Crushing Our Better Angels: How Tribalism & Self-Identity Force Us to Support Penn State, Herman Cain and Rick Perry

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

314 Responses

  1. Tom Van Dyke says:

    I’d have liked this better if Bill Clinton were in the title, as he is in the body of the essay.

    Rick Perry’s relevance I don’t quite get.  His poll numbers have been circling the bowl in direct proportion to his debate performances.  Even supporters like Bill Bennett admit that even if the debates are a bad barometer, they’re part of the game and you gotta deliver.

    OJ Simpson fits here bigtime, though.


    • Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      @TVD: “I’d have liked this better if Bill Clinton were in the title, as he is in the body of the essay.”

      Yeah.  I included Clinton in the body because I wanted to be clear that it wasn’t an R or a D thing.  But that was 15 years ago.  They others are still happening right now, hence they got most of my attention.Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I see your point, Tod, but 2 Rs and no Ds in the title does make yr even-handed intention a lot less clear, esp since Perry is a bit of a stretch.

        Further, I think perhaps you misread the Cain thing.  There is an antipathy to the press [much like blacks’ antipathy toward the LAPD] that was really behind the boos at the debate, first that the charges are still squirrelly in detail and that the CNBC hacks were fully expected to use the issue to put a turd in the GOP punchbowl.  They were booing the press more than fronting for Cain.

        So too, the narrative of the GOP audience booing the gay soldier, re the other thread.

        There are messages being sent in these booings, but I’m not sure they’re the ones you’re hearing.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tom, I actually agree with you about the gay soldier/execution stuff.  When I mentioned those on the other post I wasn’t talking about the moral standing of the GOP, I was talking about the way they keep putting their proverbial foot in their mouth in a way that is going to cost them the general election, no matter how popular Obama is this time next year.  Is that fair?  Maybe, maybe not, but if the base doesn’t stop and start asking itself “are all these dog whistles going to help or hurt us in the long run?” they’ll have no one to blame come 2012 but themselves.

          I don’t agree about Cain however.  If he was plummeting in the polls, I certainly would.  If they had booed the moderators and then given Cain a nice, respectful applause I might.  If the pundits weren’t doubling down with things like “sexual harassment doesn’t exist” and not being taken to task by the rank and file, I might.  But as it stands, I think you’re wrong about that one.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Tod, I think those with antipathy toward the GOP hear these “dog whistles” a lot louder than those they’re supposedly directed at.

            As for the crowd booing on the Cain thing, that’s how I heard it, more about the press than Cain.  In fact, the story of the debate to me is how they laughed out loud at the questioners, like when Maria Bartiromo asked how the press misrepresents economic issues before the words were completely out of her mouth.

            & BTW, Newt hit that one out of the park, to great cheers:

            Do you think that companies can both be profitable and be able to create jobs? Do you think it’s a dichotomy? Do you think they can do it?

            CRAMER: Mr. Speaker, how about to you, can corporations do both?

            GINGRICH: Sure. Look, obviously, corporations can and should do both. And what is amazing to me is the inability of much of our academic world and much of our news media and most of the people on Occupy Wall Street to have a clue about history.


            GINGRICH: In this town, Henry Ford started as an Edison Electric supervisor who went home at night and built his first car in the garage. Now, was he in the 99 percent or the one percent?

            Bill Gates drops out of college to found Microsoft. Is he in the one percent or the 99 percent?

            Historically, this is the richest country in the history of the world because corporations succeed in creating both profits and jobs, and it’s sad that the news media doesn’t report accurately how the economy works.


            BARTIROMO: Mr. Speaker — I’m sorry, but what is the media reporting inaccurately about the economy?

            GINGRICH: What?

            BARTIROMO: What is the media reporting inaccurately about the economy?


            GINGRICH: I love humor disguised as a question. That’s terrific.

            I have yet to hear a single reporter ask a single Occupy Wall Street person a single rational question about the economy that would lead them to say, for example, “Who is going to pay for the park you are occupying if there are no businesses making a profit?”


            Read more:


            • Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              All of what you report is true Tom, but it does miss one central point.  If all that was going on was the audience briefly voicing its disapproval of a question, why has the right rallied around Cain in general?  Why are they ignoring the fact that he keeps getting caught in lies?

              I’m just not buying it.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Newt is trying to get at an important issue, although he’s not the one to be making it — we are too enmeshed in the reality tv of politics and not  concerned enough with the differences in ideas regarding economics and the role of government in America.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Again, Tod, antipathy toward the press, the ‘information establishment”: Politico’s anonymous sourcing then Gloria Allred turning up with a perpetual golddigger and ne’er-do-well.

                The hypocrisy of anyone who ever defended Bill Clinton, and we both know there’s a healthy chunk of folks who would vote for him today.

                I’ve been forced to become an expert on this although I hate these passing news fads: Herman Cain is going nowhere.  I also think the polls are used by some to give the finger to the media powers-that-be, and Cain’s actual support might be much lower, just as Bachmann turns out to be a protest vote fad.

                Now, I’ve agreed with you from the first that where there’s smoke there’s fire, although I did allow there was a small chance Cain was clean.  But pretty much, gals were zooming him, and it became a who’s zoomin’ who thing.  Although the evidence isn’t much firmer, I make it he’s a zoomer ala Bill Clinton: one grabs a crotch, the other takes out his dick.

                Feh on the whole thing.  Yes, there are Cain supporters who have convinced themselves he’s telling the truth.  But I bet it’s far less than his total poll % and which show the


              • Mr. Potato Head in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Todd, the reason the audience booed is because the question Maria posed presupposed that Cain was guilty. In reality, now over a week later, we still don’t know what Cain is being accused of.

                If you accept Gloria Allred/Sharon rehash, we are told that Cain stopped any such alleged behavior when told to. The story itself is dubious as there are no facts to support the allegations, and no complaint civil or otherwise was ever filed. We now know other facts, however. We know that just beyond the realm of statistical probability that Sharon B. happened to live in the same building as David Axelrod in Chicago.

                We also now know that one of the original accusers, the one with the $45,000 settlement, works in the Obama administration in Treasury. We know that she attempted another settlement four years after the NRA for some supposedly sexually offensive email that quite honestly looked anything but. She demanded a $12,000 promotion, free enrollment at Harvard, and the like.

                Not surprisingly, Immigration and Naturalization was able to transfer her out of the department and over to Treasury. A typical “Who’s got the monkey?” move in government.Report

              • will in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Perhaps you could point out some of these “facts” Tod as I haven’t seen any. And what lies has he been caught in? Someone else has pointed out that your piece, while decrying “tribalism” seems to be just propaganda for your liberal tribe. I tend to agree.


              • Tod Kelly in reply to will says:

                will, 3 things:

                1. The lies I talked about in my piece I actually listed off.

                2. The point I had been trying to make wash’t that he was guilty; it was that any thing that someone such as yourself might think was damning for, say Obama you gave little note

                3. You suggest that I can be just as human and tribal as everybody else.  Um… yes.  Did you read me post?  I was pretty clear that what I was talking about was human, not political.  I spent more time talking about how I get caught up in it than about anyone else.Report

            • Mike in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              As usual, Gingrich leaves out crucial facts.

              Ford had a rather large inheritance to spend in his private pursuits, plus the salary of a SENIOR engineer at Edison (a company that, like Google, also encouraged side projects by its members). He was definitely a member of the 1% before ever starting his car company.

              Bill Gates was able to drop out of school and buy the software package he turned into MS-DOS by virtue of being the prep-schooled son of lazy, wealthy millionaires. Without their money, he never would have been able to afford to start Microsoft.

              But that doesn’t exactly fit Gingrich’s point, so he leaves out the crucial information.Report

              • Johnv2 in reply to Mike says:

                Do you have any evidence that Gates needed his parents assistance to purchase QDOS 5 years after founding Microsoft with Paul Allen? I think you are just making stuff up. Microsoft already had IBM’s contract to provide the languages for the PC when Gates proposed they do the OS as well (because Gary Kildall kept IBM waiting on CP/M).
                Bill Gates was successful not because he was prep-schooled or had wealthy parents, but because he was incredibly intellectually gifted and a tireless worker.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          The Republicans

          See a ray of sunshine

          And hide under their umbrellas

          Relentlessly trying to ignore the scorching heat.


          Is it just me, or is it a little different between “it’s okay” and “the press is wrong”?Report

      • Loviatar in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        <blockqote>But that was 15 years ago.  They others are still happening right now, hence they got most of my attention.</blockquote>

        So in order to create a false equivalency you mashed together a scandal from 15 years ago with two current scandals. Fair and balanced as always.


        <blockqote>Yeah.  I included Clinton in the body because I wanted to be clear that it wasn’t an R or a D thing.</blockqote>

        Why mention Clinton at all, why not state its not a R or D thing but a critique of tribalism. You just couldn’t pass up another opportunity to slam Clinton.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Loviatar says:

          Because, I was riffing of of a post I did last week that was about both Cain and Clinton.  To which I linked when I talked about Clinton. Which, since you made the comment “you just couldn’t pass up another opportunity to slam Clinton” and it is the only only place I have ever written anything critical of him, I assume you already knew.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Loviatar says:

          Also, you read the post above and your take is that I’m a FOX Republican shill?  Really?

          Be honest – you didn’t actually bother to read it, did you?Report

        • TMLutas in reply to Loviatar says:

          If you want a current “left” scandal, let’s talk about “progressives” covering for rapists in #occupy camps by discouraging victims from going to the police. Now there’s an uncomfortable bit of left tribalism for you that’s still in the headlines. Funny enough, nobody seems to have grabbed that. Why hasn’t the press gone after Obama and the rest of the D crowd who did it for giving support to them?


          • Jaybird in reply to TMLutas says:

            So… what would an ideal report taking Obama on for the rapes happening in the Occupy Wall Street rallies look like?

            Could you give me an example of the opening paragraph?Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Jaybird: “Could you give me an example of the opening paragraph?”

              How about…
              As reports of rape continued throughout the nation’s Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, White House officials shocked Washington insiders by announcing the President would continue working with Democratic leaders to have his jobs bill passed by December.

              “This is exactly the kind of out of touch thinking this President has become synonymous with,” said a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a prepared statement released this morning.  Cantor, who with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have temporarily suspended their House duties to volunteer for rape crisis lines in Oakland, CA, confirmed later that they will be meeting with presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich to do nightly “Take Back the Night” patrols through Thanksgiving weekend.”Report

  2. wardsmith says:

    Perhaps it is naive of me to believe that in our system one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. I readily admit courts are highly imperfect truth detectors, but everything else is decidedly worse, much like Democracy is the worst form of government, except when faced with the alternatives.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

      ward, 2 things:

      Regarding Penn State, the University has a very real and very legal responsibility to investigate crimes of this nature if they are made aware of the possibility of them being committed.  It would appear that at the very least, some people at the University chose not to investigate the crime, for whatever reason.  This is why they were let go.

      Regarding the political junk, ask yourself this…

      If the exact same accusations, by the exact same people in the exact same manner were being leveled against Obama, do really and truly believe the Republicans would be crying about the media following no-stories?Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Tod, I don’t disagree with you at all, but that doesn’t change the inherent flaw in this “system”. Yes this is media fodder but there are certainly things we don’t know and can’t know. I for one am more than a little incredulous that a couch could sexually assault a football player. Have you SEEN THESE GUYS IN PERSON? I’m bigger than average and they make me look like a 98 lb weakling. Even if you managed to drug one, you’d have to pray like hell it didn’t wear off at an inopportune moment. You’d be lucky to escape as only a quadriplegic. Now we can widen the definition of sexual assault to include coercion from power but all it would have taken is ANYONE saying not only no but hell no!

        Now it devolves into he/said he/said I guess. I’m not denying this on substance, but am still concerned about due process. At least in a court of law Cain’s attorneys could point out things like this about his accusers. Allred’s client (and Allred’s methods for that matter) leave me a more than a little incredulous as well. But then again so did Spitzer and /his/ methods. This business of trying cases in the media definitely leaves a bad taste in my mouth.Report

  3. MFarmer says:

    One thing we need to get back to is principles and ideas over personalities, class-war and loyalty to political parties. When we frame principled men and women as “ideologues” (with a negative connotation) and kooks, we open the way for flip-floppers, cads and scallywags.

    I hate to say it, but I loved the Dodgers of Maury Wills, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, unless they met the Yankees (Mantle, Maris, Howard, Boyer, Kubek, Pepitone, Ford, Berra) in the World Series.Report

  4. Roger says:

    Bravo Tod!

    Great post.Report

  5. Michelle says:

    Interesting article. I’m going to have to think more about some of your points before responding in earnest. What first struck me though was the way in which modern “tribes” differ from the tribes of yore in that the connections that bind their members are so much more tenuous than the connections of kinship, obligation, and place that bound earlier tribes together.  Perhaps the tendency toward denial is all the more powerful because the ties are so much the weaker.  Kind of like how recent converts to any belief system are usually far more strident than those who’ve been adherents for a long time.

    At any rate, the call to step back and think is always well taken especially in irrational times like our own.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Michelle says:

      Wow, good stuff Michelle.  Heres hoping you come back and flesh that out.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michelle says:

      Write a guest post!Report

      • Michelle in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Patrick–given that this place is called the League of Ordinary Gentleman, I don’t know if I fit the bill for a guest post.

        I would like to flesh these ideas out but, after moving across country with my husband and four beasts last week, I’m still a bit brain dead. I believe we hit the Philly area right about the time the whole Penn State thing start boiling over. Maybe next week when I more adjusted to Eastern time.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michelle says:

          The site has had regular female contributors before.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Michelle says:

          You missed it Michelle, but while you were in moving mode we actually had a post and discussion lamenting that we didn’t have more (any?) contributors or guest posts by women.Report

          • Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            It’s not just here. I haven’t noticed a lot of female contributors on other political blogs I frequent (although I limit my own posting to just one besides this one, unless you count the occasional email to Andrew Sullivan).Report

            • Kimmi in reply to Michelle says:

              ya should read grannydoc. she’s a real trooper. (myDD was heavily women for a while in 2008, mostly because the “we love clinton” crowd drifted over there)Report

        • Murali in reply to Michelle says:

          given that this place is called the League of Ordinary Gentleman, I don’t know if I fit the bill for a guest post

          We should havefollowed Jaybirds suggestion and changed the blog name to gentle-peeps.

          Anyway Michelle, you fit the bill fine, whatever the nam of the blog may be.Report

    • JG New in reply to Michelle says:

      Well, I wonder if it’s that simple.  True, ancient tribe associations were bound up with survival, but you had really very little choice as to the tribe to which you belonged – you were born into it, and you were stuck with it.  But you could probably dissent, problem solve, form factions.  Or, if you really got outta line you were driven off or killed.

      Modern “tribes,” such as sports fans as Tod describes, are elective and chosen by affinity – one actively (up to a point) chooses to belong to such groups.  I think it make for a much more homogeneous tribe and a sort of cyclical self-reinforcing message of identity.  I can’t imagine that, before the current unpleasantness, there were such things as reluctant Penn State fans,  Nor can I imagine an ancient tribe being quite so prone to epistemic closure (probably fatal in a hunter-gatherer situation anyway).Report

      • Michelle in reply to JG New says:

        That element of choice differentiates modern “tribes” from their predecessors, which were much more bound with survival than personal identity. Modern tribes help us define who we are in terms of both shared interests and beliefs and opposition to “them.” I don’t know that earlier peoples had the same sense of personal identity we do. And because we choose this identity, we likely cling to it harder and fight or deny anything that might threaten it.

        I’m just kind of riffing off the cuff here–I haven’t thought these ideas through fully.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Michelle says:

          Yeah, I’m thinking about the whole idea of “sports as sublimation of war” theory and wondering how it applies, *IF* it applies.Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Michelle says:

          Let me add my appreciation for you sharing your musings here @ the LOOG, Michelle. “Imagined Communites” is very influential among academic theorists, and seems to me what you’re pointing toward. The New Tribalism, if you will.

          I like it better than the old one, anyway. I think…


        • Mopey Duns in reply to Michelle says:

          I am not sure that this is wholly accurate, since actual tribal groups did not really interact with those outside of the tribe except on a pretty hostile basis.  There are few situations under which I can imagine a criticism by an outgroup mattering much, or even reaching the tribe.  So it is difficult to compare that to the modern situation.

          In a child abuse scenario for an actual tribe, the tribal group itself would be able to address the problem internally WITHOUT having to deal with the outside scrutiny that I suspect is what really gets people’s backs up in this situation.

          The reaction by outgroups to our ingroups failures is like a mirror; it is that, more than the failure itself, I suspect, which forces us to confront the flawed nature of the identity which we construct for ourselves.

          I am not sure I have expressed myself well.Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    Loyalty to your own tribe is a virtue that we’ve only recently been able to afford abandoning for the sake of loyalty to some vague higher principles. Or, I suppose, been able to find the appeals to loyalty to some vague higher principles as a useful club with which to beat the opposition when they choose tribal loyalty.

    I already talked about the crappy behavior of a handful of folks with regards to Mickey Kaus blowing the whistle on Edwards… might as well talk about an interesting dynamic that I witnessed with regards to “the other side”.

    On Redstate (full disclosure: banned), there was a stink with regards to Ben Domenech from a few years back. He got a gig at the Washington Post as the conservative blogger and, of course, the left blogosphere went nutzo and started digging for as much oppo as they possibly could… which included discovering that he had plagiarized a number of his articles.

    The wagons circled. Ben denied, denied, denied for a day or so and the editors stuck by him and that went the gamut from “I believe Ben” to “We don’t have to prove our bona fides to the likes of *YOU*”… but his denials quickly unraveled (seriously, did he think that someone would *NOT* ask PJ O’Rourke if he gave permission to use a chapter from one of his books?) and the storm was done by the end of the 2nd day. The editors wrote a post saying “he’s admitted it, the WaPo fired him, you’ve got your scalp, leave us alone.”

    No public recriminations against Ben for lying for a couple of days. (Though he did lie low for a year or so.)

    When your back is up against the wall, you can’t really count on higher principles nor can you count on your opponent relying upon his (or hers) over tribalism. Game theory rewards stickin’. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that stickin’ tribally is fitter behavior than stickin’ ideologically on an evolutionary level.

    Which is a drag.Report

    • boegiboe in reply to Jaybird says:

      No worries. We’re post-evolutionary now!Report

    • Mike in reply to Jaybird says:

      “Loyalty to your tribe” only exists until your tribe turns on you.

      For more than a solid majority of the center, that’s precisely what happened the past decade with the Republicans.

      How was it Ronald Reagan put it again? Ah yes, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.” Of course this was in 1962, shortly after Ol’ Racist Ronny left the Democrats because they supported civil rights legislation. (And people wonder why nobody with a working brain can see the Republicans as anything but a collection of racists?)

      I’ll go him one better. The Republicans turned on me, betrayed everything they stood for that I believed in while growing up under the wing of two very conservative parents, and then told me to fuck off. So I can in turn tell the Retardicans to go rot in hell.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      Domenech didn’t only tell silly lies like the one abut O’Rourke, he made wild accusations about specific people (e.g. the editors of his college newspaper) framing him. It was a complete disgrace. It didn’t stop people from defending him, or from his being able to come back a few months later as if nothing had happened.  I honestly can’t think of anyone caught plagiarizing who behaved worse or suffered fewer consequences.Report

  7. Koz says:

    “Instead, we’ve doubled down on those institutions that allow us to believe we are better than our neighbors. GOP, DNC, Tea Parties, Occupy Wall Street, alma matters, libertarianism, even churches whose primary message is that We Are The Good and The Others Will Burn are all on the rise these days.”

    This is a great point. Without dwelling on your whole post, let me make a quick political driveby on this:

    The one thing the GOP (and the Demos too for that matter) should learn from 2010 is that the American electorate will not, I repeat not, endorse conservative tribalism. There is no Senator Angle, no Senator Buck, no Senator O’Donnell.

    They will accept, under some context or presentation, any remotely plausible conservative policy, or even a few implausible ones for that matter. They won’t accept Republican candidates who only talk to Tea Party or Evangelical audiences, unless they’re running a race where such people are more or less the entire electorate.Report

    • Richard Head in reply to Koz says:

      I thought the passage you highlighted was very good also.  I would’ve included the previous sentence:

      We have simply lost faith in those institutions that most bind us together as one, such as being a citizen or a local newspaper that everyone in town reads. 

      Good articleReport

  8. Renee says:


    Great post – I was half way to commenting on my baseball idol (McGwire) on Mark’s post, but you said what I wanted to much better.

    I also was going to plug my favorite movie of all time and how it relates (both sport and idolization):  Breaking Away (MINOR SPOILER).  Dave starts the movie idolizing the Italian cyclists as the best.  But after they knock him over intentionally during a race he goes home and has one of the great scenes of the movie where he admits that “Everybody cheats.  No I understand that.”  And yet the last scene of the film is him, high on a recent victory, shouting to his dad in French, i.e.,  finding another group to identify with.  Did he learn?  Do any of us?

    Finally, I would second your observation that a lot of this has to do with self-identity.  We idolize the people or the institution because that is what we want to be.  It isn’t just them being accused, it really is us.  And we know we didn’t do those awful things, therefore . . .


  9. Great post, as usual amigo.

    One little thing I’d add — in addition to tribalism, it’s so so fishin’ hard to admit that you were wrong.  It’s hard in our personal lives, it’s hard in our professional lives, and it’s hard when the people we admire turn out to be more tin than gold.  Hell, even for as frivolous a person as Madonna I prefer to think she was once cool and ceased to be than admit that she’s always been a desperate attention-seeker.  I feel like less of an idiot for liking her all that time.

    Nobody likes to be made a fool.  Easier to circle the wagons than admit it.Report

  10. I have little to say to this other than that this post is excellent.Report

  11. Plinko says:

    Thank goodness we Green Bay Packer fans will always actually be morally superior to everyone and will never have to worry about this sort of thing.Report

  12. BlaiseP says:
         The thin-lipped armorer,
       	   Hephaestos, hobbled away,
         Thetis of the shining breasts
       	   Cried out in dismay
         At what the god had wrought
       	   To please her son, the strong
         Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles
       	   Who would not live long.


  13. Mike Schilling says:

    My first love, as a kid, was the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    I stopped right there.


  14. christine k says:

    It reminds me of the Glen Ridge case back in the 80s, as well…this was a great piece on that case and the phenomenon you refer to:

    • Tod Kelly in reply to christine k says:

      christine – Thanks for pointing this out.  Or maybe, kind of thanks?  This was a difficult read.  This part especially made me sick to my stomach:

      “It’s such a tragedy,” remarked one of the parents at a graduation party Lefkowitz attended after the ceremony. It took Lefkowitz a moment to realize that the man was not talking about the victim, but about the boys who had raped her. “They’re such beautiful boys and this will scar them forever.”

      You are right, this is exactly the kind of dynamic I was trying to describe.Report

      • christine k in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Definitely a tough read–sorry for probably making you lament the state of humanity even more than you already were.

        Btw, thanks for the great article. One of the best to come out of this whole terrible mess. Thoughtful and made me think about how easily we (every single one of us) can fall into this trap.Report

    • Meaghan in reply to christine k says:

      Absolutely disgusting. When a crime such as this involves a person with a developmental disability I am even more furious, if that is possibleReport

  15. Fallon says:

    What a bunch of drivel. Trying to link the horrific story of an educational institution sweeping under the rug the allegations of child rape with two Republican presidential candidates is disgusting and evil.Report

  16. Perplexed says:

    What is even more bizarre to me is how one tribe—the European descendents—can subvert their interests to other tribes who are simply promoting their own selfish tribal interests.   The European descendents surrender their power in the name of fairness to other tribes who will simply use that surrendered power to dominate the Europeans.  How fair is that and how logical is it?    Power does not understand fairness, it only understands dominance.  I guess it all comes down to whether any tribe should survive if it engages in prolonged stupidity about human nature.Report

  17. Searcy says:

    I can only attest to the reason I have rallied around Cain, not why others have.  The media, our President, and many that support him have lied about me too.  As part of the tea party (the non-co-opted part), I have been called a racist, a terrorist, and stupid.  I am none of those things.  So, when someone like Cain has been attacked the way he has, I immediately assume that what is being said is a smear.  Once you’ve lived it, you have more compassion for it.  Give me proof and I will rethink it but with the facts as they stand, I will side with him.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Searcy says:

      Do you side with the OWS protesters, when people “slander” them about being violent?

      [The fact that you can say non-co-opted does you some credit in my book. Howdy from the liberal side of things — hope you stick around!]Report

      • Perplexed in reply to Kimmi says:

        You might want to check out Oakland before you make a statement like that.Report

      • Searcy in reply to Kimmi says:

        Kimmi – thank you for the hello!  Feel free to retract at any time, though.  I do have some strong opinions 🙂 My dissapointment doesn’t lay with the OWS as much as the media.  They are doing us all a disservice by not treating people fairly.  The OWS has every right to protest peacefully but there cannot be a double standard.  The few disrespecting people at tea party rallies give us all  a bad name.  So, for that, I will not base an opinion of the whole OWS on a few. I will admit that if choosing to walk down the street where OWS is going on here in DC and a few streets over, I would go a few streets over.  There is something to be said for making some basic judgement calls for your safety, after all.  I can honestly say that I have learned a lot from both the Tea Party Protests and the OWS.  It is disheartening to see anyone with a message to get out be overshadowed by a few that the media picks out to show as an example of all.  It is our fault for not giving people with differing opinions a true ear and it is the media’s fault for not giving us true journalism with which to form our own opinions.

        I will volunteer, vote, and pray… to cover all my bases.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to Searcy says:

          I’ll refrain from yanking on your hair if you’ll do me the same courtesy. I like people with strong opinions — the people without ’em are kinda weird, if you ask me!

          Occupy Pittsburgh is doing a good job of policing itself (keeping the place clean, no drug use, trying to get the weirdos help (either in camp or outside)). No sign of the police yet, and I’m a bit proud of my town for managing that.

          Wish that a few more teapartiers would swing on by the Occupy sites and join in. There’s always room for a new perspective — and just cause what I’m fussing over isn’t what you’re fussing over, doesn’t mean we aren’t both right. Some of the time at any rate. 😉

          DailyKos is a decent place to swing by, if you want some good journalism from the left (PeopleBased! When a natural gas operation explodes, they report first, cause some bloke heard the explosion, and got his butt down to see — and their work on the BP disaster was first rate — they got in some real engineers to give their perspective).

          Know any equivalent on the right?Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi says:

            I used to write for dKos.   Made the rec list a few times.   I tried to write what I considered to be balanced essays, attempting to present both sides of a given issue.   Far too often, heated comments of the Liberaller-than-Thou sort cropped up.

            I gave up.   It’s one big echo chamber over there.   Since the 2010 elections, dKos largely became a nauseating pity party.   Much heat, little light and no room for respecting others’ opinions.   Those who disagree with us are not idiots and not enemies.   Liberals have become smug and insular and that sort of attitude will not win us any friends.   Or any elections.Report

            • Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Folks over at Calculated Risk seem to use DKos as a useful place to measure what liberals are feeling — which seems sensible. It’s also a decent forum for “knowledgebased” posts, when needed (fishgrease has a ton about BP — sharp dude.)

              Even if you’re skipping everything else, the Sunday posts are still a treat (a friend of mine offers input sometimes on ’em).

              Agree on smugness and insularity — though David Brin (a republican) seems to be able to post without too much rancor.

              (what was your sig over there? I’ll look ya up sometime…)Report

          • Searcy in reply to Kimmi says:

            Kimmi – no hair pulling here.  I live by “If I get upset with someone for something now, I will do it later and have to eat my words”.  DailyKos – I will stop by.  I was trying to give myself balanced online reading but the Huffington post gave me no hope for a civil discussion so a new place to try is appreciated.  I will come back here when I have time, though.  I followed a link from HotAir and enjoyed the article and the discourse.   Have to get back to work now!Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Searcy says:

      Searcy, thanks for the comment.  Your experience seems like an excellent example of what I was bring to get at.  I think that the liberal demonizing of the tea party – by and large an orderly group of men and women with demands that were in no way radical or out there – was a clear cut case of tribalism.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Searcy says:

      I’m a Liberal Democrat.   My girlfriend is a Tea Party Independent.  We argue politics all the live-long day.   Wonderful relationship.   Anyone who would say the Tea Party is racist knows nothing about the Tea Party.

      I wish I could tell you to just ignore these demonizers but that may be bad advice.   Demonizers are dangerous people.    If it gives you any comfort, there are more than a few Liberals out there who do not believe those lies.Report

      • Searcy in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Thank you Blaise.  It is reassuring to know!  I have 5 best friends still from elementary school.  They are ALL Catholic (I am Baptist), Democrats (Independent),and Dallas Cowboy fans (Redskins).  It certainly gives you a better perspective and ability to truly hear other opinions when you think “I love and respect them so much that they can’t be all wrong” 🙂Report

      • Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Does maintaining the teaparty is astroturf mean I know more about the teaparty or less than you?Report

        • Searcy in reply to Kimmi says:

          I was part of a group of people that got very upset over President Bush’s stimulus.  (I would not have voted for him again – same reason I voted for Perot when his Bush’s dad pivoted) Did not like the choice of McCain but begrudgingly voted for him since Huckabee did not win the primary  (I am a Fair tax supporter, hence my liking Cain best – because part 2 of 9-9-9 is the Fair Tax) When there was more stimulus (I am a Hayak – not Keyes fan)  and bailouts, it just made me fed up.  I understand my civic duty to be informed and vote but for crying-out-loud I’d like to breath a little and live my life without having to call my own congressman every few weeks for not doing what he ran on.  I got sick of liars and cheats. I do understand a flip flop or two due to issue evolution and increased knowledge but changing principles after being voted in is not acceptable to me.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one getting more angry.  The first gathering we actually had was at a 4th of July picnic. It was great.  Everyone had a different opinion on some fiscal but mostly social issues.  We agreed on getting rid of incumbents and working on getting new blood in that actually hadnt been bought off yet and would stick to the program of getting our finances under control.  Whatever hardships that entailed, we just wanted honesty.  “Tell us how bad it is, Doc, give us something to work with”.  I  don’t consider it astro-turf, I do consider it grassroots co-opted by people who financed activities.  I took that part with a grain of salt, at first, as I wanted to maintain my sanity and be around people who were of a like mind.  Actually, what I liked about the activities most was the ability to debate different opinions where I knew I wouldn’t be bashed.  We all had the same bottom line so we had that bond.  I wish it were that way now with everyone.  If we could feel that bond of being American and feeling safe to debate our opinions without being lambasted by people who, when they can’t argue their opinion, they stoop to correcting grammar.  (My grammar is awful which is why I rarely post an opinion.)  If people can’t even look beyond that, what good is the discussion?  I don’t go to tea party rallies anymore because I don’t always care for what is said on my behalf.  You may have seen it rise up where you are in a different way.  Maybe it wasn’t grassroots there.  But for me and those who got involved with me, it most certainly started around the dinner table.Report

          • Searcy in reply to Searcy says:

            I have been so conditioned that…yes, it is Hayek and Keynes…not Hayak and Keyes…I should have put a period there instead of there etc.  Hopefully it’s readable anyway.  🙂Report

          • Kimmi in reply to Searcy says:

            I only get to call it astroturf because Koch and company came up with the idea first, and financed it (trust me, they aren’t your type of folks).

            I’m glad to hear there’s actually someone out there who actually cares about things enough to be ideologically consistent.

            Myself? This depression I favor Mises for “how we got there”, and Keynes for “how we’re going to pull ourselves out” (err… that’s not terribly clear. shall I say Krugman and Roubini?)

            And for gramercy’s sake! so long as you can type something that I can understand, typo all you please!

            We’re in a liquidity trap right now, and the best (and only proven way out) is to inflate our way out. Now we can do that via public spending (probably the best route), or we can do that through giving money to our population (netting us less economic activity, mind, and giving more money to China).Report

            • novaculus in reply to Kimmi says:

              “I only get to call it astroturf because Koch and company came up with the idea first, and financed it (trust me, they aren’t your type of folks).’

              Where in the world did you acquire this utterly fallacious belief?  Do you accept at face value the preposterous drivel one may find at Huffpo, Kos, and FireDogLake?

              No offense intended Kimmi, I take note that you engage in a civil manner, which is more than I can say for most who occupy those outpost of liberal (pardon me, progressive) lunacy.  But to suggest that the Tea Party movement is astroturfed a la David Axelrod’s numerous excursions into plastic partisanship puts you in league with the likes of Princess Nancy, a loon if ever there was one.Report

            • bluntobject in reply to Kimmi says:

              We’re in a liquidity trap right now, and the best (and only proven way out) is to inflate our way out.

              QFT (well, the inflation part anyway).  I would dearly love to see the Fed credibly target something like 3% inflation.Report

            • novaculus in reply to Kimmi says:

              “Astroturf” in the political sense is the practice of creating bogus organizations and passing them off as grass-roots movements to advance a false political narrative.  The concept and its use is generally credited to David Axelrod, and if he didn’t dream it up, he certainly perfected it and exploited it far more than any other professional bullshit artist in modern history. The practice requires willing accomplices in the media, which explains why the tactic is common on the Left and unheard of on the Right. For a classic example, see the “American Hunters and Shooters Association”  which had at its peak less that two hundred members but had funding in the millions from somewhere to run a bunch of pro-gun control ads on TV and elsewhere, trying to create the illusion that a significant percentage of hunters had absolutely no problem with gutting the Second Amendment.  Now THAT is Astroturf.

              A movement that begins with a single blogger in Washington state organizing a “Porkulous” protest and grows to hundreds of thousands of people in the National Mall for a day and hundreds of smaller get-togethers across the country all focused on a pretty narrow government economic policy agenda  is by definition a “grass-roots” movement.  To suggest that it is “astroturf” reflects either willful  ignorance mind-boggling in its magnitude or utterly unprincipled and Orwellian mendacity.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi says:

          Ecch, astroturf is sorta loaded.   Let’s posit an arbitrary political movement which looks at the US government and makes two statements:

          “The government is spending 40% more than it collects in taxes.”

          “Taxation in the USA is a nightmare of inequity.”

          As it happens, both are damningly true statements.   What remedies could we employ to bring government expenditures in line with revenues?    The first, and most obvious, is to cut spending.    The second would be to straighten out the tax code.

          Do the Tea Parties astroturf?   All political movements astroturf.   This isn’t Multiresidential Poxosis, it’s a simple fact.   They’re not about to waste precious PR dollars to grant their opponents any leeway or even a fair shake.    So the Tea Partiers don’t like Dodd-Frank.   I don’t like it either.   I think it’s a fey slap on the wrist to various and sundry bad boys.    If various financial entities can surreptitiously attack Dodd-Frank, by backing the Tea Party PR machine, they’re co-opting political movements to their own ends.   But let’s not say the Tea Party doesn’t have a point about taxes and spending.   I don’t agree with their conclusions:  the solutions to the problems they decry aren’t quite as simple as they suppose.   But to damn them as astroturfers is to respond in kind.   Until OWS arose, Liberals seemed content to yield the field to the blowhards.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP says:

            … to “damn” them as astroturfers is merely to state the truth — that there are people out there who are being manipulated. AGAIN. I don’t like it, and I hope to hell that they listen to some more sane people instead of certain propagandists.

            It’s also to call a black sheep a black sheep, and say that certain “important” people are fools and blind fools at that. What good does it do them to lose the senate? Cockamaimie idiots.

            It may be where I live, but the Republicans I know seem delusional — both lost to actual truth (as chronicled in such venerable publications as the Consumerist), and too ready to pull down other people at their lords’ behest (In russia, there was more propaganda than here — but only in America did boomers believe the propaganda so well. Viva Free Market!).Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi says:

              I am sorry to inform you, but most people are stupid.   When Hopey Changey was out there on the campaign trail, he was blowing more sunshine up the nation’s ass than a Class X solar flare.   And people just bought that shit, right up.

              Where are we on Gitmo?   Why are these goddamn wars still going on?   Where’s all that post-partisan gummint?    Where’s that open government he promised?    Well, yeah, I don’t see any of that stuff either.   His DoJ has the temerity to cut the femoral artery of the FOIA… do you realize they wanted permission to lie to us about the existence of public documents?

              The Tea Parties are deeply angry with this government, as should any honest person.   They might not be as informed in their opposition as some folks, but we damn them as delusional is to overlook our own gigantic blind spots about Hopey Changey and his Cavalcade of Clowns.


              • Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP says:

                The wonder is that he is indeed any better than George W Bush!

                This DOJ doesn’t even bother asking for evidence before it convicts people, anymore. Just “could they have done it” and “since the gov’t says they did it, it must be so” — and juries eat it up.

                Ah, well, at least NOAA’s stopped leading insurrections against appointees.

                You seen where the corporate money’s headed? Who do our “real” lords and masters want elected this time? Is it free handouts, or is it stealing time?Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Kimmi says:

                Kimmi, I’m so glad you can be so proud of your people in this.

                Reality. Large groups of bona fide Americans fed up with “secret’ laws being passed in the dead of night and a lying arrogant political class start having mass peaceful protests across the nation and it is called the Tea Party. Kimmi, in her world of imagination calls this the Koch brothers although nothing is further from the truth and I’ve rebutted her clueless claims with actual evidence. But she persists nonetheless because as Goebbels said, “A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth”. So keep repeating your lie Kimmi, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The contra to the Tea Party? The OWS, and nothing whatsoever is more astroturf than the OWS “movement”. I’ve already posted elsewhere the craigslist ads where DNC operatives are trying to /hire/ OWS “protesters” to gin up a crowd sized gathering to help the Democrats in their class warfare meme. SEIU is funding OWS, OWS is the /real/ astroturf. Community organizers or disorganizers?Report

            • Moneyrunner in reply to Kimmi says:


              The term “astroturf” is being tossed around with a cavalier disregard for what the term really means: the appearance of broad based support
              without the substance.  The way it’s being used by partisans is a way of smearing any group or movement you don’t like.  A movement that can get hundreds of thousands of people out to the Capital is not astroturf, neither are the Tea Party rallies in hundreds of cities and towns or the OWS camps.  I attended a Tea Party rally and didn’t get a penny from anyone to attend, something that news reports about some of the people occupying Wall Street can’t claim.Report

          • Searcy in reply to BlaiseP says:

            BlaiseP – I agree with some of what you are saying but astro-turf is from the beginning – not afterwards, right?  Our group had no money going anywhere other than what we each indivually gave to the candidate of our choice.  Get togethers were planned by friends via email – pot-luck at a home or a park until some formed a group with a name and website and all that.  My opinion would be that once they were sponsored and those sponsors had an effect in what was being written down as well as saying what “we” believed then it was co-opted.  If that is wrong, please educate because what I want to be able to say is that “I am part of the tea party where people came together with concern”  That is what i still feel part of.  Perhaps it just easier to go back to saying “I am independent”?  🙂  I thought OWS was originally grassroots but let people take them over too.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Searcy says:

              I met up with a bunch of Tea Party folks in Eagan MN.   I organized a little set of guerilla PoliSci gatherings on John Stuart Mill.   These folks had to expand their minds a little, come to terms with what a Liberal like me actually thought about the proper role of government.   If anything, I coopted them with a few copies of On Liberty.

              Every political movement attracts scum sponsorship and a coterie of political wannabes.   As you say, the Tea Parties weren’t all that politically sophisticated.   Because its message wasn’t all that clear, much of the PR which came out in their names was unadulterated astroturf.   The hangers-on were no help a-tall — Sarah Palin, f’rinstance.   Naked opportunism of the worst sort.

              What the Tea Parties needed then, and need now, more than ever, is a coherent political platform and some hard-nosed political operators to keep the opportunistic scum at bay.   The Tea Parties began as a well-meaning reaction to serious deficiencies in our political milieu:  God bless y’all for standing up for civil liberties in regards to the PATRIOT Act.   Don’t allow your message to be perverted to astroturf any more.   You have enough valid points to make without taking dirty money like the other political parties do, including mine, to its lasting shame.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Ya. You all might do yourself some good by showing up at some of these Occupy protests (don’t have to live there to contribute) — do them some good too! Or hell, just join a credit union!

                Think we really could get an honest “rally to restore sanity” if the honest teapartiers and the honest occupiers got together?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi says:

                I come from four generations of missionaries.   Putting on a pith helmet and haranguing the natives from atop a soapbox is a worthless approach to making converts.   All leadership is by example:  there is no other kind.

                I’m in love with a Tea Party girl.   I have reasoned discussions with all her Conservative relatives.   They seem to like me.   Maybe it’s my cinnamon rolls, I don’t know.   But we Liberals have made a dog’s dinner of our own PR, allowing unpersuasive demagogues to hog the microphone.   We don’t like Fox News’ demagoguery but we aren’t above it, ourselves.   Time for some mutual respect:  it starts with admitting the Tea Parties are at least angry about the right issues.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to BlaiseP says:

                eh. some of the right issues. Welfare Queens was never an issue — although the continuing shrinkage of the middle class is an issue. and lack of social mobility is an issue.

                Government Debt is not an issue. The amount of leverage acceptable on the government’s accounts is a good question, though.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi says:

                Let’s presume Fox News’ business model is to incite and polarize the American political debate.   It adds metric buttloads of profits to their bottom line.   Demagoguery sells.

                But let’s get a few things straight.   Liberals have been hanging out in their little echo chambers and weeping buckets of maudlin tears all over their flabby little selves.   It’s nauseating.   We Liberals have not presented a compelling argument for meaningful reform of a bloated and uncaring government which has proven itself incapable of even basic honesty and will not do the nation’s business.

                May I urge you to read On Liberty for yourself.   We have allowed the demagogues to frame this debate.   Liberals need to snatch that debate back from those demagogues and it will start by a return to first principles:

                Though society is not founded on a contract, and though no good purpose is answered by inventing a contract in order to deduce social obligations from it, every one who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit, and the fact of living in society renders it indispensable that each should be bound to observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest.

                That line of conduct is where Liberals have to start.   All else is just so much bafflegap and talking past our intellectual opponents.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kimmi says:

                I like it, Blaise.  I ran across the argument in Emmerich de Vattel, long forgotten, but a favorite of the American Founders.  [They kept a copy of him at hand during the constitutional debates.]

                Coupled with man’s nature as a “social animal,” I found the argument the most convincing I’ve seen for left-liberal-communitarianism.

                [However, it also opens the door to right-social conservatism per Burke, a “communitarianism” of its own.  Heh heh.]Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kimmi says:

                Zackly, Tom.   Liberals have drifted away from what made their arguments so compelling.   As for Edmund Burke, would that the current crop of ninnies calling themselves Conservatives these days were made to read what Burke actually said and be enlightened thereby.
                These professors of the rights of men are so busy in teaching others that they have not leisure to learn anything themselves;otherwise they would have known that it is to the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of the state, that the first and original faith of civil society is pledged. The claim of the citizen is prior in time,paramount in title, superior in equity. The fortunes of individuals, whether possessed by acquisition or by descent or in virtue of a participation in the goods of some community, were no part of the creditor’s security, expressed or implied. They never so much as entered into his head when he made his bargain. He well knew that the public, whether represented by a monarch or by a senate,can pledge nothing but the public estate; and it can have no public estate except in what it derives from a just and proportioned imposition upon the citizens at large. This was engaged, and nothing else could be engaged, to the public creditor. No man can mortgage his injustice as a pawn for his fidelity.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I’m in love with a Tea Party girl.

                Isn’t that Justin Bieber’s latest Top-40 hit?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                Nah.   It’s a country waltz, played in the key of A flat.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                As Victor Borge once said:

                This piece is written in three flats.  Because I moved twice.Report

            • Kimmi in reply to Searcy says:

              Searcy, timelines are a bitch. If you got together after fox news started chanting, then you’re way behind the astroturfing. Fox News to some degree drove the narrative, and there were many funnel organizations getting things started.

              You asked me what the Tea Party protests looked like “from where I was” — and I told you. Koch and company had an idea, and they implemented it. Willing shills came out of the woodwork to help them (not that I’m actually calling you part of the astroturf, unless you’ve actually had a hand at screaming at some Democrat in a town hall, or other such nonsense — or if you actually believe that global warming doesn’t exist (that makes you part of Exxon’s astroturf, not Koch’s to be plain)).

              As far as I know, the OWS people aren’t being “taken over” by anyone, but the unions are pitching in (letting the DC folks grab showers, etc).Report

  18. Pam says:

    Yeah, this is a pretty stupid post.  Despite the mild protest that these are not acts of equivalency, the little dots in the author’s mind doggedly take him from raping young boys to the GOP candidates.

    Why not this: “Tribalism” forces “us” to defend Penn State as well as Obama (in the wake of 3 years of piss-poor performance, Solyndra scandals, and Fast & Furious murders, as well as numerous other chunks of malarkey and mischief he and his administration wreak).

    Odds are that you will never realize this.  All roads will take you to: GOP bad, me and my ilk maybe not always good, but trying oh so hard.  It’s certainly ingrained in you.Report

  19. unclesmrgol says:

    There’s a very good reason for loyalty to your tribe. The other tribes don’t have your best interests in mind when they strike at you. As a Catholic, I fully understand the priest thing — for the Church believed that sin can be forgiven, and the Church believed the psychologists who said that gay behavior can be cured — those same psychologists who just a few years down the road said that it wasn’t a disease, but normalcy. The Church also had selfish motives, for this behavior by people in powerful positions directly contradicted its teachings. The media, for the most part peopled by anti-Catholic bigots whose favorite pastime is tweaking the nose of the Church, had a feast day, so to speak.

    Now that we understand reality, we Catholics have fully embraced the two party rule with respect to children, fingerprinting and integrity checks on everyone who has contact with children, reporting to civil authority by anyone (lay or ordained) who suspects abuse, and, first and foremost, no homosexuals in any position of authority.

    We have learned by burning our hands on the stove ourselves what motivated the Boy Scouts in their rules, and what motivated the Second Mile Foundation (Sandusky’s boy mill) in its.

    There — as a member of another tribe, I’ve just attacked one liberal cherished institution — sodomists.

    Now, with respect to Cain, we hear that settlements came after he had left, and were so small ($45K is nuisance pay in the sexual harassment industry) that the leading members of the NRA didn’t have to OK them.

    Many of the women who have come forward are claiming that Cain “hit on them”. One alleges physical contact, but we find that she has a history of similar accusations as well as rather significant financial problems which could be cured by the position she is seeking with a liberal radio station. The other “hit on them” allegations seem to center around one-time inappropriate comments or attempts to form a closer relationship via home invitations. None of these women appear to be Cain’s subordinates (so we do not have a Clintonesque “boss hitting on the hired help” scenario), so I’m at a loss as to characterize the behavior as other than courting behavior. Nobody is alleging (other than one) that Cain persisted in the behavior after being turned away.

    I’m waiting for the semen-soaked dress to finalize my opinion.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to unclesmrgol says:

      This may be what I’m trying to bump up against.  Cain hasn’t just had a few women accuse him of thing he may or may not have done.  He put his employers attorneys and insurers in the position to pay out settlement claims – twice.

      Does this mean that Cain absolutely, 100% harassed women in the work place?  Of course not.  But I would argue it should be enough to lead one to refrain from declaring his obvious innocence.

      Or, to pull from the last point of my post, would Cain’s supporters be reacting in the same way if the exact same set of data were being covered in the media about President Obama?  I contend that they wouldn’t. I also contend that liberals who are mocking or calling for Cain’s head would be using the same arguments conservatives are currently using to defend Obama.

      My point is that it might be better if each side approached things like this differently than they do right now.Report

    • roc scssrs in reply to unclesmrgol says:

      As a fellow tribe member, thanks for your explaining and defending the Church. I would just like to add, why are we surprised when bishops or athletic directors or any other institutional office holders try to “cover up,” that is, try to maintain the image of their institutions? Isn’t that a big part of their job?  They may do it ineptly, or short-sightedly, or ham-handedly, but it’s quite natural for them to try to do so.  As long as we are social beings, we will form groups, and we will protect each other.Report

  20. hening says:

    So Clinton actually lied to a grand jury about his bizarre affair with a woman young enough to be his daughter, while Cain is being held responsible for sexual harassment in the work place that has not been proven.  Yet, the need to draw a comparison is needed?  That would be like comparing the soul of the Dodgers when they were in Brooklyn to when they moved out to the Waste Coast.  Clinton is guilty, Caine remains innocent until proven guilty, a little part of our legal system that Progressives hate.Report

  21. Geoff says:

    I would have given the author credit for an insightful essay had he not spent most of it promoting his political agenda.  To focus on minor allegations of sexual harrassment and cronyism on the part of two Republican presidential contenders while the Democrat President of the United States is giving billions of dollars to his democrat campaign donors, and has also been accused of sexual impropriety (though it was never printed in the mainstream press….google his supposed homosexual encounter in a limo, and his South American girlfriend).  Again, the two examples he uses pale in comparison to the Anthony Weiner incident, which Democrats are still in denial about.

    It’s a shame, because the author wasted a good opportunity.  He also promotes a lie.  We Republicans, when we see actual evidence (not faceless acusations or accusations made by questionable sources) we turn on our own so fast that head spin.  I have already spun away from Cain, not because I believe he is guilty, but because he has shown terrible political instincts in his responses to the allegations.  My response is similar to many who supported Cain until recently, yet the author cannot relate because his liberal tribal instincts far outweigh his ability to acknowledge reality.Report

    • RAY in reply to Geoff says:

      I noticed how he also chose to go after two republicans who are currently running for office and then made a lame attempt to balance that with a passing mention of the well documents problems of a democrat whose political career is over.  He also forgot to mention one of the reason so many conservatives have believing things about their candidates is that this kind of blatant media bias has caused most conservative to lose all faith in the media.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to RAY says:

        Um… no, not quite.

        This post was riffing off of two earlier posts, one from the previous day, and one from a couple of days ago.  The fist post was on Wed’s debate; this is why what was referenced wasn’t the candidates, but the debate audiences reactions to those candidates.

        The second post was an entire comparison between Cain and Clinton, and how sexual harassment isn’t about infidelity so much as abuse of power.  I didn’t pick Clinton because he’s been out of power for 15 years, but because to me Clinton is the obvious comparison point to Cain, not Clarence Thomas.

        The last thing I will say is that you seem to be approaching my thoughts with the assumption that I am a liberal and a Democrat.  I am neither.Report

  22. libarbarian says:

    Penn State students are subhuman animals.

    They can all rot in hell.


  23. Jason Kuznicki says:

    We have simply lost faith in those institutions that most bind us together as one, such as being a citizen or a local newspaper that everyone in town reads. Instead, we’ve doubled down on those institutions that allow us to believe we are better than our neighbors. GOP, DNC, Tea Parties, Occupy Wall Street, alma maters, libertarianism, even churches whose primary message is that We Are The Good and The Others Will Burn are all on the rise these days. What all of these institutions have in common is that they stroke the very core of our ego. Stick with us, they say, because by being one of us you will be a fundamentally better person than your neighbor.

    Spoken like… well, never mind then.  Forget it.Report

    • Who is this Jason Kuznicki to whom you link, so wise in the ways of men?Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        What I’m saying is that I have no business whatsoever being taken seriously.  By your own terms.Report

          • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I call myself a libertarian, which is merely a way of feeling better than my neighbors.Report

            • I think you’re trying to read far much into a point about one of the things that drives people to political parties and ideologies.  I would have thought you’d noticed that I included the other pols as well.

              Also, for all the times I talk about how awesome a writer you are and how I find you to be an honest and thoughtful thinker, I’d think you’d cut me a little more slack than to take offense at that paragraph.  That’s almost looking to find a slight.Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I admit I’m being exasperating here.  I admit I’m nettling you, and possibly to no good end.

                The truth is that I hate this aspect of how people work, and I don’t see any good workarounds to it.  Form an un-tribal tribe, and you can sit back and watch the tribal tendencies emerge.  That above all is what I took from my undergraduate infatuation with Ayn Rand.Report

              • Yeah, I find it a bit depressing.  One of the ironies of my day was waking up to find that Hot Air and American Conservative had linked (in a really nice positive way, btw) to my post about how it would be nice if we weren’t all so quick to be tribal, and a slew of comments from their readers that I am a liberal who sucks because I criticize Republicans.


              • Geoff in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                You miss the point of the criticisms.  Had you equally criticized Republicans and Democrats (who are almost never included in such criticism) you would not be witnessing such comments.  It was your choice to only go after two current Republican candidates (and Garvey…also a conservative).  How could you not expect such comments?  You might think that “tribalism” is the driving force behind them.  I think it’s more likely “fairness”.


              • Tod Kelly in reply to Geoff says:

                 Had you equally criticized Republicans and Democrats (who are almost never included in such criticism) you would not be witnessing such comments. 

                Dude, have you ever read a blog comments sections?  I got hammered for being a FOX shill for this post.Report

              • Tod – Knowing a bit about what types of readers we get from what types of links, I assure you that none of those who are completely missing (or proving?) your point are coming from the American Conservative/Dreher link.  As for the rest, hey, at least there have been a couple who have directly engaged with what you wrote (and I hope those people stick around!).  That’s better than usual when it comes to comments originating from links by super-popular political sites.Report

              • In my short time here, I’ve noticed that this seems to be the way of things.  Someone like Erik will write a post that gets picked up on a political blog, he’ll get tons of people driving by for a day calling him the anti-Christ, and when the smoke clears we’ll have a few people that disagreed with Erik but have actively engaged the community that choose to stick around… and we end up being stronger for it.Report

              • dexter in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                “waking up to find tha Hot Air and American Conservative had linked”  That explains the new guys with baseball bats.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                I think the difference here is that tribal-type loyalty to sports figure is inherently irrational to begin with – why Steve Garvey rather than Hank Aaron? why the Dodgers rather than the Braves? why get emotionally attached to either of them? – whereas political identity can be rationally justified. Or at least, and I think this much is sorta obvious, political identity can get closer to being objectively justified given a person’s pre-political values and experiences. That some people treat political identity as being more/less the same as sports team identity doesn’t mean that all people treat them that way.

                Of course, at the end of it, maybe political identity is irrational too. But it’s a different type of irrationality than being a sports fan.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think I’m going to write about this next week, Still, but I’m wondering how rational our political arguments are.

                I said something similar in a comment (to Jason maybe?) earlier this week, but the more I look at what people on both sides of the fence actually want, the more I think that – rhetoric aside – on a scale of one to ten liberals are at 5.2, and conservatives are at 4.8, and each believes and argues as if both sides are in the opposite end zones.Report

              • Geoff in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                You must only be talking to self described “moderates” then.  On issue after issue liberals and conservatives are in the “opposite end zones”. Taxes…opposite end zones.  Size of Govt…oez.  How to put Americans back to work…oez.  Energy policies…oez.  Education policies…oez.  Public Employee Unions…oez.  The Second Amendment…oez.  The First Amendment…oez.  Abortion…oez.  Parental rights…oez.  Property rights…oez.

                I could go on and on.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                It’s all a matter of perspectives. I think the conservative remembers every single wasted minute at the DMV, considers the rest of government just as bad if not worse, and wants to get rid of as much of it as possible (except for his own benefits, of course).

                I think the liberal remembers the friend of his who died because of bad health insurance (see Spider Robinson’s wife). And from that, thinks that our corporate culture needs to be torn down and wants to use government to do it (somehow!).

                We’re both pretty pissed off, and we both make some good points…Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                the more I think that – rhetoric aside – on a scale of one to ten liberals are at 5.2, and conservatives are at 4.8, and each believes and argues as if both sides are in the opposite end zones.

                Personally, I think both sides agree on some truisms, but – and maybe I’m wrong about this – I think that conservatives and liberals are definitionally oppositional. There’s a long-running joke at a site which shall not be named that conservative ideology reduces to opposing what liberals believe at time T, updated daily.Personally, I think that’s accurate, but more importantly, if dressed up a little it’s something that conservatives would more or less agree with.

                A really good book that fleshes this idea out is The Reactionary Mind. The thesis for the first half of the book is that conservatism arose in response to liberal victories and continues to define itself as a movement in opposition to liberal change. And it’s pretty even handed. The author isn’t disparaging to conservatives in his treatment of the topic, or I didn’t think so.


  24. raven says:

    Some good points but a little overwrought. Tribalism is not a categorical phenomenon on the right, in my opinion. E.g., many republicans are not pleased with Herman Cain and have strongly critiqued him and even turned away from him, or suspended judgment awaiting more responsible and thorough reporting. And the Tea Party is not a group which thinks it is better than others (a serious misreading).

    Tribalism is far more common on the Left. In fact it is inseparable from Leftism. The Left teaches you the doctrine of total irreproachable righteousness and work constantly to undermine both social unity around broad traditions and the premise of liberalness — free and independent thought. The crushing of our better angels we are seeing now is a direct result of the rise of the Left in our culture and politics.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to raven says:

      My tribe isn’t tribal!  My tribe isn’t tribal!Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        My tribe is superior to all other tribes in not being tribal.  This superiority justifies our disdain for the other tribes and our complete support of our own, whose minor peccadilloes must not be allowed to interfere with the great work of ending tribalism.Report

        • Roger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Raven, Mike S and Jason,

          I am one of those people blessed/cursed that nobody wants me in their tribe. I think I exhibit non-trabal tendencies or tells.  If any others out there share my affliction, please respond and we can set up a tribe of non-tribalists. I’ll start working up a charter and some T shirts.Report

  25. DRH says:

    Your article would be stronger without the inclusion of Cain.  His “fault” is his handling of being *accused* of *speaking* in an inappropriate way.   (Remember, that was the early charge, the response to which you’ve criticized.)   That’s not even in the same league as the other examples, such as….oh…. raping children.  Or even Clinton’s crimes.


    • Moneyrunner in reply to DRH says:

      An example of the kind of tribal amnesia that occurs is found in this essay.  When discussing the “crimes” of Bill Clinton most people think of his exploits with Monica Lewinski or exposing himself and demanding oral sex from Paula Jones (followed by the cover ups and the perjury).  There is a credible accusation of rape by Juanita Broaddrick, an accusation that is every bit a credible, and infinitely more serious, than the accusations made against Herman Cain.  Until now, the most serious
      specific allegation is that Cain reached for a woman’s crotch and when she rebuffed him he stopped and drove her home.
      The fact that Bill Clinton remains a high profile, credible leader of one of the major parties is a testimony to the strength of the tribe that protects Bill Clinton.  Other members of that tribe include the late Ted Kennedy whose sexual exploits are well
      documented (waitress sandwich anyone?) yet who was not only Senator-for-life
      but until that unfortunate turn at the bridge in Chappaquiddick destined to
      follow his brother into the White House.

      Being part of the right tribe carries powerful benefits.  Clinton and Kennedy belonged to that tribe.  On the other hand, being part of a weak tribe get you thrown under the bus.  In one tribe, “everyone lies about sex” and it’s no reflection on the ability to hold office.  The other tribe requires the chastity of Caesar’s wife because less than gets you hounded off the stage.

      There are no tribe-less people.  The lesson of this essay is that you have to choose your tribe carefully.Report

  26. Jaybird says:

    Personally, I don’t think you should have included Davy Lopes.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

      Davy Lopes was a beast.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Anybody can steal second.Report

      • Franz Schubert in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Don’t forge Billy Buck–such a GREAT career he had—a little bad hop and now he lives in infamy.  It’s just a damn, awful shame all the blame was directed towards Buckner.  In his heroic attempt to right that wrong, he underwent a SEAL like training and made it back on the Red Sox roster–even  hit an inside the park homer at the home opener. An inside the park homer on those legs!  Mercy. He almost had to crawl from 3rd to home.  And he got a winners share as the Sox won the Eastern Division-a truly heart warming story with a great  ending.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      My impression at the time was that Lopes was the only one who could actually field his position.  (Garvey, for all his Popeye biceps, couldn’t throw the ball as far as third base.)   Now that we can quantify these things:  (via baseball-reference)


      • Garvey: lifetime -.1 defensive WAR
      • Lopes: lifetime -3.2 defensive WAR
      • Russell : lifetime 4.7 defensive WAR (2.4 for the years he was primarily a shortstop)
      • Penguin: lifetime 1.8 defensive WAR
      Makes no sense.  I swear Russell was the worst shortstop I’d ever seen.


  27. RAY says:

    You should have added the Obama supporters who still think he is interested in unity and who still believe he is not a failure.  But I guess you are not ready for that yet.Report

  28. Peri says:

    Tod, Thank you for taking the time to craft a thoughtful articulation of what happens in us when someone/something we’ve aligned ourselves with is revealed to be fundamentally broken. Denial and attack are often the closest tools to hand when a blow to our identity is too much to bear.

    Your article also got me thinking about Jonathan Haidt’s work on the 5 moral values and how liberals and conservatives differ. Liberals value 1. harm/care and 2. fairness/reciprocity far more than the remaining three moral values by quite a margin.

    In the US (it differs slightly by country) conservatives value 1.harm/care, 2. authority/respect, 3. ingroup/loyalty, 4. purity/sanctity and 5. fairness/reciprocity in that order but virtually equally. Authority/respect, ingroup/loyalty, purity/sanctity all help promote stability at the expense of openness.

    Liberals do share these values, purity/sanctity showing up around food or the environment for instance rather than sex and God, but not close to the same degree.

    I think Haidt’s work speaks to the right’s response to Herman Cain.Report

  29. Fr0sty says:

    You speak as if the whole country was divided into tribes based on politics, sports teams or religion. That just doesn’t wash, especially when considering nearly 4/10ths of the country considers itself moderate, as opposed to conservative or liberal, and nearly a fifth does not identify with either party. Also, how does your theory explain oddities like the small percentage of self-identified Republicans who consider themselves very liberal, and their opposites on the Democratic side?

    Perhaps the tribes you speak are fringe elements; small subsets of larger identity groups. I’m sure not every student of the university was at the riot, and I’m sure there are a good chunk of students who have no interest whatever in varisty sports of any kind. The audience at the debate who cheered Herman Cain are probably not very representative of the 43% of voters who call themselves Republican. How many people even vote in primary elections, nevermind attend debates a year before an election?

    One thing that is very irksome about your article and has already been mentioned by other commenters is your headline lumping Cain and Perry together with a child molestation scandal. It’s sensationalist, underhanded and grossly unfair.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Fr0sty says:

      I’m amazed at how common this reading of Tod’s essay seems to be.  I wonder what people taking this approach would make of the following paragraphs:

      Over the past week I’ve been feeling this tug in the back of my brain that the Cain and Clinton scandals, the shocking revelations from Penn State, and Perry’s cronyism were all the same thing. Which is of course ridiculous. They’re not, obviously; they’re not even close. Cronyism is horrid of course, but it isn’t quid pro quo sexual harassment, which in turn isn’t the raping of a child. Remembering my own journey with Garvey, though, it finally hit me what the common thread that was tickling my brain was. It isn’t that Herman Cain, Bill Clinton, Joe Paterno, Rick Perry, or for that matter Steve Garvey are the same.

      It’s that we, their followers, are.

      As Tod writes, these scandals are “not even close” to one another.  The temptation to unthinking fandom is the only thing uniting them.

      But of course that means that Rick Perry is just like a child molester.

      One could hardly have invented a better example of tribalism than the people who are saying this.Report

      • What’s especially odd is that part that you quote, this part –  “They’re not, obviously; they’re not even close… It isn’t that [they] are the same.It’s that we, their followers, are.” – is the only part of my post that Hot Air posted.  Presumably, you would think people would come to this site knowing that was the point of the post.


      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        “Not that I’m comparing the Religious Right to the Taliban, but…”

        Now, I don’t have a problem with Tod’s post except for the title as noted, but rhetorically, there’s an inevitable [guilt by] association that a formal disclaimer simply doesn’t obviate.Report

        • RTod in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          That’s not the proper analogy, Tom. If I said I wen to a jazz concert on Tuesday, the symphony on Thrsday and a rock concert this afternoon, and I noticed that fans in each show were wearing a lot of Birkenstocks, would you respond: That’s BS! Classical is nothing like rock or jazz! You don’t know anything about music!

          That seems a pretty direct analogy, with all emotional baggage removed.Report

  30. novaculus says:

    While I largely agree with the author’s general points regarding tribalism and human nature, I find his examples to reflect what I suspect to be his own tribal biases and prejudices.  That someone who could write this piece could be so blind to his own ongoing tribalism is remarkable but unsurprising.

    Not all tribes will respond as did the Catholic parish he describes.  Christians of my acquaintance have responded with horror and disgust at revelations of abuse and cover-ups.  I suspect the church in question was under the sway of a particularly charismatic villain.  I am disturbed by the inference that the reaction in this parish is characteristic of Christian congregations generally.

    And to a large extent  I agree with Tom Van Dyke above regarding the author’s misreading of the audience reaction to the media and Cain in the recent debate.  I have profound contempt for Left-wing media types with their Democrat sympathies and their obvious willingness to prostitute their profession in service of personal and political agendas.  (I have no use for similar types on the Right, but they are few and far between and have virtually no influence on national media narratives.)  The audience’s reaction to the media types and to Herman Cain’s response to the raising of the accusations against him seems to me just as likely to reflect similar sentiments as it is to reflect Cain tribalism.  (As for my tribe, I am of the Anti-Political Class Tribe, the Everyone Else Tribe, among whom I count everyone who is not a professional politician, public employee union member, or a person otherwise financially or professionally dependent on big government or taxpayer dollars.  In other  words, the Being Screwed By The Political Class Tribe.)

    I am neither a Cain supporter nor an opponent, but unlike the author I do not presume to  KNOW if he sexually harassed his accusers or not.  I find  the author’s implicit assumption that the claims of harassment against Herman Cain must be true to be both disturbing and enlightening.  I have conducted and reviewed hundreds of criminal investigations, and learned long ago that even a great deal of smoke does not necessarily equal fire.  Allegations of sexual misconduct are not infrequently exaggerated or completely fabricated.

    I recall one case in particular that involved accusations of statutory rape supported by several witnesses, not to the act, but placing the accused in the alleged victim’s company and supporting her alleged contemporaneous statements regarding the alleged assault.  The accused, for his part, denied ever having seen the alleged victim or knowing who she was.  (Sound familiar?)  My initial evaluation of the case did not bode well for the accused, yet as I continued investigating I found a growing number of inconsistencies in the witnesses’ statements, and support for the accused’s alibi.  But it was not until the trial that the likely truth became clear, that one of the witnesses had orchestrated a frame-up to cover his own culpability.  The defendant was acquitted by the jury, but had not some unexpected testimony been elicited at trial, the significance of which was not apparent at the time it was given, but only later as I reviewed in preparation for final arguments, he would very likely have been convicted of a crime he did not commit, imprisoned for years, and branded a felon and an child molester for life.

    One wonders at the depth of human depravity that could not only commit the rape of a child, but then attempt to escape punishment by framing an innocent man.  And what of the co-conspirators, who gave voice to the monstrous lies?  Do not deceive yourselves that such people do not exist, for they walk casually among you every day.

    To date, there is no evidence to substantiate the sexual abuse claims against Herman Cain except the bald assertions of his accusers, no significant independent evidence that supports the substance of the claims. We have not the evidence to determine if their claims are based on actual harassment, on hyper-sensitivity to innocuous words or actions, or on malevolent lies. We do know the accusers either will not come forward or have serious credibility issues.  Even more disturbing, all of these allegations relate to his term with the National Restaurant Association exclusively.  Is it likely that a man would display a proclivity for sexually harassing women during a discrete time frame related to a single job, not before and not since?  Even more disturbing, the leaking of the NRA personnel files appears to be directly linked to Sheila O’Grady, former Chief of staff to none other than Mayor Richie Daley, associate of David Axelrod, and current President of the Illinois Restaurant Association.  Axelrod’s history of attacking Obama’s political opponents with sexually-tinged smears dug out of old records, some of them sealed by the courts, is well-documented.

    Nor do Cain’s inconsistent responses to the accusations and his campaign’s inept handling of the situation prove he is guilty as charged.  In fact, they are just explainable under scenarios of innocence of those charges as of guilt.  He may not be qualified to be President, and he may be inept as a politician and out of his depth in waters where swim  sharks such as David Axelrod and the left wing media manipulators, but those are quite separate issues.  I don’t KNOW if Cain is guilty or innocent of sexually harassing his accusers, but at this point the situation appears to me, based on my experience and my evaluation of the FACTS, to be an orchestrated smear campaign by utterly unprincipled political agents supported by unprofessional and corrupt elements of the news media.

    No doubt some of those who cheered Herman Cain’s response to what appear to many to be vile smears given undue credence by a malevolent media were members of his tribe, but not all of them were.  Some of us are just sickened and disgusted by the corrupt and sometimes evil  men and women who poison our politics and our world.  For us, cheering Herman Cain is poking those depraved scum in the eye, and has nothing to do with convictions of innocence based on irrational psychological factors such as Cain tribalism.  There may be tribalism, but it is not irrational.

    The author’s willingness to presume Cain’s guilt, on the other hand, suggests his membership in a tribe in conflict the tribe of Cain’s supporters, and his self-blindness to the very irrational tribal behaviors he decries.  That someone who could so well identify the dangers of irrational tribal influences remains so clearly in thrall to them reflects the magnitude of the problem more clearly than do his words.



    • Tod Kelly in reply to novaculus says:

      novaculus – This is an excellent comment, and obviously not a drive-by.  I am assuming you came here by way of Hot Air; you should stick around, I think you’d like it here.  I don’t have much to add other than a general agree to disagree with you, except I will say this:

      There is difference between presuming Cain guilty, and being mystified that so many people look at what has transpired thus and refuse to entertain the possibility that he has transgressed.Report

      • novaculus in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Thank you Tod, for the kind words, and your civility in the face of some pointed criticism is also appreciated.  Please feel free to respond in kind, and I will endeavor to respond with the same civility.

        I did indeed come here by way of Hot Air.  The lengthy commentary is the distillation of a long week’s worth of ruminating on the state of our politics as reflected by the Cain situation and the emerging facts.  I have been struck by the irrationality of some of  the True Believers, both in Cain’s guilt and in his innocence, when the evidence is so thin.  I have remarked upon it in some of my comments over at Hot Air, where True Believers of both varieties can be found.  I have also been reminded of the depraved state to which our politics all too often descends.  Frankly, I despair for our future, as it appears a largely irresponsible electorate, disconnected from reality, will continue to be led astray by well-intentioned fools and depraved political types guided only by freed and the lust for power.

        As difficult as our situation may be, we need only look to the historically tribal societies of the world to realize how much worse off we could be.  The Middle East and much of Asia remains mired in the muck of pre-Middle Ages barbarity, and the tribal nature of their cultures contributes greatly to their profound resistance to political and social evolution for the better.

        The invitation to stop by is also appreciated.  Having taken the time to read many of the comments to this article, I find a good number of very interesting observations.  I will bookmark and try to find time to stop by.



      • Moneyrunner in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        “There is difference between presuming Cain guilty, and being mystified that so many people look at what has transpired thus and refuse to entertain the possibility that he has transgressed.”


        Who are those people who refuse to entertain the possibility that he has transgressed?


        As many others have noted, the boos in the debate for the question were very likely a reaction to the perception that the media has a Liberal bias and that it is piling on.
        We can have our concerns about Cain’s sexual habits while withholding judgment about the validity of the accusations.  The Republicans in congress have not been shy about expelling members of their party who have been caught in sexually compromising situations.  Clinton is a great example of what Democrats, Liberals and the press do when the shoe is on the other foot.


        Your point seems to be that the Right should be willing to throw anyone under the bus when accusations of sexual impropriety are made.  We have been there, done that and gotten the T-shirt.  Now we’re not going there again.Report

    • wardsmith in reply to novaculus says:

      novaculustwo questions.

      1) Are you related to this guy? I really like the Little Johnny video.

      2) Can I join your tribe? Because brother you have said everything I’ve been feeling far better than I’ve been able to about this event, especially concerning Cain. Color me old-fashioned but I still believe the accused deserve their day in court as I said (poorly I admit) above and elsewhere on this blog.

      Finally let me echo RTod’s comment, please stick around your voice is just what the site needs more of. I’ve only been here a few months and it has become the highlight of my day to try and catch up on posts and really dive into excellent and civilized (for a change) debate on the meaningful and sometimes meaningless – after all, we’re here for fun too.Report

      • novaculus in reply to wardsmith says:


        Yes, that is me over at YouTube. How the heck did you find that? Google?

        I really don’t use YouTube much, and had no idea there was even a list of my favorites, which really aren’t so much favorites as videos I was bookmarking.  Lately I have been using to find music I like to listen to and new music to sample, and I have made a few artist based lists recently.  Recently I caught Yo Yo Ma and company doing a bit from Goat Rodeo on TV, which led me to Crooked Still.  And somewhere I stumbled across The Black Keys and I really enjoy the sound.

        Little Johnny Taylor is an old favorite. (Not to be confused with plain old Johnny
        Taylor, although the two actually recorded together at some point, if I recall correctly.) I was introduced to Little Johnny by a lyric in a Stevie Ray Vaughn song.  I found a record of his greatest hits and was hooked instantly.

        You would be welcome to join my tribe, if only there was a tribe.  Truthfully, I am a crusty and egocentric loner, all too familiar with my failings and shortcomings but still willing to make my own assessments, draw my own conclusions, and let the chips fall where they may.  I smoke cigars, drink bourbon and beer, shoot pool and pistols, and have other bad habits too numerous to list.  Eloquent profanity just rolls right off my tongue, but I try to restrict my artistic urges in that regard to appropriate audiences, like down to the tavern or the poolhall. (OK,. I stole the first phrase of that last sentence, but it is true.)  So if you want to grab a drink and pull up a chair, I can spin some yarns and sling bull with the best.  Occasionally I might have something worthwhile to say., but I’m not making any promises.Report

        • bluntobject in reply to novaculus says:

          Hell with join your tribe, I want to drink with you.Report

          • MFarmer in reply to bluntobject says:

            That’s the last true tribe I belonged to — the Tribe at Lindberg’s Bar and Grill. I haven’t found that kind of loyalty since.Report

          • novaculus in reply to bluntobject says:

            Doesn’t take much persuasion to get me up for a shot and a beer.  I’m in NW Indiana, about a half hour-40 minute drive from the Loop, although I rarely venture over the state line into Noiserland due to their unenlightened and overtaxed society.  (You can’t carry a firearm and liquor prices are obscene.)  If you guys are ever in my neck of the woods, just give me a holler and we’ll find a watering hole.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to novaculus says:

              Nova, you more of a Maker’s Mark or Woodford Reserve drinker? Woodford’s my favorite although in a pinch Jack will do.Report

              • novaculus in reply to wardsmith says:

                Makers is good.  Don’t think I ever tried Woodford.  I used to drink Wild Turkey 101 long ago.  For many years I drank Old Grand Dad 100 most of the time and thought it was much superior to the 86 proof.  Lately I have been drinking Evan Williams Black  for everyday whiskey.  I don’t like Jack, and it isn’t really bourbon anyway, due to the charcoal filtering. Evan Williams 1783 is good, and so is the single barrel, and I like Knob Creek.  I like Bulleit, lots of rye flavor, smooth, smokey, oaky.   I generally chase with beer.  I’m fond of bocks and dark lagers.  In fact, I’m just finishing my nightcap, some Evan Williams 1783 chased with Sam Adams Black Lager.Report

  31. Robert Kral says:

    I don’t regard the Cain question as settled either way yet, but he certainly has not handled it well so far. 

    However, your assertion that economic success in Texas is due to government spending is absolutely ridiculous.  Which makes me highly skeptical of everything else you say.Report

  32. Buck O'Fama says:

    Well, I’ll tell you this: 20 years ago when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harrassment (the “Coke can” incident) I and many others DID take it seriously and worried if the allegations were true and/or we should continue supporting Justice Thomas.

    Compare and contrast the behavior of the media and the feminists when much worse allegations were made against Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy.  Suddenly, it was the accuser that was the liar and the “bad guy” and the poor politician was the innocent victim of a trumped up minor incident.

    Fast forward to today: it’s not that many of us WANT to dismiss the charges against “our team” out of hand, but experience has taught us that these types of things likely have been manipulated for political advantage.  And frankly, we’re tired of being manipulated.  When you have a bunch of journalists exposed as being part of an email list that conspired amongst themselves to combat negative stories against Barack Obama (the “Journolist” list) then the belief that you are being conned moves from paranoid delusion to reasonable belief.  Yeah, there is a lot of tribalism in the country and the world today.  Unfortunately, those of us who aren’t in favor of it had at least damn well better be aware of it and prepared to combat it, even if at times it means dismissing “serious” charges against candidates we favor.  Let’s just say it’s become a matter of self-defense.



    • Michael Drew in reply to Buck O'Fama says:

      The “we don’t want to do it but the other side gives us no choice” defense doesn’t fly.  You either want to do it (defend people you know you shouldn’t), so you do, or you truly don’t, so you don’t.  I’m actually quite okay with either, myself: I think the desire to defend what you are a part of or identify with is too natural to get too worked up about.  We’re humans not robots, though if you’re just that pure, well, then get down down wit’ yo bad self.  But it’s not “the other side finally going one too far” that makes you defend people your heart tells you are sexual harassers.  You’re just that way; you’re human.Report

  33. joe says:

    It’s not tribalism, it is immaturity that made Garvey an idol.  The First Commandment forbids it for a reason.

    I have tried to teach my children not to believe the projected image is real.  It might be.  Some Hollywood stars may really have it all and not live with all the troubles that us norms have.  Michael Vick was great, until he wasn’t.  Find out enough about Michael Jordan and he may be the greatest basketball player of all time, but not an especially good man.  And let’s not even talk Tiger, or tiger blood.

    Plato was right, all we see are shadows projected on walls, never the thing itself.Report

  34. Mr. Potato Head says:

    Utter B.S.

    I’m all for consistency in narrarative, but the Cain bash is garbage.

    Hermain Cain was no longer employed at the time the negotiations were underway. In fact, an open minded theorist would have realized Cain was telling the truth; he didn’t know. The settlement was reached in September and Cain was gone from NRA in June, fulfilling his agreement he made when he took the CEO role at NRA.

    If anything, Cain should have laid out the timeline of when he actually became aware of the matter so lazy commentators would not unintentionally demonstrate their ignorance.

    Cain’s first response to the Politico broadside was truthful. He didn’t know. But shortly thereafter, he set out to fill the void by contacting the NRA general council and, I presume, the head of Human Resources. He implied as much in his subsequent discussions on the matter. As Politico was attempting to cover their exposed rear ends, Cain was understandably trying to fill the void in connecting with the facts of the matter.

    This commentary reminds me of the expression, “A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on.”

    In truth, I respectfully demand the author research the facts and retract his distortions about Cain.Report

    • In fact, an open minded theorist would have realized Cain was telling the truth; he didn’t know.

      Except for the fact that he *did* know.  It’s been documented that he talked to his 2004 Senate campaign management people about the sexual harassment issues.

      From here:

      In an interview with Forbes today, Cain said he is absolutely certain the story was leaked by Curt Anderson, a big-time Washington media consultant who recently joined the Perry campaign. Incidentally, Anderson also worked on Cain’s failed 2004 Senate campaign.

      According to Cain, Anderson was briefed on the sexual harassment claims in the leadup to the 2004 race, during a private meeting with the candidate. The charges were baseless, Cain said, but he thought Anderson, his chief strategist, should be prepared for any opposition research.

      Look, man, the thing about Cain isn’t that he did or didn’t do what he’s been accused of doing.  The thing about Cain is that he is demonstrably really goddamn bad at handling a crisis situation.

      This is not Presidential material.Report

      • Mr. Potato Head in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        Inept at handling a crisis situation?

        As opposed, I suspect to then candidate Bill Clinton? Bill Clinton frisked his barking dogs at Gennifer Flowers and others and as James Carville famously said, “you can drag a $100 bill through a trailer park.”

        Is that your exemplar? He was elected, twice.

        Or, perhaps you were thinking of John Edwards locking himself in in the restroom of a hotel to avoid questions from the media?

        If you are going to fling excrement, you better tell us who your own exemplar is.Report

      • Tom Perkins in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        This doesn’t say what you claim it does, or believe it does.  Cain is reasonably certain to have heard someone at some time made a claim of sexual harrassment of him, but since he was not a party to any negotiation, settlement, or agreement–he would have had no specific knowledge of any accusers or event which the accusers claimed was involved.


        Also, there is the fact that Cain by an interested 3rd party was evaluated as being truthful in his statements and his accusers as being untruthful.

        Of course, for balance, here’s someone who doesn’t really think polygraphy exists at all, as a practical matter*.

        *I note an immediate logical fallacy in his criticism, that he assumes the “Male” setting on the screen is a) drastically important, and b) how that actual analysis was doen, as opposed to how the quick demonstration was done.


    • Mr. Potato Head in reply to Mr. Potato Head says:

      I think the bigger problem for you and others is you have convicted a man absent any tangible fact. A better man would be ashamed of such.

      Yes, Cain openly admits he informed Anderson 7 years ago of the alleged sexual harassment claim, and that the claim was *baseless*. So, are you unwilling to accept that it was baseless or have you already convicted him?

      Moreover, as there were no names associated with any of the 100 plus Politico articles, only vague, obscure allegations from anonymous sources, did you really expect Cain or anyone else to play connect the dots absent his own subsequent contact with the NRA GC and HR head? Sounds like you are ready to believe the now somewhat discredited accusers because it supports you preconceptions. I ask you, who is the one playing the tribal game in defense of your own narrative?

      I have no select candidate for the nomination but will support the nominee. I do believe in truthfulness and fairness. Cain has been truthful in my judgement having accrued two decades as an employment litigation attorney and a decade as a chief HR officer, all with a Global Fortune 100 company.Report

      • PH – Let me ask you something.  I am not asking this as a challenge; I have no desire to change your mind about Cain, nor do I think I could.  But since this is more what I was getting at with the post….

        If the exact same allegations/fact/etc had come up last week about Obama, and not Cain, would you feel the same way you do now?Report

        • Mr. Potato Head in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Absolutely. But then, I seriously doubt the Politico would have launched a broadside on Obama followed by well over 100 subsequent veiled articles on the subject.

          Do check the admonishment dished out by the Columbia Journalism Review at Politico. I am unable to link on my iPad at present, but you do understand that CJR is hardly a supporter of Herman Cain, right?Report

          • Then more power to you.  And my respect as well.

            I have not seen or heard of the CJR admonishment, so thanks for the heads up.

            FWIW, most of the reasons behind my thinking Cain is more like Clinton can be found here.  I doubt you’ll find it convincing, but if you’re curious to know how I got to my opinion it should at least answer that.Report

            • Moneyrunner in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Tod, you confuse the reactions of the Republicans with the reactions of the press in the article you linked.  I disliked Clinton and found his sexual exploits were part of his persona.  In other words, he was a manipulator who lacked a moral compass.  However, my concern was not his unfaithfulness – as you assert.  That may have been how you read the stories being written by the media.  We were less than enamored of Hillary who helped spearhead the campaign to keep Bill’s sexual conquests quiet. The members of my tribe were concerned by a President who could boldly lie to the American people while being praised by the media for being such an incredibly good liar.  They actually admired him for lacking an internal governor that allowed him to flat out lie with a straight face and act aggrieved by the accusations.


              A second point that makes the Cain – Clinton comparison false is that Clinton was not only accused of having sex with a subordinate,  demanding oral sex from Paula Jones and lying about it but was accused  of rape by Juanita Broaddrick.


              A last point is that your career is tied up in developing corporate practices that protect corporations from the financial results of charges of sexual harassment.  That’s not at all the same thing as determining whether harassment actually occurs, as you specifically point out.Report

        • wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Tod, you do realize that “If the exact same allegations/fact/etc had come up last week about Obama” could only happen in one of those alternate reality universes? Cause there is no way in hell that Obama could be caught in bed with either a live woman or a dead boy that THIS media would say boo about it. Hell, the guy has more “get out of jail free cards” than a warehouse full of Monopoly games.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

            wardsmith, do you really believe that if women came forward today to accuse the President of the United States of sexual harassment, that no one would cover the story?  Not CNN?  Not the Times?  Not FOX, for heck’s sake?Report

            • wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Fox might, if they got to hear about it. Some conspiracy theorists might claim he’s teflon because of his intelligence but they’d be looking at the wrong agency..

              I mean if someone were writing a novel about politics and showed that our last 3 presidents had tie ins with intelligence agencies, with strange, unexplained  gaps in their resumes – well the idea’s just too preposterous isn’t it? Nobody would buy that premise.Report

            • Ben White in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              NY Time ignored the John Edwards story for almost a year:

              • greginak in reply to Ben White says:

                One of the aspects of tribalism is to only look at info that supports your world view. Yeah they didn’t act on the JE story. But there are plenty of examples of bias against liberals or more importantly a bias towards the establishment or to exciting trash. The John Ensign scandal chuged on for quite a while yet never got national attention while other things did. Ya think liberals thought that was a bit odd. How easy was it for anti-Iraq war speakers to get on the air in the run up to the invasion. Its been well documented that few anti war voices got on the national press. I could scan the liberal blogosphere every day and find a reasonable story about conservative bias in the press but that wouldn’t mean that is the entire story.

                Its easy to see bias against your side if thats all you want to see. There is far more than just anti liberal or anti conservative bias in the press. Its laziness, and sucking up to the Washington establishment and not wanting to confront politicians or explain difficult topics.


              • Ben White in reply to greginak says:

                I guess I don’t understand what your point is. Or maybe I do understand it, but don’t know why you think it’s worthwhile.

                I was responding to the idea that we’d see coverage if women came forward to accuse Obama or another leftist. The answer is maybe, but maybe not. We found about John Edwards. But NY Times readers didn’t. How many things has the NY Times successfully covered up? There’s no way to guess.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Ben White says:

                Eason Jordan came out and told us the truth and still people won’t listen to what he said.Report

              • RTod in reply to Ben White says:

                Ben- I’m confused. How is this not a confirmation of the post? Or is your argument simply other side bad, my side good?Report

              • Ben White in reply to RTod says:

                You are confused about why I don’t understand his point?

                My interpretation of his point: other people say/feel other things about about other things, and some of them think it’s bias. This isn’t much of a point, so a clarification may be in order.

                I don’t particularly like the leftist habit of making half-statements with implicit messages. Then, when the implication is shown to be false, they come back with “I never said that”.

                Leftists do a similar thing with policies, trying to take credit for the intention of a policy while completely disowning blame for the consequences.Report

              • greginak in reply to Ben White says:

                There are a few other media outlets besides the NYT. The NYT is held in far lower esteem by many people ( well liberal types) nowadays because their quality has slipped. My point is that the press/media is not doing a good job, but that is not particularly about being biased towards one side. The NYT is a bete noire and focus for the right far more then it is a beacon and touchstone for the left.Report

              • greginak in reply to greginak says:

                Coincidently i just clicked onto Lawyers Guns and Money, a certified liberal blog, mocking the NYT for a fawning article about whiny rich people.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Mr. Potato Head says:

      I’ve actually come away with a similar assessment of Cain’s performance to that of Mr. Potato Head.  (Wow, do I enjoy the fact that I was able to truthfully type that sentence.)  I find it plausible, and found him convincing, that he was not fully informed of the status of the settlement payments at the outset, that over the couse of the day, he was able to gather more details, and that this could explain his changing accounts in the first days after the allegations (etc. etc.) were discovered.

      But what this doesn’t speak to is the plausibility of his account of actual facts as the controversy has matured.  The unconditional denials in the face of geographically disparate and largely corroborating accusations.  Statements like, “I have never acted inappropriately… with… ANYONE!”  That’s obviously a complete cessation of even attempting to make truthful statements – complete stonewalling.  I’m inclined to believe multiple women who brought actions long prior to his coming to prominence, resulting in settlement payments to at least one accuser over the story he is currently peddling.

      But again, I found the initial unsteady response plausibly sincere, though, as Pat says, not indicative of first-rate managerial competence (i.e the core appeal he’s running on).Report

  35. Jimmy J. says:

    I have studied tribalism quite a bit.  Humans have been around for a couple million years. We lived in tribes.  The individual  was always subordinate to the needs of the tribe. The tribe meant survival. To be cast out of the tribe meant almost certain death. Most tribes were communal and all hands required to contibute to survival. Hunting  territory meant survival and other tribes that encroached were viewed with extreme anger and enmity. Thus our tendency to discriminate against ‘the  other.”  Tribalism began to break down  with the advent of agriculture – only 7000 years ago. So recently that our genetic instincts toward tribalism remain very strong.  In fact tribalism is still the dominate  organizing principle  of humans in much of the world.

    The Greeks were the first to explore the  idea of individualism, and the Romans carried their ideas a bit further. But the idea of a government subordinate to individuals really began to take off after the Magna Carta was signed in England in 1215. About  800 years later we are still trying  to overcome our tribal instincts and work toward the idea of a governmment that serves the needs of  the citizens rather than the other way about. Certain tribal ideas will always be necessary – banding together for the common defense is the chief  one.

    I view our progress toward the ideal of less government, more individuality, and more freedom as a battle  to overcome our tribal instincts. Your observation that being a member of a selected group may make us feel superior to others has some roots in the tribal instinct is valid, IMO. Fighting this tribal, or as some might say “herd,” instinct  is the duty of citizens in any representative form of government. Otherwise we tend to break into interest or affinity groups that  view the “other” as the enemy. 

    I’m an old codger so I  remember when  the MSM was reasonably objective. I watched as they became less and less objective. Now many  people (and  I am one) believe the MSM is nominally an arm of the  Democratic National Committee. I would not mind that if the MSM would recognize that they are in an information bubble or echo chamber in which  they seldom hear anything but the liberal gospel. That the CNBC moderators were left with  their mouths hanging open when not one of the Republican candidates opined that the U.S. should bail out  Europe, was very instructive. I would applaud the MSM if they would openly admit  their biases as newspapers did back in the  early  days of the nation. In the meantime the net, talk  radio, and Foxnews provide some information  from the conservative point of view.  That’s, IMO, a good thing.

    I’m a TEA Party member. 78 years old, a Vietnam vet, and never once before ever picketed anything for any reason. The cramming down of the stimulus bill, the mistreatment of  the bondholders in favor of the unions in the auto bailout, the cramming  through of cap and trade in the House, the  secretive writing of the healthcare bill (We have to pass it to see what’s in it), etc. made me realize that writing to Patty Murray, Maria  Cantwell, and Rick Larsen was not enough.  Standing on a street corner waving a placard (home-made by the way)  is not my idea of fun,  but it gives one the feeling of doing something in the face of an out of control government.   I never  once met anyone at the demonstrations who was a professional organizer or had an axe to grind other  than their concern about what was happening in D.C. I call BS on the  astroturf accusation that has  been made.  When the  TEA Party becomes a formal organization with leaders I will no longer be a part of it. Nor will most of the  people who support it now.

    Sorry to ramble on. I liked your connection to tribalism – for the most part, I agree.Report

  36. mark l. says:

    altruism does not exist, without tribalism.



    • LauraNo in reply to mark l. says:

      So when I loan money to a family in Palestine or Mongolia through Kiva means my tribe is,…what? the whole world? I’m not too sure this is right. Actually, I consider my family my tribe, and my extended family my extended tribe, etc. I would not consider a politician or football coach or church, even to be a member of my tribe, even though I am a Packer fan.Report

  37. Doc Rampage says:

    Overall, this was a very good, and very thought-provoking essay. But this part:

    The common narrative today is that we have lost all faith in our institutions. This is wrong, of course. We have simply lost faith in those institutions that most bind us together as one, such as being a citizen or a local newspaper that everyone in town reads. Instead, we’ve doubled down on those institutions that allow us to believe we are better than our neighbors. GOP, DNC, Tea Parties, Occupy Wall Street, alma maters, libertarianism, even churches whose primary message is that We Are The Good and The Others Will Burn are all on the rise these days.

    sucks. Er. I mean, it’s not quite up to the standards of the rest of the essay.

    I was a member of the GOP for a decade or two, and I don’t recall anyone in the party ever telling me that I was better than my neighbors. The problem with Democrats wasn’t that they were inferior in some way, just that they had wrong ideas about politics. I’ve never been a Tea Partyer myself, but I’ve read a lot of stuff by them, and none of it is about how Tea Partyers are superior, it’s all about political goals. Of course, you could argue that just believing that you have correct political beliefs and someone else has incorrect political beliefs means that you think you are superior in that sense, but if that’s a sense of superiority, everyone goes around with a sense of superiority all the time.

    Also, I attended conservative churches regularly for several decades and not once did I ever hear anyone say that we were superior to anyone else. On the contrary, I must have heard hundreds or thousands of times that we were definitely not superior to anyone else, but that we were the radically undeserving recipients of a free gift of God that we could never be worthy of. I also heard many times that we were actually worse than others in the sense that we, having been given the gift of grace continued to behave the way that we did.

    Different, yes. They definitely taught that God expected us to behave in a certain way and to keep ourselves from becoming to close to the world, because we were supposed to cherish the things of the spirit rather than the things of the world. So there is some justice in the notion that churches cause separation. But feelings of superiority? Not at all.

    I suppose the assumption comes naturally to those who feel that their own beliefs are the product of superior logic and reasoning. Someone who thinks his own beliefs demonstrate superiority, might assume that Christians have a similar illusion that their beliefs are a result of superior reasoning.

    Essentially, I think that you are trying too hard to fit everyone into a single box. There are many reasons that institutions might have conflicts with other people and other institutions. Feelings of superiority are just one of them.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Doc Rampage says:

      Doc – One of the better comments of the day.  I’d like to reply in kind, with a well thought out response.  I think we may be closer than you think, but still be in different places.  (My fault for poor writing, maybe?)  But it is late, so I ask your forgiveness if I tackle this tomorrow?

      And again – really well reasoned, quality dissent.  Thanks.Report

  38. Nobody Special says:

    “First he swore he have never been formally accused by anyone, ever.”

    Do we have an original source? I don’t remember him denying being accused. I do remember Cain not answering a question from Politico’s Jonathan Martin, and then Cain asked Martin, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”

  39. Ben White says:

    On the one hand, the author has a point. On the other, he presses it much too far.

    Let’s pretend Herman Cain is innocent of sexual harrassment for a few minutes. What’s the proper defense against false accusations of sexual harassment? How do Cain supporters offer their support in the genuine belief that the charges are false? They’re doing it wrong. What’s the right way?

    Remember Mark Foley? What did he do wrong? He sent messages to the wrong people (teenage congressional pages) to proposition them for a relationship. Presumably, the goal was sex, but that was never stated explicitly. He never laid a hand on anyone. He didn’t cheat on his wife. When they found out, Republicans accepted Foley’s resignation more-or-less immediately. Remember how the Republians were given credit for handling it correctly? No? Did Tod Kelly write a long essay praising them at the time? No? The reward for doing “the right thing” in situations like this is clear: the media piles on and your enemies press the advantage, claim guilt by association, and attempt to destroy you. Lesson learned.

    In the face of a relentless and increasingly depraved enemy, in an environment where the truth doesn’t matter and righteous actions are ultimately self-destructive, what are the remaining defenses? Why wouldn’t Cain supporters band together? Wouldn’t anyone?

    In a friendly game, you play by the rules. In a desperate fight for survival against a malevolent enemy, you have to win at any cost.

    If “our better angels” can’t decide whether they’re on the side of our survival or the side of our destruction, then maybe it’s time for us to leave them behind for now. We can meet back up with them in better times, if such times ever come again for us.Report

  40. Mike Eustace says:


    I found your essay via Instapundit, and enjoyed reading it. I was most impressed by your willingness to correct the misinformation about the Texas economy upfront and promptly.

    I am from Texas, and we are probably among the most triabalistic groups on the planet and along with that comes the good and the bad. I am a Governor Perry supporter, but do realize he has shortcomings just like every human being. I don’t have a problem with others not liking him, or disagreeing him on issues, but when the attacks against him include lies about Texas, I get all tribal and jump to his defense.  You’ve already corrected the misinformation about the economy, so I want to take issue with the crony capitalism charge.

    For most of our history we were a one party state under democrat control and crony capitalism was prevalent. That is the way it works when one party controls all the power and appoints all the important administrative positions. There was the occasional scandal, but for the most part the media liked it that way. Texas flipped to solid republican for good only in the last 15 years or so, and only to total republican control in the past 5-10 years. Naturally with the power comes the appointments and  unless you are total fool, you are going to appoint your friends and supporters to the positions. Who among us would appoint their enemies.   Perry has been governor for most of this time so naturally the folks in power positions are his friends and supporters.

    The media and democrats have not taken this loss of power very well and have constantly been trying to gin up a scandal or controversy, and have mostly been unsuccessful. For all the investigations of Rick Perry’s land deals, business dealings, supposed infidelity, etc, not one has born any real fruit. He appears to be as he presents himself, a generally conservative, Eagle Scout, Air Force Captain, Farmer,  church going, married to one woman family man .

    The Gardisil scandal is a case in point, his opponents in and out of state cite that as example of crony capitilism and tie it to political donations; however when the facts came out, he had received only about $20,000 from the manufacturer over a 10 year period. Hardly the kind of money it takes to buy Senator Reid of Nevada.

    To sum it up, I admit to being tribal and am proud of my state and governor, especially considering how well we’ve done through this financial mess that has effectively bankrupted California and other states, so  disagree with Governor Perry on  the issues if you want, but Don’t Mess with Texas.




    • Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Eustace says:

      Mike Eustace – Thanks for the comment, and the Texas perspective.  I will take your advice and try to refrain from messing with Texas, if for no other reason than I suspect 98% of your state could beat me up.

      I like basically everything that you say, and I think what you are describing is the the best of both worlds, so to speak.  It sounds like you are a positive member of your tribe, while being well aware that you are in a tribe and being proactive about making sure you are always ding the rich thing.  Which should help your tribe to be better in the long run.

      FWIW, this comment more than any other I have read on this post makes me feel optimistic.Report

  41. Greg says:

    This is a great post.  As a member of the conservative tribe, I understand what you are saying about the response to the Herman Cain sexual harassment accusations.  Pulling the race card was totally inappropriate, and was rightly condemned by Condoleezza Rice, and Cain’s shifting answers are not reassuring.  I have also witnessed a fair amount of sub-tribalism among my brethren with regard to this, e.g., Perry supporters vs. Cain Supporters.

    Obviously, sexually assaulting young children is a much graver crime than sexually harassing adult women.  I don’t think this invalidates comparing the tribalistic response to both the Sandusky/Paterno/Penn State situation and the Cain situation.

    I would point to the behavior of Senators Schumer and Feinstein during their recent questioning of Eric Holder as a demonstration of a most dangerous tribalism.  I would kindly encourage anyone who is not familiar with the known facts about Operation Fast and Furious to acquaint themselves – I know a lot of rightwing websites have been inventing preposterous conspiracy theories regarding what exactly the thought process was behind the gunwalking, but I have yet to hear any credible explanation of who authorized the operation or why exactly 2000 firearms would be allowed to walk across the border into Mexico.  Sharyl Atkisson at CBS and Richard Serrano at the LA Times have been covering this, if you don’t want to try to sift fact from conspiracy theory in the blogosphere.  The accusations from some Democrats that the Republicans are just playing politics strike me as utterly false (although I am sure there are lots of Republicans who would seek to use it to their political advantage, the known facts about the gunwalking are very, very troubling).Report

    • greginak in reply to Greg says:

      Greg-help me out here. I’ve read a bit about the gunwalking stuff, including that it started under Bush. I’m trying to understand, other then as a political attack, why this is big issue.

      When i think of the various things police and intell agencies do i can think of many things which are accepted to be okay. Those things include placing undercover cops in crimanal organsations. When that happens they stay undercover even though all sorts of seriously illegal actions happen. We have informanants in various international bad guy groups where, again, they don’t go in to arrest the first time they hear about some illegal activity. Same thing with wire taps. They listen, and hear about bad things, but only arrest when they have a ton of evidence. In that context how much different is gunwalking from all that. That Mexico wasn’t fully on board? That a border cop was killed with one of those guns? I could see those things but that doesn’t seem to add up to the level of problem many people seem to think it is. What am i missing?Report

      • Greg in reply to greginak says:

        I believe that the relevant information regarding Operation Wide Receiver can be found here:


        So the key differences are:

        1. 500 Vs 2000 guns

        2. Mexican government not informed of F & F

        3. Tracking was attempted in Wide Receiver with RFID tags, but did not work.

        There very well may be some reason why we would knowingly allow 2000 guns to go to the drug cartels, but I have yet to see any plausible explanation.  I don’t think the ATF whistleblowers were acting as Republican pawns – they had no idea why they were being told to allow guns to walk.  Here’s the testimony from one of the agents:

        From an editorial by Ruben Navarette (who I don’t believe is pushing any kind of right-wing agenda, considering the hysteria his articles at PJMedia generally cause):

        But by far, the group that paid the heaviest price for this doomed initiative is the Mexican people. There is no way to know how many Mexicans died at the hands of criminals armed with weapons supplied courtesy of the ATF, but Carlos Canino, an ATF agent at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, reportedly testified to congressional investigators that Fast and Furious guns showed up at nearly 200 crime scenes.

        This scandal is about dead Mexicans.”

        (The editorial is from CNN).

        Does this answer your questions?Report

        • greginak in reply to Greg says:

          Partly. I always sounded like a  dumbish idea regardless whose admin did it. Either both admins forked up or neither did. I’ll vote for both. I’d wonder how many of both parties were briefed about this far before this scandal broke.

          When we had moles or informants in the mafia or other bad guys drugs and guns were sold while our guys stayed undercover. This seems like a ineffective example of something similar.Report

          • Greg in reply to greginak says:

            I will just repeat that I have heard no plausible explanation of what was being attempted with Fast and Furious.  Operation Wide Receiver was horribly botched, but it at least makes some kind of sense.  It seems extremely likely that there is some connection between the two operations, but what that is is unclear.  The fact that the whistleblowers cannot think of a plausible reason for the gunwalking is what bothers me the most.

            Every American should be against giving thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels for no reason.  Any politician trying to score partisan points with this is not fit to hold office, and we should all be paying attention to what politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, are saying about this.  Bringing up gun control with respect to Operation Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver is completely inappropriate, as Senator Feinstein has done.  It is not relevant to what occurred.  Some specific set of people made the decision to allow the guns to walk.  Whoever those people are need to be held accountable.Report

            • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Greg says:

              Every American should be against giving thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels for no reason.

              Oh, absolutely.

              Note, though: for the record, it is entirely possible to build a weapons factory in your garage with a few different machining tools that are now priced such that you can do it on a middle class income.  I imagine that procuring guns on the black market is only a going to last as long as black market guns are cheaper than building your own.

              It will take some practice, but plans for everything from an AK-47 to a Barrett 82a1 are available online.

              I’m not entirely certain that giving guns away as a bribery method or a way to get “in” are necessarily bad ideas, given this.Report

        • greginak in reply to Greg says:

          Also it appears Darrel Issa the lead R investigating this was briefed last year but didn’t do anything.Report

          • Greg in reply to greginak says:

            Issa states that the gunwalking tactics were not discussed in the briefing.  Is he telling the truth?  I have no idea.  This defense is the same as Holder’s – “I didn’t know it was happening.”  Would Issa be pushing this investigation if there is documentation proving that he knew what was going on, and did nothing to stop it?  That doesn’t make sense to me, but it’s possible.  The rightwing conspiracy theory about Obama trying to take all our guns away doesn’t make sense to me, either.  Various versions of vast conspiracies involving the FBI, ATF, DOJ, DEA, etc., are the only explanations I have seen.  I am interested in any plausible theories anyone can come up with.Report

          • Ben White in reply to greginak says:


            A year ago, Issa was one on 535 members of the House. He was in the minority. He had zero authority over the DoJ. What was he supposed to do? Write a letter to the NY Times?

            A year ago, Holder was in charge of the DoJ. Everything the DoJ does is therefore Holder’s responsibility. Holder’s excuse for not knowing about the operation is that he gets a 100 page briefing every week. The operation was discussed in the briefing, but it’s too much to ask for the Attn. General to read 100 pages in a week.

            But they’re exactly the same, right? And why should you care about a hundred dead Mexicans anyway?Report

            • greginak in reply to Ben White says:

              Issa asked for and  received a briefing after he took control of his committed in early 2010.

              I do care about “dead Mexicans.” So i guess we can agree that Cain’s “joke” about electrified border fences was callous and stupid.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

                Electrified fences won’t kill you, even if you piss on them. Since there were /our/ guns found at 200 crime scenes, 100 dead Mexicans might not even be the total. You are doing an excellent job of proving your tribalism however in your loyalty to the /blue/ team, right or wrong.Report

              • greginak in reply to wardsmith says:

                Right its all about my tribalism. Does my saying i think this was a bad idea not count? Guess not. oy vey.



              • wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

                 Either both admins forked up or neither did. I’ll vote for both

                Your own words condemn you. The only way “blue” is wrong is if “red” is wrong too. There’s no such thing in your psyche as blue is wrong all by itself. You probably don’t even realize you’re doing it.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                “Electrified fences won’t kill you, even if you piss on them.”

                Very few things will.  However, these definitely will, so please refrain from trying:

                1. Bears
                2. Wolverines
                3. Sean PennReport

              • Greg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                LOL – sorry for bringing Fast and Furious furor to the comments here, it’s just been something I’ve been (probably) wasting a lot of time reading about lately.  I swear, I’m not a truther or a birther, I don’t believe President Obama is a Muslim, and I don’t believe Darth Cheney is a cyborg.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Greg says:

                Actually, Dick Cheney really is a Cyborg.

                (Also, Joe Biden is really a sock puppet.  But you didn’t hear it from me.)Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Good lord.  How punchy was I when I wrote this last night?Report

              • Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                Electrified fences won’t kill you, even if you piss on them. Since there were /our/ guns found at 200 crime scenes, 100 dead Mexicans might not even be the total. You are doing an excellent job of proving your tribalism however in your loyalty to the /blue/ team, right or wrong.

                Wrong.  Some electrified fences can kill you.  Please acknowledge the fact, as a matter of personal integrity, and as one of demonstrating you are capable of rising above tribalism.

                The other kind — the non-lethal kind — is able to keep cows out, but not people.  I don’t imagine that’s the kind Cain was thinking of.  Do you really think he cares that much about the flood of illegal Mexican cows?


              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Even a lethal electrified fence won’t keep out people with can bridge or disable it long enough to get across, and the only thing to prevent that is expensive, labor-intensive patrolling.  The electrified fence is the moral equivalent of Star Wars — a claim of a non-existent technological solution to a difficult problem.Report

              • Ben White in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                In other words, since a fence can’t (theoretically) keep everyone out, let’s not keep anyone out with a fence.

                This is a common argument. “Your policy is imperfect in some way. Let’s do nothing. Or let’s choose my policy instead. I refuse to acknowledge imperfections in my policy.”Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                In other words, it’s not a real proposal.  It’s pandering PR (AKA BS) to make him sound tough on illegal immigration.Report

              • Ben White in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                A fence is a real proposal. They work. They aren’t perfect though.

                One benefit of a fence is that a fence actually is real. Patrolling is only real if you follow up and send people back when you find them. Even real patrolling can be increased and decreased whimsically. A fence just stands there 24×7, making it somewhat harder to cross the border.

                Herman Cain probably was pandering though.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                Jason, I was thinking of the commercial kind, not the ones used in WWI and WWII. Even then, the current required for lethal fence won’t stand up well to any kind of distance. Might work for a few hundred meters, definitely will not work when stretched for kilometers. My understanding is the border is more than a few klicks long no?

                The fences are generally designed to keep cows IN not out. They are also configured to keep predators out. I basically live in the country and while my land is forest, I help my friends and neighbors on their pasture land all the time with their electric fences, a small waste of my EE background.Unfortunately for Cain’s plan, people are smarter than animals.

                Mules, not cows are the problem from Mexico.

                As I said in my OP, the solution to illegal immigration is a complete overhaul of our immigration laws and policies. Until this year we had 15Million! people entering a lottery for 50Thousand green cards. With odds like that, sneaking yourself across a border sounds like the better deal. With legitimate open borders, the only ones still sneaking across will be criminals and smugglers and the emphasis can be focused on the few rather than the many.Report

              • greginak in reply to greginak says:

                Correction..Issa hadn’t taken over the committee yet.Report

    • Mr. Potato Head in reply to Greg says:

      I don’t know if you are aware of AG Holder’s testimony before the Senate committee this week past, but Senator Cornyn covered this very directly with Holder:


    • Tod Kelly in reply to Greg says:

      Greg, these are good points about Schumer and Feinstein.  However, I suspect they are different from what I was discussing above.  I think the dynamic I was talking about is a very human and subconscious action.  I suspect that those that are deep in the party machine of either party are more consciously creating strategy to sway opinion.Report

  42. Rick88 says:

    You will find no greater evidence of urban elitist liberal tribalism than in observing how the chattering classes have been defending or making rationales for Roman Polanski ever since he drugged and raped a girl barely into puberty.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rick88 says:

      Rick88, the LOOG’s own Jason Kuznicki brought up Roman Polanski earlier.  I found it a necessarily probative line of inquiry, but it wasn’t taken up.  It’s easy to draw a line at prepubescent children, but adolescent sexuality is, um, no man’s land…



      • Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        But Tom, wasn’t past of the deal with Polanski that he drugged the girl?

        Also, Rick88, I’m not so sure this is the thing you think it is.  I know a lot of liberals, and they can defend some mighty nutty things, but I have never met anyone that defends Polanksi.  I think this might be in the same category as “conservatives don’t like Obama because their racist.”  That is, there probably are some, somewhere, but it’s more a sign that you need to get people on the other side better if you really believe it’s a common belief.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          It’s not a defense of Polanski, RTod. It’s more subtle than that.

          It’s a standing back. A “well, you have to understand…” An exploration of ideas of “well, he’s innocent until he’s found guilty in a court of law, isn’t he?” (until, of course, it’s pointed out that he pled guilty at which point the argument changes again). It’s asking whether the girl was a willing partner. It’s pointing out the difference between rape and rape-rape. It’s noting that Polanski pointed out that the girl was “not unresponsive”. Hell, it’s saying that the girl herself has moved on and then asking if we shouldn’t (as if Justice depended on the mental states of the victims).

          We have posts in the archives. You may be shocked to see who wrote them.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I have never met anyone that defends Polanksi.

          I have.Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Tod, JasonK mentioned Polanski, which I thought should have been taken up. Knowing me as you do, your educated guess about what I think would probably be correct.Report

        • Franz Schubert in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Yes, Tod, that is precisely what happened–Polanski heavily drugged and anally raped a 13-year girl.  Goodness, if only we could behave like the randy,  morally, righteous French.   13 means 30.    Sadly, we still view sexuality and sexual behavior  as only an act between consenting adults.  Where is Libertarianism on this topic?   I imagine, like just about other subject, they’re up in the raftters rooting for something yet clearly defined or realized.  If there is someone in support of what Polanski did, please make your voice heard.  If there is any father here who also has a daughter, please let us how you come down with these explanations and excuses for child rape. Sincere thanks, GentlemenReport