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Why the Extremists Are Winning 

August 10, 2018

Fanatics to the right of us, fanatics to the left of us… and their ranks just keep growing. If we moderates have the fairest and most sensible ideas, how is it that our ranks are dwindling? How did the extremists get to be so popular? What have they got that we haven’t got? Why are we stuck in a barren no-man’s land, caught in the crossfire between two feuding tribes who reject our antiquated habit of examining both sides of an issue? Let’s see if I can explain it for you…

The rise of the angry right. It started with the boisterous bloviating of Rush Limbaugh and his right-wing minions in response to the perceived liberal bias of the mainstream media. They had a point. But the right-wing talk-show warriors weren’t satisfied with airing dissenting opinions. They were hellbent on starting a mass movement, and of course they succeeded. So now millions of Middle Americans believe that Obama was evil incarnate… that climate change is a myth… that the government wants to confiscate their beloved guns. They’ve been snookered into believing that Wall Street’s interests are their interests, and that social support programs are, well… socialist. Lately, since the coronation of Trump, much of the right has been veering ever rightward — embracing the old Confederacy and even neo-Nazi white supremacy. It ain’t Ike’s GOP anymore, or even Mitt Romney’s.

The rise of left-wing identity politics. Formerly marginalized but perpetually aggrieved, America’s nonwhite, feminist and LGBTQ factions have grown more vociferous, resentful and demanding, even as they make unprecedented strides. The grievances are built around legitimate kernels of truth, but those kernels have morphed into mountains in the minds of the aggrieved, aided by selective news reporting (see below) and militant anti-conservative rhetoric on college campuses. Each group typically blames its troubles on straight white males, past (often centuries past) and present, as if all those men are interchangeable units of oppression. Anyone who dares dispute their beliefs risks expulsion from polite society. 

Cherry-picked news stories. Example: Every time a skittish cop or a white bigot commits an offense against a person of color, the story makes national headlines. One would get the impression that interracial crimes are a one-way street, a nightmare landscape of Jim Crow outrages by evil whites against innocent minorities. The fact is that cops shoot nearly three times as many whites as blacks, and that black-on-white crimes are more commonplace than the reverse. Surprised? You can blame it on selective reporting. It’s not “fake news” (because it actually happened), but it’s only part of the story — a part deliberately promoted to perpetuate a narrative that unites the in-group in shared outrage. (And yes, right-wing news sources cherry-pick their stories, too.)

Online “amen corners.” Progressives and conservatives have stopped speaking to each other except to hurl insults. Most of their time is spent among like-minded peers who share the same world-view, biases and resentments. Naturally they favor online publications that play to their prejudices. The result: extremist groupthink, emboldened and reinforced by the airtight echo chambers and their stark-mad message boards. The more outrageous the comment, the more “amens” it generates among the faithful (and the more polarized we become).

The essential simplicity of extremist opinions. Hey, what’s not to like? The complexities of life are rendered cartoonlike in crisp black-and-white for easy comprehension. No subtle shades of gray… no head-scratching over competing ideas… in short, no uncertainty. Nonthinkers love certainty; after all, to be certain is to be relieved of the need to think. “We’re right, they’re wrong. Case closed.”

The lack of a moderate ideology. You’re looking at our greatest weakness — and potentially our greatest strength. We don’t offer a laundry list of principles to memorize and internalize. Of course, we’re more than an ill-defined midpoint between right and left. But what exactly is a moderate? Are we just wishy-washy souls who lack the guts to take a stand? That’s what a lot of diehard progressives and conservatives would like us to believe. But several of our greatest revolutionaries, including Washington and Franklin, were essentially moderates who had been pushed to the limit of their tolerance. I like to think of moderates as boat-balancers: when we see the boat tipping ominously to one side, our sense of justice obliges us to tip it back. We don’t subscribe to any ideology except our insistence on fairness and free thought. (That’s enough to make the ideologues uneasy.)

Hyperpartisanship in government. A dangerous and destructive trend in our national politics: much like the public, our elected representatives have increasingly gravitated to one ideological extreme or the other, leaving a hollowed, virtually uninhabited center. What’s especially sad is that the polarization has been orchestrated by the extremists in both major parties. They pull the strings. Representatives and candidates essentially have to pass ideological purity tests if they want to win their parties’ primaries. And once elected, they’re under intense pressure to support their team. Partisanship wins, and the American people lose.

Next: What moderates can do to become a force in American politics.

76 Comments leave one →
  1. David Mecham permalink
    August 10, 2018 10:49 am


    Have you thought about exploring/endorsing candidates in races around the country? Your readers obviously look to you for leadership on these matters and might be influenced by your opinion to vote/contribute/volunteer for candidates that are more moderate than their opponent.

    Consider the governor of Alaska and the victory for moderates there. In 2014, Bill Walker ran for governor on a centrist platform. Democrats recognized an opportunity and merged their campaign with Walker’s on an effort win by not losing to the Republican, Sean Parnell, even though they would not control the governor’s mansion.

    The result has been impressive to me. Governor Walker used ideology from both parties to best meet the needs of the state. He expanded Medicaid under the ACA but also expanded drilling for oil to help the state’s economy. He acknowledges climate change but also supports gun rights.

    The point is that Bill Walker would not be governor and Alaska would have less moderation in government if somebody had not pushed for a moderate platform. When individuals consider a candidate, an outside voice can help them confirm or question what they had thought previously. You could be that outside voice if you opted to do so.

    This is all just a thought if you were open to the idea. I truly enjoy your posts and remain hopeful that sanity can return someday.


    David Mecham

    • August 13, 2018 3:40 pm

      Thanks, David… glad you’ve been enjoying the blog. I wish I had the time and energy to track down moderates running in races across the country, but I really don’t have an aptitude for grassroots organizing. (To be frank, I’m woefully ignorant of day-to-day politics; as a former history major, I tend to look at the larger political and cultural issues.) As I wrote somewhere on this site, I don’t have what it takes to be the George Washington of a moderate movement, but I’d love to be its Patrick Henry — to use my words to rouse the sleeping giant in the mid-region of American politics.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 7:14 am

        George Washington was not a moderate – not by the terms of his times, and not by those of today.

        Patrick Henry was most definitely not a moderate.

      • August 18, 2018 2:37 pm

        But Washington signed a compromise document. Its called the constitution. He and other federalist did not get all they wanted. But they got most of what they wanted. Much like Ronald Reagan. You can have extremely ingrained political positions and still compromise for the good of the country. That is called moderating a position and you do not need to be a moderate to do that.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 7:31 pm

        Washington frequently sided with the federalists but he did not identify as a federalist.
        In fact he was opposed to parties and factions.

        I do not consider the constitution to be some gigagantic compromise.

        Yes, it contains a few compromises, but large parts of it were not particularly contentious,
        or to the extent they were it was over minor details not the overarching themes.

        If your definition of moderate is compromise on everything – that is a bad thing that no one should want to be.

        I continue to assert – compromise is a tool, not a value.
        There are times and places to compromise and times one should not.

  2. August 10, 2018 1:09 pm

    Well welcome back Rick!

    Could it be that a few decisions made by one party can create major divisions we see today. RR was considered Mr. Conservative and almost idolized by the right, but he also knew he was elected by the middle, A.K.A Reagan Democrats. He had a good relationship with Tip.

    Bill Clinton knew he had to work with Gingrich. What began in the late 80’s continued well into the late 90’s.

    It seems to me the severe division came about when Obama was elected, began his politics of indentifyand planted the seeds for the current environment. Those on the right looked at Obama for blaming them for issues they had no control. Situation like Ferguson fanned the flames of division and where people used to talk about issues, the environment became one where anything said was a personal attack.

    After those situations created the division, the fire just grew until Clinton called Trump supporters deplorables and Trump just inflames the environment more with his words. One small example is his attacks on protesting NFL players.

    So now we have right wing idiots like the judge in Alabama running for office, we see the Socialist Democrats taking control of the Democrat party, we see right wing dolts taking control of the Republican party giving us Trump as the nominee and then we see moderates like Burr and Corker deciding jot to run, thus further dividing the country.

    i think it will take a person of RR or JFK to turn us around and I dont see that happening, especially when Pelosi and Shumer most likely will lead congress.

    • August 13, 2018 3:54 pm

      Glad to be back, Ron — although I never did crack my way back into the “admin” panel on my computer. I was still recognized on my iPad Mini, which I’ve known for a while — so finally I broke down and hammered out the current column using the two-finger method on that miniature keyboard. (Whew!)

      I share your pessimism about the current scene. Both the right and the left seem to have lost their marbles. I liked Obama in most respects, but by reflexively siding with the distorted BLM narrative, he really blew the chance to heal the wounds and prevent the current rift. And of course Trump just seems to revel in creating discord.

      So it looks like the GOP will continue to nominate ignorant blowhards, while the Democrats will be the “identity politics” party — the party of the future post-white (and maybe even post-male) America. Fasten your seat belt!

      On second thought, maybe it really is the right time to launch a moderate party.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 7:42 am

        I liked Obama too. But for many reasons – including those you noted he was a failed president.

        Had he done the things he needed to be a “great” president – I likely would have opposed them.

        Regardless, he did not try. He governed as he said by the “pen and phone” and as a consequence most of what he did came tumbling down quickly.

        More important still SOMETIMES choices that are properly hammered through our difficult legislative process end up being the best possible solutions – or atleast the best aside from doing nothing, which is what government should do most of the time.

        Meaningful healthcare reform was NOT possible under Obama, thought there was more than a consensus that reform was needed, there was not even a plurality with refard to what that reform should look like.

        To enact dramatic changes you need more than pluralities, you need more than concensus, you actually need supermajorities, and you need to be able to sustain them.

        In areas like immigration, Prison reform, criminal justice reform, and revised drug laws – Obama had an opportunity that he completely blew.

        Immigration reform is difficult – but it is actually possible It requires compromise – but “good” compromise – both sides would have had to give the other things they wanted, but neither side was going to have to give in on principle.

        Immigration reform remains possible, but the pendulum has shifted to republicans.
        Democrats can still get much of what they want but they will have to give repubicans much more of what they want.

        Criminal justice reform was possible – and remains so. Under Obama republicans wanted only one thing in return form most of what democrats wanted in criminal justice reform.
        That was a formal implicit mens rea requirement in federal law.
        Basically a federal law that explicitly states that all fede4ral crimes require “intent” except those that explicity preclude intent. This is true of all other law derived from English common law. It is true of all or most states, It was true of the federal government for a long long time. But leftist legal warriors persuaded the federal courts to upend multiple centuries of legal tradition and make by judicial fiat all or nearly all federal laws strict liability. What this means is that if you kill an eagle – even unintentionally, you are guilty of the crime – mistake. accident, lack or intent are NOT allowable defenses.
        The adamacy of democrats that this distortion of law remain – in the face of the fact that Clinton was being accused of a federal crime and the left’s defense was “it was not intentional” was ludicrously hypocritical – and the rule of man not law.

        Everyone left/right knows that both sentencing and prison reform is necescary.
        There was and still is sufficient common ground to act – Obama did nothing, Trump is trying.

        You fixated on the BLM thing – but Obama gave BLM nothing but rhetoric. There were many issues where Obama providing leadership and acting either through congress or even unilaterally could have had a big effect.

        Difficult but real deals were possible on a huge number of important issues – Obama did not try.

        Further there was room for legitimate individual action that Obama did nothing about.

        Obama could have had an impact through large scale pardons and communtaitons.

        Gov. Ryan of Ohio on discovering that many on death row were likely innocent, commuted ALL death sentences. Obama had the oportunity and the means to do similar things.

        He could have commuted all federal crug sentences – or all for crack, or even had his staff go through case by case and issue broad commutations – while excluding a few problematic cases.

        Pres,. Obama appears to have been a decent person.

        In so many many ways he was a failure as a president.

        Pres. Trump is not an appealing person.
        He is already a much more effective president.

  3. dhlii permalink
    August 10, 2018 3:06 pm

    I do not believe that any of us are without principles or moral foundations.

    If moderate means without principles count me out.

    Is there any moderate that does not think that Hitler was evil ?

    Principles matter.

    Life is incredibly complex, answers are not readily apparent.

    It should be easy to grasp that one group of us can not easily impose their proposed answers on the rest by force.

    That is what government is solving problems through force.

    Is there anyone that does not agree with that ?

    • August 10, 2018 3:38 pm

      “It should be easy to grasp that one group of us can not easily impose their proposed answers on the rest by force.”

      Is that not what the right wants to do with abortion laws and the only reason we have it legal is because of the courts? Don’t you believe that the GOP would vote tighter controls on abortion if they could get away with it? Is that not force?

      Is that not what the left wants to do when they create a health care plan that requires us to have healthcare coverage or pay a fine for not having it? Is that not force?

      And one could run down the playbook of the left and right and list a bunch more.

      So being a moderate to me is for both sides to sit down and work out issues where a position acceptable to both sides is agreed upon. That is what RR did with many of his programs with Tip. He was not a moderate in his thinking, but he would moderate his positions to get something good for the country, even though it was not 100% of what he wanted.

      “But the fountain of political anger today is the left not right.” Really? Come south for a few months and then tell me that.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 10, 2018 4:03 pm

        “Is that not what the right wants to do with abortion laws and the only reason we have it legal is because of the courts? Don’t you believe that the GOP would vote tighter controls on abortion if they could get away with it? Is that not force?”

        My post had nothing to do with left or right. I was offering a universal principle, Not suggesting only one side adheres to it.

        Further I was not arguing that force can not ever be used. Only that it should not be used easily.

        What the constraints on the use of force should be is a different debate.

        “Is that not what the left wants to do when they create a health care plan that requires us to have healthcare coverage or pay a fine for not having it? Is that not force?”

        Yes, both sides routinely violate a principle that nearly all of us agree on.

        “So being a moderate to me is for both sides to sit down and work out issues where a position acceptable to both sides is agreed upon.”

        So if A and be get together and agree to steal from C that is OK with you ?

        I am absolutely confronting this elevation of comprise that you and Rick are offering is very WRONG.

        Compromise is a tool not a principle.

        Are you really challenging the principle that force can not be used easily ?

        “But the fountain of political anger today is the left not right.” Really? Come south for a few months and then tell me that.

        The media tilts heavily left – and tries to hide most of the violence of the left – and yet the media imperative “if it bleeds it leads” still drags them along anyway.

        Are there example of right wing violence – sure.
        Are there many ? Nope.

      • August 10, 2018 4:22 pm

        Stealing from C is much different than A and B developing programs to help A, B and C, along with D,E and F without screwing G,H or I. If A wants tax cuts of 30% and B wants no tax cuts, is a tax cut of 15% stealing from C? And leave out the issue that much of the current system steals from someone.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 10, 2018 11:25 pm

        “Stealing from C is much different than A and B developing programs to help A, B and C, along with D,E and F without screwing G,H or I. If A wants tax cuts of 30% and B wants no tax cuts, is a tax cut of 15% stealing from C? And leave out the issue that much of the current system steals from someone.”

        If you take something from C without their consent you are stealing.
        It is irrelevant how many others are involved or what good purpose you might have.

        Any tax beyond that necessary to support the fundamental purpose of government – securing our individual rights is theft.

        When your home is burglarized, the judge does release the thief if they were stealing to help someone else.

        Much of our government is engaged in theft. That is not a justification for more theft.

        If private actors – individuals or others are engaged in theft – they should be prosecuted.

        In reality though no much of our current system is NOT engaged in theft. In fact theft is extremely rare outside of government. Billions of voluntary exchanges take place each day. almost none involve theft.

        Free Markets are not perfect – but nothing else comes close.

        How many times a day does someone outside of government take something from you without your permission ?
        I would bet ZERO.

        I find it incredible that people can have such a bad oppinion of something that works so well, and such a high opininion of something that works so badly.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 11, 2018 12:01 am

        Here is what NYT thinks of the constitution.

        Still think the left is sane and not incredibly angry ?

    • August 13, 2018 4:06 pm

      Dave, sorry if you got the impression that I thought moderates should be without principles. I just wrote that, unlike leftists and conservatives, we don’t compile a list of principles for our fellow-moderates to memorize and adhere to. In other words, I don’t want to impose my principles on others. (You should be fine with that.)

      As for “fairness” — I know we’ve discussed this point before. Yes, fairness is subjective: what’s fair to a corporate CEO probably won’t be fair to a struggling single mom. My idea of fairness is to show no favoritism toward any one class of people at the expense of other classes. That means we don’t cut taxes on the rich when middle-class and working-class people go broke paying their medical bills. It also means we don’t condone racist statements by people of color while we excommunicate whites who commit inadvertent “microaggressions.” Maybe “balance” is a better word than “fairness.”

  4. dhlii permalink
    August 10, 2018 3:22 pm

    “The Rise of the Angry Right”

    There is alot of anger in our politics today.
    There is even anger on the right.

    But the fountain of political anger today is the left not right.

    The right is engaged, The right is moderately happy.

    Further you have mischaracterized the claims of the right.

    A few people beleive Obama was evil.
    Most are focused on his ideology and his failure as a president.

    You MIGHT have an argument that many on the right think Clinton is evil.
    But the right merely sees Obama as a failure – which in many ways is correct.

    No one beleives climate change is a myth.
    But many of us regard ALL the malthusian thesis of the left over the past 50 years as bad science. And the facts bear that out. There has been no peak oil, no silent spring, no mass starvation, and human changes to climate are inconsequential.

    Do you see man as basically evil, or basically good ?

    I do not think any think Wall Streets interests are their interests.
    Governments interests are not their interests either,
    and Wall Street is better served by government.

    There are always some embracing the confederacy and Neo-Nazism.
    But representing those as on the rise is pretense.

    Nor does the Coronation meme fit Trump.
    Inarguably Obama was more regal and his administration embraced regal imagery.

    Trump does not.

  5. dhlii permalink
    August 10, 2018 3:33 pm

    The rise of left-wing identity politics.

    The culture wars are over – the left has won

    Having acheived acceptance various agreived groups are unsatisified.
    Equality is not enough. They seek revenge for the past.

    Identity politics is just one of the battlefields. It is not the war.

    The giant seething pool of anger today is almost entirely on the left not the right.
    They are angry about everything.

    The Obama presidency was supposed to be a new camalot. It was not. Someone ELSE must be to blame. That Obama’s policies failed – must be the fault of the right.
    That after taking total control of government in 2009 the left rapidly lost it in an unparalled fashion – must be the fault of racist whites. That Obama’s heir apparent lost an election they beleive she should have won easily – must be the fault of the Russians.

    Everything is the fault of some evil “other”.

    The angry left does not grasp that they are actively alienating just about everyone else.

    • August 13, 2018 4:14 pm

      I totally agree with your statements about the excesses of the left. But how can you overlook the excesses of the right today? I don’t mean the respectable “National Review” right; I’m talking about less-educated, belligerently religious fanatics who would love to see the U.S. become a white Christian theocracy. They have several of their people running for Congress as we speak. There’s a lot of anger out there, and it’s not just among POC, feminists, and college students. The new right-wingers feel threatened by demographic change, and I can’t entirely blame them. But the answer isn’t to shower hatred on the other half of America.

      • August 17, 2018 1:30 am

        Rick, I do think that those belligerently religious fanatics who would love to see the U.S. become a white Christian theocracy are far fewer in number than the left would have us believe. I mean, after all, the infamous “Unite the Right” white supremacy rally this year attracted somewhere between 20-30 white supremacists, and hundreds of angry, ready-to-rumble, antifa types.

        Back in the day (our day, that is), remember how George Carlin did that whole bit on the words that you couldn’t say on TV? Well, you can say them ALL on TV now, and saying them doesn’t even have any shock value anymore. On the other hand, Omarosa’s barely credible, evidence-free allegation that Trump may have said the “N-word” (no one can even say the word when talking about the word! Even Carlin didn’t have to say “the F-word”…he just said “fuck”) has sent people into a tizzy of hysteria.

        It’s all so sensationalized, and it’s always about racism, because race is the most effective way to divide people. And dividing people is the most effective way to get them to vote for the party that they think is on their side.

        But the real extremism isn’t racial. For every latter-day Klansman, there are a million neo- socialists, most of whom want to use the full power and force of government to destroy capitalism, and create some post-modernist utopia of free stuff. Those are the extremists who worry me, because they are far more likely to get their way….

        P.S. I don’t necessarily agree that Franklin was a moderate himself, but he certainly saw the wisdom and necessity of moderation in politics. Without it, extremism spins out of control and you’ve got civil war. Our problem is that our current political moderates are, for the most part (not all, but most) milquetoast types without discernible principles, who value compromise for its own sake, and will compromise on anything. As a result, everyone, on both sides, reviles them, and considers “compromise” a dirty word.

      • August 17, 2018 10:48 am

        Priscilla, Excellent point. ” P.S. I don’t necessarily agree that Franklin was a moderate himself, but he certainly saw the wisdom and necessity of moderation in politics. ”

        Thinking of an era much more recent, one could not call Reagan a moderate either, but he also saw the beneift of moderating positions to achieve his objectives.

        Great point to use when one claims moderates do not have principles.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 2:00 pm

        Franklin was wise.
        He was also pretty good at knowing when and how to compromise.
        But he was not a moderate.

        TNM fixates on compromise as doctrine.

        Franklin used compromise as a tool to acheive a goal – a new nation.
        Compromise was not a value or an end for him. It was merely a means.

      • August 18, 2018 3:24 pm

        Dave, “TNM fixates on compromise as doctrine.”

        You are the one fixated on words. I see no where that anyone thinks compromise is doctrine here. I only see where people talk about compromise in a way to achieve an outcome. I see it where they speak of compromise as a verb, not a noun. They “compromise” to achieve an “agreement”.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 7:49 pm

        “You are the one fixated on words. I see no where that anyone thinks compromise is doctrine here. ”
        Then why does it constantly keep coming up ?
        Then why is it that regardless of the issue the demand here is for compromise.

        AGAIN Compromise is a tool. NOT a value.
        It is a means to an end. If compromise does nto improve your position over what it would be if you do nothing, there is no reason to compromise, and in fact compromise could be BAD.

        “I only see where people talk about compromise in a way to achieve an outcome.”

        Aparently you are visiting a different TNM than I am.

        An “agreement” is a term with indeterminate value.

        A & B agree to murder C – that is an agreement – but we would all hope that the agreement to kill C is not considered as some positive outcome of a compromise.

        The objective is not to reach an agreement. Doing NOTHING is always a choice.
        If compromise does not put you in a better position than if you do nothing there is zero reason to compromise.

        And that is NOT a bad thing. Compromise is NOT a necescity.
        It is a tool.
        Sometimes you hit the nail with the hammer and make progrss building your house.
        Sometimes you hit your thumb.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 1:49 pm

        Excellent post.

        Even in 2017 the alt-right groups (mostly NOT white supremecists) were outnumbered by Antifa atleast 2:1 and by counter protestors 10:1

        Heather Hayer’s death is sad – but she died of a heart attack. She was not touched by James Field’s car. Aside from Heyer, the alt-right bore the brunt of the violence – they were forced to march through a gauntlet of AntiFA twice. They did not depart from the area they were alotted – until the governor called the event off. The were well armed and well defended – by themselves – the police did NOTHING. They were attacked not attacking.

        Sorry but for Field’s carreening into a the crowd, the actual attacks were completely one sided.

        The “alt-right” groups at Charlotte may not be “fine people”.
        But they were not the ones out of control and violent.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 8:12 am

        “I totally agree with your statements about the excesses of the left. But how can you overlook the excesses of the right today?”

        Because the threat at this MOMENT is from the left not the right.

        During the McCarthy era – there were very real communists, and they were a very real threat – but the BIG threat was McCarthyism itself.

        There will always be bad guys on both the left and the right.

        “I’m talking about less-educated, belligerently religious fanatics who would love to see the U.S. become a white Christian theocracy. ”

        All three of them ? I am exagerating and not denying their existance – but if you added up everyone in the alt-right accross the US and included groups like “patriot prayer” which are not particularly white, or alt-right, you still end up with far less than Antifa can bring out to a ralling in Boston alone.

        “They have several of their people running for Congress as we speak.”
        There will always be a few loons on both sides. Almost no one has heard of those on the right you are speaking of. Without looking them up can you name them – I can’t.
        May one or two will even win. The republican party is embarrassed by them and trying to hide them.

        The democratic party has socialists and quasi-socialists in extremely prominent positions it is debating whether to adopt socialism much more broadly as a party. We are not talking about the fringe.

        No I do not think that most “right wingers” feel threatened by “demographic change”.

        What should be self evident at the moment is that white male christian americans grasp that they are in or going to be in the minority.
        What they are affraid of is being powerless at the same time as they CONTINUE to be viewed at the oppressors, as the powerful, to cede the power of being the majority without any of the rights that are today attendant with being a minority.

        They want to be able to choose whether they can bake cakes, or whether they will pay for abortions.
        They want to be sure that as the minority gains more and more power that our institutions are blind to our differences, Not some new caste system based on the particular oppression bonus points one gets.

        Further the right wingers are not threatening violence, or a coup. They have been angry – atleast since Obama was elected in 2008, and they have mostly expressed that angry effectively and legitimately. They have opposed policies, not people. and they have mobilised and won elections.

        The 2016 election has created the same anger in the left – but they are responding quite differently. They are resorting or threatening to resort to violence or coups.

        I have zero problems impeaching Trump for misconduct. But as this mess drags our – I find nothing impeachable in Trump’s conduct – offensive, yes, impeachable no.
        With Clinton there were actual provable crimes. Witness tampering, lying under oath.
        With Trump we have to stretch the law beyond recognition.

        Further there is a clear sense that the left does not give a damn about those who disagree.
        The right wants not to be trampled on. That is all. They left is angry because they can not contineu to trample on people. The left is angry because they have been removed from power by the voice of the people – and they are unwilling to accept that they do NOT speak for the people.

        I would further note – that anger and hatred are complex – there is justifiable anger.
        Even justifiable hatred. No one would fault the left for anger with real nazi’s and real racists. But the left see’s people it is prepared to loath arround every corner. The left does not hate racists, it hates everyone who has not kowtowed to the left doctrine on race of the moment.

        A large portion of the anger and hatred on the right – particularly outside of the fringes, is anger at being unfairly despised and labeled by the left. Call someone a racist – and you guarantee they will hate you.Call half the country racist – and you are the problem -not them. The broad anger on the right today is the justifiable response to unjustifiably broad hatred from the left. They are not the same and a sprinkling of nutbars at the extreme right that no one is paying attention to will change that.

        I have no idea what the wingnuts on the right are running on. But they stand no change of even getting a public debate on their issues. We are actively discussing M4A and free college.

      • grump permalink
        August 18, 2018 7:42 pm

        “Heather Hayer’s death is sad – but she died of a heart attack. She was not touched by James Field’s car. ”

        Bzzzt, wrong.

        “The Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia, declared definitively to Newsweek that Heyer’s cause of death was no heart attack. Spokesperson Arkuie Williams said during a brief phone interview Tuesday that after more than two months of examinations, it was determined that Heyer died of “blunt force trauma to the torso,” and that her death has been ruled a homicide.”

        As well

        “Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman, was fatally injured in the attack, and died in the University of Virginia Medical Center.[25][27] Initially, nineteen injuries were reported, as twenty patients were taken at the University of Virginia Medical Center.[22][25] In the evening, five people were in critical condition and fourteen others were being treated for lesser injuries.[24] Nine people had been discharged and ten remained hospitalized in good condition the next day.[28][29] Testimony at the preliminary hearing in December 2017 revealed that a total of 35 people were injured.[22]”

  6. dhlii permalink
    August 10, 2018 3:37 pm


    Franklin was quite litterally a core member of the Scottish Enlightenment.
    He was a classical liberal – in modern terms libertarian.

    • August 13, 2018 4:17 pm

      Yes, but 18th-century capitalism hadn’t evolved into the corporate and financial monster we see today; I doubt if Franklin would be enthusiastic about that outcome. I’d still call him a man of moderate but strongly principled instincts; he might have become a “trust-buster” like Teddy Roosevelt.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 11:15 am

        The East India company starting in the 16th century dominated the world in that we have never seen since.

        We are celebrating Apple becoming the worlds first Trillion Dollar Company – proportionately or adjusted for inflating the East India company was far larger.

        Franklin and our founders lived in a world were Dutch, British and other companies functioned nearly as private governments, They also lived in a world where rich aristocracy – like William Penn excercised incredible power both as business men as as formal governments in the colonies they OWNED.

        Ben Franklin is the only american that is formally considered to be part of the “scottish enlightenment” – a peer of Locke, Hume, Smith and Burns.
        That would be the birth of classical liberalism or modern libertarianism.

        Ben Franklin is one of the early american rags to riches stories.

        He would not have been a “trust buster”. Some of Franklin’s wealth remains in trust today.

  7. dhlii permalink
    August 10, 2018 3:41 pm

    There is no such thing as fair.

    Every group that has embraced “fairness” as a core value has ultimately resorted to violence – whether the french revolution or the Khmer Rouge.

    Life is not fair.

  8. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:05 am

    First they came for the White supremicists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a White Supremecists.

    Then they came for the Atl-Right, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not Alt-Right.

    Then they came for the Black Conservative, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Black Conservative.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  9. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:10 am

    James Rosen and Sharyl Atkins are among the know journalists that were spied on by the Obama administration.

  10. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:34 am

    This is partly about Jordan Peterson. But it is mostly about the decline of the left and its causes.

    There is much wrong with the right today, and it will change in many ways over time.
    But the current left is facing an existential crisis. While I think that goes beyond identity politics, Identity politics is at its core. the identity politics of the left attempts to shut down all debate, and it does so with the pretense that debate is repugnant. As the ideology of the left become more defined, and more identities get added to the list of victims – rather than expanding the base, the result is walling more and more of the people out as evil intolerant hateful hating haters.

  11. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:40 am

    Aparently if your family was a victim of left wing genocide, you are not welcome on Facebook.

  12. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:40 am

  13. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:42 am

  14. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:43 am

  15. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:45 am

  16. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:58 am

  17. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 12:59 am

  18. dhlii permalink
    August 11, 2018 1:05 am

    Recent scientific studies on “Trigger Warnings”.
    They make problems WORSE.

  19. Jay permalink
    August 12, 2018 8:22 pm

    Rick, I enjoyed reading your intelligent, prescient post.

    I fully agree with your descriptions of the damages done to our system by extremists Left & Right argumentatively pulling apart consensus like the limbs of a plastic stretch toy doll.

    I’m not at all optimistic anything positive will come out of this distorted liberal-Conservative right-Left mess for decades to come. For Moderates like us the terrain of moderation has been altered. A generation gap that has redefined the ground rules. Moderate accommodation for most Americans under the age of 40 isn’t perceived as it is by us. I don’t know if the enormous swell of technological advances in communication, or the relative ease of surviving growing up in an environment of raffluence, has produced a different mind set than the one we knew as the norm growing into adulthood, but right and wrong seem to have acquired different interpretations than those we relied on as constant.

    I think it will take more time to balance the system then I have remaining of planetary orbits to observe how that new equilibrium will balance. I’ve come to believe talking about it, writing about it, is futile for me. Therefore I’ve cut back on blogging, tweeting, posting and arguing about it in general. Instead I’m concentrating on learning how to use to best advantage two new favorite cooking utensils: my Sous Vide Immersion device, and my wonderful Instant Pot multi use pressure cooker. With that in mind, I leave you with tomorrow’s desert recipe below:

    • Jay permalink
      August 12, 2018 8:23 pm

      Instant Pot Cheesecake-2


      -3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (4 whole graham crackers, crushed)
      -2 tablespoons melted butter

      -1 pound regular cream cheese, softened (2 8-ounce packages)
      -2/3 cup sugar
      -2 large eggs
      -1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      -1/4 cup sour cream

      Any sweet fresh berries available

      1 Prep the pan: Spray the 7-inch cheesecake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, then spread evenly across the bottom of the pan and pack down, pushing the graham crackers up the sides a little.
      2 Make the cheesecake filling: Soften the cream cheese by leaving it out at room temperature for at least 1 hour (or heat it in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds, until it is softened). Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly add the sugar and beat on medium speed until the sugar is completely blended, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low speed until just blended. Stir in the vanilla and sour cream by hand. Pour into the cheesecake pan, then tap the pan on the countertop for about 30 seconds to get rid of air bubbles. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and crimp around the edge to seal.
      3 Pressure cook the cheesecake: Put 2 cups of water in the pressure cooker pot and add the cooking rack. If your pressure cooker rack doesn’t have handles, make an aluminum foil sling by folding a 2-foot long piece of aluminum foil over a few times, until it is a long strip about 4 inches wide. Use the sling to lower the cheesecake pan into the pot and set it on the rack. Lock the pressure cooker and pressure cook on high for 35 minutes in an electric PC or 30 minutes in a stovetop PC, then let the pressure come down naturally, about 10 more minutes.
      Cool the cheesecake, then serve: Lift the cheesecake out of the pressure cooker. Immediately run a knife around the rim of the cheesecake pan to loosen the cheesecake from the sides. Cool the pan at room temperature for an hour, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

      Top with berries and serve.

    • dhlii permalink
      August 13, 2018 12:50 am

      Why is consensus necescary ?

      The only purpose for consensus is when we choose to use force – as though government and we need much more than mere consensus to use force.

      We are a pluralistic society – diverse. Multi-Tribal. Yes there is SOME left right tension,

      but many things divide on other axis’s and have their own extreme’s and often lack of consensus.

      That is not only fine, it is often good.

      If you want to eat you can go to McD’s or Burger King or ….
      Or AppleBee’s or myriads of different resturaunts.
      You have nearly infinite choices.
      You need not do the same thing as others.
      you need not do the same thing each day.

      You can be as extremist as you wish.

      Because you are not seeking to impose your choice on others by force.

      There are a small number of things we must do together by force if necescary.
      Fundimentally that is as the declaration state secure our rights.

      The point is that it is irrelevant how widely disparate our views are from each other – so long as we are not seeking to impose them on each other by force.

      With few exceptions the only “Extremism” problem we have is those who seek to impose their particular point of view on the rest of us by force.

      Return to government that deals with the rule of law, and we are all free to beleive and do very extreme things – so long as we do not harm others.

      If we keep government relatively small and simple – all the complexities of life are in our own individual lives where each of us can make our own choices as we please.

      • August 13, 2018 10:23 am

        “The point is that it is irrelevant how widely disparate our views are from each other – so long as we are not seeking to impose them on each other by force.”

        Dave, your fixation on force clouds your view on what is happening today. Your rose colored glasses are distorting your views on the direction the country is moving. Remember, you have said many times that once you give someone something, it is almost impossible to take it back.

        Force can be propaganda. Mental manipulation. Coercive persuasion. Tell someone something long enough and often enough and they will believe. Followers of Charles Manson., Jim Jones, or followers like Patty Hearst. Was Hearst physically forced to rob a bank or mentally forced? Where all those that drank the Cool aide physically forced or mentally forced.

        I see the politics of this country mentally manipulating people much like Manson or Jones, starting with educators with youngsters who spend more waking hours with kids than their parents.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 17, 2018 6:36 pm

        Refusing to pretend that acting through government is using force is not a “fixation”.

        It is the absence of willful blindness.

        The “clouding” occurs when you pretend that government is not force.

        Eric Garner learned that the hard way,.

        “Force can be propaganda. Mental manipulation. Coercive persuasion. Tell someone something long enough and often enough and they will believe. Followers of Charles Manson., Jim Jones, or followers like Patty Hearst. Was Hearst physically forced to rob a bank or mentally forced? Where all those that drank the Cool aide physically forced or mentally forced.”


        All those things may well be WRONG. but they are not FORCE.

        Further though many of them tend to be as you described, there is a huge difference between “tend” and force.

        Most of what most people call “coerce” is just not getting the offer they wanted.

        If I offer to pay you $5/hr and you want $10, and I am unwilling to budge – that is not force.
        You are free to say no. If you are desparate – I did not create the causes of your desparation.

        I have agreed to things I would have prefered not to.
        Because they were to choices available. That is not force.

        Nor is persuasion force.

        I have repeated many things over and over – it does not seem to be “forcing” anyone to agree, even if I am right.

        This “the Russians” nonsense is such garbage it drives me nuts.

        I am not happy that the Russians engaged in persuasion in our elections.
        I am not happy that Center for American Progress did.

        My dislike for what someone else wishes to say does not allow me to silence them – not even the russians.

        Beyond the other issues – short of FORCE (war) you can not silence a nation.

        Further the Russian effort was inconsequential.

        But even if it had been HUGE and even if the russians had persuaded millions of voters.
        A laughable scenario – it was STILL persuasion, not FORCE.

        Often a charismatic person can persuade large groups to follow them. But it is still persuasion – not force. Whether it is Hitler or Jim Jones.

        We are each responsible for our choices – when we do not have the choices we would prefer – still responsible, when we do and make bad choices – still responsible, when Russians or Nazi’s ask for our support – still responsible.

        There might be moral issues involving some forms of persuasion.
        But there are no legal ones and no nexus for government to interfere.

        If we are not free to make one non-violent choice that is not good for us or that are neighbors disapprove of – then we are not free at all.

        Worse still when government says such things as you can offer and accept any job you want, but you must be paid some minimum wage, all that does is assure that those whose labor is worth less than that wage will remain unemployed, and those jobs that have a value below that minimum will not be offered or performed.

        Whatever you beleive constitutes coercion – short of the use or threat of force, we are better off than if government dictates.

      • August 17, 2018 8:02 pm

        Well we will have to disagree in your definition and my definition of force. While you believe force is physical , either directly or indirectly, I also believe force can be mental maipulation, mind control or brain washing resulting in a desired outcome to take place.

        But my comment was in response to your comment about consensus and force. I believe both the right and left are using force in many different ways. Obamacare was force. Marriage laws are force. But you can also indoctrinate individuals to act in a specific manner if you insure they only hear one side of the issue.

        As for consensus, we do not need to agree on anything. But we do need political decisions that benefit society. For example, one only needs to look at California and the forest fires. Environmentalist have insured catastrophic results due to restrictions on forestry and clearing of dead wood, trees and underbrush. Compare that to forested Indian reservation land where they maintain to eco system and fires, though rare, are easily extinguished. That is because they agreed that some short term negative impact like an owl losing its nest in a dead tree one year would preclude hundreds of animals dying from a fire in future years.

        Environmentalist and lumber corporations do not need to agree on their positions, but both need to moderate their positions so the country benefits from fewer forest fires. Some logging and clearing of land so fires are easier to access and control. And this goes for everything today.

        But no one will budge on anything since they believe as you do that not getting 100% of what you want is a bad deal, unlike Reagan who would accept losing 20% to get 80% of what he wanted. Just look at your comment earlier about tax cuts and the impact of not getting everything that one might want.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 2:40 pm

        “Well we will have to disagree in your definition and my definition of force.”

        Changes NOTHING. You can not duck this by word games or semantics or even pretending to agree to disagree.

        Let’s relabel what I call force as XZED, And we define XZED as the use of physical violence to accomplish something.

        I presume that you can agree that XZED is not the same as mental manipulation. or any of the other things you are calling force.
        That should be trivial – because we have defined XZED such that it does NOT include those things.

        It is still truth that you can not use XZED without justification.
        That is the core of the social contract, the foundation of government and thousands of years of human development. Humans are near universal in their recognition and acceptance that the use of XZED is generally barred and can only be used in limited circumstances.

        We are also near universally agree that XZED is not the same as all the other things you are calling force.

        In fiction poetry advertising, myriads of other spheres – use words as you please. define them how you wish, blur multiple meanings.

        But when you talk about government and law – which is explicitly the domain of the use of XZED for the explicit purpose of protecting our rights against infringement by others using XZED against us – there is no room for confusion.

        You can elide the problem by claims of semantic differences, or claims about disagreeing on the meaning of words or having differences of oppinion.

        Unless you prepared that people are free to initiate violence as they please.
        Or that there is no subsrtantive difference between:
        “I will shoot you if you do not work for me”
        “I will only pay you $5/hr to work for me”

        Then your response regarding your meaning of “force” is at most only an issue because having FORCE mean mutliple things results in confusion.

        Can government legitimately step in and use real physical force to punish someone who has initiated real physical force against another ?

        Government exists for that purpose – THAT is the social contract.
        We are all very nearly universally agreed on that.

        shifting to YOUR broader concept of force.

        Can government legitimately step in and use real physical force to punish someone who has attempted to persuade you ? Is unwilling to offer you a job you want or need at the wage you want ? ….

        There is no agreement that is a legitimate purpose of government Government.
        That is not part of the social contract.
        I do not beleive you can even get a plurality to agree to that.
        Much less the super majority necescary to use actual physical force.

        “While you believe force is physical , either directly or indirectly,”

        No that is how I – and in truth nearly all of us define it in the specific context of government – both in terms of what government is their to restrain – the use of physical force to infringe on rights, and what government may do to restrain that – use physical force.

        “I also believe force can be mental maipulation, mind control or brain washing resulting in a desired outcome to take place.”

        I would use a differnet word – but it is irrelevant whether we use the same of differnt word.

        Claims of mental maipulation, mind control or brain washing are not sufficient to justify the use of actual physical force aka government.

        To be clear – our conflict is not about the meaning of word.
        It is that you are conflating two different things which you allow to share the same name,
        in order to justify the use of physical force in response to something that is NOT physical force.

        The purpose of having clear narrow meanings for words is specifically to avoid this type of category error.

        Our difference is not over the meaning of words.
        It is over whether government may use physical force as a response to things that are not the use of physical force to infringe on our rights.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 2:53 pm

        “As for consensus, we do not need to agree on anything.’

        To use physical force – we must agree, we must have more than even consensus, we must have supermajorities.

        “But we do need political decisions that benefit society. ”
        Not the standard. It is always possible to argue that any political decision benefits society.

        Political decisions – meaning the decisions of govenrment must secure rights.
        That is a clear identifiable relaitively objective criteria, benefit society is hyper subjective.

        “For example, one only needs to look at California and the forest fires. Environmentalist have insured catastrophic results due to restrictions on forestry and clearing of dead wood, trees and underbrush.”
        Or compare to privately owned forests which do not have this problem.

        “Compare that to forested Indian reservation land where they maintain to eco system and fires, though rare, are easily extinguished. That is because they agreed that some short term negative impact like an owl losing its nest in a dead tree one year would preclude hundreds of animals dying from a fire in future years. That is because they agreed that some short term negative impact like an owl losing its nest in a dead tree one year would preclude hundreds of animals dying from a fire in future years.”

        You are comparing two different comunal decision making processes – which produce different outcomes to judge one superior to the other. The standard of living of Indians is many times lower than non-indians. Does that inherently make our governmental decision making process superior. That is your argument. I have just changed the context.

        The actual truth overwhelmingly demostrated by the data is that with very very very few exceptions, property rights and non-communal decision making produces superior results than communal decision making.

        This NOT because one person is wiser than a group, but because the agregate choices of many individuals are nearly always superior to the communal choices of the same people.

        One obvious part of that is that communal decisions effect EVERY individual. If the right choices is made everyone benefits, if the wrong choice is made everyone loses.
        While individuals making their own decisions never results in everyone making the same decision. No matter what there tend to be winners and losers. But the possibility of EVERYONE losing is infinitely lower.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 2:56 pm

        “Environmentalist and lumber corporations do not need to agree on their positions, but both need to moderate their positions so the country benefits from fewer forest fires. Some logging and clearing of land so fires are easier to access and control. And this goes for everything today.”

        We are near universally discussing public land. The problems you mention do not happen on private land as a result of private land owners decisions. Mega forest fires require government. They did not even occur when the land was entirely subject only to nature.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 3:01 pm

        “But no one will budge on anything since they believe as you do that not getting 100% of what you want is a bad deal”
        Never said that.
        Do not beleive that.
        Compromise is a TOOL, not an end or a value.

        Lets try a simple example.

        I want to eliminate SS (lets ignore the issues like how to compensate people who have an accrued benefit). You want to expand SS by 20%.

        I have sufficient votes to stop you.
        You have sufficient votes to stop me.

        Should I compromise with you to expand SS by 10% – no way!!!!

        Should I compromise with you to not add anymore new people to SS ?

        “Just look at your comment earlier about tax cuts and the impact of not getting everything that one might want.”

        I remember my principles, and my values. I do not remember every comment I made.
        What are you saying I said and what are you saying about what I said ?

    • dhlii permalink
      August 13, 2018 1:04 am


      While I see many of the same things as you in the world – including the problems with people under 40. I am much more optomistic than you.

      I am not particularly pro-Trump – but I am very Pro the backlash against the left he represents.

      You and others here keep trying to pretend there is somekind of balance between the current evils of the left and right. To be clear – the right is not inherently good, and many of the problems that get pointed out with the right are real. But at this moment the hate, intolerance over-reach of the left is by orders of magnitude the greatest threat.

      I am not sure Trump was not elected in 2016 because we were at a tipping point – anything was better than 8 more years like we just had.
      And that is what we got – anything, the Anti-Clinton (mostly).

      But the election is just the tip of things.
      I know that in some ways the left appears to be stronger than ever right now. But I also think it is weaker than ever – I think the modern left is on the verge of imploding.
      And I do not know what follows.

      THAT will be the moment we need to worry about the right. When the left has self destructed, THEN we must be prepared to step in and fill the vaccuum with something other than Trumpism or many other variants of modern conservatism.

      I do not however think that the milktoast moderate that is sold by many here can or will fill the gap. It will never be dominant.

      Compromise is a tool – not a value.
      The answers to most of our problems are not in the middle.
      Nor are they ALL with one group. But every pole, and there are more than two has something to offer, some specific truth that no other group possesses so clearly.

    • August 13, 2018 4:30 pm

      Thanks, Jay. I’ve also found it futile to use my moderating influence to combat extremist opinions. When I’d see one of my Facebook friends post an extremist meme in the past, I’d try to infuse some common sense into the argument. But they just keep posting the same junk, and I can’t keep straightening them out without making a nuisance of myself. I’m weary of divisive politics, even though I love to sound off.

      It looks as if the millennials and their younger brethren (and sistren?) will be carrying the torch of progressivism into the middle of this century and probably beyond. We’ll probably have a President Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the not-too-distant future. Nothing we can do about it except cultivate our gardens, cook, get together with friends or go birdwatching. That’s real life.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 11:55 am

        I would not bet that Millennials will be progressive. Most polls of their opinions come off uninformed and weird.

        They are the most self centered, the most entitled, the most me generation ever.
        Things like M4A and free college appeal to them – those are benefits for THEM.

        But they are also the most opposed to the social safetynet in a long time.

        They also have the highest proportion of libertarians of any cohort at their ages.

        Given that all cohorts become more conservative as they age – there are strong indications that the millenials are more likely to be a right shifted bubble moving through time.
        That does not mean they are right wing now. Just that they are different in a sort of conservative way from their peers in prior generations at the same time.

        I would further note that the left faces other “demographic” problems.

        While it is true that minorities tend to be left of center, ALL groups shift right slowly the longer they are in the US and the more affluent they get.

        The Irish, Italians and Jews used to be reliable democratic voting blocks – they are pretty solidly republican now.

        The majority of nearly every minority is still democratic – but with Obama’s departure each minority group is shifting slightly to the right.

        Much is made of the fact that Republicans must get some rediculously high proprtion of whites to win moving into the future – but that premise has an obverse – Democrats must continue to bhold rediculously high proprtions of minorities.

        A 5% shift in minority voting would turn much of the country deep red.

        And I keep reading that Trump is polling 10% better with blacks and Hispanics than he did in 2016.

    • August 18, 2018 12:47 am

      Jay, what happened? You have mellowed so completely, I fear that you have been invaded by a body snatcher, lol. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that you give high ratings to the Instant Pot…I just bought one for my son for his upcoming birthday. He’s quite a good cook, unlike his mother, and I’ll definitely pass along your recipe. Sounds delicious.

      • Jay permalink
        August 18, 2018 1:29 pm

        Not mellow – resigned.

        And there are far more articulate observers out there, with wide audiences clanging warning alarms on social media platforms – the most cogent and cutting prose coming from credentialed conservative writers like Rick Wilson. Have you read his new book, “Everything Trump Touches, Dies?” You can download a two chapter sample for free on Kindle or IBooks. As funny and caustic an appraisal of debauched Trumpism as can be found condensed into prose …

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 7:25 pm

        If things today are sufficient to make you curl up in a ball of despair – how would you have survived in the past ?

        There are things wrong today – you and I might even agree on some of them.

        No one here is more hostile to our government as it is – whether run by democrats or republicans. But there is a world of difference between many things are broken and need fixed and we are going to hell.

        There is alot bad. But there is also alot good.

        Whether it is silent spring, or peak oil or climate change or Trumpism – we will survive – likely even thrive.

        And in fact overall thus far we appear to be doing better than any time since Clinton was president. Great ? No, but tentatively better than Bush and better than Obama.

        I can ignore the spittle contest between the president and the press with a solid economy and rising standards of living.

  20. Rebecca Scott permalink
    August 13, 2018 10:17 pm

    The greatest threat to our democracy is not intolerance; it’s IGNORANCE. Selective and intentional, or uninformed and uneducated, ignorance. Our problem is not our political system; it’s our educational system. Millions of Middle Americans don’t believe Obama is evil incarnate because of the rise of the angry right; they believe it due to their ignorance. If left wingers blame their troubles on straight white males (frankly, I’m not seeing this), it’s due to their ignorance. If audiences fall prey to cherry-picked news stories, it’s due to their ignorance. If people self-select echo chambers, rather than intentionally searching for truth, it’s due to their ignorance. I have a difficult time viewing either Washington (or ESPECIALLY Franklin!) or Franklin as “moderates.” Moderation results in in achievement of NOTHING. Even Franklin’s skills in diplomacy required a PASSION for the outcome. Washington’s tolerance does not mean he was moderate. I don’t know how anyone could read about the crossing of the Delaware, or the history of Valley Forge, and conclude that he was a moderate in ANY way. He was a PASSIONATE man with an iron will. And, finally, we do not have hyperpartisanship in government, we have GREED in government. Until we have term limits, limitations on lobbying, and overturn Citizens United, nothing will change, moderates or no. As the great RBG says, it’s a pendulum, but I would add that, at least with regard to a country’s progression, the pendulum NEVER rests at midpoint.

    • August 13, 2018 11:36 pm

      Rebecca, I have to agree with 95% of your thoughts. I would question the thoughts about Washington since the Bill of Rights was a compromise between the federalist and anti federalist that specifically identified rights of citizens since anti federalist feared a strong central government. If this compromise was due to Washington and other federalist moderating their federalist position, that might be difficult to determine. Given our current political environment, I dont think we could ever get anything like the current constitution passed today.

      And the other issue is Citizens United. Where do we limit political speech? Remember, Michael Moore produced a film , Farhenheit 9/11, highly critical of George Bush and broadcast advertisements for that during the 2004 campaign that showed clips critical of Bush. Citizens United, a non profit organization filed a complaint that the courts dismissed that claim. They found this to not be political speech. So in response, Citizens Untited released Celsius 41.11, a film highly critical of Kerry . Here, the FEC determined this violated campaign spending laws.

      So we had one individual advertising a product using critical political speech that was legal and another organization using negative political speech found illegal. SCOTUS found both entities could use funds basically for the same reason.

      So where do we limit freedom of speech? Can Warren Buffett spend personal funds for political speech, but a company he owns can not? Could his energy transport company be prohibited from running anti Keystone Pipeline ads during a campaign, but he could pay for those out of his private funds? Both would be against a GOP political agenda item.

      Its a can of worms either way.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 1:22 pm

        The bill of rights was NOT a compromise.

        Our founders near universally agreed regarding the rights in the bill of rights.

        What they DISAGREED about was whether having a bill of rights would result in the presumption that those were the only rights we have.
        The federalists said no, the anti-federalists yes. The federalists won and we have a bill of rights,. The ant-federalists won in the sense that our only cerrain rights are those in the bill of rights.

      • August 18, 2018 2:59 pm

        The constitution had many compromises. I am not going to debate that with you, but you can look it up if you want.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 7:40 pm

        “The constitution had many compromises.”

        Of course it did, but with the exception of the issue of slavery none of those compromises were of principles or even values.

        Most were not especially contentious.

        The Sherman compromise that resulted in our house and senate was a big deal.
        But it is not inherently ideological. No fundimental principles were involved.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 1:25 pm

        We have neither the right nor the ability to preclude the russians from speaking during our elections – why would we presume that we should be able to stop citizens united ?

        The remedy for bad speach is more speach. It is not enforced silence.,

        No matter how bad you think allowing limitless political free speach is, the alternative – giving government the power to chose who may speak when where about what is far worse.

    • August 16, 2018 11:16 pm

      Becky: “I resemble that remark!” Seriously, do you believe that moderation never achieves anything? Moderation achieved our Constitution, prevailing over the sniping partisans of special interests. And who held that nest of squabblers together? Good old moderate George Washington. Moderates can be passionate, too. (Exhibit A: The New Moderate.)

      I agree with you that greed and ignorance are major obstacles to better government, and that we need to sweep the power-brokers and money-changers out of Washington. But don’t underestimate the power of the media (especially the social media) to influence and radicalize even well-educated readers. Maybe the core problem isn’t ignorance so much as gullibility.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 1:41 pm

        “Moderation achieved our Constitution”

        Bzzt wrong. There were few if any moderates amoung our founders.
        “prevailing over the sniping partisans of special interests.”
        Nope, different “extremists” compromised – mostly on only a few things.
        Much of the constitution was acheived without compromise by mutual agreement.

        “And who held that nest of squabblers together? Good old moderate George Washington. Moderates can be passionate, too.”
        Washington Moderate ?
        Washington was not Samuel Adams or Patrick Henry.
        But he was not Ben Franklin either and Franklin was no moderate.

    • August 17, 2018 9:46 am

      Rick/Rebecca/Ron (commenter alliteration),

      Ignorance undoubtedly plays a huge role in our current partisan divide. I agree 100% with that.

      “Economic illiteracy”, if you will, has been largely responsible for the rise of the Sanders faction of the Democratic Party, a faction that is clearly growing exponentially. All one needs to do to see this rise of socialist and corporatist influence is to read Senator Elizabeth Warren’s new bill, the Accountable Capitalism Act, which, in Warren’s own words, is an attempt to prevent corporations from “making the rich even richer,” by removing control of corporations from the owners and directors of those corporations, and using the power of government to force our largest corporations (over $1B) to buy “federal charters,” which would then mandate that those corporations allow employees to elect 40% of the companies’ boards of directors.

      So, let’s be clear…”federal charters” would give politicians and bureaucrats control over private industries, and employee-elected directors would begin to fundamentally change the entire purpose of those corporations from a shareholder-profit driven one to a redistributive one. The political power of unions would likely increase dramatically, and the ability of corporations to reinvest profits toward, say capital improvements, would almost certainly be hindered by the objection of employee directors who might insist that those profits be reinvested into increased wages and benefits. Or into social justice projects such as…well, there are many. Boondoggles, all.

      So how is this not a socialist proposal? Federal regulation of corporations, decision-making power diverted from owners to workers?

      But the media has latched on to this as a brilliant proposal, and the idea that it would be big government run amok is hardly mentioned. Ron’s libertarian concerns strike me as dead on the money (“money” being the operative word, here), yet I rarely hear those concerns in our supposedly unbiased media. “The power of the media (especially the social media) to influence and radicalize even well-educated readers” is, as he says, pervasive and may, at this point, be more significant than any other single factor in creating the echo chambers that inhibit the free exchange of ideas.

      • dhlii permalink
        August 18, 2018 1:58 pm

        Why arent the people who own something the ones who should be free to decide what is done with it ?

        Businesses over $1B are owned by shareholders – mostly ordinary people through their IRA’s

        Am I ecstatic with every choice Amazon makes ? NO! but am I generally happier and better off as a result of Amazon ? Absolutely. Why would I ever want government or employee groups to direct Amazon – rather than Bezos ?

        I am not anti-union. Form a union if you wish. I even support closed shops – in the sense that if workers can unionize and can get a closed shop contract – that is their business, not mine. Closed shops should not be illegal, they also should not be mandated.
        Mostly govenrment should have nothing to do with unions.

        But all that said – the industrial unions in the US in conjunction with abysmal management (and minimum wages) are responsible for the decline of many use industries – and thensubsequent demise of those unions resulted in the subsequent rise of those industries.

        Why would we want to wrap into our law the very mechanism that destroyed our indistrial dominance in the 70’s and 80’s ?

        Why should we thing that something that did not work before will work better next time.

    • dhlii permalink
      August 18, 2018 1:03 pm

      We are not a democracy.

      While I agree there are problems with our education system, and those problems effect our politics, remove control of education from government and return it to parents and what happens is not really the business of government.
      If parents educate their kids badly – so be it.

      There is no actual correct criteria for educating kids – which is why government should be uninvolved. Deciding what is best – when there are many many choices and no obviously right one is NEVER the role of government – and yet that is always education.

      If there are millions out there who beleive Obama is evil incarnate – I have yet to meet a single one. I have met very very many people – who think Obama was wrong on some issue of imortance to them – and that would include me. I have found that most of those – even when they are wrong, are FAR from ignorant. In fact I have generally found some of the smartest people to be the most ignorant. Naseem Talib labels them IYI – Intellectual yet idiot.

      As a left wing nut – even a highly educated one about gun control – and you will get a raft of appeals to emotion and not a single credible argument. The left’s argument is premised on the idiocy that without guns people would not kill each other – despite the fact we have been doing that for 150,000 years. Ask a gun nut – and you will get arguments. Usually pretty good ones. You may not get all the arguments, you may not get the best ones.
      But the point is that the gun nuts are better informed than the anti-gun nuts.

      Ignorance of issues is not uniformly distributed – and it is not distributed based on education, and all to often not based on intelligence either.

    • dhlii permalink
      August 18, 2018 1:08 pm

      “If audiences fall prey”
      Who is the predator ?
      “to cherry-picked news stories,”

      If I choose to watch Fox or MSNBC – isn’t that MY choice ?
      Isnt the selection of what is influencing me being done by ME ?

      If I choose to listen to only “hip hop” should government step in and force me to listen to some blues and classical music ?

      “it’s due to their ignorance”

      “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”
      William F. Buckley

      Buckley was and remains right. Those who think they know how to run our lives for us are far far more dangerous than ordinary people.

      We do not need protection from the ignorant. ‘

      We need protection from those who think they are entitield to protect us from the ignorant.

    • dhlii permalink
      August 18, 2018 1:18 pm

      “And, finally, we do not have hyperpartisanship in government, we have GREED in government.”
      Absolutely though I would say a corrupt lust for power rather than greed.

      Power corrupts
      Lord Acton.

      Whatever power you give government – it will work to corrupt those wielding it.
      That is unavoidable. If you wish to reduce corruption in government you must:
      Reduce the power of government
      Increase the complexity in excercising that power.

      “Until we have term limits,”
      So change the law.

      “limitations on lobbying, and overturn Citizens United,”
      Again you are free to change the law. Though I would specifically note you are attacking the WRONG side of the problem.

      Lobbiest – are villified, but they are NOT THE PROBLEM
      Money in politics is NOT THE PROBLEM – we spend less on political campaigns each year than on snack foods – chips and pretzels.
      Trump defeated Clinton with a bit more than half the campaign spending.

      Money is a facilitator of speach – and that is why CU was CORRECTLY decided.
      Barring third parties from spending money on political speach is about the most egregious violation of the 1st amendment conceivable.

      Regardless corruption in government is a GOVERNMENT problem.
      Politicians selling themselves is a problem of misconduct by politicians – not lobiests or third parties.

      With respect to pendulum’s they NEVER rest.

  21. August 14, 2018 5:41 pm

    Rick, I thought people were getting dumber , but they even exceed my expectations. How can we expect people to moderate when they keep doing idiotic things like this that support the extremist in the country.

  22. August 15, 2018 11:08 pm

    Who really believes Beto ORourke will be that moderate democrat that will go against Shumer once elected and indocrinated into the workings of Washington.

    Texas is a good example of changing demographic in this country. Increasing hispanic population, increasing liberal vote from employees transferring jobs from high tax states like California to Texas and the idiotic movement of GOP candidates further right that disenfranchizes the right of center voters who might just buy the Ayahuasca effect of the lefts “\moderate” message in red leaning states.

  23. grump permalink
    August 18, 2018 10:40 am

    Hi Rick. Good luck to you.

    They are not winning, they have won. Its over. I thought the trump level of decay of our society could be rolled back. It can’t. No matter what happens in future elections we have become this sad disgusting nihilistic decaying culture and there is no going back. Rioting snowflakes and economic illiterates on one side, an entirely vile, shallow, psychologically damaged and damaging president and his brainwashed nihilistic nationalist movement on the other. Whatever side wins future elections, they will be nothing I want.

    Sodium is an explosive metal. Chlorine is a poisonous green gas. Combined they make salt, which is cool to look at under magnification, tasty in food, and when dissolved provides essential ions to the body to power cellular processes. Unfortunately It does not work that way with explosive and poisonous political movements. They just poison us and explode us, nothing tasty, nothing essential.

    RIP civilization as we knew it.

    • Jay permalink
      August 18, 2018 11:46 am

      Yes. I agree. We’re in a downward FUBARed spiral.

      Luckily, there is solace in artistic distraction. If it wasn’t for the vast resovoir of YouTube videos of film & music (and Irish Whiskeyat Costco), I’d be curled up in a ball or despair.

      Here’s today life-buoy saving vid from the wonderful 1979 film “All That Jazz.”

    • dhlii permalink
      August 18, 2018 7:17 pm

      Aside from the assertion that both sides are stupid what are you saying that is new, or catastrophic ?

      We have problems ? What is new, my entire life we have had problems.

      Real progress in the 21st century has been poor compared to the 20th – but the US is still outperforming the rest of the developed world.

      Our debt is too high. That did not change on Nov. 9 2016. that is a big problem, I do not want to pretend we can ignore it. But we actually have alot of time – it just will be a little more painful to fix with each passing year.

      Things are contentious.

      Worse than during the McCarthy era ?

      Worse than the violent strikes and bombings that occured in the late 19th early 20th century ?

      Worse that the civil war ?

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