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Identity Politics, Whether We Want Them Or Not

If I commented on everything people were saying about the Covington Catholic/Nathan Phillips debacle, I’d write about nothing else. I would like to focus on this essay by Zack Beauchamp at Vox. [1] He concludes with a comment that I completely agree with:

The Covington controversy touched on some of America’s most powerful identity-based hot buttons. It continues to dominate the headlines because it, more than the vast majority of actual policy fights, hits on the real issues that motivate people politically. It is an example of the way identity is not just one force in American politics today, but the fundamental one.

I don’t want it to be, and you probably don’t either. But we don’t get to choose this battle. This is what you get when the bases for classical liberalism evaporate. In Spain last week, I talked to a man who had grown up in a communist country. We spoke of the culture war, especially in America. He grew visibly discouraged.

“I grew up always looking to America as the country that defended the individual,” he said. “It was a liberal country. Now it seems like that is gone.”

He was using the word “liberal” in the broadest sense — meaning a country that puts individual rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech, human rights, and so forth, at the center of its politics. He’s not wrong to see liberalism, in that sense, dying in America. Patrick Deneen wrote about it eloquently in Why Liberalism Failed [2] Liberalism failed because it succeeded in “liberating” the autonomous individual, unencumbered by anything but his immanent desires. Turns out people can’t live like that. There’s a reason that liberalism emerged from Christianity — as John Gray and many others have observed, “human rights” are just a secularized version of Christian teaching — but we are discovering that liberalism may not be able to withstand the end of Christianity as a meaningful force in the West.

It’s interesting to read Beauchamp’s account of the Covington Catholic controversy, because he’s a young left-wing Washington journalist who seems to be trying honestly to understand what just happened, and what is happening. In this excerpt, he describes what’s happening in a scene from a lengthy videotape of the scene (linked to in his piece):

According to Sandmann’s statement [3], he and his classmates were waiting at the Lincoln Memorial to board buses back to Kentucky. While waiting there, the Black Israelites hurled obscenities [4] at the Covington kids — calling them ”dusty ass crackers” and “a bunch of incest babies,” among other foul things. Instead of walking away, the Covington boys decided to respond with a round of group cheers — and, mystifyingly, the chaperones let them [5].

It’s hard to tell in the videos what [the Covington students are] saying, but they clearly get riled up. At one point, a student rips off his shirt as the rest cheer and jump.

I can see how Beauchamp can’t make out what they’re chanting, but it’s clear to me. They’re chanting at the Black Israelites, “We got spirit, yes we do! We got spirit, how ’bout you?” Bog-standard high school pep rally stuff. It is worth noting that the black radical haters were shouting racist and obscene insults at the white Catholic kids. Should they have ignored the provocateurs, and walked on? Yes. One of the first things people who move to the big city from small towns learn is not to be baited into confrontations with nuts like that.

Anyway, the student was doing a haka dance, which has become a common thing at football games. Just before the kid does that, the Black Israelite speaker shouted taunts saying that the boys were afraid to come closer to them because they (the Israelites) are protected by invisible angels. The boys clearly think this is all one big joke, hence the haka dance.

These were teenage boys, though, in Washington from out in the hinterland for what might well have been the first time. Had this been a case of the Westboro Baptist Church loons shouting abuse at a group of gay and lesbian students, would Beauchamp had expected them to walk away? Yes, that is the only realistic and sensible thing to do with people like the Westboro cultists, or the Black Israelites, who thrive on confrontation. But notice that the boys did not seek this confrontation.

More Beauchamp:

That was when Phillips, the Omaha elder and a retired Marine, decided to intervene, and marches into the space between the two groups. Somehow — it’s not clear from the footage — Phillips and his small group get fully surrounded by Covington students.

They get surrounded because they walk straight into the group! Seriously, watch the video for yourself. [6] The boys clearly don’t see anything hostile going on, and seem to think it’s all in fun. They are not reacting in a hostile way to him, only smiling and bouncing around.

Here’s a different video [7], which picks up just after Phillips began banging his drum (and where the first one leaves off). It shows Phillips beating his drum inches from Sandmann’s face. Sandmann doesn’t threaten him; none of the kids do — not even a couple of minutes into the video, when one of Phillips’s comrades starts cursing the kids and gets racial with them. That video is NSFW because of the foul language of the Indian (not Phillips; his comrade). And, because of the anti-gay, racist taunts of the Black Israelites.

Beauchamp writes, of the first video:

If you watch this footage, focusing especially on the way Sandmann interacted with Phillips, you can see why it instantly captured national attention. A bunch of white kids joining in Native chants is problematic to begin with; doing it in a heated moment, with one of the boys up in a Native elder’s face, creates an even more disturbing impression on first viewing.

Seriously? “Problematic”? Because of cultural appropriation? The boys, who didn’t seem to understand what was happening, were trying to chant along with the Native man who inserted himself into their midst. The reason the boy was “up in a Native elder’s face” is because that’s where the Native elder put himself! Phillips didn’t say anything to them at all; he only walked into the middle of them chanting and banging his drum. What were they supposed to have done?

The only thing I can see that the boys did wrong was not walking away from any of these people. The thing is, these kids never had a chance. Here’s why, from Beauchamp’s piece:

“A crowd of white teenage boys wearing MAGA hats is, to certain groups of people, inherently threatening,” writes Quinta Jurecic [8], a sharp commentator at Lawfare. “Once a campaign prop, a MAGA cap now fronts for such raw evil,” writes David Simon [9], the creator of HBO’s The Wire. Alyssa Milano, an actress and leading #MeToo activist, was even more blunt [10]: “the red MAGA hat is the new white hood.”

There we have it. These boys forever surrendered the benefit of fairness because they wore MAGA hats — which is to say, because they openly support the elected president of the United States. Beauchamp again:

But on the whole, the core commentary that you heard from left-liberal social media was ideological rather than personal. The incident served as a kind of perfect morality play for people on the left: MAGA hat-wearing wealthy young kids versus dignified Native elder.

Beauchamp is describing here why left-liberals reacted in a particular way. I wish he had pointed out that there is no evidence that these boys chanted the things Phillips claimed, in this video in which he is weeping.  [11] There is no evidence at all that he was harassed. The videos that have been released from all sides indicate that he wasn’t harassed.

Unless, of course, you believe that the hats the boys wore advertising their political convictions constitutes harassment. As some on the left do. Here’s an infamous tweet by a Disney producer:

Morrissey later deleted the tweet and apologized, for which he deserves credit. Still, think about the kind of culturally sophisticated adult — the producer of Disney’s Beauty And The Beast — whose first reaction is to imagine the gruesome mass murder of teenage boys over their political views. What kind of career would Jack Morrissey have in Hollywood if he had said that about any other group of kids but white Trump-supporting males?

(It is important to observe here that in media interviews, Nathan Phillips flat-out lied about what happened [12]. But that’s beside the point of Beauchamp’s piece; he’s analyzing why people responded as they did.)

Now, Beauchamp goes on to analyze the reaction from the Right, including (but not limited to!) what he terms a “white-male Christian persecution complex”. Beauchamp writes:

That view connects to a broader assumption shared by many conservatives: that white Christian men are a persecuted minority in modern America.

To non-conservatives, this sounds absurd. White men are the country’s most powerful and privileged citizens. The party they dominate currently controls two and a half branches of government, and they sit in a disproportionate number of powerful seats in the private sector. But in this argument, conservatives follow a maxim generally attributed to the late provocateur Andrew Breitbart: “Politics is downstream from culture.” By this, Breitbart meant that the balance of power in day-to-day politics is determined, in the long run, by the cultural ideas that shape the way people approach politics.

Wait, stop right there. Beauchamp seems to believe that “Christian” is synonymous with “white” and “male.” Most believing Christians I know do not believe the Republican Party is an advocate of Christian interests; we vote Republican because at least the GOP doesn’t actively try to harm us. There are, of course, quite a few grassroots Republicans who have faith in the GOP. I would refer them to a story I tell in my book The Benedict Option [13]about meeting with influential Christian conservative Congressional staffers months after the Obergefell ruling in 2015, and asking them what the GOP was going to do to strengthen religious liberty now that traditional Christians had lost the war for gay marriage.

The answer was: nothing. I left that meeting knowing for sure that we were on our own. One big reason for this is that the party is afraid of its donors, who tend to be more socially liberal than the base. The powerful “white men” of Beauchamp’s narrative are not traditional Christians. Try to find socially and theologically conservative Christians in corporate America. Shoot, try to find them in influential right-wing institutions like The Federalist Society, whose membership is overwhelmingly libertarian, not conservative.

I point this out because it indicates a massive blind spot in the left-liberal vision: the belief that to be white and male and to identify as a Christian makes you a social conservative. Anyway, Beauchamp is not wrong here:

With liberal elites largely in charge of the country’s entertainment and higher education, in the Breitbart-conservative view, that means they control the commanding heights in our society. Hollywood makes films with social justice messages, universities teach left-wing ideas about race and religion, and even mega-brands like Gillette make ads about “toxic masculinity.” [14]This makes society as a whole more secular and liberal, producing a social system that ends up discriminating against white Christians by (for example) forcing them to bake cakes for gay couples.

The Covington incident, in the conservative view, is a clear example of how the truly powerful in America marginalize the hated white Christian male. The clearest articulation of this came from Rod Dreher, a writer at the American Conservative magazine. Reacting to a hyperbolic anti-Covington comment from screenwriter Michael Green — “no one need ever forgive [Sandmann]” [15] — Dreher had this to say:

Michael Green is a man of significant power. He tells stories on film for mass audiences. This is his attitude: to demonize for eternity teenagers — teenagers! — who may have made embarrassing, politically charged mistakes in public. This is the kind of person who is in charge of telling stories to Americans about America. Because of the great power he has to shape a culture’s morals and memories, what Michael Green is saying here is more evil and dangerous than anything a bunch of hooting knothead teenage boys did in Washington.

This idea, that liberal elites are arrayed against white Christian men and using their cultural power to shame and harm, is another reason conservatives are so incensed. In the Covington boys, conservatives don’t see the powerful; they see the persecuted.

But is that idea true? What infuriates me about left-liberal dogma is the idea that individuals don’t matter, nor do circumstances — that guilt or innocence is a matter of which tribe you belong to. Yes, I know people on the Right do this too. But we are supposed to train ourselves not to do that. We are supposed to be tolerant of dissent. The new Left does not do that. Beauchamp goes on:

Backing down not only involves giving in to conservative reworking but also ceding to an implicit moral schema where reputations of these young white boys are more important than the harm they inflicted on Phillips (who was filmed crying after the confrontation) or the problems with systemic privilege overall. It becomes a fight not about one incident but about the fundamental lines along which our social sympathies should run.

This is extraordinary. The white boys inflicted no harm on Phillips, at all! Many on the Left have this idea that those kids, by virtue of being white and male, have to bear all the sins of whites and males. Is there any more illiberal principle than that? No parent, or any race, class, religion, or political worldview, wants to live in a world in which his or her children are vilified and made objects of a national hate crusade simply because of their race, class, religion, or political worldview. It’s deeply unjust, and it’s frightening.

Day after day we see evidence that the Left — which, yes, does command the heights of cultural power — is talking itself into carrying out acts of hate against whites, males, Christians, and conservatives. Guess what: It’s true even if Breitbart says so. As with the Kavanaugh hearing, the Covington boys incident is prima facie evidence that if you are part of a demographic that it is okay to hate, the cultural leaders in this country will turn their rhetorical guns on you and blast away.

Believe me, I would trade the Senate and the presidency in a heartbeat for the power that the cultural left holds. They are remaking society. Last year, in the heat of the Kavanaugh hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, having seen what the left in the Senate and in the media tried to do to Kavanaugh, exploded:

Graham articulated what was obvious to conservatives — even conservatives like me, who had no interest in the Kavanaugh nomination, seeing him as just a standard-issue Bush Republican: that this sham of a process showed what the Left would do to any of us who stood in their way.

And now, what was done to the Covington boys — minors who were in DC to participate in an honorable American civic ritual: peaceful protest — shows us once again what is in store for us.

When I was in Spain recently, I saw what happens when the Left holds unchallenged power in the institutions of culture in a society. There’s a new political party there, Vox, which is widely held by the political and cultural establishment to be “far right” — this, because they object to immigration open borders, and they think that it’s not fair for the government to force Catholic schools to teach radical gender ideology. A man I met who is well-informed about both Spanish and American politics told me that Vox’s overall program is to the left of the American GOP, but they are demonized by the Spanish establishment.

Another man I met told me about a relative who works in law enforcement on the front lines of the immigration crisis in Spain, processing illegal migrants from Africa. He sees every single day how these young men arrive in Spain, and are then let go to melt into Europe. The only Spanish party objecting to this is Vox. So he voted Vox in the Andalucian elections — and because of that, he would be considered a neo-fascist by a lot of power-holding Spaniards.

It’s madness. And it’s destroying liberal democracy. As I keep telling you, in Spain of the early 1930s, the persecution of Spanish Catholics by the new liberal Republic — and the burning of Spanish churches and convents by mobs, while law enforcement watched — ultimately drove Catholics and traditionalists into the arms of Franco. If this is what the left really wants — an America where white people, men, traditional Christians, and teenagers that wear MAGA hats — are considered guilty without trial — then why should those who stand to suffer unjustly from this “social justice” order support it? Beauchamp cites these tweets by a prominent feminist:

Here’s a clue, Rebecca: stop telling these people that they, their husbands, their brothers, their sons, their fathers, the people in their neighborhood and their church, are evil because they are white, male, Christian, and/or conservative. Justice, like empathy and charity, is not a zero-sum game, nor is it something that inheres in groups.

What I find especially telling about this controversy is how so many on the Left hold those boys guilty of bringing all this onto themselves just for wearing those hats. I would not wear a MAGA hat, and would not want my kids wearing one. But I wouldn’t want my kids wearing a pussy hat either. Whatever political message they happen to be sending with their clothing, as long as they are peaceable, they deserve respect — and they should respect others. That’s what we all used to believe, back when America was a liberal country.

What has happened to these boys strikes a resonant chord within me, because it reminds me of an extremely unpleasant encounter I had in Washington in the early 1990s. I had had a good day hanging out with three female friends, all liberal Democrats. We were eating a late lunch, and for some reason one of them brought up abortion. They knew that I was a new Catholic, so one of them asked me what I thought about abortion. I told them that I was pro-life, but didn’t want to argue about it.

That was just about the last word I got in at the table. They all unloaded on me, included one who had been a good friend since I had moved to DC. One snowflake in the group began to speak of me as if I were an object, saying that she felt “afraid” to have me, a pro-lifer, at the table. This was 1994! I finally got sick of the self-righteous abuse, threw money on the table to pay for my meal, and walked out. I never saw two of them again. The third, who had been my longtime friend kind of apologized later, but said that to be honest, as a pro-lifer, I deserved it.

I’ve lived long enough now to see that sentiment go from being an extreme view put forth by politically engaged liberal feminists in their twenties to being completely mainstream on the Left, and advocated by men and women at the heights of cultural power. This is not going away; as Beauchamp says, “identity is not just one force in American politics today, but the fundamental one.”

Old-fashioned liberals — that is, people like me who want to support a system where folks are judged by the content of their character, and as individuals — are increasingly looking like suckers. I deeply hate this, but I’ll be damned if I can see a way out. I am not going to support with my vote or anything else a social and political order that condemns me and my children and my neighbors, putting our liberties and even our physical safety at risk over our religious faith, our political views, and/or the fact that some of us are male.


121 Comments (Open | Close)

121 Comments To "Identity Politics, Whether We Want Them Or Not"

#1 Comment By JeffK On January 25, 2019 @ 1:51 pm


Your analysis is a logical fallacy (Lying with Statistics #70). You can slice and dice however you want, but The Cook Political Report said it was a blue wave, and the total number of Democratic votes in 1980 was 9.4 million more than the total number of Republican votes. Also, no mandate for Trump (as others have claimed based upon the # of States won, another form of lying with statistics).

But you finally put your analysis out there. Good for you. Send it to Cook and see if they will hire you due to your incredible analytical skills.

I understand all of the above regarding civics. To imply otherwise shows your lack of depth.

Meanwhile, I enjoy living in your head rent free. It’s quite spacious in here, with lots of room. Not much going on though. Kind of like a dimly lit basement with a couple of flickering fluorescent lights. Great place to lay back and chill.


#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 25, 2019 @ 1:59 pm

no comment says (Jan 24, 8:48 pm): “I really don’t get the hat criticism. Trump appointed two pro-life Supreme Court justices and might get a third appointment soon. Of course anyone seriously committed to the pro-life cause is going to be understandably supportive of Trump.”

Bravo and Amen to that. President Trump has done more for the pro-life cause than any president since Roe v. Wade. Those of us who stand for the right to life of the unborn reserve our deepest thanks for the President who has given the pro-life cause this enormous gift!

For those of you who remember when it was all the rage to have baby shoes bronzed: I won’t be at all surprised if getting MAGA hats bronzed becomes a cottage industry.

#3 Comment By Steve in Ohio On January 25, 2019 @ 2:14 pm

Like Rod, I also wonder where the chaperones were. AWOL? Apparently they provided no information to the school or the diocese which immediately condemned the kids.

As a Trump supporter, MAGA hats are near and dear to my heart. However, wearing partisan garb is no way to change hearts and minds on abortion. Did the adults drop off the kids and then went site seeing on their own?

#4 Comment By JonF On January 25, 2019 @ 3:02 pm

Rob G, the politics of the post Reconstruction era South was identity politics on steroids.

#5 Comment By JWJ On January 25, 2019 @ 3:25 pm


Surely, someone as brilliant as yourself knows that correlation is not causation on the infant mortality rates analysis. If not, maybe that really smart puppy of yours could explain the concept to you.

For example, overall mortality rates increased after Obamacare (even after factoring out drug-related deaths, i.e. the opioid). Therefore are you arguing that Obamacare is responsible for tens of thousands of people dying?

Also, newsweek is a far left propaganda publication, not an information source.

#6 Comment By MM On January 25, 2019 @ 5:04 pm

JWJ: JK needs professional help, so bear that in mind. I’ve noticed that since he started around here.

Notice his avoidance of arguments and facts he can’t refute. He calls you a liar merely because you don’t agree with his opinion, or those of certain political outlets.

#7 Comment By MM On January 25, 2019 @ 5:13 pm

On wave midterms, because Cook Political Report calls it such doesn’t mean much. They have their own fuzzy, judgmental definition, by their own admission.

But by historical standards, 2018 is pretty low on the list. I’ll credit Mac with this from another discussion when he called out a progressive who was lying about how big the GOP loss was:

– Trump lost 40 House seats and gained 2 Senate seats
– In 2010 Obama lost 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats
– In 1994 Clinton lost 54 House seats and 10 Senate seats
– In 1974 Ford lost 48 House seats and 4 Senate seats
– In 1966 Johnson lost 47 House seats and 3 Senate seats
– In 1958 Eisenhower lost 48 House seats and 12 Senate seats
– In 1946 Truman lost 54 House seats and 10 Senate seats
– In 1942 Roosevelt lost 45 House seats and 8 Senate seats
– In 1938 Roosevelt lost 72 House seats and 7 Senate seats
– In 1930 Hoover lost 52 House seats and 6 Senate seats
– In 1922 Harding lost 77 House seats and 7 Senate seats
– In 1914 Wilson lost 61 House seats
– In 1910 Taft lost 56 House seats and 9 Senate seats

Thinking folks prefer to put things into perspective. Ideologues just like to hyperbolize without any context whatsoever…

#8 Comment By Rob G On January 25, 2019 @ 5:22 pm

“Rob G, the politics of the post Reconstruction era South was identity politics on steroids.”

Only if you read it anachronistically. Like I said above, you’re talking like the Melting Pot idea, virtually non-existent now in discourse, was non-existent then. You’re reading multi-culturalist notions back into a period where no one would have understood them, let alone accepted them.

#9 Comment By Jefferson Smith On January 25, 2019 @ 6:06 pm

@Rob G:

Take off your multi-culti specs for half a tick and think about the historical significance of the “Melting Pot” metaphor. You are reading contemporary notions of identity back into the past.

The “melting pot” metaphor was an aspirational ideal. It was articulated when it was (1908) precisely because it was not yet the reality: there was an intense nativist reaction underway at the time against the recent immigrant waves from Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as legal restrictions that denied citizenship altogether to people from Asian countries. Israel Zangwill and others were trying to address a problem, not celebrating an already achieved ideal. Seriously, you didn’t know this?

#10 Comment By Jefferson Smith On January 25, 2019 @ 6:09 pm

Identity politcs as we know it started in the 1970s, but has been misapplied retrospectively by the Woke, as has been documented many times over.

There was plenty of identity politics before the 1970s, whether that particular term was applied or not. The term “appendicitis” didn’t exist until the 1880s, but does that mean that appendicitis itself didn’t either? Don’t be absurd.

#11 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 25, 2019 @ 8:20 pm

The “melting pot” metaphor was an aspirational ideal. It was articulated when it was (1908) precisely because it was not yet the reality: there was an intense nativist reaction underway at the time against the recent immigrant waves from Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as legal restrictions that denied citizenship altogether to people from Asian countries.

The Melting Pot became an element of commonly accepted patriotism during the decade or three immediately following WW II. Partly that’s because people of all kinds of ethnicities got thrown together in the military and learned to get along — even some Alabama “white” GI’s wrote letters asking why the brass tried to keep them from socializing with Negro units. Partly that’s because America was seen as a microcosm and model for emulation for the fledgling UN, which was pretty popular at the time, unlike the League of Nations. Partly it was because our enemies had been exemplars of racial supremacy of various forms, so all ethnic rivalries acquired a veneer of bad taste.

#12 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 26, 2019 @ 2:48 am

“For example, overall mortality rates increased after Obamacare (even after factoring out drug-related deaths, i.e. the opioid). Therefore are you arguing that Obamacare is responsible for tens of thousands of people dying?”

“First, do no harm” is obsolete in over-medicated America. Given that medical error takes as many lives as auto accidents used to each year, if you put more people under that knife that weren’t there before, more will die from medical mistakes.

Not everything corporate-run medicine does now is medically justified, or even ethical.

#13 Comment By JeffK On January 26, 2019 @ 10:31 am

@MM says:
January 25, 2019 at 5:13 pm

“Thinking folks prefer to put things into perspective. Ideologues just like to hyperbolize without any context whatsoever…”

Here’s your context. Thanks for providing it.

First, I never claimed anything like “2018 was the greatest victory in the history of US elections”. I simply called it a ‘Blue Wave’.

Second. Using your data, which I assume true, there have been 54 elections since 1910 (interesting you started measuring at that point, what about the previous 150 years?). In only 12 has their been a greater loss of seats. So….

76% of elections since 1910 have had fewer seats lost (100% – (13/54) = 76%) than 2018.

All while unemployment is historically low and The Dow hit record highs (both following trends established under Obama).

Trump is a historically unpopular president. It’s difficult to rationalize otherwise. I doubt he will run in 2020. But, if he does, he will be the gift that keeps on giving to Democrats as he drives 75% of Independents (who decide elections in this political era) to the Democratic politicians.

And finally, I don’t respond to your ‘facts’ because they are often cherry picked datapoints, taken out of context, that you believe support your magical thinking.

“At Day 607—where Trump is now—no president in the history of modern polling (which dates back to President Harry Truman) had an approval rating as low as Trump’s 40.4 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight.”

Trumps historically low 38% approval rating.

#14 Comment By MM On January 26, 2019 @ 12:16 pm

JK: “I don’t respond to your ‘facts’ because they are often cherry picked datapoints, taken out of context, that you believe support your magical thinking.”

Well, at least the old man finally admits he’s not at TAC to learn the truth or engage in meaningful conversations. I knew that from Day 1.

Oh, and those statistics on # of seats lost were from Mac, not me, as I clearly indicagted. He was responding to some progressive, no doubt a buddy of yours, who lied about 2018 being the worst wave election ever for an incumbent President, which is obviously not the case.

And the reason he went back 100 years is because the 2018 midterms had the highest voter turnout in 100 years. Given that fact, 2018 should’ve been a much bigger wave compared to past history, but it wasn’t.

So, when you call someone a liar because you don’t accept basic math, and you reject widely accepted facts as corrupt propaganda, and you never admit mistakes or retract anything you say, bear in mind how YOU come across to the average reader at TAC.

Case in point: The Federal, State, and Local governments of the United States spend approximately $3 trillion annually on means-tested programs and entitlements. That’s just a simple fact, easily proven, which was my only point.

“Manaically cartoonish” isn’t a good look, sir. But then again, you’re a progressive, so maybe that does fit.

#15 Comment By MM On January 26, 2019 @ 12:40 pm

JK: “Trumps historically low 38% approval rating.”

The guy who hates cherry-picking proceeds to cherry-pick.

Historically low, because, you know, Bush, Carter, Nixon, and Truman never polled lower than that:


Gotta love it.

You’d think by now politically-engaged adults, at least those with a brain, having seen what happened in 2016, would reserve judgement until after Nov. 3, 2020. Electoral votes seem a better measure of who should be President for another 4 years…

#16 Comment By JeffK On January 26, 2019 @ 3:01 pm

@MM says:
January 26, 2019 at 12:16 pm

“Oh, and those statistics on # of seats lost were from Mac, not me, as I clearly indicated.” – The origin, nor intent, of the data doesn’t matter, you used it.

“He was responding to some progressive, no doubt a buddy of yours, who lied about 2018 being the worst wave election ever for an incumbent President, which is obviously not the case.” – Your clairvoyance as to who my friends are is an example of magical thinking or delusion.

“And the reason he went back 100 years is because the 2018 midterms had the highest voter turnout in 100 years. Given that fact, 2018 should’ve been a much bigger wave compared to past history, but it wasn’t.” – Another logical fallacy, a non sequitur (it does not follow).

The fact that the 2018 midterm election had the highest turnout in 100 years in no way indicates there were not instances of greater seat gains/losses before them. The highest turnout election in 100 years could have had 0 gains or losses. All incumbents could have won. Therefore, your logic is as strong as wet toilet paper.

“But by historical standards, 2018 is pretty low on the list.” – You can say it’s pretty far down the list (a judgement – based upon the members of the list), but it’s pretty hard to say it wasn’t at least significant, and a wave, since it’s in the 4th quartile of the members of the data set you used. Additionally, it’s the 6th largest gain in the last 50 years (still in the 4th quartile).

Also, to get technical, one cannot use principles of set theory logic to propose that creating data set A, that is a subset of data set B, then comparing data element C to subset A, somehow implies anything about the cardinality, nor order of C, in relation to all of the elements in set B. Discrete math.

In another post you said.
MM says:
January 24, 2019 at 6:36 pm

“Oh, and to JK’s contention that progressives never hurt people over policy differences, tell that to the GOP Congressional baseball team.” To which I brought up Tim McVeigh.

To which you replied. “McVeigh didn’t target Democratic politicans. He bombed a federal building without regard to who was in it at the time. That’s a domestic terrorist, not a political assassin. Hodgkinson only targeted certain politicians because of their perceived health care policies.”

So what? My point was that you cannot take a member of a group, and attribute the outlier actions of that member to the actions of all members of the group.

A left wing nut shoots a bunch of Republican politicians over healthcare, and that’s a knock on all progressives. A right wing nut blows up a federal office building, the most significant act of modern domestic terrorism before 9/11, but somehow that cannot possibly be a knock on The Right? Somehow, in your mind, even with the flaw in your logic exposed, The Left is still responsible for Hodgkinson, but The Right has nothing to do with McVeigh. Many Catholic nuns are Progressive. Do you lump them in with Hodgkinson? Are you worried that nuns are going to assassinate Republican politicians? See the flaw in your logic yet?

Sure. I’m biased (to the Left). Guilty as charged. I try to make points on TAC that are logical, and based on facts. You appear to be just as biased (to the Right), but you appear to be presenting yourself as an unbiased, honest broker of truth. Your points are almost always based on logical fallacy debate techniques. I’ve pointed that out again and again. And that, I think, is the reason for your anger and vitriol. Once others understand logical fallacies, it’s easy to see through your BS.

#17 Comment By JeffK On January 26, 2019 @ 6:53 pm

@MM says:
January 26, 2019 at 12:40 pm

JK: “Trumps historically low 38% approval rating.”

“The guy who hates cherry-picking proceeds to cherry-pick.

Historically low, because, you know, Bush, Carter, Nixon, and Truman never polled lower than that”

MM, you are incredibly dense and deceitful. I never said ‘No president ever polled lower than Trump on any day’, or anything like that. I referenced his widely reported, historically low 38% approval rating.

Did you even read or listen to the CNN article you linked to? To paraphrase the sound on your own link: “The Wall Street Journal poll has Trump at 38% approval rating, the lowest of any president in modern history at this stage in modern history”.

Your link starts right there with that, 7 seconds in. Readers of TAC, just listen to the link MM provided that he uses to refute my “cherry picked” reference to Trumps’ historically low 38% approval rating.

That is EXACTLY what the Wall Street Journal says! Referenced in your own link!

You can’t make this stuff up. Every time you post you look either more sloppy or deceitful.

#18 Comment By MM On January 27, 2019 @ 3:02 pm

I’m through engaging the autistic troll.

JK’s total denial of objective reality is a lesson for the kids out there.

$3 trillion in government spending on welfare and entitlements is just one example of that. Record military spending under Obama and House Democrats is another. Which president actually approved the auto bailout, that’s another. The list goes on and on.

But if Trump is historically unpopular, then why wasn’t last year’s wave election against him bigger than those for other, more popular presidents, like Obama, and Clinton, and LBJ, and Eisenhower, and FDR?

Logically, you really can’t have it both ways. Unless you’re a crank who just loves to keep digging…


#19 Comment By Rob G On January 27, 2019 @ 3:22 pm

~~The “melting pot” metaphor was an aspirational ideal.~~

Which doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist. My point is that multiculturalism has largely marginalized that ideal, and “identity” today is understood without taking that past interpretation into consideration. It’s anachronistic to simply stamp 19th century ethnic struggles as equivalent to today’s identity politics. In doing so you risk ignoring or misinterpreting the people of that time’s own self-understanding. Basically it’s saying that we know what they were thinking better than they knew themselves, which makes for bad historiography.

#20 Comment By MM On January 27, 2019 @ 5:47 pm

P.S. It’s also interesting to observe the tendency of some manaically cartoonish types, who predict imminent political doom and gloom on a regular basis (e.g. Mueller’s report will be bigger than the JFK assassination), who decry cherry-picking, and yet cite a single poll showing a relatively low 38% approval rating for the President, and not bothering to mention that several other polls, taken by other media outlets over the VERY SAME PERIOD OF TIME, gave differing approval ratings, 40%, 42%, 43%, 44%, even one as high as 45%.

Fascinating… I wouldn’t bet a nickel on the predictions made around here, especially by those who got 2016 dead wrong in the end.

#21 Comment By AM On January 28, 2019 @ 9:53 am

“Old-fashioned liberals — that is, people like me who want to support a system where folks are judged by the content of their character, and as individuals — are increasingly looking like suckers.”

This never existed. Ever. While the idea that put people in the role of God was gaining moment before the 1960’s, it catches fire with a certain segment of Boomers. It is lie, a paper house already half done in by rain. Now it’s dry and has caught on fire.