOP has shown it is willing to accept.

    So on the one hand everything the madman in the WH says in all his “great and unmatched wisdom” is ignored now, because it’s “just Trump.” That is the standard.

    (He cannot form a coherent sentence or finish a single thought. That is the standard.)

    (He has the vast machinery of the US government investigating an insane far right conspiracy theory, alternately bullying and cajoling our allies and partners, and he is boasting about it and lying about it depending on the hour, nay, the minute.)

    On the other hand, if a Democrat, say, Leslie Knope, says she was born in Pawnee but she was actually born in Eagleton, that’s DISQUALIFYING.

    And then those of us who don’t support the GOP in its current form or the illegitimate occupant of the WH are accused of somehow marching in some kind of Social Justice Warrior lockstep because we draw a distinction between “normal” and “insane.”

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  4. Jen says:

    Participation in any forum can lead to a bit of piling on, and I can see how you might feel this way, particularly after the Bob Woodward post and today’s post about Warren.

    I think it’s a little unfair to lump that criticism–if that indeed is what has led to this post–as SJW talking points.

    Much of my immediate family, including my father, MIL, SIL, and BIL all voted for Trump. I’ve been pointing out to my father for YEARS the direction the Republican party has been headed. He and many others feel a false sense of comfort in “that’s a small fringe, the party is more like ME.” But it isn’t–it’s like the “them” who are perfectly fine with keeping gays/women/minorities/the disabled/etc. “in their place.”

    Minimizing the existence of this particular vein of the Republican party has brought us to this point. There are some Republicans who still do not realize this, and it’s unfortunate.

    Of course Republicans upset with Trump would prefer a moderate, centrist candidate to be nominated. Of course Republicans would like to stuff this entire collective genie back in its bottle. But Trump has opened a Pandora’s box of ill will, and I think it’s logical to anticipate that any attempts to explain away any of this will be met with substantial push back.

    I value your perspective and this is one of the few places on the internet where rational discourse and an exchange of ideas seems to flourish.

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  5. Kari Q says:

    The response to your post on Warren was hyperbolic piling on, and I say that as someone who believes that she was fired for being pregnant (I didn’t read the post on Woodward so I can’t comment on it). It’s the kind of thing that would never happen in person but occurs all too often on the internet.

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  6. Gustopher says:

    On the left, anything other than lockstep repetition of the latest Social Justice Warrior talking point is dismissed as sexism, white privilege, or some other ad hominem rather than engagement with the issue.

    With all due respect, that’s just bullshit.

    You got pushback on the Warren thread because your conclusion the Warren has a problem with the truth was based on two examples, one of which is her repeating family lore, and one which can be explained by emphasizing and deemphisizing different parts of a larger story over time. Your evidence didn’t support your conclusion, and you don’t present enough evidence to justify the intensity of the conclusion, even if the evidence had supported the conclusion.

    And the term “Social Justice Warrior” is also bullshit. It’s simply meant to mock and belittle those who believe that maybe we should be thinking about how our actions affect others with different life experiences.

    There are a lot of divisions on the left — from Al Franken to the weight we should put on microaggressions, to what tolerance actually means, to how quickly we will all die because of global warming, to whether we should try to understand Paul L. or just throw him into the FEMA re-education camp and force him to change his gender.*

    You have huge blind spots because of your privilege. I don’t mean that as an attack, but just as a statement. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t either have huge blind spots or a massive chip on their shoulder which can be just as blinding.

    But, when you post or say something that gets near total condemnation and rejection, maybe put as much thought into whether you aren’t seeing something as you do in your belief that there’s a monolithic left made up of Social Justice Warriors who get their marching orders from the Social Justice Warrior Queen.

    You’re really not very good at that. I’m not very good at it, and honestly, you’re worse. Empathy is not a flaw. It’s also not a cure all.

    ——
    *: Just joking about Paul L. — he’s absolutely going to be put in the re-education camp and forcibly gender reassigned.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    James, I hear you. There are topics along these lines you could raise that might strike a chord with me, and I suspect we would both take our lumps from much of the regulars. For instance, speaking as an old(ish) white guy, I am deeply offended by so many who say Biden should sit down and shut up because he is an old white guy. Because of his age, his gender, and the color of his skin.

    But I didn’t agree with you on Warren and Gore, and reacted the way I did because I’ve seen the way Republican Slime Machine smears can infect even reasonable people. Kerry’s Purple Hearts – “we are only asking questions”. Gore’s work on the Internet – the Repubs put words in his mouth he never said and then got the unwitting public to rob him of something he truly should have as the first entry in his eventual obituary. I know you would never intentionally smear someone. But calling Warren a liar sent up every single one of my red flags, and got my back up.

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  8. Moosebreath says:

    @MarkedMan:

    “I know you would never intentionally smear someone. But calling Warren a liar sent up every single one of my red flags, and got my back up.”

    The fact that the Warren complaint appears to have been a meme started at a right-wing site (the Washington Free Beacon) did not help in the regard.

    While I try hard not to pile on, I think liberals have learned the hard way that there’s a lot of right-wing slime mongers out there, and they need to be responded to immediately. I don’t think you are one (or I would not be here), but I also don’t want to be at a place which makes itself a conduit for this nonsense.

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  9. Teve says:

    The Impossibility of Discourse

    The liberal notion that people are persuadable through airing of ideas is obsolete.

    I mostly come here for the comments. I read all of Steven’s OPs but only a few of the others. This title struck me as “I got push back on my Warren comments and rather than examine them I’m going to claim everyone else in the world is irrational.” If somebody has read it and tells me my guess is mistaken I’ll give it a read.

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  10. Chip Vogel says:

    No nice way to put this.
    Maybe some of the lack of discourse is on you.
    There are a few things in this article where lines are drawn.
    I read them as not leaving room for discourse.

    “Outside of the intellectual class”
    I interpreted this as if you disagree with what follows you are dumb.
    It’s like the “Every thinking person would agree” preface.
    If you disagree with what follows after you aren’t capable of thinking.
    An argument so good it’s comes with a pre ad hominem.

    “On the left, anything other than lockstep repetition”
    Disagree with what follows and you are also brainwashed.

    “my former party is comprised of a much larger white nationalist segment”
    Only a white nationalist would disagree with this. Yes?

    These types of statements broadcast to me that on some topics you are unable to participate in polite disagreements.

    I agree with the overall sentiment that political discussion doesnt’ leave much room for disagreement.
    I’m not convinced discourse is obsolete.

    You seem like a nice thoughtful person and maybe I’ve misinterpreted these things.

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  11. Andy says:

    James,

    I think it’s a great post and I welcome you to my world – I’ve been where this post is for a really long time. I haven’t read the comments yet, but I’m sure they are charitable and understanding and give you the benefit of the doubt. 😉

    It can be lonely and thankless taking shit from both sides and having your integrity constantly questioned, but consider it a challenge. Or just write for yourself knowing that heterodoxy will never be looked at kindly. And don’t be afraid to tune out from time-to-time to preserve your own sanity, it’s worked wonders for me.

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  12. mattbernius says:

    @Jen:

    I value your perspective and this is one of the few places on the internet where rational discourse and an exchange of ideas seems to flourish.

    Yes. No. Kinda — at least on some topics.

    I tend to think that people overestimate the level of civility here largely because most of the commenters largely agree with each other, and the hosts, on most topics. However, when there are breakdowns, things can get ugly pretty fast.

    To be clear, I’m not talking about the reaction to trolls. I’m talking about what happens to our more libertarian leaning commenters like Andy and Hal when they post something that reminds folks that they are libertarians. Or when James posts something that reminds people that while he’s no longer a Republican he also isn’t a Democrat. Or (the other) Matt (and to a lesser degree Dennis) posts anything pro-gun.

    At that point all bets and gloves typically come off and fast. And at that point, no rational conversation or middle grounds are typically available and lots of accusations fly. So much so that there seems to be a thread about that happening every 6 months or so (the last one trigger by Pearce).

    So while generally speaking things might be better here, I think people tend to put too much stock into the idea that the critique is always fair and rational.

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  13. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    OK, first of all, a caveat: I’m in London where it is 1:00 AM, I’ve been up since 5 AM and I’ve had to spend most of that time interacting directly with humans and as any introvert will tell you: that’s the equivalent of hard labor for our ilk. So I probably won’t make much sense as I’d like. But let me play the wise old man for a moment – wise being debatable, and old, not so much.

    It isn’t just about persuading, it’s about speaking what you believe to be, what you hope is, the truth. The goal is not for a win or acceptance, the goal is to understand. It is certainly legitimate to hope to persuade, but that IMO is the secondary goal. The primary is to understand a little more and to edge a little closer to the truth. If at the end of the day you go to sleep understanding more than you did when you woke up, you’ve had a good day.

    And you hop out of bed the next morning thinking well, let me trot my new understanding out before the world and see what the world has to say about it. And sometimes the world kicks you in the teeth, but that’s okay if in the process you moved that next millimeter toward understanding. Because that was the point, truth was the goal.

    You have a socratic gaggle here, James, a bunch of smart people almost all of whom share that goal to one degree or another. We all want to understand. We all want to get a bit closer to the truth, knowing all the while that there’s no touchdown where we spike the ball and yell, ‘I got it, I figured it all out!’ But just about everyone here knows that by being here, and engaging as we do, we have made that tiny bit of progress. And that progress has come because you built this agora.

    My wife and I have a thing we call DONUTS, a weak acronym for Dark Nights Of The Soul. You wake up at 3 AM and stare at the ceiling and wonder what the hell your life means. What you’ve done to justify your existence on this planet. Everyone’s answer will be a bit different, but if in your DONUTS you can honestly say that you learned something, or unlearned something, if you can say that you tried to help other people to do the same, then STFU and go to sleep. I don’t know your life, but I’ve observed you from afar and I can tell you with complete certainty that you understand a great deal more than you once did, and because of your openness to searching for truth, you’ve made it possible for all of us here to do the same.

    You get closer to the truth, and you make it easier for us to do the same. So STFU and go to sleep.

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  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    Frankly, I believe one of the problems at OTB is that the range of subjects has narrowed. This is understandable given the current WH occupant, but broader subject matter would change the dynamic.

    Given your background, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on military and FP issues. If you need a starting place, Scott Ritter’s recent post at the American Conservative would be a good place to start, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/did-china-just-announce-the-end-of-u-s-primacy-in-the-pacific/.

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  15. Andy says:

    @mattbernius:

    Great comment.

    I’m talking about what happens to our more libertarian leaning commenters like Andy and Hal when they post something that reminds folks that they are libertarians. Or when James posts something that reminds people that while he’s no longer a Republican he also isn’t a Democrat. Or (the other) Matt (and to a lesser degree Dennis) posts anything pro-gun.

    Just as a point-of-fact, I’m not a Libertarian though I do agree with Libertarians on a few things and I do place value in individual autonomy more than the average American seems to. So I do see how I probably come across as Libertarian, especially given the dynamics here, but I disagree with Libertarians frequently on foreign policy and the appropriate role of government and some other areas. Of course, it depends on what one means by “Libertarian” since that conceivably covers everything from anarcho-capitalists to small-government conservatives.

    Anyway, I’d consider myself first and foremost a philosophical pragmatist – one of the reasons I have William James as my gravatar icon.

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  16. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: unless I’m misremembering didn’t conservatives hate Scott Ritter for some reason?

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  17. Matt says:

    @mattbernius:

    Or (the other) Matt (and to a lesser degree Dennis) posts anything pro-gun.

    I get those responses by just posting simple gun related facts or correcting outright lies. I have no idea what I posted that you would consider “pro-gun’ as I’m definitely not advocating everyone buy a gun. I’m more pro-bill of rights than anything…

    Up until Bush Jr was elected I was a die hard right winger conservative. Now I would consider myself more of an old school liberal. Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness type stuff. Really though I’m a leftwing liberal compared to where I came from. Litterly the one thing that keeps me out of the Democratic party is their insanity when it comes to “gun control”. It’s like trying to talk to conservative GOP Christians about abortion. Reality and facts have no meaning it’s all emotional….

    I’ve been around since the early days so I’ve seen quite a few regulars come and go. Sometimes I wonder what happened to some of them like anjin.

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  18. Argon says:

    Oh my, shades of Rod Dreher-ish, “I can’t vote for Democrats because they’re just so rude” sentimentalism… Say it isn’t so!

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  19. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Michael, that’s a really great comment. If this is what the tired 1 am Michael is like, I’d like to see him commenting more often.

    @Matt:

    I get those responses by just posting simple gun related facts or correcting outright lies.

    It’s also amazing how minor disagreements are made into huge issues. A couple of months ago there was a thread where a bunch of people piled on me and Doug because we wouldn’t preemptively commit to voting for any Democrat over Trump. And today in another thread there was a stupid argument about a single adverb.

    I think James onto something about the demand for “lockstep” agreement on certain issues (not all issues, obviously). Those are usually when the ad hominems start flying.

    I’ve been around since the early days so I’ve seen quite a few regulars come and go. Sometimes I wonder what happened to some of them like anjin.

    I’m an old regular myself – I had forgotten about anjin. There are many others, there’s a handy list in this post with a lot of names I haven’t heard for a long time.

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  20. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Folks, I think many of you may be reading this wrong… I suggest that some may want to re-read the first paragraph that James wrote.

    He’s not licking his wounds from a difference of opinion of a previous article today… he is lamenting the death of the true independent intellectual conservative. He feels alone, as others that he has respected in the past are swirling in the cesspool of Trump’s wake.

    What shall he do? Turn to Liberals, when Libertarian is how he feels? No, that would betray what he knows is true.

    What James will see is that Libertarian and Liberal is not that far apart. Here in Colorado the far Right and Far Left actually agree on LOTS of things!

    But that is feint solace for today’s libertarian. It’s OK James… It’s OK.

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  21. DeD says:

    James, I luv ya, brother, but when you use the term “identity politics,” you expose just how naive you are about the good ol’ USA. America has always been about identity politics: white identity politics. Since that’s been the dominant norm, you take it as “that’s just how things are/should be.” Now that women and PoC provide a contrast to that white male privilege (yes, it is a thing), you can see it. But you see it as a threat to everything you were raised to believe was “right.” The locution “It’s alright cuz it’s all white” wasn’t just coined in a vacuum.

    I haven’t read the posts or articles mentioned, but if you got smoked by everybody by something you asserted, maybe you should question your premises. Your post sounds like you want to quit, but I think that’s a mistake. I’m sure I’m not the only one who values your opinion and respects your viewpoint. Don’t get so butthurt when you get a little pushback every now and then. That’s the privilege of a teacher being used to having a captive audience. Trust me, I know.

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  22. I actually do think minds can be changed by discourse and reason–it just rarely happens in the moment. It takes time.

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  23. Blue Galangal says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: It could be that James feels intellectually “homeless,” and he might be facing that long dark teatime of the soul. I recall seeing a headline in the past couple of months about a rise in general depression/anxiety with the Trump presidency. I see it go around on Twitter – it’s so hard to deal with the constant busting of norms and the constant anxiety and dashed hopes that THIS time our institutions will come through. I feel/deal with it myself and with my (adult) children. What’s gone wrong in the past three years has gone terribly wrong, and I say that in all seriousness. I don’t have anxiety or panic attacks but I can feel my stress levels rise when I get notifications from the WaPo now. I wake up almost every morning thinking, “What fresh hell will we face today?” and on a weekly basis I continue to be astonished and frustrated and even sick to my stomach that there is no Republican in Congress with decency. Steve Chabot has always been a west-side Cincinnati Catholic guy but before Obama was elected he was pretty middle of the road. Now he’s a hate mongering racist – you wouldn’t believe the ads he ran against his most recent opponent, a man of Indian/Tibetan descent, equating him to terrorists and the Middle East. Rob Portman used to mingle at parades and stop and talk to kids and chat with people. Now he runs and hides because he can’t answer the questions.

    This makes me so sad.

    So if that’s a little of how James is feeling, he’s not alone. And if he’s thinking about how to solve the problem – how to bring our broken country back together – he’s thinking how to get the decent Republicans who are left (the ones not in Congress, by definition) to the same table with the Democrats. People like Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin – they have not abandoned their conservative principles, but they have abandoned the Party of Trump. We don’t have Point/Counterpoint discussions in our national discourse any more. We have polemics and polarization. I don’t have an answer – I think it would take some political will and some national agreement to address fake news (the way Finland is).

    Mostly … I just have sadness.

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  24. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You, Doug, and James are substantially different from where you started this forum way back when.

    As have I.

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  25. Nickel Front says:

    “How come no one engages in meaningful dialog anymore?”

    “Outside of the intellectual class”

    Right there.

    Pompous assininity.

    Right from the start, you just dismiss people who don’t agree with you.

    Maybe look in a mirror.

    You seen incapable of even listening to the argument that Trump is investigating the origins of the Russia hoax, as he told everyone he was going to do. If that leads to Biden via Ukraine, so be it. That’s hardly soliciting foreign aid to influence an election.

    And we’ve all read the transcript.

    You had a preconceived notion going into it, and then dismiss anyone who says differently.

    I’ve found that often times the people who bemoan the loss of Civil Discourse the most are the ones most unwilling to listen to begin with.

    (And lol the 3rd comment is literally RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA! Don’t even try talking to that guy.)

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  26. grumpy realist says:

    Here’s another article covering how losing-one’s-job-for-pregnancy was standard back in the early 70s.

    @Nickel Front: Give me one piece of evidence that Trump requested similar investigations on people who weren’t his political rivals. Give me one piece of evidence that Trump can in fact act with integrity.

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  27. DeD says:

    Alright, James, I read your article. And then I read the comments. You got toasted. I don’t have a dog in that fight; personally, I was hoping Jon Huntsman was returning home to primary Trump. (I’m sure I’ll get toasted for that.) There was a LOT of valid points and legitimate criticism, though. I can see how you’d feel stung, but, maybe you should revisit your assertions.

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  28. @de stijl: I know I have changed–and I have changed even more from when I first started blogging in 2003.

    I know James and Doug have changed their minds on any number of things as well.

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  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Teve:
    Well the neo-conservatives surely did/do, for bursting their Saddam, weapons of mass destruction meme. Ritter seems to be a regular at TAC and it seems that the magazine aligns more with the realist, FP camp.

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  30. liberal capatalist says:

    @Nickel Front:

    “How come no one engages in meaningful dialog anymore?”
    “Outside of the intellectual class”
    Right there.
    Pompous assininity.

    Well… William F. Buckley Jr. was the spiritual father of American Libertarianism. And to follow that is aspirational for Libertarians. Pragmatism be dammed.
    So there’s that.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    When I first read the title I was expecting something different

    The Impossibility of Discourse
    The liberal notion that people are persuadable through airing of ideas is obsolete

    I think we have hit a point where people aren’t convinced by facts — if they ever were. A lot of folks who might say they are part of the “reality based community” believe that if they show people the right graph, and get them to really look at it, they will be convinced. But this is the least realistic ideas of all.

    I’d put Mr. Joyner’s obstinacy about not believing in women being fired for pregnancy, and sometimes using a softer story, in spite of everything people wrote, to be part of that. He doesn’t like Warren (and, as a smallish government conservative, he shouldn’t like Warren, but not because of her claimed dishonesty) and that seemed to override his logic, likely because he’s frustrated that he doesn’t have a party in American politics these days. I’m just glad I don’t have my brain farts like this published — I expect I am no better.

    But, it does make me wonder: what has to happen for someone to be open to new data?

    In my life I know I usually need to be basically slapped upside the head, or utterly desperate. The former is more pleasant than the latter.

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  32. DrDaveT says:

    @Nickel Front:

    You seen incapable of even listening to the argument that Trump is investigating the origins of the Russia hoax

    God, they’re cute at that age.

    James, to the extent that you may see me as part of the problem, please remember that I choose to discourse here, and to be a patron of this website, because I value the viewpoints of the OPs and (most of) the commentary in response above anything else on the web.

    Despite having commented (repeatedly) just the other day about how some positions are not susceptible to adjustment through discourse, I nevertheless agree with Dr. Taylor that many are, and that this discourse is worth having. Like all of the other long-timers here, I have learned much, and my positions on a number of issues have shifted, and become more nuanced, than when I first arrived.

    Let me second the recommendation of an earlier commenter that you might get more satisfaction out of some posts addressing national security issues. What do you think of the current National Security Strategy? Do you feel that the military is currently underfunded, or just mismanaged — or neither? Do we have a hollow force? I’d be curious to hear your opinions.

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  33. de stijl says:

    James is a quite recent ex-Republican. He is still susceptible to their messaging. It resonates with him.

    That doesn’t excuse anything. His take on Bob Woodward’s behavior was truly off base. His take on EW’s pregnancy was incredibly credulous of sketchy conclusions and ignorant of how things worked back then.

    He will likely never come about to your preferred view point and that is absolutely 100% cool.

    It’s the anti “SJW lock-step” language that is worrying. There lies a bad path, and I hope he hops off.

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  34. Matt says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Like all of the other long-timers here, I have learned much, and my positions on a number of issues have shifted, and become more nuanced, than when I first arrived.

    Indeed this place was integral in my leftward drift after Bush Jr was elected.

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: I tend to think of this blog as the slow, painful, step-by-step, with lots of backsliding, awakening and disillusionment of the main contributors*. It’s been fascinating.

    Someday, James Joyner will be “woke”.

    Ok, probably not, but stranger things have happened. (A friend of mine started a software company, hired a transgender woman because she was qualified, treated her like a person, and now runs a transgender software company (she recommended people), and is all trans-rightsy despite having been “I don’t know, I guess LGBT folks are fine, but do they have to be so in your face?”)

    (The transgender software company is my favorite example of the old boys’ network in action, except more of a former boys’ network. Um… I am not woke)

    ——
    *: What happened to Butch Bracknell? He posted a few times, and then vanished. I’ll sheepishly admit that I didn’t love his posts, but I hope he is well. Someone promoted him to virtual family, and now I worry about him.

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  36. Kari Q says:

    @Nickel Front:

    You seen incapable of even listening to the argument that Trump is investigating the origins of the Russia hoax

    Are you aware that the Republican-led Senate investigation has concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 election with the goal of helping Donald Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton?

    https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report_Volume2.pdf

    The Committee found,that the IRA [Internet Research Agency – sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction ofthe Kremlin

    Russia’s, goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton,· and harm her electability and potential presidency.”5 However, where the Intelligence Community assessed that the Russian government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” the Committee found that IRA social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive ofthen-candidate Trump, and to the detriment.of Secretary Clinton’s campaign.

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  37. Slugger says:

    The important target of any argument I make is me. I am not someone who was able to pull a sword out of a stone, no stars shone unusually brightly over the place of my birth. I like to see my thoughts in print to see if they make sense to me. Often they don’t. I read what I wrote and then do not hit the post comment button. I don’t expect to sway many, but I do think that I have learned to avoid being obviously dumb…I do remain dumb in a subtle manner, of course.

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  38. de stijl says:

    @Slugger:

    I compose four comments for every one I post.

    It is our choice to post what we do. More often than not, I choose not to share that particular thought I had because it was foolish, or unsupported, or poorly argued.

    Pro-tip: just hit refresh and your abandoned comment disappears into the ether.

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  39. Kit says:

    I’m late to this party, and now find myself having to quickly compose a message when work is calling…

    James, I used to find you the least sympathetic of OTB’s big three. But then Doug went on hiatus, you picked up the slack, and you really came alive for me. Now that you have once again slowed with your posting, you seem to be back to writing about smaller topics that have provoked a strong reaction in you. And then you don’t really mix it up with the commenters. I’d suggest either spending more time explaining your position, or just avoiding certain subjects.

    For example, I thought your basic take on that Woodward post was correct, but commenters provided a lot of color that I wish you had grappled with. And then your Warren post… I don’t know what you were thinking.

    Obviously, you post what you want, when you want. But I think your instincts are better when you are more prolific.

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  40. Kit says:

    @de stijl:

    I compose four comments for every one I post.

    I’m not the only one 🙂

    ReplyReply
  41. de stijl says:

    @Kit:

    We’re all inarticulate weirdos. Every last one of us.

    ReplyReply
  42. mattBernius says:

    @Kit & @de stijl:
    Add me to that list too… not to mentioning editing after I hit post.

    ReplyReply
  43. James Joyner says:

    I’ve written a follow-on post addressing the more common points but some cats and dogs:

    @Blue Galangal:

    On the other hand, if a Democrat, say, Leslie Knope, says she was born in Pawnee but she was actually born in Eagleton, that’s DISQUALIFYING.

    I’ve addressed this obliquely in the other thread but I’ve never made anything like this argument. Trump is uniquely unqualified to be President. I’ve already said that I’ll vote for any plausible Democratic nominee over Trump. WRT Warren, while I think she has made some unforced errors, I’ve directly stated that I don’t find them disqualifying.

    @michael reynolds: That’s a useful perspective.

    @Sleeping Dog and @Kit: : Yes, I think that’s fair. I’ve largely given up writing short posts about the News of the Day, although I’ll sometimes do that when I think there’s a larger trend at play. I really need to find time to do more writing on foreign affairs topics but, alas, have largely stopped because it seems pointless with a President who acts on instinct rather than listening to the professionals.

    In July, I remarried, doubling the number of kids in the household, and began doing double duty as department head and teaching (we’re a faculty member short). Plus, I’ve sold my mom’s house, my house, my late wife’s mother’s house (long story), and moved into another house. So, if I don’t write a post before getting ready for and heading off to work around 7, I seldom get change to get to it later in the day. And I frequently don’t have time to circle back and engage the commentary until the discussion has culminated and gone off the rails.

    @Gustopher: Not sure on Butch. He’s alive and well. Like myself, recently remarried. And, like myself, not writing nearly as much as he used to, here or elsewhere.

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  44. Nickel Front says:

    @grumpy realist:
    You want me to find a Democrat not involved with the attempted Trump take down? Uh…sure. how’s about we keep investigating that whole burisma thing, which Ukraine started up again back in Feb apparently, and see where it leads. It’s already snagging Biden, pelosi, and….Romney! Let’s keep it going.

    Both sides benefit from this nepotism corruption. Trump seems to be the first politician to actually lose money because he went into politics.
    This pay for play crap is hardly new, and I want to see it all exposed, party be damned.

    People should be outraged at Hunter Biden. At the Clinton foundation. At pelosi. But nope… People like you excuse it and look the other way because Party.

    @james:
    Trump is uniquely qualified to be president right now. This country can’t afford another socialist running as a Democrat. Hell, they are ALL PROMISING to ignore the Constitution. They are promising higher taxes and more endless wars. Yang is even literally out there buying votes for crying out loud. And they all know they can’t beat Trump, hence the impeachment cries.

    Both parties are corrupt and don’t give a rats ass about people outside the beltway, if you will.

    Or for those Outside of the intellectual class I guess you could say as well.

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  45. Nickel Front says:

    @Kari Q:

    Russia’s, goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process

    Trump is illegitimate. Uniquely unqualified. Putin’s stooge. Lost the popular vote.

    Russia: “We did it!”

    Well done, Kari.

    ReplyReply
  46. grumpy realist says:

    @Nickel Front:

    Wow.

    Could anyone misinterpret more drastically what I wrote down?

    Do you even understand English?

    Must be a Russian troll.

    ReplyReply
  47. Neil Hudelson says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Not a Russian troll, just a Jenos troll.

    ReplyReply
  48. grumpy realist says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Makes me wonder about the end result of such trolling. At least Russian trolls have a goal that they’re working towards–engendering chaos and disrupting the U.S. in order to weaken it.
    But “Nickel Front”? He’s just doing it “for the lulz”, regardless of the damage it does. Doesn’t say much for his moral character, does it?

    Which is one reason why if I were hiring someone, I’d look pretty carefully at their on-line activities. Someone who indulges in so much trolling either demonstrates a total disregard of the Common Good, or is so much of an idiot that he doesn’t realize the damage he is doing. In neither case would I want to take on the potential liability of hiring such an individual. And if he lies about what he is doing…? Well, that has an effect as well, doesn’t it?

    @Nickel Front: And has been said–as the habits, so develops the man. Indulge yourself in trolling over and over and over again and you’ll discover that you’ve developed a habit of lying to people and jerking them around “for the lulz.” How long do you think you’re going to keep your employment/marriage with that?

    Hope you like living the rest of your life as a Reddit punchline, because that’s what you’re degrading yourself down to.

    ReplyReply
  49. Barry says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “Given your background, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on military and FP issues. If you need a starting place, Scott Ritter’s recent post at the American Conservative would be a good place to start, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/did-china-just-announce-the-end-of-u-s-primacy-in-the-pacific/.”

    This would be interesting.

    ReplyReply
  50. Barry says:

    @Teve: “…unless I’m misremembering didn’t conservatives hate Scott Ritter for some reason?”

    IIRC, he was involved in the pre-war Potemkin search for WMD’s in Iraq, and stated that there were none.

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  51. Barry says:

    @Nickel Front: “Both sides benefit from this nepotism corruption. Trump seems to be the first politician to actually lose money because he went into politics.”

    His record is making large sums of money ‘disappear’ (likely into his own pockets).

    As for losing money by going into politics, he’s not only kept his business holdings, but has seen lots of people suddenly decide that doing business with him is a good idea.

    ReplyReply
  52. Kari Q says:

    @Nickel Front:

    That was a direct quote from the Senate’s report, not my opinion. That’s the conclusion of the Republican-led Senate.

    Senate Republicans wrote that statement.

    ReplyReply
  53. An Interested Party says:

    …I was hoping Jon Huntsman was returning home to primary Trump. (I’m sure I’ll get toasted for that.)

    I don’t see why you would get toasted…that alternative is a hell of a lot better than what we have now, although I do wonder how far Huntsman would get in today’s GOP…

    Trump seems to be the first politician to actually lose money because he went into politics.

    Oh really? How, exactly, is that?

    Senate Republicans wrote that statement.

    Every Republican who was involved with that is part of the deep state…surely you knew that…

    ReplyReply
  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Meh… close enough. I wanted to say this but decided not to because my personality gravitates toward “acquired taste” too much to begin with.

    ReplyReply
  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: The types of topics you refer to here are what I used to use to distinguish between “arguments” and “quarrels” in my writing classes. These types of topics, are quarrels because each participant “knows” that they are “right” and the other person is “wrong.” The discourse is more faith driven than reason driven.

    It probably would be wiser to stay out of quarrels altogether, but doing so also probably involves denying some of our basic humanity. Hard to keep to.

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  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kari Q: There you go again! How is poor Nickel supposed to remain true to the faith if he’s going to be confronted by all those lies from the Senate records?

    (You’re soooooooo mean. 😛 )

    ReplyReply

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