Tuning Out

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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28 Responses

  1. George Turner says:

    I’m a political junkie but I didn’t even bother watching the hearings. I doubt Andrew Lloyd Weber could make anything interesting out of them. I’d be curious to know how many folks here watched the testimony.

    There were reportedly rumors that some Republicans had said Mueller was basically “gone” before the hearings, and not to expect much of anything from him. Quite a few Democrats on the committees must’ve heard the same.

    I’m not sure what metrics Democrats use to pick committee chairs, but in a saner world the one’s they have now should have been at the bottom of the list, apparently chosen more for fanatical belief and a willingness to ignore all realities in their pursuit of a great white whale. It leads to a lot of missteps like Mueller testifying on TV.

    It’s true that Trump will eventually leave the White House, but there are plenty of other Trumps who can replace him. Plus, Boris Johnson was born in New York and he’s extremely entertaining.Report

  2. CJColucci says:

    What I will wait to find out is whether any significant number of”persuadables” watched, and how they reacted. Like the lady we’ve all seen on TV who had been startled to learn that the Mueller Report did not say what Attorney General Cohn and Fox News said it said.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to CJColucci says:

      My guess is going to be, damn few.

      Not because they didn’t want to be persuaded, but because 7 hours is a long damn time to listen to Mueller say nothing new (and he’s not exactly a riveting, dynamic speaker).Report

    • Pinky in reply to CJColucci says:

      Define “persuadables”. What can they be persuaded about: voting for Trump, general support of Trump, support for impeachment? Second question: what would any of those persuadables have seen yesterday that would persuade them one way or another?Report

      • CJColucci in reply to Pinky says:

        1. “persuadables”: persons whose minds are not made up, or whose views are so tentative that more information might change their minds about the matters covered by the Mueller Report and whatever implications those matters might have on their views of what to do about Trump.
        2. Depends on what they already knew and what they thought based on what they already knew.Report

  3. Philip H says:

    Apathy is also a symptom. You can’t cure it without curing the underlying disease – fear. Fear of loss of social, cultural and economic place mostly. Fear of retaliation. Fear of social banishment and public shaming.

    And unlike apathy, fear has been weaponized in many ways in the political process. We see it in immigration debates, in economic debates, in gender debates, and in voting and civil rights debates. Sadly, these days its been weaponized successfully by one political ideology as armor against all others.

    Hope could be weaponized, but it needs to be wrapped in a healthy dose of whats actually happening. It seems no politician is up to that challenge today – and frankly this semi-polemic isn’t either. But hope, which rebellions are famously built on, is the real solution.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

      Hope is the sword Trump wields as he rides his trusty steed (or velociraptor) in countless Internet memes. His campaign slogan is MAGA, which is like Superman’s ‘S’. We’re going to make America not just the greatest country on Earth, because we were already that, but the greatest country in the history of the expanded universe!

      This is in stark contrast to the Democrat candidates who are campaigning to overthrow our white-supremacist Nazi regime that runs concentration camps, makes students pay for college, mis-genders people, and is the fetid source of all the oppressive bigoted evil in the world.

      How did we end up here? Largely Trump derangement syndrome. Every morning Trump gets up and makes a choice. He can support something good, in which case Democrats will oppose it, or he can oppose something bad, in which case Democrats will support it. Yesterday AG Barr said he was going to re-institute the federal death penalty and listed five people on death row, all of whom are child murderers, and at least one of them has an Aryan Nations tattoo on his neck. Sure enough, the squad rushed to their defense – in the run-up to an election year.

      The vastly wiser, sane, trustworthy Democrats can hardly get any press coverage because the media has decided to turn DC into a reality show, and hurling Molotov cocktails gets ratings. And frankly, most of the senior Democrat leadership is about as interesting and old as the Politburo, while the student-protest wing of the party runs amok in front of the cameras.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H says:

      Apathy isn’t a symptom of fear, it’s a defense mechanism. It’s a mental callous that forms because people just need to get through the day, even if they want to to care about X.

      And while I agree with you that our political class is the source of the fear people are experiencing, let’s not forget that the media and activists are the whips that constantly lash at us, until those callouses form. Doesn’t matter if the whipping is because the media wants ratings/clicks, or if it’s because the activists honestly think yelling at everyone just one more time, and a little bit louder now, will finally bring them around.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        It’s also what happens when you are the only customer in sight and there are two-hundred hungry ad-men, politicians, and activists across the street, eyeing each other other warily right before they make a mad dash to your door to try to make sure that they are the one that gets their foot in you door and makes the sale. And they do it every couple of hours, if not even more frequently.

        Even someone who feels passionately gets burnt out when they have to care with all their hearts about polar bears, and then whales, and seals, and California sea otters, and over fishing, and plastic straws, and deforestation, and wind turbines, and nuclear plants, and coal miners, and offshore oil drilling, and electric cars, and deforestation, and Syrian refugees, and Guatemalan migrants, and Russian bots, white supremacy, House Resolution 1234, campus rape, transfats, Trump, Trump, Trump, and, lest we forget, red cockaded woodpeckers, the Book of Mormon, and water filters that will remove 99.9% of toxins from your tap so you don’t poison your children. And to compete, each pitch has to crank it up to eleven to drown out all the other causes vying for your attention.

        And then most people realize that the importance isn’t really eleven for any of them. It’s maybe a two, otherwise none of us would be chatting about TV shows and movies. When I see some bug-eyed fanatic with veins popping out of his forehead, I know that he’s going to deliver one of those impassioned sales pitches where he screams that his cause should rate an eleven on my personal importance scale, if not a twelve, and I flip the channel to see what Supergirl is up to.

        It’s a form of exhaustion, but also a form of wisdom. Many environmentalists, who used to compete with each other over things like wetlands restoration versus invasive species versus urban sprawl, have complained that global warming sucked up all the resources. When it became a catch all for every environmental issue, it also Hoovered up all the money and public attention because exasperated folks could just focus on supporting the one big theoretical cause instead of worrying themselves to death over 250 localized environmental problems. “Wetland restoration doesn’t matter if we’re all going to drown because people didn’t vote for Inslee in the primaries!” It offered a time and guilt saving shortcut, much like flavors of Christianity where you just accept Jesus as your personal savior and never again have to worry about your conscience or actually helping anyone around you.

        So the people who’ve opted for the big environmentalist shortcut shouldn’t complain too much when they note a lack of passion and attention to political minutiae out there. What small spotlight that still exists came by taking a bunch of other such shortcuts to whittle down people’s daily “get-worried-sick-over X” lists.Report

        • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          Case in point. Think Progress just posted that We have only 14 months to save the climate.

          Saying we only have 12 years till mass extinction wasn’t getting them up high enough on people’s priority lists.

          Q: What threat are we facing?
          A: A planet destroying apocalypse!
          Q: When will it hit?
          A: Shortly after your check would have cleared if you don’t send me money now!

          How can poor Jerry Nadler compete for oxygen except to scream that we must impeach Trump even before you can get your check book out?Report

          • Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

            Do you care to understand the underlying science? I actually do, and its stark. Sure, many of the impacts are still years to decades away, but not starting to do something now means we have fewer choices later.

            Case in point – there’s a four lane US highway down the street from me that runs along one of the Gulf Coast’s tourist beaches. Its a lifeline for local economic activity as well, and its built on an old streetcar road bed. It also floods on a good strong onshore wind and spring tide, now, where it didn’t a decade a go. That’s all due to sea level rise, and as the mean high tide line inches closer to that road over the next decade or two it will become permanently impassible unless its moved or elevated. And we do have a short and closing window to do something about human contributions to the global climate crisis, or we will be locked in to either abandoning or raising the road in a dace or so. At enormous costs.

            Apparently I’m nuts to think we should do something about that. So too it seems Think Progress is.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

              So you want to trap the third world into another century of grinding poverty because you’re too lazy to repave your little beach road?

              That’s Western environmentalism in a nutshell.Report

              • Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

                I want nothing of the sort. I want the US to make different choices about what we do, so our own people don’t loose what we’ve gained.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

                Well, you’re going to have to go overseas and convince India and China to quit pumping out staggering amounts of CO2. We could drop our CO2 emissions to zero and the oceans would keep on going up, since China passed us up a long time ago as the world”s top emitter. India is just ramping up, as is Brazil.

                Considering just those three countries (India, China, and Brazil), our emission are currently only about 40% as large as theirs. As they reach the per-capita emission levels of Poland or Germany, we’ll only be emitting 20% as much as they do. The emissions of all four countries will double, but we won’t be to blame, they will! Good news, eh!

                You either have to roll with it or figure out how to keep them, and everyone else in the developing world, mired in poverty in perpetuity, or figure that advanced nuclear or space-based solar power will fix the problem. Wind turbines won’t do it because most of those countries don’t have hardly any wind.

                And look on the bright side. Though they won’t admit, liberals and progressives love global warming, so much that they’re not willing to wait a century for 2 C of warming, they want it right now.

                So they moved to large built up cities where they can get about 2 C of urban heat island effect because frankly, we evolved on the African savanna and this planet is still too freakin’ cold for us. So we’re going to turn arctic wastelands into a tropical paradise.

                The dramatic change started in the big cities, and a liberals flocked in to take advantage of the warmer climate, and now we’re going to let more rural people also reap the rewards. We’re not going to let you hog all the warmth while you institute policies designed to keep us poor and freezing.Report

              • Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

                India and China are in compliance with their Paris Accord targets. China has reduced coal fired emissions 40% in something like 5 years – ironically as a public health issue as it was killing hundreds of thousands of their workers. China is also adding wind and solar faster then any other nation. But sure, lets not do anything until they do.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

                China’s coal consumption dropped from about 4.25 billion tons in 2013 to around 3.5 billion tons in 2015, and has been going up ever since, and last year was 3.87 billion tons.

                In 2000 they only produced 1 billion tons and in 2004 produced 2 billion tons. They crossed 3 billion tons back in 2010. Despite dropping back for about two years, consumption is on the rise and projected to keep on increasing. They may cross 4 billion tons this year.

                In contrast, US consumption is 0.77 billion tons, exactly five times less than China’s.

                Remember back in 2000 when we were facing a climate crisis because both countries produced a combined 2 billion tons? Good times. China alone is now producing twice that, with no signs of stopping.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                “I’ll take false dilemmas for $1000, Alex”Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H says:

              It’s not nuts to think we should do something about it.

              But I have only so many hours in a day to focus on things that impact me daily life*. One of the things the internet and the 24 hour news cycle has done is perpetrated a near constant state of decision/attention/outrage fatigue on everyone. If a given issue is not something you have impacting you directly enough, chances are pretty good you do not have the mental capacity to do more than acknowledge that X is something that deserves someone’s attention.

              But not much more of my attention, mine’s already used up.

              *Yes, climate change impacts my daily life, but not as profoundly as my need to make money to support my family, or my need to pay attention to my household, or my need to decompress on a regular basis.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Ha, there are population centers that have pumped so much ground water to supply demand they are experiencing land subsidence at the same time as minor tide increases.

                Two feet of subsidence is going to make these rising tides pretty comical.

                Now if we had to pump a lot more water for a larger population, hahaha.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    There was an post on Daily Intel this week about how Donald Trump might be the first President to really hit peak polarization. 90 percent of Republicans approve of his performance. A similar number of Democrats disapprove of his performance. What is more is that numbers are for strong approval and strong disapproval. 80 percent of Democrats strongly disapprove of Trump. 72 percent of Republicans strongly approve of Trump.

    It is impossible to have a neutral or meh opinion about the man. This is especially true as the parties become more polarized and have become ideological and not practical actors. In a sane political environment, parties would change or moderate positions to win votes. But maybe this world never existed. Look at the California GOP, they largely turned themselves into a rump party that cannot win a state-wide race. Sometimes they cannot even make it into the general election in a jungle primary. You would think that they would find a way to moderate and become more attractive to voters. The California GOP should probably be a kind of “socially liberal but fiscally moderate” party. Except that does not happen. The California GOP decided it would rather own the libs and troll rather than be old-school Rockefeller Republicans that win elections in a blue state like CA.* This further accelerates their decline.**

    *Despite our reputation, SF usually elects more moderate and business friendly Democrats to positions bigger than Board of Supervisors because we are small enough that city-wide elections depend on courting the total of San Francisco. You need to get the votes of well-to-do professionals in Noe Valley, hipsters/techies in the Mission, and more working class people in Bayshore/Hunter’s Point/Vistacon Valley, middle class voters in Midtown Terrace, etc.

    **There is a small but loud group of Bay Area Republicans. In wealthier communities like Portola Valley, Alamo, Danville, Black Hawk they can be about 43 percent of the population (my cynical guess is that the husbands are Republicans and the wives are Democrats). A lot of these guys seem to have learned everything they needed to know about politics from Ronald Reagan and have not changed. A friend of mine said her boss sent out some kind of letter about how no one should vote Democratic and public transportation is evil socialism. This is in the Bay Area. Not exactly going to win friends and influence people. The thing is that there are plenty of people in the Bay Area who are probably fiscally moderate to conservative but look at the GOP and say “they sure hate gays and brown people” and want to stay away.Report

  5. Chip Daniels says:

    We keep saying we can’t normalize Trump, because it is very easy for people to adjust to even bizarre circumstances.
    The way Berliners found it bizarre to wake up and see coils of razor wire strung across streets, but then slowly adjusted to the Wall and eventually just accepted it as the new normal.

    I am reading a book currently about the fall of the Roman republic, written in 2002.
    It is interesting, the parallels- the Romans lost their republic because they accepted the repeated assaults on the cultural and political norms that supported it.
    They spoke about citizenry and equality of Romans but accepted corruption and class hierarchy with a fatalistic shrug.

    I really do think we are at one of those historic inflection points, one which will mark a chapter in some future history book. We’re facing a test of our true beliefs- do we really value liberal democracy, a republic where we are all equal citizens, or will we accept an ethnic apartheid state where one ethnic group holds power?Report

    • JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “because they accepted the repeated assaults on the cultural and political norms”

      The reason that they accepted the assaults is because in a state of decadence, things are so rotten there is little seen worth saving, which is pretty much the way I look at ‘liberal democracy’. Liberals have picked their ingroups/outgroups for 60 years now, which contradicts a republic, so here it is, ending in so many whimpers.Report

      • Philip H in reply to JoeSal says:

        says you. There’s a lot worth saving in the US but its going to require a common set of goals, compromise, – turn your libertarian heart over twice – government to enforce.

        and conservatives have also spent decades picking in/out groups and enforcing the divisions, with way more success then liberals.Report

        • JoeSal in reply to Philip H says:

          common goals? compromise? hahaha, remember about the 1,764,982,849 time conservatives compromised and the next day it was all about them being bigots? That straw that broke the tolerance was a few mile markers back. Hell you guys even fished up libertarian tolerance and that’s fishing really, really hard to do.

          Maybe it would have been a lot better plan to just leaving people alone, and not been a faction of Progressive annoyers.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      The thing about normalizing Trump though is that is stubbornly polls the same. Is this proof of Trump being normalized? Not being normalized? Both?Report

  6. Damon says:

    I listened to some of the highlights on NPR on my commute home. Mueller sounded like a broken record, when he wasn’t sounding like a senile old man, while the question askers each spent more time crafting a narrative his answers were to highlight. I could have fallen asleep to the Q&A and it revealed nothing…nothing new. And we’re talking NPR, not Fox. If NPR broadcast a snooze fest, who do you think would care except the damn fringes?Report