Blind Spot: On Free Speech and What Not to Say

Tiassa

Let us not launch the boat ...
Valued Senior Member
Columnist Greg Sargent↱ suggests:

On a profound level, many in the media elite/punditry simply refuse to accept that Dems/liberals have defeated or dramatically outperformed Trump/MAGA in the last three national elections.

This is regularly erased from the story of the Trump era. It's a remarkable blind spot.

It's not actually a new phenomenon, and it's not just Donald Trump. Rather, Sargent refers to a powerful complicating influence in American political discourse: "You can't defeat an opponent," scolds Bret Stephens, "if you refuse to understand what makes him formidable." The New York Times columnist and former Wall Street Journal editor offers up another ritual tithe to conservative idolatry: His point is that Trump's critics need to stop saying things about Trump or his supporters that Trump and his supporters don't like. "Maybe it's time", Stephens preaches↱, "to think a little more deeply about the enduring sources of his appeal".

But that's the thing, the enduring sources of Trump's appeal are his supremacist, authoritarian attitudes and thrill of empowerment people feel in behaving abusively. According to Stephens, Trump's critics should criticize "without calling him names, or disparaging his supporters, or attributing his resurgence to nefarious foreign actors or the unfairness of the Electoral College."

In other words, critics are supposed to address the supremacism without calling it supremacism, receive and engage supporters without upsetting them, hear Trump boast of his corruption without saying anything about it, and hear him make false claims about elections without responding. This comes back to the heart of Stephens' argument: The enduring source of Trump's appeal is the supremacism as justification for abusive behavior.

And the thing is, this isn't new. Stephens is just trying for another ring around the ouroburos. Back in 2016, for instance, someone tried similar lines, pretending, "One thing that Trump's election should have taught all of us 'liberals' is that we shouldn't be merely dismissing the views of people who voted for him as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things." Even at the time, the phrase "merely dismissing" was a tell; the point was to diminish the complaint about Trump, just as Stephens, these years later, similarly misrepresents the argument he criticizes.

Or, as Sargent↱ explained:

"You can’t defeat an opponent if you refuse to understand what makes him formidable," says Bret Stephens.

But Bret, Dems *did defeat Trump in the 2020 election.* Between 2018, 2020 and 2022, Trump presided over the worst string of GOP losses in many years. All of this happened!

Stephens tries to lecture about why liberals cannot defeat what they have already defeated once directly, and twice by proxy. The NYT columnist skips out on history in order to wag and warn and moralize. And that's the thing, plenty of liberals alerady understand what is at the heart of Trump's enduring appeal; the great mystery that remains is what to do about it, because the behavioral question suggests something akin to both religion and addiction, an overriding neurotic solipsism by which the arbiter of truth is if it feels good.

When the pretense suggested, years ago, what "all us 'liberals' should have learned", the advice ignored history: American bigotry was not new in 2015; it existed, just like misogyny really existed before 1962, white supremacism existed before 1954, antisemitism existed before 1922, and homophobia existed before 1993.

Back in 2016, the antiliberal line said liberal "paternalism and condescension" are why people voted for Trump, and inasmuch as there is a context in which that is not wrong, it is still ahistorical: Colloquially, sure, it is true that disagreeing with this kind of conservative about anything only entrenches them; more subtle discussions of the behavior and its behavioral economy are long, tortuous, and include a large hazard zone that is the unreliability and dysfunction of the conservative self-reported data set.

Neither is this a new phenomenon. Stephens' admonition to NYT readers is the same sort of thing we heard forty years ago in the Christianist complaint about music. It was always censorship, misogyny, racism, and Christian supremacism, but because it was derived from traditional sentiment, we weren't supposed to use words that might upset the Christianist censors. As a society, we turned the First Amendment on its head by pretending speech was a physical assault: "Your right to free speech," they said, "ends at my ear." That's how the First Amendment required religious censorship, and if you look closely, you will see the sleight in much conservative argument, and close to the heart of Trump's appeal: They can only be equal if they are held superior under law.

For Stephens and others who wag such flaccid complaints, it is the appeal to traditionalism that charges and hardens and sustains the argument; it has no more substance than the actual chemicals of the brain chemistry resulting in those particular thoughts and feelings.

But this is also an observable cycle: If the critique against these ahistorical antiliberal pretenses feels invalidating, then that sense of invalidation becomes the new moral wag about refusing to understand, or merely dismissing, or saying things that make people feel invalidated. For Stephens, Trump's critics must "think a little more deeply", "and do so without" saying things that might distress Trump supporters. The only way to understand, as such, is to not upset Trump supporters.

It's a familiar argument, and if someone delivered me a version of it several years ago, it was already familiar, back then. And if you look around, it's almost as traditional as traditionalism: The only way to participate decently is to say nothing that might offend people who are existentially offended at the mere fact that someone disagrees with them.

And if some would question Sargent's description of a "blind spot", Ockham probably prefers it compared to more cynical or even sinister implications; this manner of fear and favor is not a two-way street in American history and politics. It only ever works one way. Fear and favor are more easily shown toward the influence of familiarity, i.e., what is traditional or otherwise similarly accepted, even to the point of preferring unreality.

But that explanation can feel insufficient simply for the persistence of the phenomenon: While it is easy enough to imagine human frailty occasionally having significant effect, consider that Sargent is reaching back three elections in which the notorious "view from nowhere"↗ of political reporting, analysis, and punditry has, at best, failed to acknowledge reality. And if we reach back beyond that, yes, clearly the 2016 election, too; it's been going on for a long time.

If the question is who or what benefits from the orthodoxy of separating morality from news reporting, the answer has long been obvious: Institutional authority and traditional belief.

And what it hurts is just as obvious: The journalistic doctrine known as the view from nowhere actually disrupts accurate communication of facts; that is, it hurts truth.

It's like looking back further, to the "Fairness Doctrine", which was considered unfair because it prevented the silencing of dissent↗.

That is to say, the "blind spot" is not a new phenomenon, which is an important point to consider. Parsimony aside, the question of a blind spot comes, under these particular circumstances, with massive implications: What is a blind spot, an accident, that persists for decades?

But the flip-side reads even worse. Ockham prefers the blind spot because its complexity is more straightforward; more cynical or sinister implications, such as wilful and conscious subversion at mass-media scale must account for a greater number of complications. It's one thing if conservative commentary must insist on unreality, but the idea that "reporters" of "news" are somehow duty-bound to muddle the facts is a perversion of journalistic justification.

Meanwhile, Stephens grift old and roadworn, only capable of pitching opposition in terms sympathetic to what he opposes, and recognizing nothing of the position he pretends. This sort of pitch didn't arrive in trumptime; it's been around. And like the would-be "blind spot", it only works in a certain way.
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Notes:

@GregTSargent. "On a profound level, many in the media elite/punditry simply refuse to accept that Dems/liberals have defeated or dramatically outperformed Trump/MAGA in the last three national elections. This is regularly erased from the story of the Trump era. It's a remarkable blind spot." X. 11 January 2024. Twitter.com. 15 January 2024. https://bit.ly/3RV9ahn

Stephens, Brett. "The Case for Trump … by Someone Who Wants Him to Lose". The New York Times. 11 January 2024. NYTimes.com. 15 January 2024. https://bit.ly/48Q0oYL
 
Back in 2016, for instance, someone tried similar lines, pretending, "One thing that Trump's election should have taught all of us 'liberals' is that we shouldn't be merely dismissing the views of people who voted for him as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things." Even at the time, the phrase "merely dismissing" was a tell; the point was to diminish the complaint about Trump
That somebody - whoever it was - strikes me as somebody who was on the ball back in 2016. Not too much has changed in 2024, except that Trump's character and his long-term aims are clearer now than they were back then.

Today, Republicans in Iowa voted in the first Republican primary of this election year. Over 50% of those voters voted for Trump. As I write this, the most recent count I've seen is about 51% for Trump, 21% for DeSantis and 19% for Nikki Haley. Vivek Ramaswamy, thankfully, has dropped out of the race on the back of his 7% showing in this poll; on the way out, he endorsed Trump to his followers.

Now, we might consider why all those people voted for Trump in this election. Were they all crazy, motivated by racism or sexism, etc., or is there more to it than that? Are they all racist white supremacist child sex advocates, perhaps? I don't think so.

There are clues to be found, if you put in a little effort in trying to find out the truth, rather than just making assumptions that make you feel comfortable.

One clue is that around 60% of those voters, according to entrance polls conducted today, believe that Joe Biden is not the legitimately elected President of the United States. On the contrary, they believe the 2020 election was "stolen" by Biden and people working on his behalf. They believe they were lied to, but not by Trump. Moreover, they believe that Trump represents their best bet for taking the fight to Biden in 2024, for "draining the swamp" that they believe controls American politics and decision making. They believe, honestly, that Trump will "Make American Great Again". They feel that their lives were better under Trump than they are now, and that they will get better again if Trump is elected for a second term.

Among the Republicans plumping for Trump the most strongly are American self-described evangelicals. They love Jesus. They are for family, but they are also often for guns and for authoritarian strong men who say they can get the Job done. By and large, most of them are not advocates for child sex abuse. Some of them might be a bit racist. Some of them might be white supremacists. But probably not the majority. The majority has other reasons.

Why do all these people believe that Trump will save them from the evils of the Democrats and their shifty agendas? Why do they support Trump even though he has 93 felony charges pending?

The answer, I think, has something to do with being consistently and repeatedly fed a whole bunch of lies, and coming to believe them. That, combined with being effectively shielded from uncomfortable or inconvenient truths about their man.

But I guess it's simpler for some to try to blame all the Trump supporters for being bad people to the core. Because that requires less thinking, I guess. It also means you're free to demonise people and misrepresent (some of) them. And some people just can't help themselves when it comes to trying to demonise other people.
 
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One interesting bit of polling: 80% of Republican primary voters (in Iowa, anyway) believe that "Trump is somebody who will fight for people like me." To compare, DeSantis and Haley both polled less than 30% on that question.

These people may be delusional, but they have reasons.
 
"Facts don't care about your feelings?" (Mehdi Hasan↱)

The headline from the Daily Mail: "Joy Reid sparks anger after saying white Christians are overrepresented in Iowa and Trump is so successful because they believe he will 'return' America to them". The actual "anger" documented in the Daily Mail is fallacious:

• Reporter Nic White summarized, "Reid was criticized online for making generalizations about Iowa voters that would land her in hot water if she was talking about any other group," and we need not doubt the summary even if it is fallacious. "'If a white newscaster said that there were too many Muslims in Minnesota, they'd be fired immediately, sued, and probably driven into hiding,' one wrote." As a matter of reportage, maybe somebody said it, but that fact doesn't change its underlying fallacy.

• Actor Robert Davi suggested, "Imagine if a white joy reid said that 'its a state over represented by black Christians... etc'", but that isn't quite what she said. To the other, misrepresenting her like that was simply his excuse to wag, "I would say they are a disgusting ignorant elite bigot! If she said this- something needs to be done to hold her accountable for fanning racism and bigotry."

• Rightist tuber Sean Fitzgerald recalled South Carolina turning the 2020 campaign for Biden; White suggests, "One pointed out that Biden turned his 2020 campaign around with a big victory in South Carolina, where about 60 per cent of Democratic primary voters were black and heavily supported him." And while this is true, that's also a separate question from what Reid said.

• University of South Carolina sociologist Mathieu Deflem made his feelings clear: "The vilest prejudice from Joy Reid," he seethed, "is her suggestion that white Christians would consider others to be 'fraudulent Americans', when the only certainty is her own hatred." Apparently the professor, who specializes in fame and policing, is unaware of what is going on.

• The "more measured take" comes from Jonathan Turley: "Much like our politics, our media often seems captured by the most extreme elements of our society." It's an interesting take, but as White represents him, Turley's analysis ranges between meaningless and hostile. The George Washington University law school professor continued, "The most concerning aspect is that this is just the beginning of January. We have to make it to November." The Daily Mail article is not clear on who or what he is referring to.​

So, what did Reid say?

Quoting Robert Jones, author of The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy, she said Iowa was 61 per cent white Christian, compared to 41 per cent in the whole US.

Reid said she earlier asked him why evangelicals were so supportive of Trump, despite him losing to President Joe Biden at the 2020 election.

'They see themselves as the rightful inheritors of this country, and Trump has promised to give it back to them,' she quoted Jones as saying.

Reid added that given this, white Christians didn't care how electable Trump was, or about any of his controversies.

'When you believe that God has given you this country, that it is yours, and that everyone who is not a white, conservative Christian is a fraudulent American, is a less real American, then you don’t care about electability,' she said.

'You care about what God has given you.'

Note it is the narrative of Nic White that says, "Reid added that given this, white Christians didn't care how electable Trump was, or about any of his controversies." The quote he offers, though, is in the context of evangelicals who support Trump.

It's easy to manufacture this kind of controversy beceause it offends traditionalist sentiments. But it's true: "White evangelical Christians of a certain mindset", as Reid said, and White did include.

Reid revisited the topic later in the show, arguing the Democrats needed to confront the reality that 'white evangelicalism' had morphed into 'Christian nationalism'.

'White evangelical Christians of a certain mindset... [think] that they own this country,' she said.

'That immigrants, that brown people, that Hindus like Vivek Ramaswamy and his wife are illegitimate Americans. They are less legitimate Americans than they are.'

That's not an inaccurate analysis. And if we consider that we at Sciforums have been aware of the Christian nationalism for over sixteen years↗, it seems unlikely that the sociologist, for instance, is so unaware. Deflem's criticism is fallacious, and so constructed in order to license his pretense of moral disgust.

Nor was Reid inaccurate in explaining, of Christian nationalists, "They’re not trying to convince people and win people over through politics. What they’re saying is, 'we own this country, and everyone will bow down to us'." That's the thing, these aren't new issues.

Moreover, she was not wrong to observe, of Nikki Haley, "The elephant in the room is she is still a brown lady who has to try to win in a party that is deeply anti-immigrant and accepts the notion that you can say immigrants a poisoning the blood of our country." That is a precisely accurate analysis.

To the one, do we all see how this goes? Why are people so angry? Why is the reported anger so fallacious? Here's a story about that "elephant in the room": Not only did Nikki Haley, the aforementioned brown lady and former Governor of South Carolina, botch a discussion of slavery and the Civil War, she also expressed the strangest sympathy with Nazi-sympathizing white supremacists.

Yes, really. So, the setup↗ goes: "CRT opponents: We're not trying to prevent teaches from teaching that racism existed in American history! Perish the thought!" The punch line, of course, is that an advocacy group called Moms for Liberty files complaints against the book, Ruby Bridges Goes to School; teaching school children about desegregation, they said, was illegal in Tennessee and will cause racism and resegregation. (Explanation: It's one thing if people think various liberals are oversensitive, but then then history shows the concern not so much oversensitive as apt, even seemingly presecient.) It's one thing to wonder, even then, about implications of Godwin's Law in the face of mainline taboo and the presence of Nazis at the table, but less than two years later, Moms for Liberty found its way into the headlines when one of its newsletters quoted Adolf Hitler on the front page. Mere days later, Nikki Haley told the organization, "Count me as a mom for liberty". It is impossible to ignore the pandering to white supremacism and Christian nationalism.

For instance, if Reid says, "I don't care how much the donor class likes her," and suggests, "I don't see how she becomes the nominee of that party with Donald Trump still around," it is absolutely impossible to look past Trump's denunciation of migrants as "poisoning the blood of our country" and subsequent questioning whether Haley is even eligible to be president.

It's one thing if, for instance, "DeSantis' only argument for staying in it is he's the white guy," but at no point does Reid suggest this is a good argument. Compared to eight years ago, when Trump sought the GOP nomination, traditionalist bigotry has only gotten louder. Even once upon a time when people were supposed to pretend it wasn't the racist rhetoric, but just that Trump was willing to say what he thought and believed, it's been impossible to ignore.

Moreover, as far as Iowa is concerned, part of the larger context has to do with how much we can read into the Iowa caucus results. Mike Huckabee won the 2008 caucus; Rick Santorum won 2012; Ted Cruz won 2016. It seems worthwhile, when analyzing the results of the Iowa caucus according to the fifty-six thousand two hundred sixty votes for Donald Trump, to consider the demographics of who is casting those votes. That is, after all, the point of electoral-political analyses.

It's like Medhi Hasan mocking the right wing: "Facts don't care about your feelings?" he asked, in response to the claim that, "Joy Reid sparks anger"; yes, it is known that straightforward, accurate, good-faith analysis of conservative political behavior enrages conservatives and their supporters. And maybe it feels like a stretch from some alt-channers and Wednesday Putsch insurrectionists to a world-class sociologist, but neither should such prestige be reaching into the gutter for a fallacy.

In other questions, that would be a big difference, but particular influences are at play: Generally speaking, the so-called "view from nowhere" favors whatever is already entrenched and ensconced, regardless of accuracy, consistency, or integrity; expecting the anger to start making sense would only silence the angry, as such, or something approximately thereabout.
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Notes:

@mehdihasan. "Facts don’t care about your feelings?" X. 16 January 2024. Twitter.com. 17 January 2024. https://bit.ly/3SimLR7

White, Nic. "Joy Reid sparks anger after saying white Christians are overrepresented in Iowa and Trump is so successful because they believe he will 'return' America to them". Daily Mail. 16 January 2024. DailyMail.com. 16 January 2024. https://bit.ly/3Skjssx
 
On Narrative, Belief, and Fact

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance↱:

Yesterday [16 Jan.], based on opening statements, I suggested that Trump's lead lawyer, Alina Habba, might be in over her head. Her opening was inartful, emphasizing the established fact that Trump sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll instead of refocusing the jury on the only issue that might help her client, whether Carroll's damages can be properly attributed to him. While it's not a very good argument—the first jury found against Trump and awarded Carroll $5 million—it's the hand Habba was dealt, and she was off the mark.

Today, her lack of courtroom experience was on full display. She failed to stand when addressing the Judge, and she failed to take her seat after he ruled—that's the stuff of trial advocacy 101. She whiffed on the basics of the Federal Rules of Evidence repeatedly. She complained again about the way the Judge spoke to her.

I don't recite this litany to criticize Habba, although an important part of being a lawyer is understanding your limits and staying in your lane. Instead, I think her capabilities help us understand that Trump, who as a former president should have access to the finest lawyering the profession has to offer, does not. He is so toxic that most of the good lawyers won't touch him. It's shocking that a former president is represented by a lawyer who doesn't seem to know her way around a courtroom and continues to antagonize the Judge by violating his pre-trial rulings, especially since the lawyer on the other side is … an A++ caliber lawyer.

The Trump spectacle in the second Carroll trial probably exceeds his behavior in the civil fraud trial.

†​

Intermezzo: Remember, Rudy Giuliani is a former U.S. Attorney. So, as it happens, is Chris Christie. The difference between them isn't that much; they're both so bad in politics as to defame and denigrate U.S. Attorneys. Moreover, consider Chrstopher Kise. While political trolling can easily enough make a Florida Man joke, here, it is also true Kise was a Solicitor General. A consummate insider, Kise has also has a certain prestige; much like a U.S. Attorney, the fact of being a Solicitor General is supposed to speak to integrity and quality. When hired, Kise was actually paid up front; that's how important he is supposed to be to the Trump team. And, quite famously, when Kise tried to do what attorneys do for their clients, Trump was enraged and essentially benched him. For weeks, even months, the seasoned hand, the veteran insider who actually knew what to do, was seen trailing at the back of the pack, nearly sanguine as other lawyers destroyed themselves. At the very least, Kise was paid. But working for Trump catches up with people; in September, Kise was sanctioned for repetitive frivolous behavior in the civil fraud trial. Over twenty of Trump's lawyers have been sanctioned in his ongoing legal troubles, and Alina Habba herself was fined over nine hundred thousand dollars for frivolity, bad faith, improper purpose, and abuse of judicial process.

†​

Compared to Giuliani's self-destruction, the idea that Christie was the leading credible critic among GOP presidential pretenders probably means something; he only came to such criticism after Trump publicly humiliated him, and before that his credibility was being a former U.S. Attoreny turned Governor of New Jersey who wasn't so much corrupt as blithely incompetent. Maybe that seems peripheral or even unrelated, but compared to Kise, and then a list of attorneys who should have known better, such as Cobb or Dowd, and even Sidney Powell would have been thought well above the behavior that has destroyed her; Lin Wood has been disbarred.

It's almost like Alina Habba never stood a chance. Remember, compared to Vance's assessment of the Trump attorney's caliber, it was by Habba's hand that her client, Donald Trump, elected a bench trial in the New York civil fraud suit; the best telling of that story is apparently that Habba somehow failed to check a box on a form.

But it is also important to understand, as Trump trials move forward, there are reasons this happened. "Trump," says the former U.S. Attorney, "who as a former president should have access to the finest lawyering the profession has to offer, does not." And the reason, according to Vance, is that the the former president "is so toxic that most of the good lawyers won't touch him". And in that way, sure, "It's shocking that a former president is represented by a lawyer who doesn't seem to know her way around a courtroom".

And there is, of course, a story of how things got that way.

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Once upon a time, ca. 2017, the Mueller investigation reached a point that people around President Trump began to "lawyer up", as the saying goes, preparing to answer and even dispute with the Department of Justice. Strangely, Donald Trump did not, or, at least, not at first. Jared Kushner, for instance, already had Jamie Gorelick, but then also hired Abbe Lowell, an ace and insider. A Democratic insider, actually; for comparison, Abbe Lowell is also Hunter Biden's attorney. Think of it this way, the twists and turns of representing Donald Trump included a strange episode with Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensig, which really is its own chapter, and even five years later saw Trump's legal team picking up a local insurance lawyer named Lindsy Halligan because none of his other lawyers were qualified to represent him for the federal documents case in Florida.

Among high profile lawyers, neither Ty Cobb nor John Dowd lasted a year, with the latter citing Trump's behavior as a client as his reason. Chris Kise has already officially damaged his own reputation.

†​

If Vance describes the circumstance as "shocking", we might ask why, or in why way. Or not, as such, but if we pull back to where our vantage allows a both-sides statement, it would be that people on both sides say the circumstances are unusual; any closer scrutiny will start to separate the various descriptions according to their relationships with facts and evidence.

The thing about "both sides", though, is that there are more than two, and in many such polarized cases, the main third narrative is reality. It's one thing if the liberal perspective might focus on Donald Trump's behavior and the way the courts react, but the former president's supporters tend to find the circumstances shockingly unfair.

Inasmuch as it is shocking that Donald Trump, a former U.S. president, has such slipshod legal representation, or that the courts keep responding so sternly to his behavior, there is a basic historical difference between political arguments. Put bluntly, certain Americans were just fine with certain problems in our justice system until those problems came home to roost. But it's not that Donald Trump is facing any of the historical injustices: He is not overcharged, nor facing a three-strikes rule for what is boys-being-boys among white people, &c.; nobody is suggesting it's not a big deal because his vagina wasn't shredded; the courts, demonstrably, have actually shown him greater leeway than other defendants get.

Joe Tacopina, originally brought in to replace Alina Habba in the Carroll proceedings, did not last a year. While Tacopina did not explain publicly why he is leaving Trump, the most obvious suggestion is that the lawyer could not control his client sufficiently within the bounds of the law; there is a point at which this becomes dangerous to the attorney.

†​

It's important because it lends to a discussion that becomes complex for the straightforward reason that it is so simplistic as to feel unbelievable.

Consider a point suggested above↑, that "around 60% of those voters … believe that Joe Biden is not the legitimately elected President of the United States". This may well be, but there remains a question of what it actually means. Some polling puts the number as high as sixty-eight percent, but those voters do it to themselves. It's one thing if they are "consistently and repeatedly fed a whole bunch of lies", but there is a chicken and egg question, because this history spans generations; at some point, the prospect of rightism as conservative reaction to exploitation by conservatives is either ridiculous or the actual point.

So when in future days, when conservative narratives harden, telling that Trump has been wronged by the Justice Department, courts, and states, there actually is a record, and there actually are facts. In the history of alternative facts and the sincerely held beliefs from which they emerged, we can put Trump voters' electoral conspiracism on par with beliefs in ivermectin as a treatment for Covid, the impending return of JFK, or what God wants. That is to say, as the various factions dispute over how to define reality, there really are facts. While the fact that people tell different stories should not be surprising, it's also true there actually is a record.

And the courts? In a recent outburst before Engoron, even Kise couldn't actually control Trump. And in case anyone has forgotten, the fact of a bench trial with Judge Engoron runs directly through Alina Habba. That is, if anyone ever complains that Trump's case was never heard before a jury, what the actual record says is that he elected a bench trial according to paperwork submitted by his attorney, Alina Habba.

Or, as we come 'round the circle: As Vance was saying ....
____________________

Notes:

Vance, Joyce. "Day Two". Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance. 17 January 2024. JoyceVance.Substack.com. 21 January 2024. https://bit.ly/3HoHz30
 
Didn't Take Long (Narrative, Fact, and Belief)

So when in future days, when conservative narratives harden, telling that Trump has been wronged by the Justice Department, courts, and states, there actually is a record, and there actually are facts.

It's not even the first example in the meantime; after Trump supporters howled at the injustice of a delay in the Carroll hearings, last week, Joyce Vance↱ reminded, "The delay in the trial was requested by Trump's lawyers & granted over E. Jean Carroll's objection. Details, details."

But, as word emerges that another of Trump's legal proceedings will come to its fruition later this week, Donald Trump ranted and raged:

Why didn't Judge Engoron announce his decision after we proved conclusively that I DID NOTHING WRONG!!! NO JURY ALLOWED, Great Financial Statements (which were very conservative, the opposite of the charge!), No Victims, No Fraud, No Crimes, Happy Banks and Insurance Companies, only success and profits ― And a corrupt N.Y.S. Attorney General, who sat comfortably and onfidently in court with her shoes off, arms folded, a Starbucks Coffee, and a BIG smile on her face... JUST LIKE SHE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT THE DECISION WILL BE! The closing argument of the State was pathetic, NO WITNESSES AND NO EVIDENCE AGAINST ME! Legal Scholars are "killing" the A.G. Case. "It's a Witch Hunt!" The Judge is being badly influenced and the Gag Order must come off! REMEMBER,THIS JUDGE RULED AGAINST ME BEFORE THE TRIAL EVEN STARTED, AND HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE CASE. The public is angry over this HOAX. This trial is RIGGED!

trump-20240128-truthsoc-engoron-bw.png

Every sentence is false; Trump misrepresents law, court, and process while assailing a judge who oversees his due process.

Or, to reiterate, there actually is a record, and there actually are facts.

Consider some of Trump's block-caps: Nobody proved Trump did nothing wrong; saying Trump did nothing wrong was approximately his entire defense. The statement that no jury was allowed is explicitly misleading: Donald Trump chose a bench trial. What, the AG knows what the decision will be? That's because it's already known. The question wasn't whether Trump would pay out, but how much. No witnesses and no evidence? That part already happened. Which, of course, is the thing: The judge didn't rule against Trump before the trial started; that was the bench trial.

Details, details.

Still, though, there will be some for whom such details don't matter. Even still, there is a record, and there are facts.
 
Twitways in Reverse

psg-02-sexdatencity-tissue-detail-bw.png

Conservative outlet Newsmax↱ explains:

A conservative group has told a Georgia judge that it doesn't have evidence to support its claims of illegal ballot stuffing during the 2020 general election and a runoff two months later.

NBC News political reporter Sahil Kapur↱ observes:

Always fascinating to see these stolen election claims abruptly stop when the matter lands in court, where evidence is required and there are criminal penalties for lying.

Former prosecutor Ron Filipkowski↱ is a bit more direct:

The group that Dinesh D'Souza relied upon for his 2000 Mules movie that Trump hyped was ordered by a judge to produce their evidence under oath in a court of law. They had nothing.

Every one of those statements is accurate; the point isn't about the difference in narrative. The underlying report, carried at Newsmax, is actually via Associated Press↱.

But there is something to be sussed out of the detail: Who lied to them?

There is a lot to say about True the Vote, but so also might we make note of Dinesh D'Souza. In 2012↗, the nearly iconic conservative author fell from grace because he apparently didn't know it is considered wrong in Christian circles to commit adultery, even more so in the course of presiding over a Christian institution. In 2014↗ he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws. And when he went on to pretend to be some sort of victim↗, perhaps that was well enough with conservative voters. In 2018, D'Souza received a pardon from Donald Trump.

And when D'Souza decided to advance the conspiracy theory put forward by a right-wing organization known for trafficking in electioneering conspiracism, many conservative voters looked at the lawbreaking adulterer whose best excuse was that he was just that stupid, and decided he sounded credible.

This will come up, over and over again, in questions of polarization↗ and the prospect of an electorate↑ "consistently and repeatedly fed a whole bunch of lies, and coming to believe them": As a question of market supply and demand, these are, and long have been, eager consumers. "Coming to believe" what? The latest iteration of the same old?

They didn't see through True the Vote because they didn't want to. They accepted D'Souza as the pipeline because he told them what they wanted to hear. Conservative voters did not simply wake up one day and get dazzled, out of the blue.

Like the "mystery" of why Republican voters might be able wish hard enough that they might actually get what they think they want; it's not really a mystery; the blind spot↑ Sargent suggests is not limited to media elite and punditry. Questions about degree to which conservative ignorance and shame is self-inflicted, i.e., lied to themselves↗, persist; the reasons why anyone else would encourage, facilitate, or justify that outcome are their own discussion, and at least as important.
____________________

Notes:

@NEWSMAX. "A conservative group has told a Georgia judge that it doesn't have evidence to support its claims of illegal ballot stuffing during the 2020 general election and a runoff two months later." X. 15 February 2024. Twitter.com. 15 February 2024. https://bit.ly/48m27US

@RonFilipkowski. "The group that Dinesh D'Souza relied upon for his 2000 Mules movie that Trump hyped was ordered by a judge to produce their evidence under oath in a court of law. They had nothing." X. 14 February 2024. Twitter.com. 15 February 2024. https://bit.ly/4bE8plK

@sahilkapur. "Always fascinating to see these stolen election claims abruptly stop when the matter lands in court, where evidence is required and there are criminal penalties for lying." X. 15 February 2024. Twitter.com. 15 February 2024. https://bit.ly/3wq3HI2

Bynum, Russ. "Conservative group tells judge it has no evidence to back its claims of Georgia ballot stuffing". Associated Press. 14 February 2024. APNews.org. 15 February 2024. https://bit.ly/4byp9Lj
 
Down in Flames


Heart feeling heavy: Click if you're down about the way they treat you.

We're actually going to start with a different thread↗:

Are you suggesting that the handling of the Hunter Biden story is just a conspiracy theory? We now know what happened at Twitter and Facebook admitted it took actions at the request of the FBI.

Yes absolutely. theres no story there other than the right wings fake grievances

Because, yeah, about that:

Today, a federal court unsealed a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Central District of California charging Alexander Smirnov, 43, with making a false statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, and creating a false and fictitious record, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519, for statements he made that were recorded in an official record of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) known as a Form 1023 ....

The indictment alleges that in March 2017, Smirnov reported to an FBI Agent that he had had a phone call with the owner of Ukrainian industrial conglomerate Burisma Holdings, Limited concerning Burisma's interest in acquiring a U.S. company and making an initial public offering (IPO) on a U.S.-based stock exchange. In reporting that conversation to the FBI Agent, Smirnov also noted that Businessperson 1, Public Official 1's son, was a member of Burisma's Board, a fact that was publicly known. The indictment alleges that Smirnov provided no further information.

Three years later, in June 2020, the indictment alleges that Smirnov reported, for the first time, two meetings in 2015 and/or 2016. As alleged in the indictment, Smirnov falsely claimed that during these meetings, executives associated with Burisma, admitted to him that they hired Businessperson 1 to "protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems," and later that they had specifically paid $5 million each to Public Official 1 and Businessperson 1, when Public Official 1 was still in office, so that "[Businessperson 1] will take care of all those issues through his dad," referring to a criminal investigation being conducted by the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General into Burisma and to "deal with [the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General]."

As alleged in the indictment, the events that Smirnov first reported to the FBI Agent in June 2020 were fabrications. In truth and fact, the defendant had contact with executives from Burisma in 2017, after the end of the administration when Public Official 1 had no ability to influence U.S. policy and after the Ukrainian Prosecutor General had been fired in February 2016. The indictment alleges that the defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against Public Official 1 after expressing bias against Public Official 1 and his presidential candidacy.

As further alleged in the indictment, when he was interviewed by FBI agents in September 2023, Smirnov repeated some of his false claims, changed his story as to other of his claims, and promoted a new false narrative after he said he met with Russian officials.


(U.S. Dept. of Justice↱)

Obviously, the easy noise machines on social media are eagerly reminding that Hannity promoted or highlighted the now-indicted informant at least eighty-five times last year, and that the Form 1023 in question is in fact the one released by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-NE) last year in an effort to defame president Biden. That would be the same 1023 that Kurt Eichenwald↱ described as "the biggest pile of nonsense" he ever read. The indicted informant is the House Oversight Committee's linchpin witness.

It was easy↗ to be skeptical of the conservative accusation and scandalization, but the high drama swirling around U.S. Attorney David Weiss is emblematic of how badly this endeavor has gone. Pointing out↱ that it was Weiss' job to "review this stuff in 2020", analyst Marcy Wheeler↱ reminds, "David Weiss has ABSOLUTELY no business overseeing a prosecution of Smirnov", given his role in the investigation and prevarication about the 1023 in question. Wheeler also points to the timing, and the four months between Hunter Biden asking for certain details and the fact of this indictment, which was unsealed as lawyers prepared to demand discovery a second time.

Weiss needs to answer for what he knew, and when he knew it. So do House Oversight Republicans, especially Chairman James Comer (R-KY01). And conservatives who have spent the last four years chomping at the bit should probably take some time to consider their easy credulity.

Meanwhile, inasmuch as it has become trendy and easy to suggest that, with conservatives, every accusation is a confession, the question of former Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry leaning on the board of a Ukranian gas company↱ to steer contracts worth billions of dollars to political patrons, behavior which, in turn, the Department of Justice, under Donald Trump, found to be acceptable under law. That would be the same President Trump who railed at his Attorney General in 2020 for failing to prosecute Hunter Biden.

And this has been going on long enough that it's not simply a matter of gullibility; Republican voters elected politicians to continue the charade. If we should consider a question of who lies to them↑, it is also important to bear in mind that Republican voters are perhaps the best and most anxiously complaisant marks a grifter could ask for. While it might be an observable cycle↑ that the sense of invalidation they countenance in being wrong becomes their new justification, yeah, this one probably stings.
____________________

Notes:

@emptywheel. "Folks: David Weiss has ABSOLUTELY no business overseeing a prosecution of Smirnov. He was part of ingesting dirt from Rudy into the Hunter Biden investigation. He played dumb abt how, after Trump yelled at Barr, ODAG forced Weiss to accept briefing on this FD-1023." (thread) X. 15 February 2024. Twitter.com. 16 February 2024. https://bit.ly/4bDzcyB

@kurteichenwald. "Wow. This is the biggest pile of nonsense I have ever read. A few problems:1. Viktor Shokin never conducted a criminal investigation of Burisma. There was a criminal investigation in *Britain* of Mykola Zlochevsky, founder of Burisma, for purportedly laundering money stolen.../1". (thread) X. 20 July 2023. Twitter.com. 16 February 2024. https://bit.ly/42GZvzQ

Office of Special Counsel David C. Weiss. "Grand Jury Returns Indictment Charging FBI Confidential Human Source with Felony False Statement and Obstruction Crimes". United States Department of Justice. 15 February 2024. Justice.gov. 16 February 2024. https://bit.ly/42HfKNi

Shuster, Simon and Ilya Marritz. "Rick Perry’s Ukrainian Dream". ProPublica. 10 September 2020. ProPublica.org. 16 February 2024. https://bit.ly/3thT3zk
 
The Best Marks

"'Look at me, I'm on TV!' It makes up for the shortcomings of being poor." (Belle & Sebastian)

Political reporter Ron Filipkowski↱ is not one of Donald Trump's fans:

Outside Trump's golf course today, "Ronny" says he used to watch and love sports but Trump got him into politics then he started watching just Fox. But ever since Fox called the election for Biden he will now only watch Steve Bannon, who he watches religiously 4 hours every day.

Here's the thing, though, it wasn't some liberal media conspiracy that went out and found Trumpfan Ronny. It was War Room, on Real America's Voice. That is to say, it was Steve Bannon's show.

But Trumpfan Ronny can speak for himself:

Well, basically, four years ago, I started watching Real America's Voice. I'm a big sports guy, but I stopped watching sports completely 'cause when sports went woke, I dropped 'em. And I used to watch FOX News up until about four years ago, and I dropped FOX. When FOX News couldn't say that Florida won for Trump, and they said Arizona was Biden or whatever they did, when they messed all that up, I knew that wasn't my channel, and I left Faux News back then. And I found Steve Bannon on War Room, and I was searchin' for answers, and I've been watchin' ever since. Raheem was on, back then, Vin, a couple of the other guys. But I've been religiously watchin' Real America's Voice, especially Steve Bannon. I try to get all four hours in, and if I can't watch all four hours, I videotape it, and watch it when I can.

Again↑ if we consider who lies to them↑, we cannot avoid observing these are perhaps the best and most anxiously complaisant marks a grifter could ask for.

 
Part the First: Historicity

That somebody - whoever it was - strikes me as somebody who was on the ball back in 2016. Not too much has changed in 2024, except that Trump's character and his long-term aims are clearer now than they were back then.

There are a few things that go here. For instance, consider these points:

The NYT columnist skips out on history

When the pretense suggested, years ago, what "all us 'liberals' should have learned", the advice ignored history

Do you see what you skipped over? Here's another:

Back in 2016, the antiliberal line said liberal "paternalism and condescension" are why people voted for Trump, and inasmuch as there is a context in which that is not wrong, it is still ahistorical

Do you see the common theme?

The short form is that they say they're with you, then advocate on behalf of what is criticized, and warn of the need for appeasement of what is criticized.

Or, here's another way of looking at it: In both 2016 and 2024, these diverse pitches follow a similar pattern. First, they identify with the audience as an ingroup; in 2016, it was "all us 'liberals'"; in 2024, it's "someone who wants him to lose". Then, they warn the ingroup according to the narrative of what they oppose, i.e., advance the conservative, Trumpstyle narrative. In 2016, the warning was that liberals should not be "merely dismissing the views", and as I said↑, even at the time, the phrase "merely dismissing" was a tell. In 2024 the NYT columnist similarly advances the conservative narrative, "if you refuse to understand".

Both those phrases are ahistorical. "Merely dismissing"; "Refuse to understand": How about, ¿What, are you new? except we know Stephens is not, and, ostensibly, neither should we expect the 2016 version was so naïve.

The pattern is actually easily identifiable, even here at Sciforums, such as a 2017↗ episode when one of our neighbors cast himself among a liberal-progressive "we" while ranting conservative fallacies along the way to encouraging Appeasement of prejudice. In fact, it is, in American custom, so easily identifiable in both sales and swindles that we might wonder why people try.

And the thing about fallacious and ahistorical narratives is that the differences matter. It's one thing if part of a conservative argument has a left-side analog, but it does happen that, like with the 2017 example, the leftist version requires magical thinking. Inasmuch as the history since has shown our neighbor to be quite mistaken, that much was foreseeable.

Historicity, the validity of the history told, is important. It's why the tabula rasa appeals of 2016 and 2024 are invalidating. Sure, they're not new, but it was never a matter of "merely dismissing"; there is real history to consider. What, compared to the available historical record, does Stephens mean when accusing that Trump's opponents "refuse to understand"?

And consider your moral wag:

Now, we might consider why all those people voted for Trump in this election. Were they all crazy, motivated by racism or sexism, etc., or is there more to it than that? Are they all racist white supremacist child sex advocates, perhaps? I don't think so.

There are clues to be found, if you put in a little effort in trying to find out the truth, rather than just making assumptions that make you feel comfortable.

The hyperbole of the setup makes its own point. The punch line might feel good to deliver, but your need to cast American conservatives as some sort of victims is absurd because this goes back thirty years on one part, over forty years for another, fifty years to yet another, sixty years by what works out to be significant measure, seventy years brings us 'round a circle, or eighty a slightly larger circle.
 
Part the Second: Cycles & Example

Here, let's do the part about decades:

• Thirty years ago: Gay rights, Romer. v. Evans; if Christians cannot discriminate against and suppress homosexuals, then Christians are discriminated against and suppresssed. (See also, 2010 U.S. midterm election, i.e., "Tea Party")

• Forty years ago: "Reagan awakening" mobilizing evangelical Christian voters. (See also, Barthel on literalism↗.)

• Fifty years ago: Roe v. Wade; if the Supreme Court observed that, compared to the whole of history, it should not decide so absolutely how "life" is defined in terms of pregnancy and birth, Christian conservatives have spent the intervening period simply insisting on superstition.

• Sixty years ago: Sexual Revolution begins; in U.S., see Griswold v. Connecticut. Shortly thereafter, Loving v. Virginia ends anti-miscegenation laws.

• Seventy years ago: Integration (Brown v. Board).

• Eighty years ago: WWII, Holocaust.​

This sketch will be important as we consider historicity and speculation. Moreover, it's a rough outline. There is a lot missing, like the Southern Strategy under Reagan, or Miranda v. Arizona. It is, after all, a sketch.

The point is, your romanticization of the American right as tragic victims can only pretend to make any sense if history is tabula rasa. "Making assumptions"? This circumstance did not arise ex nihilo. This condition did not emanate from mystery.

What, do we really need to reach back to 1925 (Scopes)? How about 1896 (Plessy; see also, Brown, 1954)?

So, let's start with this:

The answer, I think, has something to do with being consistently and repeatedly fed a whole bunch of lies, and coming to believe them. That, combined with being effectively shielded from uncomfortable or inconvenient truths about their man.

Who lied to them, James?¹

Who is shielding them?

There is an article that ran last month in Politico, and while there is much about it to discuss, one part that stands out is where a Trump voter disagrees with Nikki Haley, claiming she said "illegal aliens weren't illegal". And then he went on to explain, "I’m a black-and-white guy. You break the law, you break the law." And maybe this is something he's confident about, but it would seem that he, like most of the conservative border complaint, does not understand the law. Of course, anyone tells him that, it will only further alienate him. But it's true, that's not what she said, and that's not how the law works.

But it's also emblematic, in its way. The same people who told their kids, thirty years ago, that the courts were stealing democracy either lied to their kids or didn't know how law, Constitution, and courts work. And, sure, in their way, many people get confused about how the laws work, but not all of that confusion is the same. Ceteris paribus is not in effect; that point will echo, keep coming up over and over and over again.

One of the things that happened is that the politic of tradition and institution has become the politic of antisociality and dysfunction: Trump voters who want to break the system are not like the leftist call to break the cycle. The old-school Anarchist call to "smash the state" is not akin to the present rightist lamentation. When you try to find your way through conservative talk about breaking the system, it's counterrevolutionary. We've seen them do it at the ballot box, too.

And the thing is, there have been all sorts of signs along the way, and vis à vis blind spots, it is often presupposed as a matter of propriety that we must find obscure, alternate explanations. And while it is true this is the sort of detail one might miss from half a world away↗, it's not like you've never encountered that discussion.

Here is an example of a so-called blind spot in American discourse: There really is such an idea as a juristic litmus test. In its basic form, the test would pass by unnoticed because certain differences are obvious. Thus, one that nobody ever thinks about, the equally-protected right to free speech. I mean, it's kind of obvious, right? It's not like there is some sort of "equally protected" non-reciprocal authority of one group over another, right? Then again, what do we think is playing out in Florida and other states trying to censor history and science? While the courts have not been nearly as consistent as they should on this point, there are, clearly, limits. While this litmus test should never need to be invoked, as such, it would be the actual erosion, the argument and influence against the equally-protected right to free speech, that would bring it to bear.

A litmus test that is actually in play had to do with Roe v. Wade, and as we see, the conservative solution was to just lie. There was a reason why Senators would ask if Roe was settled law; there is a reason why those Supreme Court Justices lied.

In history, the actual correct answer to Roe is that, based on the laws and Constitution, abortion is legal. What tempered the Supreme Court was traditionalism, including religious sentiment. That is to say↑, fear and favor more easily shown toward the influence of familiarity, i.e., what is traditional or otherwise similarly accepted, even to the point of preferring unreality. And if, along the way, the Court made a point that it is not necessarily the arbiter of what everyone who preceded them in human society had failed to resolve, the conservative response was to simply insist, even to the point of attempting to legislate ontology.

But this sort of political response required voters. And here we come to a blind spot, of sorts, in American discourse: One can easily suggest that single-issue voters exist on "both sides", but this is a sort of action-reaction question in which part of the phenomenon only occurs in response to the fact of the phenomenon occurring. Historically, Democrats generally only come together enough to look like single-issue voters in order to protect against specific harm, and even then, people tend to criticize them for being single-issue voters. Abortion, again, is the obvious example. Many Democratic voters who appear to vote single-issue about abortion only do so because the question looms immediately and proximally.

It's a pretty straightforward formulation: Some issue focus exists because it must; if we don't pay attention, stuff goes wrong and people get hurt. And, in fact, abortion is an excellent example.

For instance, after the 2010 ("Tea Party") midterm election, something of a joke arose in liberal and progressive circles: "Jobs, jobs, jobs, j'abortion." What it refers to is an idea that Republicans campaign on other issues, such as jobs and economy, and then, when elected, pass over jobs and economy in order to pass record numbers of anti-abortion bills, or, more recently, anti-trans bills, censoring libraries, threatening teachers, &c.

It's hardly new. Indeed, it was already well-known in 2016; that ridiculous bit about "merely dismissing the views of people who voted for him as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things" not only overlooked years of discourse and political dispute about other issues ("merely dismissing"), it also pretends ignorance of how those discussions went, with conservatives pitching fits against abortion, gay rights, Muslims, gay rights, birth control, transgender, abortion and birth control, and that doesn't even begin to account for all the times we're supposed to talk about what's wrong with Black people. These conservative voters have had years, James, electoral cycles, even generations to change course. And other people had years to think it through, but the 2016 assessment, like Brett Stephens in 2024, needed to pretend otherwise.

And then there's you, to whom the dynamics of all this are still mysterious↗.

We're talking about at least forty years in which American conservative voters have had opportunities to choose something different. And now they are hurting, suffering, and angry, and the American cultural politic that wags moral about accountability and taking responsibility for our actions perpetually blames everybody else for the result of what it votes for. Voting for Trump isn't going to fix those problems. The only thing it gets those voters is a feeling of empowerment that is derived from cruelty, and as long as Trump can make them feel that way, they will stand behind him.

In a way, it's all they have left.
____________________

Notes:

¹ While acknowledging discussion in the presidential predictions↗ thread, the question necessarily remains open.​

Kruse, Michael. "Our System Needs to Be Broken, and He Is the Man to Do It". Politico. 28 January 2024. Politico.com. 21 February 2024. https://bit.ly/3Oalp8A
 
Part the Third: Hyperbole & Reality

Looking back to 2016, the underlying hyperoble is itself of rather quite common form. Not only were liberals not "merely dismissing" Trump voters, the description of Trump voters as "obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things" is also a common manner of caricature; we recently↗ considered↗ the idea of people who think they are censored if they are not allowed to censor others, which is a similar manner of exaggeration.

And so is Stephens' horsemuck about how Trump's opponents "refuse to understand what makes him formidable", or the advice to criticize "without calling him names, or disparaging his supporters".

To reiterate, for juxtaposition:

• This is also an observable cycle: If the critique against these ahistorical antiliberal pretenses feels invalidating, then that sense of invalidation becomes the new moral wag about refusing to understand, or merely dismissing, or saying things that make people feel invalidated. For Stephens, Trump's critics must "think a little more deeply", "and do so without" saying things that might distress Trump supporters. The only way to understand, as such, is to not upset Trump supporters.​

Just start with the basic idea that it doesn't feel good to be told you're wrong, and for most people feels even worse when facts affirm that they were wrong.

For American conservatives, that's the last thirty years. At least. Some of them feel it going back fifty years. Some of them have inherited burdens that run back even further. But, sure, the last thirty years. Consider a period from 1992 to 2010, when a generation grew up misinformed—(were they lied to?)—about basic civic expectations and why they can't just up and decide to vote on other people's rights, like that. But it's true, the young voters just coming of age for the "Tea Party" midterm, in 2010, included conservatives who grew up believing they were persecuted quite literally because they were not allowed to persecute others. And as you're aware, the Republican Party has pretty much gone downhill from there.

It's one thing to imagine thirty years of persistent invalidation, but something also goes here about self-infliction. You're already familiar with the litany: Creationism and intelligent design, for instance; they're wrong on the facts, they're wrong on the law, and the argumentative logic is fallacious. Same thing with abortion, by the way; they only need to redefine medical terminology in order to support their argument, are inconsistent in doing so, and feel alienated when people take them seriously. And it's one thing if conservative anti-gay sentiments were lots of unfortunate things, whether irrational or supremacist or histrionic or solipsistic, and say what you will↑ about "child sex advocates", but we're also talking about an argument that does not recognize consent in sexual conduct; after twenty-five or thirty years, more fool me to not believe them. Waxing and wagging about your own exaggerations might feel neat, but it's just a distraction from real issues and behaviors.

Consider the 2016 hyperbole, that "we shouldn't be merely dismissing the views of people who voted for him as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things". Now, think about the people trying to win their votes. There is the notorious Southern Strategy, laid out on tape by Lee Atwater in 1981, and if we think of racism, crazy, and other bad things, maybe it would be harder to perceive the contiguity if these issues didn't keep coming up. Just like abortion. Just like gay rights, and now trans rights.

It's like the idea that idea that Republicans campaign on other issues, such as jobs and economy, and then turn to culture-war issues. By the time we got to "jobs, jobs, jobs, j'abortion", the marketplace question of the politicians and the voters is akin to chicken-and-egg. It's one thing, for instance if Salem Media Group opened shop in 1974, but ... well, right. They're owned by Regnery, now, the publisher who made a lot of money feeding conspiracism to conservatives.² Inasmuch as we might consider right-wing media as a culprit↗: They are consenting, even demanding consumers. These are people who wanted specialty "Christian" bookstores to shop at, just like Texas parents wanted specialty "history" textbooks for public schools to teach. True, it's easier to wonder about the ethics of a textbook publisher who kowtows to racists than the family man who opens a Christian bookstore, but the point is, it's easy to lie to these people. Or, sell them what they want. Or, whatever. Sure, we might think of a "few strongly right-wing media outlets … owned by conservative billionaires who are willing to tell lies to make even more billions", but it's not like they had to invent a consumer base.

By the time we got to j'abortion, or Mitt Romney fumbling birth control, it wasn't exactly new.

I mean, sure, the question of other issues is important; it wasn't all about Roe, or gay people, or Blacks, Hispanics, or people who look like they might be Muslim. In the meantime, conservative voters elected tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of labor, safety, and enviornmental standards, "right to work" laws, and between 1993 and 2010, conservatives advocated an idea called the "individual mandate" in order to stave off single-payer health care. Think about it, James, after seventeen (actually a little over twenty) years, conservatives won a major policy victory, and doing so irreparably hurt their feelings.

These days, you might think the idea of an inequality crisis↗ could suggest common ground between liberal and conservative voters, but that's the thing: This is what conservatives voted for. They've had thirty years, at least, to change course, but even after the last time, when Republicans wrote the damn bill in crayon, they're still coming back for more.

Conservatives voted for what makes them, and everyone else, miserable. Over and over and over again. And while the experience probably isn't so visceral from half a world a way, neither are you absolutely insensate. Certes, James, you are capable of perceiving the contrast: While you might be an atheist who challenges theistic pretenses, or an advocate for free speech, here are the Christianists, for instance, silencing academics, censoring libraries and curricula, and demanding legitimization and even enforcement of their alternative science, and here you are pitching and wagging on their behalf.

And Florida is a perfect example. Other issues? Well, there was this guy, and he was a health care CEO, and he got caught ripping off public money, so they elected him to be governor, and then a U.S. Senator. After he was done censoring environmental scientists, Florida voters elected a Republican successor who went back to the racism, sexism, and conspiracism (i.e., crazy stuff) with their crusade for the censoring and silencing and all that. You remember, you were so worried that conservatives might have been the real victims, there.³

See, the thing is, it never really was about "merely dismissing the views of people who voted for him as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things"; that was thin political hyperbole, a non-narrative pretense disconnected from history. As I said, the line was a tell; its manner of misrepresentation is neither subtle nor uncommon.

It's the same for the NYT editor, these years later. The hyperbole, there, relies on a similar sleight: Stephens' demand that people should criticize "without calling him names, or disparaging his supporters, or attributing his resurgence to nefarious foreign actors or the unfairness of the Electoral College", concedes the narrative; the degree to which facts themselves can hurt conservative feelings is disruptive, and often preclusive of substantial communication. To wit, it should be easy enough to ignore the easy fallacies and predictable slings and arrows of social media, but once we put aside questions of whether Donald Trump smells bad, it's true that observing facts can still upset conservatives. Neither is this new; ask Dennis Miller.⁴

Questions of supremacism and conspiracism in conservative beliefs and politics persist because conservatives require that people should consider them; sometimes the straightforward description of facts is going to say something negative about Trump or his supporters; that nefarious foreign actors have taken interest and action is a fact. The idea that we should ignore or somehow seek to euphemize these facts for the sake of hurt conservative feelings starts to sound a lot like the conservative critique against political correctness.
____________________

Notes:

² And their founders are connected to the Council for National Policy, which, speaking of the Reagan Awakening (i.e., Atwater), involves Tim LaHaye, author of a series of bestselling apocalyptic novels.

³ "I hope it isn't just political rhetoric, intending to enrage those of a non-Republican political persuasion, to claim there are laws forbidding the mention of race/racism etc." (James R, #3717584↗)

⁴ Twenty years. That joke is twenty years old.​
 
Part the Fourth: Misty Water Colored Whatnow

We can, in fact, set an outer boundary: It's not quite like Trooper swooning over a mass killer.

Comparatively, I don't know, there was the time Yazata pushed rightist make-believe. Best case, he fell for something; worst case, he didn't really fall for it.

But you, James, just flat out made it up.

Now, we might consider why all those people voted for Trump in this election. Were they all crazy, motivated by racism or sexism, etc., or is there more to it than that? Are they all racist white supremacist child sex advocates, perhaps? I don't think so.

There are clues to be found, if you put in a little effort in trying to find out the truth, rather than just making assumptions that make you feel comfortable ....

.... But I guess it's simpler for some to try to blame all the Trump supporters for being bad people to the core. Because that requires less thinking, I guess. It also means you're free to demonise people and misrepresent (some of) them. And some people just can't help themselves when it comes to trying to demonise other people.

It's the same kind of hyperbole as the line we're recalling from 2016, and in Stephens' recent lamentation. It's a moral wag that depends on validating an insupportable conservative narrative.

The four paragraphs I omitted don't actually explain much. I mean, sure, it's true that "one clue is", and, "they believe", and, "they feel". And "why"? Well, sure, they believe lies, and are in their way often shielded from truths, but your underlying narrative is devoid of any historical context or comprehension.

The "other reasons", as such, are complicated. That's part of what you're missing. Still, inasmuch as you ask, "Were they all crazy, motivated by racism or sexism, etc., or is there more to it than that?" the question reflects on hyperbole. "Are they all racist white supremacist child sex advocates, perhaps? I don't think so." Of course it's easy to reject your own fallacious setup. Like the 2016 pretense, that "we shouldn't be merely dismissing the views of people who voted for him as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things"; we wouldn't even be thinking about such things if conservatives didn't keep asking. And, as conservatives have gotten louder and more focused in the time since, questions of racism, sexism, and crazy conspiracism are harder to avoid. By the time you get to the hyperbole about "it's simpler for some to try to blame all the Trump supporters for being bad people to the core" it's probably worth reminding what is a mystery to you↗.

That mystery, as such, overlaps with the question of a blind spot; in its way, it's kind of an example. The thing is, James, the reason why it's so mysterious to you is itself something of a mystery; it's not like you're new to that part of the discussion. To be clear—

Tiassa: If the problem is that Republican voters can wish hard enough that they might actually get what they think they want, we can also wonder why that is even possible.

James R: That's still a bit of a mystery to me, watching it all unfold from half a world away.

—that mystery is also what your speculative moral wag lacks. While it's true the history can be subtle and particular, and the living experience inimitable, the idea that you are so unaware not only seems awry in and of itself, but also suggests significant ignorance underpinning a political analysis purporting moral wisdom.

What other issues are they going to get out of Trump? Nothing. Why do they think Trump will save them from the evils of the Democrats? Well, perhaps we might account and consider what those evils actually are. It's one thing if the answer has to do with believing lies, but, James, your phrasing, "being consistently and repeatedly fed a whole bunch of lies, and coming to believe them", is ahistorical, which is why it's important to consider who lied to them, and maybe something about the chicken and the egg. When did they come to believe what, James? It wasn't in 2020. It wasn't in 2015. Hey, here's a blast from the past:

James R: Trump is also a birther, apparently.

Joepistole: Trump is a recent to convert to birtherism. Trump's recent conversion to birtherism strongly coincides with his announced interest in running for president under the Republican/Tea Party/Birther banner. I don't suppose the two are related :).

That would be April↗, 2011↗. It wasn't then, either.

Hint: The question of Trumpism is one of brand popularity; the underlying product it is and represents existed before, and will continue in the marketplace even after the last trumpence is spent. The more enduring question pertains to the underlying components, which were present before Trump, and will remain well after, especially if given comfort.

There is, of course, another way of looking at it, which has to do with asking why these enduring elements emerged to expression in the manner and time they did. Well, inasmuch as "the majority has other reasons", this is, somehow, where those other reasons have led. Vis à vis Trump, these enduring elements that sound like supremacism and conspiracism—i.e, "crazy", "racism", "sexism", "those other bad things"—were what they had left. The end of the twentieth century saw conservative moralism in disarray; the beginning of the new century quickly saw the collapse of conservative economic and national security arguments, irreparable erosion of American moral authority and international prestige, and increased reliance on what would eventually be described as sincerely held beliefs, and then, during the Trump years, alternative facts.

It's what they had left; after decades feeling the sting of invalidation for being rejected by facts and reality, what they had left was their inalienable beliefs and the searing invalidation of feeling refused. These durable, enduring elements of tradition, were what they had, and they built an identity politic around it.

The hyperbole about "being bad people to the core" really does require less thinking, because conservatives didn't just fall into this by accident. And, sure, we can seek reasonable explanations for why they double and triple down, but that also means acknowledging the extraordinary focus conservatives place on certain issues known as culture wars, which precede a latter-day retort denouncing social justice warriors. That is to say, at some point we must countenance the supremacism, conspiracism, and crackpottery while refusing their shield of exaggeration and indignance.

It's a lot like the idea of people who think they are censored when they are not allowed to censor others. And, also, the idea of political litmus tests, and single-issue focus. If certain questions did not loom so immediately and proximally, then they would not be in constant consideration; by this outlook, if people did not keep putting up ridiculous theses to justify harmful behavior and outcomes, they would not experience the explicit rejection of their arguments. As the sting of invalidation adds up, and they weary of perpetual rejection, it is important to observe that we wouldn't even be thinking about such things, would not be so explicitly rejecting them, if they didn't keep asking.

"Bad peple to the core"? Consider actor Wallace Shawn, reflecting↗ on the lessons of his life. If he suggests, "Maybe they didn't want to be gentle or kind," the point is that it's still a maybe. Or, to reiterate my take↗:

• Antisociality: The cruelty, as [Adam] Serwer puts it, is the point. This isn't a new idea. Wallace Shawn's sense of "maybe" is, as he recognizes, a question of perspective; it is hard to accept that so many of our American neighbors really would be so cruel. Nor, in those classifications, is it simply "us" who find it so unbelievable; this wells up from American traditionalism, so "we" are also taught into these perspectives, and even "they" recoil at the prospect of their own cruelty, hatred, and sin.​

It is hard to accept that so many of our neighbors really would be so cruel. Or, as you summarize, "I guess it's simpler for some to try to blame all the Trump supporters for being bad people to the core. Because that requires less thinking, I guess."

And it's important to reiterate: Even "they" recoil.

We can spend our lives puzzling over it, but you guess it's simpler for some, because they just can't help themselves. Just like, as Stephens has it, people "refuse" to understand, and need to state their criticism in a way that doesn't distress those who sympathize with what is criticized. It's all just so simple: The problem isn't what conservatives assert and argue, it isn't how they behave; the real problem is that anyone else would criticize them, because that makes them feel bad and that's just not fair.

Flip-side, even still: It can't really be so childish, right?

(Of course not; I wouldn't insult children that way.)

Or, in re 2016: The racism, sexism, and conspiracism ("obviously crazy", "other bad things"), i.e., the enduring elements, are what critics refuse to underst―... okay, I'm pretty sure that's not what the NYT columnist was after.
 
The Blind … uh, How Big Is a "Spot"?

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Josh Marshall↱ of Talking Points Memo:

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of what was always a bogus story is now one that is actually real. Notwithstanding 2015–16 and 2018–19, we now see that almost all of 2023 was dominated by a legal/political story that was not only bogus but — according to prosecutors' filings and the discredited source's own admission to federal authorities — was a plant by the Russian intelligence services. That's real. That requires an explanation as to how that was ever allowed to happen. It requires some effort to prevent it from happening again.

Donald Trump and his MAGA legions have spent years shock-training reporters not to bring up anything else about Russian disinformation programs aimed at helping Donald Trump. But they're real. They're continuing. They're actually working. And that remains the case no matter how many times Donald Trump says "RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA" on Truth Social. Reporters have been conditioned to ignore the clear implications of what we're learning ....

.... The story here isn't that the "Biden Crime Family" nonsense didn't pan out. That was always transparently bogus. The story here is how the U.S. again got bamboozled by transparent foreign manipulation and how the U.S. political press bought into it pretty much whole hog. That doesn't mean they accepted all the claims. But they treated it as reasonable, worthy of a presumption of seriousness, a serious story to be covered as such. Even with the veritable forest of red flags. Maybe that's why there's so little appetite to say what just happened.

This is also an example of something important. If columnist Brett Stephens laments↑ chatter about "nefarious foreign actors", but we might also observe↑ that nefarious foreign actors taking interest and action is a fact.

And the moment at hand, well, here we are. It's not really a "blind spot".
____________________

Notes:

Marshall, Josh. "Can DC Reporters Overcome Their Trumper Shock-Training?" The Backchannel. 22 February 2024. TalkingPointsMemo.com. 22 February 2024. https://bit.ly/3T9tjSI
 
Don't Blame Them, or, #WhatTheyVotedFor

This is the thing about conservative voters: Things don't get to this point without them.

The news out of Florida:

With a brief memo, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has subverted a public health standard that's long kept measles outbreaks under control.

On Feb. 20, as measles spread through Manatee Bay Elementary in South Florida, Ladapo sent parents a letter granting them permission to send unvaccinated children to school amid the outbreak.

The Department of Health "is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance," wrote Ladapo, who was appointed to head the agency by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose name is listed above Ladapo's in the letterhead.

Ladapo's move contradicts advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


(Maxmen↱)

With an estimated ten percent of the community vulnerable to the measles, and only a quarter of Florida counties achieving a measles immunization threshold, it is not at all irrelevant that in 2023, "a record number of parents filed for exemptions from school vaccine requirements on religious or philosophical grounds across the United States"; child immunization is at a ten-year low. And measles, historically, is extraordinarily disruptive and dangerous.

For this reason, government officials have occasionally mandated vaccines in emergencies in the past. For example, Philadelphia's deputy health commissioner in 1991 ordered children to get vaccinated against their parents' wishes during outbreaks traced to their faith-healing churches. And during a large measles outbreak among Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn in 2019, the New York City health commissioner mandated that anyone who lived, worked, or went to school in hard-hit neighborhoods get vaccinated or face a fine of $1,000. In that ordinance, the commissioner wrote that the presence of anyone lacking the vaccine in those areas, unless it was medically contraindicated, "creates an unnecessary and avoidable risk of continuing the outbreak."

Ladapo moved in the opposite direction with his letter, deferring to parents because of the "high immunity rate in the community," which data contradicts, and because of the "burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school."

Additionally, the Florida Surgeon General's letter departs from norms because historically, "local health departments tend to take the lead on containing measles outbreaks, rather than state or federal authorities". Broward County responded to news agency queries by simply deferring to the state Department of Health, and Rebekah Jones, a scientist famous for losing her job in Florida for disagreeing with the state reminded, "The county doesn't have the power to disagree with the state health department."

Remember that before Gov. DeSantis, Florida voters chose Rick Scott. Before Rick Scott was governor, he was a healthcare CEO whose company was found to have defrauded Medicare to the tune of $1.7 billion. Florida voters knew that, and decided they wanted him as governor, because apparently the Republican-turned-Democrat wasn't quite conservative enough. While he was governor, Rick Scott censored state scientists, even going so far as to ban the phrase "climate change".

Florida conservatives were so thrilled that they elected Ron DeSantis to follow up with culture wars disrupting healthcare, threatening educators, banning books, and even breaking the law.

The state, having failed to reasonably consider climate change, now finds itself facing an insurance crisis because risk is soaring, unmitigated, in Florida.

And all that culture warring also brought voters in two Florida counties an additional billion dollars worth of financial liability, at least, and another billion, at least, lost in a canceled real estate project that foresaw longer-term employment expansion.

What the Florida Department of Health and state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo are doing is just more of the sort of culture warring that Sunshine State conservatives voted for. It's one thing if people are hurting and suffering↗, but this didn't just randomly happen. This wasn't some sort of unpredictable accident of better intentions, but a result that ought to have been foreseeable; perhaps the biggest problem is a failure to believe they would actually do it. That much, at least, would kind of go both ways, even if it also fits in with what tends to only work in a certain way.

We might consider the clucking moralization about trying to "blame all the Trump supporters for being bad people to the core". Well, that's the thing: "Were they all crazy, motivated by racism or sexism, etc., or is there more to it than that?" Well, the "more to it" keeps falling apart, but in Florida they've managed to keep the racism, sexism, and crazy in the spotlight. If they are perpetually rejected and criticized for what they bring to focus, and the "more" that they do not only continues to fail, but also inflicts cruelty, it is possible that they might feel "blame … for being bad people to the core". They might start feeling criticized as if they are "all crazy, motivated by racism or sexism, etc." They might feel dismissed "as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things". And if the New York Times columnist says people need "to think a little more deeply about the enduring sources of his appeal", we need to consider what the enduring elements are.

That is, sure, there might be "more to it", but we see how their "other reasons" also lead to their own hurting and suffering, while the actual enduring elements they spotlight, the enduring values of their focus, are in fact the racist, sexist, and crazy.

And this, the Ladapo measles response, just file under crazy.
____________________

Notes:

Maxmen, Amy. "Florida defies CDC in measles outbreak, telling parents it's fine to send unvaccinated kids to school". CBS News. 23 February 2024. CBSNews.com. 23 February 2024. https://bit.ly/3wn1FIK
 
The punch line might feel good to deliver, but your need to cast American conservatives as some sort of victims is absurd...
American conservatives are a broad church. Sure, some of them are victims of propaganda of various kinds. Others go in with eyes wide open.

I don't have a need to pretend that people you don't like are all the same, like you do.
The point is, your romanticization of the American right as tragic victims can only pretend to make any sense if history is tabula rasa. "Making assumptions"? This circumstance did not arise ex nihilo.
Around 50% of eligible voters in the United States are younger than 50 years of age. (In general, the age of the average voter is increasing at the moment.)

A lot of voters are largely ignorant of the long history of Republicanism, not to mention many other parts of history. So, while history itself is not tabula rasa, the same is not quite as true for many American voters.

Most people, I'll wager, do not vote based on something their preferred party did 80 years ago, or even 30 years ago - if they vote based on their party's record in office at all. On the contrary, people vote based on what they hope/expect their party will do for them going forward.
Who lied to them, James?¹

Who is shielding them?
I already explained. It's not difficult. There's a very large and polarised political media in operation in the United States these days. One of the two poles of that media landscape takes a few more liberties than the other with small matters such as facts and telling the whole story. So, there's that.

Then there are the messages from the politicians themselves, and the internal system of political messaging within parties.

There are also well-monetised vested interests who are very willing to lie on behalf of the politicians they want to get elected, too.

There's a lot of "shielding" that happens between the message-makers and the voters who receive the crafted messages somewhere down the line. Generally, it takes some effort and interest to hear more than one side of the story you're being fed, and a lot of people just don't make the effort or take an interest. They have at best a superficial interest in politics and minimal knowledge about a lot of issues that are ultimately impacted by political decisions.
There was a reason why Senators would ask if Roe was settled law; there is a reason why those Supreme Court Justices lied.
Roe was never (federally) legislated. It remained judge-made law until it was overturned by some other judges.

You are quite free to argue that the Supreme Court made a bad decision, with reference to precedent and the like, but it's a big stretch from that to complaining that it wasn't within the power of the Court to decide as it did, or that it relied on a "lie".

Perhaps you can make a case in another thread.
In history, the actual correct answer to Roe is that, based on the laws and Constitution, abortion is legal.
How interesting that there's just one "correct" answer to the issue of abortion, and I'm so glad that you found it in your studies of the law and the Constitution. I'm fascinated to hear more (in a different thread).
Indeed, it was already well-known in 2016; that ridiculous bit about "merely dismissing the views of people who voted for him as obviously crazy, or motivated by racism or sexism or any of those other bad things" not only overlooked years of discourse and political dispute about other issues ("merely dismissing"), it also pretends ignorance of how those discussions went, with conservatives pitching fits against abortion, gay rights, Muslims, gay rights, birth control, transgender, abortion and birth control, and that doesn't even begin to account for all the times we're supposed to talk about what's wrong with Black people. These conservative voters have had years, James, electoral cycles, even generations to change course.
In any election - whether the one that elected Trump in 2016 or the one coming this year - a fair portion of the voters will not have been alive for decades, and none will have been alive for generations. Only a tiny proportion of them will be policy wonks like you are, who have taken time to delve into ancient history long enough to come up with a long list of reasons why you really don't like one of the political parties on offer.

You're badly overthinking this - overestimating the average intelligence of the electorate and its engagement with politics.

You can certainly complain about the history of a specific party and the decisions that have been taken historically by those with influence within that party, but you shouldn't confuse the people pulling the strings with the average voter. They are not one and the same.
And then there's you, to whom the dynamics of all this are still mysterious↗.
You're quoting me selectively. I said something specific, and here you're telling a lie, to make it seem like I said something more general. That's poor form. But, hey, it's you. I have come to expect no better from you. I don't think you have it in you, any more. It is, however, interesting that you say you're so upset about people telling lies, when you have no particular qualms about telling your own lies, repeatedly and unashamedly. That's a notable hypocrisy you have there.
We're talking about at least forty years in which American conservative voters have had opportunities to choose something different. And now they are hurting, suffering, and angry, and the American cultural politic that wags moral about accountability and taking responsibility for our actions perpetually blames everybody else for the result of what it votes for. Voting for Trump isn't going to fix those problems. The only thing it gets those voters is a feeling of empowerment that is derived from cruelty, and as long as Trump can make them feel that way, they will stand behind him.
I'm inclined to agree with the sentiment in this part. The average Trump voter is disenchanted with the way "the establishment" seems to work to serve the interests of people and corporations who are "other" than themselves. The Trump voter believes that Trump will take a wrecking ball to the "system", which he no doubt will - at least to those parts that he perceives as being unhelpful to advancing his own personal interests - if given another chance. The delusion is that this will somehow benefit the voter. If Trump is elected, his base will feel empowered, until they don't. A select few, of course, will be empowered, to the detriment of the majority. Look what happened last time.
 
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Conservatives voted for what makes them, and everyone else, miserable. Over and over and over again. And while the experience probably isn't so visceral from half a world a way, neither are you absolutely insensate. Certes, James, you are capable of perceiving the contrast: While you might be an atheist who challenges theistic pretenses, or an advocate for free speech, here are the Christianists, for instance, silencing academics, censoring libraries and curricula, and demanding legitimization and even enforcement of their alternative science, and here you are pitching and wagging on their behalf.
You're telling lies again. I have never argued in support of any of the things you have on your list in your last sentence here. If you actually can't remember, don't assume. Ask. Otherwise, you just come across as a liar, again. (Maybe you don't care? In for a penny, in for a pound?)
After he was done censoring environmental scientists, Florida voters elected a Republican successor who went back to the racism, sexism, and conspiracism (i.e., crazy stuff) with their crusade for the censoring and silencing and all that. You remember, you were so worried that conservatives might have been the real victims, there.³
You're misrepresenting my point of inquiry about Florida's 'Stop Woke' Act - deliberately, I'd say, which, again, is bad form. But, hey, it's you. It's what you do.

If anybody is interested, I invite them to review that thread, because it's an interesting one. I wrote nothing about conservatives being the "real victims" there, by the way. The discussion (for me) was never about trying to find "victims". Tiassa is the person who likes to put everybody into a neat box labelled either "victim" or "oppressor".
The four paragraphs I omitted don't actually explain much.
Sure. The four paragraphs you skipped over had my reasons, which you ignored. And now you're trying to pretend I didn't give any reasons. That's bad form, again. But, hey, it's you.
Well, sure, they believe lies, and are in their way often shielded from truths, but your underlying narrative is devoid of any historical context or comprehension.
Well, that's an interesting shift in your series of recent posts. You started off pretending you don't know which people are shielded from truths or how that could happen, yet here you're apparently willing to concede that it does happen, though you're still not sure why.

Somewhere during that long monologue with yourself, something I wrote must have gone in, despite your best efforts to ignore and deny. Fancy that.
It's one thing if the answer has to do with believing lies, but, James, your phrasing, "being consistently and repeatedly fed a whole bunch of lies, and coming to believe them", is ahistorical, which is why it's important to consider who lied to them, and maybe something about the chicken and the egg. When did they come to believe what, James? It wasn't in 2020. It wasn't in 2015.
For some, it certainly was in 2020 or 2015. That's historical. Imagining the MAGA electors as if they are all 300 years old is ahistorical.
 
Back Again, but Never Forgotten

bd-2013-pizzainstructions-detail-bw.png

"And, you know, when I first heard about it, I was like, pizza, child trafficking, the Clintons. I was like, good lord above, OK, I got enough trouble with Benghazi. I don't need to be taking that on. And it was years before I realized and started to investigate and discovered, holy guacamole! This actually is all true."


Lara Logan is a South African, right-wing journalist who rose to prominence in the U.S. as a CBS News correspondent during the first decade of the American Bush War in Afghanistan. In 2013, CBS was forced to retract one of her reports on the Benghazi embassy attack because of factual errors; she left the network in 2018, and since has worked for Sinclair as a correspondent covering migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, been hired and dropped by FOX News, and managed to get banned from Newsmax for extremist rhetoric about migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. A conspiracy theorist, she has boosted HIV denial, accused Charles Darwin of being a Rothschild operative, and lost her talent agency after Covid-conspiracist remarks comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci to prominent Nazi figure Josef Mengele.

Which, of course, is why Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) invited Logan to join a roundtable discussion on "Federal Health Agencies and the COVID Cartel".

It's just one of those things about who lies to conservatives: We might wonder if the senior U.S. Senator from Wisconsin is buoying Logan's sinking reputation, or if the magatude has been keeping her afloat.
____________________

Notes:

Media Matters Staff. "Days before appearing on a U.S. senator’s panel, Lara Logan says Pizzagate 'is all true'". Media Matters for America. 26 February 2024. MediaMatters.org. 26 February 2026. https://bit.ly/3SR6WA1
 
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