Fascist demagogues, gaslighting and the good Germans

August 10, 2016

We have a standard issue GOP apologist, longterm commenter Neuro-conservative, trying to gaslight the Trump comments on 2nd Amendment people.

No offense, DM, but you are seriously imagining things.

I also recently had an extended discussion on politics relating to Trump and so-called main stream Republican values with my so-called main stream not-crazy Republican neighbor.

I have been pondering a related issue.

History has many examples of totalitarian horribleness emerging with the acquiescence of “normal” people who would never agree to the (eventual) orgy of violence and repression if it had been raised at the start. They get there, presumably, in small steps.

I assume part of this process is an active disbelief that the fascist demagogue “really believes” his most extreme comments. These good Germans*, sorry mainstream Republicans, must surely delude themselves about the direction in which things are heading. So gaslighting critics is the only possible option.

And the truth is, most nascent fascist demagogues *don’t* gain ultimate power. So it is easy to gaslight any concerns that may be expressed in any particular case. To say, as Neuro-conservative does, that any critic is merely overreacting. To pursue false equivalency claims with some other lesser perceived offense of someone who is not the fascist demagogue in waiting.

After all, these are early days. And even when they start with the really horrible stuff, even totalitarian states tend to keep the full reality out of the public view. It is very easy for the supposedly well-intentioned average normal person to ignore the signals. Until it is far, far too late.

A comment from @ShmoF16 brought up The Dead Zone awhile back. In this movie, the totalitarian charmer politician is revealed by the actions of a desperate critic who sees him for what he truly is, and tragedy is averted. Reveals, as in, on national teevee. Trump is being revealed daily on national teevee and it does seem to help, a little. His polling numbers are continuing to head downward and Hillary Clinton’s campaign is competing in new swing states that used to lean Republican.

This is not enough yet, in my view. Life doesn’t follow fiction I guess. People of the main-stream Republican bent are so dedicated to their ideology of demonization of the opposing camp that they are unable to see what is right in front of their face. Unable. I believe this because the alternative is to think they know full well what is coming and the welcome it.

I’m not there yet. I like my neighbor. I think people like Neuro-conservative are mostly just deluded and not actively evil.

*Another interesting ponder I had. The accusation of following Godwin’s Law is itself a form of gaslighting. The law sort of implies that since reductio ad Hitlerum occurs, that all mentions of National Socialist Germany automatically invalidate** any argument as obviously absurd. This fascinates me since I’m smart enough, unlike many Internet discussants apparently, to understand that similarities, metaphors, parallels or comparisons need not be identical in quality or extent to be of value.

**Godwin himself argued that his Law was not a fallacy.

In December 2015, Godwin commented on the Nazi and fascist comparisons being made by several articles on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying that “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician.”[citation]

69 Responses to “Fascist demagogues, gaslighting and the good Germans”

  1. Grumble Says:

    “I think people like Neuro-conservative are mostly just deluded and not actively evil.”

    I think you should hold NC (and your neighbor, and Republicans) to a higher standard. That’s the standard established by the old “First they came for the Jews…” quote. If you observe morally reprehensible behavior (such as discussing a political opponent’s assassination) on the part of anyone else in your society, it is your RESPONSIBILITY not only to repudiate it, but to confront it in any way you can.

    If you do not, then yes, you are not just ignorant. You are evil. And you risk becoming a victim of that very same evil yourself.


  2. drugmonkey Says:

    Well, it was a very *long* conversation with my neighbor. And I am discussing NC’s apologetics at some length here.


  3. Ola Says:

    I think part of the problem with the whole Trump = Hitler thing, is most folks of voting age nowadays just DGAF about WW2. That was the grandparent’s shit. Whether a bunch o’ Jews got killed 70 years ago means precisely nothing to most people under 30 (and several people considerably older). Do they avoid buying German cars or Japanese electronics? Do they take selfies outside the gates of Auschwitz and worship Bieber who desecrated the visitor book at the Anne Frank museum? That tells you what Hitler/WW2 means to them.

    We need a more up to date analogy for what Trump really is. A possible answer is Silvio Berlusconi. A potty mouthed reality television star with a combover and a penchant for supermodels, who single-handedly screwed up a modern democracy. We should be looking to present-day Italy, in the aftermath of the “BungaBunga” years, for some idea of what a Trump presidency might look like.

    Another more local (and fast-forgotten) Trump surrogate would be Rob Ford of Toronto, a potty mouthed obese peach-colored arse-faced bully, who abused the media, appealed mainly to gun-toting right wing suburbanites, and (like Trump, if the Gawker rumors are true) had a passion for stimulants.

    The Hitler analogy just doesn’t work. We need to start using Trump descriptors that people can relate to.


  4. DJMH Says:

    I guess I don’t give Trump the credit for having as much intention as Hitler. Kinda feels like, if he has a friend nearby who is all fired up about, say, fishing regulations, we’d hear perorations on the evils of the Fish and Wildlife Services. He just seems less ideologically driven than I’d expect of a modern-day Hitler.

    That said, what comes out of his mouth is so completely abhorrent and quite clearly (in this case) inciting violence that he should be drummed out of the country, let alone the GOP. I used to think Paul Ryan was a nerdy guy with very very very different policy ideas than mine, but now I think he’s a shit-eating weasel and should be tossed out of office.

    (Not quite relatedly, if there is ONE conversation I would like to have overheard, it’s the conversation among the Secret Service people who are charged with protecting this guy or Hillary when they heard of this latest comment.)


  5. WH Says:


    I’ve always thought Berlusconi was the most apt analogy to Trump. Except Silvio has more business acumen


  6. The Other Dave Says:

    Gaslighting doesn’t work when the video is right there for everyone to review. I think you might be stretching a bit there, DM, with that accusation.

    Also… remember that National Socialism was a very progressive movement at the time. It was very popular on college campuses. If you go to Berlin you’ll see where the book burnings — led by students — occurred. And the U.S. actually had more ambitious eugenics laws.


  7. The Other Dave Says:

    Trump is not Hitler. Hitler was a much more gifted orator and visionary. Trump is just a political reality TV star. He has no real ideas. He just wants to be famous.


  8. The Other Dave Says:

    I just remembered that what I wrote above about Trump is basically exactly what Trump supporters say about Hilary Clinton.

    We need an objective measure of political superiority! If only there were an RFA for its development…


  9. A Salty Scientist Says:

    @TOD, Trump has consistently used gaslighting to cover for dog bullhorns (how can you call them dog whistles at this point?). “Of course I wasn’t … talking about menstruation … making fun of a disability … fomenting violence …”

    If the Republican Party is the party of peace, why don’t the moderate Republicans speak out against the extremists.


  10. Neuro-conservative Says:

    DM & Grumble —

    You’re very comfortable throwing around Nazi analogies.

    I am Jewish and the direct descendant of Holocaust victims.

    Have you ever found your last name here?—> http://yvng.yadvashem.org/

    Your political delusions very conveniently make you the hero of your own drama, but leave me out of it.


  11. drugmonkey Says:

    A hahahaha, nice try dude. Way to continue to intentionally miss the point. Your family’s history means exactly jack shit to the quality of your thinking on Trump and the road we are heading down.


  12. Neuro-conservative Says:

    I see that my family trauma is very funny to you. It’s a good thing you’re on the side of the angels here.


  13. drugmonkey Says:

    God you are such a classic. Can’t be honest for one second can you? Typical conservative. Revealing that Fox News was never the *cause* of conservative lies, it was ever only the reflection of them.

    Try again thinking about what it is that I am amused about.


  14. Neuro-conservative Says:

    I have no idea what you are talking about, but you are acting like a complete douchebag.


  15. Jonathan Badger Says:

    @WH, Ola
    Exactly Silvio Berlusconi and Rob Ford — it’s those vulgarians that the Donald resembles most, not dictators with actual ideologies. But what worries me most about the whole campaign isn’t the extremely unlikely case of a Trump victory but the far more plausible scenario that the right wing of the Democratic Party will use him as an excuse to drift ever more rightward with the excuse that it has to do so to attract the mythical “undecided voter”.


  16. Grumble Says:

    NC – no, DM is acting like he should: he is calling out those who support a buffoon whose ethics are not merely questionable – they are downright anathemic to the values that the majority of us share.

    How far the analogy between Trump and Hitler goes is beside the point, and although you accused me of it, I did not draw that analogy. I am simply calling for one of the lessons that I hope the world learned from the tragedy your ancestors suffered to be applied: when you (and I mean YOU, NC) see someone in power, or close to power, threatening principles such as equal protection under the law and basic human rights (and oh, I don’t know, how about the right not to be assassinated for your political beliefs?) then you should defy that person.

    Kind of ironic, I think, that you don’t seem to agree with this.


  17. Boehninglab Says:

    Why are y’all arguing with neuro-conservative, when there is literally nothing you can say which will convince him/her that Trump is horrible person and an obvious threat to our nation? Neuro-conservative: do you honestly think you can convince the readership of this blog that supporting Trump is in any possible way a defensible position? You should head over to Breitbart or /r/The_Donald/


  18. drugmonkey Says:

    Lets get back on track though, folks. How do we know when we’re dealing with a buffoon like Rob Ford, versus seeing the early stages of a dangerous movement? Does the demogogue have to be unusually motivated and focused? Or is it enough to land a guy like Trump on fertile “normal Republican” ground at the right time?


  19. drugmonkey Says:

    In a way, isn’t the viewing of Trump as unserious or unmotivated part of what lets his fascist ideology advance?


  20. AZF Says:

    I rarely comment but this needs to be said. I grew up in Yugoslavia (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) and watched a very similar demagogue (Slobodan Milosevic) destroy that country and sanction a genocide. I was 7 years old when I listened Milosevic giving a speech on Kosovo field claiming that the country needs to be cleansed of muslim blood. My father and the vast majority of intellectuals in Yugoslavia dismissed him. With some help from nationalists from other Yugoslavian republics, Milosevic got elected, and proceeded to mass murder Croats, Bosnians, Albanians, and Serbians who dared stand up against him. Watching what is happening here is almost like reliving my childhood. I lived through 4 years of a horrific war at the hands of someone whom people didn’t take seriously. I am not laughing at Trump. I am to my bones scared of Trump and people who support him. I know exactly how this story ends.


  21. drugmonkey Says:

    It never happens all at once. But the endgame can be horrific.


  22. Jim Woodgett Says:

    Today the Rob Ford crack video was released: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/08/11/rob-ford-crack-video-released-after-charges-dropped-against-sandro-lisi.html His nephew, Michael, 22, has just been elected to city council. If, as it looks, Trump falls flat in November, he’s done enough damage and prepared the way for the next 20 wannabe Trumps. He’s stretched the Overton window into territory that allows for anyone to say what was previously unconscionable. There are no limits. Trumps ill-preparedness, massive ego, inability to assimilate or listen to information, etc. are a major drag on his candidacy but he’s prepped the ground for the next guy who will be far more devious, controlled and dangerous. You can’t just hope Trump loses. You need to deconstruct and destroy his false legitimacy.


  23. Jaws Says:


    Your family history (which I don’t share quite so directly, but close) does not excuse your current chosen fraternity* from acting like pledge coordinators, who only know inhumane hazing as a means of determining who is worthy of being their friends. Government and politics are not — or at least should not — be a contest to see whose turn it is to be abusive. It doesn’t excuse either Protestants over Catholics or Catholics over Protestants in Northern Ireland; it doesn’t excuse Jews over Muslims or Muslims over Jews in Palestine; it doesn’t excuse whites over blacks or blacks over whites in Zimbabwe; and it certainly does not excuse ancestors-arrived-before-1919 over ancestors-arrived-after-1919, or vice versa, Over Here.

    The point of the oppressed “winning” is to be better than their oppressors, not to replace them. They’ll still make mistakes, but why make the same ones all over again?

    * It is not entirely coincidental that the vast majority of the leadership of the current conservative movement is white men who would not have been excluded from run-of-the-mill fraternities on the basis of their ancestry… or found an equally discriminatory alternative.


  24. becca Says:

    “How do we know when we’re dealing with a buffoon like Rob Ford, versus seeing the early stages of a dangerous movement?”
    I think this, and the Godwin’s law compatible view of Hitler and history generally, relies too much on the hero/villain model of history.
    The Holocaust didn’t happen because of Hitler. Hitler happened because of the Great Depression and WWI and eons of hatred of Jews. If you do that to Canada, either the Rob Fords will get some frightening stuff done, or you’ll have someone who starts off like Rob Ford and ends up much more dictatorial to take his place- it’s not really important which.

    Trump is telling us people* want the “freedom” to be jerks to disabled people, women, Hispanics, whoever. That casual cruelty is easy and satisfying in the short run. That Us V. Them thinking can be channeled for any purpose or even no organized purpose. Trump is telling us that people are actually afraid Clinton will take their guns. Trump is telling us that people are actually afraid Muslims will change our laws. Crucially to my mind, Trump is telling us that running faster and faster to gradually loose economic ground is wearing people down. Trump is telling us that people WANT to live in Allentown, even if they’ve taken all the coal from the ground. Trump is telling us that facing a choice between a low level service sector job and a high level intellectual job (that, incidentally, also requires a schedule incompatible with raising a family, geographic mobility, and a pedigree from the appropriate anointers of accomplishment [i.e. higher ed]) is not a real choice for most. Trump is very much telling us that the bifurcation of economic classes fosters alienation, and alienation foments violence. Trump is telling us, as Sinclair Lewis warned in 1935, that it can happen here.

    If you are actually asking if it *will* happen here, or if your own tribalism to the Democratic party and the Neoliberal “left” generally is simply sending you down an excessively paranoid rabbithole (I mean, after all, we did just live through George W Bush, and how *about* that anti-Obama fear on the right??)… I wish I knew. I really wish I knew. But I know we should pay attention to what support for Trump means.

    *At least his supporters, but let’s be honest- it’s applicable to Americans generally.


  25. Dave Says:

    hahahaha DM this thread is brilliant.

    Trump is not Hitler. Hitler was a much more gifted orator and visionary

    Fortunately for us, that is absolutely, 100% correct.


  26. drugmonkey Says:

    Becca- I agree entirely that it is the fertile ground and not Trump specifically that is the problem. Ground fertilized by 35+ years of Republican…well, fertilizer. An analysis I read months ago pointed out Trump is a terrible demagogue from an oratory perspective. But he is incredibly good at reading the crowd *and emphasizing what they respond to on the fly*.


  27. drugmonkey Says:

    Note, becca, that Bernie Sanders brought many of those same concerns to light. The bad can be separated from the good, in terms of concern for those left behind in the economy.


  28. lee Says:

    I completely agree with Becca. I would also add that he’s channeling anger in a demographic that votes at a much higher percentage.


  29. jmz4 Says:

    I’d be leery of leaning to heavily on that narrative, Becca:


    I’m much more inclined to DM’s view. That what we’re seeing is the manifestation of the right’s past decade of incessant fear-mongering, exclusion, and scapegoating. To harp on another of DM’s favorite tropes, I think this melange of paranoia has blended with the baseless nostalgia (misplaced saudade for their youth, if you’re feeling charitable) of the Baby-Boomer generation to create a vision of an imperiled America that is not representative of the actual state of the country. I think what you saw in Bernie supporters echoed this, but was also grounded much more factually, because the leader of their movement was not a gibbering lunatic.


  30. drugmonkey Says:

    That what we’re seeing is the manifestation of the right’s past decade of incessant fear-mongering, exclusion, and scapegoating.

    To be absolutely clear this is not just the past decade. This has been going on since Reagan won office in 1980 at the very least. You might even point back to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy"Nixon era or before.


  31. WH Says:

    I also think it’s disingenuous – at best- to say it’s only the “People of the main-stream Republican bent [that] are so dedicated to their ideology of demonization of the opposing camp.”

    Bush was demonized, and Democrats said that Mitt Romney, of all people, was going to put black Americans “back in chains.”


  32. Grumble Says:

    “If you are actually asking if it *will* happen here, or if your own tribalism to the Democratic party and the Neoliberal “left” generally is simply sending you down an excessively paranoid rabbithole …”

    I’m not asking, because I know the answer. The truth, after all, has a liberal bias.

    And a liberal tribe is an oxymoron anyway: as soon as liberal ideology becomes tribal, it’s no longer liberal (e.g., the Soviet Union was run by a tribe of left-wing conservatives, nothing liberal about them at all).


  33. drugmonkey Says:

    WH- You are seriously deluded if you think that the prolonged and systemic efforts of the right wing for 35+ years to delegitimize (not oppose, not disagree with, delegitimize) and disenfranchise their political opponents is the same as criticism of Bush/Cheney’s rush to war and the occasional hyperbolic campaign statement.

    This is what demonization means. Delegitimizing. Defining political opposition as other. Foreign. Not really American. As not having any right to participate in the political process. Calling their opponents criminal for trumped up charges that, btw, are better directed at members of their own party. Hysterical ramping up of “murderer” charges to support the anti-choice agenda. With us or against us. etc.

    This is utterly different from expressing political policy differences.


  34. WH Says:

    Uh, no, that’s not what demonization means. If you’re going to torture the English language by redefining words to suit your preferences, I’m not sure there’s any point in arguing further.


  35. EPJ Says:

    I think that the focus must be in the needs and wants for the country and the population, and that includes governmental policies that yield true stability, civility, and prosperity. That is a lot better for everyone rather than a political contest resembling a street boxing match with horrible consequences.

    As I understand it, there are real problems with the economic system so Trump, as a business person, is proposing to fix the waste and inefficiency and bring industry and jobs back to the country. That’s why he is having support. But he doesn’t have the smooth political talk needed for the ongoing upheaval, so he is talking tough since others, like Ron Paul since the 70s, addressed the economy problems and couldn’t get the support needed to make the changes. Notice that Bernie used a similar approach and got plenty support from all ages.

    Keep in mind that the press is making it worst, like with Hillary and the Clintons.

    It looks like all the problems accumulated for decades reach the critical point for changes. So it needs to be handled with some kind of effective diplomacy and better accounting throughout. It just makes no good sense that the rich are bailed out while the rest become officially debt slaves, something is wrong with that. Add to that the trillions in natl debt, which means an additional debt of >150ooo per individual to be paid to somebody in the world.

    That has to be solved, and by whoever gets elected. So the population needs to acquire at least some basic knowledge on the monetary system to help monitor the leaders. Please start looking into that on you tube, you’ll be disappointed but ready to enforce changes for everyone’s benefit.

    The other thing is to watch out for the laws written up to now, there are too many written in long texts that the same lawmakers say they don’t have time to write but must sign. So I think that lawmakers should rather compile and revise them for consistency rather than loopholes that make chaos.

    Maybe that is part of the issue with immigration, rather than discrimination. The truth is that one country shouldn’t carry the rest of the world monetarily or in other contributions. And rich people any where in the world should have enough assets already.


  36. becca Says:

    There is no question Trump is demonizing Hillary. If you say “she’s the devil” it’s kind of tautologically true (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/aug/02/donald-trump-calls-hillary-clinton-the-devil-video). Now, you could argue its a figure of speech, but 33% of polled Trump supporters said they believed Hillary had “ties to Lucifer”.


  37. Jmz4 Says:

    @WH. Yes it does, provided you accept “Other” as a legitimate substitute for the anachronism “evil”.


  38. EPJ Says:


    I have no way of knowing about that correlation with demonic issues, because I tend to stay away from that and walk a path on certain principles that I learned from my family progenitors. But it looks like some people do carry on certain traditions, and some younger people follow that as a way to fit in, but in some cases there are bad consequences, so I don’t mess with that.

    I find that the issue of freedom of expression is tautological in nature, so it is conveniently applied as a way to achieve an end without regards for the means to it. It looks like it is pervasive throughout the population. And I have deduced that is equivalent to the 8th ball, with each of the other balls going to something that maintains a part of society. In that process of debating for the “good of society” all we find is destructive events, as in wars.

    Did I explain my point clear?


  39. Grumble Says:

    “Trump, as a business person, is proposing to fix the waste and inefficiency and bring industry and jobs back to the country. That’s why he is having support.”

    No, he has support because he appeals to the racist, isolationist, and authoritarian sentiments that far too many Americans have.


  40. EPJ Says:

    Yeah, that link shows that.

    I actually don’t like when people are used as scapegoats for everything wrong in a society, that suggests it is an effective tool for a given society. Also, I don’t understand why people are so fixed on demonic issues as a way to succeed and hang on to power. I have seen and heard strange things that are inexplicable by standard methods, but I think it is technology related, or by other means. Maybe there is a big incentive for that to become prevalent.

    So, I rather urge people to focus on the tangible needs for the population and leave room for the spiritual/individual needs to the individuals, as long as it doesn’t cause harm. So that looks to me consistent with the idea of democracy.

    We are living in a troubled and harmful modern society by choice and by influences. People refuse to reason and behave against their own good, I think because of instincts being prevalent, as if there were a cognitive problem


  41. EPJ Says:


    Maybe doing that indirectly, so that would show the people with that thinking among his supporters, but what I find irritating is the use of those approaches to then deliver no improvements for the current problems. So that seems to be the “state of the art” in politics.

    First world nations depend on authoritarianism, maybe there is big need to notice that and correct it.


  42. k elliott Says:

    “Trump, as a business person, is proposing to fix the waste and inefficiency and bring industry and jobs back to the country. That’s why he is having support.”

    That’s a lie and total BS from Trump’s part. According to today’s NYT, Donald Trump is paying 0% taxes. Of course that is his way of “fixing his waste and luxuries” and he will continue to do so for him and his friends. That’s how he’s going to fix the economy in this country and bring back jobs. Screw him !!!


  43. A Salty Scientist Says:

    Meanwhile, more gaslighting from Trump, as he claims he was being sarcastic when he stated that Clinton and Obama founded ISIS. His campaign is essentially spousal abuse on an entire nation.


  44. EPJ Says:

    I’m not a politician, but yeah, if that is accurate then we are finding more problems related to the same two things standing out among the whole mess: money and laws/regulations.

    Again, rather than personalizing the ideas and events, I think we should focus on the problems and how to address them so as to make the society functional.

    That includes the beloved science (for those that care about its continuation, both public and private, though no one has designated me on that task)


  45. Jmz4 Says:

    “Did I explain my point clear?”
    -No. Demonizing has little to do with “actual” demons and more with, as DM said, applying a sort of inverse appeal to authority. The idea being the source of the argument is so irrefutably bad (or corrupt, alien, evil) that argument itself, and even their standing to make it, are invalidated ab initio.


  46. Bagger Vance Says:

    “… just deluded and not actively evil. ” Gee, thanks for that.

    Yes, the media, BLM and Clinton campaigns have been screaming “He’s Hitler!” and reminding you that Killing Hitler is the only rational thing anyone could have done, and oh yeah at least two people have tried to attack Trump on stage so far. But yeah, Trump’s the one inciting violence.

    So I’ll just leave you this thought for the day: You’re fooling no-one but yourselves.


  47. drugmonkey Says:

    Yes, the media, BLM and Clinton campaigns have been screaming “He’s Hitler!”
    We’ve seen nearly daily clips from Trump himself, trying to delegitimize Clinton and, now that he recognizes that he can’t win, the electoral process itself. We’ve seen a constant drumbeat of demonization of the Democratic Party from the Republican of the year, week or day for 36 years. I welcome your citations to prove that your statement is even vaguely in the same zip code. Since Trump is at the top of the shitheap at the moment, and a constant offender, why don’t you start with Clinton and show where she “screamed” that Trump is Hitler.


  48. Bagger Vance Says:

    You can tell who’s a PI–just bark at a student to do your research for you. Well, maybe you could start here:


    The person “screaming” in my statement was the “Clinton campaign” =/= Clinton, so of course her hands are clean! I mean, it would take a complete nutjob to assume conspiracies are real. By the way, Bernie lost, did you hear? Also the clean hands of the DOJ and FBI cleared her, so there you go. Certainly nothing to see here, nothing at all like the dark days of Bush and Reagan.

    The thing is, at least I’m aware that I listen to an echo chamber when I do it.


  49. drugmonkey Says:

    It’s hilarious how you still pretend that opposing policy is the same as demonization and delegitimizing the opposition.


  50. EPJ Says:


    I understand you are not referring to actual demons, but my point is that some people actually mean it, or explore it in the sense of applications, and that is causing actual problems, in addition to some kind of profit or emotional reward.

    What a strange world this one is.


  51. Cjb Says:


    Your generational argument about millennials not caring about ww2 falls apart when you consider the fact that youth aren’t voting for Trump. His core constituency are angry white boomers.


  52. EPJ Says:

    @all of the participants

    Another thing you can notice on your everyday life, if you pay attention to your environment, is that the communication is somehow impaired, and it is manifested in several ways (go ahead and start making a list of what you notice, and tested by verification and by a ‘solution’ to it, I’ve done that, including being in complete silence).

    I started also noticing the strong conditioning to certain words and coded meanings, as when people are overly sensitive to them due to historical events or even ongoing horrors somewhere from people live or come from. So the languages begin to be trimmed down to the point that meaning is actually lost or transformed critically into confusing. Not quite like technical or field related.

    So I decided to use these over coded words as frequently as feasible and placing emphasis on the context. Sometimes that works better than avoiding them. In other cases I just carry in my bag a cheap board and markers to write the short sentence as an enforcer of the statement. Sometimes it helps.

    I think this may be happening because with all the fighting and unneeded excess just to produce something and earn rightfully your income and go on with your life, a messy situation has happened, so that people end up talking to themselves, really.

    Or is it more like the Plato cave situation? don’t know. Be aware of that, at least you keep your healthy energy to yourself to be used when needed.

    That’s a trashy world, a big waste of human potential and what could come out of that.


  53. jmz4 Says:

    @ Bagger:
    I’d be more inclined to give that Dilbert comic credence if the person it is describing as a genius could form a coherent sentence when he is speaking in an interview.


  54. A Salty Scientist Says:

    When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

    Hypothesis 1: Trump is a genius, and only says stupid shit as part of an elaborate troll to shed light on the political weaknesses of his opponents. The polling data strongly support the genius of this strategy.

    Hypothesis 2: Parsimony. Stupid people say stupid shit.


  55. Grumble Says:

    A recent tweet from Trump:

    “It is not “freedom of the press” when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!”

    So now he wants to repeal the 1st amendment?

    Or was this a joke, sarcasm, whatever, he didn’t really mean it – just like every other frightening thing that has ever come out of Trump’s mouth?


  56. drugmonkey Says:

    This, as with many of the things Trump says, betrays a reflexive authoritarian strong-man orientation. Note: This is entirely unsurprising for a person who has been the boss of private industry ventures for decades. But it shows why a businessman tycoon type should not ever be POTUS.


  57. drugmonkey Says:

    Cjb- interestingly this is the same demo that was still *rabidly* anti-Soviet (and therefore Putin) a mere 20 years ago.


  58. dr24hours Says:

    Trump is exactly the reason that political discourse matters. We have a dangerous, vicious, fascist demagogue who currently has the steadfast support of some 40% of the country. And none of them are paying the slightest attention to the left sounding the alarm.

    Now I’m not so foolish as to think they all would under any circumstances, but if the left hadn’t spent the past three decades declaring every single GOP politician the reincarnation of Hitler – thus rendering their Chicken Little hysteria dismissable – perhaps a few more on the right would bother paying attention to anything the left has to say now that it’s true.


  59. dr24hours Says:

    That said – Trump is the fault of those voting for him. The discourse has been poisoned equally by both sides. In that, they are almost perfectly equivalent.

    What is not at all equivalent is the quality of candidates put forth. Hillary is indisputably qualified to be president. Trump is a lunatic fascist hell-bent on razing civilization.


  60. jmz4 Says:

    “”It is not “freedom of the press” when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!””
    -This is true enough. Libel laws exist, and are constitutional. Of course, the things they are writing have to be false for that to count.

    “Now I’m not so foolish as to think they all would under any circumstances, but if the left hadn’t spent the past three decades declaring every single GOP politician the reincarnation of Hitler…”
    -I don’t think it is as bad as that. When he lost the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal, Republicans took notice, which indicates that there is room for persuasion, still. And I don’t think the discourse has been as coarsened offline as it is online.

    One thing I’m actually hopeful for that I didn’t see in 2008 are these political quizzes that ask you about policy stances (in more or less general terms) and *then* tell you which candidate you line up best with. I have no idea how pervasive they are (I’ve seen a dozen or so pop up on Facebook), but they’re at least a step in getting people focused on what matters.


  61. Grumble Says:

    @jmz4: “-This is true enough. Libel laws exist, and are constitutional. Of course, the things they are writing have to be false for that to count.”

    Right, but Trump tweeted this specifically in response to the NY Times’ expose of Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine. That was reporting, not intentionally stating malicious falsehoods intended to do someone harm. Look up the definition of libel: http://dictionary.law.com/default.aspx?selected=1153

    That is precisely what makes Trump so dangerous. On the surface, he says something seemingly innocuous. For instance, a “2nd amendment solution” could be taken many different ways. And strictly speaking he is correct that there are limits to First Amendment rights. But the context makes clear what he means. In this case, he means that newspapers should not be allowed to publish what he believes to be falsehoods about him (even though the Times published only the facts that its reporters dug up). He means that limitations on freedom of the press should go beyond the prohibition of libel. What other interpretation is possible?

    How on earth have we gotten to the point where a major party candidate for president is opposed to the First Amendment?


  62. drugmonkey Says:

    if the left hadn’t spent the past three decades declaring every single GOP politician the reincarnation of Hitler

    Of course that is utter bullshit nonsense.


  63. drugmonkey Says:

    The discourse has been poisoned equally by both sides. In that, they are almost perfectly equivalent.

    More bullshit lies, commonly promulgated by closet right-leaners who are trying desperately to cling to the notion that there is even a shred of decency in their favored policy side. There isn’t, the left leaners make this clear and so the only way out is to pursue a false-equivalency theme to keep cognitive dissonance from building too loudly within the confines of their self-satisfied skulls.


  64. drugmonkey Says:

    he means that newspapers should not be allowed to publish what he believes to be falsehoods about him

    It is no coincidence that Trump continues to set out opinions and positions that are those favored by strong-man totalitarian dictators. After all, this has been his job for decades, perhaps forever (did he ever work for his dad or anything like that?). He strongarms everyone around him, fires those that challenge him and sues everybody. It is his life and being. Of course he is totally incompatible with being a political leader of a democracy governed by the rule of laws. Of course he is. Nothing in his life (see the way he treated his wives, particularly that rape of Ivana for example) involves him compromising with other people or accepting that his slightest whim shouldn’t be what rules the day at every turn.


  65. jmz4 Says:

    “He means that limitations on freedom of the press should go beyond the prohibition of libel. What other interpretation is possible?”
    -That he is delusional and believes that the facts are immaterial and can be spun into whatever form best suits his agenda and ego? That he thinks any bad thing said about him or his operation is tautologically untrue, regardless of evidence?

    Scarier than not respecting the First Amendment would be him not respecting reality. Given what we’ve seem of him, sadly, I think the latter is the case.


  66. dr24hours Says:

    The fact that you call anyone who disagrees even slightly with you names, and accuse them of overt and covert dishonesty, is in fact evidence that the discourse on the left is not any better than that on the right.

    YOU are the evidence that you argue doesn’t exist, DM.


  67. drugmonkey Says:

    Not “anyone”. Just the lying liars.


  68. Grumble Says:

    Pretty funny, dr24. It’s also going to be pretty funny watching the Foxnewstrumpies wander about dazed and confused on Nov. 9 after H wins the biggest landslide since Reagan.

    The problem, you see, is that if you live in a lunatic asylum, you come to believe that lunacy is normal. We’ll hold a spot for you here in the real world, doc, in case you ever feel like entering it.


  69. EPJ Says:

    Enjoy it, it’s apolitical, but makes you think about the ‘laws of nature’:


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