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Politics, Empathy and the Kavanaugh Thing

The Rigged System

A little over a year ago, on my old blog, I wrote a post about what I see as the biggest problem in our political system, if not our society: a lack of empathy.

The press, the media and the pundits have been talking about the extreme partisanship for some time. But I think they have tended to misjudge the problem. Most of the time, they simply decry “partisanship” or “rhetoric”. But … we’ve always had that. And frankly, it doesn’t bother me that much. I want people to be passionate for and motivated by the things they believe in. If you think abortion is a modern-day holocaust, I don’t think you should feel any compunction about saying so. And if you think abortion restrictions make women slaves to their wombs, don’t hold back. I want people to speak powerfully for what they believe to be right.

I don’t mind partisanship. Debate and argument are not just “not bad”; they’re essential for the proper functioning of a democracy. Partisan opposition killed some of the worst parts of Obamacare. Partisanship brought us a balanced budget back in the 90’s. Often, when we’ve blundered, it’s because of a lack of opposition. “Partisanship” usually translates out of Punditese as “people disagreeing with me” and calls to end “partisanship” are often misguided calls for one side to just concede.

No, partisanship qua partisanship isn’t bad; what’s bad is the lack of empathy for the other side. The problem is that both sides have decided that the opposition is not just wrong, but evil. That every argument “they” make is a disingenuous front to conceal their real motives. So the pro-life side can’t honestly be concerned about what they see as the extinguishing of millions of lives; no, that’s just a front to conceal their hatred of women and desire to control their bodies. And the pro-choice side can’t honestly believe women should control their own bodies; they want a hedonistic society in which sex doesn’t have consequences. We’ve defined each side not by the millions of reasonable people but by the thousands of crazy assholes. We don’t just hate politicians; we hate everyone who supports them.

I still believe this: that the biggest problem in politics is a lack of empathy for the other side. We take obscure bloggers or dumb late night talk show hosts and blow any vile utterance up to represent what the other side “really thinks”. We don’t engage in the arguments the other side makes because it’s much easier to knock down straw men than to admit that they might have a point. We refuse to countenance the idea that most of the people in this country — yes, even those who voted for Trump (or Clinton) — are decent folks who probably agree with us on a great many things.

Rarely has this thesis been more distilled than it was in the just concluded war over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I have not commented on it much on these pages since, among other things, it became readily apparent that the fight was not about his judicial philosophy or whether the allegations of sexual misconduct were true. It rapidly became a war between our two political tribes in which the only thing that mattered was victory and in which each side was living in its own reality.

To the pro-Kavanaugh side, these last few weeks were a vicious smear campaign against a sitting justice and a good man. They were genuinely concerned abut the first allegation. But as the allegations became increasingly less certain and even fantastical, their position hardened. And when we descended into parsing yearbook quotes and bar fights, when everything Brett Kavanaugh did or said was interpreted as a sign of how vile he was, Republicans saw it as increasingly deranged.

But the anti-BK forces refused to concede this. No, they insisted, the Kavanaugh supporters just didn’t care about sexual assault. Some event went so far as to claim the Republicans liked Kavanaugh because he was a sexual predator. To be fair, Trump’s attacks on the alleged victims fueled this perception. But it was rarely acknowledged that maybe the GOP honestly thought that Kavanaugh was the victim of a slime campaign and were outraged by it.

The anti-BK side was a little more divided. The debate became, at least in part, an outlet for their frustration over the Merrick Garland stunt and their inability to stop a rightward shift in the Court. But there were many who were genuinely upset that a man with a credible assault allegation was considered suitable for one of the most powerful positions in the country. To many many people, an allegation like Ford’s — credible, but not supported by any direct evidence other than her testimony — might not have been enough to charge him with a crime; but it should have been enough to make the Republicans find someone else from their long list of Federalist judges.

But the pro-BK forces refused to concede even that much. No, it was all Trump Derangement Syndrome, hatred for Kavanaugh, hatred for white men, political correctness, or whatever. The most common claim was that the Democrats were trying to stall the vote past the election. That wasn’t completely unfair; Feinstein’s (arguably defensible) sitting on the Ford letter and numerous commentators linking the BK fight to the seat “stolen” from Merrick Garland fueled such claims. But never for a second did they concede that maybe people really believed Ford and thought this was disqualifying.

(I’m only scratching the surface here. The last weeks have featured an onslaught of horrifyingly bad arguments from both sides. You’ll notice this article is devoid of my usual heavy links. There’s a reason for that.)

In a sane world, the Republicans would have gotten Kavanaugh to withdraw to clear his name and nominated someone else in his place. In a sane world, the Democrats would have conceded that the allegations were shaky but said they should be disqualifying anyway. But we don’t live in that world, if we ever did. And the reasonable people seem to be fleeing the field to leave the crazies in charge.

I don’t know that there’s a fix for the disease that has afflicted our politics. It’s not just that we live in echo chambers. It’s that there is always some idiot on Twitter, on television, on Facebook, somewhere who will make the worst possible argument that can be made. And that argument will be easily amplified in the echo chambers as an example of what “they” really think.

Some of this is human nature, as I argued in the linked post:

The great advice columnist Amy Alkon has written about this many times — that we have minds evolved for the stone age functioning in a modern world. We tend to see people close to us — usually limited to a couple of hundred people — as human and fallible. When they make mistakes or have misfortunes, we sympathize. When they make arguments we think are wrong, we engage them honestly. But we regard those outside of that small circle as alien and view them with suspicion. This is why we tend to be rude to strangers, why we scream at cars in traffic, why we get furious at people we don’t even know. It explains why we so readily form internet shame mobs: because we understand if your uncle makes a racist joke he’s just making a bad joke. But if someone we don’t know does it, they’re a vile person. If your sister leaves her children in the car for ten seconds, she’s just being practical. If a stranger does, they’re endangering their kid. And so we quickly revert to our primal need to stone foreign devils.

I’m not pretending to be immune from this. I’m on Twitter and engage in this sort of thing from time to time. But this willingness to indulge our inner medieval villager is becoming a luxury we can no longer afford. It’s going to have to change — not just in politics but in everything. From online shame mobs to Twitter flame wars to the Outrage of the Day, we are in a deadly spiral of callousness toward each other’s motives, perpetual anger over real or imagined slights and deranged certainty in the morality and justness of our own causes. It’s tearing at our society and making us all miserable.

The Kavanaugh War was only the latest and most alarming symptom of this disease. I don’t see a cure in sight but we need one. Desperately.


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Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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257 thoughts on “Politics, Empathy and the Kavanaugh Thing

  1. But there were many who were genuinely upset that a man with a credible assault allegation was considered suitable for one of the most powerful positions in the country. To many many people, an allegation like Ford’s — credible, but not supported by any direct evidence other than her testimony — might not have been enough to charge him with a crime; but it should have been enough to make the Republicans find someone else from their long list of Federalist judges.

    To have objection to a Supreme Court nominee due to a credible allegation of sexual assault is not, in my mind, political; something bourn out by enough to make the Republicans find someone else from their long list of Federalist judges. Sexual assault isn’t a Democratic problem, it isn’t a Republican problem, it’s a human problem, it ought transcend party.

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    • I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. Sorry if I am. If something came out that corroborated the accusation, I would have wanted the nomination pulled. I’m glad that there was a follow-up investigation; I was doubtful that the FBI could do more than ask a few questions, but I’m glad that they did and it gives me a greater sense of confidence that Kavanaugh was either innocent of that particular accusation or at a minimum didn’t make a habit of that kind of behaviour. There’s always a chance that a person of bad character gets on the Court. There’s no way of preventing that. I believe that Kavanaugh’s character has withstood a great deal of scrutiny. I don’t see where we could draw the line so that Kavanaugh doesn’t pass.

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  2. . The debate became, at least in part, an outlet for their frustration over the Merrick Garland stunt and their inability to stop a rightward shift in the Court.

    Gorsuch.

    That’s kind of a problem for your thesis. I mean you can say “Oh, well, he replaced Scalia and was also conservative but there was no change in practical outcome” but he was the one that filled Garland’s seat, so if you were going to see an angry, backlash sparked by Garland you’d see it there.

    Most of your piece, however, is built entirely on the assumption that both sides are the same, that either both or neither are acting in good faith, etc. Perhaps it’s true, but as it’s the absolute bedrock of your piece, that’s something you should show rather than assume.

    After all, there is the possibility that one side is right and the other wrong.

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    • I would say that that, in a slightly more rational world would be where the outrage ought to be. But even before Ford’s allegations, when I have said that we should not go hysterical over Kavanaugh, our very own Saul brought up the Merrick Garland issue. Doing anything to derail Kavanaugh is justified because the republicans already established a precedent with Merrick Garland. I don’t know of any left of centre person here who called him out on that. So, no, its not a problem with his thesis. Its simply a fact that many on the left are willing to use Garland as an excuse and others on the left are willing to let them do so without calling them out on it even when no such outrage was present during Gorsuch’s nomination (perhaps because everyone was still fresh on outrage from mere election of Trump). Now maybe you think that there is nothing wrong with using Garland as an excuse to play hardball politics since the other side started it first, but then you can’t say its a problem with his thesis that its supposedly happening for Kavanaugh but not for Gorsuch

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    • That’s kind of a problem for your thesis. I mean you can say “Oh, well, he replaced Scalia and was also conservative but there was no change in practical outcome” but he was the one that filled Garland’s seat, so if you were going to see an angry, backlash sparked by Garland you’d see it there.

      You did see it there. How many D votes did Gorsuch get? 2, 3?

      I used to think the Garland thing was just stupid butthurt from the libs, but now I think it’s actually very important and useful to revisit. For some reason libs refuse to consider the plain reality that the Republicans were the majority, and the D’s were the minority. This applies equally as well to the nominations of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh as well.

      This means we are situated differently than the libs. We have different prerogatives. This is absolutely fundamental to the working of any democracy, and libs who refuse to get the point are fundamentally failing democracy as well as America.

      There’s a lot of weak sauce theorizing about conservatism in America and how it all basically a matter of white grievance politics. Mostly this is associated with Chip here at the League, but to be honest I suspect the other libs here are going for it as well.

      Whatever can be said for that, it should be obvious that that theory is not topical now. What is topical now, what is causing the demonstrations in Washington, the twitter blowups, etc., is the declining cultural soft power of upper-middle class libs, largely white, professional, living in the major cities or near-ring suburbs. They desperately want influence over this or that, but the elected political class in Washington, as well as their fellow Americans outside Washington, are increasingly willing to ignore them. Eg, Garland.

      The point of this post about empathy and the rest of it is very important, and I probably agree with most or all of it. But libs have built a lot of life patterns around that lack of empathy, and that’s going to be hard to unwind. Maybe what’s better is to insist first, that libs do their duty as participants in a democracy. Maybe if libs were able to unwind their current aggravation enough to do that, they would be better able to find empathy later.

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      • It was completely OK for Rs to refuse to vote on Garland and an act of treason for Ds not to vote for Gorsuch and Kavanaugh! Also, when the Rs were in the minority, calling Sotomayor a racist and voting against her 31-9 was justified because …

        Look, a UFO!

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        • It was completely OK for Rs to refuse to vote on Garland and an act of treason for Ds not to vote for Gorsuch and Kavanaugh! Also, when the Rs were in the minority, calling Sotomayor a racist and voting against her 31-9 was justified because

          Well yeah, there’s a huge difference between 9 votes and 2 or 1. What was the aftermath of Sotomayor being elevated to SCOTUS? Conservatives just took the loss and went back to minding their own business. And I’m pretty sure that was a world where the you needed 60 votes for cloture for nominees still.

          For most of our lives, there has been a norm that qualified judicial nominees are confirmed. That norm has been getting weaker for 30 years. Both sides kind of want to have political harmony and stability, neither side wants to get played for chumps. So that norm kind of lived in a netherworld for a while. Nobody really liked it, but there were always a few who played along and the rest couldn’t stop anything, eg, see the 9 votes above. I’d probably like to see it be stronger but in any event, as things evolved to today that norm is completely gone.

          We’re a majority, you’re a minority. In a democracy, you can’t legitimately do the things majorities do if you’re not a majority. End of.

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  3. I don’t think we’re as far apart as you assume. Mitch McConnell is thanking the anti-Kavanaugh protesters for their passionate display of opposition. “They made a tactical mistake that really helped me unify my conference and motivate the Republican base going into the election. Maybe I ought to say thank you.” Isn’t that gracious?

    Without both sides working together, as if controlled by the guiding hand of Karl Rove, Kavanaugh didn’t have a chance of getting the votes of Snow, Flake, Collins, or Manchin.

    In her now famous speech, Senator Collins said “Chief Judge Garland joined in more than 96 percent of the majority opinions authored by Judge Kavanaugh, dissenting only once.” So both sides have worked together to put a Merrick Garland clone on the court, and I think both sides should be happy with that.

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  4. The glaring omission here is Trump, and his fans.

    There just isn’t any credible way to imagine Trumpism as a conventional political force, that has a vision and ideology which translate into policy.

    And yes, there isn’t any way to discuss Trumpism without racism and misogyny. The privilege of white men is their only ideology and the only straight line that connects every policy.

    We can’t have empathy when we aren’t speaking honestly. In the Christian tradition, compassion and forgiveness require truthtelling otherwise we are just perpetuating the original harm.

    And again, I notice we never seem to have trouble shedding empathy, and using the word evil when it is applied to other nations or event distant to us in time.

    If you could go back in time to meet those people you see in lynching photos, sit down and have dinner and a conversation with them, what do you imagine you would see?
    Horns and fangs? Every one of those people was a good decent, loving person.

    Empathy demands that we demand the best of each other, and speak honestly even when it means a rebuke. What those people did was evil.

    What is happening now in America is evil and empathy should prompt us to want to be better.

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    • “There just isn’t any credible way to imagine Trumpism as a conventional political force, that has a vision and ideology which translate into policy.”

      I’m confused by this. It certainly has policies–kids in camps, Muslim bans, etc. Say what you will about the tenets of Trumpism, man, at least it’s an ethos.

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      • I’m confused by this. It certainly has policies–kids in camps, Muslim bans, etc. Say what you will about the tenets of Trumpism, man, at least it’s an ethos.

        Just, as an exercise, work out the average skin tone of those kids in camps, and those Muslims not allowed in.

        Trump is the primal scream of the white American male, who is really unhappy with the way things are going and is real eager to blame browns, blacks, foreigners, women, Chinese, basically anyone who doesn’t fit as the main character in “Leave it to Beaver”.

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        • And Bret Kavanaugh is the Alan Ginsburg, his prepared statement the Howl of the Trumpists:

          I saw the most mediocre minds of my generation destroyed by chicks raving hysterical angry/
          Dragging themselves through negro halls of Congress looking for a soundbite/
          Antifa hipsters in yoga pants burning for Twitter dynamo in the machinery of social media…

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    • I agree. We’re seeing angry lynch mobs screaming at senators and demanding the destruction of an innocent man, which each accusation getting topped by another even crazier accusation as the mob feeds on its own frenzy. I’m surprised that the charge that Kavanaugh was a member of a gang rape gang that lined up women and drugged them wasn’t followed by some woman in the back screaming “He killed my baaaaaby!”

      And yes, there isn’t any way to discuss Trumpism without racism and misogyny. The privilege of white men is their only ideology and the only straight line that connects every policy.

      That’s nonsense. What motivates Trump voters like me is the conviction that we’ll replace humans with genetically modified super-soldiers, who we will in turn replace with implacable cyborgs, until we dispense with organic flesh altogether and go for killer robots in an infinity of forms. Then we’ll be ready to invade and conquer alien empires regardless of their local microbes. We won’t repeat the Martian’s mistake.

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      • Yes, many women draw their power and status from the patriarchy. Many more preference their whiteness over their femaleness. Many others preference their wealth.

        Look at the women of Fox News. It is obvious that were they not young, white, pretty, and look good to middle aged men, they never would be hired. So they derive a tremendous power from the rules of the patriarchy, and from racism.

        I am sure you can find plenty of women in Hollywood who silently preferred their status in a Weinstein world, because they had whatever power was afforded them.

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        • Look at the women of Fox News. It is obvious that were they not young, white, pretty, and look good to middle aged men, they never would be hired.

          So you don’t think the chicks at MSNBC are hot? Seriously? Because honestly, they are my favorite.

          Katy Tur…hot.
          Stephanie Ruhle…hot.
          Hallie Jackson…hot.
          Nicole Wallace…hot.
          Mika Brzezinski…hot.
          Chris Jansing…hot.
          Alex Wagner…hot.

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  5. Kavanaugh is not the first Supreme Court nominee to be credibly accused of sexual misconduct, nor was Dr. Ford the first accuser to be demomized and then dismissed, nor was the the first “investigation” to be hijacked by the nominee’s defenders. Nor is Kavanaugh the first one to get a lifetime appointment to the highest court while claiming to be a victim, while the woman has nothing to show for coming forward but scars.

    But the important lesson, as always, is BSDI.

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  6. Trump is the apotheosis of the lack of empathy. From both sides. On the one hand, concerns about immigration and globalization being dismissed as racism or ignorance. And, on the other side, a political party and structure that fed them a steady die of hatred and resentment, blaming any problem on “liberals” and “leftists”; making Obama — who governed moderately — into some kind of Alinsky demon while branding mainstream Republicans as sellouts and RINOs. Preying on that lack of empathy, stimulating it, encouraging it … made some people very wealthy. And our country far worse off.

    I have a lot of Trump supporters in my family and I talk to them about politics fairly often. And it is possible to have a reasonable conversation with them. Harder to do to strangers, of course. But that’s kind of my point.

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    • Addendum: And I fear we are seeing a rough counterpart of Trumpism arising on the Left. Fed by a Republican Party that dismisses legitimate concerns as “socialism” or “political correctness” and the rough equivalent of Fox News in snarky late night talk show hosts, Twitter personalities and academics. It will bite the Democrats badly.

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      • I have mentioned a few times how I witnessed the 60’s playing out, hippies vs Establishment, pro and anti war factions, Black Panthers vs white supremacists.

        And I remember how a lot of it did seem as you describe, just crazy tribal warfare.
        History has softened a lot of the edges now, and washed it all over with a warm patina, but a lot of what was said and done was stupid, and pointlessly trollish.
        On Both Sides!

        But see, here’s the thing. At the end of the day, after you sifted through all the arguments and points, one side really was right, and one side really was wrong.

        A lot of what the left said about the Viet Cong was just flat out wrong, dangerously wrong. And a lot of the defenses of the war were based on good faith and reason.

        And yet, the main underlying thesis was correct. The war was unwinnable, and we had no business fighting it.

        And the same goes for the environment, women’s lib, gay lib, civil rights and all the rest. The hippies pretty much got the right of things, even if they made a lot of errors along the way.

        It was never different. We like to imagine all the great political clashes as some Lincoln-Douglas debate, of calm reasoned people discussing things with empathy.

        But like a “civil” divorce, if we could do it like that, we wouldn’t doing it in the first place.

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        • The hippies were wrong about Vietnam, and it cost hundreds of thousands of lives across Southeast Asia. We beat communism (to the extent that we did) by building up our military, fighting every communist advancement, and calling them out on their human rights abuses.

          They were kind of right about the environment, except they were too poorly educated to understand what should be done to protect it. Fortunately there were adults to do that.

          Were they right about civil rights? The ones who wanted equality were; the ones who wanted revolution weren’t. The programs the left went on to support did a great deal of damage to minorities, though. And that’s the big thing you left out of your analysis of hippies: more than civil rights, more than the anti-war movement, they were mainly concerned with destroying institutions. And they were dead wrong on that. They killed themselves and others with drugs, with STD’s. They messed up the universities, although fortunately as noted they had neither the self-discipline nor remaining brain cells to enter the sciences in large numbers.

          They ruined the family, both deliberately and accidentally. And there’s no better indicator of future success than a stable family. Not race, not sex, not income. You can complain about the rich white males all you want to, the greatest threat to happiness in America is the damaged family unit, and that’s your legacy.

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                • They ruined the family, both deliberately and accidentally.

                  Such empathy, Pinky.

                  But then, I’m a family-ruining, drug pushing, STD-giving, university destroying, low-brain-cell having liberal hippy, so what can you expect, right?

                  I think we’ve found the real problem — those darn liberals just won’t sit there quietly and take their insults! They have the temerity to argue and insult back, like they’re real Americans or something!

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                  • I didn’t want any partisanship on this thread, same as the last thread on this subject a few days ago. Look who started it. It’s absurd to expect me to sit back and not respond to Chip’s hippie revisionism. I would have loved a discussion along the lines of the Haidt/Shapiro chat I linked to.

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                    • It’s absurd to expect me to sit back and not respond to Chip’s hippie revisionism

                      Ah yes, another time when a liberal made you do something.

                      Darn those liberals. They’re the worst, always making you insult them like that, right?

                      Don’t you wish they’d use their powers for good, instead of making good conservatives have to be racist, or vote for incompetents, or make excuses for rape and sexual assault? (“Grab ’em by the pussy” was just locker room talk, right? No reason not to vote for the guy, amiright?)

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                    • Then maybe you shouldn’t have called me and my friends drugged diseased stupid family-ruining university-spoiling communist-hugging sex perverts.

                      You obviously respectful live-and-let-live diversity-embracing compassionate conservative.

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                      • I’m not calling all y’all those things, just the hippies. To the extent that someone defends the hippies, they’re defending all those things. I probably overstated it saying that those things are Chip’s legacy – they are the legacy of people Chip found worthy of praise.

                        I don’t know if you were alive in the 1960’s, but the hippies are not worth romanticizing. They were a destructive force. We’ve romanticized them, and now we’re committing the same bad acts they did. We’re not only suffering from the problems they exacerbated; we’re trying to model ourselves after them. I’m definitely going to call out anyone who promotes that.

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                  • See my reply to dragonfrog below. Chip brought up hippies and praised them. I replied by criticizing them. If you’re a hippie, I was criticizing you. If you’re not, I wasn’t, except to the extent that you embrace them.

                    ETA – Oh, I guess my reply to dragonfrog *above*. The subthread pattern fooled me on that one.

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          • We are fortunate that the icons of American conservatism have such zeal for their cause that they not only provide sermons, but actual lived exemplars of the devastating effects of sexual irresponsibility, out of wedlock births and drug use.

            Donald Trump, David Dennison, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Denny Hastert, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, David Vitter Roy Moore, Larry Craig, Rudy Guiliani, among many others have all put in extraordinary efforts above and beyond the call of duty in this regard.

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            • I don’t like hypocrites either (although Trump probably doesn’t count as a hypocrite because he’s always been a public scumbag).

              Do you get the difference between setting your own house on fire and encouraging other people to do so?

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              • In fairness, sexual mores are one area where both sides yes both sides were right and wrong, in ways they didn’t understand.

                Yes, in 1972 people really did go around saying that marriage was a dying institution, and yes some people advocated comple unbridled sexual license, and yes, even the pedophiles got into the act and floated their ideas for a while.
                And yes, some conservatives did hold that sex before marriage was an abomination, and that gay sex would lead to the downfall of the republic.

                Whats funny is how it all turned out.

                Today, I doubt you could find a single person in a conservative megachurch who was a virgin on their wedding night. And conservatives have mostly yielded to the reality of gay people living normal lives with full rights.

                But by the same token, no one is going around demanding sexual licentiousness. The biggest fight over family issues was when gay folks wanted to marry and enjoy monogamy.

                So yeah, I think conservatives can rightly claim a victory here, as can liberals.

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                • I’ve checked wikipedia, and in 2001 25% of people did not have premarital sex. 1 in 4. While 75% is high, its nowhere near universal enough for it to be entirely uncontroversial.

                  30% of people in the US still disapprove of it.

                  @chip_daniels

                  There is something I want to say about how many lefty folk seem entirely too dismissive of views that significant chunks of their fellow citizens hold.(apart from noting that they do)

                  Some of it is living in a bubble: no one they know disapproves of it or would admit disapproving of it to them.

                  Some of it is a kind of arrogance/ disrespect: Those sorts of people’s opinions don’t matter

                  It is the second bit which I want to focus on, namely that if significant chunks of your fellow citizens hold a certain view, that should matter and not merely in the they-are-an-electoral-threat sense. Part of regarding them as at least minimally competent moral agents means disagreement places a justificatory burden. This would be true even if the other side does not recognise any such justificatory burden. You don’t respect others’ basic humanity only when they do yours, you do so regardless of whether they do so or not.

                  There might be a worry about what if significant chunks are Nazis or something. But this is a worry only if the justificatory burden cannot be met.

                  It is also important to establish as common knowledge that we respect others as moral agents. And this means that when significant chunks of people hold unjustified views, we try seriously showing why these views are unjustified. And this means seriously grappling with what they believe, what their evidence is and why their evidence supports what you believe rather than what they do.

                  There is definitely going to be an element of frustration along the lines of “are we still having this conversation today” but if 30% of your country disagrees with you perhaps you should be having that conversation.

                  And when all is said and done, I don’t think disapproving of premarital sex is anything like being racist. So even if I’m wrong and we should just dismiss racism no matter how prevalent it is, the same cannot apply to all moral disagreements.

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          • The hippies were wrong about Vietnam, and it cost hundreds of thousands of lives across Southeast Asia. We beat communism (to the extent that we did) by building up our military, fighting every communist advancement, and calling them out on their human rights abuses.

            A statement like this tells me that the person making it has very little actual knowledge about the Vietnam War, about the viability of a self-sustaining South Vietnamese government, or about the U.S. government’s own internal policy conversation throughout the course of the war.

            What exactly makes other people want to engage with someone who is so obviously wrong?

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            • The Vietnam War wasn’t entirely about vietnam. It was also about Thailand, Malaya and Singapore at least. US containment of North vietnam even if only temporary allowed other non-communist countries in the region sufficient time to deal with their own internal communist problems not to mention Sukarno.

              Sukarno got into bed with the communists in order to ward off the Islamists. There was thus always a worry about communist agitation from the south.

              In addition, there were numerous links between the Chinese community in Singapore and Malaya and the CCP. This was a holdover from WW2 when Chinese in Singapore and Malaya went north to fight the Japanese. Not to mention, trade unions in Singapore in those days were basically ComIntern cells. Hell, Lee Kwan Yew had to get into bed with Barisan Socialis to come into power.

              Indonesia (i.e. Sukarno), for geopolitical reasons, opposed the formation of Malaysia and used to send saboteurs to commit acts of terrorism during the semi-cold war Konfrontasi. Part of the deal then in obtaining independence from the British was that Malaysia i.e. Singapore, Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak purge the communists in their ranks. It is unclear whether Sukarno’s opposition to Malaysia came first or the purging came first, but either way, it ended up such that Malaysia could not exist without purging the communists. Ultimately Suharto overthrew Sukarno and Konfrontasi came to an end. If the VietCong had overrun vietnam early on and come south, the whole of southeast asia would have been communist well into the 90s.

              And that is just in Southeast Asia. Deng Xiao Ping pretty much reversed Maoist economic controls because of a capitalist Singapore. Given a communist Singapore, China would still be a Maoist hellhole.

              If we calculate the amount of suffering averted by the vietnam war, going into vietnam was the right idea. If the US had pulled out before 1970, the amount of human misery that would have caused would have been unimaginable.

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              • The Vietnam War wasn’t entirely about vietnam.

                I’m not sure why you’d want to try to defend the Vietnam War without actually talking about Vietnam, but that’s pretty much the same mistake that the U.S. government made in trying to fight an unwinnable war with almost no real knowledge of the enemy. And in that respect, is wrong. I’m no hippie, but the hippies were right about the U.S. government lying to the American people about the prosecution of the Vietnam War.

                We could get into a larger conversation about the appropriateness and efficacy of the Domino Theory, but that’s most going to come down to unknowable counterfactuals. For one thing, Ho Chi Minh definitely began his political career as a socialist of the Marxist-Lennist variety, but it’s not clear how much of an internal socialist he was versus a Vietnamese nationalist. That’s an important distinction.

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                • The Vietnam War was easily winnable, and in fact we had it pretty much won when we left. Then we changed sides and put the South under an arms embargo. A couple years after that the North invaded again and we failed to provide air support.

                  The number of mistakes the US leadership made in the Vietnam War was vast, including the idea that Vietnam was a country involved in a civil war. It wasn’t. That area we call North Vietnam had been trying to conquer the area we call South Vietnam for almost a thousand years. The South was normally part of Khmer (Cambodian) empires, whereas the North was often under Chinese control, or under the control of various warlords with their own kingdoms, as was Laos. The central highlands had little to do with either North or South Vietnam, and not only didn’t speak the same language, but didn’t even speak a language in the same language family as the North.

                  But the French had gone in and conquered everything in the area that’s easily conquered by boat, divided it up into tidy administrative units to make ruling Southeast Asia easier, and their almost arbitrary divisions stuck, giving us Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. They could’ve divided it up any other way and it would’ve been just as valid or invalid.

                  So from day one, the US accepted what the French left instead of examining the situtation with clear eyes, realizing that the North and South had nothing in common and shouldn’t even have the same name. It got worse from there. The story of the US involvement in the Vietnam War really has more to do with idiots in DC than anything on the ground,

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        • Chip,

          If we could, just for a minute, pretend we’re talking about liberals and conservatives in a theoretical sense… The best way to think about they dynamic remains what Disraeli said: It’s not a choice between change or no change, but how fast we want the changes to happen and what they will look like.

          Liberals have the heart. They are very good at seeing inequality or injustice and wanting to fix it. They like great, big programs aimed at doing that. What I believe on the philosophical level though is that it’s hard for them to live in that headspace and also see the downside. They also don’t have as much affinity for cultural institutions so they don’t consider that disruptions need to be mitigated. Conservatives end up playing that role, but to the Left it looks like obstructionism.

          I have to deal with a couple of people in my extended family that are borderline. One of the hallmarks of that condition is ‘black or white thinking’. Basically, if you aren’t 100% with them and their ideas, you are against theme. They can’t see a potential compromise or that your opposition might be in their best interests. So they say really nasty things like, ‘You never support me,” or ‘You just don;t care about me and my ideas.” It’s easier for them to see the other side as the enemy rather than admit their idea is not perfect.

          Unfortunately I see more and more of this kind of thinking from liberals. If you don’t think school integration programs are perfect, you are a racist. If you don’t think we should embrace every idea from the Green movement then you hate the environment. If you don’t believe every sexual assault claim, you hate women. It’s a pretty unreasonable stance.

          I do understand that in actual practice, one of the problem is that conservatives aren’t suggesting those compromises or alternative ideas or even really explaining opposition satisfactorily but I’m just not convinced the rhetoric would change if they were. I think that kind of all-or-nothing stuff has been going on for a long time. When liberals were unhappy with opposition to FDR’s policies, they tried to stack the Supreme Court. Liberals simply don’t like their big ideas messed with.

          So when you say that history has proven you all right, I guess I would say to beware the narcissism of the present. The country still moves forward, just not always at the pace and in the exact image you all hoped for.

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          • 37 writers sent a letter to the WaPo demanding they stop labeling Jen Rubin as a conservative. David Frum was fired from his job at AEI because of opposition to Trump.

            Has it occurred to you that if you were a higher profile person, you would be excommunicated as a heretic, unfit to wear the name conservative? Have you considered that the conservative movement has no room for you any more?

            You want me to consider a better, more reasonable form of conservatism.
            I can’t do it.
            I do battle with the conservatism we have, not the one we wish we had.

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            • As a big C conservative, I don’t have the power of excommunication, which is reserved to the big C Catholics. Conservativism, unlike liberalism, doesn’t have purity heirarchies because it’s not a confessional religion. So Mike can’t be excommunicated any more than he can excommunicate me.

              It’s more a form of thought, key to which is the insight based on long experience, history, and insights into human nature, of “Ohhhh… That will end badly….”

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            • “I do battle with the conservatism we have, not the one we wish we had.”

              I get that, but it makes it hard to have conversations with you HERE. If the conservatives on the site have to answer for the policy decisions of the folks running the GOP, you’re essentially forcing us to join their team.

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              • Except of course, Mike, you’ve spent the last two weeks defending Brett Kavanaugh and when you weren’t doing that, you’re regularly explaining how tough it is for cops out there, so we shouldn’t be so mean to them.

                So you seem to have chosen your team.

                Which is fine, but somebody who fancies themselves a “progressive conservative” doesn’t post dozens of times to defend a doctrine Federalist Society judge because these crazy women have gotten out of control.

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                • This was good. Pretty narrow understanding of things, but good…

                  Here’s the deal: This site has a few pet issues that people like to re-visit over and over and over. Police violence is one of those. Seriously, Jaybird and I were arguing about this stuff a decade ago. I have never denied I have a lot of bias on this topic, given my family history, but I also simply disagree very strongly with the libs and libertarians on the site on this one issue. I also very strongly disagreed with the Democrats on the site with regards to the Kavanaugh discussion because it was so blatantly partisan from my viewpoint. So on those two topics, yes, I lean to the right. But I could outline 10 different other topics that I am moderate on and some, like public education, that I am basically liberal on.

                  The fact that you think two opinions means I belong to a certain team is exactly the problem. I find it more concerning that someone would be all-liberal or all-conservative than someone that expresses a variety of positions. I mean, people should have more nuance…right? But of course, we are all playing a character here too, aren’t we?

                  I comment on a lot of posts from a moderate position. You know what usually happens then? No one engages. But if I say I don’t believe Ford or I don’t think we should crucify a police shooting until we know all of the facts, there are plenty of people that want to talk to me about that, yourself included. Because it seems that actually discussing sensible, moderate positions isn’t very fun when you come to a site for vigorous debate.

                  So please Jesse, tell me what team I am on based on my opinions on two topics.

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                  • “But I could outline 10 different other topics that I am moderate on and some, like public education, that I am basically liberal on.”

                    I guess here’s the thing – if an election came down to two choices for Senate or President –

                    Candidate A fully supports the Left’s ideas on criminal justice reform, including completely overhauling the police along the lines of what BLM or other left-wing interest groups want, gun control, and thinks Brett Kavanaugh should be impeached, but basically agrees with you on education and other things you’re more moderate on.

                    Candidate B thinks the cops are taking too much guff from protesters, thinks gun rights are good where they are or need to be expanded, thinks Kavanaugh was unfairly attached by an unhinged left wing media, but also thinks we need to voucherize public education, severely limit immigration, and sanction people who kneel for the Pledge.

                    Which one would you vote for?

                    Now, if you would choose option B, that’s fine. I’m a partisan social democrat who would never support anybody who would restrict choice or my friends civil rights, no matter how good they were on health care or tax rates.

                    But, I also don’t act like I’m a moderate because I have non crazy opinions about a few things.

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                    • Of the two candidates you outlined, I would choose A. I’m pro-immigration, pro public education and respect the right to kneel. Of course, if you read and interacted with ALL of my posts, you would know that.

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                    • You just put your finger on why I try to vote for whoever I think will expand the economy.

                      There are lots of issues, imho it’s useful to pick which issues you’re willing to compromise on and which you’re not; What is evil and what is Evil and what is EVIL.

                      Economic laws are mostly enforced by mother nature (although probability has significant input, it’s noisy data). Money tends to fix (or lessen) all problems. The size of the economy is mostly a measurement of how much “good” there is.

                      In that choice you presented I’d vote against “B” because of immigration… but voting for “A” depends on “A” not being serious about Impeachment (which hits the radar as something a Banana Republic would do).

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                      • You just put your finger on why I try to vote for whoever I think will expand the economy.

                        The problem is that the majority of people have a very poor understanding of economy.

                        For instance, in general, immigration expands the economy, even if there are some low income people that might be negatively impacted. So people who are focused in expanding the economy should be, in general terms, pro immigration.

                        We can enter into second level discussions about how the economic growth is distributed within society, but, as a first order item, the consensus is that immigration indeed fosters economic growth, and protectionism hinders it.

                        But i wonder how many pro-growth people will reject economic data if it conflicts with their priors – My guess: A lot.

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                        • For instance, in general, immigration expands the economy, even if there are some low income people that might be negatively impacted.

                          Yes, agreed completely.

                          So people who are focused in expanding the economy should be, in general terms, pro immigration.

                          Also agreed… immigration and trade were the big reasons I didn’t vote for Trump… but to be fair now that he’s put a Trump sticker on NAFTA (basically just renaming it), there’s a lot less to object to.

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                • Just out of curiosity, I checked the last several of my posts and your engagement with them.

                  This one about interracial adoption was pretty moderate. Zero comments from Jesse.

                  This one was also fairly moderate. It was about how schools help immigrants assimilate as Americans. No comments from Jesse.

                  My post about Olivia Munn was arguably a bit more partisan, if you assume that liberals are bigger fans of mob justice than conservatives. You had several things to say there.

                  My post about how I support Colin Kaepernick’s choice to kneel in protests at football games, which is a fairly liberal position. You didn’t engage with me at all, even to say you agreed.

                  Here I talked about how they were changing teaching standards in Kentucky and how I see both sides of the issue and again, took a very moderate position. Zero from Jesse.

                  So if we use this quick sample as a barometer, it seems that you only interact with my posts if they outrage your liberal sensibilities. If the point of writing here is to engage with our readers, then aren’t you incentivizing me to be more partisan? And not partisan in a liberal way because you have demonstrated that if I write something left-leaning you will likely just ignore it. So, is the real truth here Jesse that you just come here to be outraged and bark at the people that outraged you? I have to ask, are you actually interested in reasoned debate?

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              • If the conservatives on the site have to answer for the policy decisions of the folks running the GOP, you’re essentially forcing us to join their team.

                Far from me to disagree with you on this. So far, I’m actually agreeing in toto, but…..

                Most self proclaimed “conservatives” in the USA have (more accurately, preach) a certain set of beliefs. We all know what those beliefs are: I get them repeated to me several times a day in Ted Cruz or other’s TV commercials, in the pages of The American Conservative or National Review, in WSJ editorials and op eds, in show after show in Fox News.

                And then the conservatives in this site proclaim themselves conservatives, but with a very different set of beliefs. When Ted Cruz calls himself “conservative”, we are told, he is wrong, he means “Republican”. And is on us all to understand the difference. “Please, -conservatives in the site say- don’t insult us conservatives by assuming that we are, or believe what “conservatives” do.”

                It’s all very inside baseball to me, like when “objectively disordered” doesn’t mean neither objectively, not disordered, but something, something, teloi.

                If conservatives don’t want to be tainted by “conservatism”, it would be good if they either (i) fought back against the Ted Cruz and Fox News of the world for the name, or (ii) called themselves something else. Because OT readers might understand the difference, but most people probably wont.

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                • Across the street from the Catholic church we attended, a nondenominational church moved in, and called itself something like Living Waters, A Church Of Christ.

                  Our priest smiled and told us, that regardless, we were THE Church of Christ.

                  Obligatory

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              • If the conservatives on the site have to answer for the policy decisions of the folks running the GOP, you’re essentially forcing us to join their team.

                Why?
                What prevents you from saying, “Yeah, those guys running the GOP are a bunch of crazy mofos”?

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                • I’ve said that lots of times. I’m been a registered Independent since 2008 and haven’t voted for a Republican for president since then. What else do you need?

                  And for the record, I also think the people running the Democratic party are terrible.

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                  • “What else do you need?”

                    Not spend dozens of comments defending a nominee whom will do the dirty work of putting forth the needs and wants of those “crazy mofos.”

                    After all, I likely still disagree on policy with Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, David Frum, and Bill Kirstol. I still Frum’s basically a war criminal for aiding and abetting the Iraq War.

                    But, despite that, they all happily stood against Kavanaugh, despite probably being more conservative than you are on many issues.

                    So, why was it that four supporters and defenders of one of the worst post-WWII foreign policy decisions able to say ,”oh, this is a bridge too far” while you were trying to arguing about Kavanaugh getting a raw deal?

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                    • “So, why was it that four supporters and defenders of one of the worst post-WWII foreign policy decisions able to say ,”oh, this is a bridge too far” while you were trying to arguing about Kavanaugh getting a raw deal?”

                      Well I happen to have opposed that war, so I guess conservatives are not a monolithic group. I also don’t think Kavanaugh is the boogeyman you think he is. I mean, we hear this drivel with every SCOTUS nominee and they rarely turn out to be the hyper-partisan the other side thinks they will be. So, if Kavanaugh is the only criteria you are using, that’s a pretty narrow assessment.

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                      • “i mean, we hear this drivel with every SCOTUS nominee and they rarely turn out to be the hyper-partisan the other side thinks they will be.”

                        On the important cases, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Roberts have been on the conservative side 90% of the time. Scalia was terrible, but at least he occasionally stumbled into supporting defendant rights.

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                        • There’s a big difference between being reliably conservative as a jurist and “…do[ing] the dirty work of putting forth the needs and wants of those “crazy mofos.”

                          The first implies a philosophical leaning, the second is activism. Do you think Kavanaugh is actually going to be an activist judge, or will he simply interpret the law from a conservative perspective?

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                    • So, why was it that four supporters and defenders of one of the worst post-WWII foreign policy decisions able to say ,”oh, this is a bridge too far” while you were trying to arguing about Kavanaugh getting a raw deal?

                      Not regarding anything in particular about the Iraq War, one thing that’s useful re: Kav, is to reiterate the extent to which from our side, the elevation of Kavanaugh was basically bog-standard center-right American politics that could have happened more or less any time in the last 40 years.

                      Libs really can’t have any beef. They like to bitch about Trump (us too for that matter sometimes) but Kav has little or nothing to do with Trump.

                      The week between the hearings and the confirmation vote was kind of a bullshit Hamlet move by Sen Flake, but effects ended up being quite salutary. It became apparent to people who aren’t necessarily conservatives or weren’t committed to the nomination, that the libs had nothing to say but cheapshots and innuendo. To be honest, that could have carried the day, but they didn’t.

                      And given that it didn’t, there’s nothing really for libs to complain about.

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  7. There is no empathy because there are no people, only forces.

    If we had a Supreme Court nominee with more than a smidge of dirt on him, he’d usually get chucked in favor of some other interchangeable FedSoc dude. Just like Ginsberg (the weed-smoker, not RBG), we’d be on to the next thing by now.

    But no. We can’t have that in 2018. Instead, we have a media churning out one thinkpiece after another about a larger “reckoning” in which all the bad, powerful, white, rich men will be exposed as the monsters they are. The whole system that supposedly funneled Kavanaugh with careless ease up the ever-narrowing funnel from prep school to SCOTUS was to be on trial.

    Everybody wanted to be on hand for the reckoning, ready to post selfies (but tag Tamara Burke to convince themselves that this isn’t a bunch of privileged Ivy Leaguers yelling at a bunch of other privileged Ivy Leaguers).

    The right saw this as a soft putch, in which Kavanaugh was a trap. Anyone unfortunate enough to have gone to school with a political enemy during the ‘80s could get an unfalsifiable claim lobbed at them. No, it could never meet any legal standard, but they can just fill in the blanks with the supposed toxicity (and whiteness!) of all the institutions in your life. Let them get Kavanaugh and who knows when it stops!

    The Rebecca Traister types who feel the force of female rage discovering its power are living in a bubble. If polls are any indication, this was a minor disaster for Democrats. They mistook their loudest twitter friends for the voice of a nation.

    The right wingers won this one, and they will learn all the wrong lessons. There is no putch, but it feels like the world turned upside down for a minute. A nice guy from a nice family who went to nice schools presumed guilty, *partially because of those things.* Expect a lot of Pence Rule nonsense in the near future.

    There’s a conversation to be had about how we treat each other, but not if the people aren’t just figureheads.

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    • it feels like the world turned upside down for a minute.

      I wonder if you meant it the way I heard it.

      Yeah, for just a brief moment, privileged white dudes could imagine what it might be like to be powerless and at the mercy of a world that is hostile to and presumes the worst of them.

      Whew, glad we got past that.

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      • This. This is my point. So excited to put rich white men on trial that the actions of the actual rich white man at issue became secondary to turning the tables on the entire class.

        Coulda got Kavanaugh, instead misread the wider environment, went for white men writ large, may have thrown some senate seats to the Rs because of it.

        * yes, I know I spelled Tarana Burke’s name wrong.

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          • I don’t know how you can miss the way most of the commentariat used this nomination process to put the system on trial. They thought they had the public on their side and bit off more than they could chew.

            Kavanaugh simply wasn’t the Omaha Beach they thought it would be.

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            • I’m hearing a strange logic at work here:
              Kavanaugh and the conservatives represent the true American majority, and yet are an embattled and oppressed minority.

              Evidence for the first part is that conservatives hold commanding power across all levels of government.

              Evidence for the second part is…lacking.

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              • Except for, you know, 90% of media coverage being against them, calling them rape apologists, Nazis, etc.

                This has probably cost the Democrats their hold on suburban women, who have husbands, sons, and fathers who could be falsely accused by a similar lynch mob and rigged proceedings, where prosecutors are replaced with persecutors.

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                • This has probably cost the Democrats their hold on suburban women, who have husbands, sons, and fathers who could be falsely accused by a similar lynch mob and rigged proceedings, where prosecutors are replaced with persecutors.

                  My manhood is now secure knowing that you’re actively fighting to fend off people that aren’t going to falsely accuse me of a sexual crime.

                  I know what I’d do without you.

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                  • Dave,

                    I watched this happen twice in college. Both times the “victim” was some flavor of attention seeking and/or trying for revenge against her ex (as in, that’s what she said to investigators after it got serious enough).

                    I’ve had to live through this up close and personal with various members of my family being falsely accused by someone weaponizing the system in the context of either trying to abuse her daughter and/or trying to get sole custody.

                    It’s not a problem until it becomes a problem, but then it can get pretty serious. People do what it’s in their advantage to do. Women are people.

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                    • It’s not a problem until it becomes a problem, but then it can get pretty serious. People do what it’s in their advantage to do. Women are people.

                      Women are people? Who knew. People with an ax to grind use the system to exact their revenge on others? Who knew. When are you going to tell me something I don’t already know?

                      Yeah, anyone can weaponize the system and falsely accuse someone of something. That happens every day. Most of the time, they aren’t successful. Sometimes, it goes the other way. Most people don’t focus on it every day but they know it’s there. There are a few out there like Sam that point out the injustices that take place, especially with respect to race.

                      Yet, when it comes to rape, sexual assault and related crimes, it’s amazing to see how many people go completely Chicken Little when it comes to protecting the rights of the abused. It’s a little too much of a consequence to see how it’s based on political worldviews.

                      You may think it’s prudence. I think it’s chickenshit and my own political views have nothing to do with it.

                      I’m a simple kind of guy – I just watched the testimony of two people and decided which one came across as more credible. Of course I don’t think there’s enough to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kavanaugh did it, but his childish crybaby antics made me question his credibility and character to the point where I would have dropped his ass like a hot potato if given the choice.

                      If you want to defend someone that I think is a sorry excuse for a man and a human being, knock yourself out. Hell, if you want to join the conservatives on my Facebook page in accusing me of toxic masculinity given my mockery of Kavanaugh’s manhood, go nuts.

                      Last, my bias isn’t one of politics, it’s one of judgment. Situations like this require me to make a judgment and stick to it, and I’m of the belief that people that try as hard to play the neutrality/objectivity card to put themselves on one side or the other are incapable of taking the same approach. I’m not particularly impressed with people that do that. Chicken Littles are the kind of people that do that.

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                      • I’m a simple kind of guy – I just watched the testimony of two people and decided which one came across as more credible.

                        This kind of thinking was a big problem when my family was dealing with our situation. In person the accuser was amazingly believable. Friends, family, and especially trained counselors (including one who was an ex-cop and you’d think would know better) were taken in. Clearly she believed what she was saying. Clearly she was injured and trying to recover. She’s was totally “credible” by the standards you’re using.

                        The facts always opposed her, but there’s a lot of people who don’t check, or who don’t think that’s important, and just expect we’re following the normal rules of social interaction. She pulled on the heartstrings really well, people wanted to believe her. She could quote everyone not in the room as believing her and those people had lots of facts.

                        Her case fell apart in Court because her lawyers made the mistake of believing her and not fact checking every thing she’d said. They thought they had the truth, instead all they had was emotion, and the moment they stepped into the world of facts her bubble collapsed.

                        Situations like this require me to make a judgment and stick to it…

                        Sticking with a judgement is a mistake, albeit a very human and common one. Facts matter, and we started with almost none. Making an initial judgement doesn’t change that the more facts we find out about Ford, the more we find her story doesn’t add up.

                        All of the “we want to believe her” doesn’t change that, nor does repeatedly calling her story “credible”. It doesn’t even matter whether she herself believes her story. I assume she believes her current story, I also assume she believed her different story in 2012. If she changes her story again I’m sure she’ll believe that too, and still be every bit as believable in person.

                        Stripped of emotion we have… no evidence, a story that changes, withholding evidence, the few facts we can check don’t match her story, and the accusations self serving. That seems more likely to point to the truth than the emotional heart wrenching story.

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              • Well, conservatives have lost a lot of policy battles over the last 120 years: ballot initiatives in most of the western states’ constitutions, popular election of Senators, women’s suffrage, a basic social safety net, the Clean Air and Water Acts, the ACA, and more.

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                • Uh, Susan B Anthony was jailed for putting on pants and voting the straight Republican ticket. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote articles opposing women’s sufferage. If anything, Republicans won that one.

                  However, that was before the Kavanaugh debacle, which has even some women debating whether women should still be allowed to vote.

                  Hysterical Kavanope harpies set women back 100 years

                  These screeching gorgons have bigger problems than Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Their performance during this uproarious time has called into serious question their fitness to even participate in any serious matter of state. For the first time in my life, I felt I needed to go back and see what the arguments against letting women have the vote were. I had a sneaking suspicion I might find some sage warnings of what we are witnessing today.

                  The whole article is pretty hilarious. And no, it’s not the Megan Fox from Transformers (2007) who married Brian Austin Green, who played John Connor’s uncle in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It’s a different Megan Fox, one who was horrified by the spectacle in Washington.

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              • It’s like we … mostly agree! The “reckoning” wildly overstated the enthusiasm on their own side and underestimated the unwillingness of white males to respectfully acquiesce to a regime in which their identity is flipped from benefit to detriment. That’s why the reckoning crowd failed to achieve any of its goals, up to and including the one it was ostensibly mobilized by.

                This illustrates the tactical error of the anti-Kavanaugh side: they bet all their chips on a flimsy case and started extrapolating from there on all the systems they would dismantle root-and-branch. The reckoning sank under the weight of colossal hubris.

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              • Maybe it’s because they read comments like the ones on this site:

                “Conservatives have too much power and we need to do whatever it takes to resist, all means are justified!”

                5 minutes later…

                “The demographics are shifting! Most conservatives will be dead in ten years WOOOO, high five”

                We can both be a majority now and be aware that we may not be in the near future. It’s rational and reasonable to acknowledge that and act accordingly.

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          • Like, you really think liberals hate white men, and for entirely spurious reasons, summoned up accusations out of thin air?

            All of that except the last part. I think liberals wanted to believe it SO BAD that they jumped in feet first without thinking it through.

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            • Yeah, this. It’s really bad how libs for the most part absolutely refused to consider the possibility that the accusations against Kav weren’t true, even as the rationales supporting them were falling apart right in front of us.

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          • The problem is, Chip, that everyone who has ever done evil in the name of their ingroup has thought this and felt this. Their hatred was entirely justified and thus their actions were entirely justified. No one ever rode out on a pogrom in the middle of the night thinking that they were the bad guy and they were going out to get innocent victims. They went out thinking that the other guys were the bad guy and they were Batman.

            So you claiming “well our reasons for hatiing people are sound!” justifies nothing because everyone thinks their reasons for hating people are sound.

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  8. But there were many who were genuinely upset that a man with a credible assault allegation was considered suitable for one of the most powerful positions in the country. To many many people, an allegation like Ford’s — credible, but not supported by any direct evidence other than her testimony — might not have been enough to charge him with a crime; but it should have been enough to make the Republicans find someone else from their long list of Federalist judges.

    Which set of testimony?

    This” sums up her changing timelines pretty nicely. So not only did she not name K six years ago but her timeline didn’t work for him then either. Her statements of her GPA dropping seem to line up with her first set(s) of timelines too (i.e. college) and not her later versions (High School) as well.

    I think we’re looking at “36 year old memories are (or at least should be) by definition not be credible”.

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    • The case against Ford’s claim continues to build. Aside from the fact that she kept changing her story (from the mid-1980’s and her late-teens to the early 1980’s and her mid-teens, with varying numbers of people present at the party), which you cited, the circumstances of her accusation could use much further scrutiny.

      Let’s see if there are any familiar names that pop up, keeping in mind that in an honest accusation about a Supreme Court nominee attacking some random high-school girl, the number of names you should recognize should be statistically close to zero.

      Ford testified that she wrote the letter to Feinstein in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where her close lifelong friend Monica McLean lives on the beach. Ford said some of her beach friends helped. Monica McLean sat right behind Ford during Ford’s testimony.

      Leland Keyser told the Wall Street Journal that McLean was pressuring her to change her statement about not knowing anything about Ford’s alleged party, and not knowing Kavanaugh. The FBI reportedly has the relevant text messages, which could amount to witness tampering. However, McLean’s lawyer, David Laufman, said “Any notion or claim that Ms. McLean pressured Leland Keyser to alter Ms. Keyser’s account of what she recalled concerning the alleged incident between Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is absolutely false.

      Monica McLean, you’ll recall, was the woman Ford’s boyfriend of six years said Ford coached on passing a polygraph so she could work for the FBI. So who is connected to McLean? Well, she worked as Preet Bharara‘s spokesperson, the New York AG fired by Trump and who is one of the most ardent Trump accusers. Preet worked as a staffer for Chuck Schumer.

      McLean’s FBI co-spokesperson for the Southern District of New York, listed right next to her, was Jim Margolin, who was involved in setting up the Trump’s campaign meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya (which takes us straight back to Fusion GPS) and who is involved in going after Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.

      McLean’s own lawyer, David Laufman, quoted above, was the FBI agent who, along with now fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, interviewed Hillary Clinton as part of the e-mail investigation. If you’ve been following events, McCabe is at the heart of the FISA warrent used to spy on the Trump campaign. Christine Ford’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, who sat next to her at the hearing, is also representing Andrew McCabe.

      And some are asking why Ford, in her letter to Feinstein, referred to Leland Keyser as “he”. She and McLean both personally knew Keyser and wouldn’t have made such a mistake, having four days to craft the letter. Maybe they had an editor who assumed “Leland” was a man’s name.

      Now what are the odds that so many of the people in the middle of the FBI scandal to exonerate Hillary and spy on Trump’s campaign are so deeply connected to Christine Ford, a mousy psychology professor in California?

      Well, I would venture that Chuck Schumer, who vowed to stop Kavanaugh from almost the first minute of his nomination, called Preet, who called Margolin and McLean, who called Ford.

      If Democrats want a more thorough FBI investigation, I’m sure Chuck Grassley will be happy to accomodate them.

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      • Let’s see if there are any familiar names that pop up, keeping in mind that in an honest accusation about a Supreme Court nominee attacking some random high-school girl, the number of names you should recognize should be statistically close to zero.

        Hey, for fun, let’s actually play this game:

        Ford testified that she wrote the letter to Feinstein in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where her close lifelong friend Monica McLean lives on the beach. Ford said some of her beach friends helped. Monica McLean sat right behind Ford during Ford’s testimony.

        This is incorrect. Ford testified that hear beach friends _encouraged_ her to write her letter, not that they ‘helped’ write it.

        Leland Keyser told the Wall Street Journal that McLean was pressuring her to change her statement about not knowing anything about Ford’s alleged party, and not knowing Kavanaugh. The FBI reportedly has the relevant text messages, which could amount to witness tampering. However, McLean’s lawyer, David Laufman, said “Any notion or claim that Ms. McLean pressured Leland Keyser to alter Ms. Keyser’s account of what she recalled concerning the alleged incident between Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is absolutely false.”

        Your conspiracy theory is starting with the fact that a former FBI agent has a different former FBI agent as a lawyer?

        Also, you have mysteriously bolded David Laufman as if we should recognize it. I happen to know who that is because I know that from a right-wing conspiracy theory *months ago*. The theory back then was that he must have resigned suddenly because he was under investigation, due to some misbehavior they imagined on the part of his interviewing Clinton. He…was not, as far as anyone can tell. It seems extremely unlikely that he’d be running around free at this point if he was.

        But, of course, no one on the right actually ever _retracts_ conspiracy theories, so the idea that David Laufman must have done something wrong has become permanently affixed into that ecosystem.

        This is despite the fact this conspiracy weirdly conflicts with their Strzok/Page stuff, because Strzok actually worked with Laufman on interviewing Clinton and said in the text he didn’t like him, which makes it really weird that the conspiracy theories have decided they somehow were working together to clean Clinton. The conspiracy theories are hilariously inconsistent here.

        Basically, what is going on here is that the right wing, having invented tons of theories about the FBI over the past two years, now finds the mere existence of former FBI agents suspicious. But let’s continue:

        Monica McLean, you’ll recall, was the woman Ford’s boyfriend of six years said Ford coached on passing a polygraph so she could work for the FBI.

        Now you find it a weird coincidence that one of Ford’s friend is accused of plotting with Ford. That’s…not really a coincidence. If the allegation about ‘how to get past a polygraph’ is true, it obviously not good, but it’s not some weird ‘Hey look how these people all know each other’. A friend of Ford does, indeed, know Ford.

        And we know the allegation isn’t true. One guy said it did happen, but the two people that should have been witnesses have said it didn’t, and that means it didn’t happen, right? I thought that was the standard rule now.

        So who is connected to McLean? Well, she worked as Preet Bharara‘s spokesperson, the New York AG fired by Trump and who is one of the most ardent Trump accusers.

        This is utterly incorrect. She worked as the Public Information Officer for the New York field office of the _FBI_. Preet Bharara was the USA for the Court of the Southern District of New York.

        Federal prosecutors do work closely with the FBI, but…I’m not sure they work closely with _spokespeople_ at the FBI, and it’s utter nonsense to pretend she was _his_ spokesperson.

        Preet worked as a staffer for Chuck Schumer.

        As we’ve already proved Preet is totally unrelated, this seems moot, but it’s pretty stupid connection anyway. Preet Bharara, like many USAs, previously worked for a Congressman. The fact this Congressman was a Democrat is perhaps an indication he is politically oriented towards the left, but, uh, the appointment to USA by Obama really should have clued you into that already.

        McLean’s FBI co-spokesperson for the Southern District of New York, listed right next to her, was Jim Margolin, who was involved in setting up the Trump’s campaign meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya (which takes us straight back to Fusion GPS) and who is involved in going after Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.

        And this is…utter gibberish.

        The _SDNY_ gave permission for Natalia Veselnitskaya to enter the country. You have no evidence that _Jim Margolin_ (Who did work for the SDNY, so you at least found someone who did actually work ‘for’ Preet. Except he’s not a political appointee and in fact still works there under Trump’s appointed USA) had anything to do with that. All the ‘evidence’ of that appears to be the fact that he is the person who told the media in an official statement the SDNY gave permission for her to enter…when, of course, he issued that statement because because he’s literally the spokesperson.

        Additionally, the idea that the SDNY had anything to do with that meeting is just…totally made up. Natalia Veselnitskaya’s entry into the US was authorized as a lawyer to represent Prevezon, a Russian firm accused (seemingly correctly) of money laundering. The idea they arranged _that meeting_ has no evidence at all.

        And, again, this is a weird conspiracy theory where the right is _again_ trying to play both sides: Natalia Veselnitskaya is not actually a friend of the FBI. In fact, she’s criticized them repeatedly, and said her meeting was not, in any way, inappropriate. And the right seems to want to use that as evidence…except if she’s a friend of the FBI, obviously we can’t believe what she’s saying. You can’t claim someone is part of a sting operation and then later believe their claims.

        McLean’s own lawyer, David Laufman, quoted above, was the FBI agent who, along with now fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, interviewed Hillary Clinton as part of the e-mail investigation. If you’ve been following events, McCabe is at the heart of the FISA warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign.

        People who have actually been following things would know that the FISA warrant on Carter Page was _after_ he’d stepped down from the Trump campaign, and thus there was no spying on the Trump campaign.

        And how is McCabe at the ‘heart’ of that anyway? Are you just expecting people to _misremember_ how he testified about the warrant to Congress, so the warrant must be his doing?

        Hey, wait a second! What are you talking about?! McCabe didn’t have anything to do with interviewing _Clinton_! McCabe _recused himself_ from the Clinton email investigation. He actually got some flack because he interacted slightly with the investigation after recusing himself (Although the FBI found his behavior didn’t cross the line, and in fact wasn’t required to recuse himself in the first place), but he sure as hell didn’t ‘interview Hillary Clinton’.

        Christine Ford’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, who sat next to her at the hearing, is also representing Andrew McCabe.

        Well…congratulations. You did actually stumble upon a coincidence there…except…wait, no. Your original connection to McCabe was utter nonsense, so all you’ve demonstrated is ‘lawyer representing someone in front of Congress has also represented another famous person’, which is…not really the vast conspiracy you’re making it out to be. You have, at most, proven that Michael Bromwich is vaguely a politically-left lawyer who dislikes the Trump admininstration….which…okay? Nice…proof of wrongdoing?

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        • Well, then let’s have a full FBI investigation that subpoena’s all the texts and e-mails between all these people, and all these people and Christine Ford, so these folks can clear their good names.

          I forgot to mention that Leland Keyser was the wife of Bob Beckel. Do you remember Beckel? He was a Clinton attack dog who was always on Fox and CNN as a heavy-set version of James Carville. The “beach friends” probably figured Leland was a shoe-in for colloborating Ford’s outrageous claims. They didn’t even bother calling her to confirm it, which turned out to be a disastrous mistake.

          Now remember, in an accusation that someone important assaulted a random 15-year old high school girl, you should recognize none of the names of her friends, or their lawyers (except ones they get after the case becomes high-profile), or anyone. In this case, you hit a goldmine of names of that have stayed in the news for all sorts of attacks on Trump.

          Ford’s claim that she added two front doors to her house was a lie. It was added years earlier and use to make a rental property. That can’t be why she was in couples therapy. She doesn’t have claustrophobia. That was a lie. She’s not afraid of flying. That was a lie. That her boyfriend alleged that she helped Monica McLean pass a lie detector test is so out-of-left field that unless it actually happened, he would have no way to make it up. And of course a PhD in psychology who writes academic papers on sexual assault (check Ford’s wiki) would be intimately familiar with lie detector tests. So her testimony that she knew nothing about them was another lie. And she said the test lasted for hours, when she was actually only asked two questions. Of course the Democrats are still refusing to hand over anything related to her test, which isn’t surprising if they know it was all a sham.

          And why would she be given a lie detector test? Isn’t the accused who rushes out to try and prove his innocence?

          This was an attack thrown together by the same bunch of arrogant boobs that have plagued the news cycle since 2016, and it has likely destroyed the Democrat’s chance of sweeping back into power.

          Grassley should subpoena everything and everyone related to Ford’s claim and dig into this case, the most shameful Senate hearing since McCarthy.

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            • Well, you know what they’ll find. Absolutely no evidence that Ford’s claims are true, and tons of mounting evidence that the allegation was fabricated.

              Her earliest timelines placed the attack in the mid-80’s, when Kavanaugh was already off to Yale. Her key witness, Leland Keyser, says she never met Kavanaugh. Since Ford says she never told anyone about the attack until 2012, there can be no other corroborating witnesses, not even people who heard about the alleged attack from her second hand. So there’s no corroborating evidence you can possibly turn up no matter how many FBI agents you assign to the case.

              But they are finding tons of evidence that the attack did not happen. The timeline doesn’t work out. Ford kept changing her story. Most of the key elements of her accusation have turned out to be false. As Sidney Blumenthal (who lied about serving in Vietnam) said to Kavanaugh, “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus”. Well, that applies to Ford, who wasn’t just false in one thing, but almost everything, and whose allegations wouldn’t be enough for a prosecutor to start a civil suit.

              So bring on the investigations! I’m especially curious to subpoena all communications between Diane Feinstein’s office and Ford’s lawyers.

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              • Well, you know what they’ll find. Absolutely no evidence that Ford’s claims are true, and tons of mounting evidence that the allegation was fabricated.

                See, I think you think that she lied and you’re creating a crafty story to hide your bias behind a veneer of objectivity.

                I don’t think anyone here is falling for it. I know I’m not.

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          • They didn’t even bother calling her to confirm it, which turned out to be a disastrous mistake.

            This is where we reach hilarious absurdity, where it turns out the _lack_ of someone confirming her story is somehow evidence of a connection. You sorta just _disproved_ Bob Beckel has anything to do anything. Yet, mysteriously, you also bolded his name.

            Now remember, in an accusation that someone important assaulted a random 15-year old high school girl, you should recognize none of the names of her friends, or their lawyers (except ones they get after the case becomes high-profile), or anyone. In this case, you hit a goldmine of names of that have stayed in the news for all sorts of attacks on Trump.

            Interesting you said ‘after the case becomes high-profile’, because Michael Bromwich _did just that_, joining the case after it went high profile. And as I said, McLean did not actually work for Preet, stopping your little chain cold there.

            So, basically, your ‘look how many names that are recognized’ is literally one name, David Laufman. That’s it. That’s your landmine of names, literally one person. An FBI agent involved in interviewing Hillary is the lawyer of a friend, McLean, who you have decided must have something to do with the allegations. That’s the entire conspiracy from end to end, and all those other names are just pure nonsense. And the fact that a former FBI agent hired another former FBI agent as a lawyer is not a particularly weird thing.

            Ford’s claim that she added two front doors to her house was a lie. It was added years earlier and use to make a rental property. That can’t be why she was in couples therapy.

            …you said, inventing interpetations of the statements by Ford. She has never, at any time, indicated that the additional door _caused_ the couples’ therapy, or that the therapy shortly followed after that. She said it was something that had caused some _disagreement_ when it happened, and thus eventually came up in couple’s therapy. (As several-year-old disagreements end to do.)

            She doesn’t have claustrophobia. That was a lie.

            You have no evidence of that.

            She’s not afraid of flying. That was a lie.

            Plenty of people with a fear of flying still manage to fly.

            Additionally, people with fears _caused by trauma_ can have fears that can recede for years, but come back if, for example, everyone starts _talking_ about their trauma, for a fairly obvious thing.

            That her boyfriend alleged that she helped Monica McLean pass a lie detector test is so out-of-left field that unless it actually happened, he would have no way to make it up. And of course a PhD in psychology who writes academic papers on sexual assault (check Ford’s wiki) would be intimately familiar with lie detector tests. So her testimony that she knew nothing about them was another lie.

            ‘It’s wildly improbable, so it must have happened!’.

            Incidentally, this is yet another example of you (And basically the entire right) misrepresenting what was actually said. At no point did he say ‘help pass’. Here’s the actual statement the Republicans have produced: ‘I witnessed Dr. Ford help McLean prepare for a potential polygraph exam. Dr. Ford explained in detail what to expect, how polygraphs worked and helped McLean become familiar and less nervous about the exam.’

            You will notice that, while that statement says ‘prepare’, it means that in the likely sense of saying ‘You will go into a room, they’ll hook you up, you’ll be given some control questions, the machine will read various skin responses, etc’. Not ‘test prep’.

            What the Republicans instead asked was a) whether or not Ford had any discussion with how to take a polygraph, and b) whether she given any ‘tips or advice’ at taking a polygraph. I.e., whether she’s done any test prep.

            But…the statement by the boyfriend _doesn’t say_ she did those things! Explaining how a test ‘works’ is not the same as explaining how to ‘take’ a test, which generally implies explaining how to _pass_ said test. If I tell people that the SAT starts at a certain time and requires photo ID and a certain calculator and is mostly done on a scantron and scanned offsite and the result mailed to you…I wouldn’t say I’ve had ‘discussions with people how to take the SAT’.

            And thus ends the story of the failed perjury trap the Republicans tried on Ford, before realizing ‘Wait, her statements are not actually in dispute with this guy’s statement, which is…actually really weak. Let’s…just release the statement by itself, that might look bad if the right wing media is going to pretend it’s talking about test prep’, and of course they dutifully did so.

            And she said the test lasted for hours, when she was actually only asked two questions.

            What a strange claim of a lie. The person who gave the test testified it lasted several hours. And, I point out that if he’s lying, then…there wasn’t a test given at all.

            She wrote a statement during that test, you do realize? Presumably that took up a lot of time. Additionally, it sounds like she broke down crying several times.

            If you want to assert the polygraph test questions were ‘weak’ and should have been more specific, or the polygraph was poorly done for other reason, well, you can do that, I’ve read articles asserting just that. This would be a reasonable point…if polygraphs weren’t utter nonsense to start with and prove literally nothing anyway. So if you want to argue about the way that polygraphs ‘should’ be done you’ll have to find someone else to have the argument with, because in my book polygraph tests ‘should’ be conducted by throwing the machine in the dumpster and setting it on fire.

            And why would she be given a lie detector test? Isn’t the accused who rushes out to try and prove his innocence?

            Because she was asked to?

            Of course the Democrats are still refusing to hand over anything related to her test, which isn’t surprising if they know it was all a sham.

            They’re refusing to hand it over to the _Republicans_, who have repeatedly demonstrated they are willing to release confidential stuff.

            She said she’d give them to the FBI when interviewed. Mysteriously, she was not interviewed by the FBI.

            Hey, piece of advice for you: If you want her convicted of lying about Kavanaugh, you really needed to have her talk to the FBI…the Senate is very bad at charging people with lying to them, and that’s almost moot because they’re absurdly bad at not letting people wiggle out telling the truth in the first place. Why, I happened to be watching TV the other day and I saw a witness the other day who barely directly answered any questions put to him. I think his name was…started with a K, Kavano? Kavanova? I’ll think it of it someday.

            Whereas the FBI won’t let people get away with that, and will keep asking the question until it is directly answered. And will not only will nail down the lies in indisputable ways that stand up in court, but even could then use those lies to possibly flip Ford to testify in this conspiracy you’ve made up, and bring all those names you’ve bolded to justice!

            So it seems _really stupid_ the FBI wasn’t asked by Trump to interview Ford _and_ Kavanaugh, because the FBI would have been all over the liar…oh…wait, I think I just figured it out.

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            • Interesting you said ‘after the case becomes high-profile’, because Michael Bromwich _did just that_, joining the case after it went high profile.

              That’s why I didn’t highlight is name. It’s not because he wasn’t known, it’s because he joined the case later.

              An FBI agent involved in interviewing Hillary is the lawyer of a friend, McLean, who you have decided must have something to do with the allegations.

              Ford testified that she wrote the letter to Feinstein not in California, where she lives, but in McLean’s little town in Delaware, and said that some of her “beach friends” encouraged her. Of course, encouragement can take many forms, so Grassley might want to check her bank statements for any large deposits, although since she’s a p-hat wearing anti-Trump activist, I doubt renumeration was necessary. And McLean sat directly behind her during testimony. It’s not a stretch to think McLean was involved in the polygraph test Ford took, as the student becomes the master.

              …you said, inventing interpetations of the statements by Ford. She has never, at any time, indicated that the additional door _caused_ the couples’ therapy, or that the therapy shortly followed after that. She said it was something that had caused some _disagreement_ when it happened, and thus eventually came up in couple’s therapy. (As several-year-old disagreements end to do.)

              That’s not how she described it in testimony. She said that her husband couldn’t understand why she’d want a second front door. So she explained that she had claustrophobia because of a sexual assault. But that’s BS because she and her husband didn’t just add a second door, they split off part of their place as a rental unit, thus necessitating a second door. There was even a marriage counselling business run out of that apartment, which needed a front entrance. So why would her husband think that was crazy?
              Heck, it was likely his idea in the first place. And given that the second door wouldn’t have been an escape route because the rental unit would’ve been separate, the claustrophobia-exit claim was also BS.

              And of course her former boyfriend said they lived for years in a 500 square foot apartment with one door and she never had a problem with it. Yet she told Diane Feinstein, in sworn testimony, that she had a second front door installed in her home because of “anxiety, phobia and PTSD-like symptoms” that she purportedly suffered in the wake of Kavanaugh’s alleged attack at a house party in the 1980s — “more especially, claustrophobia, panic and that type of thing.”

              Incidentally, this is yet another example of you (And basically the entire right) misrepresenting what was actually said. At no point did he say ‘help pass’.

              Well she wasn’t helping her fail, that’s for sure.

              You will notice that, while that statement says ‘prepare’, it means that in the likely sense of saying ‘You will go into a room, they’ll hook you up, you’ll be given some control questions, the machine will read various skin responses, etc’. Not ‘test prep’.

              McLean could have found all that out from any clerk at the Save-A-Lot. If you’re hooking up with a PhD in psychology for a polygraph, you’re probably trying to slip some big things right past them.

              Also note that McLean’s lawyer’s denials were not to any court of law, but to the news. If Grassley puts her under oath that story might change because Ford’s boyfriend might have information on specific polygraph questions that he shouldn’t otherwise know were going to be asked.

              She could be looking at serious jail time.

              Kavanaugh, on the other hand, is now a Justice of the Supreme Court, and all you’ve got on him are silly claims that the Devil’s triangle wasn’t a drinking game, or that Renate Alumnius was somehow a sexual slur to everyone. There’s no way anyone can prove that, nor is it a material fact in any inquiry.

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              • That’s why I didn’t highlight is name.

                So, would you like to retry your list then? Because, by my count, it still has exactly one name on it. We’re not playing the game where you keep jumping from allegation to allegation, hoping no one notices your completely bogus original claims.

                I want you to _admit_ your original list of ‘names you shouldn’t recognize’ was completely full of nonsense, and you have, at best, managed to discover a friend of Ford that has hired as a lawyer a single ex-FBI employee who was involved in the Hillary investigation.

                So if you want to make something about Laufman being McLean’s lawyer, well, I think that’s absurd, but it is at a conspiracy based on some actual true things.

                But Preet Bharara, Jim Margolin, and Chuck Schumer have _nothing_ to do with Ford or McLean whatsoever. (And Jim Margolin doesn’t have anything to do with anything anyway.) And Andrew McCabe is only related to McLean in the sense he also worked for the FBI also, although in at such a level it is extremely unlikely they know each other.

                But that’s BS because she and her husband didn’t just add a second door, they split off part of their place as a rental unit, thus necessitating a second door. There was even a marriage counselling business run out of that apartment, which needed a front entrance. So why would her husband think that was crazy?

                …possibly because he wondered why the hell she’d rented out part of their house for that, when they didn’t need the money? Not realizing the reason was that she wanted additional doors in their house, and so she had to justify it with a weird rental?

                I find this supposed line of discussion really confusing. Yes, the second door on the front of the house was into a rental space, but no one has bothered to state the actual important fact of whether there were still interior door(s) into that space, or whether they were walled up.

                And considering that the people who seem to be promoting this idea are saying ‘This was a scam so she could rent the space’, that means the interior doors _couldn’t_ have been walled up, or a single walkthrough of the house and inability to get from one part to another would give the scam away.

                So since there were almost certainly still interior doors into that space, the rental space and additional exterior exit would have still have provided an additional escape route.

                And of course her former boyfriend said they lived for years in a 500 square foot apartment with one door and she never had a problem with it.

                Maybe the house she lived in reminded her more of the _house_ she was assaulted in than the apartment did? Crazy idea, I know. Or maybe the house had smaller rooms. A 500 square foot apartment sounds like a studio to me. Or maybe that apartment had the same sort of bedroom window fire escape that apartments often have, and she needs an exit close to the bedroom. Or maybe her claustrophobia just got _worse_.

                Seriously, claustrophobia is not about the objective size of the entire property. (How would that even work? The brain keeps track of the property deed?) Claustrophobia is not about size of the space at all, it’s about _perceived confinement_. I know half the places on the internet have defined it as ‘irrational fear of small spaces’, but that is completely wrong. It is ‘irrational fear of being trapped’.

                Which is, of course, the entire point with the doors, and why people with claustrophobia can be fine in a 40 square foot bathroom, or inside cars, but not on airplanes that are much larger.

                On top of that, claustrophobia is, duh, a _phobia_, which is an _irrational_ fear. Which means arguing ‘Someone can’t have it, because they did this other thing that should qualify under that phobia’ is utter nonsense. People’s phobias do not line up with some textbook definition. And if that phobia is from a trauma, they can wind up with all sorts of weird triggers, like being claustrophobic only in the dark or agoraphobic only when it’s raining.

                Saying ‘Someone can’t be claustrophobic if they lived in a small apartment’ is just really silly.

                If you’re hooking up with a PhD in psychology for a polygraph, you’re probably trying to slip some big things right past them.

                You…do realize that people with PhDs in psychology _don’t actually believe in polygraphs_, right? Here, let me quote Wikipedia: Summarizing the consensus in psychological research, professor David W. Martin, PhD, from North Carolina State University, states that people have tried to use the polygraph for measuring human emotions, but there is simply no royal road to (measuring) human emotions.[24] Therefore, since one cannot reliably measure human emotions (especially when one has an interest in hiding his/her emotions), the idea of valid detection of truth or falsehood through measuring respiratory rate, blood volume, pulse rate and galvanic skin response is a mere pretense.

                I find it kinda funny that people have latched on to ‘Ford secretly has studied to beat a polygraph and she once taught McLean’ idea. Guys? Polygraphs don’t actually work. No one needs to ‘learn’ how to beat them. All you have to do is convince the administrator of the polygraph you’re telling the truth, and as it is entirely objective, he’ll state you are telling the truth.

                Polygraphs are right next to dowsing rods and horoscopes. They basically ‘work’ because it’s hard for more humans to sit there and calmly tell lies to people without giving some sort of reaction, but the reaction is actually how people physically react, not the marks on the paper.

                You’d have a lot better luck, conspiracy-wise, asking why Ford bothered to take a polygraph _when she knows they weren’t real_. It’s hypothetically possible that someone _offering_ to take a polygraph might prove the truth of their story, because they incorrectly think a polygraph will prove them out. But Ford had to know they were utterly bogus, so her willingness to take the test, much like the test itself, proves nothing.

                If Grassley puts her under oath that story might change because Ford’s boyfriend might have information on specific polygraph questions that he shouldn’t otherwise know were going to be asked.

                What the _hell_ are you talking about? How would Ford know any ‘specific polygraph questions’ the FBI would be asking? You’ve now apparently invented some sort of thing where Ford could have been passing McLean inside information?!

                News flash: Ford doesn’t know anything specific about how the FBI does polygraphs, or what sort of questions they ask, or anything. Ford does not work for the FBI. Ford has even not administered polygraph tests as a psychological research because, again, they are completely bogus and psychology does not believe in them. All she knows about polygraph tests would be from her psychology degree, which would be a) the basics of how they are conducted and b) that they do not actually work.

                Oh, you know who else wasn’t under oath, and we, in fact, don’t know the name of? This supposed boyfriend. Weird how we’re just taking his word at everything.

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                • …possibly because he wondered why the hell she’d rented out part of their house for that, when they didn’t need the money? Not realizing the reason was that she wanted additional doors in their house, and so she had to justify it with a weird rental?

                  Zero jurors are going to believe that. If you want an additional exit, it wouldn’t be going through someone else’s apartment. If you were adding a door because of PTSD from a sexual assault, why would you want to let strangers, possibly men, live in your house? Her whole stated rational collapses once it’s known that the door was for a rental.

                  So since there were almost certainly still interior doors into that space, the rental space and additional exterior exit would have still have provided an additional escape route.

                  I’ve never seen a rental with unlockable interior doors so the renter can just wander back and forth, or so the landlord can just breeze through. So the extra front door can’t provide an additional escape route because any interior door, if one existed at all, would be locked by the renter. Assuming it wasn’t locked when the renter was home, she’d be in the middle of a panic attack trying to flee through an occupied space, probably in the middle of the night. She’d possibly get shot, or perhaps she’d get raped. Whatever happens, she’s not got a second escape route, and her testimony to Feinstein and the committee was a lie.

                  McLean would know some of the questions to expect on the polygraph test, since other FBI agents would likely have mentioned a few, and she would have known what issue she had that she needed to be able to lie about. If you don’t think you have any issues that would be red flags – guess what – you don’t have to worry about taking a polygraph test.

                  Now why would Ford fly to Delaware to meet with McLean to write her letter to Feinstein? McLean didn’t know anything about the attack Ford was alleging. Who are the other “beach friends” Ford references, and were they some of McLean’s fellow agents? What correspondence was exchanged between Feinstein and Ford’s legal team? If Ford didn’t want to come forward, why the heck did she write the letter to Diane Feinstein? Why did Diane Feinstein sit on it until the hearings were over?

                  Ford perjured herself repeatedly, not just about little things, but about the whole attack. Was she offered anything to do that?

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                  • If you were adding a door because of PTSD from a sexual assault, why would you want to let strangers, possibly men, live in your house?

                    Why would _strangers_ live in her house? It’s _her_ rental property, why would she rent it to strangers, or men at all? The main tenant I’ve heard of was a female therapist. And presumably the door can be locked from the main house.

                    I’ve never seen a rental with unlockable interior doors so the renter can just wander back and forth, or so the landlord can just breeze through.

                    Everyone who rents out part of a building informally like that can get into their tenant’s space. (You have to get to high-end commerical stuff before a tenant can change their own locks.) How _easily_ they can do that is completely unknown without more information.

                    And a _lot_ of setups like that have locks only in one direction, where the tenant is locked out of the main building, but the landlord _isn’t_ locked out of rented area. There’s a single door lock, and it’s locked or even just bolted with sliding latch so the renter cannot exit through that door into the building, but the other side can just unlock or unbolt it.

                    McLean would know some of the questions to expect on the polygraph test, since other FBI agents would likely have mentioned a few, and she would have known what issue she had that she needed to be able to lie about. If you don’t think you have any issues that would be red flags – guess what – you don’t have to worry about taking a polygraph test

                    So your theory is that McLean somehow knows questions to ask, and…that Ford somehow knows how to get past certain questions? This is getting sillier and sillier, because again, polygraphs aren’t real things that it requires complicated psychological knowledge to get past, and also whoever told McLean what _questions_ were going to be asked could have presumably told her basic facts about how the test works!

                    Which, again, I point to the statement by the boyfriend that _that_ is what they talked about, the basics of the test. There’s no mention of them talking about any specific questions, nor any mention of talking about how to get past them.

                    This is a rather annoying habit of the right, literally making up testimony. The boyfriend’s statement, at no point, makes any mention of specific questions or rehrsing or anything. It, very specifically, says that Ford explained the basics of a polygraph test. That is it. That is all it says. You can’t just _invent_ more and pretend it’s a proven fact.

                    Now why would Ford fly to Delaware to meet with McLean to write her letter to Feinstein?

                    Wait, wait, this beach was in _Delaware_? That will teach me not to look up the location of places people list. I assumed McLean was living in California.

                    Ford said, specifically, ‘Over the next two days, I told a couple of close friends on the beach in _California_ that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted me. I was conflicted about whether to speak out.’

                    She later refers to ‘beach friends’ without specifying California, but if you have a conspiracy that she was trying to blur them together without committing perjury, you need to to first _state_ that.

                    The entire point of this line of attack was premised on a lie that Ford had said she (Without naming names) discussed her attack with people who could be McLean, but the group of people she said she discussed it with did not actually include McLean. So…this entire conspiracy is based on nothing at all.

                    Who are the other “beach friends” Ford references, and were they some of McLean’s fellow agents?

                    We know the names of a few of them, as they have come forward and confirm she talked to them, with specifics. Rebecca White and Jim Gensheimer are two people who have done that, I don’t know if there are others.

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    • I think we’re looking at “36 year old memories are (or at least should be) by definition not be credible”.

      Malcolm Gladwell recently had a couple of podcasts where he talked about how bad human memories are. he discussed ‘flashbulb’ moments which are those historic or significant events which anchor our memories. Things like Challenger explosion, a parent dying, etc. He mentions that they did a significant study right after 9/11 and asked people to record their memories of where they were and what they were doing when the attacks occurred. Then they checked back several years later and then again and again and so on. They found that generally the people got 60% of the details incorrect. Things like, ‘I was in my kitchen when I saw it on the news,” became ‘I was at the laundry mat with my friend.” What was even more astounding is that they would show the people their previous written stories, in their own handwriting and the people would say, ‘I don’t know why I wrote that, but it was wrong.” So 5 years after 9/11 they had established a different narrative in their heads that they held such strong convictions about that they didn’t believe their earlier recollections even though they were much closer to the actual event.

      What all of this tells me is that when liberals say they believe Ford and when conservatives say she is lying…they are both fooling themselves. No one knows. Ford could have had the exact same scenario happen to her but with two different guys and she mis-remembers it. Kavanaugh may have done exactly what Ford says he did but he remembers it as her flirting and then a consensual encounter. Who knows? None of us ever will. But we had to talk about the whole thing anyway. Maddening…

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      • What all of this tells me is that when liberals say they believe Ford and when conservatives say she is lying…they are both fooling themselves. No one knows. Ford could have had the exact same scenario happen to her but with two different guys and she mis-remembers it. Kavanaugh may have done exactly what Ford says he did but he remembers it as her flirting and then a consensual encounter. Who knows? None of us ever will. But we had to talk about the whole thing anyway. Maddening…

        No, you’re going for some false equivalences here. It could be Mrs Ford is lying, it could be that she’s misremembering things, it could be both. What didn’t happen is that Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party.

        There’s no way that Kavanaugh really thought that he and Mrs Ford had a consensual encounter when really he was trying to rape her. He’s just plain lying if that happened.

        The nature of the existence of this alleged event is not evenly balanced. There’s a lot of ways that it didn’t happen, and only one that it did. We can consider that as an independent probability, reject that as very low likelihood, without having to resolve every issue surrounding Mrs Ford’s memory.

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  9. The Republicans have insisted that the only way to govern America is there way since at least Goldwater or maybe even McCarthy. Even the most minor liberal reform was denounced as nothing less than Stalinism. What we have seen is a Republican Party and base transform itself into a revolutionary vanguard party determined not to let the Americans they see as their political enemies govern even when they win elections. They have persistently and consistently violated the norms of American politics to achieve this goal in order to roll back everything they despise and loathe about modernity. To compare the Democratic side to the Republicans is false equivalency.

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    • Yeah, because the Democrats have vowed to overturn the results of recent elections, have thrown the rule of law and evidence out the window, packed the halls of Congress with black shirts in Yoga pants, fabricated evidence, lied to investigators, stonewalled, wiretapped a Presidential campaign, and their new socialist wing has vowed to destroy the capitalist system.

      Joe McCarthy, by the way, was the best friend of Bobby Kennedy, was Kathleen Kennedy’s godfather, and nearly married Kennedy’s sister, having dated two of them. John Kennedy was the only Senator not to vote for the censure of McCarthy.

      Texas Senator John Cornyn said “I can’t think of a more embarrassing scandal for the United States Senate since the McCarthy hearings.” He is somewhat correct. McCarthy had lots of classified evidence from the NSA, whereas the Democrats on the committee had no evidence at all. High school gang rape gangs? Really? Were all the members virgins or just Kavanaugh? Cornyn would have to go back to the Salem Witch trials to find something similar, but at least the charges of witchcraft were backed up by witnesses who provided corroborating statements.

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  10. What does it mean to have empathy here? I’m serious. Especially if you think someone or some group is taking out their frustrations on the wrong people/targets or they are making arguments that are not true.

    There is a generalized empathy of “nothing human is alien to me” but how does this generalized empathy translate into policy?

    Example: Matt Y had an essay on Vox this week where he admitted that conservatives were right and family structure was important but then went on to explain why it is impossible to design policies or laws around this fact or admission but we can do other things to help kids get out of poverty:

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/10/5/17941456/family-structure-policy

    Research tells us that lead in soil and old paint hurts kids’ chances for upward mobility in life, and so the solution is to invest in lead abatement. Research tells us that kids do better when their parents get earned income tax credit money (EITC) and so the upshot is we should invest more in EITC. High-quality preschool and highly effective K-12 teachers help kids, so we should try to do more of that.

    One can go blah, blah, blah down the line and come up with a policy agenda that would do a lot to help America’s kids by bolstering their families’ incomes, improving the healthfulness of their ambient environment, and putting in the work to surround them with effective educational institutions.

    None of this is easy exactly, but some of it is at least logistically easy. (The hard part is politics.) And even the stuff that’s logistically hard, like building high-quality preschools, is at least clearly possible.

    On family structure … I dunno.

    Are there a lot of white guys who feel lost in the new world because they see themselves as losing power and prestige? Absolutely. Are there people suffering because the old promises that went to their dads and grandads no longer apply to them? Absolutely. Yes it is true that you can no longer raise a family on the income of a single person with a high school diploma and a factory job. The jobs are largely gone. The unions and pensions are busted.

    I feel sorry for the people who are in this position. I feel empathy for them. I think America is a wealthy enough country that everyone should be afforded a decent standard of life. But it doesn’t mean that I think the coal mines should open again or the factory jobs can or should come back.

    It also doesn’t mean I don’t think the frustrated and angry guys are picking the wrong targets. There is now merchandise (t-shirts and bumperstickers) with an outline of the continental United States. In the outline are the words “Fuck off, we’re full.” This statement is horrible, xenophobic, racist, vulgar and also patently untrue. Montana has the same square millage as California and only around a million people compared to California’s 38 or so million people. We can clearly handle a lot more people. But the people wearing the t-shirts don’t want this to be so.

    Are they suffering? Maybe. Do I feel sorry for their suffering? Sure. No one should suffer. Am I going to say “Okay. We can skirt on immigration and our humanitarian mission because of your suffering.” Hell no. Two wrongs, don’t make a right. The same is if they express their frustration out on other minority targets.

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    • Matt is being somewhat ingenuous here. There are several policy prescriptions to encourage two parent families. You can make it hard to get a divorce again. You can impose punitive taxes on single parents whether they are single parents by choice or not. You can encourage same sex couples to raise children. The problem is that these policy choices are poisonous from a liberal perspective.

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      • One of the surprising things I saw coming out of the sexual revolution is that, given a free choice, most people choose the bourgeois life of family and children.

        Which means that “pro family” policies aren’t really so mysterious or difficult.

        Free education, widespread availability of good jobs, social welfare net- these things all make the choice to partner up and have children easier.

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        • It could be evolutionary instinct in action. Most human age programmed to want families and children. Hedonism has a tendency to come back and kick you in the rear at times if you aren’t careful. Numerous examples of that. Hedonists and puritans also tend to be awful preeners.

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      • The problem is that these policy choices are poisonous from a liberal perspective.

        The problem is not that they’re “poisonous from a liberal perspective” it’s that they’d be actively harmful. Unless that’s what you meant by “poisonous from a liberal perspective”
        – children raised by two parents who hate one another and would love to get a divorce, probably don’t get any benefit vs kids raised by a single parent who at least isn’t trapped in an unhealthy marriage
        – children raised by a single parent who braved the punitive divorce tax and so suffers grinding poverty, probably suffer worse than anyone

        Some things that might actually help
        – better sex ed and access to all forms of birth control including abortion to reduce unplanned pregnancies
        – better education on communication skills, consent, how to build healthy relationships and recognize doomed ones

        At least the first of those is poisonous from a conservative perspective…

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      • The problem is that these policy choices are poisonous from a liberal perspective.

        Huh? They’re just plain poisonous to just about everyone. Do you think Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani want divorce to be more difficult? Do you think anyone wants punitive taxes on single parents, including all the single-parent families in Kevin Williamsonville? And do you really think it’s liberals who have a problem with same-sex couples raising children? Who wants them out of the business altogether?

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      • You can encourage same sex couples to raise children.

        Which is why, as I have repeatedly pointed out, fighting ‘gay marriage’ was actually rather harmful to the institution of marriage, and instead reinforced the expectations of an entire sub-culture that marriage is _not_ the expected end result, which in turn bled out into heterosexuality.

        *turns into very old person* Why, I remember when people didn’t have ‘partners’, and people demonstrated they were serious about relationships by getting married, or at least getting engaged. And then…we refused to let gay people do that, so all the gay people, and people who knew gay people and weren’t assholes, had to figure out how to talk about the difference between ‘The new guy Fred is dating’ and ‘The guy Ted has lived with for twenty years, but is legally barred from marrying, and it’s really absurd to call his boyfriend’.

        So we decided on ‘partners’…and then, somehow…the straights started having ‘partners’ also. It became normalized.

        Imagine a world where conservatives had instead said ‘Hey, there’s way too many unmarried gay people living together, we disapprove of that sort of thing. Society depends on couples forming stable households. We’re _demanding_ gay couples start getting married to get benefits and adopt kids and whatnot.’

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    • Are there a lot of white guys who feel lost in the new world because they see themselves as losing power and prestige?

      I actually think the reason why liberals like this narrative so much is because they pat themselves on the back for reducing the power and prestige of whites men, with the assumption being that it went to minorities and women. How magnanimous! Look at the gifts you bestowed on the little people! And then you assume that A) all white guys are mad and B) it’s because we lost the game so we’re being sore losers. Ugh. I really wish you all would give this one up.

      Being a white, conservative dude and hanging around with a fair number of other white, conservative dudes you would think this would come up. Guess what? It doesn’t. And it’s not because they don’t like to complain. They complain about their wives, kids, in-laws, bosses, the dickhead at the DMV, the cable guy and their neighbors who don’t mow their grass enough. I’m certain if they were concerned about their loss of historical power and prestige it would come up. Or maybe they save it for their therapist. Or maybe they just keep it all in and save it for political chatboards and the voting booth.

      Wow.

      The stories we tell ourselves when we do not understand people.

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      • But the story makes sense from the perspective of virtue signaling and positional goods. Upper and upper-middle class white people confess that white people are evil as a way to signal that they are not one of those evil white people. It’s the other, ignorant, uneducated, racist white people who are evil. The good white people have confessed to Oprah so they are forgiven and can retain their status as uber-priviliged white elites because they are possessed of self-understanding. It’s a star-bellied Sneech thing.

        The idea is not remotely true, but elite white liberals need to believe it because it helps them with the environment of collective guilt that they stoke daily. But if they’re stripping the evil white people of power (never themselves of course, because they’re above being white and in any event vacation in all the enlightened places), those other uneducated racist white people must resent the loss of all that power and prestige. Ha! That would explain everything!

        This just in: Uneducated poor white people have never had any power to speak of. They don’t make the rules, they just have to rigidly follow them.

        What probably scares the elite whites is being outed as one of those other white people, one of the evil racist conservative ones, until one day they turn conservative and suddenly quit caring about liberals calling them a Nazi all day long.

        Like Mike, I have yet to hear a fellow conservative complain about losing power to minorities, and I work with libertarians and conservatives all day long. I even work with a refugee from the Congo (he’s very small) who hardly speaks English. Nobody has ever even mentioned his race, though I have commented on what a huge learning curve he has with tools, having grown up in an environment where they weren’t all over the place.

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      • Yep. Count me in here, too. My husband worked for many years in factories that employed hundreds of guys and politics just didn’t ever come up. I’m from Spokane Valley, Washington, ya can’t get much whiter than than, and I have lived in small mostly white towns most of my life. No one, I repeat NO ONE ever expressed a racist or homophobic opinion to me that I ever even recall, in my entire adult life. (I saw some middle schoolers doing something racist once and when their mom found out she was furious and punished them.)

        In fact quite the opposite. Even in a town of 350 people there were interracial families and gay couples and no one cared. I grew up in an interracial family as did my husband, both in small towns, and neither of us experienced any racism. A group of women that I knew from the church playgroup and I went to see The Sisters Rosenzweig together in 1994 (that’s 25 years ago practically). Voluntarily because we liked art and culture and knowing more about the world. And we liked it. This has been the state of affairs here in America’s Heartland for at least 25 years and probably longer. People who are curious about art and culture and who don’t give a crap about religion or sexual orientation and who are open to having new experiences regarding people of other worldviews and lifestyles.

        The only thing anyone cared about was the people who had mean dogs or old cars on their lawns. It was that way in 1990 and it is that way to this very day. There is no seething underbelly of hate here. There are just people who care a lot about what their lawns look like.

        The most puzzling part of this assumption (that white men are all cheesed off and plotting and scheming and spending all day in a roiling fury) is that it really ignores the reality that most blue collar workplaces consist of people who come from a variety of backgrounds and skin color and religions and everyone gets along just fine. It is a strange, myopic, upper class liberal assumption that blue collar workers are all straight white Christian men. Even in one of the whitest places in the United States it isn’t true and has not been true in my lifetime.

        So yes, I’m quite sure there are troglodytes and awful people in this world and yes I’m sure that people can find examples of such people but my lived experience, pretty considerable by this point, is that it’s gross exaggeration made up to justify hate and tribalism.

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        • +100

          That was close to my experience, as well.

          It makes me wonder whether part of it is that small towns don’t have enough of any particular group for discrimination to occur. This family is Ukrainian, that family is Lebanese, Stanley is Polish, and Marisa might be Mexican, but nobody cares.

          It takes a much larger city for people to stay sorted by race and ethnicity for any length of time.

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        • Did you see on those threads about police abuse, where I advocated that we draw our conclusions from listening to the lived experiences of people, rather than trying to litigate it though statistics?

          I don’t doubt your lived experience any more than I would my own. But I also know that our lived experience is radically different than other people, who may have lived in our town and interacted with the same people.

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          • Did you see on those threads about police abuse, where I advocated that we draw our conclusions from listening to the lived experiences of people, rather than trying to litigate it though statistics?

            Are you suggesting that we ignore statistical evidence that covers a large data set over a lengthy period of time in lieu of the lived experiences and anecdotal evidence on the belief that a handful of stories however valuable, can be construed to draw systemwide results?

            And people wonder why I think social justice epistemology is bullshit. Why not both? Lived experiences humanize the issue and the stats cover a broader data set.

            Of course, common sense doesn’t exist in that world.

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            • No, we shouldn’t ignore data so much as weigh it together with experience.

              Because in the same way that experience can be flawed by lack of perspective, data itself can be flawed by unconscious bias and unreliable sourcing.

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              • No, we shouldn’t ignore data so much as weigh it together with experience.

                Because in the same way that experience can be flawed by lack of perspective, data itself can be flawed by unconscious bias and unreliable sourcing.

                In theory, this is plausible, but experience tells a different story, especially with the unconscious bias, which combined with the right “perspective” can make the case that any data is perspective if it leads to a bias against a certain group.

                This opens the door to reject all data, and those people I trust as far as I can throw.

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      • He would have a good point with that. Republicans don’t think run-of-the-mill Democrats (or liberals) are evil people. They’re just ignorant of certain realities and raised with fairy stories where socialism works, Communism helps everybody, and racism explains everything. Unfortunately these simplistic stories require the existence of evil bad guys.

        This is a theme throughout leftist thought, from the French Revolution through German National Socialism and Russian Bolshevism. The idea of a social revolution is cloaked as a vast conspiracy theory so the ignorant workers will know who to revolt against, whether landed aristocrats, oligarchs, revanchists, or evil capitalist Jews.

        Conservatives know that most people start out as wide-eyed liberals. Most women are liberal until they get married, have kids, and wise up. We would tend to view it as naivette, not some massive character defect that must be beaten out of somebody. We don’t mind the existence of liberals because they form a pool of future conservatives.

        And of course one of the big lures we get to use is beer. We have beer, whereas Democrats view beer with as much fiery hatred as Iranian imams.

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  11. Let me give a concrete example of what I mean when I talk about empathy.

    There is growing body of evidence that calling people “racist” only makes them close down and get defensive; that the so-called “callout” culture is poison to our debate. This has specifically poisoned the immigration debate where many anti-immigration policies are quickly branded as racist (and pro-immigration policies are branded as “open borders” or “amnesty”).

    To take it to a deep example: think about conservatives who complain about crime committed by illegal immigrants. Supporters of immigration point out, quite correctly, that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born people. But to the anti-immigration forces, this is irrelevant. It is unbelievably maddening when someone is murdered by a person who shouldn’t have been in this country in the first place. The statistic are interesting and informative, but don’t mitigate that anger. And calling them racist only enhances the anger.

    However, I’ve found that engaging conservatives on the issues does work. Many favor allowing Dreamers to stay. Many would support a comprehensive reform in which greater security (maybe including a wall) is exchanged for a cleaner process that makes it easier for people to come here legally.

    Indeed, this is what comprehensive immigration reform supporters — the Gang of Eight in particular — have proposed. But that potential was quickly destroyed because one side decided it would be much for fun and boost their ratings to brand it as “amnesty”. And the other decided that it would be much more fun to brand it as racist. And so the cycle continues.

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    • Conservatives hold all the branches of government and have nearly unfettered power to control immigration policy.

      But the only reason they have not produced a sensible and humane immigration policy, is because some liberal on the sidelines shouted “racist”?

      Seriously?

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      • It’s the end result of the fetishization of “Both Sides Do It/Both Sides Are the Same”.

        First, it was “The GOP can’t really be full of racists or have a racist platform”. That would make them pretty unequivocally bad, resulting in both sides not being the same. Dog-whistles and the instances of racism were “balanced” by Democratic “liberal thought police” so that while sure, there were the occasional racists or badly chosen statement, the other side was equally as bad by falsely calling people racist, or getting mad about how people spoke.

        When it became impossible to pretend racism was just incidental to the modern GOP, when the dog whistles became outright roars, well — how do you balance that? Democrats make them racist.

        Sure, being racist is bad, but if Democrats are the root cause, then they’re equally as bad — not racist, but make racists!

        Both Sides Remain The Same.

        Which is more than a media attempt to maintain “objectivity”, it pops up a lot. If you claim “both sides are the same” then clearly you are a serious, objective, smarter better person for seeing through it and remaining “above it” — we’ve all met the sort of lecturing pseudo-intellectuals who like to posture and “teach” those lesser partisans the true nature of politics (which is, of course, “Both Sides Are the Same, But I’m So Smart I’m Beyond That, you Plebe”).

        And of course, most pernicious, is that if both sides are the same you can excuse any excesses or bad behavior because, of course, the other side is “just as bad”. Nothing can disqualify your side, because both sides are just as bad.

        It’s the American flavor of Whataboutism. And you’re gonna see a lot more of it.

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    • Michael,

      I know your sentiment is very common but I have trouble with it for the following reasons:

      1. Democrats/Liberals/The Left need to do all the work. This is Murc’s Law. Only Democrats have agency. The GOP gets to just react. Where should the right wing show empathy on their own? Where does their agency and responsibility begin?

      2. A lot of people whom express your view tend to be well off middle aged white guys. I don’t think they are racist but I think they have the blind spots. Ezra Klein admitted a few weeks ago that the #cancelmen meme did make him feel attacked and defensive. It made me feel defensive too. I don’t think I am a sexist pig. But I am also not a woman or black or brown or LBGT. I just feel really uncomfortable telling someone who is a minority what is a racist, sexist, bigoted action or statement or not.

      Maybe you can do the above because you look a lot like the people who are conservative?

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    • It is unbelievably maddening when someone is murdered by a person who shouldn’t have been in this country in the first place.

      And, of course, no one is ever saved or even helped by a person who shouldn’t have been in this country in the first place.

      Anyway, what we need to do is start hiring illegal immigrants as cops, so that when they murder someone conservatives fall all over themselves making excuses for it.

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    • Well, any structure that allows existing illegals to remain in this country, and provides a method to obtain citizenship IS a form of amnesty. What else could you call it? Still, you might be able to sell it if the method was extremely onerous and time consuming, and these folks were restricted in bringing family into the country, and/or additional conditions.

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      • Its funny how whenever anyone constructs this hypothetical “reasonable conservatism”, inevitably they end up describing the actual Democratic Party.

        Path to citizenship? Check.
        Strong defense posture? Check.
        Fiscal prudence? Check (Clinton 2000, Obama 2009-2016 Jerry Brown since 1976)
        Individual rights balanced by family-friendly culture? Check.

        But of course, none of these things matter, because the one single defining feature of contemporary conservatism is still lacking.

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    • I didn’t so much decide to brand anyone as racist as I did discover from the experience of being a white immigrant who quickly lost her accent that there were a lot of racists who were also anti-immigration in this country.

      Not, like, my own friends, for the most part (although there are a few elderly exceptions), but friendly acquaintances, random people on the bus, etc. People open up to me for whatever reason and I was subjected to all kinds of claims about “those people”. And quickly and emphatically got nativebornsplained to that I don’t count, they don’t mean people like ME when they talk about those people, and all kinds of detail about exactly what kind of those people they are talking about (often in ways that make NO sense, because they’re so ignorant of the history of the land they’re sitting on that they think Hispanic people are all immigrants, or Japanese-American people in California never got put in camps, or etc…)

      Because I do have empathy, and I’m talking about real life situations where I’m facing someone and the mirror neurons are firing away, I try to stay open and find ways I’ve either misinterpreted people or that this particular racist belief they seem to have is a random outlier, and not part of an overall set of racist beliefs, rather than jumping to conclusions.

      But 95 percent of the time or better, nope, the person is actually very solidly racist about all kinds of things.

      FWIW this experience has not been limited to conservatives.

      I don’t see what me pretending a racist argument isn’t a racist argument is *good* for. The largest effect that seems to have is communicating to people who are negatively affected by racism that I don’t have any empathy or concern for *them*, or bolstering the bad instincts of the person who has been swayed by some BS racist argument that is far less good than they themselves usually are.

      I wouldn’t be being empathetic to folks (again, not limited to conservatives) who espouse this stuff by not calling it out – I’d be condescending to them by pretending it was something other than it is. I wouldn’t want people to humor me in that way – and I work my butt off to make it clear that it’s not necessary and I appreciate not being humored, and that the list of things I do need humoring on is very very short — why should I assume that other people want to be treated like that? Particularly folks who are for the most part (again, not conservatives only here) so very very up in arms about the idea of stuff like trigger warnings? They’re communicating very loudly that they don’t want me to humor them…..

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      • The reason this is important? Because in the absence of trust (and there’s clearly none between pro- and anti-immigration types) people simply aren’t going to rely on the other side’s disavowals. They’re going to look for information beyond that.

        And deciding that Trump is fit to be President specifically on the basis of his anti-immigration views (despite his vast array of other shortcomings), which are obviously bigoted, is an incredibly loud statement, one which drowns out just about everything else.

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      • “If the anti-immigration side isn’t racist as fuck…”

        Let me preface my comment by saying I am enthusiastically pro-immigration. I continue to believe it is the most important factor in the historic success of the United States. With that said, there is the old saying that ‘America beckons, Americans repel’. I believe some of it is a type of xenophobia and fear of the abstract Other. It’s a prejudice against that which they do not understand. On the other hand, much of it is also simply economic and that is the oldest story in the United States. People always think immigrants will take jobs. I find it simply isn’t true, but the myth persists.

        So…I do think it’s possible to be economically or even culturally opposed to immigration and not be Racist, but man, I’m so tired of trying to talk down the over-use of that word on this site.

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        • I don’t think this really answers my question. If the movement isn’t generally rooted in bigotry, why did they throw themselves behind such a flagrant bigot with such fervor?

          We don’t have to relitigate the term “racist”. Trump is even more undeniably xenophobic.

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          • You’re lumping together a group made up of millions of individuals, assuming the least charitable motivations for their decisions, and then basically asking Mike to prove you’re wrong. There’s no way to do this — you’re not asking an empirical question, you’re asking a loaded question about mass motivations. If that’s what you want to believe, then go ahead and believe it — there’s no way to prove you wrong.

            It’s like you’re looking at the equation x + y = 10, and you’ve pre-committed to the idea that x = 2 so you’re convinced that y = 8. No one can prove to you that y isn’t 8 — maybe it is! But it could be other values as well, if you can admit the possibility that x might not be 2.

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            • I guess my problem here is that the nomination of Donald Trump strikes me as overwhelming evidence that x is in fact 2, or at lest between 1.8 and 2.2, and in the name of “empathy” I’m constantly being asked to pretend that x is some other value, but no one seems to think “empathy” might extend to the Left, or that stuff like Trump being fucking President might, in fact, be taken by reasonable people as evidence that conservatives are, by and large, bigoted as hell.

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              • Your x=2 here is your prior belief that generally speaking, Republicans are racist and motivated by racism, whether consciously or subconsciously. That assumption is part of your assessment of their motives for voting for Trump — many other reasons have been provided at this site in the past, but you don’t find them convincing or salient because of your priors. Then you use Republicans’ voting for Trump as further evidence of their racism, even though it was your prior belief that supported that conclusion in the first place. This is the way ideology works.

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                • Dude, Trump is racist as hell.

                  It’s not weird or crazy to think people who like Trump like racism, because his racism is crude and not remotely subtle.

                  Acting as if Republican support for Trump, and more specifically anti-immigrant Republican support for Trump (which was a matter of the primaries, where “oh well we can’t support Hillary” just doesn’t pass the giggle test) isn’t evidence of racism is, frankly, weird. Maybe not conclusive evidence that every single Republican or even immigration opponent is racist, but at a certain point you’re asking people to treat choices political movements make about their leadership as irrelevant to their character or goals.

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                  • Pillsy,

                    “It’s not weird or crazy to think people who like Trump like racism, because his racism is crude and not remotely subtle.”

                    My grandfather said plenty of racist things. He was also an amazing grandfather, teacher, mentor and one of my heroes. I have other family members, still living, who say racist things. I still love them despite their flaws. That doesn’t make me a racist.

                    While I didn’t support Trump and still don’t, we all choose the lesser of evils when we vote. Maybe if you liked most of a candidate’s policies but perceived them as racist, it would be a deal-breaker for you, but not for everyone. I’m a huge fan of many of our historic national leaders, but they all had problematic views on certain things. I can celebrate some of their achievements while disproving of others.

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                    • OK, say I meet you half way, and accept that some people support Trump for those reasons.

                      Can you return the favor, or more precisely the empathy, and try to accept and understand that for a lot of people, Trump’s glaring racism and general unfitness for office [1] provide a strong basis for suspecting his supporters of being racist tools?

                      And to be blunt, in my experiences offline, on social media, and yes, in the comment section of this website, that suspicion has been routinely validated by Trump supporters’ other statements?

                      Or is that empathy and understanding only supposed to flow from Left to Right? I’m not surprised if it is; that’s usually how this comment section rolls.

                      [1] Which really does a lot to separate him from your grandfather. He is a grandfather, but the idea that he’s a great teacher and mentor, let alone worthy of being someone’s hero

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                      • Trump’s glaring racism and general unfitness for office [1] provide a strong basis for suspecting his supporters of being racist tools?

                        I can understand how you would see a certain portion of them as racist, but I think you characterize a much-too-large portion of them as racist. Of course, you have a much lower bar for that term than I do.

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                  • but at a certain point you’re asking people to treat choices political movements make about their leadership as irrelevant to their character or goals.

                    Yeah, you generally want to gauge character through interaction or what they say when, kind of like what I did with Kavanaugh to formulate my opinion and not dissimilar to what I’m doing right now entertaining this discussion.

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          • I don’t think this really answers my question. If the movement isn’t generally rooted in bigotry, why did they throw themselves behind such a flagrant bigot with such fervor?

            I’ve never liked Trump and the right-wing partisans can all kiss my well-formed glutes, but don’t you think two years is a bit too long to contemplate questions like this?

            It’s like you’re waiting for the answer that you’re not going to get in order to put off the gut punch that is the truth. Maybe as well get that part over with and go from there.

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        • There were fifteen alternatives to HRC in the Republican primary.

          The nomination of Trump is a good deal more damning to the conservative movement than his victory in the general election, and this is especially true for the anti-immigration faction in the GOP that enthusiastically rallied behind him as their standard bearer.

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          • And every single one of those 15 was crushed because they couldn’t stand against HRC and her minions, lackeys, stooges, and her serial rapist husband. When they press would attack them, they would all blink, dance, and dodge. Trump struck back. He drew power from bad press, like some sort of sci-fi monster. He was immune to normal liberal weapons. The others talk a good talk, and go to all the right parties, and cite all the right sources, but they can’t fight. Trump fights. He punches back twice as hard, and then he moves he on and launches a new attack on a new flank. He wins.

            Excuse us for not tossing up yet another loser. That’s not our job.

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            • During the primaries, the long form of my argument drew wide acclaim at National Review and other websites.

              The long form was that Trump was accused of being a political nobody who didn’t understand x, y, and z, and that he was so wildly underqualified for the position he sought, and his temperment was wrong, he womanized, etc, etc.

              These were all similar to all the insults thrown at General Grant by the Washington crowd of armchair generals, who all talked the nuances of Napoleonic tactics as they traveled around the DC cocktail circuit circulating scurrilous rumors about Grant’s drinking.

              But Grant fights, and Grant wins, and the public and Lincoln decided that Grant was the man they should put in charge if they liked repeated ugly victories more than constant honorable defeats.

              So in the primaries, the other 15 candidates looked like McClellan retreads.
              Jeb! claimed he should win because he was a leader who could lead because he had led, because he was a leader. Kasich was downright delusional and refused to leave the race, and Cruz isn’t even eligible, having been born under the protection of Queen Elizabeth II.

              So we went with Trump, and we’ve had so much winning that we’re almost sick of winning. It’s just win, win, win, all the time.

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                • Much of the press was absolutely vicious to Grant. They screamed that he was a bumbling, drunken butcher who was unfit to command anyone, and who was destroying the Union armies. Other generals screamed about his incompetance, and the press printed that, too. They went on and on like that while he was busy winning the war.

                  The key to hiring both Trump and Grant is … massive frustration with the totally ineffectual options tried up to that point. Empty suits, preening blowhards, shrinking violets, etc, etc, etc. We got fed up.

                  When Trump went after Megan Kelly, he showed he fought back against anyone without giving any quarter, and that’s what people had been waiting for. A Republican who will fight, instead of just talking about fighting.

                  This came after a couple years of McConnell’s Senate strategy of planned failure, with each “battle” being a way to secure defeat while arguing for victory. That was the McClellan issue that was haunting the GOP in 2016.

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                  • I’m aware of the argument, I have heard it various places. I still find the comparison wanting. Waging total war to win the horror of the civil war, as much as some are trying to make our current political issues into that, can have some application I suppose. But the breakdown of the “he fights” argument is that it isn’t the sole requirement of the job. Using “he fights” as a cover-all to other shortcomings is short-sighted. Steering the country from the office of chief executive does not have a winnable conclusion, you will not get a mass surrender from the other side, nor will that particular conflict ever end though it ebbs and flows. “He fights” is something that makes people feel better, is gratifying in the moment, but accomplishes little in the grand scheme of things. Whether he is president for 2 or 6 more years, Trump is a temporary thing, and I’ve seen little he has accomplished or change that has much permanence to it.

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                    • Well, as far as permanence goes, two Supremes isn’t too bad, but as far as other things go, the R’s are enacting a fair number of things that do seem, at least from what I read of the right, working, such as a positive business environment, cutting a lot of onerous regulations out, North Korea is in play, etc. They are pretty happy with him.

                      But, they would have gotten nothing without a president who fights. And this was evident in his tactics to get the nomination and in his tactics to win the presidency. And as George is trying to show, the armchair generals tend to talk big, but having someone who is winning the battles that you care about, that is fighting for you is a pretty important thing.

                      Talk is cheap, as the saying goes. And another saying is actions speak louder than words.

                      As far as the shortcomings argument goes, people have to agree on what the shortcomings are, how important a role they play, and every other facet of them. But until that happens, they can mean anything to anyone.

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                      • I’m pretty sure any R prez would have gotten two supreme’s on the bench. It didn’t take a fighting prez to get that. In fact that first Supreme only came from the R’s who never FIGHT playing some serious f’ing hardball.

                        Tax cuts, reg cuts….those are the things every R prez pushes for and every R congress enacts.

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          • There were fifteen alternatives to HRC in the Republican primary.

            Some of them could probably have beaten Trump one on one.

            By the time there was a clear choice for the anti-Trump crowd to rally around, it was both too late and it was Ted Cruz. Ted is described as the most hated man in Washington and wasn’t clearly a better choice than Trump.

            In a 16 way race the winner is the one with the biggest name. Trump also is amazingly skilled at focusing the spotlight on himself so he had the media in his pocket as well. Didn’t he get more than a Billion dollars in free publicity?

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  12. https://www.vox.com/mischiefs-of-faction/2018/10/6/17945202/collins-speech-kavanaugh-guardrails

    This is how narratives are born. This one may well go: The Kavanaugh nomination process was unwieldy, partisan, ugly, allowed politics to intrude on a solemn occasion among vaunted elites. Our political culture seems to gravitate toward narratives that hold division and disruption in low esteem. A severe but not entirely unfitting analogy is the lesson many of us learned about how Andrew Johnson was the victim of a nasty partisan impeachment in the 1860s — not that he was a vile racist whose decisions after the Civil War have haunted the nation ever since. Similarly, many Americans believe a sanitized version of the history of the Civil Rights movement, failing to realize how much activists had to disrupt normal politics and dislodge accepted norms in order to end unjust practices.

    A portion of Collins’s speech was also dedicated to affirming her support for the #MeToo movement and attesting to the stories from survivors that she has heard. She implied that she understood the prevalence of the problem and the secrecy and shame that perpetuate it.

    But these two elements of the past — norms of bipartisan civility and elite consensus, and violently enforced second-class status for women, people of color, LGBT people, etc. — are connected. Civility is not an end on its own if the practices and beliefs it upholds are unjust. Another word for what we now call “tribalism” is disagreement. The particular disagreements that define contemporary politics are connected to the introduction of controversial issues and the demands by specific groups for justice and equal treatment.

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  13. Maybe this deserves a thread of its own, but the war over who can claim the title “conservative” isn’t limited to us here:

    Max Boot is the latest apostate here;

    And the folks over at Twitchy are having none of it here;

    This isn’t a silly thing about labels and tribes;

    I think it is a lot more serious than that, a battle over what half of our political class is, what it means and stands for.

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      • I for one would be thrilled for someone to explain what the term conservative means nowadays.

        God! Guns! Moats! and Money!

        Those are the factions, they don’t often agree with each other, it’s more a marriage of convenience than anything.

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      • Andrew Donaldson: I for one would be thrilled for someone to explain what the term conservative means nowadays. I doubt they can do so, however.

        Re: movement conservatism

        If I draw a comparison to the three legs of the stool per Buckley/Meyer, I think the only leg of the stool left is the anti-communism leg, which in the modern day has translated itself into fervent anti-liberalism.

        Personally, given all the bullshit I see, the best comparison I can come up with is that they’re the modern day equivalent of the McCarthy-ites and Birchers that see American liberalism as an existential threat.

        The classical liberal/libertarian leg hightailed it out of there years ago and the more traditional conservative wing is on the sidelines watching the trainwreck.

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    • Let’s not pretend that there isn’t a lot of variation on the left side of the aisle and the Right are the only ones with an identity crisis. Sanders exposed that. But you are right that there is a fight happening to define the Right. What I would say in response is that the Right is shrinking and the moderates it sheds are becoming true Centrists. In that sense, the Center of American politics is no longer a squishy group of triangulators, but true moderate conservatives.

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