What Can I Say?

by John Holbo on November 2, 2017

“Russia exploited real vulnerabilities that exist across online platforms and we must identify, expose, and defend ourselves against similar covert influence operations in the future,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said during a hearing on Wednesday with executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Depressing, obviously. At a more fundamental level, Russia exploited real vulnerabilities that exist across all human cognitive platforms. It’s hard to think of a technical patch, or a legislative fix, that doesn’t significantly infringe the freedom to think and say (stupid) stuff. It’s like we need a Voight-Kampff test, to separate bots from real people. But, like in the original PKD novel, I’m kind of worried that the humans will start failing.

You can (and should!) identify Russian troll farms and try to weed stuff out, weed it again. Facebook and Twitter can self-police; legislators can make law (well, if theory.) But, in a sense, what we have are online platforms that connect people, and then people being people. Other people are exploiting this. There’s an irreducibility to that. ‘We have met the troll farm, and he is us.’

I’m not going all Plato’s Republic on you. I’m not telling everyone to chill, though Robert Wright is probably right that we should meditate more. I’m not saying pox on both your houses, just because there are pro- and anti-Trump items in that dump of Russian trollery. I’m just at a loss to know what kinds of critical thinking and writing constitute pro-social and efficacious interventions, across the aisle, at the present time (as opposed to personally amusing, righteous, or message-in-a-bottle consolatory, not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’m not saying nothing’s useful to say. I’m sure that’s too pessimistic and I don’t even have an (erroneous) feeling to the contrary. But I don’t know what to say. Trump has a headlock on the Republican Party and there are, so far as I can tell, no Trumpists it would be useful for me to engage with intellectually, or at the level of policy debate. There aren’t places I can go on the internet to read even sophistically cogent defenses of the path the Republican party is on. I remember back in the good old days when I was offended that the Republicans were post-policy – which they, of course, remain. But now they are also post-punditry, in any even borderline intellectually respectable sense.

There are a lot of smart Republicans and conservatives, of course. I mean: intelligent, canny, knowledgeable, capable of holding their own in the cut-and-thrust of speech-and-debate, capable of knocking coherent paragraphs together. Capable of reading something and, if they chose, accurately summarizing a thesis and argument, the evidence pro and con, etc. But they are anti-Trump or else they are riding the Trump tiger, presumably well aware they are doing so. There’s a palpable ‘this sucks but the nearest emergency exit is behind us, so we might as well strap in and hope the tiger likes tax cuts for the rich’ attitude. What you get is a lot of rearranging deck chairs on the tiger. Would be another way to put it.

I don’t think there’s much I could tell Paul Ryan or Jonah Goldberg about how bad Trump is that they don’t perfectly well know already. They’re obviously at a loss (policy-wise and punditry-wise) and mostly just waiting for something to break one way or another (Trump-wise). It’s crazy that we are just waiting to see what one of the two major parties wants to do, and until then it’s pointless even trying to talk ideas or policy with the thinkers and policy-makers for the party.

I can critique the proposed arrangement of deckchairs on the back of the tiger. That is, I can read and respond to National Review. Or the Republican health care plan. Or I can talk to, or about, the tiger. I find it really useful to read stuff about the tiger. So long as it’s good. There is a tendency for it to be too ‘gorillas in the mist’ hillbilly elegy base-whispering. That’s highly patronizing in a couple of bad ways at once, unless you’re careful. Either that or too pathologizing: they are all evil stone-cold racists. You’ve just gotta find something less pessimistic to say about what motivates people to vote Trump or we’re all fucked. (Even if I believe we’re fucked, I have to proceed on the basis of some sunnier hypothesis.) It’s harder to talk to the tiger. Except in the way that the Russians did during the election. That is, it’s sure possible to rile the beast up. No surprise.

But obviously you have to talk to the tiger. It’s not literally a beast. It’s made of people. Fellow citizens. People who want jobs and affordable healthcare and good schools for their kids. All that ought to make for common ground. But what would be a good way for ME to address conservatives with cogent arguments that might punch through all the negative partisanship? It used to be that I would say to myself ‘I’ll argue against this bad argument they are making at NR’! It felt like the kind of thing I could engage with, using all those skills I learned in school. I felt the debate urge rise up in me. I can win this one for the good guys! And then somehow the good news will trickle down! Slow boring of hard boards, all that. Of course, psychologically the impulse is mostly me being a feisty debater. I like winning arguments and being clever and so forth. It’s always kind of a fantasy that the other person is ever going to admit ‘Oh, you’ve got me squirming in the cold grip of reason!’ And also pretty long odds that any given victory will trickle down on the other side. Still, it felt like marginally pro-social behavior, above and beyond the athletic, agonic satisfactions. These days I’m still tempted to argue against the stuff at NR. I read something and have to bite my tongue not to write 1000 words about the fallacy of the argument. But I’ve lost much sense that there is a pro-social payout in terms of influencing which way the Republican Party is going. Maybe I can convince them they are arranging the deckchairs fallaciously, or maybe I can’t. But the tiger doesn’t give a damn. If I could convince Sean Hannity, on the other hand, he might be able to tell the tiger. But I am not in the least bit tempted to think that debating Sean Hannity has a point. I never have little mental fantasies of beating Sean Hannity in an argument, not the way (I admit it!) I like to rehearse arguments against the stuff they write at NR. My little dream of doing good by winning arguments against the other side isn’t looking so good.

While I am sure there are plenty of folks in Trump’s base who love their children, want jobs for their community, I literally don’t have any clue where to send a letter to potentially win them over to my way of thinking about all that. And yet the internet exists.

You will object that there are still lots of important things to talk about and argue about. You are quite right, of course.

{ 250 comments }

1

Patrick Fessenbecker 11.02.17 at 7:57 am

I’ve been thinking that there must be some lessons from the era of yellow journalism — capture of the political process by partisan media is probably not as new as it seems in the era of Facebook. How did the country’s public sphere recover from Pulitzer and Hearst? Is there a media historian who could help the rest of us out?

2

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 8:37 am

Speaking as one Trump supporter, you’ve largely already won. I’ve no idea how much meat-time you spend in close proximity with Trump supporters, but perhaps a tad more might be useful. The Trump supporters I personally know are not dogmatic, generally liberal on social issues, and troubled in the same way as you as the excessive partisanship. It’s also worth remembering that 20 percent of the voters who pulled the lever for Trump believed at the time that he lacked the temperament to be president. He’s certainly not anyone I ever felt compelled to learn more about, at least until he started speaking as a Republican on issues only Bernie was willing to raise. I’ll go so far as to suggest that you’re experiencing some of the sense of isolation that those who voted for Trump, and Corbyn, and Sanders, and Farage felt for a good longtime. As you know note, most want the same thing. We need to recall Mark Blyth and others and remember that practically nobody had even heard of Blyth until academics stumbled on the existence of a Brown prof who predicted both Trump and Brexit.

The reason I’m personally delighted Trump is president is that he’s the only candidate, outside of Bernie, who spoke to the issues that concern me most – those left behind, the failure of elites, and the sanctimony of the entitled. I’d much prefer Bernie, but I’m not sure he’d be faring any better than Trump given that he’s (far) more committed to addressing the issues Trump merely speaks to. The questions are at least alive. Lamentably, the Democrats are in even worse shape than the Republicans when it comes to introspection, so on that front alone I share your pessimism, although for somewhat different reasons.

And with all due respect, had the Obama economy delivered a fraction of what was promised, rather than endless war pts. ad infinitum, a part-time wage economy, and out of control healthcare premiums all the while the rich got fantastically richer, HRC would have won. The Dems remain sclerotic and in the headlock of the Clintons, with the same freedom of mobility as the Republicans – only out of power in pretty much every sense as well as out of ideas.

Chin up! And you’re right about the meditation. Works wonders!

3

Daragh 11.02.17 at 9:21 am

On the Russian troll farms, information ops etc. – there are important domestic factors that allowed this stuff to work in the USA and failed miserable in France. Essentially, European elites and voters both recognised Russian information operations as unacceptable interference, and presented a united front. The reaction of Mitch McConnell and large swathes of the Republican party to revelations of Russian activity during the election are well known and don’t need to be reported here.

Equally, the shredding of political norms and the transition of politics into a form of social warfare, in which few people vote out of a sense of policy preference, but rather out of a sense of generalised hatred for the other ‘side’ is a consequence both of the US’ dysfunctional political institutions, and a Republican party that was discretely shredding norms when ever it felt the need, as opposed to Trump’s less considered and more generalised norm destruction. It is what happens when political leaders declare modest healthcare reform the death of the Republic, and when members of the opposition party begin receiving death threats don’t try to tamp down the furore. Its what happens when political leaders respond to insane, racist conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace, religion, and education with shrugs and ‘I don’t know, could be, some people believe it’ instead of forthright denunciation. The Republican party, since Gingrich at least and arguably since Buchanan has striven to destroy any sense of a national, political community. While Obama was giving his ‘One America’ speeches, the Republicans were busy classifying themselves as the ‘Real Americans’ against everyone else.

The TL:DR – the problem isn’t Julian Assange and other assorted useful idiots spreading rumours that Clinton is part of a satanic sex cult in a pizzeria basement. The problem is that the Republicans have actively worked to create a voter base that is ready to believe those rumours. Russian actions can’t create social divisions, but they can exploit them, and the Republican agenda for decades has been to make those divisions as deep and unbridgeable as possible.

4

SusanC 11.02.17 at 9:26 am

A few years back, there was a lot of academic interest (inspired, no doubt, by copious government funding) in the security of e-voting systems. But, in retrospect, most of that work had too narrow a focus.

The security research tended to concentrate on “counted as cast” (+secrecy of the ballot), i.e. the imagined threat is that after the voter has cast their ballot, some nefarious person will hack into the computer system and change their ballot.

That might still be a problem, but we have a wider problem too. Democratic systems of government depend on well informed voters, and if those people are deciding how to vote based on stuff they have read on the Internet, that’s opens up a whole new class of ways the faults of the Internet can be used to affect the election outcome, without ever needed to hack the vote counting stuff.

It’s hard to see an easy fix for this. Even without the Internet, newspapers are used by wealthy individuals (who are sometimes foreign nationals) to influence election outcomes. Consider, e.g. The Guardian, which contains a large number of opinion pieces to the effect that the author hates Jeremy Corbyn/thinks Trump is an idiot/thinks Marine Le Pen is a fascist. At least two of those are attempts to influence foreign elections. See, e.g. The Daily Mail for influencing of a different political persuasion.

The problem that voters are easily swayed by arguments that don’t hold water is probably at least as old as Socrates and Plato’s Repblic

5

nastywoman 11.02.17 at 9:29 am

”I literally don’t have any clue where to send a letter to potentially win them over to my way of thinking about all that.”

Before Obama was elected my friends and me played this game ”How to make a Republican or ”conservative” vote for Obama – and nearly all of us played it NOT with ”political” but more with philosophical or purely emotional arguments and I had the most success by threatening friends or relatives with ”Liebesentzug” and the warning – that I never would ”hug” them again if they wouldn’t vote for Obama – BUT that concept somehow didn’t work that well A.O. (after Obama)

And it is true – with TEH Intertubes going ”VollStoff” like the Russian website which showed one of the candidates as ”Satan” and the other one like ”god” -(without telling who was who) – the only way to treat this… this… ”thing” is how it was treated in the beginning – as some kind of chaotic, crazy and wonderful wordsalat where nothing – NADA is ”serious” or ”relevant” in any way – and as – in the beginning we always outed ourselves as some very, very old Eastern European Truck-Drivers – posting nonsense on the Internet – we now have given up the ”Eastern European” part – BE-cause – in no way -anybody wants to be associated with golden toilets or F…face-Schick-Interior-Design…

6

Adam Roberts 11.02.17 at 9:33 am

#2 “And with all due respect, had the Obama economy delivered a fraction of what was promised, rather than endless war pts. ad infinitum, a part-time wage economy, and out of control healthcare premiums all the while the rich got fantastically richer, HRC would have won.”

HRC did win, by literally millions of votes. Had the US electoral college adequately reflected the will of the American people, rather than the historical compromise with rich former-slaveholders etc, she’d be in the white house.

I don’t mean to snark: I think kidneystones puts a finger on something really important, something about which I myself (for one) remain genuinely uncertain. There’s a narrative that many of my left-wing friends take, now, as axiomatic: that Blairism led directly to Brexit, by continuing Thatcherism under the fig-leaf of small-scale socialist advances here and there, and so leaving the Many to immiserate; that Obama led directly to Trump by virtue of the logic kidneystones outlines in #2. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe a completely different narrative is true,—that the forces of racist reaction and nationalist tribalism were toxically swilling around in the 90s and 00s just as they are today, but the compromises enacted by Blair and Obama were able to held them in check. The things that their leftier-than-they critics howled and excoriated them for enacting, on eg immigration and security and so on, were needful in order to govern populaces as radically divided as those populaces have today revealed themselves as being. I honestly don’t know which of those two narratives is true.

7

nastywoman 11.02.17 at 9:41 am

BUT now reading again@2
”The Trump supporters I personally know are not dogmatic, generally liberal on social issues, and troubled in the same way as you as the excessive partisanship.”

I’m suddenly really… shall we say: optimistic? – as I – by meeting lots and lots of Trump supporters – hardly ever met some who where NOT ”not dogmatic, generally liberal on social issues, and troubled in the same way as I as the excessive partisanship.”

BUT – how true… some of them were really… can I say ”cute” probably in the way a kidney stone is ”cute” and so I guess we all just have to go through this… ”phase” until the ”stones” have ”passed” through the urinal tract…?

8

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 10:34 am

@6 That’s a fair question. Unfortunately, those presuming that 50 percent of the US population consists of fascist, an opinion recently posted without challenge here, probably aren’t best suited to provide an answer. Denying that ‘race’ and fear of the other aren’t factors doesn’t make much sense, neither does dismissing economic arguments.

That said, your point has merit. There may well be a class of voters who jumped at the chance to acquire ‘progressive’ bona fides by voting for Obama. The degree to which race matters varies, I suspect, very much depending on demographics, location, economics, and which races are being discussed. Suggesting that Hispanics of various backgrounds do not harbor hostility towards other Hispanics on these grounds seems equally simplistic. Certainly, on social issues a segment of Obama voters – middle-class African-Americans hold views on marriage, drug use, and gay marriage that can only be described as conservative.

I linked to Mark Blyth interviewed in GQ (sexist, no?) who detests Trump. Here’s his comment on the Obama economy and the popular vote.

“It’s a bit like the Democrats winning the popular vote. They won the popular vote due to two and a half cities [laughs]. And in those two and a half cities–L.A., let’s say, a bit of Miami, and New York–if you’re a gig economy worker with a degree from Columbia that knows computers, yeah, you’re doing pretty well. And if you’re in West Virginia, and you don’t have a degree, then the gig economy sucks. So to simply say, ‘Everything’s fine, America’s already great, the world of work is transforming!’ is really to cast a broad net that deliberately excludes what’s been done to the worker.” The interview here:
https://www.gq.com/story/mark-blyth-economics-interview

The second article I find important is from the Cato Institute (worse!) reporting on a recent survey on self-censorship and free speech: https://www.cato.org/survey-reports/state-free-speech-tolerance-america

And finally, for John, who may be behind in his Rod Dreher readings, from

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/trump-will-be-president-forever/

‘Good job, Democrats. You are telling straight white people that they are second-class citizens who don’t deserve fairness. You’ll continue to find self-hating liberal whites who are willing to accept this garbage, but many more aren’t falling for it — and know what kind of world Democrats are preparing for them when and if they take power again.

As a registered Independent whose economic and foreign policy views are to the left of the average Republican’s, I would love to have the chance to consider voting Democratic in a national election, especially with the GOP in such a mess. But out of self-protection, I can’t take that chance.’

9

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 10:50 am

And finally (really!) grounds for optimism:
https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-democratic-civil-war-is-getting-nasty-even-if-no-one-is-paying-attention

“…when I arrived at the townhouse of Stanley Greenberg, the veteran Democratic strategist, on Capitol Hill, later that morning, it was not the distractions of the Trump White House that had him worked up. Greenberg was still fuming about Hillary Clinton… Democrats were repeating the same political mistakes a year later… ‘It’s the Republicans who talk about the economy, not the Democrats.’ This was the approach that doomed Clinton against Trump. [James Carville made exactly this point the moment the penny dropped on election night, along with incoherent messaging.] The electorate was angry in 2016 and remains angry now, Greenberg said, and Northam [Dem candidate for governor], a Norfolk doctor, didn’t get it. Neither did Clinton and the team of Obama veterans who staffed her Brooklyn headquarters. ‘If you live in the metro areas with the élites, you don’t wake up angry about what’s happening in people’s lives,’ Greenberg said…”

Stanley has a point, and to his credit, he’s squaring up to the price of fidelity to failure.

10

JanieM 11.02.17 at 11:17 am

JH, you’re asking, more or less, “How can I convince the other guy?” I’m reminded of one of the memorable sayings from the conflict resolution / weekend group therapy workshops I took long ago:

“You’ve got to make it safe for the other guy to make it safe for you to tell your truth.”

IOW, you (maybe) make space for people to listen to you by listening to them first. And not just with an eye to gathering the arguments you’re going to use to refute them.

Pie in the sky at the best of times, and certainly not well adapted for the internet/Trump age, or for letter-writing. But worth thinking about, IMO.

11

nastywoman 11.02.17 at 11:18 am

@
‘If you live in the metro areas with the élites, you don’t wake up angry about what’s happening in people’s lives,’

That’s why we since 2008 traveled all over the US – to find out what’s happening in people’s lives,’ – and we gave a lot of warnings to the likes of Paul Krugmans Blog – in order to suggest – that the whole deal might NOT end well BUT non of US members of European TV Crews every thought – that Americans would go in such numbers for the completely wrong and truly F… Moronic solution of the problem.

I mean – sane people weigh their options and then – most of the time go for the obviously better one? –

IF they aren’t lied to – and manipulated by – a crazy conglomerate of greedy Republicans – stunning idiots – and of all people – some ”Russians” who can’t believe their luck of even being read by American idiots.

And where is this… commenter here – who always loves to insist that the ”Russian Revolution IN THE US” wasn’t happening…??

12

Cranky Observer 11.02.17 at 11:22 am

= = = kidneystones: “The Trump supporters I personally know are not dogmatic, generally liberal on social issues, and troubled in the same way as you as the excessive partisanship. “= = =

In which we learn that kidneystones does not spend much time in the Midwest US, particularly the semi-rural areas thereof. Hint: it takes at least 6 months of working with people before they’ll even hint what their actual political/social views are. Hint 2: there’s lots of illiberality and racism out there.

= = = kidneystones + quote: I linked to Mark Blyth interviewed in GQ (sexist, no?) who detests Trump. Here’s his comment on the Obama economy and the popular vote.
“It’s a bit like the Democrats winning the popular vote. They won the popular vote due to two and a half cities [laughs]. And in those two and a half cities–L.A., let’s say, a bit of Miami, and New York[…]”= = =

Following the 2016 election results senior Trump advisors opined that next time votes from California should simply not be counted, and presumably they are working on a plan to accomplish just that. For my own part I confess I missed the section of the Constitution that states that natural-born and naturalized people living in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and California in general are not citizen and don’t get to vote in elections. The Trumplings love them some red/blue maps but conveniently neglect to adjust them for populations as with, e.g. Montana.

13

Lynne 11.02.17 at 12:20 pm

JanieM, thanks for that reminder from the past. I agree that it is worth thinking about.

14

Lee A. Arnold 11.02.17 at 12:34 pm

Two very different problems, media disinformation and intellectual ignorance. They both cause bad voting, but they will be resolved differently.

Almost everyone will realize that social media is a “shit sandwich”. It’s only going to work in an election, one or two more times.

People will still stick with their friends and they won’t stop tribalizing. But they will question all info-sources more, even into their friendships.

It’s important to understand that in the U.S. this insanity began BEFORE social media, with rise of Gingrich to the speakership in 1994 and the creation of Fox News in 1996.

Fox began hammering on the Clintons continuously, and it still operates like a continuous GOP propaganda machine. The other cable networks started in the middle-of-the-road, then veered in response to Fox’s viewer ratings.

Congressional analysts note that the rise of U.S. party extremism is asymmetrical, and the Republicans are largely responsible for the gridlock and dysfunction in D.C. They Republicans deserve Trump, because they created the frustrated conditions for him. The last few books by Mann and Ornstein demonstrate this conclusively.

In reaction to the audience realization that social media is crap, in the near future there will be a resurgence of the importance of well-researched news media, i.e. of vetted brands, in a style reminiscent of the old 3 U.S. television news networks.

But they will be more on guard against spurious news and against spouting official propaganda, because the social media can so easily challenge them. They are unlikely to become the quasi-official propagandists of the 1950’s.

What none of the big vetted news brands yet has, is far-sighted management. They might think about using social media to invite news contributors from around the world who are paid by the piece but who are immediately and publicly ostracized from reportage if they report lies. Also, the big brands should be encouraged to turn and start directly attacking each other on the quality of their news reports. It would make good viewer ratings too. This has already begun somewhat in response to the egregious horseshit spouted daily by Fox’s national talking dolls.

15

Layman 11.02.17 at 12:49 pm

Yes, I know, don’t feed the trolls, to which I can only say, if the trolls are actually trolls, why not stop their trolling, rather than asking others to pretend they aren’t there, sowing disinformation, even blatant falsehood?

This is a remarkable line kidneystones takes in 2:

“I’ll go so far as to suggest that you’re experiencing some of the sense of isolation that those who voted for Trump, and Corbyn, and Sanders, and Farage felt for a good longtime. As you know note, most want the same thing.”

Here we learn that Trump is like Sanders, and Corbyn is like Farage. They all want the same thing.

And, a few lines later:

“I’d much prefer Bernie, but I’m not sure he’d be faring any better than Trump given that he’s (far) more committed to addressing the issues Trump merely speaks to.”

Here we learn that Trump and Sanders both campaigned for the same things, and that Sanders, had he been elected, would be stuck in the same policy mire Trump now finds some himself in. As if Bernie would have made no more progress on building that border wall he promised, or on banning the entry of Muslims as he said he would, or actively sabotaging the health care system for millions, just as he said he would do in every stump speech.

Can kidneystones not actually see the distinctions between Trump and Sanders and what they campaigned to do? If kidneystones was actually fooled by Trump’s rhetoric, fooled into thinking President Trump would be like President Sanders, is he still fooled now? Can kidneystones say which of Trump’s actual policy initiatives is one he believes Sanders would have also pursued? Can he point to anything Trump has said or done which makes him regret his avid support for the Trump candidacy? Seeing the actuality of Trump, would kidneystones still have supported him, or would he have done differently?

It does not seem to be the case that kidneystones is arguing that he supported Trump reluctantly, knowing his faults, disagreeing with his proposed solutions, because he approved of the way in which Trump was talking about workers and the plight of average people. It seems to be the case that he supported Trump because he liked the solutions Trump proposed; and that he likes the things Trump is trying to do as President. I say it seems that way because he never writes critically about what Trump says or does; that sort of approach is reserved, perversely – even now! – for Hillary Clinton.

16

Z 11.02.17 at 1:09 pm

You know what’s weird John, I write down at least a comment on just about each of your philosophical, anthropological and/or political posts – so obviously I enjoy them a good deal – and yet almost always, it is to record my complete opposition. That’s… not normal, I think. So either you systematically strike the precise thin line between what I agree with enough to want to debate and what I disagree with, or if we could talk this out, things would clear up (or I’m more into intellectual SM than I thought). Anyway, I thought your post was mostly completely upside down.

While I am sure there are plenty of folks in Trump’s base who love their children, want jobs for their community, I literally don’t have any clue where to send a letter to potentially win them over to my way of thinking about all that.

I understand the tongue-in-cheekness and I know you know that but still, the inconvenient fact that politics is never a matter of winning other people to your way of thinking is missing there. It is a matter of organizing the people with (broadly) your own way of thinking in order to make the reality grounding said way of thinking come out in the social world. So you don’t send a letter to argue about public neonatal care in the abstract, you send a letter to pressure your mayor to open a new maternity hospital. Or to make public your vote in favor of the candidate who promises it. Or, if you want to say something, you tell the story of that woman who ended in intensive care because none of the overworked midwifes had enough time to notice her internal bleeding and you deftly inject a statistics showing that the USA has abysmal performance in that respect if you really feel so inclined (but you keep in mind that it is the story, not the statistics, that will make a difference).

But obviously you have to talk to the tiger. It’s not literally a beast. It’s made of people. Fellow citizens.

No, you don’t. Well, you may if you enjoy talking. But that’s not how you sway the tiger course. Like, ever.

People who want jobs and affordable healthcare and good schools for their kids. All that ought to make for common ground.

Perhaps it ought to make for common ground, perhaps people like to pretend it does, but it doesn’t. Offering decent jobs, affordable healthcare and good schools to everyone does not make for common ground. Not now, not ever. To start with, I doubt that a common ground has ever existed in the US political system between Black Americans and White Americans. But let’s forget about the racist and reactionary voice that whispers that everyone can be free and equal as long as everyone excludes Black people. I doubt that this makes for common ground even among people who vote like you.

Under the socio-economic conditions defining the current American society, and to a certain extent most Western wealthy societies, that is to say slow growth, extremely high inequality and a strong correlation between broad educative achievements and eventual economic situation, it is an illusion to believe that everybody wins from decent jobs, universal healthcare or good public education. You cannot have 2% growth, a decent job for everyone, 15% return on investment and a CEO who pays himself 250 times his average worker salary. So something has to give, and if it is not a decent job for everyone, it means it will be the ecosystem of lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, but also higher education institutions relying on their alumni giving millions… which relies on the average CEO being able to pay himself 250 times his average worker salary. If decent universal healthcare is available, private healthcare companies but also doctors at high-end private hospitals and down to the nurse working there will all undergo a massive redefinition of their job. If good schools are offered to everyone and social mobility rises up again, the likelihood that children of poor families will climb up the ladder will increase but so will the likelihood that children of affluent or middle-class families will climb it down.

So I don’t believe there is a common ground and as long as these social conditions prevail, I don’t believe there can be one. What can you say, then? Well, wovon man nicht sprechen kann…

17

Katsue 11.02.17 at 2:03 pm

The idea that a single Russian troll farm, amidst the sea of clickbait on the internet*, had a decisive influence on the US election outcome is about as plausible as the idea that the River Shannon has a decisive impact on sea levels in the North Atlantic. Similarly, given that nobody watches Russia Today, it’s obvious that its coverage had no impact on the election either.

If it wasn’t so obvious that the whole point of this Neo-McCarthyism is to get the Clinton and the mainstream US media off the hook for Trump’s election, and not incidentally to justify the continued existence of the CIA, FBI, NSA et al., the whole thing would be baffling.

* Or for that matter Peter Thiel’s position on the board of Facebook.

18

BruceJ 11.02.17 at 2:11 pm

‘If you live in the metro areas with the élites, you don’t wake up angry about what’s happening in people’s lives,’ Greenberg said…”

Yes, that’s why they elected the guy who lives in a gold-festooned penthouse on 5th avenue.

Riiiiiight.

19

anon 11.02.17 at 2:14 pm

You are not going to do it.
I went through what you are going through (though from the opposite perspective: I’m conservative, have been my whole life, and support Trump). I gave up attempting to ‘convince’ folks like you decades ago.

I also enjoy debate: I also enjoy political interaction: I also hoped to convince the other guy with reasoned, logical debate. But that just doesn’t exist. It probably has never existed, but it certainly has gotten worse over the last two decades or so. It doesn’t exist in academia, it doesn’t exist in our society, it doesn’t exist on the internet.

Roughly 3 decades ago, I was in graduate school, studying what offered opportunities for political and moral debate (I’m being vague). I was the class conservative, so I was often alone against the crowd (there were always ‘moderates’-both faculty and students, who agreed with me occasionally) , but I was able to make my arguments. I could also go to what we would call ‘mainstream’ internet sites and see the same arguments (again, not necessarily in a balanced manner-it wasn’t split 50-50 liberal/conservative, but it was there).

(Note that this is itself bizarre. If you were to say that there is a public organization devoted to debate, in which the prevailing disagreements of the day are discussed between dissenting adults, you would think 1) that it is a good thing, and 2) that it would reflect the viewpoints of the citizens of that society-that’s the whole point of it existing. But that organization, which is academia, doesn’t do, and hasn’t done that. Most of the things I argued for had at least a plurality of support amongst the population of the state in which I was arguing. As I mentioned, I was often the sole conservative (among graduate students, among faculty). You may believe that is entirely appropriate, because ‘liberalism’ is objectively correct. But you simply can’t deny that it IS. Our public organization, devoted to the free exchange of ideas, doesn’t do so.)

That world doesn’t exist any more. If I made some of the arguments, in academia, today, that I made 25 years ago, I would be removed-from teaching assistanceships, from graduate funding. Nobody who publically agreed with the majority (or plurality, if you prefer) on political issues of today, could even be hired at more than a handful (out of several thousand) of colleges and universities in the whole country.

And the internet? I was actually thinking of a particular example when I made that statement. ‘Political Theory Daily Review,’ which you link to on your own webpage, is a site I used to go to. Today, even a pretense of ‘balance’ is gone. I would only go to PTDR if I were a liberal searching for verification. Debate, or disagreement, or, again, the presentation of views that of roughly 40-50% of the population of this country, doesn’t exist.

I find the following quote, from one of your commenters, funny.

“You’ve got to make it safe for the other guy to make it safe for you to tell your truth.”

You are an academic: does this reflect your (anybody’s) academic experience? Is academia really an environment where conservatives are making it unsafe for liberals to tell their truths? I know the rhetoric that’s coming, but come on. Its the exact opposite of the real world, and we all know it.

So you quest for an environment where you, and your enlightened scholarly buddies, can convince me and my fellow rubes of the truth of your views just doesn’t exist-it doesn’t exist in the real world, it doesn’t exist on the internet. I left academia and gave up even interacting with you and your type 25 years ago (obviously I still occasionally surf political blogs of my opponents-witness this post). You’ve still got academia in which to pretend that your values are universal and universally correct. I guess I have a few blogs and internet sites to do the same. No reason to pretend we share anything, because we don’t. You had a monopoly on conversations before the internet, but that monopoly is gone. Political discussion is fractured, news sources are fractured. Deal with it.

anon

20

bob mcmanus 11.02.17 at 2:56 pm

Ya know, the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution fairly coincides with the same anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Passchendale

And we still have people who would rather spend their time and energy hectoring and haranguing the right, or seeking to find a better way to lecture fascists, the slow boring of hard board equivalent of trench warfare for inches, with unspeakable costs behind and unbearable but predictable costs ahead.

They would rather fight the right than listen to their left, unto the end of the world.

21

SusanC 11.02.17 at 3:14 pm

The original post almost implies that, without Russian interference, we wouldn’t have had President Trump.

I’m sceptical on this point – I think there were plenty of other factors causing people to be fed up with the other parties/other Republican candidates to the point that Trump had a chance.

I’m even inclined to think that focussing on the Russia issue is harmful, to the extent that it enables the Democrats to do nothing to address the reasons they were unpopular last time, and so may lead to them losing next time too.

—-

On the other hand, even if it wasn’t the sole factor, the problems inherent with getting one’s political news from the Internet are becoming very apparent. Unfortunately, much of the print newspapers have cut back on getting reporters to find out what’s going on and now have more fact-free opinion pieces, presumably because they’re cheaper to research[*] So print news is rapidly losing the advantage it might have had over the Internet.

[*] Like anyone can have an opinion about Catalonia without leaving their office, but going there and interviewing people and finding out what’s going on is likely to be more expensive.

22

bruce wilder 11.02.17 at 3:43 pm

“I don’t think there’s much I could tell Paul Ryan or Jonah Goldberg about how bad Trump is that they don’t perfectly well know already.”

This line led me to chuckle to myself.

I flashed on how bad Paul Ryan and Jonah Goldberg are. Then, I wondered in what sense we might suppose Jonah Goldberg “knows” anything.

I think Trump is pretty terrible. But, I do not get a sense that my points of revulsion coincide much with what exercises Rachel Maddow let alone whatever may trouble Jonah Goldberg.

I have that high school debater’s fantasy desire to win the argument, too. And, on a few occasions I have made it my determined business to actually do so. One thing I have learned from those experiences of winning the argument by sustained effort is that changing the other’s point of view is an impossible standard for winning. The other(s) will always have a point of view of their own and tastes of their own — that is what makes the other, other, no? When I could imaginatively adopt the other’s pov, I found myself better positioned to change what could be seen from that pov. (It may sound like I second JanieM above, and I do but wait for the qualification below.)

I actually find it nearly impossible to imagine what Paul Ryan or Jonah Goldberg sees in Trump, for good or ill. I cannot adopt their pov. I do not read the National Review much. The last piece I looked at was reluctantly linked at Naked Capitalism, and it was a clear-eyed legal analysis of Mueller’s Manafort charges — so, not hostile to Trump though it had a bit of tribal revulsion for mainstream media’s hysteria.

Your reference to ” common ground” triggered recollection of a famous quotation from the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

It is the old issue of property rights versus human rights — an issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall have long been silent. It is the eternal struggle between two principles. The one is the common right of humanity, the other the divine right of kings.

As Z said, we disagree and disagree fundamentally.

If sides are confused at the moment and we are all mixed up, it is as much because we have lost track of principles — ours, yours, theirs. In some versions of the Lincoln quote, he refers to a conflict between Right and Wrong. I am not sure I am that Manichean, but I do think a lot of people nominally on the left got very confused when Obama and Clinton took the side of property against humanity, institutionalizing as the ideological base of the Democratic Party what Thomas Frank calls, a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement.

I do not doubt that Paul Ryan, Jonah Goldberg and Donald Trump will champion property. They may disagree on some points among themselves. I doubt I would appreciate such fine points. I do not think any of them the least bit competent to their respective roles.

We are in a legitimacy crisis because government has failed conspicuously to take care of the public good or ordinary people or even to try to do so. It is not that Republicans and Democrats disagree on the means to do so. The problem is that so many in both Parties and in the Media are agreed on the unimportance of the goal. No wonder we are confused.

23

Lee A. Arnold 11.02.17 at 5:12 pm

Anon #19, You write about your differences in point of view, without stating any of those differences. How could anyone “pretend we share anything”?

24

Glen Tomkins 11.02.17 at 6:42 pm

A non-pessimistic take on the triumph of Trump and Trumpism? That strikes me as rather like asking the rabbi about the proper blessing for the Tsar. These questions get at the nature of the Good (How can Trump’s success be good?), so of course The Republic has the answers.

Start with what anyone who would even consider reading or commenting on a thread like this shares in common, what hook you could use to persuade such people. We’ll make the generous (or patronizing!) assumption that the public square is just us writ large, that if we can convince each other about the Good, then that message would work even in the Ozarks. That thing we share in common is actually quite universal. We need the world to make sense, to embody some coherent story, a sense and a story that vindicates the presence and efficacy of the Good in this world we live in. We’re all members of the same species, Homo theoreticus, and the particular subject on which we all need a theory or twenty to help keep us from jumping off a bridge, is how this random muck we experience on a daily basis somehow adds up to something at least potentially good.

The experience of being in the muck, for Homo theoreticus, is that we are like the prisoners in Plato’s Cave. We have to make some sense of the parade of shadows we see, because it all has to make sense, because that is our nature, to believe that it has to make sense. So we imagine a whole system of false lights and true light, casting shadows of both real things and fake dummies, that, if we can work out the system inherent in the patterns of deception, we can break free and climb out into the true light and the real things it reveals.

Well, actually it all is just random. We live in the democracy as described in Book VIII. The rule of the people, after some time has passed and democracy no longer carries on the momentum of the revolt against oligarchy in which it is born, a denial that wealth and social status should order our lives, and becomes instead the denial of any continuing source of order. In that perspectival vortex, the people flit from momentary enthusiasms for monarchy, timocracy, and oligarchy, various combinations of the above, and back again in a random drunkard’s walk. Eventually, their panic at the vacuum of order, of a steady shared vision of the Good, leads them to embrace the tyrant, who, maybe, if we’re lucky, turns out to be some sort of technocrat who starts the cycle all over again by putting philosophy back in charge where it belongs.

That’s where we are right now in the US (the similarities and differences with where other societies might be at the moment I leave to people more familiar with them). We went through a phase a few generations back where we broke the power of wealth and class, and for a while, social democracy, racial equality and the secularization of politics seemed to be a guiding consensus. But nothing kept that ideology in control of things. Now we have the strange spectacle of people who have an constantly shifting set of enthusiasms for military service, or for wealth, or for technocratic expertise, as proof of fitness to rule. Of course these animals don’t cohabit well, and so we have distrust of elites mixed in with a worship of the wealthy or the tech savvy or those with a military record, in combinations that self-destruct within years to months, to even days.

In the absence of commonly agreed sources of the right order, people who present simple theories, accounts of what is wrong with a society in which the chief source of anxiety is that the simple answers have been overthrown, and not really that there are any particular things wrong with society, will rise to power in a democracy among Homo theoreticus. It all has to make sense, right? It can’t just be random chaos, right? So, the fact that things aren’t splendid has to be because we tolerate the blacks or the gays or the Jews, or we haven’t nuked enough foreign countries, or we tax the wealthy, or whatever.

Of course a simpleton like Trump, someone who seems to have dementia with behavioral disturbance, has a huge advantage in exploiting democracy. People, like the Clintons or Obama, who aren’t simpletons, are burdened with at least some fatal loyalty to a highly non-simple world. The non-simpletons are reduced to messaging to sell their non-simpleton public policy. But their messaging becomes increasingly divorced from underlying reality, because no one can actually control other people with theories, they can only try to spin a theoretical structure that flatters as many of the sources of order operating within the voters’ minds as they can. The result is a horrible, contentless gemisch. A Trump tells people that all of our problems stem from coddling all those murderers and rapists from south of our border, while a Clinton is paralyzed in the face of that simple message, and is not willing to say anything except that the Ds are 110% in favor of securing our borders, and a pathway to citizenship. Of course Clinton ends up looking like a liar and Trump like a truth-teller. Trump actually does have more fidelity to his take on the truth, horribly wrong though it is, than Clinton does on hers, right as it is. Public policy is hard to understand. Which of the politicos is lying about public policy is much easier to understand. That Clinton’s messaging is mendacious, that it is shadows on the wall of the cave, of mostly fake things cast mostly by a false light, is not hard to understand. Trump’s message is powerful in comparison. By letting itself be entirely unmoored from true light and real objects, it achieves a clarity and simplicity that a politician who wasn’t demented could never allow himself.

We are betrayed by our belief that knowledge is power. We imagine that knowledge ought to be like the Ring of Gyges, and confer power. That promise of the power that flows from knowledge that Socrates invokes with the Ring of Power, is there to get people to pay attention to what he’s saying, but of course turns out to actually be an insight that leads to the abdication of power. Political power in a democracy is achieved by a conscious mendacity ruthless enough to construct a great lie for the politician to use to rise to power. You study the psychology of the steps by which society moves form monarchy to democracy, as Socrates reviews in Book VIII, and you mine that for material, the anxieties the people live with, from which to construct the simple lie that catapults you past the less ruthless politicians who can’t let go of reality. But if you make that choice, and use knowledge of the dynamics of democracy successfully in politics, you become a tyrant. Astrological eugenics doesn’t really work.
It’s like FTL travel, the foundational lie we have to tell to make space opera possible.
That best state ruled by philosopher kings is a myth, it is the foundational lie, the lie we have to believe because we’re Home theoreticus, and the lie that sets in motion the belief in all the lesser sources of order as well. The best state has never existed, but belief in it lies at the heart of every political crime and folly.

You can keep on trying to forge some Ring of Gyges, some theoretical framework that can recall all the fools and knaves out there from their folly and knavery. But none of us are fool enough to set about that task the way it has to be done to actually work and achieve the political power of persuading a majority in the democracy we live in, because we’re not demented like Trump. A site like this draws plodding people, whose loyalty to reality just isn’t loose enough to craft the sort of lie that will work. Face that truth, fellow nerds. We aren’t demented, and only the demented can follow the Way of Trump. And beyond the Way of Trump, on the path that Trump’s success might suggest, only the really ruthless could fake a purposefully constructed big lie and ride that to the establishment of a tyranny. But such a person would have too much work ethic and common sense to waste time at a site like this, so I won’t bother addressing them.

The only real choice for people like us is to recognize that knowledge is powerlessness, and choose a humble unassuming way of life, far from power and glory. That may not seem like much of a rescue from pessimism, and it is admittedly only optimistic in comparison to the consequences of any other choice. But there it is. Don’t wind up like Ardiaeus the Tyrant! There is no higher wisdom.

25

Cian 11.02.17 at 6:45 pm

Depressing yes, but not for the reasons you’re suggesting.

Huge assumptions are being made on the basis of almost no evidence. The press (along with the intelligence agencies for god knows what murky reasons) have already decided on their narrative. Inconvenient facts are ignored, or quietly forgotten.

We still don’t know:
+ Who hacked the DNC (or indeed if they were hacked), in part because the DNC refused to allow the FBI access to their servers.
+ What the troll farm was doing, or who they were working for. Most troll farms are involved in advertising scams. They’re extremely common. Their modus operandi is identical to the identified Russian troll farm – they pick topics that will get hits, likes and use it to increase hits. Political and religious topics are very popular – whether the troll farm is based in India, the Philippines, or wherever.

In addition there is no evidence that Russia hacked election machines – despite this claim being repeatedly made.

Now we have the FBI investigation. Mueller seems to have been indicted entirely on charges unrelated to the election (money laundering [probably not going to stick], tax evasion and various misdemeanours). George Papadoupoulos seems to be guilty of trying to collude with Russian agents, but being too stupid to realize that he was talking to conmen.

Indeed if you read the Papadoupoulos charge its hillarious (and rather telling about the chaos and incompetence surrounding Trump). He thought he was meeting Putin’s niece. Putin doesn’t have a niece. This was a man too stupid to use Wikipedia. Nobody has provided any proof that these two people are Russian agents. It’s just asserted because it fits a story that the media, and many liberals, are desperate to believe. Occam’s Razor would suggest that they’re probably hustlers of some kind.

But even if all these things were proved, nobody has shown how any of this would affect the US election or help Trump. We are supposed to believe that a trivial amount of money spent on Facebook ads (most of which were either not connected to the election, or aired afterwards) gave Trump the election. We’re supposed to believe that two networks that nobody watches or reads (Russia Today and Sputnik) – somehow persuaded Americans to vote for Trump. If this was the plot of a political thriller the same people pushing this story would be laughing at it.

Meanwhile in the same election we saw massive suppression of the vote by Republicans. We saw dirty tricks. We saw propoganda, shady astroturf operations and I’m sure all kinds of spending on Facebook. But nobody talks about this. Nobody seems to have any interest in the huge, probably illegal, effort by Republicans to prevent non-white people from voting. This thing which could well have cost Hillary the election – no interest. Campaigning on voting reform. Zero interest.

And now we’re in a situation where left wing media is being supressed, and censored, by Google, Facebook and Twitter. We have left wing journalists being smeared as operatives of Russia. We have people openly suggesting that Black Lives Matter was being at some level controlled by Russia. Or that writing stuff that is critical of the US is playing into Russia’s hands. We’re skirting some deeply scary territory and liberals seem oblivious to this.

26

Cian 11.02.17 at 6:48 pm

We need to recall Mark Blyth and others and remember that practically nobody had even heard of Blyth until academics stumbled on the existence of a Brown prof who predicted both Trump and Brexit.

A professor at Brown is hardly obscure in academic circles. And Blyth was well known in left wing circles long before for his excellent book on austerity, and his analysis of the financial crisis.

Incidentally, he has contempt for Trump and Farage.

27

Cian 11.02.17 at 6:58 pm

Daragh: Essentially, European elites and voters both recognised Russian information operations as unacceptable interference, and presented a united front.

Evidence please.

The reaction of Mitch McConnell and large swathes of the Republican party to revelations of Russian activity during the election are well known and don’t need to be reported here.

I’m actually not sure what you’re referring to here, so maybe we could all do with a reminder.

Equally, the shredding of political norms and the transition of politics into a form of social warfare, in which few people vote out of a sense of policy preference,

Political science literature suggests that people are mostly ignorant of candidate’s policies.

Trump was the least popular candidate in US history. Fortunately for him he was up against a politician who’s almost as unpopular. Even more fortunately for him she ran a dysfunctional campaign, that failed to speak to the issues that her constituency cared about.

The Republican party is deeply unpopular. At a national level it’s almost as dysfunctional as the Conservative party. And yet the Democrat party at a national level is close to wipe out. Discuss.

28

bob mcmanus 11.02.17 at 7:05 pm

PS:Re: hypocrisy

I have no advice for those on the ground, but can only outline mine own pseudo intellectual praxis as an example.

Forget your right, don’t fight it, resist not evil. For me that includes CT.

Find something somebody to your left, so far to your left that it is unattractive and discomfiting, and submit to it for a while. Use that to critique and uncover the conservatism and fascism within yourself and your community.

Today’s reading, Ellen Rooney:Seductive Reasoning:Pluralism as Problematic 1989, I think. I pick up old books in the discard stores. Looks to be a feminist sortie in the Theory Wars, she likes Althusser, Derrida, Stanley Fish, critiques Walter Benn Michaels, Jameson. Looks inimical to my ideology, her critique of persuasion could be applicable in ways she never intended to be applied to conversation with a Right way over her horizon and quotable here ontopic. But no. I would rather spend my time learning from my left.

29

Cian 11.02.17 at 7:11 pm

Adam Roberts: HRC did win, by literally millions of votes. Had the US electoral college adequately reflected the will of the American people, rather than the historical compromise with rich former-slaveholders etc, she’d be in the white house.

This is debatable, because it’s impossible to know how people would vote in a more representative system. The Hillary campaign invested quite a few resources in increasing her vote in states that she didn’t need to campaign in. The Trump campaign did not do that. Presumably resources would have been allocated differently if it came down to a popular vote.

that Obama led directly to Trump by virtue of the logic kidneystones outlines in #2.

I think Obama led to Trump in the sense that he hollowed out the Democrat party (they lost a huge number of statewide seats under him, while the DNC was bankrupt in 2016)

I think there’s some truth to the argument. If nothing else the Democrat party collapsed under Obama. They lost a huge number of seats at national and state levels, while the DNC was bankrupt in 2016. He showed literal interest in helping the party, and that showed in 2016. In addition his attrocious handling of the 2008 financial crisis meant that a lot of people in 2016 were in dire straits financially, and while that may not have made them vote Republican it certainly depressed the vote.

But I think personality also plays a part. Obama is very skilled electorally, Hillary is a terrible electoral politician, who is deeply unpopular. On top of that she refused to address the issues that the electorate seemed to care about. Against a different candidate I don’t think it would have been close.

30

Heliopause 11.02.17 at 7:23 pm

So, your outreach to Trump voters starts with calling them dupes of a (ridiculously overblown) Russian campaign, moves on to say that only NRO types can even walk and chew gum at the same time, and concludes with the observation that, gosh, I’m sure a few of them have actual human feelings. Might want to work on that approach.

31

Murc 11.02.17 at 7:25 pm

Good god. This is some appalling stuff.

The Trump supporters I personally know are not dogmatic, generally liberal on social issues,

They are, demonstrably, not liberal on social issues at all, because they support the most grotesquely illiberal president on social issues we’ve had in a very, very long time.

Or, alternatively, they are liberal on social issues, but are staggeringly ill-informed.

It’s also worth remembering that 20 percent of the voters who pulled the lever for Trump believed at the time that he lacked the temperament to be president.

Yes. It is indeed worth remembering that many people are either ignorant, or malevolent.

He’s certainly not anyone I ever felt compelled to learn more about, at least until he started speaking as a Republican on issues only Bernie was willing to raise.

You mean, until he started lying to you.

I’ll go so far as to suggest that you’re experiencing some of the sense of isolation that those who voted for Trump, and Corbyn, and Sanders, and Farage felt for a good longtime. As you know note, most want the same thing.

Really. Most Sanders and Corbyn supporters are xenophobes who support ethnic cleansing? I think you’re gonna have to prove that.

The reason I’m personally delighted Trump is president is that he’s the only candidate, outside of Bernie, who spoke to the issues that concern me most – those left behind, the failure of elites, and the sanctimony of the entitled.

Let me get this straight. You’re delighted that Trump is president… because he lied to you.

Because that’s what he did. He lied to you. When he spoke about those things? He was lying to you.

In fact, he didn’t even speak about the things you ascribe him speaking to. Trump didn’t speak about “those left behind,” he spoke about “those white people left behind.”

And in double point of fact, Hillary Clinton devoted enormous amounts of time and effort speaking about those left behind, in considerably more expansive, inclusive, and truthful ways than Trump did. So no, Trump wasn’t the only candidate speaking about what you claim to care about.

And this is without even getting into the fact that the issues that concern you most seem to concern ritual denunciations of those you hate, as opposed to actual public policy. This does not reflect well on you.

I’d much prefer Bernie, but I’m not sure he’d be faring any better than Trump given that he’s (far) more committed to addressing the issues Trump merely speaks to.

Sanders would absolutely be doing much better than Trump, given that he’s not a lying, incompetent criminal. You seem to think that Trump is trying and failing to address the economic issues he raised during the campaign. He is not. He was lying to you. The proof of this is that he has been promulgating policy that proves he was lying to you.

I mean, for fucks sake. The Supreme Court is about to eviscerate public sector unionism in this country, and your boy Trump put the deciding vote for that there. This would not be happening in a Clinton Administration, which by itself should be sufficient evidence Clinton would have been a better president along every axis you claim to care about than Trump is.

Unfortunately, those presuming that 50 percent of the US population consists of fascist, an opinion recently posted without challenge here, probably aren’t best suited to provide an answer.

We can presume that about 45% of the voting US population is willing to vote for a fascist. That’s not an opinion; those are cold, hard numbers.

“It’s a bit like the Democrats winning the popular vote. They won the popular vote due to two and a half cities [laughs].

The derision here is ugly and grotesque. The Democrats won the popular vote because they got more people to vote for’em. Whether those people live in specific cities or not is irrelevant.

And in those two and a half cities–L.A., let’s say, a bit of Miami, and New York–if you’re a gig economy worker with a degree from Columbia that knows computers, yeah, you’re doing pretty well. And if you’re in West Virginia, and you don’t have a degree, then the gig economy sucks. So to simply say, ‘Everything’s fine, America’s already great, the world of work is transforming!’ is really to cast a broad net that deliberately excludes what’s been done to the worker.”

Except, of course, that the Democrats are not saying that everything is fine. This is an obvious and easily called out lie that you are presenting as something worth reading.

‘Good job, Democrats. You are telling straight white people that they are second-class citizens who don’t deserve fairness.

And of course, yet another lie that’s easily called out being presented as something worth reading.

As a registered Independent whose economic and foreign policy views are to the left of the average Republican’s, I would love to have the chance to consider voting Democratic in a national election, especially with the GOP in such a mess. But out of self-protection, I can’t take that chance.’

This of course elides the fact that Rod Dreher’s social views are far to the right of the average Republicans. When he says that he wants to have a chance of voting Democratic, what he means is that he wants the Democrats to sign onto his blatantly theocratic agenda.

“…when I arrived at the townhouse of Stanley Greenberg, the veteran Democratic strategist, on Capitol Hill, later that morning, it was not the distractions of the Trump White House that had him worked up. Greenberg was still fuming about Hillary Clinton… Democrats were repeating the same political mistakes a year later… ‘It’s the Republicans who talk about the economy, not the Democrats.’ This was the approach that doomed Clinton against Trump

Again, more lies. Easily called out lies. The Clinton campaign talked about the economy a lot. More than any other single issue, in fact. Democrats talk about the economy a lot; they have been since Trump tricked and stunted his way into the White House.

kidneystones seems to want to be taken seriously, which would be a lot easier if he’d stop with all the constant lying and the endorsement of lying.

32

Cian 11.02.17 at 7:33 pm

Lee Arnold: Almost everyone will realize that social media is a “shit sandwich”. It’s only going to work in an election, one or two more times.

Everyone will realize that social media is this way for people they disagree with. Very few realize that the media they consume on Social Media, and which confirms their biases, is just as bad. I see very little questioning of liberal sources by liberals.

33

Daragh 11.02.17 at 8:03 pm

Katsue @17 “The idea that a single Russian troll farm, amidst the sea of clickbait on the internet*, had a decisive influence on the US election outcome “

Except absolutely no-one is arguing that (or at least, no-one who isn’t an absolute charlatan, and there have been a lot of them crawling out of the woodwork since Russia became hot again, sadly enough). It wasn’t ‘a single troll farm’ for one. It was co-ordinated, well planned theft of personal information from a range of important political actors, conducted by a number of Russian intelligence agencies, and disseminated through a number of front groups, including Wikileaks (whose odd lack of interest in releasing leaks from Russia and other FSU states, and questionable relationships with people such as Israel Shamir were being raised by many Russianists when Collateral Murder first burst on the scene in 2010 – sadly few people seemed interested in the time).

Additionally, this is an election decided by less than 100,000 votes in three states. Any number of factors, from Scott Walker’s voter suppression, to Trump’s open intimidation of voters, to James Comey and yes, Russian psychological operations could very well have been decisive on their own.

The US just saw an election in which a grossly unqualified, arguably fascist candidate was thrust into office due to a combination of voter suppression, active interference by the security services and meddling by a rather nasty foreign kleptocracy. That large sections of the US left – the afterBerners if you will – would rather build straw-men to engage in more Clinton kicking than address the undermining of basic democratic processes is disappointing to say the least, if not unexpected.

34

Lee A. Arnold 11.02.17 at 9:12 pm

Cian #32: “Everyone will realize that social media is this way for people they disagree with. Very few realize that the media they consume on Social Media, and which confirms their biases, is just as bad. I see very little questioning of liberal sources by liberals.”

Everyone ALREADY assumes that social media fakery is misinforming the people they disagree with! No one needs to “realize” it. But this event puts the question of proper news sourcing on the front burner for partisans on both sides (not everyone, certainly, but a large number on both sides, perhaps most of them). The reason for this is human: because individual emotional clarity and wellbeing will demand proper news sourcing, as a precondition for the acceptance of news and information. We will allow ourselves this course correction: It is a new form of media (as is cable TV propaganda news); it took us unawares, and we ALL were abused by it. We now understand the mechanism of how the trick was done.

The alternative opinion is to say, “Okay, maybe this time, social media was flooded with falsehoods, but next time, I will believe it anyway!” — But very few people will say that sort of thing. They will avoid it. Very few people want to be wrong, or to be found out as wrong. They may not even understand the intellectual arguments; it is the emotion that they cannot afford. This will even affect tribal beliefs.

35

Lupita 11.02.17 at 9:43 pm

Nancy Pelosi riding the tiger: ” I have to say, we’re capitalist. That’s just the way it is.”

You are right, John Holbo. The tiger does nor give a damn.

36

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 9:50 pm

@29 I think Obama led to Trump in the sense that he hollowed out the Democrat party (they lost a huge number of statewide seats under him, while the DNC was bankrupt in 2016)

Spot on! From Donna Brazille’s new book,

“When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.
The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings”.

Marc Elias, btw, is the Clintonista responsible for funneling 9 million? through the bankrupt DNC to pay the ‘golden showers’ dossier. Nice people!

Obama bankrupts the DNC in 2012, refuses to pay down the debt (like he’d have trouble raising cash), paving the way for the Clinton campaign to offer the DNC a ‘loan.’ coincidentally about the same time as the Democratic primaries begin.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774

Read the entire thing. Bernie supporters are going to flip.

@31 kidneystones seems to want to be taken seriously, (Not, especially.)

which would be a lot easier if he’d stop with all the constant lying and the endorsement of lying.

Thanks for your recommendation and reply, which frankly seems somewhat charged.

You’re free to claim what you will. I recommend you go back and review the MSNBC coverage and check out James Carville’s commentary. I also recommend you review the changes in strategy ongoing in Democratic party following their humiliating defeats (running against Hitler) in the 2017 elections. Why the ‘new’ focus on jobs if Clinton and the Democrats already had a clear economic message. Mark Lilla, Blyth, and many others who openly deplore Trump have made similar observations.

When Trump says MAGA and bring back the jobs, some hear Make America White Again, and take jobs away from immigrants. I don’t dispute for a moment Trump’s overt race-baiting, and dog-whistling. I just don’t much care. Nor do I have any expectation that any politician will ever tell the truth, although Corbyn and Sanders (my preferred choices).

I don’t think Trump generally has enough regard for the truth to bother lying (unlike Hillary-see above) on most issues. He just says whatever shit pops into his head. That’s a big part of why he won. Many supporters see this as feature, not a bug.

I’m personally delighted that Hillary is off touring the world on her bitter book tour.

No hard feelings, I hope.

37

Whirrlaway 11.02.17 at 9:58 pm

> You’ve just gotta find something less pessimistic to say about what motivates people to vote Trump or we’re all fucked. 

Whenever I offer something along those lines (mostly at the other place), I get jumped all over.

As to what individuals can do: learn to grow vegetables so you will have something to share in times of trouble. And go down to a below-average elementary school and volunteer significant time with particular kids. You can transmit like crazy to those guys, they are so hungry for it. They will be voting soon, or whatever we’re doing by then.

38

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 10:10 pm

Should read Corbyn and Sanders may be less inclined to bend the truth.

@34 This is very good. Kudos.

I don’t believe the social media played much of a role, but I’ve no evidence. As one critic of Hillary’s cash-cow book tour observed, if a voter willing to believe the worst allegations about Hillary (I’d add Trump) it seems fair to say that voter’s mind is already pretty much made up.

There was a great deal of genuine enthusiasm for both candidates. Many loathed both. The Russians tried/are trying to make the race and post-election America as divided as possible. At least one Russian troll farm has been linked to post election anti-Trump demonstrations. The race was dirty. Both sides lied. Both sides appealed to fear. Hillary lost.

Sneering at rural voters ensured they’d turn out in record numbers. They did, as Trump knew they would. He trolled/trolls the press incessantly and media outlets filled/fill their coffers as they feign outrage. Voters shrug as celebrity icons and ‘liberals’ are revealed to be worse predators than Trump. Hillary refuses to return HW’s cash while charging 200 bucks per mark so suckers around the globe can pay to hear her moan.

It’s not all bad. Pelosi and company are trying to squash impeachment talk and ignore Trump tweets and may well take some scalps in 2018. But it still looks like Trump in 2020. Dems best quit whining, accept they lost, and start working to win in 2020, or Trump is going to hand them their asses again.

39

Mario 11.02.17 at 10:13 pm

Additionally, this is an election decided by less than 100,000 votes in three states. Any number of factors, from Scott Walker’s voter suppression, to Trump’s open intimidation of voters, to James Comey and yes, Russian psychological operations could very well have been decisive on their own.

Let’s add to the list: trans toilets, immigration, abortion rights, Milo Yiannopoulos, free speech. This is a nonexhaustive list of things that I expect to have been more important than whatever the russians did.

If I may put on my psychoanalyst hat, the Russian Hypothesis sounds to me like something that is too damn convenient for everyone involved to be true (for anyone in the US, at least – if I was the Russian government I would very carefully keep my doomsday devices well oiled while this mess goes on).

Think about it! A country goes to hell and you can blame it on someone else. The Democrats don’t have to change anything, as after all it wasn’t their fault. The Republicans neither, because the Democrats are just going to repeat their mistakes. The liberals do not have to try to understand the rest of the population – after all they all just voted wrongly because they were misled! The right can just relax, because the left is chasing ghosts. The NSA can get a bigger budget (a good chunk of which then goes directly to Palantir) because national security. Journalist can just write lots of cheap le Carré pastiche because nobody cares if the stuff is true or not. What’s the downside?

40

Z 11.02.17 at 10:22 pm

I’m just at a loss to know what kinds of critical thinking and writing constitute pro-social and efficacious interventions, across the aisle, at the present time

Going a bit meta about your puzzlement, I think it would be interesting to question the underlying assumption here – that a “a pro-social and efficacious intervention” directed at political opponents, or even political allies is possible – and especially to examine the social and historical conditions required for such a possibility. At which point does the concentration of wealth, power and education imperils it? At which point does it obliterate it? Perhaps it is time we come to term that the 1945-1975 period, with its stupendous educative and economical growth immediately following a considerable destruction of capital, was truly exceptional and that something fundamentally different has come afterward.

bruce wilder @22 We are in a legitimacy crisis because government has failed conspicuously to take care of the public good or ordinary people or even to try to do so. It is not that Republicans and Democrats disagree on the means to do so. The problem is that so many in both Parties and in the Media are agreed on the unimportance of the goal.

That sounds right to me.

41

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 10:24 pm

Shit is really hitting the fanhttps://twitter.com/CNNPolitics/status/926188895850696706

“Elizabeth Warren says she agrees with the notion??? that the 2016 Democratic nomination was rigged in Clinton’s favor.” The former DNC chair cites a contract legally giving the Clinton campaign full control over the DNC! So yes, I suppose in theory one might say the notion that Hillary and perhaps Obama colluded to ensure that there would in fact be NO Democratic primary could be true.

Talk about cancelling all future elections and not counting votes. Jeebuz.

Raise a cup, and relax. She lost, thankfully!

42

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 10:31 pm

Last from me, John.

DB is either getting even, getting rich, or acting on behalf of Dems keen to finally free themselves from the Clintons. Probably a combination of all three. A cynic might say that the Obamas are behind it. Cold, but necessary. Time to bury the Harvey Weinstein Bill and Hillary era and rebrand. Probably a wise move. Might even see some fresh ideas and better candidates.

Hope this cheers you up, John!

43

Z 11.02.17 at 11:05 pm

You’ve just gotta find something less pessimistic to say about what motivates people to vote Trump or we’re all fucked. (Even if I believe we’re fucked, I have to proceed on the basis of some sunnier hypothesis.)

OK, one last and I shut up for good. Ordinary people who voted for Trump typically are in a socio-educative position that does not guarantee that they and their children will not fall to the bottom 10 to 20% of an extremely unequal and competitive society, but that guarantees that they and their children will never reach the top 10 to 20%. They believe (not unreasonably) that people at the top (us) are holding them down and (quite unreasonably) that if they don’t hold the people at the bottom down, they will fall there themselves. If you want to talk to these people, a precondition is you understand the socio-political forces that you benefit from and that hold them down (especially as they perfectly well understand they’re being held down, but understand far less well precisely how themselves).

Assuming this analysis to be broadly right, a political movement that campaigns fiercely for a society in which everyone lives decently, even at the bottom, and equally fiercely against the actual political and social forces holding everyone but the top down would have the potential to resonate with these people. Conversely, this movement would meet considerable resistance from the top (and the top is us), so there is no way it gains enough political power quickly enough to transform the society deeply enough so that common grounds can again be found for 90% of the population. Absent this common ground, no meaningful change in the way our system is organized can happen democratically, and democratically is the only way it can happen. So we wreck the biosphere.

So we’re fucked, but we were the bad guys all along, not the evil stone-cold racists. Is that a sunnier hypothesis?

44

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 11:38 pm

45

kidneystones 11.02.17 at 11:44 pm

46

Cian 11.03.17 at 1:14 am

Lee #34:

I have partisans from at least 4 sides on my news feed (never Trump Republicans, Trump fans, mainstream Democrats and Sanders supporters). All of them regularly post stuff that supports their world view which comes from questionable sources. Yet all of them have no problem identifying propoganda posted by those who they disagree with.

Honestly though where is this unbiased source of media? Did it ever exist? And right wing propoganda has existed for longer than the internet, and spread just fine.

47

Cian 11.03.17 at 1:28 am

Katsue @17 “The idea that a single Russian troll farm, amidst the sea of clickbait on the internet*, had a decisive influence on the US election outcome “

Darius: Except absolutely no-one is arguing that [the Russians had a decisive election on US election].

Plenty of Democrats are arguing this in the US. This has become a common argument on my Facebook feed, made by deadenders. It’s the centrist’s version of Benghazi.

It wasn’t ‘a single troll farm’ for one. It was co-ordinated, well planned theft of personal information from a range of important political actors, conducted by a number of Russian intelligence agencies, and disseminated through a number of front groups, including Wikileaks (whose odd lack of interest in releasing leaks from Russia and other FSU states, and questionable relationships with people such as Israel Shamir were being raised by many Russianists when Collateral Murder first burst on the scene in 2010 – sadly few people seemed interested in the time).

This has certainly been asserted by many people, but nobody has offered any actual evidence. One troll farm has been identifed by Facebook, and this trollfarm has been discussed to the point of tedium in the US. It has been asserted that they were operating on behalf of the Kremlin, though nobody has offered any proof. Given that the majority of troll farms that operate in this way are purely commercial enterprises (even in Russia) – proof would be nice.

There’s also no proof whatsoever for your conspiratorial rant against Wikileaks.

The US just saw an election in which a grossly unqualified, arguably fascist candidate was thrust into office due to a combination of voter suppression, active interference by the security services and meddling by a rather nasty foreign kleptocracy.

But mostly due to voter supression and an incompetent highly unpopular Democrat candidate. For which there’s plenty of evidence. But hey, let’s instead dedicate our time to speculation about Russian interference for which there is still no evidence.

That large sections of the US left – the afterBerners if you will – would rather build straw-men to engage in more Clinton kicking than address the undermining of basic democratic processes is disappointing to say the least, if not unexpected.

In 2016 Putin hacked Robbie Mooks brain and made him stop Hillary and the Democrats from campaigning in key states. In 2016 Putin hacked Hillary’s brain and stopped her from campaigning on the issues that Democrat leaning voters cared about. In 2016 Putin hacked the Democrat’s brain and got them to nominate a candidate who had already demonstrated that she was terrible at electoral campaigns.

And the undermining of the US democratic process was by the Republican party. Who yet again (what, 16 years after the 2000 election) have got away with it. This is probably Putin’s fault as well.

48

Murc 11.03.17 at 3:21 am

You’re free to claim what you will.

An open admission you don’t have any kind of cogent rebuttal.

Why the ‘new’ focus on jobs if Clinton and the Democrats already had a clear economic message.

Except that you asserted that they didn’t speak to the issues you care about “at all.” That’s is different from that message possibly being unclear or not properly calibrated or even insufficient to the needs of the country. You claimed it didn’t exist. That’s an easily disproven falsehood that can be rectified in about five minutes on Google.

I don’t dispute for a moment Trump’s overt race-baiting, and dog-whistling. I just don’t much care.

This is an open admission you’re a bad person. Not caring about fascists running on a white nationalist platform should be something a decent person is ashamed to admit.

Nor do I have any expectation that any politician will ever tell the truth, although Corbyn and Sanders (my preferred choices).

This in fact isn’t true for a value of “lying” that means “won’t attempt, forcefully and powerfully, to enact most of their high-profile campaign promises.”

Because most politicians in fact do try to do that. Not every campaign promise. But, and the literature on this going back at least half a century is very very clear, most politicians will try and keep most of their campaign promises. Republicans govern largely as they present themselves governing. Democrats govern largely as they present themselves governing. There are some obvious lies (Obama coming out against SSM in 2008 comes to mind) but for the most part they’re mostly honest when it comes to campaign promises.

Most of them. So far, Trump is, as he is in many things, a massive outlier. Although I suppose one could argue a lot of his campaign planks were so vague its not actually possible for them to have been lies.

I don’t think Trump generally has enough regard for the truth to bother lying (unlike Hillary-see above) on most issues.

Clinton’s political record is actually largely mendacity-free by the above standards. She and her husband attempted to enact what they said they were going to attempt to enact in Arkansas. They attempted to enact what they said were going to attempt to enact in the White House. Clinton voted in the Senate precisely as her Senatorial campaigns suggested she would vote.

Given that her 2016 platform was vastly superior to Trump’s platform along every conceivable metric, being “thankful” she did not win is just terrible. It displays a shocking, callous attitude towards the millions Trump is hurting and will hurt in the future.

Clinton could have personally bribed every member of the DNC with cocaine cash she earned from her 1980s drug operation in Mena that she had Vince Foster killed to cover up, and she would still have been the clearly superior choice. The presence of the Usurper alone on the Supreme Court should have been enough to dissuade any right-thinking person.

49

Karl Kolchak 11.03.17 at 3:43 am

As long as the choice remains, Trump or any other Republican versus Hillary Clinton or other corporatista Democrat, I for one will continue to vote 3rd party or not at all. I even flirted with the idea of voting for Trump just to punish the Democrats for sabotaging Sanders. As long as a majority electorate remains far to the left of the two parties, the Democrats are going to continue to lose, no matter how bad the Republicans are.

50

kidneystones 11.03.17 at 5:01 am

Finally: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/11/02/us/politics/ap-us-trump-dnc.html

Note that the NYT makes no reference to Brazile’s charges.

The Wapo is much better
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-express-outrage-over-allegations-of-early-control-for-clinton-in-2016/2017/11/02/84e949da-c000-11e7-97d9-bdab5a0ab381_story.html?utm_term=.c61525988e0d

I don’t frankly see the Clintons surviving this, or many of their many enablers should they decide to continue to flack for the Clintons. Can’t wait for the NYT ‘we did nothing illegal’ defense to slap the public in the face. The Clintons simply bought control of the DNC.

To which we can be sure to hear: “And?”; “So?”; “But Russia..”; “Name one law actually broken.”; all of which are certain to finally lay to rest the spurious smears that the Clintons are class A slime balls.

You know Dems have a problem when John Podhoritz, of all people, is the one asking the right questions: http://nypost.com/2017/11/02/did-hillarys-rigging-at-the-dnc-push-biden-out-of-the-race/

51

kidneystones 11.03.17 at 5:07 am

And now Warren: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/11/02/sen_warren_yes_the_democratic_presidential_primary_was_rigged_for_hillary_clinton.html

Last week I linked to Clintonista Tom Perez’s recent purge of the Sanders wing of the organization, doubtless with Pelosi’s blessings. She’s no happier with challenges to autocracy than the Clintons. Here’s a better link from Jacobin: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/10/dnc-purge-sanders-ellison-perez-rules-committee

52

Daragh 11.03.17 at 5:48 am

Mario @39

“Russian Hypothesis sounds to me like something that is too damn convenient for everyone involved to be true”

So convenient that James Clapper was raising the issue in May 2016, at a point when Trump’s general election defeat was widely believed to be inevitable.

And I’m old enough to remember when Donna Brazile’s slipping of debate questions to the Clinton campaign WAS the primary rigging. Remarkable how widespread evidence of Russian interference in the election campaign is just Clinton sour grapes, but Sanders’ loss in the primaries by a wide margin due to his lack of appeal to many traditionally democratic constituencies can only be the result of a nefarious conspiracy.

53

Neville Morley 11.03.17 at 7:07 am

Tangential classical pedantry, but I was struck by Glen Tomkins’ reference to the Ring of Gyges as an object that confers the right to rule, and hence a metaphor for an idea that would restore fragmented political discourse, bring people together etc. My recollection is that the Ring gave the power of invisibility, hence a *means* to power (by killing the king, spying on the queen naked and so forth) – which may actually work better as a metaphor for contemporary politics, but less so for John’s problem.

54

Orange Watch 11.03.17 at 8:07 am

<a href="http://crookedtimber.org/2017/11/02/what-can-i-say/#comment-720958"kidneystones@50:

I’m not sure if you mean something different than I do by “makes no reference to Brazile’s charges” or if they changed it without noting that they did so, but I’d say they’re mentioning DB’s charges… although how they do so incomplete and misleading that it’s arguably worse than saying nothing about them:

Trump’s accusation follows Politico’s publication of an excerpt from former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s upcoming book. Brazile alleges she found “proof” that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor. Brazile writes that she believes no laws were violated.

The fundraising agreement, signed in August 2015 during the primary process, was unusual for an open seat. Months later, Clinton’s chief challenger, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, signed his own agreement with the party.

(That excerpt is roughly 60% of the entire article, which is in and of itself telling. The rest is all about Trump tweets. Ah, the Grey Lady, eternal paragon of objective journalism…)

55

MFB 11.03.17 at 8:17 am

There is a real, systemic problem, or rather an intersection of real, systemic problems.

Firstly, the media is much less concerned with the truth than it used to be. In the past, the media was in part restrained by competition — complete, obvious, odious bullshit did come out, but newspapers were often embarrassed when this was exposed — and in part by the fact that their readers disliked being lied to. The media ownership is much more concentrated, making it easier for owners to control what’s said, and also the power of journalists has largely collapsed, making it easier for editors to control what’s said. Meanwhile, the public has come to expect flimflam and bullshit.

What’s said above about the media goes double for politicians. Contempt for politicians has never been greater, and what this also means is that expectations about politicians have never been lower.

It was quite apparent that much of what Trump was saying was gibberish, and yet many people focussed on a few home truths which he did raise — but which were obviously not going to lead anywhere, because acting on those truths (reducing the permanent war economy, scaling down on neoliberalism) would have contradicted everything that Trump and the Republican Party stood for. Meanwhile, what Clinton was saying was also either gibberish or empty, and nothing that she pledged had any meaning since her track record suggests that she is not an independent agent or honest. And yet the largest single group in the election voted for her. (That’s as scary a thing about the 2016 election as Trump’s election, in my opinion.)

The public is disinformed and disenchanted. Disenchantment wouldn’t be so bad except that they have no reason to seek any improvement; if they now see that everything is a disaster, they are not seeking ways to ameliorate it. But for those who wish to be fooled, there is a tsunami of foolery from the Washington Post to Breitbart.

Can we as citizens do anything about this? I really doubt it. By the way, the same essential problems exist in South Africa, and judging by external appearances, all over the world.

56

nastywoman 11.03.17 at 9:39 am

– and as now (all?) the ”Russian Lovers” of this blog have appeared and want ”proof” and have questioned the idea – ”that a single Russian troll farm, amidst the sea of clickbait on the internet*, had a decisive influence on the US election outcome“ –
or they have written stuff like:
”Let’s add to the list: trans toilets, immigration, abortion rights, Milo Yiannopoulos, free speech. This is a nonexhaustive list of things that I expect to have been more important than whatever the Russians did.”

Let me (MOI!!) explain how this ”Internet Thingy” works – and there will be absolutely NO proof or evidence for what I’m gone tell you guys – as that’s NOT the way this Internetthiny works.

SO:
The Internet is more or less ruled by so called ”memes”.
(”Virally-transmitted cultural symbols or social ideas.)

And just like US -(a group of international linguistic-student at a German University – who ran an ”experiment” a few years ago) – the Russian Troll Farm did a hilarious experiment with a bunch of really stupid and moronic Americans.

As ”memes” behave like a mass of infectious flu and cold viruses, traveling from person to person – quickly through social media – and memes are either really obvious or ”really deep” – they NOT ONLY tend to infect really stupid people but also the more let’s call it ”intellectual” –

Just like HERE!

And so we have ”academics” going for the -(zugegebenermassen ”very effective” meme) of Kidneystones girlfriend as ”Satan” or this idea that a Russian Troll Farm is ”a farm of cute little trolls or ”munchkins” which don’t do anything bad to anyone. (Haha!!)

And it’s true – these cute little munchkins are NOT doing anything ”bad” to anyone.
They just made at the US erection a lot of Americans – who are ”sitting in their bathrobes in front of their computers” -(another ”meme”) – with or without an ”erection” – instead of writing about ”teh Spaghetti Monster -(another meme) – MADE them write about their girlfriend -(”Hillary”) – or their boyfriend (Trump) – writing really stupid – idiotic stuff on blogs.

And that’s where we are!!
(If y’all know what I mean??!)

57

nastywoman 11.03.17 at 9:58 am

AND furthermore as the great US Philosopher ”Walt” -(who is now dead and lived next to us in Santa Monica) – used to say –

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

this knowledge might be the first step to NOT being obsessed about y’all girlfriends or boyfriends on the Intertubes anymore- Y’all just have to think how it might read in a few years when y’all have NEW girl or boyfriends – I mean a dude like kidneystones -(or is he ”ein Mädchen”) even might fall for Taylor (Swift) if she runs for President…?

58

Lee A. Arnold 11.03.17 at 10:05 am

Cian #34: “right wing propoganda has existed for longer than the internet”

And so has left wing propaganda, and a small percentage of people are susceptible to both, and on certain occasions, near-majorities can be fooled. But is it your position that Facebook & Twitter were not inundated by a surge of anti-Hillary lies, — or else, that they were inundated but it doesn’t matter, this wouldn’t be enough to swing 60,000 votes?

59

Cranky Observer 11.03.17 at 10:19 am

The Kidneystones Nunber is the number of times that the eponymous persona returns to a discussion after his “final” comment. Currently standing at 3 for this thread, I’ll put my money on 7 as the final number. Any takers?

60

Lee A. Arnold 11.03.17 at 10:38 am

Buying control of the DNC is not illegal. It would not be illegal to slip the questions to Clinton before the primary debates. The political parties and their governing bodies are private entities. Or rather we should say they operate in a particular shadow-world between the private and public: U.S. political parties are not described in the Constitution, and the laws regarding them have been settled on a case-by-case basis. There are a lot of fascinating abstract intellectual questions about the private/public nature of the practice of ascendance to governance in mass democracies, which ought to be a treasure trove for academics. But it doesn’t affect real things on the ground. The DNC and the RNC can be taken over by lots of different shady shenanigans that are disgusting but quite legal. The Citizens United case (2010) made it worse. Judgment is by the voters in the voting booths.

61

Layman 11.03.17 at 10:41 am

Cian: “This has certainly been asserted by many people, but nobody has offered any actual evidence. “

It seems extreme to say that there’s _no_ evidence. What would convince you that, at the very least there _is_ evidence? Apparently the DOJ has enough evidence that they’re considering charging multiple Russian government officials. In your view, does that not mean that someone has offered, or uncovered, actual evidence?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/prosecutors-consider-bringing-charges-in-dnc-hacking-case-1509618203

62

Layman 11.03.17 at 10:44 am

kidneystones: “I don’t frankly see the Clintons surviving this…”

Indeed, you seem intent on impreaching President Clinton. What on earth can it mean to ‘survive’ this, or ‘not survive’ it?

63

Layman 11.03.17 at 10:46 am

Karl Kolchak: “As long as the choice remains, Trump or any other Republican versus Hillary Clinton or other corporatista Democrat, I for one will continue to vote 3rd party or not at all.”

Good. I’ll be looking for someone to blame every time Gorsuch tips the scales and destroys another part of this country, and now I have someone to pin it on. Thanks a lot!

64

areanimator 11.03.17 at 11:03 am

All this was identified and diagnosed a long time ago.

With its well-armed, confused and increasingly angry populace, the United States can quickly become the mother of all difficult neighborhoods, one would think, but so far, all is placid. We rally, rant and hold up cute signs, yes, but unlike the Thais, we don’t occupy the central commercial district for two months, then torch a mega shopping center and the stock exchange. We don’t riot like the French and the Greeks, or topple the government like Icelanders.

The Obama card was a brilliant move by our ruling class. After eight years of Bush, they placated our liberals and blacks with an articulate and personable black effigy.[…] I have a feeling, however, that we may be nearing the end of being jerked back and forth like this, that even the most insensate and silly among us is about to explode.”

Linh Dinh, 2010

I am just old enough to remember those chilling and ominous days of Germany’s descent from decency to Nazi barbarism, to borrow the words of Fritz Stern, the distinguished scholar of German history. In a 2005 article, Stern indicates that he has the future of the United States in mind when he reviews “a historic process in which resentment against a disenchanted secular world found deliverance in the ecstatic escape of unreason.”

Noam Chomsky, 2010

There is a vast amount of infrastructure – transportation, communication, financing, production – openly available that, until recently, was only accessible to very large organisations. It now takes relatively little – a few dedicated, knowledgeable people – to connect these pieces into a powerful platform from which to act. Military strategists have been talking about ‘super-empowered individuals’ by which they mean someone who

“is autonomously capable of creating a cascading event, […] a “system perturbation”; a disruption of system function and invalidation of existing rule sets to at least the national but more likely the global scale. The key requirements to become “superempowered” are comprehension of a complex system’s connectivty and operation; access to critical network hubs; possession of a force that can be leveraged against the structure of the system and a wilingness to use it.”

There are a number real weaknesses to this concept, not least that it has thus far been exclusively applied to terrorism and that it reduces structural dynamics to individual actions. Nevertheless, it can be useful insofar as it highlights how complex, networked systems which might be generally relatively stable, posses critical nodes (“systempunkt” in the strange parlance of military strategists) which in case of failure that can cause cascading effects through the entire systems. It also highlights how individuals, or more likely, small groups, can affect these systems disproportionately if they manage to interfere with these critical nodes. Thus, individuals, supported by small, networked organisations, can now intervene in social dynamics at a systemic level, for the better or worse.

Felix Stalder, 2010

Our world isn’t about ideology anymore. It’s about complexity. We live in a complex bureaucratic state with complex laws and complex business practices, and the few organizations with the corporate will power to master these complexities will inevitably own the political power. On the other hand, movements like the Tea Party more than anything else reflect a widespread longing for simpler times and simple solutions — just throw the U.S. Constitution at the whole mess and everything will be jake. For immigration, build a big fence. Abolish the Federal Reserve, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education. At times the overt longing for simple answers that you get from Tea Party leaders is so earnest and touching, it almost makes you forget how insane most of them are.
Matt Taibbi, 2010

Citizens do not elect governments so that those governments can serve up the citizens to the market on a platter. But the market conditions governments to make a present of their citizens. In our era of free-market globalisation, the market is the super-instrument of the only powers worthy of the name, economic and financial power. That power is not democratic: it was not elected by the people; it is not managed by the people; and the people’s happiness is not its aim.

These are elementary truths. Political strategists of whatever shade impose a safe silence so that no one dare imply that we are continuing to nurture a lie and act as willing accomplices. What we call democracy looks more and more like government by the rich and less and less like government by the people. We cannot deny the obvious: the masses of the poor called upon to vote are never called upon to govern. Assuming the poor could form a government in which they were the majority, as Aristotle imagined, they would lack the means necessary to change the organisation of the universe of the rich who dominate and control them.
José Saramago, 2004

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nastywoman 11.03.17 at 12:13 pm

@64
– and that’s another thing – we found out – when we ran the same type of experiment about US blogs – as the Russians – that there is such an enormous amount of really – REALLY ”deep thought” out there – in order to analyze the most silly ”memes” -(like ”why are cats cute”?) – that it led all kind of very, very DEEP thinkers to analyze the brains of just your basic a…hole or F…face.

And in the case of Trump and a lot of his followers it led to some of the funniest ”Analyses” of the ”unconscious brain” – like:

Why did he do what he did and why did he say what he said?

First of all BE-cause it was ”fun”.
As he very famously once said: Why doing anything if it is not fun?
BUT mainly BE-cause – when heard what he said and he did what he did – he knew what he wanted to do and what he wanted to say!!

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kidneystones 11.03.17 at 12:42 pm

@59 This actually will be my final comment, and I apologize sincerely for the multiple comments. I was distressed and there’s little point in pretending otherwise. I’d like to note, however, that this apology (and any others I’ve made) is directed towards our hosts, and to the readers of the blog, not other commenters unless otherwise stated. There appears to be some confusion on the matter. But the apology is sincere nonetheless.

As this is my last comment for a while I hope John will allow me to say that the only times I’ve been this upset Democrats and Labour decided to support Bush’s invasion of Iraq. For me, the crime is of that scale. I don’t know frankly how many Sanders supporters there are here, but one of the reasons I post is because I do believe absolutely (and naively) in the integrity of elections and institutions. I watched the Young Turks coverage on Youtube and it was far and away the best, at least at this stage. Everyone from Warren to senior Sanders flacks are in a big rush to sweep 2016 fraud under the rug. So, perhaps the Clintons will not just survive, but thrive.

Young Turks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3W2GIZ8rN0

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Lee A. Arnold 11.03.17 at 12:46 pm

John, I want to address your other point, about how-to-think-about correcting the dialogue. This is long, but it comes to a point, and to something you can use.

A. People think emotionally, and then entrain their intellectual reasons and facts afterward, to buttress their emotional conclusions. Academics too. It is not logical.

B. Within the intellectual reasons, there is a divide: between whether the market system can work, or not. Most people think it can be made to work.

C. Among those people who believe the market system can work, there is another divide. There are those who believe it will work better with smaller government & less taxes (the right) and those who believe the market system will work better with a welfare state (the left).

Further, there are all sorts of generalities of discourse which people use to guide their thoughts, and which they regularly amend and regularly contradict. Which everybody knows. So let’s skip the generalities and contradictions.

Next, we are in a very certain economic situation which has two discernible parts:

1. The market system is de-laborizing production, at a faster rate than innovators can think of new inventions to re-employ them. Globalization somewhat accelerated the de-laborization, but the outcome is still the same.

2. The financial crash caused an extended GDP depression of about 8 years (and counting), and only at this moment has economic growth begun to trickle down.

Economic literates understand that there are connected, that globalization is concomitant with surplus financial capital that is being re-invested in consumer and mortgage credit, which caused the crash (and is building up to record-breaking levels again). But let’s skip this, and start with the Trump voters.

Trump voters cannot comprehend that globalization and immigration are not the main problems. They also, quite separately, cannot comprehend that Obama did a remarkable thing in helping to steer the economy after a major financial crash, and so we avoided an aftermath like the Great Depression after the 1929 crash. It might have been much worse. Obama did this while teaching himself on-the-fly, and in the face of complete obstruction by the Congressional Republicans. He also managed to put the issue of universal health coverage on the front burner by any means necessary, and politically this ideal must be honored in the future in some way. A remarkable person — historians will treat Obama well.

This is no consolation to people who still don’t have a job.

So where are we now? Trump voters, standard Republicans, standard Democrats including the Sanders left, all believe that the market system can work, if only we apply less rules, or more rules, as it follows their own beliefs.

The Republicans were happy to make gains politically by blaming Obama for the regularly-scheduled long aftermath of a huge financial crash. And of course the Trump voters ate that up. Trump is already taking credit for the jobs growth, even though this is on a straight line since the end of 2010. He and the Republicans are launching into a massive Keynesian stimulus they denied to Obama (in the GOP case, more deficits via tax cuts, not spending) which may cause some faster growth before the bill becomes due. When that bill becomes due, they will cut more out of Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security. There is no intellectual coherence to any of this. (The stock market is not a leading indicator, it’s a casino for the hedge funds. If there were more real things to invest in, then business would have done it already. When other countries cut their own corporate rates further, it will be global tax race to the bottom. Infrastructure must be paid for out of taxes or else private consumer user fees.) It is all emotion.

The out-of-power Democrats will be in the political weeds until an opposite emotion forms, i.e. another occasion which they can capitalize upon, for a moment. Of course this may come soon in an event unrelated to economics, such as an indictment from Mueller. But otherwise, Democrats have had a rhetorical problem for decades, for lack of a succinct intellectual framework that puts their belief in the market system together with the need for a welfare state, in a manner that answers the frustrations of people caught with low incomes but high taxes and who turn to the small-government argument. Again, there is no intellectual coherence, it is all emotion.

A question that cuts to the root of all of this, no matter who you are speaking with: IF the market system works as you say it does, THEN WHY didn’t people invent new products that would create new jobs, when the old jobs were taken away by automation or globalization? What do you think is going on?

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Cian O'Connor 11.03.17 at 12:58 pm

So convenient that James Clapper was raising the issue in May 2016, at a point when Trump’s general election defeat was widely believed to be inevitable.

This is the same James Clapper who lied to congress in 2013?

It is over a year later and the intelligence agencies still haven’t provided any actual proof for these allegations. Which given the US intelligence agencies long history of lying to the American public might be cause for concern?

Remarkable how widespread evidence of Russian interference in the election campaign is just Clinton sour grapes

Really? Care to give any examples of this widespread evidence? Not allegations, or assertions, or innuendos. Actual hard evidence?

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Katsue 11.03.17 at 1:46 pm

@47
Thank you, Cian.

@52
When James Clapper, a man most famous for lying when he denied that US intelligence agencies were spying on Congress, says something, it is evidence that the opposite is true.

@58
Of course people lied about Clinton on Facebook and Twitter. But which was the most influential purveyor of lies – Putin with his alleged €100,000 spend on a mishmash of clickbait ads that were pro-Clinton, anti-Clinton or unrelated to Clinton, or Fox News?

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Cian O'Connor 11.03.17 at 1:53 pm

Layman @61:
“It seems extreme to say that there’s _no_ evidence. What would convince you that, at the very least there _is_ evidence?”

Evidence would convince me. Not assertions of evidence. Not innuendos. Actual evidence. I know this is unusual, but I do not believe the word of intelligence agencies.

To give an example. There is still no evidence that the DNC was hacked. And actually there are some technical details that makes it seem more likely that it was an inside job (the speed of the file transfers). There’s no evidence that the crime the Russians are accused of even happened.

That’s not to say that the Russians didn’t do it. It’s perfectly possible they did. It’s also possible that at a later date we will have good evidence that demonstrates culpability. But that evidence does not currently exist in the public domain.

“Apparently the DOJ has enough evidence that they’re considering charging multiple Russian government officials. In your view, does that not mean that someone has offered, or uncovered, actual evidence?”

We know that they considered it worth talking to the WSJ. That’s pretty much it. We don’t actually know what the evidence is, what the quality of it is. We simply don’t know those things. It’s possible that we will never know and a prosecution won’t happen because it’s unlikely the US will be in a position to arrest those people.

We’re also talking about hacking – an area that is generally surrounded by an incredible amount of official hysteria, confusion and misinformation. As well of course a certain amount of US hypocrisy. The NSA, after all, is mostly devoted to hacking. And does all the things (and worse) that the FSB has been accused of.

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Daragh 11.03.17 at 1:54 pm

Not sure there is much more point engaging here given the continued insistence that the mountains of evidence detailing Russian interference in the campaign doesn’t exist, while a single article from Donna Brazile – who again, used to be the proof of Clintonian nefariousness – is seen as iron proof that the primaries were rigged.

I’ll happily admit that if the Brazile revelations are true, it raises a lot of questions about basic governance at the DNC, and it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the HRC campaign. However, it doesn’t actually show a mechanism by which this rigging happened. This is especially confusing since Clinton dominated the primaries – which are largely administered by state governments and where the DNC’s control was at a minimum – while Sanders dominated the caucuses – which are organised by the local party branches that were supposedly under Clinton’s thumb. Until this mechanism can be found, its basically an underpants gnome theory.

Personally, I’m more of the opinion that a guy without deep links to traditional Democratic constituencies, and who continues to refuse to sully himself by doing anything so vulgar as joining the party he wants to lead, may simply not have had the support of the majority of Democratic voters.

As to @49 wanting to ‘punish’ the Democrats – Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin are doing just fine, thanks. Democratic demobilisation of this sort may have prevented Feingold from a return to politics, which is a bummer but I’m sure he’ll do OK. The only actual result of this ‘punishment’ has been to imperil the healthcare, and therefore lives and livelihoods, of literally millions of people, a further mangling of the tax system to redistribute wealth upwards, and the rescinding of new laws that would have allowed people ripped off by the banksters to band together in class action suits, ensuring that they can continue to be fleeced with impunity. If you think that’s an acceptable price for you getting to inflict a relatively meaningless ‘punishment’ on the Democrats, well, bully for you. But from my perspective it looks more like prioritising one’s progressive credentials over the actual implementation of progressive policies.

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Cian O'Connor 11.03.17 at 1:54 pm

Lee Arnold @58:
No my point is simply that there is nothing particularly new about crazed right wing propoganda. For my sins I’ve spent the last 6 years living in the south and as someone who haunts second hand book stores I’ve seen a lot of right wing propoganda from the 50s, 60s and 70s. There’s the bircher stuff. There’s the stuff people talked about the country clubs. The stuff from the Clinton years. In more recent years there were the email chains that went round. None of this is particularly new. None of it is particularly caused by Facebook/Twitter – any more than the crazy stuff of the Clinton/Bush years was caused by AOL email.

There is a huge, well funded, shadow network of Republican linked media operations that push vicious propoganda. That is where most of the right wing nuttiness on Facebook comes from. Not from Russia, not from Macedonian teenagers creating clickbait. From the Republican party and from affiliated right wing groups. That’s partly what makes this obsession with Russia so baffling. We have just seen another yet election where the full on Republican propoganda and vote supression machines goes into action and the centre left’s response is to discuss a Russia based Trollfarm. For real?

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Yan 11.03.17 at 1:57 pm

I’d be curious to see a serious debate about Z@43’s suggestion, “So we’re fucked, but we were the bad guys all along, not the evil stone-cold racists.”

And by a serious debate, I mean on the substance of the claim, not on the many easy ways it can be dismissed. For example, it’s clearly the case that the evil stone-cold racists. are bad guys. It’s also clearly the case that many Trump voters are relatively affluent. It’s also clearly true that analyzing the situation into broad groups of good and bad guys is overly simplistic.

But that’s not the heart of the intriguing claim. I take it that there are two implied key claims (Z, feel free to correct me):

1) we, the economic top 10-20%, are substantially also bad guys, especially in terms of the consequences–if not the intentions–of our views, actions, and inactions.

2) we, the top 10-20%, are–comparisons of moral evil, which include intentions and general assessments of persons as a whole–the bad guys worthy of more critical attention, not because we’re moral worse but because in *this particular set* of moral problems (generally, the collapse of social democracy, the impotence of liberalism, the dominance of neo-liberalism, the rise of right wing populism), we are the principle *causal* factor.

If that’s the gist, maybe “bad guys” is beside the point. Even if we aren’t morally bad guys and gals, we might be the primary material point at which causal solutions need to be applied. Sure, many of them are truly evil assholes, but that’s a separate question from whether trying to persuade or change them is not only possible but, in the big scheme of things, worth doing.

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Yan 11.03.17 at 1:59 pm

Correction: (2) should read “–leaving to one side comparisons of moral evil”

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Cian 11.03.17 at 2:36 pm

Okay this story is actually good and provides what seems like decent evidence of Russian hacking activity:
https://apnews.com/3bca5267d4544508bb523fa0db462cb2

There are definitely some weaknesses in there (the timezone stuff is silly), but this story is pretty decent. Though of course these are exactly the kinds of operations that we known the NSA (among others) also carries out, if against different targets.

If this story checks out then it does provide strong circumstantial evidence that Russian intelligence hacked the DNC around the time of the leak. Though if that’s the case, the refusal of Crowdstrike and the DNC to cooperate with the FBI is very peculiar. The behavior of the DNC in particular has been odd throughout this affair.

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Fuzzy Dunlop 11.03.17 at 3:20 pm

@ Darag 6 “the shredding of political norms and the transition of politics into a form of social warfare, in which few people vote out of a sense of policy preference, but rather out of a sense of generalised hatred for the other ‘side’

Serious question: I’ve seen people jump into Matt Yglesias’ Twitter feed with ‘you should get oven’d’ and heard some pretty dark stuff from Trump-supporting acquaintances out in the open on facebook. So where are all the lefty edgelords joking “Stalin would’ve known what to do with those dumb rednecks” and half-ironically cheering for the opioid crisis and rural unemployment to worsen, and for country music fans to die in mass shootings, out of hatred for the Trump voters it would predominantly affect? Is there some far-left media or corner of Twitter edgier than Chapo that I’m not cool enough to know about? (Do I even need to say ‘white genocide’ is not an example of the above?)

I wonder how well people really grasp the fundamental asymmetry here.

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Anarcissie 11.03.17 at 3:32 pm

Layman 11.03.17 at 10:41 am @ 61 —
That (someone said that) ‘the DOJ has enough evidence that they’re considering charging multiple Russian government officials’ does not constitute credible evidence of much of anything. Governments and media organizations lie, obfuscate, reframe, filter, distort, propagandize, just like the proles and trolls on the social media, although maybe in a more sophisticated manner. As anon said, the big difference between now and the not-so-distant past is that ordinary people, not necessarily wealthy or well-connected, have some access to publication because publication is cheap. They are entering a world in which fraud has been routine for generations, and most of them have no more sense of truth or desire for it than Judith Miller and her former employer.

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Underpaid_Propagandist 11.03.17 at 4:03 pm

Why call this blog “Crooked Timber” when renaming it “kidneystones” would so much more accurate?

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Suzanne 11.03.17 at 4:18 pm

@55: Yes, very scary that people voted for a candidate who said things like this:

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

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Sebastian H 11.03.17 at 5:17 pm

Z you write:

OK, one last and I shut up for good. Ordinary people who voted for Trump typically are in a socio-educative position that does not guarantee that they and their children will not fall to the bottom 10 to 20% of an extremely unequal and competitive society, but that guarantees that they and their children will never reach the top 10 to 20%. They believe (not unreasonably) that people at the top (us) are holding them down and (quite unreasonably) that if they don’t hold the people at the bottom down, they will fall there themselves. If you want to talk to these people, a precondition is you understand the socio-political forces that you benefit from and that hold them down (especially as they perfectly well understand they’re being held down, but understand far less well precisely how themselves).

Assuming this analysis to be broadly right, a political movement that campaigns fiercely for a society in which everyone lives decently, even at the bottom, and equally fiercely against the actual political and social forces holding everyone but the top down would have the potential to resonate with these people. Conversely, this movement would meet considerable resistance from the top (and the top is us), so there is no way it gains enough political power quickly enough to transform the society deeply enough so that common grounds can again be found for 90% of the population. Absent this common ground, no meaningful change in the way our system is organized can happen democratically, and democratically is the only way it can happen. So we wreck the biosphere.

I don’t think your end conclusion (that there is nothing that can be done) is correct, but the insight that we are part of the problem dynamic is broadly correct. I’m not sure what the solution is, but recognizing that we are in fact contributing to the problem in a serious way is a necessary step to dealing with it.

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Antonin 11.03.17 at 7:15 pm

Crooked Timber is a blog by academics and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the OP is a definite case of the hammer seeing everything — everything including the very real limits of its own function — as awaiting its merciful receiving end.

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Faustusnotes 11.03.17 at 8:20 pm

I’d like to remind the afterberners that Sanders is not a .e.ber of the democratic party so he has zero right to complain about his treatment by them. The same goes for you: your hero joined the party for about three minutes so he could grandstand in a presidential election, and then you complain that he isn’t treated fairly? You want to be treated fairly by an organisation you first have to join it. Then co-operate with it.

As for listening to trunpettes so I can change their minds – been there, done that, got the t shirt. Frankly it’s not worth the abuse. These people are voting against their own interests and there is nothing you can do about it. They’re vulnerable to Russian troll farms because they want to believe this simplistic fascist shit. You can’t change that, you just have to win elections so it doesn’t matter.

And as for this business that the Facebook troll farms don’t matter – a single Twitter account run by these dudes was quoted in every major American newspaper as if it represents a real American voter when in fact it was being run from a Russian office. That’s some serious force multiplication. These troll farms made a difference and leftists who can’t acknowledge that are stupid.

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Mario 11.03.17 at 9:52 pm

Here is a very thoughtful and informative New Yorker article on the scale and effect of this alleged Russian meddling.

On the actual volume of the “meddling”:

this equals about four-thousandths of one per cent of content in News Feed, or approximately one out of twenty-three thousand pieces of content.

I think this is a correct assessment:

a great many Americans want to prove that the Russians elected Trump, and Americans did not.

BTW, the article was authored by a Russian…

84

Orange Watch 11.03.17 at 10:56 pm

Buying control of the DNC is not illegal.
[…]
Judgment is by the voters in the voting booths.

Sure. And that means people can and will conclude that the only way to get a party that represents them is to kill the one who is blatantly lying about doing so while sucking half the oxygen out of the room, even if it means risking terrible short-term outcomes. Whether they’re justified or not, this outcome is just as predictable as the many “totally predictable” outcomes that centrists constantly hang over the heads of everyone to their left while lecturing them on the supreme moral culpability of not surrendering their independent political agency to the Party.

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Yan 11.03.17 at 11:41 pm

86

Lee A. Arnold 11.04.17 at 1:08 am

Orange Watch #84: “the only way to get a party that represents them”

That’s not the only way. You could also run for office yourself, or start your own party, or take over a party, instead of whining about why a democracy doesn’t automatically provide the solutions for you. The Russians took over an election, why can’t you? My point was that Clinton’s actions regarding the DNC are not necessarily a prosecutable crime. For my own overall view of the larger matter, one week after the election back in November under a post here by John Quiggin, I wrote: that the Sanders wing would be stronger because the Democrats have had the Clintons rejected, while the party still has the majority of voters, and so the Dem voters now have a chance at ejecting the rest of their banksters, and at the same time, the Republicans have taken on objectionable baggage that can’t keep his promises and may finally rip them apart or reduce their numbers. It’s a year later, and I would still say the same thing.

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ph 11.04.17 at 3:08 am

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Cian O'Connor 11.04.17 at 4:36 am

And as for this business that the Facebook troll farms don’t matter – a single Twitter account run by these dudes was quoted in every major American newspaper as if it represents a real American voter when in fact it was being run from a Russian office. That’s some serious force multiplication. These troll farms made a difference and leftists who can’t acknowledge that are stupid.

In the stories I read the twitter account was quoted for its views on the Kardashians and national Unicorn day. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the far right extremist stuff that came later was quoted by anyone in the media.

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Cian O'Connor 11.04.17 at 4:39 am

Not sure there is much more point engaging here given the continued insistence that the mountains of evidence detailing Russian interference in the campaign doesn’t exist.

You still haven’t actually cited an example from these mountains of evidence Daragh.

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Cian 11.04.17 at 5:05 am

Two pretty good stories on the Internet Research Agency:
https://amp.meduza.io/en/news/2017/10/17/russian-journalists-publish-massive-investigation-into-st-petersburg-troll-factory-s-u-s-operations

https://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/documents-show-how-russias-troll-army-hit-america?utm_term=.ffLaKa24O#.weNkvke7x

The Max Seddon one is old, but is better than anything that’s been published since in the US that I know of. So yay, evidence.

The whole operation does seem peculiarly inept. I’ve received more coherent spam in the past year.

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nastywoman 11.04.17 at 5:19 am

– as the continuing hilarious back and fourth of the ”You still haven’t actually cited an example” – and ”these mountains of evidence” – goes on and on and on – y’all still seem NOT to get it – as it actually is NOT even THAT important if we are dealing with a ”Russian” or in our case a kind of ”academic experiment” with gullible readers.

And you guys seem to be some of the ”more gullible” types – not as gullible for sure as all these right wing idiots and the F…face himself – BUT still – y’all showing all of the intended reactions to a farm of trolls – who – by reading your never ending silly:

”They did it – No they didn’t it! – There is ”proof” NOO!! there is no proof” –

will be sooo stoked –
soooo stoked as your basic and very ”American” Four Chaner with pimples – who again
fooled YOU – in your bathrobe – with another picture of Pepe the Frog.

And THAT was THE PLAN and that plan worker gloriously and hilariously – and there is this theory – which of all theories have been proven – that type of s… you only can do to ”naive” and ”stupid” Americans.

And that ”evidence” sometimes makes me really mad -(as a half American)
BUT all in all – it seems to be that we – ”the Europeans” can’t help you guys – as you still – instead might prefer to discuss kidney stones girlfriend OR your boyfriend the F…face?

THEN WHY didn’t people invent new products that would create new jobs, when the old jobs were taken away by automation or globalization? What do you think is going on?

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nastywoman 11.04.17 at 5:36 am

AND I put the really good question of another commenter on the back for a reason –

People invented new products that created new jobs, -(mainly in Europe and mainly in ONE European country) – when a few old jobs were taken away by automation – but most of the US jobs – which were ”taken away” – NOT by ”globalization” – but by a bunch of OUR OWN greedy corporations – who thought they could make more dough by outsourcing or fire their workers altogether.

That was ”going on” and – now as the ”Producing Countries” of this world – hardly can keep up with the demand of our consumers – the ”new” -(and great ”old” jobs) – slowly will come back to US too – but very, very slowly as WE tend to slow down such a process with a lot of bickering if the Russians gave US our desperate confusion – or if we actually did it ALL to ourselves…?

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nastywoman 11.04.17 at 6:40 am

and about @90

”The whole operation does seem peculiarly inept. I’ve received more coherent spam in the past year.”

The only ”thing” which has to be said about such… naiveté? –

When we ran ”the experiment” – the major rule about commenting was:
NOT to be too ”coherent” – in order to sound ”authentic”!

So IF you don’t want to appear as a ”bot” you HAVE to put some -(not only ”grammatical”) incoherence in your comments – AND it is the most fun –
(you can have with your clothes on) – to receive ”marks” from some Grammar-Police-Idiots or other ”Korinthenkacker” – who are criticizing your posts as –

”not coherent”.

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Daragh 11.04.17 at 7:54 am

Fuzzy Dunlop @76

I was referring to the phenomenon of ‘negative partisanship’ but I see that sentence has more than a whiff of ‘both sides do it’, which wasn’t my intent but doesn’t excuse the sloppy prose. My apologies. FWIW – I’m absolutely of the opinion that a large swath of the GOP electorate has adopted essentially fascist political beliefs , that this is a phenomenon happening entirely on one side of the aisle, and a damn scary one at that.

Mario @83 – You are correct. Masha Gessen is Russian. I’m not sure how this gives her special insight on anything (personally, I think she’s rather sub par as a political analyst, as her 2013 essay on the Khodorkovsky pardon made clear). Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan are also Russians. They have also spent most of their careers researching the Russian security services, particularly ,w/r/t the Internet. You might want to take a look at what they say.

@Cian O’Connor – if I had even the slightest hope that dumping a collection of links here would change anyone’s minds or influence the debate I would. But it isn’t as if any of this is secret, and hasn’t been endlessly litigated for the past few months, but its a Saturday and I’m in Moscow so I’m going to take in some museums instead.

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Collin Street 11.04.17 at 8:24 am

It’s worth noting that “you can start your own party” is not true in the US: the way the nomination process works, the preexisting parties get an easier path to getting their candidates even on the ballot paper or structurally make it physically easier to vote for. Plus, there’s some explicit recognition of largest and second-largest parties in various governmental processes, and the government in turn dictates internal party processes to an unhealthy degree.

The state and the parties interpenetrate to the degree that the democratic and republican parties are in british terms fundamentally quangoes more than private organisations: asking people to start their own isn’t a reasonable tequest.

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Mario 11.04.17 at 9:03 am

nastywoman,

When we ran ”the experiment” – the major rule about commenting was:
NOT to be too ”coherent” – in order to sound ”authentic”!

well if you want to deliver a message that actually is effective, some modicum of coherence is needed. This applies to your posts too, btw.

Daragh: doesn’t it bother you that Masha is Russian? After all, she wrote an article downplaying the meddling… can that be honest?

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Z 11.04.17 at 9:24 am

Yan @73 That’s mighty charitable reading there. Thank you very much.

1) we, the economic top 10-20%, are substantially also bad guys, especially in terms of the consequences–if not the intentions–of our views, actions, and inactions.

Yes, that’s it, with a slight nuance. I think focussing on the economic top (especially the 1%, or 0,1%) is slightly misleading, the educative top is at least as important. Of course the educative top and economic top have a large intersection, but the mechanisms of domination are quite different nevertheless and understanding both is a prerequisite. In fact, I believe you definitely want to understand how the economic top functions to understand localized, short terms events (how laws are passed and enforced, how a corporation came to take a certain decision…) but the collective behavior of the educative top might be the primary cause of the long term evolution (I say a word about why below).

2) we, the top 10-20%, are the bad guys worthy of more critical attention, not because we’re moral worse but because in *this particular set* of moral problems […] we are the principle *causal* factor. […] Even if we aren’t morally bad guys and gals, we might be the primary material point at which causal solutions need to be applied.

Yes, precisely. You wrote it much more clearly than I could (and I understand that your comment does not necessarily indicates you personally subscribe to the thesis, but thank you for stating the thesis very clearly). Maybe I should say a word about why I believe this.

Part of it is simply following the thread. For the last 40 years or so (so at least a generation, if not two), three things have been broadly true of the US society: a majority of the population does not complete higher education, your passing this threshold is highly correlated with your parents passing it, the average quality of life of people below that level has stagnated or decreased (or alternatively, people above that level have benefited of almost all of the growth of the society). Since I doubt that changing the first factor is really in the hands of anyone and since the second is to a certain extent quite normal and unsurprising (of course, parents will transmit something to their children), it is the third which should be changing. And it did change this last 40 years, but in the opposite direction: inequalities kept rising, policies which exacerbate them (from NAFTA to charter schools) became bipartisan, and an increasingly meaningless and self-serving ideology of meritocracy flourished according to which if you are educated, you deserve to rise to the top, you will rise to the top no matter what and you can legitimately forget just about completely those not at the top.

Part of it is more sophisticated. I think that the way advanced Western democracies function presupposes that democratic institutions will make the social concerns of the various groups of citizens come out and adjudicate between them, a cybernetic property of democratically organized societies (in the etymological sense of cybernetic). However, I believe that this cybernetic property holds only under specific circumstances which contingently happened to obtain when these institutions emerged (or perhaps they emerged because said circumstances were holding), namely a relatively low degree of economic inequalities, more importantly a strong sense of national cohesion at least partly due to the transition from a religious to a political view of society, even more importantly a deep feeling of homogeneity resting on an actual and impressive universalization of secondary education. None of these circumstances prevail now, so democratic institutions have perhaps unsurprisingly become hollow and inadequate. If that is roughly correct, running through these circumstances one by one and applying a process of elimination leads, it seems to me, to realize we have a single lever left: the educative top can change its social values in the direction of a more equalitarian, cohesive and homogenous society. Insofar as we aren’t changing in that direction, we are part of the problem. Insofar as we are changing but in the opposite direction, we are the problem.

98

Z 11.04.17 at 9:35 am

Sebastian H @80 I don’t think your end conclusion (that there is nothing that can be done) is correct

Nah, I don’t believe it either (I didn’t say nothing can be done, I think, I said we wouldn’t do it quickly enough). In fact, I would even be definitely optimistic in the middle-term. The only slight problem is that I also believe that we have an immediate environmental and climate crisis to deal with. So yeah, we will solve our problems with democracy eventually, but probably not quickly enough to save kelp forests and coral reefs. And I like kelp forests and coral reefs.

but the insight that we are part of the problem dynamic is broadly correct. I’m not sure what the solution is, but recognizing that we are in fact contributing to the problem in a serious way is a necessary step to dealing with it.

Yes.

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Lee A. Arnold 11.04.17 at 9:47 am

Collin Street #95: ” ‘you can start your own party’ is not true”

What you go on to describe is that it is difficult, not that it is “not true”. Ballot access requirements are determined by the individual states.

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Hidari 11.04.17 at 10:07 am

‘You can (and should!) identify Russian troll farms’

Why? And why are ‘Russian’ ‘troll farms’ any worse than American troll farms (i.e. the American media, and electorate)?

‘ and try to weed stuff out’ Why? Are people too stupid to make their own minds up?

‘ weed it again’. Why? No one on CT fell victim to these ‘Russian’ ‘troll farms’. Who are these others who are too stupid to be able to evaluate propaganda? And Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

‘Facebook and Twitter can self-police’ (i.e. self-censor: yes they can and do, but that’s a bad thing, of course, corporations being only concerned with profit).

‘legislators can make law’ (i.e. the State can censor).

Is anyone going to comment on the US’ relentless interference in Russian democracy, btw? Or is it all a bit different when it’s ‘us’?

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bob mcmanus 11.04.17 at 10:23 am

Z at 97 is pretty good

College Degree by Gender 1945-2015

The difference by gender starts at 2 points in 1945-1950 (at a very low base, 7%M 5%F) rises to a peak gap of about 7.5 points at 1980, declining and reaching parity about 2008. That’s interesting and needs explaining.

I went looking to see about whether college educated women would feel less solidarity with the working class than college educated men fifty years ago, because of shared military experience for instance. But the gender gap appears less important than the more general rise in an educated class. There is also a story about the college educated men married non-college educated women in earlier times, and how that changed, but the chart tells me that both genders had about the same pool of potential partners to choose from. One can make of that chart what you will.

One thing to mention with that chart is that Z’s point two, about parents passing advantages to their kids, will come into play there. In 1950 it was roughly 8% of parents with degrees could help their kids get degrees, now it is probably 30%.

A recent Fed study I have been unable to find again says that the split is roughly 40-60 over the last few decades. 40% of the population has seen its standards of living rise and 60% have seen theirs decline.

I there there is also now more geographical concentration of the college-educated than there was in 1960.

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Layman 11.04.17 at 10:52 am

Cian: “Evidence would convince me.”

Here’s a suggestion: Provide a list of any ten criminal convictions in the last year, cases to which neither you nor anyone you know was a party. What evidence do you have that any crime occurred in any of those cases? What evidence have you seen? Isn’t it the case that you have only words from journalists to go on?

Or, let’s take this one.

Cian: “This is the same James Clapper who lied to congress in 2013?”

Some people – journalists! – say that Clapper lied to Congress, but you don’t believe that what people say about evidence is actually any indication of evidence at all. You don’t personally have, nor have you personally seen, any evidence that Clapper ever lied to Congress. Using your standard, there’s no reason at all for you to believe that Clapper lied to Congress. Yet you do believe that he did, while you don’t believe that Russians hacked the DNC, even though the standard of evidence for you, personally, is the same in both cases, e.g. Some journalists told you that some people at intelligence and law enforcement agencies said so.

Then there’s this bizarre turn.

Cian: “Okay this story is actually good and provides what seems like decent evidence of Russian hacking activity:”

Here you link to some words by journalists, telling you what they say someone else said and did, and call it evidence.

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nastywoman 11.04.17 at 10:53 am

@96

”well if you want to deliver a message that actually is effective, some modicum of coherence is needed. This applies to your posts too, btw.”

No – and really sorry about that.
But if you want to erect a F… Moron for President you have to come up with something completely else than your ”coherence” IF you really want your ”message” to be as effective as Trumps.

And how is it that ”people” who seem to be fair more ”coherent” than I am – (still) have this funny illusion that and ”effective message” HAS to be coherent?

I mean – this is the f… 21 century!

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nastywoman 11.04.17 at 10:56 am

and @100
I really got a kick out of:
”No one on CT fell victim to these ‘Russian’ ‘troll farms’”

You think all these ”Russian Lovers” on CT fell in love with Russia because they have some ”Olga from the Wolga” at home?

105

Layman 11.04.17 at 10:59 am

Daragh: “I’ll happily admit that if the Brazile revelations are true, it raises a lot of questions about basic governance at the DNC, and it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the HRC campaign. “

As it happens, they seem not to be very true.

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/TODAY/z_Creative/DNCMemo%20(002).pdf

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Layman 11.04.17 at 11:04 am

Anarcissie: “That (someone said that) ‘the DOJ has enough evidence that they’re considering charging multiple Russian government officials’ does not constitute credible evidence of much of anything.”

Sure, but I’ll ask you the same question: What would it take to convince you that there is some actual evidence that the Russians were behind hacking the DNC? Obviously journalism isn’t the answer, so what is?

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nastywoman 11.04.17 at 11:12 am

– and some times it really worries me – AS aren’t a lot of you guys ”teaching” – and thusly can’t avoid to get in contact occasionally with ”the younger folks”?

And sometimes I read (somewhere?) that ”academics” even writing papers about how ”TEH Intertubes” – and ”memes” and Trumps erection worked – and then so many of you still stick to your ”shticks that all you have to offer to… of all audiences and ”Internet Audience” is a ”somehow coherent” message?

And every single day – every single of y’all – ALSO – must get her or his daily feed form you tube and the ”meme machine” where today ”trending” is… wait let me look…???!

”Netflix cuts him lose”?

Or is it ”Grumpy Cat” again?

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nastywoman 11.04.17 at 11:24 am

AND finally @100

”Or is it all a bit different when it’s ‘us’?”

Well – let’s say if a bunch of German Trolls would have been a lot more successful in making America believe that Trump – is actually… no NOT ”Satan” – BUT a reborn crazy fascist from the 30th it would have been a lot better than finally having to realize that my ”own people” – MY Americans – who I love and adore soooo much can be taken totally to the cleaners by a bunch of (Russian) ”yahoos” – some of whom one occasionally can meet at gaming conventions…

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Lee A. Arnold 11.04.17 at 12:33 pm

Z #97: “cybernetic property of democratically organized societies…”

I like your whole comment but I want to take it a step further down and point out that it is not just democratic societies. Throughout all time up to the present era, members of social systems have identified each other by ethoses (ethoi?) that include ritual and oratory.

People still need these (e.g. monotheists) for social identity. And the other people who say they don’t need these, have actually substituted something else, or are taking anti-depressants.

This is NOT to say that theology is real, only to suggest that there is a process going on inside everyone toward greater brain function/consciousness, a process which theologies attempted to describe in the pre-scientific era. And in complete parallel with this inner process, its related oratory and ritual (including liturgy) encouraged social cohesion by promoting interpersonal trust, and also provided the folk understanding for outer environmental regulation, as Roy A. Rappaport showed.

But modern higher education does not fill this bill. Modern education is analytical — and necessarily so, and you should get as much as you can — but the steps to greater brain function are synthetic and integrative.

The early modern era demoted theology and promoted science, democracy, and the market system, all in a short period of transition. Everybody knows this. But what is this, as a trustworthy ethos?

Scientific analysis has not provided a path to greater consciousness (with the possible exception of entheogens), democracy requires individual leaders constantly emerging from the masses, and the market system creates, and depends upon, financial inequality (bad) while its technological successes are creating the conditions for its own transcendence (good, maybe). They don’t assure social cohesion, whether separately or put together. Together they are a crazy quasi-kludge, not an ethos. Even the attitude of scientists is, “Well, if everyone were a scientist, then we would be going in the right direction.” Which isn’t necessarily true.

And no one cares! as long as times look good. The success of centrist oratory in the modern era has always depended upon sunny times in the market system, with a bit of lip-service to monotheism.

In uncertain economic times, extremist oratory gains ground. So now, the populists in every country want to reinforce one or another of the older standards of cohesion. Economic trade protectionism. “We don’t need no scientist to tell us about the climate”. Even the call for racial purity is surging.

This has happened before. Karl Polanyi noted that fascism is not a distinctive political movement with certain tenets, it is a socio-emotional force that can take over any country. It’s not an ethos (contra Walter Sobchak!), it’s a sickness trying to substitute for the lack of an ethos.

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Lee A. Arnold 11.04.17 at 12:38 pm

Fascism is not a distinctive political movement, it is a social-emotional force that can take over any country. Polanyi:

“Fascism was an ever-given political possibility, an almost instantaneous emotional reaction in every industrial community… One may call it a ‘move’ in preference to a ‘movement,’ to indicate the impersonal nature of the crisis the symptoms of which were frequently vague and ambiguous… There were no accepted criteria of fascism, nor did it possess conventional tenets. Yet one significant feature of all its organized forms was the abruptness with which they appeared and faded out again, only to burst forth with violence after an indefinite period of latency. All this fits into the picture of a social force that waxed and waned according to the objective situation…

“In its struggle for political power fascism is entirely free to disregard or to use local issues, at will. Its aim transcends the political and economic framework: it is social. It puts a political religion into the service of a degenerative process. In its rise it excludes only a very few emotions from its orchestra; yet once victorious it bars from the bandwagon all but a very small group of motivations, though again extremely characteristic ones…

“The appearance of such a movement in the industrial countries of the globe, and even in a number of only slightly industrialized ones, should never have been ascribed to local causes, national mentalities, or historical backgrounds as was so consistently done by contemporaries. Fascism had as little to do with the Great War as with the Versailles Treaty, with Junker militarism as with the Italian temperament. The movement appeared in defeated countries like Bulgaria and in victorious ones like Jugoslavia, in countries of Northern temperament like Finland and Norway and of Southern temperament like Italy and Spain, in countries of Aryan race like England, Ireland, or Belgium and non-Aryan race like Japan, Hungary, or Palestine, in countries of Catholic traditions like Portugal and in Protestant ones like Holland, in soldierly communities like Prussia and civilian ones like Austria, in old cultures like France and new ones like the United States and the Latin-American countries. In fact, there was no type of background—of religious, cultural, or national tradition—that made a country immune to fascism, once the conditions for its emergence were given…

“A country approaching the fascist phase showed symptoms among which the existence of a fascist movement proper was not necessarily one. At least as important signs were the spread of irrationalistic philosophies, racialist aesthetics, anticapitalistic demagogy, heterodox currency views, criticism of the party system, widespread disparagement of the ‘regime,’ or whatever was the name given to the existing democratic setup… In no case was an actual revolution against constituted authority launched; fascist tactics were invariably those of a sham rebellion arranged with the tacit approval of the authorities who pretended to have been overwhelmed by force…”

The Great Transformation (1944) pp. 238-39, 241, 237, 238, in that order.

111

bruce wilder 11.04.17 at 1:37 pm

Z @ 97

A couple of auxiliary points: anything the body politic chooses to do to reform its economy will cause pain to some who benefit from the predation or negligence built into the status quo. But, even beyond the possibly just or efficient interventions to, say, reduce loan sharking (payday lending, credit card usury) or reduce the cost of health care (the only U.S. major sector still producing growth in “good jobs” for the former working classes), any major structural shift will cause a disruptive crash in the whole system.

Up thread, someone claimed that Brexit could not “possibly” benefit the UK economy (an abstraction) and therefore those favoring Brexit were awful people. But, of course, Brexit in the long run might well benefit some in the UK economy who are hurt by recent trends — high housing costs in London, the squeezing out of manufacturing by finance in UK trade, and immigration. It is possible, if you can manage a modicum of empathy for those who live in the poorest cities of northwest Europe (which are mostly in England), to see Brexit as an electoral riot, an attempt at altruistic punishment of elites who neglect the lower classes: a willingness to bear the pain of breaking The System, a system that inflicts a lot of pain in the ordinary course of its functioning.

I can imagine a financial reform that would break the big U.S. banks, and favor such a course, but I cannot imagine a reform of that nature that did not involve a financial crash and severe economic dislocation. If people understood the necessity, it might be possible to hold together a democratic majority to support enduring the disruption against the opposition of many of those hurt by reform. But, spreading that understanding thru the population requires a great deal of political organizing and deliberation. In the present extreme state of social atomization, it is hard to imagine.

Historically, great reforms were accomplished by remarkable feats of mass organizing and deliberation, in contested environments. The American Revolution was driven by committees of correspondence to a remarkable degree of mass deliberation on the political science of constitutions, and built on popular thought with a foundation in 17th century religious reform and the UK civil wars. The American Civil War was preceded by more than a decade of mass agitation.

I think our ability to think as a political society thinks is severely handicapped by the neoliberal consensus and the academic ideologies of identity politics. The lack of critical thinking skills among those consuming the swill spilling out of American mass media on Russiagate or whatever nonsense riles the right is worrisome. We are not going to tweet our selves out of this.

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bob mcmanus 11.04.17 at 2:43 pm

However, it doesn’t actually show a mechanism by which this rigging happened.

This isn’t addressed to Daragh, whom I don’t care to interact with, and is not any attempt to jump into the discussions of the primary and election and fergawdssake scary Russians, but having just finished an article in the Nation on new books by Stuart Elden based on the lectures of Foucault, and having approached this question on this blog before (there I tentatively advocated for following money flows and NGO’s and other forms of local organizing and recruitment) the question of the mechanism by which Clinton did gain inalienable support from, for example, the older superdelegates (who should be studied hard, ethnographically and anthropologically) but not young black women does need to be investigated, and will not be found in coercion, legal forms, intimidation, or a even study of practices and policies by the campaign, but on the ground near the very hierarchical bottom of the Democratic Party, and is I suspect very connected to the documents and policies Brazille revealed, and to the “Invisible Primary.” That’s a very long sentence that probably needs some semi-colons but I must amuse myself.

113

soru 11.04.17 at 3:02 pm

Why? And why are ‘Russian’ ‘troll farms’ any worse than American troll farms (i.e. the American media, and electorate)?

It’s a commonplace that amongst the problems with imperialism is that it ends up with rulers who have limited understanding of the society they are trying to rule, and so are more likely to generate conflict accidentally. Such distant rulers also more likely to be in a position where conflict is beneficial to them.

dīvide et īmpera and so on.

114

Placeholder 11.04.17 at 3:44 pm

It is telling the usual suspects are claiming that since Trump won narrow margins in key swing states this is ‘just enough’ – just enough for them to invest in the theory without feeling like the lowly ‘conspiracy theorists’ they so disavow.

Can they explain:
1. Why Russian trolls could swing 16% of voters earning under $30k a year but – блядь! – couldn’t stop, like, a 5 point swing back to Hilary among those earning over $250,000?
2. Why they are so perversely effective in three Rust Belt states the Democrats hadn’t lost since Reagan?

However did those hacker geniuses convince the American voter that in a time of economic crisis a Populist outsider was running against the DLC.

It is for chickens to laugh at! XA XD XA XD XA XD XA XD XA XD XA

115

bekabot 11.04.17 at 5:31 pm

neither does dismissing economic arguments

Which economic arguments has the left dismissed? The reason the emphasis has moved away from economic arguments to cultural and racial ones is that the left (and here I’m talking about the center-left, not the far, collectivist left) keeps winning the economic-argument battle, and the people who want to run the Earth as their theme-park (pay on admission) don’t like that. The left holds that what we call modern, industrial economies are based on demand and are held up by wages, not salaries or speculation. The aftermath of Reaganism has proven this to be true. The surest way to wreck an industrial economy is to financialize it, so of course that’s what Reagan and his followers (and his memetic descendants) did.

The left holds that the way to make an economy chug along is not to force all the wealth up into the uppermost point atop the social pyramid and then to expect the people who inhabit that point to re-transfer the booty downward to the pyramid’s lower slopes, because they’ll have no reason to do anything other than cache what they’ve received.
It’s very silly to expect even the best-watered-and-tended elites to exude money and prosperity the way a tree exudes sap. Once money has been made to outrank productivity they’ll want to keep their sap for themselves. In this prediction too the left has been proven correct.

Which is why when I’m told (for the umptillionth time) that if only I hand the gazillionaires and the super-yuge companies one more financial advantage, and that if I only work to hamstring my state vis-a-vis the states which vote for the candidates they like, and that I only do my best to set these concessions into stone so that they can’t be changed or unwound no matter what may happen in the future — that if I do that, then this time I’ll be helping to jumpstart the economy, after which America will be great again and all will be roses and candy — if I then tell the ad-guy who’s making this pitch that I don’t believe him, what I’m doing isn’t “dismissing an argument.” What I’m doing is refusing a grift.

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Fuzzy Dunlop 11.04.17 at 6:16 pm

Yan @85 Yes! And Daily Kos’ “Gunfail” series–a regular feature detailing gun accidents. It’s hard to imagine seeing something like that on the Baffler or Chapo. And certain voices would interpret this difference as a sign that those outfits have a ‘class only’ ideology, but that clearly ain’t so. I think it’s safe to say the far left has a much more serious, commitment to rigorous humaneness than the center-left. And the former take themselves more seriously. Which I think is why Chapo was so successful–it threads the needle of being mean to (usually) just the right people, in just the right way, which is hard to do if your whole political project is founded on rejecting all the ways we’re told it’s socially acceptable to put people down.

Daragh @94 I didn’t quite take it as ‘both sides do it’ism :). And I mean given the basic differences in agenda, I don’t think it would necessarily be blameworthy for the far left to be organized around pissing off the other side. If what they want is reprehensible, then there’s nothing wrong with wanting to piss them off. But even on this simple procedural criterion, there’s a big difference between the far left and the whole of the right.

117

bekabot 11.04.17 at 6:33 pm

This is debatable, because it’s impossible to know how people would vote in a more representative system. The Hillary campaign invested quite a few resources in increasing her vote in states that she didn’t need to campaign in. The Trump campaign did not do that. Presumably resources would have been allocated differently if it came down to a popular vote.

Shorter version: “Things might have been totally different, if only…they’d been totally different.”

Gaah.

118

bekabot 11.04.17 at 6:39 pm

Read the entire thing. Bernie supporters are going to flip.

Said as if Bernie supporters did not know this anyway, though we did.

119

Cian O'Connor 11.04.17 at 7:02 pm

The reasons that that the Donna Brazile’s revelation are significant are:
a) It explains why the Democrats did so poorly at a state level (which was the true disaster of 2016) – the Clinton campaign sucked up all the cash leaving them with very little.
b) It’s Donna Brazille. When insiders start criticizing the leadership you know things are bad.

The big story of the 2016 election is not white working class Republicans (which has been exaggerated), but the collapse in black and minority turnout. People who have actually bothered to do the research have found that black voters didn’t like Clinton. They felt that the campaign took them for granted, and didn’t address any of their key concerns (the most significant of which are economic). In addition the Clinton campaign, in contrast to the very professional Obama campaign, did a lousy job of getting voters to the polls. Elections in the US are primarily won on turnout of your base. Not, as dimwit journalists seem to believe, through appeals to floating voters.

Obviously there are other factors here. This seems to have been the worst election yet for vote suppression (much of it nationally coordinated by the Republican party, and highly illegal). The lack of interest in this on the part of Democrats, despite it having been a significant factor in every election since 2000, speaks volumes. That they would rather go down the rabbit hole of pursuing (the seemingly rather ludicrous) Russian interference, than push for serious voting reform, I think says a lot about the seriousness of the Democrats. The Republicans care about winning – the Democrats care about striking a pose.

I remember around the time of Ed Miliband when I realized that the problem with the Labour party was not their politics (though these didn’t help), but they didn’t know how to win elections. At the end of the day a political party that does not how to win, is a waste of time. The way for the Democrat party in the US to win, regardless of policies, is to focus on maximizing turn out of their supporters. That means fighting voter suppression, transporting voters to the polls, enthusing voters so they overcome all the barriers to voting (such as poverty and overwork). Until they realize this they’re going to be perpetual losers.

As an example of this we have the election in Virginia, where the Democrat candidate has not just ignored minority voters, but alienated them. If this depresses turnout he’ll lose, regardless of how well he does with white voters.

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Daragh 11.04.17 at 10:54 pm

Layman @105 – Indeed. I also note that some people here seem to thing Brazile is ‘turning against the leadership’, when a) Hillary Clinton is not in any meaningful sense of the word a leader of the Democratic party anymore b) Brazile’s ‘revelations’ seemed designed to curry favour with the wing of the party that supported Bernie Sanders, who is (despite his continued refusal to debase himself by actually joining the Democratic party). Her latest bombshell apparently regards her seriously considering replacing Clinton on the ticket, which is interesting given that this was never even remotely within her power to do.

As mentioned before – the fact that such utterly transparent attempts ingratiate herself with what she sees as the new power (while doing huge damage to the Democratic party and allowing Trump to distract from his own crimes) is taken as gospel truth that the primaries were rigged by the same people asking ‘Where’s the evidence?!!??!’ on the Russia interference is deeply depressing, if not surprising.

121

bekabot 11.04.17 at 11:35 pm

It’s Donna Brazille. When insiders start criticizing the leadership you know things are bad.

Sure. When insiders start criticizing the leadership you know things are bad. As in, when Trump can’t get along with any of his own employees (not one) and when his administration is ridden with leaks because his flunkies can’t wait to line up to criticize his leadership, you know things are bad. With the Republican Party. Except, I already knew that.

Why is everything suddenly about Hillary Clinton? She lost, remember?

122

ph 11.04.17 at 11:46 pm

123

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 1:07 am

@117 – maybe, but it’s the position of a lot of PolSci academics. Campaigns usually (Hillary Clinton was rather unusual in not doing this) focus on maximizing their delegate count, not the popular vote.

124

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 2:03 am

@102 Layman:

Patronizing much?

Criminal case 1: The prosecution has a single jail house confession.

Criminal case 2: The prosecution has documentation, video footage, witnesses and a paper trail.

Are you seriously claiming that the two are equivalent. That all evidence is of equal quality. If you’re not claiming that then presumably even you can grasp that there is a difference between strong evidence, and hearsay.

I never claimed that the evidence needed to be 100%, but thanks for assuming that I’m really stupid. All the stories I had seen in the western media up until 2/3 days ago (and I had actually been looking pretty hard) had been evidentally extremely weak. Lots of claims, statements by officials (oh, but they’d never lie. Iraq was just an innocent mistake) and childish discussions of hacking (I have the technical sophistication to follow discussions of hacking exploits. Do you?).

Some people – journalists! – say that Clapper lied to Congress, but you don’t believe that what people say about evidence is actually any indication of evidence at all. You don’t personally have, nor have you personally seen, any evidence that Clapper ever lied to Congress.

Dude, I saw the testimony on C-Span and I read the Edward Snowden leaks. Seriously? That’s like the worst example you could have picked.

Using your standard, there’s no reason at all for you to believe that Clapper lied to Congress. Yet you do believe that he did, while you don’t believe that Russians hacked the DNC

No, I don’t believe that there is reliable evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC, or indeed that anyone hacked them. The Russians may well have hacked the DNC, but equally so could a number of other people, or it could have been an inside leak, or Russian/Chinese/Republican agents could have simply stolen it from the offices. Currently, with the evidence we have (very little) all are equally possible.

To date:
+ There has been no forensic investigation of the DNC servers by the FBI because the DNC wouldn’t allow them access (which is really, really weird by the way. It suggests that the DNC are trying to hide something, and is a reason to be suspicious of the whole hacking narrative). The only investigation was by CrowdStrike – a company that (deservedly) doesn’t have a good reputation in the industry (I follow computer security stories quite closely because they interest me).
+ It is actually very hard to attribute blame for hacks. The typical approach (attribution based upon the hacking tool) is completely unreliable because once a hacking tool has been used, pretty much everyone who wants it has access to it. There are other methods that can be used, but other than the AP story that I linked to, nobody seems to have had any success with these. Most of them would require access to the servers.
+ Most of the investigations in the public domain have used the metadata on the Guccifer documents. Ignoring the vast majority of these investigations (which were highly amateurish), the problem with the good analyses is that there are simply too many ways to interpret what the data tells you. For example the metadata doesn’t prove that they were acquired through a hack (though that’s certainly one possible interpretation). In addition it’s impossible to tell if the metadata has been tampered with – something that hackers do all the time to cover their tracks.

Then there’s this bizarre turn.

Right because when I post the first story in a year that actually provides good (if circumstantial) evidence of Russian hacking in this area, after arguing that there was no decent evidence that proves I’m a hypocrite. Or something. Muppet.

The AP actually published a decent story 2/3 days ago that provides good circumstantial evidence of Russian hacking activity. People should read it. It doesn’t prove that they hacked the DNC, but it certainly makes them a likely suspect IF the DNC was indeed hacked. It’s a good story. The only good story from a western source on this whole thing that I’ve read (though the FT may have some stuff behind the firewall).

The reason I believe this story is because it fits into a pattern of previous stories on this subject, the targets (who are mostly Russian) make sense, the technical details in the story are solid and the people quoted on the record in the story are good people who know what they’re doing. As opposed to anonymous intelligence officials. I believe it’s called evaluating the story – sorting the fake news from the real news. You should try it sometime.

125

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 2:09 am

@105 Layman: “As it happens, [the Brazile claims] seem not to be very true”

The document you just linked to a document confirms much of what Brazile claimed.

126

nastywoman 11.05.17 at 7:48 am

”You can (and should!) identify Russian troll farms and try to weed stuff out, weed it again.” a man called ”John Holbo” wrote – and our so called President once mumbled he wouldn’t have won without Twitter.

And when John Holbo writes:
”It’s hard to think of a technical patch, or a legislative fix, that doesn’t significantly infringe the freedom to think and say (stupid) stuff.” – let’s finally come to the conclusion it’s just too distracting…
Life is just far too confusing… as there is all this ”stuff” on the Internet from all these Troll Farms and there are these days where I really don’t know where I should look first – at the rates SNL sketch about my naked President or at Crooked Timber.

– and then there are all our ”Kriegserlebnisse” all these great ”stuff” we once did and we HAVE to remind anybody – that we were ”blond”…

127

nastywoman 11.05.17 at 7:53 am

– and let me say – as a real ”hardcore” (female) Bernie-Bro: Try to focus guys!

FOCUS!!

128

nastywoman 11.05.17 at 8:14 am

– AND when a man called John Holbo wrote:
”You can (and should!) identify Russian troll farms and try to weed stuff out, weed it again.” – let’s doubt that he meant for US to doubt the influence of Russian troll farms?

He probably was aware that:
”The most effective way for Russian troll accounts to end up in news posts was simple: They tweeted newsworthy photos and videos, even if they were not the ones that shot them. Buying photos is an expensive and complicated process for news organizations, which have become increasingly happy to embed tweets that include the photos they desire as something of a workaround. It’s free, easy and legally colorable. The only issue, it ends up, is that you might be embedding a tweet created by a Russian troll farm as part of a massive conspiracy to influence the American political system.

Such was likely the case with articles like NBC News’ “Gay Pride Events Festive But Some Concerned After Orlando,” which included a tweet by @lgbtunitedcom; Vox’s “Someone shot 30 holes in the Emmett Till memorial. The sentiment behind that is normal in politics.” (@Crystal1Johnson); ATTN:’s “What This Company Is Offering Employees Is Raising a Privacy Debate” (@LuceelysToP); HuffPost’s “This Malibu ‘Official Sanctuary City’ Sign Is Not Quite What It Seems” (@Jenn_Abram); and Breitbart’s “Texan Trump Supporter Pays for Billboard Ripping ABC over Russia Coverage” (@Pamela_Moore13).

Sometimes, entire stories were based around a Russian account’s video, as was the case with a Complex post from August titled “Donald Trump Claims His 17-Day Vacation Isn’t Really a Vacation.” The post included a tweet from Trump and a video from the aforementioned @Pamela_Moore13, a prolific Russian troll farm account that has appeared in news articles at least a dozen times since October 2016.

– and so as in the Huffpos article above – WE – instead of all ”outfits” Huffpo could have come on this thread to the conclusion that ”Russian Trolls Didn’t Need To Infiltrate American Media, Because We Let Them In” – and yes there are also these American Troll Farms BUT they tend to concentrate on our sexual preferences or – Taylor Swift and they are just NOT as well ”organized” as the Russian Gamers were – and now wonder WE – US Gamers were NOT ”winning”’…

How…. SAD!!
(USA! USA!! USA!!!)

129

b9n10nt 11.05.17 at 10:44 am

Science, Technocracy & Mass Politics:

A 3 part series of unqualified bloviating Inspired by Lee A. Arnold @109 and Z @97: (clears throat)…

I) If we are not professional scientists or were previously trained in analytic empiricism, then “science” is a system 1 (Kahneman) construct. Paradoxically, in the unprofessional social sphere, the populace gives too much weight to scientific knowledge. When a public is conceived to address a problem and science is invoked, the associations are so immediately positive that the invocation of such scientific knowledge into a social/political discourse will strongly crowd out more intuitive, social intelligence-based responses.

Forensics is useful but a jury of ones peers an afterthought. Transportation technology can still get so much better, but improving the stablity of and strengthening connections within communties is an afterthought. Representative democracy is now improved by polling data, voting machines, and sophisticated propaganda and gotv drives. But using politics to create a story that dignifies all equally in the community is an afterthought. Environmental sustainability rests its hopes on the strength of engineering hacks throughout the biological and physical sciences, but changing our habits of development and consumption is an afterthought. (I’m sure we could go on).

Why are we so vulnerable to technological happy talk? Because we project onto it a community ethos that we have lost. The hazy belief in science and technology anesthetizes us (as so many other manifestations of mass culture do) from a clear appreciation of our alienated predicament as social-political beings.

II). If we identify as scientists or even generally analytically trained empiricists, we are certainly part of the problem (of social divergence) in public discourse. We are the most authoritative heralds of a liberal technocratic utopia, and in that role we use education and learning to demonstrate status in the public sphere. As humans, we are practically incapable of using our knowledge any other way. Of course, any focus on our own status is unintended propaganda for a world that features hierarchy as a bedrock principle of social relations. Our lips are saying “equality, fraternity, liberty” but our eyes are saying “I’m protecting my place in this society”. We hopelessly recreate hierarchies of value within the “tribe”.

III). There is no solution to the alienation of our political-social identities, really. It’s all winners and losers when both would be much better off if neither existed. You can’t fix the root of the problem without a drastic and improbable social revolution.

What you can do, practically, and as an opening gesture towards a hoped-for revolution in political organization and identity, is promote using our collective resources to support and extend experimental communtities. Left, right, weird, normal, modern, traditional…people that aren’t winning in the fractured liberal technocratic utopia of self/career/family need a place to go, an identity to affirm…or they’re going to keep putting pressure for the liberal technocratic state to perform illiberal demonstrations of dominance/authority. We liberals would rather these communities be SECTS (small egalitarian communal tribes, heh), but either way encourage people to develop new relationships to the capitalist state and each other.

It will no longer be enough to have a better balance between public and private economies. The specter of “fascism” in some form is always destabilizing the liberal technocratic utopia and will not be pacified with social services and environmental preservation. It is now becoming necessary to also become intentional about community development and localism, and planting some seeds for disparate futures among we the peoples.

130

nastywoman 11.05.17 at 11:16 am

@129
”It is now becoming necessary to also become intentional about community development and localism, and planting some seeds for disparate futures among we the peoples.”

You mean baking ”better bread”?
Ups – sorry – I didn’t mean to beliddle your important coherent comment – so please – moderation don’t pass this example of silly trollism…

131

nastywoman 11.05.17 at 11:52 am

but as my suggestion for a ‘’solution” of the problem –
-(and especially as history probably will treat this whole ‚‘’deal’’ as ”The first time in history an US President ‚’won‘’ by ‘’Internet Gaming’’)

It’s true ‘it’s US” or actually ALL my fault – as I absolutely hate it if somebody is ”winning” -(not ”whining”) against MOI on the Intertubes.

And the thought that some ‘’Fureign Joker’’ in any way would have influenced me NOT to vote against a F…ing Moron would probably drive me even more batty than my kidneys and I probably would write hundred of crazy comments -(which I do) about ME or my boyfriend – just in order NOT to be reminded that I got fooled by some Orange Orang Utan… -(or some ”Russkies”)

And for sure – like always – there were many other reasons why the F…face one… BUT WE can’t consider that it was… BE-cause of some Russkies – Right? by fooling US…?

And there is nooo f… way -(in America) that ANY ’’Fureign Jokers’’ -(whatever nationality) can win against US very intelignet, sensible and thoughtful… USSES?

And I nearly forgot ”THE solution”.
To understand that THE Intertubes AREN’T some kind of NYT or ”Academic Paper” where some kind of ”truth” is… is ”emanated”.
This Thing HERE is a mean MEME-MACHINE where so called serious people can’t believe a single word which is written NOT even that I’m a Russian Troll too – trying to make y’all lose your ”confidence” in the wisdom of the ”world wide web”…

132

Lee A. Arnold 11.05.17 at 11:57 am

I just finished two on “hierarchy”:

133

Hidari 11.05.17 at 12:07 pm

Incidentally, here’s a counter-factual: imagine a DNC operative had been contacted by someone with a pronounced Russian accent during the election who said that s/he had access to the infamous (possibly fictional I know, but let’s imagine) ‘pee tape’, the publication of which would stop Trump’s campaign in its tracks, or s/he had other unspecified ‘dirt’ on Trump (financial or otherwise): do we think the DNC’s immediate response would be: ‘Gosh no we can’t have dealings with the terrible Rooskies, that would be treasonous God Save America?’

‘Cos if you do I have a bridge to sell you.

Also, had that happened, I can absolutely guarantee you some of The Usual Suspects on this thread would have popped up afterwards arguing that this was entirely untoward and that, in fact, it would have been a terrible thing for the DNC not to have received ‘dirt’ from Russia and publicise it via FB and Twitter, ‘cos Trump is teh Hitler if not worse and blah blah blah and etc.

134

Layman 11.05.17 at 12:40 pm

Cian: “I never claimed that the evidence needed to be 100%…”

No, you claimed that “…nobody has offered any actual evidence.” That’s simply not true; what you mean to say is that they have, but you don’t believe it.

“Dude, I saw the testimony on C-Span and I read the Edward Snowden leaks.”

Put another way: When Snowden publishes something you can’t independently verify, you believe it; but when someone else publishes something you can’t independently verify, you don’t believe it. Why the difference? Because you accept Snowden’s words as evidence, but you do not accept someone else’s words as evidence. In neither case to you have any first-hand knowledge of or access to the actual evidence, but in the one case that doesn’t matter to you, and in the other it does. This is precisely the point I meant to make.

“…after arguing that there was no decent evidence …”

You did not argue that there was no _decent_ evidence. You argued that there was _no_ evidence. That’s the root of dispute. This latest article, the one you linked to, is simply another case of journalists saying things you can’t verify, but, suddenly, it strikes you as evidence, when the other such articles were not. Thus my surprise.

Then there’s this: “The document you just linked to a document confirms much of what Brazile claimed.”

‘Much of’ is doing a lot of work there. Indeed, it confirms many things: That there was a DNC, that there was a Hillary Victory Fund, that they had an agreement, and so on. Of course, Brazile’s key claim is that the agreement rigged the primaries for Clinton. That claim seems preposterous in light of several things.

From the document I linked, we learn that:

“Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to violate the DNC’s obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the Nominating process. All activities performed under this agreement will be focused exclusively on preparations for the General Election and not the Democratic Primary. Further we understand you may enter into similar agreements with other candidates.”

Indeed, we also know that Sanders signed a similar agreement, and then declined to engage in joint fund-raising activities, and that in fact by focusing on small donors he raised more money than Clinton did despite this agreement. We know that the DNC has no role in managing the primaries; they are managed by the states. And we know that Brazile also claims to have considered replacing Clinton on the ticket, but decided not to only to spare the disappointment of women at losing a female candidate; a facially absurd claim, since the DNC chair has no such power or authority.

135

steven t johnson 11.05.17 at 12:49 pm

The proposition that Hilary Clinton could have gotten the same turnout from black voters as Barack Obama if she had just been professional/nonracist/liberal-left/invested etc. strikes me as nuts. I think black voters turned out in higher numbers for Obama as a symbolic affirmation of their equality. I gather there’s a book out called “We Were Eight Years in Power,” in which someone thinks he and Obama were a “we.”

The proposition that Trump has a base needs a little explication. It seems to me most discussion of how to relate to Trump’s base is hopelessly muddled by confusion on this.

The proposition that Bernie Sanders would have won the primary absent the DNC’s vote rigging suffers from the problem that it’s not clear why the DNC wouldn’t be able to rig caucus states. The superdelegates didn’t make the difference, so they’re moot.

The proposition that Bernie Sanders would have won the general election is a little like the proposition that if they’d only listened to Leon Trotsky, the good guys would have won the Spanish Civil War, except that Trotsky, unlike Sanders, had a record as a winner and a rebel. Sanders’ primary victories in places like WV, or in open primaries, suggest that a lot of his support was actually strategic voting against Clinton.

Lastly, re Donna Brazile…my initial take is she is probably an Obama supporter knifing Clinton, even if she makes some gestures towards independence. I don’t plan on reading her book to find out for sure, for two reasons. One, reportedly she thought Biden/Booker would be a winning ticket. If Clinton was too left for her to abide, her perspective is likely skewed by her values. Two, reportedly she thought Clinton was losing before the election. I always thought Clinton would win the vote, as she did, but that she might lose the Electoral College due to low turnout at random places, as she did. (Sorry, so-called people who predicted Trump would win the election, you’re still wrong.) This strikes me as convenient memory, which also renders her memoir worthless, I think.

136

Faustusnotes 11.05.17 at 1:06 pm

Cian, the DNC has complied with all FBI requests related to the servers and in testimony FBI reps have confirmed they have all the evidence they need from the DNC and full cooperation. Why are you lying, and why are your repeating lies from Trump’s Twitter feed?

137

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 2:14 pm

#136 – Faustusnotes – When did the FBI did the FBI get access to the servers? It’s possible that I missed in which case it should be fairly simple to set me straight. A Crowdstrike report is not the same thing as access.

Comey testified in January that the FBI still didn’t have access, so either he was lying (not impossible), or they didn’t have it then. Which would be strange.

If you could respond without the ludicrous insults that would probably be appreciated by everyone.

138

Yan 11.05.17 at 2:15 pm

Always the high road for FesteringNose.

139

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 2:16 pm

stephen t. johnson – black turn out in 2016 was lower than in 2004.

140

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 2:19 pm

stephen t. johnson – I think the proposition is that almost anyone else would have beaten Trump. Hillary Clinton was a hugely unpopular candidate who ran one of the worst political campaigns in a long time.

141

Faustusnotes 11.05.17 at 2:26 pm

While black voter turnout was down in 2016, whites were a historically low proportion of all voters. Demographic trends mean that democrats don’t need to guarantee increasing levels of black turnout to maintain demographic balance. The problem is that in 2016 that smaller proportion of white voters were disproportionately more likely to be fascist oriented, and easily fooled by Russian Twitter accounts (as are people like Cian above, who believes anything that Putin’s twitterer in chief says).

Also a reminder that the problem is not just that russian activities helped to swing the election – it’s that they own the President. Even if it’s true that he would have won without their help, the bigger issues remains – they own him and through him they can influence us policy. I know that some of the rt viewers here think that’s fine because they think Putin is great, but for the rest of us that’s a real concern – though for me personally it ranks well below the possibility that Cheeto Jesus will start a nuclear war in a fit of pique. Cue “Clinton was the bigger militarist” in 5…

142

Faustusnotes 11.05.17 at 2:35 pm

It’s trivially easy to find testimony from the FBI that they received full cooperation and got everything they think they need. First hit on Google gives a report that Comey said he got full compliance, and an aide called Watson said they got copies of the servers that were sufficient to do what they need to do. You might have issues with the quality of the FBI investigation but that’s not the dncs fault (though who knows, you guys probably think Hilary Clinton controls the investigation from the back of the pizza parlour where she is hiding the bodies). I’m sorry but I’m not going to waste my time writing html for links – it’s trivial for you to google this information and check whether the things you read in Trump’s Twitter feed are true before you repeat them here, and telling that you don’t even though you “follow these investigations closely”.

143

Faustusnotes 11.05.17 at 2:37 pm

Furthermore pointing out that you are repeating a lie (aka lying) is not a gratuitous insult – it’s a fact. And correcting your lies with facts is not taking the low road. Learn to check lies before you post them here.

144

nastywoman 11.05.17 at 2:39 pm

– and I think Mr. Holbo urgently should open a new theres about – when and how what voters voted for Bush or was it AlGore or and I think it’s all Reagans fault because Betsy Bloomingdale talked him into joining the LA Country Club and from then on it was ALL downhill…

145

nastywoman 11.05.17 at 2:44 pm

and @140
”Hillary Clinton was a hugely unpopular candidate who ran one of the worst political campaigns in a long time.”

Really?… and WOW?!

And shouldn’t we slowly change the title of this thread from ”What Can I Say”?
into
”Let’s say every single thing about our erections – we already have told Dr. Trump”?

146

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 2:53 pm

Faustusnotes: Let me get this straight. You’re claiming that:
a) I am fascist orientated.
b) That I blindly believe anything Putin’s twitterer in chief says (which account is that by the way).

Care to back up either of those charges? Or did you just feel like randomly making stuff up?

147

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 2:56 pm

Faustusnote: Also a reminder that the problem is not just that russian activities helped to swing the election – it’s that they own the President.

Citation needed.

Even if it’s true that he would have won without their help, the bigger issues remains – they own him and through him they can influence us policy.

Citation needed.

I know that some of the rt viewers here think that’s fine because they think Putin is great, but for the rest of us that’s a real concern

So how do you explain differences in foreign policy on the Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea? Asking for a friend.

148

Cian O'Connor 11.05.17 at 3:15 pm

Layman: No, you claimed that “…nobody has offered any actual evidence.” That’s simply not true; what you mean to say is that they have, but you don’t believe it.

Yeah I exagerated. The pedant in me salutes you. What I should have said is that the evidence is extremely weak and proves nothing. But absence of evidence doesn’t prove innocence, etc.

Put another way: When Snowden publishes something you can’t independently verify, you believe it; but when someone else publishes something you can’t independently verify, you don’t believe it.

Can we just accept that I’ve read Hume and move on from this extremely tedious argument. Yes knowledge is contingent and never 100%. Happy?

The Snowden document dump is evidence of very high quality. Not only would it be hard to forge that many documents, but the information in them is confirmed by information elsewhere, while the reaction of the US government suggests that they were indeed official NSA documents. Most of the information that we read in the newspapers does not reach this level.

As for James Clapper’s original perjury. I can only assume that you’re suggesting that the C-Span testimony could have been created by Hollywood special effects artists, and so how do I really know that it was TV footage of him. I mean I guess I don’t…

There is nothing like this to support the allegations about Russian hacking and interference.

Why the difference? Because you accept Snowden’s words as evidence, but you do not accept someone else’s words as evidence.

Err no. I accept the documents in the Snowden document dump as evidence. BECAUSE I READ THOSE RELATING TO NSA SURVEILLANCE.

In neither case to you have any first-hand knowledge of or access to the actual evidence, but in the one case that doesn’t matter to you, and in the other it does. This is precisely the point I meant to make.

In other news I also don’t have first-hand knowledge that the earth revolves around the sun. Isn’t elementary philosophy fun?

If you can point to evidence for Russian hacking that is similar to the proof of NSA surveillance I would be happy to read it. No lie, I love this stuff.

You did not argue that there was no _decent_ evidence. You argued that there was _no_ evidence. That’s the root of dispute. This latest article, the one you linked to, is simply another case of journalists saying things you can’t verify, but, suddenly, it strikes you as evidence, when the other such articles were not. Thus my surprise.

So let’s get this straight. After discovering an article that undermines my point, I post the article. And you use this to try and claim that I’m a hypocrite.

And to underline this point. So far I’ve posted stronger evidence of Russian hacking than you have. You haven’t actually posted anything. What makes you so convinced that they hacked the DNC?

On the PDF you linked to:
“1. With respect to the hiring of a DNC Communications Director, the DNC agrees that no later
than September 11, 2015 it will hire one of two candidates previously identified as acceptable to
HFA.”

Bazile claimed that the Hillary campaign had control over the Communications director during the primary, and here in the document we have confirmation.

“2. With respect to the hiring of future DNC senior staff in the communications,
technology, and research departments, in the case of vacancy, the DNC will maintain the
authority to make the final decision as between candidates acceptable to HFA.”

An again, here we have more confirmation about the control that the Hillary campaign had over three key departments. Just as Bazille said.

“3. Agreement by the DNC that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over
strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related
communications, data, technology, analytics, and research. The DNC will provide HFA advance
opportunity to review on-line or mass email, communications that features a particular
Democratic primary candidate. This does not include any communications related to primary
debates – which will be exclusively controlled by the DNC. The DNC will alert HFA in advance
of mailing any direct mail communications that features a particular Democratic primary
candidate or his or her signature. “

Oh look, more input and oversight over staffing, budget and expenditures. And they get to review all communications about a candidate, and will be alerted by direct mail communications. Clearly these are not things that all primary candidates get, otherwise they wouldn’t be in this document.

“Indeed, we also know that Sanders signed a similar agreement, and then declined to engage in joint fund-raising activities, and that in fact by focusing on small donors he raised more money than Clinton did despite this agreement.”

You’re saying that Sanders had control over who the DNC hired, was able to vet hires and had joined authority over strategic decisions? Huge if true.

We know that the DNC has no role in managing the primaries; they are managed by the states. And we know that Brazile also claims to have considered replacing Clinton on the ticket, but decided not to only to spare the disappointment of women at losing a female candidate; a facially absurd claim, since the DNC chair has no such power or authority.

The DNC charter allows her to initiate a process where the DNC can replace the nominee. Whatever else one thinks of her, I think it’s reasonable to assume that she has a good working understanding of the powers and processes of the role, and how the DNC work.

I don’t like Brazile – but assuming she’s stupid seems unwise.

149

Yan 11.05.17 at 3:21 pm

https://theintercept.com/2017/11/05/four-viral-claims-spread-by-journalists-on-twitter-in-the-last-week-alone-that-are-false/

Falsehood 1: The Clinton/DNC agreement cited by Brazile only applied to the General Election, not the primary.
Falsehood #2: Sanders signed the same agreement with the DNC that Clinton did.
Falsehood #3: Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.
Falsehood #4: Evidence has emerged proving that the content of WikiLeaks documents and emails was doctored.

150

Anarcissie 11.05.17 at 3:33 pm

Layman 11.04.17 at 11:04 am @ 106 —
That’s a hard question, come to think of it. I had the idea that a case laid out in court with the witnesses under oath and the normal rules of evidence being maintained, and where a record of the proceedings were available to the public, might give us some idea of the truth, although one might have to go to some trouble to dig it up. However, if seriously powerful people believe the Russia story must be put over, then they might be able to bend the courts as well as the media. We may have to wait until the passage of time renders the subject unimportant, as with the invasion of Iraq or the War in Vietnam. I do hope that criticism such as mine will at least lead to a better quality of official lying; it is somewhat humiliating to be handed fare about ‘Russian troll farms’ as if large-scale paid and volunteer fraud on the Internet had not been epidemic for the last 20 years at least.

151

Layman 11.05.17 at 3:53 pm

@ Cian

“…black turn out in 2016 was lower than in 2004.”

Only just: 2004 61.4%, 2016 59.9%. It would IMO be more fair to say, as stephen t johnson did, that she wasn’t able to match Obama’s performance on black voter turnout. Her performance was in line with 2004.

“I think the proposition is that almost anyone else would have beaten Trump.”

Maybe, but who can say? I’m reminded of the constant hyping of Democratic strength on the basis of the generic congressional race polling, which always seems to say that the Democratis will win; that is, until actual names are offered. Would Bernie have beaten Trump? Maybe, but he couldn’t beat Clinton, who you say was terrible. Would Biden have beaten Trump? Maybe, but he declined to compete against Clinton, and not because he didn’t want to be President. Who else?

“When did the FBI did the FBI get access to the servers?”

The FBI never asked for access to the servers. They asked for the forensics compiled by Cloudstrike, and they asked for copies of the servers, and they got both. If the FBI thought that’s what they needed, why do you disagree with them?

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jul/11/donald-trump/did-john-podesta-deny-cia-and-fbi-access-dnc-serve/

152

William Berry 11.05.17 at 7:04 pm

@Lee Arnold:

You’ve gotten much better at hexing since you first hexed!

The image rotation, esp., was cool.

153

Howard Frant 11.05.17 at 7:05 pm

Cian @27 and @29

It’s a small thing, but this Republican tic of referring to the Democratic Party as “the Democrat Party” is, syntactically, completely analogous to referring to a Jewish lawyer as a Jew lawyer. Please don’t do it.

154

Layman 11.05.17 at 8:22 pm

Cian: “Yeah I exagerated.”

Yes, that’s what I said from the start. What took so long?

Anarcissie: “That’s a hard question, come to think of it. I had the idea that a case laid out in court with the witnesses under oath and the normal rules of evidence being maintained, and where a record of the proceedings were available to the public, might give us some idea of the truth, although one might have to go to some trouble to dig it up.”

Like you, I doubt that even that would do it. You’d only have their word to go on that the trial actually happened.

155

Cian 11.05.17 at 8:50 pm

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/313555-comey-fbi-did-request-access-to-hacked-dnc-servers

“The FBI requested direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) hacked computer servers but was denied, Director James Comey told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The bureau made “multiple requests at different levels,” according to Comey, but ultimately struck an agreement with the DNC that a “highly respected private company” would get access and share what it found with investigators.

“We’d always prefer to have access hands-on ourselves if that’s possible,” Comey said, noting that he didn’t know why the DNC rebuffed the FBI’s request.

But a senior law enforcement official disputed that characterization the following day.

“The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” the official said.

“This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier.”

Faustusnotes
Has the situation changed since January?

156

Cian 11.05.17 at 8:52 pm

It’s a small thing, but this Republican tic of referring to the Democratic Party as “the Democrat Party” is, syntactically, completely analogous to referring to a Jewish lawyer as a Jew lawyer. Please don’t do it.

I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. If it helps I’m a British ex-pat, way to the left of the Democrats, for whom the official name of the ‘Democratic Party’ is of very little interest. I might remember this if someone could explain to me what the insult is I guess.

157

Cian 11.05.17 at 8:59 pm

I can’t find a single story that mentions a copy of the servers being turned over to the FBI.

The DNC claim that the FBI never asked, various sources in the FBI deny this (I find the FBI’s version more plausible). The DNC have never given a very convincing explanation for why they wouldn’t let the FBI examine their systems. In some ways it’s the oddest part of the story.

158

Raven Onthill 11.05.17 at 9:00 pm

Let me suggest that this thread shows it is not only the Trumpites who are dug in, but also the Berniebros and, yes, the Clintonsistas, too. People are making what ought to be simple fact-based questions (did Russian propaganda influence the election? what was the influence of the Clinton campaign over the DNC?) into identity-based beliefs, which cannot be touched.

Somehow we need to get people to stop zealously defending their faiths.

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Cian 11.05.17 at 9:09 pm

Layman:

Bernie started the Democrat primary as somebody that most Democrat primary voters had never heard of, against a candidate who every in the Democrat machine knew, and who most owed favours. He never stood a chance. The fact that he did as well as he did is astonishing. It should not have been close, as Clinton had all the advantages.

The Democrat primary is of course not at all representative of how the country as a whole votes, or even how the Democratic party votes (it skews heavily professional).

In the election Trump managed to equal the vote from 2012. Not a great year for Republicans.

Hillary Clinton went into the election as an unpopular candidate, mired in unncessary scandal (as we learnt in the Podesta emails – even her advisors were baffled by why she thought the email server was a good idea) who went on to fight a terrible campaign. Honestly I think almost anyone would have done better than her. Well maybe not the joker currently running in Virginia. The Democrats sure can pick ’em.

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nastywoman 11.05.17 at 9:44 pm

@150
”it is somewhat humiliating to be handed fare about ‘Russian troll farms’ as if large-scale paid and volunteer fraud on the Internet had not been epidemic for the last 20 years at least.”

Now that is true – but the ”large-scale paid and volunteer fraud on the Internet” never before had been used as effectively in creating ”political memes” – and let’s believe for a second what the Moron believes that it could’ve been anyone – from the Chinese to a “400-pound guy” lying in his bed.

The sheer volume of the -(documented) trolling is even for a 400 pound guy too much.

And I’m NOT saying it couldn’t have been done by ”them Chinese” – and the funny banter between our ”Russian Lovers” against teh Layman and Faust are for sure entertaining – but I just don’t know if it makes a lot of sense – as it is (still) so easy to track down where the trolling comes from – which – how true how true don’t prove that the Great Vlady himself commanded the troll farm.
AND there is nobody on this blog – who would love the idea more – that Vladimir didn’t know about the whole thing – and it was just your a few very creative Russian Gamers who managed to fool our Fools and Idiots to such a degree.

Now that would be truly… shall we say… ”fascinating”?

BUT I just don’t know if the type of ”Russian Lovers” we have here on CT – would enjoy such an amazing triumph of… for sure very young and really ”anarchistic” Russian gamers as much as playing their doubting game here…?

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Faustusnotes 11.05.17 at 9:57 pm

Cian, layman has provided you the information, which as I said is the first hit on Google. As for Russia owning Putin, again why should I bother helping you with such trivial information? This is an academic blog, you can do your own research. I’ll grant you it’s not so clear in this case since we don’t have major FBI figures admitting to the truth of the facts in dispute, but I point you to the recent indictments,and today’s new reports on the paradise papers. Lock, stock and barrel, Trump is owned by Russia.

Why are you so eager to defend him?

(I didn’t say you were a fascist either, I said the white population that voted this election was more fascist oriented than usual. This is a particularly gratuitous misreading!)

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nastywoman 11.05.17 at 10:07 pm

@all –

what I really don’t understand? –
Whoever did it – did it in such a way – that ultimately it’s no win for anybody.

So why do we have commenters here who try to defend ”THE Russians” or ”THE Americans?

Haven’t you guys noticed yet – as Mr. Holbo has hinted – that the most ”effective adversaries” – if we call them like that are… US – and like in the classic ”Fight Club” the best hits against ”Russian” -(or American?) Lovers always comes from themselves.
It’s like the F… face – NOBODY on this planet is able to argue more effective against him –
as whatever leaves his mouth or what he does – and as we all know – (or should know) – that even that ”virus” will be only ”temporary” -(like every ”sickness”) and sooner or later ”the body” has created so many ”Antikörper” that the body will get well again – we just could try to spend the waiting time in ”areas” where you don’t run into the F…faces…

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b9n10nt 11.05.17 at 10:13 pm

Somehow we need to get people to stop zealously defending their faiths.

Somehow people do get beyond their identities:

The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. A Paradise Built in Hell is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster’s grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of what society could become-one that is less authoritarian and fearful, more collaborative and local.

Somehow spiritually/psychologically fulfilling communities do form, but not without a severe disruption to the world as it exists, it would seem:

We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–“tribes.” This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.

Also, thanks Lee A. Arnold for the youtube link.

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Raven Onthill 11.05.17 at 10:31 pm

Following thoughts: once identity becomes an issue, we start to see behaviors analogous to family dynamics (perhaps these are actually the same.) Roles take precedence over actual behavior: “Dad” may be an abusive alcoholic, but he’s still Dad and deserves some sort of respect. So we have the precedence of image over the person’s actual behavior: Trump is making American great again, Hillary Clinton the great feminist hope, Bernard Sanders is some sort of saint and so on. Everyone is supposed to be the messiah.

What I find striking is the divergence between the image and the person. It is most evident with Trump, of course, many of whose followers still believe even as he works hard to elevate his ego and ruin their lives, but there is some of it in all the leaders. Hillary Clinton is indeed a feminist, but she is also a devout Methodist and conflicted on abortion and charity. (And the less said about her beliefs on foreign policy, the better.) Sanders plainly believes in his socialism, but he is more of a tough practical political survivor than a saint.

We may pay attention to the person behind the curtain, as it were – we supposedly study these matters and pay attention to the actuality as well as iconography – but we have difficulty bringing these insights to a wider public.

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Raven Onthill 11.05.17 at 10:39 pm

This bit, from one of my recent blog posts is perhaps relevant: “Neither party was listening to the people, which left the field open to demagogues. […] Which leads me to a hard question: is Bernard Sanders a demagogue? No question about Trump. But what about about Sanders? His rise was made possible by the unresponsiveness of both parties to the needs and will of the people. He believes in what he says and he says some pretty good things. But his most ardent followers don’t seem to listen when he tells them they have to be their own revolution. They want a messiah and they will have their messiah, even over their messiah’s objections. So perhaps he has been made into a demagogue against his will. I am reminded of Frank Herbert’s Paul Atreides, who became the unwilling leader of a jihad.”

(The entire post is at http://adviceunasked.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-dnc-revelations-bernard-sanders-and.html.)

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nastywoman 11.05.17 at 10:48 pm

AND about the (desperate?) desire of some here – by pointing (like in school?) to some sins of some ”others” -(”Brazille” or ”Clinton” or some ”Democrats”) – whatever they did or could have done NEVER EVER will excuse what went down in the homeland with the erection of the F… Moron.

Not in a thousand years!

And history will NOT be nice to US and the only excuse we will have – for our children or grandchildren will be – that we completely had lost our minds at a certain point – and there will be no mentioning of ”but, but, but the alternative to the F… face was soooo bad”

That doesn’t fly anymore in history as nobody remembers anymore ”the alternatives to all these other ”F…faces” who once ruled their countries. AND in retrospective this ”Russian Thing” will be absolutely HUUUGE – and as every sane (European) country already has made sure – that these type of let’s call it ”Internet Games” will NOT be played in other so called ”advanced Democracies” the ”US example” probably will be the only one for the history books.

Just another one for ”Americas Exceptionalism”!
-(and please excuse the light irony)

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Hidari 11.05.17 at 10:54 pm

‘Both sides in the Democratic Party’s current faction fight, as I see it, are in denial about the true nature and scope of the problem. Sanders-style progressives long to purge the old guard and build anew, rebranding the entire party as a social-democratic enterprise dedicated to single-payer health care, a $15 minimum wage and higher taxes on the rich. (Which sounds great in theory but would require years, if not decades, of difficult organizing work.) Clintonite moderates, meanwhile, maintain that the Trump presidency, Republican hegemony in Washington and widespread social discord are rogue events that perhaps didn’t really happen and in any case do not reflect on their strategy of policy-wonk triangulation or their record of repeated and humiliating defeat.

Both responses are essentially Utopian: They rest on the premise that the Democratic Party is still a functioning political organization and that the United States is still a functioning democracy. We ought to know better by now. It does no good to pretend that the Democratic (and democratic) crisis — which is not just ideological and political but also moral, philosophical, financial, institutional and other adjectives besides — does not exist or isn’t important. Numerous social-media observers have already suggested that Donna Brazile should not have aired her party’s dirty secrets because we face a national emergency and need party unity at a time like this, etc.

Nonsense: What unity? And for that matter, what party? The Demo-catastrophe cannot be swept under the carpet in the name of winning a House majority in 2018 (which isn’t going to happen anyway), although that’s a fair description of the party’s official strategy. That way lies madness, or at least the form of liberal derangement represented by Jon Ossoff, the guy who spent 30 million bucks, more money than any congressional candidate in history, to get exactly the same number of votes as the previous Democrat to be defeated in his suburban Atlanta district. (I was angry about it at the time and am angrier now: The demoralizing effect of the Ossoff debacle will have a long tail.)

Now here we are, in the still-unbelievable conditions of 2017, with an erratic, vindictive and thoroughly incompetent president who finished second in the voting and is widely despised by the public. He sits atop a hollowed-out zombie version of the Republican Party, which has forged an especially noxious and nonsensical coalition of predatory capitalism and resurgent white nationalism. (I can hear my colleague Chauncey DeVega reminding me that that particular combination has a name.) That party’s base of support is nowhere close to a majority, yet somehow it controls all three branches of the federal government and 38 (or so) of the 50 states.
How in God’s name did that happen? Well, we’ve all spent too much time blathering on about that and coming up with halfway plausible explanations: It was sexism and Russian meddling and racial resentment and “economic anxiety” and the marginalization of the white working class. It was a flood-tide of right-wing fake news and Jim Comey’s October surprise (remember, we were supposed to hate him before we were supposed to love him). It was voter suppression and depressed turnout and bearded millennial snowflakes who voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. Given how flukish the 2016 election was, it’s fair to say that all those factors played a role, and that if any one of them could be adjusted just a little, the outcome might have been different.
Even at their most grandiose and Putin-enriched, those are granular explanations of what happened last November — a uniquely traumatic and damaging event, to be sure — which completely ignore the near-total meltdown of the two-party system that got us there in the first place. Hillary Clinton’s bizarre defeat-in-victory was an event so unlikely it seems like a metaphor. So does the fact that the Democratic Party was so broke and so cynical it literally sold its soul for rent money. But those things happened. Until we face them honestly there will be no Resistance, no victory, no political renewal and no democracy.’

https://www.salon.com/2017/11/04/demo-catastrophe-it-was-worse-than-we-thought-and-goes-way-beyond-bernie-vs-hillary/

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Cian 11.05.17 at 11:21 pm

Cian, layman has provided you the information, which as I said is the first hit on Google.

The first hit for me on Google was Politifact. The article was not very good and got some basic facts wrong. The next article was The Hill article that I linked to above. This story contradicted Layman’s version of events. As have most of the articles I’ve read. If, as you say it’s common knowledge that the FBI were given direct access to the servers it should be pretty easy to provide evidence. Instead I’ve provided evidence that they didn’t and you’ve accused me of being a stooge of Trump and/or Putin.

As for Russia owning Putin, again why should I bother helping you with such trivial information?

If it’s trivial, it should be trivial to provide a citation. No?

This is an academic blog, you can do your own research.

I have done my own research. I see some conspiracy theories from people who clearly don’t understand debt issuance. I see some pretty good journalism, mostly Russian, on Trump’s failed business ventures in Russia. I’ve also read stuff exploring Trump’s deep financial ties to the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and China. Which oddly none of the Russiaphobes in the US seem very interested in. In addition there’s the inconvenient fact that Trump’s foreign policy has actually gone against Russia’s foreign policy interests on quite a few issues (Syria, North Korea).

Now obviously, as a fine academic mind such as yourself must realize, it’s impossible to prove a negative. But actual evidence that Trump is owned by Putin does seem to be rather thin on the ground. Other members of his administration have deeper ties due to their past lives as oil executives, while the generals who seem to be mostly running things (and are a lot more worrying than Russian spectres) are highly Russia phobic. But in general their orientation seems to mostly be towards the Gulf and the awful regimes that run the oil states.

I’ll grant you it’s not so clear in this case since we don’t have major FBI figures admitting to the truth of the facts in dispute, but I point you to the recent indictments,and today’s new reports on the paradise papers. Lock, stock and barrel, Trump is owned by Russia.

Err what? Manafort is a sleazy political consultant who’s mostly been charged for tax evasion (the money laundering may stick, but a lot of that money looks legitimate, if highly immoral). There’s no connection to Putin that I can see there. Or Trump for that matter. George Papadopoulos most probably got scammed by Russian con artists. I suppose it’s possible they were Russian agents – but in that case they were either highly incompetent, or it was some kind of bizarre operation where they were trying to make the Trump administration look stupid.

Why are you so eager to defend him?

If you were to accuse him of being a Lizard person I’d ‘defend’ him from that accusation also. I’m not ‘defending’ him because I think he’s a good person – he’s obviously far from that. I just don’t think any of these charges have much merit. I also think they’re distracting from the truly awful things that he is doing (various appointments, the destruction of the USDA, EPA, Puerto Rico, etc, etc), and for that matter the various ways in which he is dirty (hint – the GULF).

(I didn’t say you were a fascist either, I said the white population that voted this election was more fascist oriented than usual. This is a particularly gratuitous misreading!)

The white population that voted this election is mostly the same white population that voted last election. This line of reasoning may need more work.

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alfredlordbleep 11.05.17 at 11:56 pm

”Let’s say every single thing about our erections – we already have told Dr. Trump”?

Ma’am, don’t ask that doctor for contraception! As needy as you may be.

It’s against the religion of the pious—malevolently in the person of militant Mr. Christian (Pence).

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Anarcissie 11.06.17 at 2:01 am

Raven Onthill 11.05.17 at 9:00 pm @ 158 —
It is probably not possible, except maybe for a few very advanced spooks, to determine who, if anyone, especially trolled and spammed the Net with regard to the election. Moderately sophisticated Net-based malefactors can operate without leaving accessible tracks. Yes, if one had the logs of all the servers in Moldova…. but one doesn’t. Hence taking a strong position on the Russia stories requires belief, and that source of belief is likely to be tribal identification, or some kind of interest in something other than the truth.

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Anarcissie 11.06.17 at 2:09 am

Layman 11.05.17 at 8:22 pm @ 154 —
If there’s a generally-accessible public record one might be able to confirm or disprove a story about a trial. It’s true the records could be falsified, but the propagandists whose work I have encountered thus far seem interested only in immediate or short-term results and have not bothered to cover their tracks. A prominent recent example was the invasion of Iraq, where once the propaganda had achieved its purpose it was almost immediately subjected to exposure and disproof.

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steven t johnson 11.06.17 at 3:46 am

That nitwit Orwell has confused people with the absurd idea it takes a memory hole to rewrite the past. Not only did Clinton lose the popular vote, but the entire Obama presidency never happened at all, and Shrub’s presidency has retroactively moved into the ancient past.

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Raven Onthill 11.06.17 at 4:51 am

Anarcissie@170: but most of this isn’t being done at that level of sophistication. For heaven’s sake, some of the Facebook transactions were paid in rubles!

Besides, Facebook and Twitter have experts; they can find out, if they want to know.

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Suzanne 11.06.17 at 5:11 am

@156 (and 159): I believe Mr. Frant just did explain it to you, but I’m happy to try again. For some time now GOP politicians have been deliberately referring to the “Democrat Party” as an insult. (I think this is actually pretty well known to people who follow U.S. politics in any detail):

http://www.npr.org/sections/ombudsman/2010/03/since_when_did_it_become_the_d.html

You say you didn’t know any better. Now you do, and respectfully I presume you’ll cease and desist.

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Faustusnotes 11.06.17 at 7:09 am

No Cian youbsaid he dnc refused the FBI server access. I showed FBI statements saying they got full cooperation. You are wrong, end of story.

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nastywoman 11.06.17 at 7:37 am

@173
”Besides, Facebook and Twitter have experts; they can find out, if they want to know.”

They didn’t have to ”find” it out – or when you get paid in Rubles you better don’t find IT out – or you might get asked afterwards why you have been so… let’s be polite and call it ”naive”?

So what I always try to… hint and what might be a… bit worrying – where are all these… let’s be polite and say ”naive” commenters on CT coming from… and as I know a few dudes who work at F… book – I#m aware they are NOT coming from F… book.

So they must be from the last rock in America where people don’t know that some Russians tend to have the same taste in Interiour Design as the great F… Moron – and IF THAT Fact isn’t ample – and obvious – and undeniable proof – beyond ANY doubt that there has been ”a collusion” between the F…faces -(and F… book) – and Russia I don’t know what more proof an Anarchist wants?

And about this typ of… let’s be polite and call it ”anarchistic posturing” here of some ”Oltimers”?

Men!!

Y’all nuthing – NUTING – compared to the Gamers of ”F… book”!

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Collin Street 11.06.17 at 9:36 am

You say you didn’t know any better. Now you do, and respectfully I presume you’ll cease and desist.

Don’t you get it? He just wants to understand.

I might remember this if someone could explain to me what the insult is I guess.

… because if somebody explains it to him then he can evaluate the case and determine whether it’s [something that he thinks] is reasonable. Because the only requests he feels the need to comply with are the ones he agrees with: other people are not him, and do not have the same entitlement to feelings worthy of respect.

[all right-wing activists, without exception, display obvious signs of theory-of-mind impairment, one possible manifestation of same — it’s a pretty protean phenomenon — is “being a fucking arsehole”. Actually, the key marker here to note is the demand that he gets to treat his own personal assessment as authoritative for him: the way he’s framed his analysis, it’s actually-mathematically impossible for him to learn new moral principles, because his assessment [with his current set of moral principles] is treated as authoritative and disagreeing evidence [including the evidence for the limitations of his current moral principles] discounted.

Or I guess you could call it a bayesian… latch-up? Certainty leading to false certainty, because the correcting information is discarded as unreliable. It… doesn’t fix itself [there’s no self-activating mechanism unwinding the certainty] and fixing it from outside requires altered states of mind, and “engendering altered states of mind in an unwilling person” is as near as I can tell isomorphic to “torture”, and is as such generally regarded as “bad”. So we’re kind of stuck if we want to have reasonable debates with Cian, no real process forward.]

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ph 11.06.17 at 10:08 am

Slate

Instead, whether because they were denied access or simply never asked for it, the FBI instead used the analysis of the DNC breach conducted by security firm CrowdStrike as the basis for its investigation. Regardless of who is telling the truth about what really happened, perhaps the most astonishing thing about this probe is that a private firm’s investigation and attribution was deemed sufficient by both the DNC and the FBI.

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Lee A. Arnold 11.06.17 at 11:01 am

William Berry, b9n10nt, thanks for your kind mentions.

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Layman 11.06.17 at 12:07 pm

Cian @ 155, this is a great example of my confusion about your methodology.

There’s a dispute between the FBI and the DNC about what the FBI asked for. In this case, you believe the FBI, though it isn’t clear to me why, except that you can then use that dispute to cast doubt on the entire question of the hacking. Oddly, though, you don’t believe the same source (Comey) when, in the same testimony you cited, he says there is no doubt that the Russians were behind the DNC hacking. That’s some methodology!

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Cian O'Connor 11.06.17 at 1:32 pm

No Cian youbsaid he dnc refused the FBI server access. I showed FBI statements saying they got full cooperation. You are wrong, end of story.

One more time. The DNC did deny the FBI access, and this stated several times by the FBI. The FBI subsequently stated that they got full cooperation (whatever that means), but had not been given access to the servers. They were given the investigation reports from Crowdstrike. I am apparently right – they were not given access to the servers.

To translate this into non-tech. The DNC reports its offices were broken into. The FBI requests access to investigate. The DNC refuse them access, and have their own firm do an investigation instead. They had over the firm’s report to the FBI and this is described as ‘full cooperation’. Most people would see this as unusual behaviour, and I doubt most people would see this as ‘full cooperation’. It also would make prosecution very difficult due to chain of custody problems with any evidence collected.

One way to tell if partisanship has eaten your brain is to ask do you believe every story that your side puts out. You clearly do.

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Cian O'Connor 11.06.17 at 1:36 pm

… because if somebody explains it to him then he can evaluate the case and determine whether it’s [something that he thinks] is reasonable. Because the only requests he feels the need to comply with are the ones he agrees with: other people are not him, and do not have the same entitlement to feelings worthy of respect.

Dude I’m British. I’ve lived here 6 years – and it hasn’t been something that has ever come up. I asked my wife, who is registered as a Democrat about this and she looked at me blankly. I asked around the office and got the same blank look from the people I work with. I honestly don’t get the insult. If it’s a big deal I will try to remember, but it would probably help me remember if I knew what the insult was. I would be willing to bet that most Americans also don’t know anything about it either.

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Layman 11.06.17 at 1:55 pm

Yan @ 149

Problems with the Intercept piece:

1) Advance notice of a communication is not the same as approval authority for the communication. The agreement requires a heads up, not approval.

2) No one has said Sanders signed the same agreement; everything I’ve read said he signed a JFA, without saying he signed the same JFA.

3) Parsing Brazile is a full-time job. She herself called the agreement evidence of ‘rigging’ the primaries ( in the book excerpt published a few days ago) but she now says there was no evidence of rigging.

4) Their argument calling a lie the claim that leaked emails may have been altered is, well, incoherent. It goes something like this: If they were doctored, surely someone would have noticed; now that someone has noticed, why should we believe them; even if we believe them, what does it matter. Where’s the lie?

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Layman 11.06.17 at 1:57 pm

Cian: “If it’s a big deal I will try to remember, but it would probably help me remember if I knew what the insult was.”

You’ll try to remember the actual name of the party, and try to remember to use it? Do you have to do that with your own name? It’s tricky, I’ll grant you that.

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b9n10nt 11.06.17 at 2:50 pm

Pardon for stepping in here and double pardon if I’m not tracking the conversation correctly, but…

Cian, “Democrat party” is definitely a pejorative. Not that it’s necessarily known as such to the mass public, but in the “subculture” of American political rhetoricians, it’s comminly known.

“Democrat party” is more of an insult than, say, referring to “right wingers” but less insulting than saying “wing-nut”, for comparison.

Why is it an insult? Well, ’cause that’s how it’s been used -as a subtle way to indicate disrespect for the Party and its partisans. Kinda like if you kept intentionally mispronouncing someone’s name: What’s that, Pol Krugman? I don’t know Pol, seems like the same ol’ Democrat Party line your towing. Just right whatever keeps you victimologists getting to the polls, Pol. (Actually calling Paul a Pol is kinda clever, eh? Pol itself is a slightly derogatory nickname for professional politician).

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Raven Onthill 11.06.17 at 2:50 pm

And now we have “Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/05/world/yuri-milner-facebook-twitter-russia.html

Groan. Just how much internet surveillance is being run by various national security agencies?

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Cian 11.06.17 at 3:00 pm

Suzanne, sorry for some reason I missed the NPR link you provided. I guess I get it, but it seems like the nerdiest insult ever TBH. It sound like the kind of thing that Nation Review contributors would come up with if they were in a Rap Battle. ‘Oh you’re anti-democratic, so we’re going to call you the Democrat Party, even though Democrat means basically the same thing’.

The problem I have with remembering ‘Democratic Party’ is that it sounds like a name a small child would come up with. Plus obviously that in everyday conversation they’re the ‘Democrats’. And nobody other than politic process nerds really care about the names anyway.

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nastywoman 11.06.17 at 3:06 pm

@182
”I would be willing to bet that most Americans also don’t know anything about it either.”

Yeah – the other night I saw Jennifer Lawrence wandering out in the street in Hollywood –
”JENNIFER LAWRENCE” the Oscar winning Jennifer Lawrence and ”our sister” who showed the F…face the finger right at the beginning – when he had his outing – and so Jennifer Lawrence asked ”Americans” ON Hollywoodboulevard – if they could name 5 – in words ”FIVE” movies with Jennifer Lawrence – and now – as you seem to be ”a better” like me -are you willing to bet if ”most Americans” could name them?

No?

So why in the world does somebody shows up at this blog here – NOT knowing that probably every SINGLE one of these Russians – who played with your – and all the other ”Americans” mind – for sure is able to name five movies Jennifer Lawrence was in -(and if it only was all of the Hunger Game Films)
AND!!

And here it comes!!! – FOR SURE every single one of these Russian Trolls – who posted all of the ”stuff” -(you like to question) FOR SURE knew the difference between ”Democrat” and ”Democratic” -(in US political lingo)

And isn’t that… ”awesome”?

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Cian 11.06.17 at 3:23 pm

Layman: There’s a dispute between the FBI and the DNC about what the FBI asked for. In this case, you believe the FBI, though it isn’t clear to me why,

I believe the FBI because it’s standard operating procedure for hacks. Democrat partisans are acting as if what the FBI requested is unusual. It isn’t.

It would be highly unusual if they hadn’t asked for access, just as it would be unusual if you reported a robbery and they didn’t request access to your house.

In addition they’ve been fairly consistent in their comments on the affair (unlike the DNC who’ve been evasive), and there have been additional complaints from anonymous sources from within the FBI who seem pretty annoyed that they were denied access.

The reason that access matters is because (a) why would the DNC prevent the FBI from examining the servers, why would you hamper their investigation in that way? And (b) because their investigation is really just interpreting a secondary source (the report, plus whatever data Crowdstrike shared). Maybe Crowdstrike missed stuff (have I mentioned that they’re not very good). Maybe their overinterpreted. Maybe under pressure from their client (the DNC) they strengthened the evidence to get the result they wanted. Maybe none of these things happened. But the investigation is compromised from the start.

except that you can then use that dispute to cast doubt on the entire question of the hacking. Oddly, though, you don’t believe the same source (Comey) when, in the same testimony you cited, he says there is no doubt that the Russians were behind the DNC hacking. That’s some methodology!

I’m agnostic on whether hacking occurred. I don’t believe Comey when he says the Russians are responsible, but I don’t automatically thinks he’s lying either. I’m suspending judgement until there’s some actual evidence that means we don’t have to take his word for it. There are some people whose word I do accept because they have built up a reputation over a long period for honesty. Symour Hersh for example is somebody I trust because he has earned that trust. Comey on the other hand is not a particularly trustworthy person and the FBI also have a history of lying on occasion for political purposes. I need more than their word.

People are acting as if what should be a fairly standard stance on any news story is a hyper-partisan defence of Trump, or the Russians. It isn’t. This behavior is particularly ironic on a thread that is supposedly about fake news.

FWIW I think Trump is a vainglorious scumbag surrounded by some of the worst people in Washington/Corporate America. And Putin heads a gangster state (the FSB are literally gangsters). But neither of those things mean they are automatically responsible for every crappy thing that happens in the world, or every accusation that is made is true.

Clinton supporters seem to be largely using this stuff to either evade responsibility for the 2016 disaster, or to pretend that the US would be a place of rainbows and unicons if it wasn’t for all the Commie fluoride in the water, I mean Russian influence on Facebook. I live in South Carolina – that stuff’s as American as apple pie.

My worst fear, and this seems to be coming true, is that the Russia stuff will be used as justification for growing repression and censorship. Or worse still, will be used as casus belli for some kind of war. I hope I’m wrong about that.

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Cian 11.06.17 at 3:26 pm

Collin Street – I found most of your screed impenetrable, but if it helps I’m almost certainly to your left politically. I didn’t know about the ‘Democrat Party’ thing, and now that I do know I’m sorry I guess. Though it seems kinda stupid. The liberal obsession with process and decorum is funny, in a tragic kind of way.

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bruce wilder 11.06.17 at 3:30 pm

Collin Street @ 177: … because if somebody explains it to him then he can evaluate the case and determine whether it’s [something that he thinks] is reasonable. Because the only requests he feels the need to comply with are the ones he agrees with: other people are not him, and do not have the same entitlement to feelings worthy of respect.

That is some remarkable sleight of hand, where you transform a standard of “reasonable” understanding into “agreement” and that into pathological narcissism. Having boundaries is not narcissism.

I understand that the correct adjectival form is “Democratic” and “Democrat Party” is a signal of disrespect for the institution and those who identify with it. Also, this particular error in grammar sounds harsh, giving the disrespect some fillip. Would that be so hard to explain? And, by the way, disrespect for the contemporary Democrat Party is a sensible position to adopt from a left or neutral perspective, given some of the failures to meet reasonable standards of integrity and performance being alluded to. If someone wants to communicate such disrespect, the use of that label is no longer a monopoly of the partisan right of the Rethug Party. Lambert Strether of Naked Capitalism uses it, if you need an example of regular use on the left.

Whether there should be a norm in CT comments in favor of Democratic Party is a reasonable question. I would favor such a norm myself, but do not care for the high-handed, righteous tone with which it has been pressed forward. Implying that mild resistance to the imposition of such a norm is a symptom of a psychiatric defect goes way too far.

We are discussing a topic touching on deep splits in both American political parties, with all the latent partisan feelings that can bring forward. To compound the difficulties, we are talking about gaslighting propaganda promoted by the more reprehensible and amoral Democratic faction, so we are considering the basis for social construction of reality in ways that call into question the factual basis of nascent articles of faith cum badges of honor.

It would be hard for anyone to sustain an exchange with Layman on any topic, given his penchant for the uncharitable reading of his interlocutors. I am curious about how people handle propaganda narratives, so I have an interest, but really wish they could give it a rest though I have no hope. (There was an abstract but interesting sub-thread but the clutter made it hard to find.)

In general, I think we might all try harder not to pick sides or form persistent teams, or require shibboleths. We are better here when we are a bit meta.

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Cian 11.06.17 at 3:41 pm

Raven Onthill: Which leads me to a hard question: is Bernard Sanders a demagogue?

No, don’t be stupid.

But what about about Sanders? His rise was made possible by the unresponsiveness of both parties to the needs and will of the people.

How would any of these things make him a demagogue?

But his most ardent followers don’t seem to listen when he tells them they have to be their own revolution. They want a messiah and they will have their messiah, even over their messiah’s objections. So perhaps he has been made into a demagogue against his will. I am reminded of Frank Herbert’s Paul Atreides, who became the unwilling leader of a jihad.”

You know that his supporters are going out, fielding their own candidates and setting up grass roots operations, right? That they are doing the things that Bernie said need to be done. That when Bernie has said things that his supporters disagreed with, they criticized him for that. That plenty of people who supported him in the campaign have criticized him for not being radical enough.

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Cian 11.06.17 at 3:43 pm

Layman, is there any criticism of the DNC or of Clinton that you would consider acceptable? Or that you have made? Like any deviation from 100% orthodoxy. I guess I’d ask Faustusnotes the same question.

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Mario 11.06.17 at 3:58 pm

John (OP),

I literally don’t have any clue where to send a letter to potentially win them over to my way of thinking about all that.

After thinking about this a few days, and after seeing that one major problem is the destitute state of motivation and organization on your side, I’d say, send letters to your own people, and try to make your way of thinking about ‘all that’ compelling enough to whoever, them or not them, so that they all don’t feel they are better off voting for a Trump or staying at home.

Painting a nice vision of the liberal / leftist future is quite urgent, I would say. From skimming the net I can see that for many the vision they associate with your side is a hybrid of a caliphate with an intersectionalist third wave feminism dictatorship. Not really coherent, quite bizarre, but very effective in terms of marketing.

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Anarcissie 11.06.17 at 4:11 pm

Raven Onthill 11.06.17 at 4:51 am @ 173:
‘Anarcissie@170: but most of this isn’t being done at that level of sophistication. For heaven’s sake, some of the Facebook transactions were paid in rubles!
Besides, Facebook and Twitter have experts; they can find out, if they want to know.’

I could pay my bills in rubles, too, if I wanted to go to the trouble, because, say, I wanted to deflect investigators toward false targets. It all sounds kind of silly. We have a country run by a master satanic secret-police guy, and he’s openly paying his agents and dupes in rubles where everyone can see what’s going on? When it would be no trouble to gin up some American bank accounts for the purpose? It’s possible, but if you read it in some spy fiction you’d probably find your suspension of disbelief sorely taxed.

Facebook and Twitter are practically part of the government. You may recall that Twitter stayed up at the request of the State Department to help the color revolution in Iran. One may guess that their experts will say what they’re told to say if they want to keep their jobs.

No doubt mere skepticism like mine will soon be treated as treason. But all I’m asking for is a better quality of propaganda.

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Anarcissie 11.06.17 at 4:22 pm

Sometime back in the mid-20th century, as I dimly recall, the Republican Party made it an official policy to stop calling the Democratic Party ‘the Democratic Party’ and start calling it the ‘Democrat Party’. This was supposed to be some kind of deprecation. As a mere child (probably from another planet) I found this tactic difficult to understand — where’s the insult? — but at the time it was very popular among Republicans. Is it coming back, part of the eternal return of dumb things?

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Bloix 11.06.17 at 4:28 pm

Banned commenter deleted

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Bloix 11.06.17 at 4:31 pm

Banned commenter deleted

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Donald Johnson 11.06.17 at 4:49 pm

Cian–I’m pretty much on your side in this thread and haven’t bothered writing anything since you’re saying it better than I would, but on the “Democrat Party” thing, yes, it is an insult. I can’t really explain how I gradually picked up on this, but in online circles it is well known. Not a big deal and yes it is silly, but once you understand how it is seen you won’t use the term.

I am not surprised people in your offline life don’t know this. I am not sure I have ever heard anyone either use the term or talk about how insulting it is in the real world.

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Cian 11.06.17 at 5:00 pm

#185 – that story is pretty bad – and is actually a good example of the kind of thing that I’m complaining about.

8% ownership of Facebook isn’t going to give you any kind of control over the company.

The connection to the bank says more about the ways in which Russian wealth, much like US wealthy, is dependent upon political connections and state support. Russia is incredibly corrupt. Which is a story, and has been since the 90s, but not the story that apparently anyone in the US is interested in. Also, good luck finding any business person in the US who hasn’t done deals with Russian Oligarchs.

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Donald Johnson 11.06.17 at 5:04 pm

“There’s a dispute between the FBI and the DNC about what the FBI asked for. In this case, you believe the FBI, though it isn’t clear to me why, except that you can then use that dispute to cast doubt on the entire question of the hacking. Oddly, though, you don’t believe the same source (Comey) when, in the same testimony you cited, he says there is no doubt that the Russians were behind the DNC hacking.

In the first case it is question of what the FBI itself did–presumably Comey knows this beyond any doubt unless his subordinates lie to him. He might also be lying. But why would he lie about it? The second question is one about what the Russians allegedly did and only technical experts could judge the evidence, if they had the evidence in front of them. Governments often lie about their certainty regarding the evil deeds of dastardly foreigners. I tend not to believe any government on a subject like that.

I tend to believe that the Russians did meddle to some extent, but think this whole thing is like the butterfly effect–a zillion things effected the election. If people were really interested in foreign meddling, it seems like there are a few countries in the Mideast who are much more successful in influencing our politicians and policies than the Russians could ever hope to be, which is why we don’t hear so much emoting about it. The House of Representatives leadership just decided there wouldn’t be a vote on our support for the Saudi bombing of Yemen, for example. We just spent years supporting the Saudi attempt at overthrowing Assad, and now the Saudis seem to be destabilizing Lebanon and claiming Iran is responsible for the missile attack on Riyadh. Lovely allies we have there, and they seem to have a lot of influence in DC.

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Donald Johnson 11.06.17 at 5:16 pm

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/does-congress-have-the-guts-to-invoke-war-powers/

The link is mentions how Congress decided the war in Yemen didn’t deserve a vote. I wish we had one tenth the amount of coverage on Saudi influence on our policies as we have had on Russian, and after the Saudis there are a few others (Israel, cough) where I would like to see more discussion in the press about influence. But sticking to the Saudis, how exactly does it work? Are we supposed to think that we support the Saudis as much as we do simply on the merits of the issues? This might matter a bit more than Russiagate, especially as we seem to be inching towards a war with Iran.

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Suzanne 11.06.17 at 7:04 pm

Cian, I agree with you that it’s a silly insult, which of course makes it entirely typical of the modern GOP. I suppose Democrats should be big enough to ignore it, but wouldn’t you get peevish, and maybe a bit more than that, if someone repeatedly and pointedly insulted you by getting your name wrong? (The fact that it’s childish behavior makes it no less insulting – perhaps even more so.)

With regard to internet commentary, maybe it’s a good idea to avoid a usage that not only causes needless annoyance in civilized discussion but immediately identifies you with Newt Gingrich, and such.

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Yan 11.06.17 at 7:26 pm

I’ve never noticed Republicans using “Democrat party” at all, much less as a common pejorative, and much less still as an anti Semitic dogwhistle.

However, it does sound really weird. I think one reason may be that the two US parties have names that can pass as adjectives. The Republican Party could mean the party of Republicans, or, and this is how it rings in my ear, the party that is Republican or holds Republican principles. So that may be why we call it the Democratic Party, as an adjective modifying party.

Of course there’s nothing in principle wrong about naming a party with a noun, like the Labour Party. But it will sound weird to American ears.

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Collin Street 11.06.17 at 8:56 pm

Cyan, I strongly suggest you stfu and apologise.

The reason you’re touchy and sensitive is because you’re insecure, because you think that criticism renders your self-image vulnerable…

… but the reason you’re insecure is, well, pretty valid: it’s because you keep making mistakes like this. Fucking up and digging in. Vicious circle, no? To break it you need to stop making mistakes, which means you need to learn from the mistakes you do make, which means you need to admit that you made them, to yourself and others. Which in this context means apologising and dropping it.

If you can. If you can’t… well, I set out above what that means.

The problem I have with remembering ‘Democratic Party’ is that it sounds like a name a small child would come up with.

This sort of shit, for example, is right out.

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Mario 11.06.17 at 9:50 pm

Re. the ‘democrat’ vs ‘democratic’ thing – getting riled up by that is falling into the trap that this is intended to be. Happy falling. The word ‘snowflake’ comes to mind.

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Mario 11.06.17 at 9:52 pm

I suppose Democrats should be big enough to ignore it, but wouldn’t you get peevish, and maybe a bit more than that, if someone repeatedly and pointedly insulted you by getting your name wrong?

In a situation that is already a situation of conflict? I’d rather bite my tongue off, really. I’d just made up a symmetric slur and use that. Wonder why nobody insults republicans and Trump voters.

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Layman 11.06.17 at 10:00 pm

Cian: “Layman, is there any criticism of the DNC or of Clinton that you would consider acceptable? “

Of course. I’ve a long record at CT for my lack of enthusiasm for Clinton. She’s a terrible campaigner, too fond of militarism, too eager to make a deal with the devil (or Republicans, whoever she runs into first) and, last but actually first, because of my strong conviction that no immediate family member of a former President should ever run for or be elected President, because it is spectacularly bad for democracy. I would have preferred almost anyone – certainly Sanders, or Warren, or even Biden.

But Sanders lost, and she was the nominee, and Trump was the opponent, and whatever else she is, she ain’t Trump; and the next President could do tremendous good or tremendous bad or something in between, and it was perfectly obvious where to place one’s bet.

Generally, the Democratic Party has been camped on “we’re not the other guys, we’re not so bad”, and that’s not a very effective way to capture enthusiasm. Would I like them to be more aggressively progressive, more committed to the working class, more determined to counter the depredations of the wealthy? Yes, I would. Is there any chance that by voting for Trump, or for Jill Stein, or just staying home, that will happen? Not a chance in hell.

I hope I’ve cleared that up for you.

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Mario 11.06.17 at 10:08 pm

Cian O’Connor,

The Republicans care about winning – the Democrats care about striking a pose.

My theory is that they confuse striking a pose with marketing, and that they do so rather innocently. It makes sense for someone whose life progresses inside a meritocracy to believe that striking a pose is what brings you forward. It is a very different context than one where you are trying to convincing people to buy something from you, especially if it is of dubious value.

Republicans have, it seems, a lot of grifters and shady businessmen – and of course at least one reality TV star – and in terms of marketing skills it’s clear that they massively outgun the democratic party. The MAGA vs “what was her tagline again?” phenomenon is testament to the asymmetry in that respect.

The Ossof campaign, mentioned above, was analyzed here. Subtitle: “If you want to know why Democrats aren’t winning elections, have a look at the flyers they send voters…”. Really, anyone skimming over an ittybiz course will be better at marketing than these people.

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nastywoman 11.06.17 at 10:15 pm

@205
”Which in this context means apologising and dropping it.”

Doesn’t work – as the fifth rule of trolling is: ”NEVER EVER” apologize – and apologizing anywhoo is soo not very… ”inspired” – as it would be much more… ”creative”? if he would cook a big bowl of ”Borscht” – and either heat it up to a good sauna temperature OR cool it down so tremendously that it reaches at least the temperature of the Lake Baikal at this time of the year and then he should sit in it – but very slowly and sing ”Gardemariny vperiod” -(ande of the most romantic Russian love songs) –

and all would be forgiven!

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Layman 11.06.17 at 10:43 pm

Donald Johnson @ 202, I take your point, but I don’t believe there is a finite amount of scrutiny or outrage available to us. Being worked up about Russian interference doesn’t prevent one from being worked up about Congress’ growing abdication of responsibility.

It may also be the case that the Russian meddling was inconsequential, but the principle isn’t inconsequential. If the Trump campaign plays footsie with the Russians in order to improve their chances of winning, and suffers no consequences for it, it will become a standard electoral practice. We’ve seen this dynamic play out before, and IMO it makes sense to make a big deal about it now.

212

J-D 11.06.17 at 11:29 pm

Cian

The liberal obsession with process and decorum is funny, in a tragic kind of way.

A preference for politeness over rudeness is not an obsession. It is neither funny nor tragic how some people become defensive when inadvertent rudeness is identified for what it is, but it is interesting.

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Cian 11.06.17 at 11:53 pm

Suzanne, Yan, Anarcissie and Donald – thanks, I will definitely remember the correct name. You’re right of course. I still think the perceived insult is weird though…

Bloix – Sean, Cyan, Cain, Ian, Ken. Girls names too sometimes. Then there’s Paddy, but that was more of a racist thing. Though it was the racism, rather than the insult, that upset me as a kid.

I’m sorry the mistake I made with the name (which was a genuine mistake) upset you so much. And I’m sorry that my making light of the perceived insult caused you so much distress.

Collin – well I do get annoyed when people accuse me of being a Russian stooge, or a Republican, or fascist, or whatever. Sure. Not sure that’s insecurity though. Maybe I’m upset that my cover is blown.

214

Yama 11.07.17 at 5:03 am

Lifelong Dem here. This Democrat vs Democratic thing is a mystery to me, and I find either usage fine. It really does look like childish nitpicking when it comes up; griping about it seems petty from here.

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nastywoman 11.07.17 at 6:18 am

and –
”HuffPost searched hundreds of the alleged troll accounts and reached out to several dozen Twitter users who shared, retweeted, liked or interacted with tweets sent by the Russian sock puppet accounts. Most of the people who responded said they had no idea they had been swept up in a foreign influence operation until HuffPost notified them.

In a series of direct messages with us, Swales, who tweets under the handle @westlandwilly, seemed bemused. It’s easy to see how he might’ve seen Hernandez as something of a kindred spirit. Swales lists #StandWithTrump, #MAGA, and #DRAINTHEDEEPSTATE in his Twitter bio. The sock puppet was, per her bio, a “Proud Texas Deplorable#MAGA New to Twitter to support President Trump.”

“The Hypocrites R coming out of the walls like cockroaches we need 2 SMASH THEM like the BUGS THEY R RAID #MAGA #IStandWithTrump& ALWAYS WILL,” Swales tweeted in response to a now-unavailable tweet by Hernandez on Aug. 18. He told HuffPost, “I believe that was a response 2 leaks coming out of the White House at that Time!”

Swales didn’t think he was at all influenced by the Russian trolls, and didn’t think Russia had affected the election at all. “The only ones this might affect is the millennials,” he told HuffPost. “They might believe some of the propaganda anyone else that’s been around awhile knows Russia has been trying to interfere with us for 50 plus YEARS NOTHING NEW.”

He did, however, concede that the Hernandez tweet “did catch my eye Enuff that I had 2 comment about it BUT it never influenced me in anyway 2 believe R POTUS colluded with Russia.”

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Faustusnotes 11.07.17 at 7:40 am

Cian, criticisms I will accept of the DNC might include (not limited to):

– losing the election
– failing to notice and respond adequately to the redistricting issue
– allowing someone who is not a member of the democratic party to run in the primaries, creating an entire narrative of corruption and collusion that was self generating and self sustaining by the time of the election
– failing to identify more and better candidates than Clinton
– poor computer security
– losing the election

But this bullshit about their corruption is just spin and waffle, as is the idea that Bernie could have won the general, along with all these dumb arsed conspiracies about how everything is Obama and Clinton’s fault.

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Lee A. Arnold 11.07.17 at 12:08 pm

Cian O’Connor #72: “my point is simply that there is nothing particularly new about crazed right wing propoganda… None of it is particularly caused by Facebook/Twitter – any more than the crazy stuff of the Clinton/Bush years was caused by AOL email.”

I disagree. I think that the newness of the social media technology; its combination of pictures, sound, video; and the easy rapidity of the “reposting”, “liking”, “retweeting” from friends and from within one’s emotional tribe — all of this helped, this time, to make the propaganda look like the truth.

And there is always a new generation of people to be snookered, a sucker born every minute.

But this time only, and maybe a few more times. Most people don’t like being used, they don’t like being put into error. There will always be partisans who swallow lies of course. But for most people, the fascination of the new media will pass quickly.

The next propaganda problem will come, when this stuff gets cyborg-jacked directly into your brain from a smartphone app.

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Lee A. Arnold 11.07.17 at 12:12 pm

Here is a short list of reportage that appeared to be solidly sourced and checked, from the last several years. News reportage is NOT legal evidence. “Evidence” is not the correct word to use:

One or more Russian oligarchs paid above-market prices for Trump properties and appeared to be laundering money through Trump properties. Until a few years ago, the FBI was wiretapping a Russian money-laundering, extortion and gambling ring that was operating in Trump Tower NYC. In 2016 somebody hacked the DNC. WikiLeaks is a neutral organization (or it poses as one) which can therefore be manipulated as a cut-out by any hacker or spy service. Trump made statements in his speeches that, in retrospect, suggested knowledge of the DNC hacks and knowledge of meetings by his campaign officials with Russians offering dirt on Hillary. On the other side, the Clinton campaign’s “oppo research” (a campaign file of dirt on your political opponent) included a “dossier” sourced to a British spy suggesting that Russian intelligence has spent years making various inroads into the Trump operation, and it was alarming enough for the Clinton campaign to give to the FBI. In turn, the FBI thought the dossier alarming enough to present to Obama and Trump together in the White House after the election. Flynn was fired from the NSC. A few other Trump campaign people lied to FBI and Congress about meetings with Russians. Comey had enough insider knowledge to believe that Trump’s dinner ingratiations were attempts at obstruction of justice. Facebook stated that about a quarter of the Russian-paid ads in 2015-16 were targeted geographically, including in Michigan and Wisconsin (which might suggest that there was a spotter, possibly from the Trump campaign, directing the ad buys using electoral analytics). In a legal contest at DEF CON 25 held a few months ago in Las Vegas, contestants hacked into U.S. voting machines in 90 minutes.

This is serious stuff, not propaganda or distraction. There are different issues:

1. Several possible felonies may have been committed by U.S. citizens: money laundering, hacking, receiving stolen property (hacked emails), various laws about dealing with hostile foreign governments, lying to the FBI, obstruction of justice. This is Mueller’s bailiwick.

2. Whatever has happened, it undermines confidence in all U.S. candidates and the entire election process, which was shaky to begin with. This couldn’t be more dangerous to everyone. And it is going to happen again. This ought to be Congress’s bailiwick.

3. We need laws to guarantee carefulness and transparency at Facebook, Google and Twitter. These companies have ascended to the technological status of public utilities like water and sewage. Or else, break ’em up like the Bell System (i.e., put an end to the patent monopolies on software).

4. The public is being told that voting machines were not hacked in the election. But if the U.S. government knows it happened, do you think they would tell us? All hell would break loose.

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Layman 11.07.17 at 1:21 pm

@ Lee Arnold

A few things to add to your list:

A number of Trump campaign team members (Sessions, Flynn, Papadopolous, Trump Jr, Kushner, Trump himself) have made misleading statements about contacts, communications, and meetings with Russians during the campaign. Some of these misleading statements have been made under oath, and others in the form of official documents. Put another way, some of these people have committed crimes rather than report those contacts, meetings, etc. Trump’s own public statements, on knowledge of those contacts are contradicted by the revelation of the NYC meeting and Papadopolous ‘ plea agreement. Trump has admitted that his firing of Comey was motivated by his dissatisfaction with Comey’s Russia probe.

Why would people repeatedly lie under oath or submit falsified documents in order to hide these contacts, meetings, etc, if they were all innocent?

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Donald 11.07.17 at 2:45 pm

On Trump and his associates, I assume most people take for granted they are corrupt. It’s the one sided obsession with Russiagate that disturbs me because I think a lot of it is motivated by militarism. That was the point I was attempting to make in the Corey Robin thread which blew up and was then shut down.

So are Trump and company very likely lawbreakers? Very likely so imo, one way or another. Should they be investigated? Sure. I still think much of the Russiagate coverage has been over the top, but won’t push that here because for me it isn’t the point that really matters.

The point that really matters is that whatever the Russians did, other countries have much greater influence and in a bad way on our policies. I accept layman’s point that it should not be a zero sum game. We should be able to investigate it all, but we don’t, precisely because the Saudi and Israeli lobbies have enormously more influence in DC than the Russians. Right now the Saudi supporters in Congress are fighting to keep Congress from voting on our support for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen. I ge the distinct impression that Trump Administration, Netanyahu, and the Saudis all want a confrontation with Iran. The Yemen issue alone should have been front page news beginning with Obama’s support and it is only getting worse. People in Yemen know we support the Saudi bombing. There should be obsessive nonstop media investigations into who supports the Saudis, who gets money from them and why. This isn’t happening precisely because the Saudis have real clout in DC and the Russians don’t.

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areanimator 11.07.17 at 3:02 pm

“What is absolutely maddening is that the demands and responses to the fake news phenomenon have centered on social media and the algorithms that govern their behavior. Some of the solutions out there —cough Verrit cough— are either so absurd that they can only be explained as either the product of cynical opportunists looking to make fact-flavored content, or the result of too many well-connected people not understanding the nature of the problem they are facing. Both seem equally likely. The intent barely matters though, because the result is the same: a more elaborate apparatus to churn out attention-grabbing media for its own sake.

Social media has exacerbated and monetized fake news but the source of the problem is advertising-subsidized journalism. Any proposed solution that does not confront the working conditions of reporters is a band aid on a bullet wound. The problem is systematic, which means any one actor —whether it is Mark Zukerberg or Facebook itself— is neither the culprit nor the possible savior. So long as our attention is up for sale, people with all sorts of motives will pay top dollar.”

Want to End Fake News? Stop Subsidizing Journalism with Advertising

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Donald 11.07.17 at 3:23 pm

I wanted to edit my post after I sent it, so will do the next best thing.

First, change “ very likely” to “ virtually certain” . I am virtually certain Trump is a crook. I also think he is mentally unstable and if it was politically possible would favor removal by the 25 th Amendment even if that meant a possibly more effective Republican takes over.

Second, another link to Daniel Larison, who imo criticizes Trump on foreign policy issues exactly as it should be done. The focus is on his actual horrible deeds and warmongering and irresponsibility and hostility to diplomacy and not about hypothetical slavish obedience to the wishes of Putin.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/there-should-always-be-daylight-between-the-u-s-and-our-clients/

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Cian 11.07.17 at 3:34 pm

@221 – Yeah advertising dollars are the root of the problem for sure. No argument with that.

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Donald 11.07.17 at 3:34 pm

And another link to Larison, doing Trump criticism the way it should be done— that is, if Trump is supporting the Saudis as they impose a blockade likely to have genocidal consequences, maybe that should receive the bulk of our attention right now? But it doesn’t, because it is more than just Trump who supports the Saudis.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/starving-yemen-to-death-3/

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b9n10nt 11.07.17 at 4:52 pm

Donald,

You write of “Saudi influence on US policy”, but isn’t it more accurate to say that US Saudi policy is more the result of the US playing “the great game” (geopolitics/imperialism) rather than being passively manipulated by Saudi elites?

226

Suzanne 11.07.17 at 5:14 pm

@208: Off topic: I might make an exception for John Quincy Adams, although he wasn’t in the event a very good president. Of course, back then Washington felt it necessary to admonish Adams senior not to deny merited promotion to Adams’ son John Quincy because of their relationship. Today’s political dynasts feel no such compunction.

That said, women have often come to political power through relationships with powerful men. It wouldn’t have happened any other way. I think no less of Eleanor Roosevelt for being an unelected political wife. Hillary Clinton made the choice to throw in her lot with an extraordinarily gifted young man with ambitions to match his gifts, and I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision, even though she was plainly mad about the boy (and the available evidence suggests she still is).

@204: With all due respect, if you have not noticed it, you are not paying enough attention.

227

jpe788 11.07.17 at 6:26 pm

While I am sure there are plenty of folks in Trump’s base who love their children, want jobs for their community, I literally don’t have any clue where to send a letter to potentially win them over to my way of thinking about all that.

Why, it’s almost as if they have their own beliefs and projects that differ from yours. What an insight!

228

alfredlordbleep 11.08.17 at 12:52 am

@221
Of course, advertising in general and political attack ads in particular are the heart of the matter. This is an old and always germane story. Sharp oppositional reporting isn’t encouraged when wild, nonsensical claims pay the bills. Ever more so.

Take a look at the Va. governor’s campaign: stepping up Willie Hortonism (and all that), . . . Swift Boat ads turned out the susceptible against Kerry. . . there’s gold in all that dirt. (And T Boone Pickens shoveled a lot of his oil money at hungry TV advertising execs, eh?)

Other countries ban political ads at the end (at least) of much shorter campaign seasons. But install politicians like Justice John Roberts and restrictions on speech by time and place must fail against the headwinds of freedom, freedom, freedom! (etc)

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Anarcissie 11.08.17 at 4:38 am

Lee A. Arnold 11.07.17 at 12:12 pm @ 218 —
If actual voting machines are actually connected to the Internet during an election, we have a lot worse problems than Putin and company. Are they?

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Lee A. Arnold 11.08.17 at 9:20 am

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Anarcissie 11.08.17 at 3:18 pm

Lee A. Arnold 11.08.17 at 9:20 am @ 230 —
I am relieved to hear that voting machines are not online. However, in general, the article does not make a lot of sense — a feature which, in the last year or so, I have come to associate with any mention of Russia. If the electoral machinery is open to hacking then those with the strongest motivation to hack, the best technology, the most money to pay for it, and the greatest opportunity to use it, are right here at home. Fortunately the essential dumbness of the voting process should make it very difficult to hack. The people who have inspired the most doubt about the electoral system are not Russians.

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Lee A. Arnold 11.08.17 at 6:59 pm

Anarcissie #231: “the article does not make a lot of sense “

What confuses you?

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Cian 11.08.17 at 7:39 pm

Hacking voting stations on a national level is probably not realistic. Too many different types, network configurations, points of contact, etc.

Hacking on a state level is more feasible. I’d be very surprised if it hasn’t already happened given how crappy those machines are, and how little thought state officials give to security.

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Donald 11.09.17 at 12:11 am

“You write of “Saudi influence on US policy”, but isn’t it more accurate to say that US Saudi policy is more the result of the US playing “the great game” (geopolitics/imperialism) rather than being passively manipulated by Saudi elites?”

I don’t know, honestly. I think it is mutual manipulation. Also, of course we all use abstractions like “ the Saudis” or “the US”, but I assume what is really going on is that various individuals in both countries profit in some way from bombing Yemen. That can even filter down to the level of people who make careers at think tanks thinking deep thoughts about why we need to support this or that country as it bombs one of its neighbors.

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Anarcissie 11.09.17 at 12:15 am

Lee A. Arnold 11.08.17 at 6:59 pm —
I’m not confused. The article is, though.

I don’t have facts on every election district in the United States, but let’s assume some semblance of normal security exists for most of them. Then the question in the headline (‘If voting machines were hacked, would anyone know?’) and the statement in the text to similar effect (‘ While the officials say they see no evidence that any votes were tampered with, no one knows for sure’) are spurious: because in fact if election machines were hacked, the people running the election would know, if they cared to know, by comparing their paper trail with the results given by the machine. The article pretty much contradicts itself at the outset. The author seems to realize this and tries to weasel around the difficulty by postulating some mysterious upstream hacking plot of which, again, there is no evidence and probably no prospect. The article goes on to dissolve into a subjunctive haze, including unsourced, unverifiable claims that someone said Russians (which Russians? How do they know?) did something to something.

The short form of the above is, ‘This article does not pass the smell test.’ I’ve given up reading the news for obvious reasons, but I have to ask: is this what you’re all getting these days? How can you stand it?

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Lee A. Arnold 11.09.17 at 1:33 am

Anarcissie #235: “would know…by comparing their paper trail… claims that someone said Russians…”

The article reports that not all states had paper trails, and some of the states with paper trails didn’t do the audits. It also links to the Bloomberg story which reported that Russians had hacked into “voter databases and software systems ” in 39 states. The Bloomberg article goes on to report that they weren’t successful — but then, you don’t give credence to reportage.

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Anarcissie 11.09.17 at 4:36 am

Lee A. Arnold 11.09.17 at 1:33 am @ 236 —
As I said, I’d just like to see a better grade of propaganda, so as not to be humiliated by the contempt of our masters. Russians hacked into voter databases and software systems in 39 states — what does that even mean? What Russians? How does Bloomberg know, especially if they weren’t successful? Are we talking about Tsar Vladimir or some script kiddies in Tomsk? Was it only Russians or everybody else? Did they carefully sign their hackery? All we’re left with, as with the NPR article, is a vague sense of foreboding and of evil afoot among people with a funny alphabet. And remember ‘Putin hacked the election’ was actually a serious mass media thing for awhile, a sort of counterpiece to Trump’s three million illegal voters. This is why I don’t read the news any more. Can’t we demand better?

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Lee A. Arnold 11.09.17 at 9:59 am

Anarcissie #237: “How does Bloomberg know, especially if they weren’t successful?…why I don’t read the news any more. Can’t we demand better?”

No you can’t. Bloomberg wouldn’t know, because it was reported to them by somebody else. The Bloomberg piece SAYS this. This is called “reportage”. You the reader are already supposed to KNOW this. Instead you are confusing reportage with evidence. This is the same confusion that other people exhibited in the comments above. Reportage is about following the pieces of a story, particularly a complicated one. It may turn out to be false. A good newspaper corrects or retracts when they find this out. The reporters may have bad sources. Their sources may be trying to misinform them deliberately. It is especially true in the case of sources from government, business, political operations, crime, and so on. In short, almost everything involving humans. You are asking the correct next questions. But to expect to have it all laid out for you beforehand, so you can properly agree to believe it, before you will pay any attention, seems unreal. It ignores the reality that this is an unfolding story. It also avoids the question of what evidentiary procedure you indeed would accept, short of a prosecution in front of a jury (and even then…?) I think we can forget being humiliated by the contempt of our masters (never one of my fears anyway) it is the contempt of our peers.

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Layman 11.09.17 at 11:28 am

Anarcissie @ 237, did you actually read that article? The questions you’re asking are answered, either right there in the article or in the linked sources. It’s one thing to say you don’t believe the answers, but another thing to say they aren’t there.

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Yan 11.09.17 at 12:48 pm

Anarcissie @237: “Russians hacked into voter databases and software systems in 39 states — what does that even mean? What Russians?”

The new McCarthyites can, of course, point to specific, occasional evidence in particular cases of state-associated people. But the overall impression they’re promoting of a huge, scary conspiracy depends on world-historically stupid, Iraq war level, fake evidence like the following (https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/10-31-17%20Edgett%20Testimony.pdf):

“We took a similarly expansive approach to defining what qualifies as a Russian-linked account. Because there is no single characteristic that reliably determines geographic origin or affiliation, we relied on a number of criteria, including whether the account was created in Russia, whether the user registered the account with a Russian phone carrier or a Russian email address, whether the user’s display name contains Cyrillic characters, whether the user frequently Tweets in Russian, and whether the user has logged in from any Russian IP address, even a single time. We considered an account to be Russian-linked if it had even one of the relevant criteria.”

It’s pointless to argue with conspiracy theorists, since their paranoid world view already determines what information they will consider, much less consider trustworthy. And because they’re very good at mixing solid information and sources with flimsy ones, they can always switch back and forth between them when on the defensive. And, as the cliche says, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you. Of course the Russian state tries to meddle with our elections and our media, and has done so for more than half a century. Of course, many others states are doing and have done the same. And of course the US is doing and has always done the same. Nothing has changed but the technology and the party using it to scare the public into compliance.

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Marc 11.09.17 at 12:54 pm

It’s reasonable to be concerned about election security. But indulging in conspiracy theories is deeply destructive, particularly without evidence. For example, the voting machines where I am have a display with a paper copy of what you’re voting on in real time (if you change your vote during the process it records the change, for instance). This is a robust backup and you’re not going to hack it online. Election control is also quite decentralized.

More to the point, it’s not just the right wing with alternative facts. We’re seeing fantasies of stolen elections to avoid having to deal with the reality of actually losing them.

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bruce wilder 11.09.17 at 2:31 pm

Anarcissie

Twenty years ago I actually thought the flood of narrative in Media might actually force the evolution of more critical consumption of story. A common theme among early bloggers was the stupid scripts journalists and pundits habitually and compulsively used. A tone of irony and a memory for last week and last year and even decades past informed the commentary on the sad state of journalism. Curiosity was expressed about the motives of those “sources” apparently being cultivated for access or driving a story: the tantalizing “real story” throwing shadows on stage from the wings.

But the ratio of PR hacks to journalist hacks continued to mount year by year as the value of journalistic franchises eroded away. I have seen numbers like 5 to 1! Lee helpfully tells us that transcribing groundless speculation and adding lurid or alarmed tone is now, reportage. No facts beyond some one said someone said. No curiosity about who is conducting the orchestra.

I suppose it was inevitable when two hacks who kept Whitewater alive and generated a cloud of scandalous dust in the 1996 election and called it smoke, founded Politico.com. or when “Talking Points Memo” lost its irony — did I only imagine it? Did the New York Times win a Pulitzer for its WMD in Iraq reporting? Fabulous stuff that was. I remember well Safire in his last year selling Saddam conspiring over 9/11.

The best part about Russiagate is that no one actually cares about any principle being violated. On CNN, I half expect them to do an Explainer on what a “principle” is. Russia hacked the election never is allowed to motivate any useful reform of the electoral system. Or the lobbying culture. Or selling the foreign policy of the U.S. to right-wing thugs in Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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Anarcissie 11.09.17 at 3:30 pm

Yes, I read the Bloomberg article. I see a lot of problems in it, but one of the central ones is the organic anonymity of Internet activities, which belies the assertion of positive identification of emails and hackery on which the article and its government sources largely rely. In the article, that problem was covered by sly weaseling (and possibly outright lying, but I can’t detect that, being a mere prole; the required evidence is not available to me).

If a general panic about Russian spooks can be ginned up, it will mean more money and influence for the various people ginning up the panic. That might provide a hint about the accuracy of their findings. In any case, the party line has been laid down — I just read an article this morning, written by a supposedly respectable media personality, which took for granted that the Russian government materially interfered with the 2016 election and went on to argue for tighter control and more police spying on the Internet. That’s where this is going.

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Cian O'Connor 11.09.17 at 5:09 pm

Anarcissie – there is no paper trail for most electronic voting systems. It is possible to build reliable and secure voting machines, but the vast majority used in the US are neither reliable (that is nobody knows if they count properly), or secure. Like I said above, the Association for Computer Machinery and most Computer Security professionals have been screaming about this since they were introduced.

Though with most of these machines the security risk comes from local actors (Republican party activists for example), rather than foreign powers. If you have physical access to one of these machines you can do all kinds of things to them.

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Cian O'Connor 11.09.17 at 5:40 pm

@238 That story doesn’t actually demonstrate that the Russians did those things. Rather it’s assumed that the Russians were involved. Maybe there’s classified analysis that shows that, but we have to take this on faith. And anyone who’s familiar with the intelligence services record on the USSR (or indeed much of the world) during the cold war probably realizes why you wouldn’t want to trust their analysis.

I think part of what’s going on in this story as that people don’t realize how prevalent and routine this kind of hacking is (and in many cases how easy it can be). They assume that it requires great sophistication and a state actor supporting it. In a few limited cases this is true (the NSA attacks on Iranian nuclear research are a good example). But in general (and certainly for everything described in this article) it could have been any of the many hacking groups out there. Phishing attacks are depressingly routine. My router at home regularly gets probed by bots looking for vulnerabilities. A lot of these attacks are automatic, criminals looking for vulnerabilities that they can take advantage of. Some of these attacks are just by kids looking for lolz. In some ways what is striking about this stuff is how unsophisticated these attacks were, and that might be one further reason to doubt the official story.

So take the story about the voting records. That stuff is hacked all the time because the data is valuable. Get a state database and you can sell it (think fraudsters) – and one reason why the US needs to stop using SSNs for ID purposes. There are also reasons why you would want to change entries in this data. It’s far from a safe assumption that the Russians were responsible for this.

A further problem with all these stories is that it’s actually very difficult to attribute guilt for these things. Journalists covering this stuff (Most of whom are technical illiterates) don’t seem to realize this. Most of the forensic techniques used range from flawed, to useless. It’s made harder by hackers, who are paranoid criminals that are highly skilled at covering their tracks. So attribution typically comes down more to the beliefs and biases of the researcher – guesses built upon previous guesses till it’s guesses all the way down.

And as with all this stuff the more interesting story which everyone’s ignoring is this. The USA is terrible at conducting elections. One of the worst countries in the world. Fixing that would be a great thing. I won’t hold my breath though.

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Layman 11.10.17 at 1:56 pm

Cian: “That story doesn’t actually demonstrate that the Russians did those things. Rather it’s assumed that the Russians were involved.”

Once again, this is not so. The story is based on a story in the Intercept, and the
Intercept story is based on a leaked analysis from the NSA. Now, it’s possible you don’t believe the content of the leak – maybe the leak is misinformation, maybe the Intercept is lying about it – but if that’s the case, once again I have to ask: What are your criteria? Why do you believe e.g. Edward Snowden’s leaks but not the Intercept’s leaks?

https://theintercept.com/2017/06/05/top-secret-nsa-report-details-russian-hacking-effort-days-before-2016-election/

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Layman 11.10.17 at 2:03 pm

Cian: “Get a state database and you can sell it (think fraudsters) – and one reason why the US needs to stop using SSNs for ID purposes.”

It’s possible I’m wrong, but I’m reasonably confident that voter registration databases don’t contain full social security numbers, if they contain anything at all. Most states use driver’s licenses as identification for voter registration. If you register to vote without a driver’s license, most states require that you provide only the last 4 digits of SSN. Only an handful of states require you to provide the full SSN, but they state that they do not retain it.

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Cian O'Connor 11.11.17 at 12:33 am

Regardless, the information in voter databases is a saleable commodity. It’s not a safe assumption that the only people trying to hack it would be trying to influence an election.

The leak didn’t contain the analysis. It’s merely an assertion that the Russians are responsible.

The Edward Snowden leaks contained copious technical details, presentations on the capabilities, bureaucratic details on how analysts could request certain capabilities and a whole lot more. The two aren’t even remotely comparable.

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Faustusnotes 11.11.17 at 12:13 pm

News reports suggest Flynn is being investigated for planning a kidnapping on turkeys behalf. We have evidence of advisors congratulating Trump’s team for their pro Russian Ukrainian policy advocacy at the convention, and manafort is a known agent of the pro Russian Ukrainians. I really wonder what evidence people here are going to need to accept that Trump is an agent of a foreign power. It’s ridiculous.

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Layman 11.11.17 at 6:37 pm

Yesterday the President said that the staff and leadership of the NSA, CIA, and FBI are lying about Russian involvement in hacking the DNC; and that Putin on the other hand is telling the truth when he denies Russian involvement, on the evidence that Putin has denied it multiple times. He went further to say that the FBI investigation should stop before it kills millions of people. I’m reminded of Bennie Noakes, in Stand on Zanzibar, who reacted to any news of this sort by assuming he was hallucinating, and repeating “Christ, what an imagination I’ve got!” as the story unfolded.

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