Montana Politics US Politics

The Real Danger Might Be Us: The Politics of Disreason

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I’ve been thinking today about the danger of disreason in American politics. Dis, meaning “ to treat with disrespect or contempt” and reason, meaning “to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.” It seems we’re awash in it.

Two Montana posts, one from the right and one from the left, perfectly illustrate the politics of disreason. One, from the dark money Watchdog organization, darkly hints that the implementation of Common Core education standards will lead to dangerous data mining of children. The other, from 4and20 blackbirds, uses a source who retracted his own claims and apologized for them to suggest that the Obama campaign used  “ National Stasi Intelligence style” tactics to win the 2012 election.

What both share in common is an almost pathological willingness to simultaneously ignore objective evidence and the [pullquote] we’re in a Wal-Mart of terrible, clearance-rack ideas and everyone owns a free megaphone. [/pullquote]conventions of logical reasoning to make wild, unsupported claims that fit anti-government and/or anti-establishment narratives.

Of course, it’s not just these sites. You can hardly search the Internet without finding someone who claims that President Obama was born in Kenya, that 9/11 was masterminded by FDR to cover up his involvement in Pearl Harbor, or that autism is caused by vaccines.

We’re swimming in a sea of not only wrong information, but information so easily discredited by logic and evidence that it distracts us from substantive discussions and engages a growing segment of the population in politics in a way that is more destructive than democratic. Even those who should be models spew this nonsense on the national stage.

None of this is new, of course. We had John Birchers in the 1950s (and still do) claiming the UN and fluoride were conspiracies, Arkansas troopers claiming that Vince Foster was murdered, and those who claimed that HIV/AIDS was a western conspiracy to depopulate Africa.

But the Internet has magnified this nonsense and given it a cancerous growth pattern.  It’s just not one farmer with an amusingly paranoid sign on his land about the UN; it’s a whole sub culture of mutually reinforcing bile and delusion. Look no farther than the comment field on any news story and you’ll see demonstrably false, easily fact-checked falsehoods pollute productive conversation. What could contribute to the marketplace of ideas devolves into a scrum of name calling and half-truths.

What’s worse is that most of these ideas are cloaked in a pseudo-certainty that would make a 14th century alchemist blush.

The premise of the marketplace of idea is that, in competition, the best ideas will emerge, bettering and educating society as a whole, but I’m not sure that premise holds any longer, when we’re in a Wal-Mart of terrible, clearance-rack ideas and everyone owns a free megaphone.

I’m not calling for censorship. I’m not calling for government regulation of speech. I am, however, asking if perhaps we can’t show a little restraint.

I admire radicals. I admire those who challenge the norms of their society and uncover unpleasant truths or force to see the world in a new way. But my admiration is limited to those radicals who can prove their claims, support them against often fierce scrutiny. Retreating into sophistic dodges or convenient conspiracy theories might offer comfort, but little credibility.

I was talking the other day with a friend about the WTO protests that rocked the U.S. in the 1990s.  Sure, they used radical tactics and challenged authority, but they also marshaled an impressive array of statistics, anecdotes, and economic evidence to make their case. It wasn’t enough to just be loud or just be radical. They made a case using reason as well as political theater.

It is possible for activists to change the world, but they should probably be willing to do the research first.

I’m not sure that I have any solution to offer beyond the trite. Before we post a link or share a juicy story online, maybe we can all ask ourselves to do a little verification and research our claims. Instead of couching every perceived slight in the language of totalitarianism or the death of the Constitution, perhaps we can focus on policy and solutions.

Perhaps more importantly, it’s worth remembering that every discredited conspiracy theory one posts undermines that person’s ability to be a productive critic of corporate and government abuse. Want to show the abuses of the NSA and be taken seriously? Don’t post specious claims about some crackpot conspiracy theory. It will only undermine your ability to be a critic when critics are needed.

The politics of disreason, whether left or right, drive the kind of cynicism and disinterest that is the root of the real problem of American politics today. If I permit myself a bit of hyperbole, it’s those elements that truly pose the risk of losing democratic governance.

I don’t know. But it has to get better. The energy that’s being expended in these discussions certainly isn’t helping.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

108 Comments

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  • The whole of your argument here, Don, can be summarized in one logical fallacy, as my handy 101 pamphlet summarizes: Poisoning the well, a form of ad hominem. You never address evidence directly, in fact, go to great lengths to disparage the source of evidence rather than confront it.

    I’ve encountered this attitude often, and it is off-putting, as you will never be reduced to a disputation of factual evidence, but rather seek cover and position yourself so that (in your mind) you are above the fray, and not a mere mortal.

    Example: this post. Not one shred of evidence about anything. It is mere tactical positioning coupled with crude smears. You are whipping us with hubris, and in so doing are behind a wall and immune to counterargument. You don’t actually have an argument, but merely an attitude.

    If you delete this comment, as is your authoritarian wont, I’ll deal with you out in the real world on this matter, as you need to be exposed. You need to deal directly with evidence, and drop the circuitous well-poisoning avoidance and strategic positioning.

  • Normally, Mark, I don’t even read what you say, but I did today. I have some questions.

    1) Could you explain what the phrase “whipping us with hubris” possibly means? I don’t think you understand hubris at all.

    2) What evidence? The only “evidence” in question in this post are claims made on other sites that have no evidence. That was sort of my point. I’d be happy to deal with “evidence,” but there isn’t any.

    3) When you say you’ll “deal with you out in the real world” would you please explain what you mean? It seems strange to come to someone’s virtual house and make some kind of sad little threat to asked to stay in, but I’m not how else to read your comment but as a sad little threat.

    In fact, if you don’t answer the third question, I’m certainly going to ban you and delete your comments. Because Internet threats are super-scary.

    On another note, please, please, please, take a course in rhetoric or argument. You don’t know what “poisoning the well” means. At all.

    • Jeez Don, you are talking to goofball Mark, a dweeb that considers Democracy nothing more than Americans being like dogs. the more tricks we do, (that include us jumping through Hoops). the more we are tied to a leash… or some other such nonsense like that, he just wrote on Cowgirls site?

      Personally I agree with you, In todays news the facts are few, and mostly opinion.

      In light of today’s lighting like ways of capturing and sending out news. Journalists and media have a tendency to not categorize what is important on the front page anymore. People don’t like to venture outside their own backyards, and Truth has become boring. Plus every mutton head wants their story to be movie material now.

      Trivialisation, has taken over … and a lot of people can’t reach past yesterday to connect to what is truly needed today. or tommorrow.

      I feel more like a referee, blowing a stop to complete bullshit storys than being allowed to proffer an opinion now… we got so many illegal players on the field like Mark, we are continually calling a timeout on important aspects of Americans lives. to narrate a better way!

    • Thank you for defining hubris, or unwarranted pride and arrogance. It is on exhibit here, in bright lights in your opening words …”normally I don’t a even read what you say.” Can you be less self-aware?

      So whipping us with hubris is putting your attitude on display in front of us, taunting us with your “can’t touch me” attitude as your opening sentence exhibits. I’ve met one other man with this deeply entrenched attitude, MG, former head of Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. I came to regard it as deep insecurity. MG in his position could not hold progressive views, and so treated us with the same disdain you do. In fact, he defined “liberal” and “progressive” as what his culture said they must be – whatever his verlords defined for him. He was powerless and yet appeared to have power, and so came to dislike progressives and call us the “far left,” as you have done.

      Poisoning the well? You dissed JC’s entire post because one reference was to a source that you disparage. Therefore, you say, disregard the entire post. The water is poisoned. In the same manner, you seek to distance yourself from all progressive writers, instead using that word for yourself, and treating us all like some sort of cholera.

      Evidence is at the base of assertion – I say that minimum wage does not adversely impact our affairs because a study in 1992 had a virtual laboratory to examine the effects, which were negligible. My assertion stands or falls on that study, the only one ever done that i know of. You, n the other hand, say raise the minimum wage because it is virtuous, and opposing it is not. Like everyone, I wll let my emotions interfere with my judgment. But I have the ability to see that in myself as well as others. You do not.

      And the “real world:” Professor Natelson refused to venture outside ECW because every time he did, he got hammered. You rarely leave this site, and get hammered when you do. Here, when someone reaches you, you take down the comment. You ban the commenter. That s massive insecurity. In the real world, we stand and fall on our own merits. When the bear eats us, evidence of the meal stands. We stay eaten that day.

      Arrogance is, in my view, a cover for some problem – with MG, it was the fact that he could not entertain certain viewpoints or his overlords would remove him. So he drowned in self-affirming rightness and from behind his wall took potshots. You are a teacher, and I know, even in my youth, that teachers had to walk a fine line and contain their impulses towards thought crime. You lose your job, reputation, sit alone in the cafeteria. I don’t envy that, understand it even.

      • You didn’t answer my question, Mark, which was the condition for you remaining at my site. You can believe it’s insecurity or censorship. It’s neither.

        Again, I ask, how do you propose to deal with me outside of this site? I’m still curious and certainly have the right to have you explain that.

        You don’t know what poisoning the well is. Or hubris. Not listening to the gods is hubris; not listening to you is common sense.

        • Oh, I see, I guess that perhaps sounded a bit ominous, dealing with you outside this site. My bad. It is perfectly harmless – it merely meant that I would write about you and the comments you delete here, which I save, and your hubris and arrogance, at my own site where I can deal with you in depth, where you are free to comment, where you would not be banned. (My current list of banned commenters is: No one. I asked LK not to use caps or nicknames, and took down one of his comments for violating that rule. When he avoids those habits, he is readable and thoughtful. But I do not care about content, even prefer that people disagree with me so that we can all sharpen our swords and self-reflect. It’s a bit complicated world.)

          I understand hubris well, but you’re exhibiting an inability to apply the concept outside its original meaning in mythology to its present application in human attitudes toward one another. It’s odd, as if you cannot grasp the nuanced use. Why so jumpy? Why so controlling, arrogant, off-putting? Why snap at people? Why delete comments you don’t like? Why denigrate people in debate based on instant judgment of source? What scares you so much that you can’t just relax and let a debate go n without being the hall monitor, vest and whistle at hand?

          And yes, if you look at a textbook definition you’ll find the poisoned well with a precise use in argumentation. You’re really nitpicking here. You know my meaning. You’re not a teacher here. You, like all of us, have much to learn, as we see very little of the world theough our various lenses.

          You usually argue by debating the quality if a source, denigrating it and the person bringing it up, or resorting to calling of a body of investigation on a subject as “conspiracy theory” (a meme, a thought control tool that is used to marginalize skeptical and inquiring minds), thereby eliminating the need to confront contradiction, to think and reason.

          If you are not uncomfortable with what you see around you, a world laden with contradiction, you are not thinking.

          • I prefer hard evidence, as “quality” of the source is subjective. That’s why when you attacked JC based on “quality” of his source (which he can judge as well as you), you lost me. You were not grounded in evidence, but rather subjective data. It was shoddily reasoning, but allowed you to hide in the bushes and take potshots.

            Try objective evidence complicated by confirmation bias and limited availability of data. And then join me in exploring this very complex world without your blinders. We’re all in the same boat. Honesty matters – with yourself, with others.

            You should try it.

      • A convenient lie, Mark. Pogie’s complaint with JC’s post was not because of a reference to source that Don could disparage. It was because JC’s thesis was predicated on a conclusion that the other post’s author later retracted as untrue, with no similar retraction or even recognition of such from JC.

        • False in detail and false overall. You just made that up. JC cannot post here. Go talk to him about wht you just said. JC is one of the more interesting bloggers, combative but also having a wide background in progressive politics, dissent, and possessing good writing stills. This banning nonsense, authoritarian bullying, which you have engaged in for years, ought to be banned. It’s playground stuff.

          • This will come as a shock, but you’re wrong. JC can post here.

            Incidentally, I’ve been banned at 4and20, so I look forward your denunciation of their authoritarian tactics. Should be an excellent read.

            • I laughed when that happened, as I knew it was only done in Retaliation for you taking down his comments here. But you got a dose of your own medicine. You are an authoritarian, of this much I am reasonably convinced.

              • Hmmm. Two people do the same thing, and your myopic view , one is an authoritarian and one is a reactionary. The latter is certainly forgivable, to you. That doesn’t speak highly of your emotionally charged morals, Mark.

                • Oh please, Rob. A long time ago you went all poseur on me and decided to lecture me and others on Newtonian physics. As we all knew you were full of it, as it was a long comment thread and you ain’t the most likeable guy anyway, I took down your comment. I erred OK? I made a mistake. I should not have done that.

                  Now, self reflect for a moment on all the people you have banned, edited, deleted, sworn at, gone passive aggressive on … if you can. Just in this thread you attacked JC. How many times have you played victim before our eyes as you behave like a shit? How many times have you baited me and then complained when you get your fingers burned?

                  Have you got it in you? Can you look in the mirror? Can you, punk? Inability to self-reflect is a symptom of the authoritarian personality.

                • The problem for you in making that accusation is that it is not my normal behavior. I normally don’t do that, don’t like it, don’t want power over people. You’re not banned even as I don’t care for you. In a tired state, frustrated and pissed off, yes. I can be that guy. But normally I respond and engage everyone who posts there. That is my normal mode.

                  You can’t make a strong case here, where with you, I can.

          • Oh, Mark. Non-authoritarian people usually don’t make pronouncements of falsehood without some evidence of what lie is told. I notice that you often if not always do. Which of us is the authoritarian again?

            Read this post again. I very accurately summarized Pogie’s complaint.

            Since you don’t pay attention, let me remind you of the obvious. Any attempt by me to engage JC’s arguments here send him fleeing back to his own webspace, dropping insults on the way out. I do engage over there because of well-worn pattern from JC. Doubting comments are instantly relegated to dramatic attacks, deleted as “off-topic” and when the pressure mounts, comments in general are closed. He will even delete comments from his friends that are too honest, such as when he deleted problembear’s confession that jhwygirl was telling them that I had threatened her (an obvious lie). Real brave, your blog hero. So like Don, I anxiously await your skeptical and scathing critique of the authoritarian values at play from JC.

  • I think most bloggers agree, at least in the abstract, that citing dubious and discredited sources does not strengthen a blogger’s arguments. In the real world, however, anger and outrage, powerful motivators that can impair one’s critical faculties, drive a lot of bloggers, most of whom are advocates, not investigators.

    Advocates marshal facts and sources to support their positions and arguments — and the angrier and more outraged the advocate, the greater the probability that the facts and sources he selects will fail to receive sufficiently critical scrutiny. That’s human nature. At a reputable news gathering organization, that critical scrutiny is applied by editors.

    But on the web, almost all bloggers are their own editors. That’s unavoidable in many cases, but it also contributes to mistakes ranging from not catching typos and other proofreading errors to fact checking errors and worse. Being one’s own editor provides absolutely no protection from the kind of cocksure certainty best described as often in error but never in doubt. I speak from experience.

    I share many of Don’s concerns, but I still believe that the marketplace of ideas exists and does good provided those who visit it are smart shoppers.

    That’s why I’m leaving 4and40blackbirds on my blog roll. It’s an interesting website that’s done a lot of good. Those who visit it can decide for themselves whether they agree with what they’re reading, and they can comment on what they read.

    • I think we certainly all make mistakes. Personally, I can’t accept even the suggestion that I am endorsing a site whose authors won’t retract demonstrably false claims, claims that are actually probably libelous, if anyone cared.

      That being said, I don’t have any interests in trying to advocate that others not read 4and20 or any other site. For me, I think I realized just this morning that I’ve been to Mark Tokarksi’s site fewer than 5 fives for a reason. That same reason can keep me from visiting 4and20 in the future.

      • Understood — and while your approach to blogrolls may differ from mine, it is no less valid.

        For me, a blogroll is a list of websites that interest the blogger who created it, but it is not necessarily an endorsement of any website. That’s why my blogroll includes Montana Watchdog and Polymontana, although Montana Watchdog is now on probation.

      • Obviously it didn’t as you left a comment at 4&20 at 3:08pm this afternoon. This is all such nonsense. You guys should meet over a beer and sort it out, shake hands, and agree to disagree.

          • Humor helps. The blogs are suffering. All blogs should support each other even though there is sharp disagreement. IMHO, everyone should follow James’ example.

            • One thing more, regarding fear of endorsement by listing a blog in your blog roll, just post a disclaimer. It’s that simple.

            • 2 Things, Craig. The blogs are suffering, and have been for quite some time. We should support each other, but support should never be a one-way street. As with any relationship, meeting halfway doesn’t work. If you aren’t willing to give it your all, and you cannot accept those who demand your all with no like reciprocation, the relationship fails. I would remind you that when I posted the exact same sentiment you express here, the response from certain quarters was “YEAH! Wulfgar’s leaving and he’s a big meanie and we don’t like him. ” Coming from pseudonyms pretending to be precious, thoughtful and caring beings, I find your lack of chide in their direction to be rather telling.
              2) James is a very good writer with clearly thought and argued positions, regardless of whether I think him right or wrong. But I would prefer most people not follow his example. He does not allow any direct feedback at his site at all. That is not a way to build community, and a blog’s strength is measured in that very thing.

              • I allow, and welcome, feedback at Flathead Memo, but Rob is right, at present there’s no opportunity to post automatically. That will be changing in the next few months, perhaps sooner.

                Meanwhile, there’s a story behind my decision not to allow automatic commenting.

                In 2006, I retired several websites I’d started in 1997, and began Flathead Memo. At that time, content management systems like WordPress did not provide what I thought were adequate controls for managing comments. And in the Flathead, and elsewhere, anonymous commenters, some using nom de plumes exhumed from Ayn Rand novels, were filling up the comment sections with off topic, nasty comments that never would be published as a letter-to-the-editor.

                I didn’t want that garbage stinking up my website, and scaring off meeker commenters, so I applied the sunlight principle: you can post on Flathead Memo as long as you maintain a civil tone and step into the sunshine so we can see who you are. I don’t throw rocks from the shadows, and on my website, you’re not going to either.

                The result? No garbage comments stink up Flathead Memo, but there are few comments to sweeten it. I get thousands of hits a day, but almost never a comment and I’m fully aware that is because commenters want to post automatically.

                I’m going to change that — comment management systems have improved in the last seven years — but adopting WordPress will take some time.

                One consequence of my decision not to use one of 2006’s primitive content management systems, incidentally, was the freedom to design exactly the website I wanted. Flathead Memo is one of the few blogs that is hand coded. I write all the XHTML myself, and with few exceptions, I write it to web standards.

                I do intend to moderate the comments, and I will require that commenters identify themselves.

                • You might check out “Disqus” I have hand coded a few blogs lately I intend to put up soon. and I have been impressed with the ease of this company with plenty of control!

                • James, please don’t mistake me. I fully respect the decisions you’ve made at your website; more than most, I respect that it’s *your* website, your property.

  • Don wrote: “I was talking the other day with a friend about the WTO protests that rocked the U.S. in the 1990s.”

    I’d just like to point out that the Seattle WTO protests (likely the first time many people in the US even heard of the WTO) took place in late November and early December 1999. Subsequent large protest/rallies against the IMF, WTO, World Bank, FTAA took place in places like DC in April 2000, Quebec City in April 2001, Miami in November 2003 and elsewhere around the US and world. So much of the protest energy against the WTO, World Bank, IMF, FTAA actually took place during the early 2000s.

    Also, it’s worth remembering that there were some grassroots environmental, social justice and indigenous rights groups/activists (including the Native Forest Network, which later became the WildWest Institute, and activists like JC) that were raising awareness (and the alarm) about the WTO, World Bank, IMF, etc during the early 1990s. Thanks.

    • I was referring to Seattle and the protests on campuses that occurred before those. I certainly heard of them before November of ’99, even if they didn’t make their way here.

      And the point still stands. What I admired about that movement was its use of evidence, some anecdotal, but much of it economic analysis and statistics.

      Even though there was just as much passion, they didn’t leave reason outside.

  • Breaking News.

    Denise Juneau just bailed on the senate race.

    Just read it online at the gazette.

    • She said if on facebook More than two weeks ago BJ. Where you and the GOP been??? People were trying to draft Juneau, and she graciously bowed out. Smart lady she knew the bigger fight to take down education will be in the statehouse next year.

      Your local Republican Taliban has been signaling this renewed education fight for about a month. Hence Pogies earlier story about home schooling and charter schools…

      Catch up big guy

        • So whats that mean you want to be just like Wyoming, or north and south Dakota? How about Idaho? Did you know that before charter schools in California it was on the B list too?

          Do you see why we need to be more like New York, Vermont, for the formable years, cuz they dont teach creationism in school????

          • And we spend 20% less than the good B states, and the State GOP wants us to spend even less. You People are talking out your ass,

            Using just your little graphic Craig to try and prove a point? You really need to read it a little closer because that graphics says:

            The Majority of States that voted for Obama, and democrats spent more on their children’s education than the ones who voted for Republicans had better Grades…. and they had a better score for college and life readiness.

            Oopsie!

              • Agreed, as soon as we have free, universal health care, adequate social services for all children, and income distribution that is far more equitable.

                I’m conceding your argument on choice, since your data is missing, but I don’t understand why you won’t address the fact that Canada offers a very different environment for education than the U.S.

                • Don, the example is Alberta, not Canada as a whole. Alberta is leading the way. Alberta has world class results following their model. Comparing Montana to other states is sorta like handing out participation ribbons. Montanans have to compete against world students. Start with just trying to catch Alberta following their model for success.

                • As a further thought it would be a good place to start having Montana’s OPI invite its counterparts down from Alberta for discussions and see where opportunity for positive change may exist. It wouldn’t hurt for Montana’s teachers unions to do the same with their union Alberta counterparts.

  • All in all a very convoluted and contrived column designed to reinforce Pogie’s pathological need to be right.

    Is there logic in attempting to tie in a sentence from a piece about Jim Messina at the Montana blog 4 &20 Blackbirds to a fight among right-wingers over education standards or lackthereof and then tie that to belief in the illuminati?

    No. There isn’t much logic in it, in my opinion. It’s a stretch and then some. So i’m guessing the motivation is fear. Pogie, have you read about Conspiracy-Panics? http://www.sunypress.edu/p-4560-conspiracy-panics.aspx

    James, i look forward to your new more user friendly interface at the memo. Best of luck.

    • 1. I note that you also won’t acknowledge that JC was wrong in his claim, nor provide evidence that he was right.

      2. His one sentence said that the President’s campaign manager/strategist engaged in STASI-tactics. How is that different from the claims of those you label “right-wingers”? Just because a conspiracy fits your narrative of the world doesn’t make it more legitimate.

      3. If there’s anything pathological, it’s the absolute refusal of some to acknowledge they might be wrong. Or are wrong. Irrefutably.

      Thanks so much for the comment.

      • Class assignment:

        Compare and contrast STASI tactics, making sure that all GDR citizens knew they were being watched (an intimidation tactic), with American NSA tactics, making sure that all Americans know they are being watched. Which secret intelligence force is more clever and effective? Why?

        Don loves hard data and will grade on objective evidence and will pay no attention to scare words. Only reality.

      • I don’t know that JC is wrong in his claims or in the quote he printed of someone else’s claim. but it does sound as if people in Germany are remembering the Stasi and The Obama spy programs in the same context. The Stasi were very data driven as well. They were big on big data too.

        i haven’t seen you comment on Messina working for the conservatives yet Don. Would you call him a “Benedict Arnold?) Or is that horribly and beyond the pale unfair? (In your humble opinion)

        • I’d say that he certainly seems like an opportunist. I don’t need to leap to some hyperbolic claim that someone is a traitor.

        • Comeon Steve the torries are centrest dems. they aren’t anywhere as far right as our tea party or GOP are here. Secondly they believe in science. climate change, single payer nedical. amd spending lots of cash on school. Torries also believe in safe abortions and a woman’s right to her own doctor.

          Maybe they don’t want an image of conservative old white men like America has. Its what I believe they desperately don’t want to look anything like conservatives here do…. thats why they hired Jim.

  • Don, I suggest this to you. The only two things in our known universe that are ‘verifiable’ are mathematics and logic. ‘Tokarsk’ goes out of his way to demean both of those. He wishes no examination that might differ from his boldly stated and poorly supported opinions. Ironically, he accuses you of “poisoning the well”. Please do consider that as you allow him to spew.

    • “Logic,” as you use it, is an attempt to apply mathematics to subjective data. Math is not your strength. If you think that you can “prove” (your word) things in daily discussions with logic in the presence of confirmation bias and shortage of data, you’re nothing more than a novice. Politics is complicated, just like our world. If you think you have a magic key, you’re looney.

  • Tokarskian philosophy on Politics on Aug 6, at 5:40 p.m. On his blog:

    “See if she has money behind her. If so, she’s got a chance, and she’s no good. If not, she’s good, and has no chance. Forget party politics. ”

    Tokarskian philosophy on Politics on Aug 6, at 6:22 p.m. On this site:

    “Politics is complicated, just like our world. If you think you have a magic key, you’re looney.”

    It really is quite a thing that someone so full of B.S. can contradict themself, imply that they themself are “looney” or wrong, and still hold the belief that they are seeing the truth to which nearly all else are too deluded to smell under their own noses.

    But then again, you do believe magic particle beams exist and physics was violated on national television.

    And then again, it wasn’t.

    • you should watch the opening segment on Rachel Maddow tonight. conspiracy theorists and terrorists will become increasingly synonymous.

    • Oh hi nameless! Long time!

      Politics is complicated. Hate to be the one to inform you. Money is behind it all, and it’s waaaaay easy to fool people who don’t pay enough attention.

      The only way I know to make some sense of it is to follow the money. Had I done so in 2008, I would not have wasted time and energy on Obama, who was Wall Street’s man. In 2006 I did the same mistake with Tester, who immediately did an about-face and backed a timber industry bill once promoted by Burns, now with Tester’s name on it. Follow the money.

      I was asked at my site about Keenan, and I basically said follow the money. Big money does not support progressive candidates. Money-backed candidiates do hide behind the progressive label. That part is easy to see.

      The rest is complicated, but a safe bottom line is this: in a low-information environment where every candidate is vetted by money before “gaining traction,” where good candidates are hounded by detractors and “scandal,” (i.e., Weiner, Hart, Spitzer, Edwards, Toricelli), where voters are clueless and highly suggestible, where campaigning is done by professional ad men who use psychological manipulation to influence them, it is best to ignore partisan politics. It’s a distraction

      Thus endeth the lesson.

      • For someone who doesn’t care about partisan politics, you certainly talk about it a lot. Maybe that energy could devoted to something you find productive?

        Your list of “good candidates” is laughable, by the way.

      • That’s it? “Laughable.” Gary Hart , Elliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Peter Torricelli, laughable . Thus spaketh the Pogieman.

        Just a 2+2 I realized alut you today, Don. As you are married to conventional journalism, you know only what you are supposed to know, and more importantly, don’t know anything you should not know? So if it isn’t handed to you n a platter, you don’t know it.

        Any damned fool can do that!

        • You have no idea what I read or where I get my information. Just because you parrot whatever you read in Counterpunch and Truthout hardly makes you some independent thinker.

          What’s laughable about your list is not the candidates per se, but your inane suggestion that they were somehow “good candidates” brought down by scandal.

          Maybe it’s not on your extensive reading list, but perhaps you could review the sources of donations for some of those candidates. See, unlike you, they probably realized it’s better to be competitive and take money from source other than the commune bake sale.

          • Funny, I just had a letter published in Counterpunch Magazine, but I mostly just go to the website now and then and browse. It’s a good way to meet new people, they have such a stable. My letter, I am guessing, was printed because it had some unique insight on the godawful movie Argo and what really happened in Iran in 1980.

            Don’t do Truthout. You would not recognize most of what I do unless you are a baseball fan. Buzzfeed is fun, as is Reddit. I like RT for news, Voltaire for MidEast affairs. I don’t parrot – that is, I repeat things but attribute where due. I don’t have any insecurities that way, no need to do that. It really boils down to reading and writing and thinking for 25 years, since 1988. It takes quite a bit to reach critical mass where your own insight can supply linkage and help ferret through muddle affairs. (I must say up front that Chomsky is untouchable and I deeply admire him even as I think he is wrong on 9/11. ) So I’ve gradually over the years jettisoned conventional sources, mainstream media, TV news obviously, but also the Denver Post, MSNBC, Hartmann, NPR – as low value sources. Denver Post is really good on sports.

            You were linked above in this thread, or at 4&20, I think, to James Tracy. You might have followed the link, but probalby not. My point is this: Tracy is under fire and will likely lose his teaching post because of his controversial views. We are a rigidly thought-controlled society and there is discipline for people in journalism and academia who do not toe the line. But one step deeper, most teachers, journalists, absorb the culture, intuitively understand this, and so conform their thoughts to the mainstream. Otherwise, they quit. This is how I read you. You do not have unconventional thoughts. Your job is and always will be safe. You have blended, absorbed the culture, and are housebroken.

            That’s how I know where you get your news.

            Regarding scandals and candidates, every single member of Congress, including your own favorites, can be scandalized. All it takes is a a little seduction, a planted bank deposit, or a marital affair, even a campaign contribution from a corrupt source. It’s easy. But the important point is that these scandals don’t become public information until the office holder does something that triggers a reaction. That’s why my list has people on it who were scandalized. Sptizer was investigating bankers, Weiner wanted 9/11 hearings. Hart woudl probalby have gotten teh nomination. Toricelli wanted 9/11 hearings. Edwards was just too liberal. They did something that powerful people did not like.

            Many are called, few are chosen. Max Baucus has been chasing interns and staff around his desk for a quarter century, but never got outed. Weiner texted his wanker to some gal and got caught (how’d that happen?) and had to leave office.

            Why? Think about it.

            Ah well, nice talking to you. I know you’re a nice man and all of that, so let’s end on an upbeat note: You write well about Democrats.

            • This is what makes you such a tiresome bore. Instead of generalizing about people based on what I suspect are not terribly well-informed opinions about how professionals conduct their lives, why not stick to the issues of whatever the debate is?

              Rather than proving an argument, you inevitably resort to speculation about people you know nothing about. You don’t know a single thing about my teaching, my reading, or my personality. Because you’re uncomfortable being debated, you resort to the most infantile kind of argument, one that always derails the conversation.

              Let’s not talk about me. Or Matt. Or Rob. Or whomever you find objectionable that day. Let’s talk politics. Or policy.

              Can you manage that without resorting to laughable and incorrect assertions about people and their character?

            • “Weiner texted his wanker to some gal and got caught (how’d that happen?) and had to leave office. ”

              Because he never heard of snapchat?

    • “false opinions”

      Never heard of such a thing. Who are you to judge another’s opinion as “true” or “false?” Thought we all were afforded our own opinions. Guess not in the new authoritarian blogging era.

      • One’s opinion can indeed be true or false, depending on the facts they defend it with, regardless of whether the person is entitled to have it. The problem is with the oh-too-many people who mistake their opinions for facts. As has been famously said, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

        For the record, being entitled to an opinion does not obligate, in anyway, another to agree with it. In fact, that entitlement fully empowers others to point and laugh where they feel appropriate.

  • Hello: The following comment might be slightly off-topic, but then again, it certainly fits into the “Real danger might be us: Politics of disreason” theme here.

    Anyone notice that Rep Steve Daines has introduced his very own version of a mandated national forest logging bill? The news has certainly been in all the state-wide papers over the past week, and Daines has his own oped supporting his mandated logging bill.

    Here are the specifics:

    Rep Daines “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act” would establish “Forest Reserve Revenue Areas” as a replacement for the current Secure Rural Schools (SRS) county payments program, simultaneously creating a legally-binding logging mandate with no environmental or fiscal feasibility limits, and reestablishing the discredited 25% logging revenue sharing system that was eliminated over a decade ago with the creation of SRS.

    Furthermore, under Rep Daines bill, public participation and Endangered Species Act protections would be severely limited. The bill creates huge loopholes in NEPA and such biased ESA requirements that in practice these laws would almost never meaningfully apply. For example, any national forest logging project less than 10,000 acres (that’s over 15 square miles in size) would be categorically excluded from environmental analysis and public participation, and the Forest Service would be required to submit a finding that endangered species are not jeopardized by any project, regardless of its actual effect on the species.

    Instead of rising up and speaking out in opposition to Rep Daines crazy, irrational and dangerous mandated logging bill (so far, the silence from MWA and other logging ‘collaborators’ has been deafening) this summer staffers at the Montana Wilderness Association have been heavily courting Rep Steve Daines (R-MT) to introduce Senator Tester’s very own version of a mandated logging bill in the House.

    People may have noticed that the Montana Wilderness Association has been actively getting their members to submit glowing Letters to the Editor about how great Steve Daines is and how he should join Sen Tester and Sen Baucus to support mandated logging of national forests in Montana.

    Obviously, while politically mandated logging of America’s national forests is a terrible, dangerous precedent for the environmental community to push for, it goes without saying that Rep Daines and the GOP would make the bad provisions within Senator Tester’s mandated logging bill that much worse. The only evidence of this fact anyone really needs is to actual read the type of provisions Rep Daines put into his own version of a mandated logging bill that’s already introduced in the house. To think that somehow Daines would just rubber-stamp Tester’s mandated logging bill in the House is both crazy and naive….but I guess when you got the tiger by the tail it’s tough to let go.

    Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks. It will be interesting to watch if any of the environmental “collaborators” supporting Tester’s mandated logging bill actually rise up and speak out against Rep Daines mandated logging bill, or if they will continue to generate favorable Letters to the Editor about Rep Daines on public lands issues because they have invested so much time, energy and Pew Foundation money into supporting Tester’s very own version of a mandated logging bill.

    I’d bet the farm that Montana Wilderness Association and the other Tester logging bill ‘collaborators’ remain silent about Rep Daines bill. Of course, the irony here is that MWA’s collaborating “timber partners” at the Montana Wood Products Association, Montana Logging Association, RY Timber, Sun Mtn Lumber and Pyramid Mtn Lumber all would welcome Daines’ mandated logging bill with open arms.

    You reap what you sow…I guess.

    More background info here: http://ncfp.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/will-enviro-collaborators-support-rep-daines-mandated-logging-bill/

    • I agree Matthew, its crazy when you see how much worse Daines’ bill is to think that the national forests would somehow be better off if we replaced Tester with a republican. Im glad you have come here to show some light on this.

    • This reminds me of those who are willing to bet on the Super Bowl in pre-season. So, I’m just asking, Matthew, given that you don’t have a farm, how much are you ‘willing to bet’?

      If the MWA and like minded orgs are as evilly collaborative as you say, I imagine they’re popping the corks on champagne right now. You’re right, they get what they want (reap what they’ve sown). But that phrase is meant to be an accusation. So one has to wonder, exactly who’s reaping and who’s sowing and why are you posting such an accusation here? If you’re going to be off-topic, you should at least be clear about why.

  • No Chance he does nothing to protect watersheds, he favors clearcutting and again intends to give our headwaters to large corporations.

    He is selling out Montana from under farmers Ranchers, Hunters, Fishermen, and people who like to drink clean water and breathenon polluted Air….. This guy is turning out to be a bigger danger to the state, then Rehberg was, and thats an accomplishment. considering Rehberg had 12 years of do nothing, plus being a uncaring dolt to even our veterans…..Daines has already written bills to take away land, steal water, endorsed bills that dump EPA, CWA, Make people poorer, women slaves, Wasted Millions voting on Obamacare reversals… He is a danger to our state and way of life.

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