A Depressing Analysis

Despite overwhelming relief at the victory of the Biden/Harris ticket, those of us horrified by Donald Trump and his enablers are still coming to terms with the fact that some 70 million people voted for four more years of the disaster we’ve just experienced.

Unlike those Republicans who continue to insist that up is down and Trump was somehow cheated out of a win, we live in the real world. We recognize that those 70 million votes were cast. The question is: why?  Trump’s hardcore base is demonstrably racist, but surely, America isn’t home to seventy million racists willing to dispense with functional governance so long as dark-skinned people and “foreign elements” are kept in their place.

Will Wilkinson considered that question in a recent column in the New York Times. He identified three factors that made the election difficult for the Democrats: partisan polarization, obscured by the inaccurate polling; the strength of what he labeled the “juiced” pre-Covid-19 economy; and the success of Mr. Trump’s denialist, open-everything-up nonresponse to the pandemic.

How could a president responsible for one of the gravest failures of governance in American history nevertheless maintain such rock-solid support? Democracy’s throw-the-bums-out feedback mechanism gets gummed up when the electorate disagrees about the identity of the bums, what did and didn’t occur on their watch and who deserves what share of the credit or blame.

When party affiliation becomes a central source of meaning and self-definition, reality itself becomes contested and verifiable facts turn into hot-button controversies. Elections can’t render an authoritative verdict on the performance of incumbents when partisans in a closely divided electorate tell wildly inconsistent stories about one another and the world they share.

Wilkinson looked at Trump’s war of words against governors and mayors — especially Democratic ones — who refused to risk their citizens’ lives by allowing economic and social activity to resume, and to Republican messaging that defined the contrast between the parties’ approaches to the pandemic as a battle between individual freedom and over-reaching government.

The Republican message couldn’t have been clearer: Workers should be able to show up, clock in, earn a normal paycheck, pay the rent and feed their kids. Democrats were telling the same workers that we need to listen to science, reopening is premature, and the economy can’t be fully restored until we beat the virus. Correct! But how does that help when rent was due last week?

Make no mistake, it was unforgivably cruel of Republicans to force blue-collar and service workers to risk death for grocery money. Yet their disinformation campaign persuaded many millions of Americans that the risk was minimal and that Democrats were keeping their workplaces and schools closed, their customers and kids at home, and their wallets empty and cupboards bare for bogus reasons.

Democrats fell into the trap Republicans set with their dogged refusal to do anything about the uncontained pandemic. Wilkinson concluded that the “spell of polarization” turns every issue into a clash of political identities. As a result, “real” Republicans largely dismissed the pandemic as a hoax, a dismissal that conveniently excused the President’s manifest failure to deal with it.

This rings true to me–so far as it goes. But political polarization alone does not and cannot explain why millions of Americans chose to occupy an alternate reality and to dismiss evidence that was staring them in the face.

Constructing a world where the deaths of one’s neighbors are attributed to something–anything– other than COVID, a world in which a President’s too-obvious-to-ignore lack of competence is a sign that he’s being hobbled by the “deep state,”a world  in which that President’s lack of humanity is explained away as “telling it like it is,” a world where science is “elitist” and warnings from doctors are politically-motivated efforts to diminish the President–such a  world requires a media infrastructure.

There are multitudes of alternate reality purveyors:  websites and cable channels and talk radio hosts willing to confirm the accuracy of your preferred “facts” and the superiority of your chosen tribe.  Trump will go, but that media infrastructure will stay.

I think I need a drink.


  1. Sheila writes, “There are multitudes of alternate reality purveyors: websites and cable channels and talk radio hosts willing to confirm the accuracy of your preferred “facts” and the superiority of your chosen tribe. ”

    Will works for a newspaper that is supposedly the leading truth-teller within the United States, a country ranked 45th for World Press Freedom; wtf does he know?

    How is the NYT any different than Fox News?

    Don’t they both tell stories to their respective tribes?


  2. One of the key elements here is that Republicans have never really had any intention to govern. Their mission in politics is to make sure that their rich donors keep paying them to get re-elected. Human life is merely an element of little consequence.

    “Make no mistake, it was unforgivably cruel of Republicans to force blue-collar and service workers to risk death for grocery money.” It ain’t just the grocery money. It ain’t just the rent. It’s about people spending money to keep profits high. COVID was a stumbling block to profits, so it HAD to be ignored, down-played and refuted every day. Republicans’ view about 270,000 people dying is one of “so what”. After all, the stock market is setting new records every day.

    The greed community will throw those 70 million Trump voters under the bus in a heartbeat if it means more profits.

  3. I still have a problem with the “political polarization” rhetoric. This suggests that both sides are equally to blame for the current political state. When Republicans move sharply right over a thirty year period and Democrats refuse to go with them, that’s not polarization. That is radicalization of a party and a party attempting to avoid that radicalization. If we continue to allow this “both sides do it” rhetoric to persist, then we enable radicalization.

  4. Erik Barnett:
    You took the words out of my mouth. Total false equivalence perpetrated by media.

  5. I’m just guessing that among the 70 million voters are those staunch Republicans who watch only Fox News and and would vote for Charles Manson who is dead if his name was on the Republican ballot. There are those who get much of their news on social media channels; why else would Trump post a 46 minute video “proving” the fraudulent election on Facebook? Did Fox News refuse to air his video.

    “The Republican message couldn’t have been clearer: Workers should be able to show up, clock in, earn a normal paycheck, pay the rent and feed their kids. Democrats were telling the same workers that we need to listen to science, reopening is premature, and the economy can’t be fully restored until we beat the virus. Correct! But how does that help when rent was due last week?”

    The Republican message above is simply a dog whistle heard by the uninformed jobless that they should just go out and get a job. The Democratic message is not heard, ignored or just not understood by the uninformed who consider all science as science fiction and the Pandemic is part of it. How else can they “analyse” Trump continuing his public lifestyle and hold holiday celebrations in the White House as business-as-usual? Pompeo has sent out 900 invitations to White House celebrations telling those invited told to wear masks and practice social distancing at the celebration. Analyse that!

    When the country’s leaders are fools; the fools will follow their Judas goat like sheep to slaughter and plan more home celebrations to continue spreading herd immunity within their own family herds. We haven’t yet seen the full resulting numbers of Thanksgiving celebrations by those who ignore the Covid-19 Pandemic as Trump has done for months, especially those millions who filled our airports and traveled by air. All numbers have escalated since he removed himself completely from his own Coronavirus Task Force ; “Constructing a world where the deaths of one’s neighbors are attributed to something–anything– other than COVID…”

    As an aside; we have been hoping, praying, wishing, begging and demanding the removal of AG Barr; this is now a distinct possibility but the question is, will his replacement be even more dangerous in these last few days of Trump’s presidency?

  6. Erik, help me understand your use of the term “rhetoric?”

    I propose that our country owners consist of two groups: capitalists and oligarchs, either through publicly-traded or privately-owned companies.

    To simplify a complex issue, these owners control through power and funding, two political parties or three if you consider the Libertarian Party a viable third party.

    Princeton and Northwestern Universities in 2014 concluded that we are an oligarchy.

    Furthermore, Albert Einstein concluded in 1949 that we were an oligarchy.

    Question: Without using “rhetoric,” tell me how they are wrong:


  7. Todd,

    Come on man! You kinda know that OAN, Newsmax, and Fox, are extremely partisan! I recall when Lou Dobbs was more mainstream at one time, and how some of these talking heads that lean right became more and more radical because they realized there was an appetite from their listeners for it.

    The GOP road that wave, gave their interviews, catered to the conspiracy theorists, quoted Q anon, and on and on and on, creating a monster that Dr. Frankenstein would’ve feared. When the GOP finally realized that they couldn’t control what they had created, when Fox News is afraid of their own base listeners if they somehow make a mistake and tell the truth, you have a huge problem!

    I remember 4 years ago when the New York Times was continually throwing daggers at Hillary Clinton, it didn’t help her cause, it helped Donald Trump’s. You can’t say the New York Times leans right or was pro-Trump, but somebody there didn’t like Clinton and that alone might of been enough to tip the scales in trumps favor.

    Our cable news stations don’t seem to do as well as the newspapers, because the newspapers are the ones who get paid to be the muckrakers. And, there are still plenty of them around. Unfortunately we don’t have the BBC like cable news networks in the United States, and therefore we suffer from being less informed and less we actually pick up the printed page.

    This current situation just exacerbated the problem, Trump was definitely a symbolic middle finger, but just like a person who pours gasoline over their head to self immolate while trying to prove their point, it doesn’t seem they fully grasp the dying portion of that equation. There are some true fanatics, but mostly a bunch of followers that are whipped up in the mob mentality.

    Covid 19 is a prime example of how some are actually pushing against their right-wing politicians because they are losing people now in areas that were not affected as much as the large metropolitan areas. They could deny Covid 19, but, when they can’t get a hospital room or be seen in an emergency room, even if it is in for Covid 19, they recognize there is a problem. Of course some keep their heads squarely inserted in their backsides, but more and more are realizing there’s an issue.

    There is an hypocrisy and a disconnect between politicians and civil society. Nazi Germany was aware of how to manipulate!

    Paul Joseph Goebbels was the Nazi propaganda chief. And, he was a German politician! He was in charge of propaganda and media.

    Goebbels was given power over ALL German radio, press, cinema, theater and culture. He used films, print, posters, speeches, and rallies to glorify Hitler and the ideology of ‘the Party.’ He once said, “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” He is also credited with saying, “If you tell a lie BIG enough and KEEP REPEATING IT, people will eventually come to BELIEVE it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use ALL of its powers to REPRESS DISSENT, for THE TRUTH is the MORTAL ENEMY of the LIE, and thus by extension, THE TRUTH is the GREATEST ENEMY of the STATE.”

    The more absurd the lie, the more it was believed because surely no one could make it up. The absurdity is actually what drives the belief in it. This concept moved him to exclaim:
    “SUCCESS is the IMPORTANT thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to PERSUDE PEOPLE OF WHAT WE THINK RIGHT. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of PRACTICE, not of theory.
    We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be POPULAR, NOT INTELLECTUALLY PLEASING. It is NOT the TASK of PROPAGANDA to DISCOVER intellectual TRUTHS.”
    ― Joseph Goebbels

    You can’t believe all media was in lockstep with what’s been going on now Todd, this was nurtured, it was resurrected by the current GOP from the German Nazi party and now they can’t figure out how to control what they’ve unleashed!

    Donald Trump was spark in the background so to speak, but the seeds are planted even before hand. The Trump led birther movement was just another incarnation of anti-Jewish propaganda by the Nazis.

  8. As I write, one of our County Commissioners is in hospice care awaiting his passing after Covid-19 ravaged both his lungs. Two days ago the Medical Officer of the County Board of Health (finally) issued a mandatory mask order and gave a stern lecture to the County Council and Board of Commissioners in a joint meeting, all but demanding that they issue citations and fines to businesses in violation. They said they would but, in good Midwestern passive-aggressive style, they won’t, as that would require the support of the County Sheriff Department, which would never do something that would cause violent political blowback.

    The antigovernment populist wave is real and alive in the US and especially deep red states like Indiana. And the Current Occupant is doing everything he can to fan its flames…mostly to raise funds to pay for his massive anticipated legal expenses and lavish lifestyle, but also to maintain some level of national relevance to feed his malignant narcissism. Elected Republican officials national and locally just shake their heads and murmur regrets among themselves but say in public that everything is just fine.

    No one serves as a better example of this than our own Governor “Nice Guy” Holcomb, whose executive branch of our state government has presided over the startling fact that nearly 1 out of every 225 Hoosiers over age 60 is dead from Covid-19 and rising (I can show the math if you like). Approximately half of those deaths affected nursing home residents but the trend is towards non-nursing home residents. Either way. the vast majority of those deaths were preventable with proven science-based public policies available within our legal and financial reach. But he wrinkles his nose and exhorts and pleads with his fellow Hoosiers to “do the right” thing and “be responsible”. Way too many of them just do neither and nearly 6,000 Hoosiers are dead, 92.3% of whom are Seniors age 60+.
    The response to the pandemic of 2020 will go down in history as a cruel act of geronticide. The questions I struggle with are: 

    1) Do I really want to live the rest of my days in a community, state or nation that could not only allow such outcomes but where 46% nationally and 76% locally FULLY EMBRACE such outcomes as simply inevitable, and possibly desirable? And

    2) HOW do I even engage with my community going forward? Pretend that it’s all just fine? Assume that the Covid pandemic will pass and we’ll forget it ever happened? Ignore the fact that many local businesses, churches and fellow residents really didn’t care if I lived or died? And if I do, it was “my time” or “I had other problems that led to my demise – it wasn’t Covid”?

    I may be unique in my quandary and if so we’re fortunate to live in a beautiful lakeside home nestled in spectacular natural surroundings so the contemplative life of a hermit doesn’t seem like a terrible alternative.

  9. John,

    Thanks for your rational analysis. Many of us get too frothy and lose perspective. Stay safe.

  10. Todd,

    I find it interesting that you attribute sinister motives to the DNC. It appears quite plainly that the DNC is the most inept political body on earth, devoid of the ability to accomplish even the smallest goal it sets for itself, while taking credit for the outside pressures (which they can neither predict nor control) that deliver even a modest victory.

  11. John, You are thinking again too much; rationalization and justifications are excuse-making.

    Many quality researchers have assessed the world’s press freedom and concluded that the USA is ranked 45th; it has been declining for decades.

    Where are all these tenured academicians who are protected to speak freely or risk retaliation?

    I offered the same question yesterday to the self-proposed leading journalism authority, Jay Rosen from NYU. Not heard back.

    At 45th, I suggest our “press industry” has failed the American people. Prove to me I’m wrong:


  12. Let’s face it. Democrats stink at long term planning and they stink at getting their message out. They have for decades. They let themselves get closed in by tags like “defund the police” and that sets in stone the opinion of many that Democrats are going to create a wild societal change. Republicans can easily paint Democrats as scary and unwieldy. Say what you want about Republicans supporting Trump (who deserves no one’s support), at least the Republicans are good at staying on message.

  13. Although this is the 999th day of this blog swirling in angst…there is little new here. Seems a lot of brain cells on a hamster wheel. Where is hope hiding?

    There are strong, brave folks out there doing the work to turn the Titanic – Stacey Abrams, Brad Raffensperger (omg a GOP)

    Our group sent over 150 emails in the last two days to student leaders at colleges in GA encouraging their voting power on January 5th and telling them how and where to register and vote.

    Turn loose your anger/sorrow into positive action!

  14. I hate to tell you this, Shiela, but alcohol makes depression worse. Having said that I would also not recommend cocaine which floods the brain with an excess of dopamine and serotonin. The brain is then depleted of these natural antidepressants.

    I prefer to turn on a comedian or comedy that can make me laugh silly or to pick up my guitar and start singing. After all she who sings, prays twice.

    I wish we had leaders who could motivate all Americans to do what is necessary to contain the virus. I know this is different than mobilizing after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The enemy was visible and human. Perhaps we need a traveling “USO” so to speak to go out to large and small communities to lift people up and motivate them to wear masks etc. especially in areas that have no access to the internet. Maybe we should have beautiful male and female models doing a fashion show of masks. Put the show on facebook and YouTube!!

    And I wonder if there is a strategy that could effectively undermine the disinformation and conspiracy theories. Maybe those who have escaped cults could help us develop that strategy.

    This pandemic has made visible how poor our public health infrastructure really is and how poorly our health care system motivates people to stay healthy.

    when the vaccine becomes available we will need an army of people who can administer it and also a good strategy of disseminating good information about the vaccine to help motivate people to take it.

    Last, I think we should have some sort of memorial built to all the health care providers who have died of COVID to honor their sacrifice. I would toast to that, preferably with a maguerita.

  15. While I think Bob has a great point about the Dems, it’s not hard for the Rs to stay on message because their message is always “NO”. Quite easy to maintain consistency with that message.

  16. Thanks Vernon,


    Eventually there will be a backlash, maybe if this covid-19 starts really making inroads into the red States more than the blue States! Because Justice Joseph Goebbels said, the propaganda and the LIE can only shield people for so long until they feel the effects of the reality.

    I really believe the backlash is going to be swift when it happens, and it probably is not going to be driven by the press, it will be driven by real time pain that people are experiencing. When people are packed into hospitals during Christmas and new year’s, and they’re losing their family members to something that they were told wasn’t real, that will make a difference.

    Intellectuals don’t always have the answers! Intellectuals have never had all of the answers. What motivates people is not intellectual thought, it’s more archaic troglodyte pain! That drives people and motivates them. Muckrakers and newspapers cannot compete with state sponsored propaganda, it never could and never will!

    Words require analysis and thought, real life pain including death is self-explanatory.

    Propaganda and fear from that propaganda will not usurp the individual pain by masses of people. When that realization asserts itself, all hell is going to break loose!

    Since Trump has been using the Nazi playbook you best believe that this is not over and won’t be for a while. Remember, their fanaticism lasted all the way through the complete destruction of their country. There are plenty out there that are willing to take their queue and shed blood for their leader. That’s real life, that’s a fact, that’s history!

    Germany’s civilian population wanted the war to stop long before it actually did! The propaganda ceased to work when the realization of death and pain presented itself enmass.

    Will the military go along with the program as they did in Germany? We Will have to see, he’s been changing the Pentagon civilian leadership wholesale for the past month or so. Something is afoot!?!?!

  17. Robin Riebsomer, could you please reach out to me at todd@middletownmedia.com. I’d really like to hear more of your suggestions for change. Those mentioned above align very nicely with what I am in the midst of including in a campaign for change. I think you’d enjoy it as well.

  18. John:
    DW.com has a piece , where nato is refiguring the military push by china. being we kicked nato in the ,, when trump took over,they have been working on better military,ocean, patroling,issues.they see russia as a ,well their there,and we do buisness with them. Germany has many a law, that reject the nazi past,as far as to jail people for even holding a public display of artifacts from that past. though we have civil liberties, where does that cross the line,to what we are allowing today? seems if history isnt repeating itself, it maybe that,the right are ignorant,or just too lazy to,read some viable journalism. (head lines news,no i didnt mispell it)we maybe looking at how our schools approach this subject,and deal with any new handout$ to,such education, if they dont see we need to protect our democracy by education,in bold new ways.. i wont slam any teacher,but if they allow this subject to merely be a side line,then maybe they should do like a friends son, teach english in china, and see how that opens your eyes to their world of a goverment that doesnt allow the past to be repeated..

  19. John, don’t respond right away but put this to real thought and contemplation. Even meditate on it so you can connect with a power greater than your egoic mind. I friend of mine calls it his “higher self.” Jung had a name of it as well.

    Here are things to ponder:

    1) Germany’s propaganda was ended in the late 1930s-40s due to war with the help of Albert Einstein.
    2) Sigmund Freud developed his theories of the mind in Austria (I believe). He died in 1939 while exiled in England.
    3) Albert Einstein published his famous dictum, Why Socialism – https://monthlyreview.org/2009/05/01/why-socialism/

    4) Sigmund’s nephew, Edward Bernays, came to the USA and used his uncle’s theories of the unconscious mind to develop propaganda of his own for oligarchs and capitalists. He is known as the “father of public relations or propaganda.” Many attribute Edward to converting American society from one of civic engagement to one of being consumer-driven.
    5) The Central Intelligence Agency was established in 1949. According to many sources, Edward Bernays was asked by the CIA to help them during their formation.

    What do you suppose is the relevancy of this short period in time, post-WW2 as it equates to where we are today?

  20. @ Albert’s article was published in 1949 or the same year that the CIA was formed.

    Sorry, I excluded that data point.

  21. Todd,
    reality, the mainstream press in America is a ballon,full of. i tend to seek out the past journalists that still write,and have connections,and people who will discuss subjects, i then seek like subjects and maybe the same person interviewed,on the same subject by another journalists. though many are considered opinion pieces,many are making statements that at least should be taken in account,and why. commondreams.org maybe a liberal/progressive news outlet,but they line up daily the thoughts and very issues we talk about here,by, seasoned journalists. i dont hold anyone to account,its my job to read,understand,and look for other,outlets of the same issue. im not over loaded either, like many hardrives here,were at a age where we have to forget something to remember something, resources,thats one reason why i come here, to read where your info,and past comes to light.. you are past history where we all seem to come from,and remember why. the past is that, today we are in a new field that is mainly propaganda,and think tank ideals that muddy the waters of common sense. you can not make a horse drink water,but ya can slap him on the ass when he steps outta line…words can do that too..in my language,youd be suprise who ive pissed off, by shear knowlege of the past,and how joe stupid sees it, as i walk with him..

  22. What if you were an American aristocrat and, because you always liked to collect and display wealth, you sought to use modern advertising and marketing techniques to that end.

    I think that first thing that you would do is some kind of market survey to see if there was the potential among Americans to support some kind alternative reality that said power was better than freedom, oligarchy was preferable to democracy. If the results of that were encouraging you would put together a marketing entertainment and social media long term project through which the market could be opened for the product of power.

    Of course that’s what actually happened and today is a result. Marketing created an alliance of people who are convinced that government focused on power, untethered to freedom and rights and we the people would give them some of the power in exchange for votes.

    Some of them plan to use the power to restore the past that seemed to favor them. To some of that some the past would be a Christian nation like they nostalgically remember. Some others want to return to the wild west of stoic male dominance through the use of arms. Some others long for white male dominance over all other races. Some others choose law and order with the emphasis on the order that makes rather than costs them wealth. Some others just want to pay less to government which doesn’t favor them personally and is always spending their money on other people instead of them. And of course now firmly restored the aristocracy can buy and sell all of those illusions for as long as they want by funding the marketing monster.

    The dream of freedom has been shoved aside by the more appealing to some dream of power and government has been turned into a business and politics into advertising. We have recreated what the founders who advertised fighting the Revolution sought to end. King George may no longer be king but his court of lords are firmly back in control.

    The work that we have to redo is exactly the work that the founders were successful at 250 years ago and that is to sell once again the concept that government is necessary and can only be satisfying and as unobtrusive as it can be by democracy, giving the majority of the people absolute and regular choices about who governs as long as they do so in such a way that honors the Constitution.

    So, let’s all get to work on that in order to re-found once again these states united.

  23. Todd,

    Propaganda is as old as civilization itself. And, if it didn’t work, it would be a relic carved into stone tablets.

    Politicians use propaganda all the time, news organizations print and publish the same propaganda from those politicians because it is newsworthy to them at least in their mind.

    Everyone wants the scoop, everyone wants to get the upper hand, everyone wants to expand their base! That doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate, that doesn’t mean that they are honest brokers, it doesn’t mean that they are intellectually Superior somehow, it just means they are flawed humans looking for some sort of selfagrandized power, to be at the top of the hill!

    This is not just politics, it’s also infiltrated the educational system, and, definitely religion!

    How many out there are really free thinkers? How many go along to get along? How many will put their opinions and ideals aside just to get ahead? How many are willing to be accepted at the cost of individuality and the thought process that goes with it?


    One reason why I like Jack, is because he is a free thinker, and his experience has led him to some painful truths that he is not afraid to express. That’s being a free thinker. Freethinkers are not controlled by propaganda, because free thinkers can see past it! Usually it’s due to experiences in life that created that knowledge and cache of wisdom.

    Individuals do not gain wisdom from just education, it takes experience, both positive and negative, and the knowledge from that experience to acquire wisdom. If you’re sitting in a classroom, and you never experience anything yourself, whatever wisdom you think you’ve gleaned is fairly useless. You got to have some skin in the game somewhere!

  24. Lots of opinions voiced on this one. Add one more. Obviously the 70 million are made up of various clusters/reasons. Hopefully racism is the smallest. But willing to bet decent amount of money the biggest is opinion that D party is party of too big government/too many rules/too much taxing. D party does a terrible job of explaining/selling need and explaining benefits achieved later. The anger of the % of the 70 million a greed by that is real and not going away.

  25. Bill, my question is how does anyone know when government is too big?

    To me the fact that that question is unanswerable means that it’s more likely to be an advertising meme rather than a complete thought.

  26. Robin, I like your idea of preferring “… to turn on a comedian or comedy that can make me laugh silly or to pick up my guitar and start singing. After all she who sings, prays twice.” Am thinks of getting my bass ukulele out of its case. Warbling a few tunes might even get the doggies to chime in. During this season of light and giving, we all need a little something to encourage us not give up.

  27. Peggy and Bob,
    I totally agree with your assessment of the Democratic Party. Throughout the last three national elections I have found myself wondering repeatedly, why Democratic candidates fail to put forth rational, powerful arguments against their irrational, incongruent disingenuous opponents. I come up with those arguments myself regularly. I have made several calls to the DNC saying so. Although Democratic rhetoric has become more polarized (and perhaps less civilized) here on this blog and across the country, we have had a paltry number of candidates who mount powerful civilized arguments against Trumpublicans. Joe Biden, for all of his gifts, rarely offers cogent, powerful arguments for his views and policies. I give him an A for empathy and a D for debate.

  28. Albert Einstein was a fabulous physicist but an average political scientist, and for all the angst we are suffering due to what we erroneously call a political chasm, we had our warning long ago when Washington came out in opposition to even having political parties on grounds that members of such parties would come to give their devotion and allegiance to party rather than country. (See mute Republicans while Trump is trying to destroy what is left of our democracy.)

    The so called political chasm is in fact an economic chasm and the adjective “political” is an acceptable cover for what in fact and at base amounts to whom and how we are going to distribute the income and wealth of our economy. After all, coming out with truthful slogans like “We are going to pay slave wages to you peasants to enhance our bottom lines” would not be acceptable, so we use “political” to describe the situation. (Let’s also remember that the Constitution and The Federalist Papers were not written by poor people, and that that reality persists to this day via “campaign contributions” by Kochs, Mercers, and ALEC cookie cutter legislative proposals.

    The high sounding efforts we pursue in foreign relations, health care, trade, infrastructure repair and renewal etc. are in reality part and parcel of an economic design where cost rather than service is the primary concern; use of the term “political” describes the means by which we pursue such ends – and yes, propaganda, racism, religion, American exceptionalism and other such devices (some even emotional) are employed to persuade ordinary Americans to vote against their own interests. Washington was right. So was Goebbels.

  29. Biden did better with Republicans, than Trump did with Democrats, in every swing state. Three states, Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia, were decided by about 45,000 votes. If you look at all three states, Republican cross-over vote, although small, was easily enough to doom Trump. If Trump wins those states, the Electoral College would have been a 269-269 vote which means the House, voting by delegation, would have picked the President. That would have been a second term for Trump.

    As a side note, I wish there was more concern about what could happen if someone as unscrupulous as Donald Trump is running and the EC vote were close, let’s say 270-268 in favor of Biden.. All it would have taken would have been one faithless Biden elector voting for someone else, or abstaining, and Trump would have been elected via the House. Imagine the bribery, the threats, etc., that would have been on those electors whose states allow them to be free agents when voting.

  30. I knew the apologists would appear in good form.

    To run along with John and Pete, let me clarify further and why I pointed to this specific time period above and who the players were at that time – or the thinkers.

    This will ring true to John and his friend Marv who like to look at what happened in Germany.

    If the world leaders just experienced the global destruction of WW2 imposed on the world by Adolph Hitler, and the utter gullibility of the German people to stop Hitler from inflicting massage damage to the world and attempted genocide of the Jewish population, would they be inclined to prevent that from ever happening again?

    Do you honestly think that the world leaders trusted the masses, thinking if it could happen in Germany, it could happen anywhere?

    They would want to know how this happened and how to prevent it. Yes?

    Before Sigmund Freud’s work, can you find any reference to the conscious and unconscious mind?

    We have some researchers, I suppose, who could nail this time period down for us. I suppose since Ms. Kennedy is protected by tenure, she could ask some of her historian friends to research and discuss, more specifically, the formation of the CIA in 1949.

    And just for reference, Edward Bernays first client was Big Tobacco. They hired him to convince women that it would cool to smoke cigarettes, which they refused to do before the end of WW2.

    It was one of the most successful PR campaigns in our history. Revenues doubled overnight.

    All he did was hire female actors to smoke cigarettes along a nationally televised parade in New York City.

    All verifiable if you would like to look, but I’m warning you that this period of time was when our government began using the psychology of our minds against us.


  31. If I were Trump, complete with insanity and ignorance (can a person with no mind be insane?) I would fire AG Barr and appoint myself as Attorney General.

  32. Todd,
    Unlike John, who gives you more credit than I think you deserve, I believe you when you say you don’t understand ” How the NYT {is} any different than Fox News? Don’t they both tell stories to their respective tribes?” There is an important subtlety, Todd, called “truth backed by evidence.” Fox feels at liberty to broadcast any free-floating fiction that Hannity and Trump agree will fly with the cult, while the NYT dedicates huge amounts of money, time, in-depth research and gifted reporters to establish virtually unassailable facts. One obfuscates. The other informs. One promotes lies vengefully with a political goal in mind. The other is the newspaper equivalent of the National Academy of Sciences. While it leans to the side of democracy and liberalism and freedom, it doesn’t appear to like democrats much more than you do. Fox despises all forms of liberalism and freedom and caters to people too ill-informed to imagine how they might survive absent those governing principles. In the Dark Ages mankind celebrated ignorance without knowing that’s what it was doing. Today, Fox celebrates ignorance by victimizing those unable to think for themselves.

    But what truly matters is that giving thought to government goals and processes works better than diving for answers in a standard cult grab bag woven by a refrigerator salesman in the 1980s and stuffed with looney tune answers by Newt Gingrich, Carl Rove and Dick Cheney.

    Truth does matter, Todd, even though you seem to dismiss it. If you’d like to test my assertion out in your daily life, attempt a few things that are trivial but not truthful, like how long you leave a skillet on the stove, how much sugar or alcohol you consume, the exact placement of your commode, how long you can leave your garage door closed after starting your engine. You will find that truth does matter. In fact you will learn that it’s often a matter of life and death. And that is just as certain for nations as it is for individuals. Do you see the difference?

  33. Pete,

    One tiny example of, no doubt, thousands. The Washington Post did a study of the use of technology contractors by the Defense Department. They found many millions of dollars wasted by overlapping work and minimal oversight.

    If the Federal government were a business, it would be bankrupt overnight (of course, it nearly is). There is little accountability, oversight, management, measuring of real results, etc.

  34. It comes down to issues which effect all of us Proles to one degree or another. The Proles do expect and want some type of Safety Net, to help them up or catch them if they fall.

    Steroid Crony-Capitalism wants to cut the net. The Capitalists want the Proles to fight over who can climb on the Safety Net or who it will catch in the event of a fall.

    The slicing and dicing of the population by various metrics, i.e., racially, ethnically, religion, region etc. goes a long way to keep the Proles attention focused on triangulation and separation.

    The Democratic Party needs to send out the message on policies clear and simple, We will help you Up and We will break your Fall. The message must be backed up with specifics. I have always believed there are basics that all Americans want, for themselves, and their families.

  35. People in denial about covid19 are doing an awful and damaging to themselves and those within their “spheres”…..I don’t give them “rent space” in my head…but they are a sad fact of our citizenry…..They remind me of another set of early American herd animals….the bison….which I read were easily killed by hunters because they would stand motionless while other bison around them…dropped dead from hunter’s bullets. I don’t really know if this all was true….but it merits reflections…. particularly in our present human culture of disbelief in covid19 and its effects.

    Along with others in you blog….I am bumfuzzled as to such disbelieving people….of course I am equally bumfuzzled as to how in the world 74+ million American voters voted for tRUMP….maybe tRUMP’s bemoaning that our recent election was fraud fraught….was correct ! It could explain fraud-for-tRUMP votes….in my not-so-humble opinion …that is the best explanation of the 74+ million mysterious votes for tRUMP.

  36. Patrick,

    I agree with everything you said 100%!

    How there could be such a nonchalant attitude towards almost 3,000 deaths a day from a pandemic is beyond me. And, how these churches could demand that they be allowed to have super spreader events on Sundays and whatever other day they decide to have one. And how the top politician in this country can schedule 25 super spreader holiday events to infect numerous boot licking sycophants to go back into the community and infect even more.

    Where is the compassion for those who are elderly or immunocompromised or have other medical issues that make them more susceptible?

    They’re right to worship does not supersede civil edicts and civil law! And, I think that they’re going to receive a lot of grief down the road for their actions. But, that’s not going to stop people from dying right now! these religious groups are the ones that put this lunatic in office, they rode his back all the way to this point, and I think they’re going to pay the price together, whether it be peaceful or not who knows.

    Those clowns were standing and protesting outside of planned Parenthood by the gross before the election, now you can hardly see any at all, I believe they’ve noticed the handwriting on the wall.

  37. Terry,
    Oh Terry!
    I wish I would have said that, lol!

    You hit the nail on the head, I’m really trying not to be disparaging at all, but I have to agree on the Albert Einstein issue with you.

    That being said, propaganda is no different than PR. It’s all manipulative, and propaganda has been around way longer than modern PR.

    I would guarantee that these people of history that Todd is discussing, were students of propaganda. Propaganda allowed people to sacrifice their children to Stone idols, propaganda has led Nations to war and the slaughter of countless civilians. Propaganda allows politicians to convince people to vote against their own self-interests. Propaganda is not based on truth, neither is modern PR. It is actually seditious.

    we think these things are okay in a free society, that the greater good will always win out. But that didn’t work out in Germany. Germany’s government was similar to ours, and look what happened.

    Donald Trump’s second wife Ivana told everyone that he was a fan of Hitler and had collections of his works on the nightstand next to the bed. And I’m sure all of the other so-called intellectual psychologists of history use the same form of manipulation to elicit whatever responses to their therapy they desired.

    Every single individual out there is not susceptible to that type of thing, but, just as vaccines won’t prevent everyone from getting sick, there will always be enough genetically flawed intellect susceptible to, as Marv put it, the virus of the mind.

    People like to be led, it seems it’s easier to let someone else do the Thinnin Babaloo, lol, ?

    Of course, when the person doing the Thinnin thinks it’s perfectly safe to bungee jump off a bridge without the bungee cord, and others follow behind, well, and that person happens to be the President, you can see the problem! Of course POTUS won’t jump himself, he’ll just have everyone else do the jumping!

    I’m not a genius, and I don’t think anyone here would anoint me one. But, I try to be logical and just stay in the realm of which I’m familiar. All the reading I’ve ever done and comments I’ve made, have shown that history will repeat itself.

    It’s doing that now, and, don’t be surprised if the president pulls an armed insurrection out of his bag of tricks. Fox news, Rudy giuliani, the Trump kids, OAN, Q anon, Newsmax, are all guilty of sedition, look up sedition! And, they’ve all met the measure of it. The president himself is guilty of sedition. And, he should be removed from office before his lame duck time is up, there is a president-elect already in place, and he needs to go.

    Look at Germany raiding the nationalistic right-wing Nazi organizations there. They’re combating Qanon also.

    But here we sit, complaining about the kid sitting on the pile of gasoline soaked rags playing with matches instead of going over there and just taking them away.

    There’s going to be some really rough patches coming, and they could have been prevented! But like Sheila said, we have to worry about the Constitution! But, do we really? With all the amendments, the Constitution does not look like it’s original etching, and it needs to continue its evolution, because society is not dead and neither should it’s Constitution!

  38. Once again, you all impress with what you think. That is your egoic mind mostly conditioned through your unconscious mind.

    None of you bothered to investigate the truth I pointed out; all I read was rationalizing and justifying why you disagree. It’s called bullshit. 😉

  39. Sheila —
    Just a suggestion.: How about doing a course for your blog readers (for a fee, of course) that “Considers the tension between individual and majoritarian rights in our constitutional system, and the effects of that tension on the formulation of public policy.” ? Maybe a once a week Zoom meet with a reading assignment ahead of the class and then you presenting some historical/legal underpinnings to begin the session and ending with a class discussion about the reading. I would enjoy such a class as we head into the dark winter months. I consider myself a life-long learner. Think about it

  40. Todd, my mom was a nurse in WWll and the army dispersed cigarettes to all of them during the war. They even insisted that they field dress them,not to tip off enemy of where they were. After returning home, marrying and having kids she gave them up until her later years. War has a way of breaking down norms.
    Republicans have asserted directing the narrative and minimizing any culpability they have. Democrats are always on the defensive, and the clean up crew for Republican messes. The injustice of interference in the attempts of Americans to care for themselves & families by outright dis-information seems criminal. Since when has outright lies magnified & amplified over the airwaves & all media , been given a pass from negative consequences on peoples lives?

  41. Todd,

    Looking at your website for ranking freedom of the press, seems a little ridiculous! Even though I would have to agree, a lot of the Nordic States do have a better press policy than here.

    You get what you pay for!

    Estonia? Yeah, I’m not thinking Estonia would be ranked that high! The nice thing about the internet and about the translators, you can read the news from all of those countries mentioned! So, if one is motivated by truth, then it would not be hard to find truth, it wouldn’t even take that much work! I subscribe to British, Australian, German, newspapers and even a paper from finland.

    Some of it is really difficult to read because they look at news in a different way.

    Albert einstein? His take on socialism? Sigmund Freud? As far as politics, and as far as diagnosing the human condition concerning the workings of the brain, yeah, I’m thinking there has been light years of research since then, and, Sigmund Freud was really no expert! Especially by today’s standards he would be considered a charlatan!

    As far as socialism, if socialism is so great, why did Einstein run from it in germany? If you want to see a fair example of socialism, read the bible! Jesus Christ was definitely a socialist! Much different than Nazi Germany I might add.

  42. It’s late, but this might help understand why so many could still vote for this walking debacle:

    From “The Skeptical Inquirer”
    The Appeal Of Conspiracy Theories: Karen Douglas

    Wendy M. Grossman, Dec. 1,2020…About Karen Douglas, Ph. D.

    “This was one of those research findings that the press got hold of and framed in an unintended way,” she says. This particular piece of research was led by her PhD student Ricky Green, who was interested in how people’s early childhood experiences with their caregivers, which is always said to affect relationships later in life, might affect their propensity to believe in conspiracy theories. Given the link between insecure attachment styles and maladaptive relationship strategies, she and Green wondered if there was a link between these beliefs and attachment anxiety.

    “He found there was. People who are securely attached tend not to believe anywhere near as much as people who are insecurely or anxiously attached.” The underlying reason appears to be that people who are anxiously attached tend to “catastrophize problems more.” In other words, when they look around at what’s happening, they see threats rather than things as they are, in turn making them prone to thinking the worst of every situation. For Douglas and Green this was an exciting finding because it might open the way to get at the underlying mechanism of these beliefs.

    More generally, however, Douglas has found three main types of needs that may be met by believing in conspiracy theories: epistemic, existential, and social. “Epistemic” reflects the need for explanations and closure; for many people, living with open-endedness and uncertainty is uncomfortable. “Existential” reflects the desire for safety, security, and control, explaining the appeal to the powerless.

    “Studies show that people who are more on the losing side of the current political situation tend to believe in conspiracy theories more and talk about them more.” This is an exploitable opening: “Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have pitched themselves as outsiders, and that appeals to a lot of people.” The third and final need, “social,” reflects people’s desire to feel good about themselves: “In a way, believing might appeal to the need to be unique … you have information that others don’t have and that might in some way make them feel better—even if it doesn’t work.”

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