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Sometimes I Hate Being Right

The verdict is in on the Montana special election: “That audio made me cheer.” Though, I’m happy to see a college professor who thinks it’s acceptable to strike people in the head with a heavy bike lock is getting what’s coming to him. The stakes are being raised from both sides. What factor do you see that will lower the stakes? I see my family, family, on social media posting vile, hateful things about people that disagree with them, knowing full well they have family that does.

I’m coming to the conclusion that we’re getting beyond a political struggle of ideas, and that scares me because this country was always about a political struggle of ideas. The only time it turned violence was over the question of slavery, and one has to admit that’s a pretty big idea. Today’s meme wars are vapid, ignorant, and shallow.

I fear the future does not belong to ideas. It belongs to propagandists and marketing experts, who armed with Big Data are going to get much better at manipulating people’s emotions and biases to whip them into mindless frenzy to do their bidding. We’re already seeing it. It’s not that people have fundamentally changed, but never has so much information about so many people been concentrated into the hands of so few. I don’t think this will end well.

38 Responses to “Sometimes I Hate Being Right”

  1. Dannytheman says:

    6 or 7 point win is pretty convincing. I was almost convinced, by what I read yesterday, that it was a neck and neck race. (Main Stream Media hype?)
    I believe some reporters abuse their privledge. They break into/block a persons personal space. Shoving a microphone/Dictaphone in your face as you are moving forward.
    All this being said, I have chosen to cut many people, family to, from my Facebook feed. It was better for my health to do so, than worry about how stupid they were. Since mid March my blood pressure has been better.
    So now instead of 500 Facebook friends, I have 455. My life is calmer, and I have more time in my day!

  2. dwb says:

    This is mainly because people have too much time time on their hands amd our jobs are boring. Sitting in a cube is not how we evolved. Bored with sitting in a cube, people seek out drama and emotion to feel alive. Politics has become sports where you root for your team even if the QB is an asshole and they are 0-16.

    Don’t blame the propagandists. They are only providing what consumers want.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think that’s always been true though. What’s changed? Just more people participating?

      • aerodawg says:

        Probably. People have always been jerks in general, we’re just able to see far more of the public at large than in prior generations….

      • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

        I think its become more socially acceptable.

        • Sebastian says:

          I think that’s probably part of it, and I would argue it’s driven by people being able to bubble themselves off from people with different opinions. In some ways, this blog is representative of that. I don’t censor anti-gun commenters. They just don’t show up. So even though I don’t force the bubble, it’s self-selecting.

          • Whetherman says:

            “…even though I don’t force the bubble, it’s self-selecting.”

            Very perceptive! But it also is worth recognizing that when an “issue” (e.g., gun rights) has become captured by a broader ideological spectrum, then the issue becomes self-selecting of that ideology.

      • dwb says:

        You are right, maybe politics has always been a blood sport, only now the lens is magnified through social media.

        • HSR47 says:

          Politics has certainly always been bloodsport. Literally. Fistfights were once common on the floor of the house. Representatives carried firearms so that they could protect themselves from other representatives.

          The sort of rhetoric commonly used to blast non-democrats is often exactly the sort of rhetoric that would have resulted in a thrown gauntlet and a duel barely more than a handful of generations ago.

          On the whole, it looks like we’re coming full circle, and returning to a place where an imagined slight is sufficient cause to throw down a gauntlet and incite violence. There may be certain benefits to living in such a society, but they only exist when everyone has equal right to be offended.

      • Nick L. EMT-P says:

        Perhaps the fact that every man, woman and child now has a Rage-O-Matic in their pocket constantly feeding them the outrage d’jour.

  3. aerodawg says:

    What will lower the stakes? Probably nothing short of what we did the last go round unfortunately….

  4. aerodawg says:

    Secondarily, if Gianforte doesn’t show up on Day 1 in neon spandex and a wrasslin championship belt, I’m gonna be sorely disappointed….

  5. Whetherman says:

    On Sebastian’s overall theme: I hate to share an opinion with Steve Bannon, but I understand he was inspired by the book “The Fourth Turning,” a c. 1995 book by academics William Strauss and Neil Lowe, that postulated a cyclic theory of history, that I crudely characterize as “societies go nuts once every long human lifetime.” (70 – 100 years). The authors cited for Anglo-America, 1688, 1776, 1861, 1933-1945, and theorized that we were due for an “upheaval” sometime between 2005 – 2035. It looks like maybe we got it now.

    (Their actual mass-psychology theory is way too long and tedious to attempt to explain here.)

    The thing I wrestle with is, when does the time come when jaw-boning “intellectual” ideas and “principles” become nothing but wasted energy and vanity, making you nothing more than a schlemiel? There are times in history when you may be best served by hitting your adversary in the head with a bike-lock, and that time could well be upon us; as individuals there may be nothing we can do about it. “If only” people would do the virtuous things, doesn’t count for much when it’s guaranteed that they won’t.

    I have always been a frequent quoter of Rev. Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for…” soliloquy, but it late occurred to me that in the scenario of 1930s Germany, him “speaking out” would only have meant his body being added to the piles of bodies; lots of people “spoke out,” and most of them died in concentration camps or hanging from piano wire.

    • Ian Argent says:

      Rev. Martin Niemöller’s dictum is naive of the first mover problems.

    • HSR47 says:

      The idea that societies go crazy roughly once per generational cycle is probably relatively sound.

      The root cause is likely the human desire to shield children from upsetting truths: The children born just after a major upheaval are largely sheltered from it as much as possible by their parents, and the same is true down the line. Eventually, this results in generations becoming progressively further and further removed from the harsh realities of life and politics, to the point that it sets up the conditions necessary for another upheaval once there are no longer enough experienced old people left alive to stop it.

      From there, it’s worth noting that the most aggressively bad politicians on the national stage were largely all born in the immediate aftermath of WWII, which would mean that they were part of the post-war boom that this theory suggests was largely shielded from the harsh truths of reality, which might explain why they are trying to take us once more unto the breach.

      • Whetherman says:

        The book “The Fourth Turning” that I cited is worth reading. I found the authors’ expounding on the mass-psychology theory tedious and redundant, but it is worth considering.

        They talk in terms of four generations, with a cycle of cause-and-effect of each on the following generation. They very much address your theory as I recall, only spread over a longer period and more generations.

        A random thought that occurred to me was, the Soviet Union was born in a social upheaval, and died in a social upheaval pretty close to 70 years later.

        • Sebastian says:

          It looks like they have a web site:

          http://www.fourthturning.com

          I’ll have to read the book. At first, I was kind of skeptical about Millennials being an echo of my grandparents generation, but thinking about it, a lot of the same things that annoy me about Millennials were true of them as well. But I don’t think each echo is a perfect replica of its prior.

          The fun thing is the next generation following Millennials, which they call “Homelanders” will be conformists. Let me tell you how much I’m looking forward to that.

        • Sebastian says:

          Yeah, looking forward to this like dentistry:

          The First Turning is a High. Old Prophets die, Nomads enter elderhood, Heroes enter midlife, Artists enter young adulthood—and a new generation of Prophets is born. This is an era when institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, even if those outside the majoritarian center feel stifled by the conformity.

          I’m of the “nomad” archetype.

          • Whetherman says:

            I think you can see why I choose to reduce their theory to the cruder but simpler bottom line that, “societies go nuts…”

            If you ever attempt the book, my assessment is they took an idea that could be adequately explained in a monograph of a hundred pages or less, and expressed it redundantly, stretching it to several hundred pages.

            And personally, I found much of the terminology they coined, a turn-off. But, I emphasize that’s a matter of personal tastes. I dislike anything that smells of pretentiousness.

            The concept is the thing.

  6. I’ve always loved the famous line/idea “First they came for ______ and I did nothing …” but unfortunately on the other side of that is people saying “It’s about damn time we took care of ________”.

    I know with friends and family who have pulled away from me since the election, they really had accepted the pablum that “we’re totally moving forward with Obama and his agenda, and it’s the right and smart thing to do, and Republican’s hate doing the right thing — and look at the Demographics — we’ll never lose again because the pendulum doesn’t swing both ways anymore!”

    And then comes Trump and the electoral college/sharing of power principle and suddenly it’s all shut down. But mostly they’re not people who actually THINK about politics and culture and economics so they only followed the things they wanted to hear, which is “evil Trump/misogynist/rapist/pedophile/xenophobe/etc-o-phobe”. We damage our entire culture when we run campaigns based on how evil the other side is.

    I’m hoping that Trump will figure out how to keep his stupid moves in check, and that after another 1.5 years of economic success people will come to their senses and realize he didn’t do anything the idiots at MSNBC said he would and that he’s just another side of the political spectrum that’s sometimes good/sometimes bad.

    Right now we’re still going down a dangerous slope. I think many people have spent too much time saying Trump is evil personified to ever turn around and admit they were drawn in by BS.

    • Whetherman says:

      “I think many people have spent too much time saying Trump is evil personified to ever turn around and admit they were drawn in by BS.”

      I think you are right, but you have to recognize that what you cite has been going on for any number of administrations now; it is virtually beside the point to argue “who started it.”

      But, given that it has been going on for decades, it is unrealistic to expect that in the next cycle, the “bigger people” will take over, rather than replying in kind to what was done to them, 4 – 8 years before. As in war, everyone escalates, and there is nothing factions won’t do if the alternative is, not winning.

      One of my favorite quotes has been from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”, “The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.” – The Merchant of Venice (III.i.49–61)

      Everyone has been bettering the instruction for as long as I can remember; e.g., both left and right use Leninist tactics, and it is ironic perhaps that the right doesn’t even recognize them as such.

  7. Brad says:

    Even though the Republican won yesterday, the margin was smaller than expected. One special election by itself doesn’t mean much in the larger scheme of things, but keep an eye on the margins of all these special elections to predict how the 2014 races will turn out.

    My own suspicions? If the current trend continues, I think the Democrats will take back the House of Representatives in 2014. In which case watch out!

    What does that mean for us? Well for one thing, high levels of firearms and ammunition sales will NOT lower to pre-Obama era levels.

    • Whetherman says:

      “I think the Democrats will take back the House of Representatives in 2014. In which case watch out!”

      That’s within the spectrum of “possibles” I envision when I refer to the dangers of a “backlash” — a hysteria to reverse absolutely everything done in the years during the Trump Administration. And of course I always use the trite metaphor of, any advances we may have made with gun rights being “the baby” that gets “thrown out with the bathwater” (any of the Trumpkins’ crapola.)

    • Brad says:

      D’oh! Typo alert!

      I meant to write “2018” not “2014”.

  8. Brad says:

    At first do less harm? A return to Federalism and physical sifting (voting with your feet) to reduce the chances of violence?

    The Cold Civil War

    http://www.claremont.org/crb/article/the-cold-civil-war/

  9. Will says:

    Here is someone local to that election, and his view on that confrontation:

    http://www.commanderzero.com/?p=4196

  10. emdfl says:

    It is to laugh.
    Lefties have been this sort of thing and worse for 100 years; now that the other side has finally decided enough is enough, it’s suddenly a problem.
    I think THAT horse has truly left the barn. Especially in light of the on-going revelations regarding the last admin’s turning every federal agency loose on their political opponents.
    If that wasn’t/isn’t a big enough clue-bat…

    • HSR47 says:

      “…The last administration turned every federal agency loose on it’s political opponents…”

      The IRS issues are fairly well documented, but you seem to be suggesting that the underlying issue was FAR more widespread among federal agencies than anything I have yet seen from a reputable news outlet.

      Do you have any information from reliable sources to back this up? I’d love to have more concrete examples of the abuse of executive authority under the last Democrat administration.

      • SDN says:

        Gibson Guitars.
        http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/gibson-guitar-raid-like-tea-party-intimidation/

        “In another raid, the feds found materials imported from India, claiming they too moved across the globe in violation of Indian law. Gibson’s response was that the feds had simply misinterpreted Indian law.

        Interestingly, one of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood,” which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson’s guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

        Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

        By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.”

      • SDN says:

        Fast and Furious. Any 2A supporter should know about that one. There wasn’t any data to support banning “assault weapons” because they were being shipped to the cartels, so BATFE and DOJ manufactured some.

  11. Anon says:

    Socialism IS slavery. Civil War 2 will be about the same thing as the first one. Instead of north v south it’ll be the makers vs the takers.

    We’re in a cold civil war now. The big question is whether the Left is stupid enough to take it hot.

    • Unfortunately the really successful makers tend to also want to force us all to be givers to the takers. Look at all the nouveau riche million dollar internet babies. Of course at their wealth they’ll always be wealthy whatever happens to the economy. If they tank it into a socialist/European economy they’ll just have cheaper labor to take care of their domestic duties.

      • Anon says:

        Leftism is the way of the idle rich: the silly-con valley oligarchs to which you seem to be referring. Where would Tesla be without tax breaks? They’re losing $10k per car WITH the subsidies. Of course they side with the gubmint.

        Conservatism is the way of the working rich.

        I’ll take the working rich any day.

      • Anon says:

        My point is: the idle rich ARE takers.

    • SDN says:

      THIS * 1,000,000.

  12. emdfl says:

    HSR47 –
    Suggest you look up the latest revelations from with regards to the fbi, cia, odni, etc + irs and the other 16 or so agencies that obumfuck’s last exc order spread the info out to.. Pretty much every intelligence gathering agency had their dirty little hands in that pie.

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