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I don’t like these discussions but I think it is important for people other than the rabid liberal leftists to speak up. I think there is a tendency for conservative people to not say anything since they generally are not angry with life or themselves. The work, they play, they create, they get married to the opposite sex, they establish a home, they have a family and they do the best they can with what they have. Some have a lot and some have very little but generally as a group they live their lives with some contentment and on occasion ---joy

I think that is not the case with the angry rabid liberals; especially the young single women who, for whatever reasons are very angry and unhappy. Maybe they just don’t like being female and the core of their discontent is penis envy. I don’t know.

I think there is a lot contributing to this of course, not the least of which is how young women are portrayed in the movies, on television and in marketing advertisements. It must be exceedingly difficult for the average young woman today to measure up to the artificial standards for women depicted and pushed by the media, especially in women’s magazines.

I don’t know but it seems that what is playing out is a repeat of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with Adam giving in to Eve and as a result getting kicked out Eden, a garden paradise of sorts. Eve will destroy America if Adam allows it and participates.

(Yeah I know, I am sexist and racist! I can’t help it, I was born that way.)

Actually that is not really true. I am a spiritist and reincarnationist who believes that the soul is neither male nor female and that all forms in which spirits incarnate and reincarnate provide an opportunity for learning and growth. I don’t think that all spirits including non-humans are equally evolved but they are all created equal as a spark of consciousness from the Great Spirit. If we believe in a hierarchy in heaven among spirits then ‘as above so below’.

If that paradigm were accepted by the masses, what a wonderful world this would be. - AOD

I have never used the caret mark but after looking it up I see that it is used to indicate that something is missing in text, i.e., that something should be inserted, like question marks for example. Thanks! I learn something new every day. - AOD

I thought single speech marks represented a paroaphrasee? Is that wrong?

Michael, the poll you cite has a pretty vague question "..grounded in truth and could become reality one day". Given the increasing anti abortion rights actions of the Republicans, is it any surprise that it prompts some progressives to speculate how bad the "control of women" issue (which is what the show is all about) could become? And it is still a clear minority of Democrats who speculate that way in answer to a vague question.

You might have had a stronger point if the question were more specific, such as "do you believe Republican politicians are hoping to create a society close to that depicted in The Handmaid's Tale?" But I suspect if put that way, more may answered with appropriate qualifications such as "well, not exactly like the show, but they certainly indicate they have little regard for the rights of women when you look at an issue like abortion."

Even if, for the sake of argument, you say that this survey proves a large number of Democrats think the worst of Republicans, it's really a bit of a "whataboutism" argument, which I find is very big on the Right these days. If I say "you are generalising and exaggerating about the Left and that's unhelpful", it's not much of a useful response to say "but look at this survey, it shows the [some of] the Left is exaggerating and generalising about the Right". It doesn't address the key point - that either side doing exaggerations is unhelpful, and if you want it to stop and help unify the country, you should make a start on it from your side.

You seem unwilling to concede that the American Right has moved much further Right and extreme in political discourse in the last 2 decades, and that a lot of it involves demonisation of the Left. That's disappointing, because it is clear to the rest of the globe.

And another thing: as others have written, the reason "socialism" as a scare word has stopped working with quite a lot of younger Americans recently is because the Right has overused it.

What younger people are seeing is that if "socialism" means a system like that in many other Western countries where no one goes bankrupt from hospital bills, the health system spends a lot less money but shows better outcomes overall for it, and taxes might be higher but the social safety net is much better, and there are way fewer homeless on the streets, then what's wrong with more "socialism" for America?

The Right is starting to pay for its simplistic scare campaigning, so it is actually in its own interest to stop exaggerating.

I think that there are some Republicans who can see that, and with any luck a resounding loss in November might be all that is needed to get a new generation of more moderate, less trash talking Republicans back in control. But a lot depends on the Murdoch family as well, and the manner in which they chose to brainwash their audience with relentless evening propaganda in the post Trump era.

MP: "The realities of US politics are changing with frightening speed. Positions that were totally outside the mainstream even five years ago are de rigueur for today's left."

These Jacobins deserve to be called the Alt-Left.

>> The "progressive" (Bernie Sanders, AOC) wing of the Democratic Party is >>on a tear, and things are only going to get worse.

What’s the difference between what Bernie Sanders stands for and how much west european countries are being run? He appears quite moderate from an European perspective.

"I thought single speech marks represented a paroaphrasee? Is that wrong?"

Oh yeah, I think someone told me that a while ago and I forgot. What are those marks?—I've forgotten that too.

Most likely fifty percent of all abortions destroy the lives of females, that is, women. Those who wish to restrict abortions are in effect standing up for a woman’s right to live! I don’t think that Republicans generally wish to “control women” as you say but that they want to insure that little women be allowed to grow up to be big women.

I applaud you for reading a book but my guess is that few Americans have read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ which you so frequently reference.

I am an old American and I have no idea what the “American Right’ is other than they might be people who have beliefs and exhibit behaviors opposite to the beliefs and behaviors of the rabid radical liberal protesters who are destroying property and rule of the country. (I won’t call them American Left as there is nothing American about them.) And what is “clear to the rest of the globe” is again just your opinion not backed up with any facts. It only exists in your tortured mind.

I must say that your adolescent sniping at Americans from the sideline in Australia is beginning to get tedious. Of course you may have an opinion based upon whatever information about America is filtered to you by whatever media you watch or read but you do not live in the United States of America and know its people and frankly until you have lived among its people for a while (80 years in my case) I think you might benefit by understanding that just maybe you don’t know it all about America and temper your comments a bit until you gain a little more knowledge and understanding of the American psyche. - AOD

I think it’s just ansinglenspevh mark eg ‘ as opposed to “
Could be wrong.

Just another day in America, perfectly normal, nothing to see here.

Well, okay, thugs are stopping motorists, pointing rifles at them, and ordering them to turn around ... while the police stand around and watch, doing nothing ... but it's fine. Not a sign of societal decay at all.

It's all fine.

Paul: I think it’s just ansinglenspevh mark eg ‘ as opposed to “

Oh no, that's not it. Single-stroke quote marks are used for quotes within quotes. (In Britain, it's the reverse.)

Michael, for what it's worth I don't think it's a case of "nothing to see here" - but there are some pretty clear factors that would surely be influencing how prolonged the current unrest is:

a. the COVID semi lockdown and increase in unemployment would have to be leaving a lot more people than normal with extra time on their hands in which to attend demonstrations and protests;

b. your current President was already unpopular with blacks, and has a tough guy, wannabe authoritarian approach to, well, everything. That's not the best attitude when trying to calm down this type of unrest, and polling in your country indicates I am not alone in thinking this, with a clear majority saying he's made it worse.

Unfortunately, this leaves a leadership vacuum, at least at the national level. And it may help stymie state governors too, who can see that calling in national guard help will look like siding with the (very unpopular with the demonstrators) President.

There are Left commentators pointing out that much of the statue demolition examples don't make sense. There does need to be some toughening up on law enforcement, but as with the Occupy Wall Street movement, sometimes it can be best to see if things start burning themselves out first, and that no doubt accounts for some of the hesitation at the state level.

That said, it's not going to go on forever, and it is not the start of civil war.

Come now Michael. Surely you don’t think that this handful of young people represent the 118,427 people of Lansing Michigan. Try not to give a small group of bored kids power over your mind and bring you down. That is what they want. You are better than that. I don’t think anyone wants to see a lot of dead white women and black men in the street over something like this. - AOD

My understanding of paraphrasing is that it requires no special marks in text however there seem to be rather strict guidelines for paraphrasing what someone said and it should be sourced. I read that quotes should be used sparingly mainly for impact and emphasis and that paraphrasing is preferred in regular writing rather than a lot of quotes as long as it does not misrepresent what the person who would be quoted actually said. - AOD

AOD, I don’t understand your comment. I wasn’t saying those thugs represent the total population of Lansing, or even a plurality of it. But they are out in the street stopping motorists by pointing rifles at them, and the "authorities" (local police) are taking no action. These are the same authorities who were quick to fine and even jail anyone who opened his barbershop too early. (Michigan had, and still has, one of the toughest lockdowns in the country.) So they are capable of taking action when they want to. In this case, they don’t want to.

It’s a sign of societal decay, and probably looming collapse, when something as basic as driving down a public street becomes an exercise in self-preservation.

I don’t know what "dead white women and black men" have to do with anything. I would like to see the guys with rifles arrested for unlawful assembly, blocking a thoroughfare, threatening someone with a deadly weapon, and inciting a riot. Arresting thugs with guns would probably prevent a lot of deaths.

But since the police are content to stand around with their thumbs up their ass, I guess the streets of Lansing belong to the roving gangs now. Hey, it’s fine. It’s all fine.

Just say it with me: everything is just fine.

There are worse things than dead people in the street - and there are going to be dead people in the street anyhow. A few now, or a lot later.

Thanks AOD :)

I understand, Michael and part of me is as disturbed by the actions of these few anarchists as it seems you might be. No, “everything is not fine.”

Whether or not their numbers will increase to disrupt the governments of all 50 states remains to be seen of course. In prior times, the police would disburse these kids, take into custody those few thugs threatening others with guns and put them to the city jail where they would remain for a few hours. But these are different times now in which police are hamstrung, unable to take actions they would have taken in the past. These small isolated confrontations are very volatile and if they get out of hand they can result in national outrage and possible rebellion. One mistake by one person on either side, either the protesters or the police, can end up with young people being hurt or killed. It only takes one spark to start a forest fire. The worst outcome in these situations would be white young females lying dead in the street, photographs of which the media would love to publish around the world.

I know you were not saying that these few people represent the whole population of Lansing but I am just reminding us all that the people blocking this one street with little traffic in Lansing Michigan probably are not representative of a majority of people living in Lansing. The video is interesting to watch of course but I personally choose not to allow this isolated acting-out by a group of young people in one relatively small town in Michigan to depress my mood for the day by making me think that there is a looming take-over of the government of the United States of America by young thugs.

I am more distressed by those suave people in executive clothing in leadership roles within the Federal Government with far more power, clandestinely maneuvering to destroy the current government. They are the real threat to America, blatantly using these naive young people to further their own goals to gain more power and to reform America by any available means. - AOD

AOD, just to be clear, I’m not worried about these idiots taking over the federal government. What worries me is that the violence will continue to escalate while the authorities at all levels remain paralyzed by the kinds of fears you mention. This is how civil order breaks down. It’s already happening.

Incidentally, the fact that in the past these thugs would have been made to cool their heels in jail "for a few hours" is part of the problem. Pointing a rifle at someone and threatening his life requires far more substantial punishment. Ten years in a high-security state prison (no parole) would be a good start.

Sorry to dampen your good mood, but hey, why should I be the only one who’s depressed? ☹️.

I have enough on my personal stage to be depressed about. It has been a life-long challenge that I have faced every day of my life. Today I choose to be happy for a few hours.- AOD.

Take a few minutes and listen to this NDE from Germany. There is a lot to be considered in this story. - AOD

"Today I choose to be happy for a few hours." - AOD.

How dare you!


Polling would indicate, Michael, that your wish for heavy handed action against protesters, a line fully endorsed by your President and his media cheer squad, is not helping him in polling popularity. Quite the opposite.

Or is it his skeptical approach to COVID 19 that is hurting his polling? But in a broad sense, you seem pretty aligned with that too.

I know you dissed him in some detail just before the election when it looked like he wouldn't win - but he is now taking positions you endorse yet it is hurting him badly in polling.

Maybe it means both you and Trump are on the wrong path on these issues?

Do the right thing and vote for a President who has read a book or two, believes scientists, and is more interested in American unity than pandering to a fan base because his narcissism is all that matters.

Steve’s initial comments were sort of interesting, but I’m afraid he’s just trolling us now.

On second thought, double ^^carets^^ would be a better choice for paraphrases. They stand out more, advertising their unusualness.

Carets would also be useful markers of facetious quotes, like:
"Her disdain for the ^^great unwashed^^ is clear."

And they'd be useful for sneer quotes too:
"The accused seems to be implying that he's the victim of a ^^vast conspiracy.^^"

FWIW, here's where I am on current affairs, um, currently.

My biggest fear about the November election is that it will be close and, because of the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, the outcome may not be known for weeks. It can take days just to count the small number of absentee ballots in a regular election. Now imagine a national election where a third of the ballots are mail-ins.

If weeks pass while the winner is in doubt, social unrest is likely to boil over. Conspiracy theories about fraudulent or destroyed ballots will proliferate. Some of these claims may even be true; in Paterson NJ, more than 800 mail-in ballots, a significant fraction of the total, were determined to be part of an election-stealing scheme.…/paterson-city-council…/2484797/

Whoever ultimately is deemed the winner could be rejected as illegitimate by half the country. If the chaos gets bad enough, there might even be two "presidents" presiding over rival governments, as happened in Kansas in the 1850s after a disputed election. The result back then was the period of skirmishes and assassinations known as Bleeding Kansas, now seen as the prelude to the Civil War.

This nightmare scenario can be avoided if the election is a blowout. If one candidate wins overwhelmingly, the winner can be announced on Election Night, sparing us weeks of unrest. A blowout would also create an impression of national unity, which we badly need. That’s why I’m rooting for a lopsided victory. I don’t care that much who wins, as long as he wins *big*.

Though I think Biden is a senile dope who would serve as a puppet for some dangerous people, I still think it would be preferable to have him win a huge victory in order to forestall chaos and encourage unity. It's less likely that Trump could win big; he's a chaotic figure who likes to stir the pot with outrageous tweets and inflammatory off-the-cuff comments, and I suspect that's not what America wants right now. I think our national mood is all wrung out, and we're looking for a break from all the drama. The soothing babble of Grandpa Joe may be just the pablum we need. Then again, my electoral predictions have been consistently wrong (I was sure Hillary would win in 2016), so what do I know?

Because both candidates are so flawed, and the country is so polarized, it’s hard to see a clean sweep either way. But I keep hoping.

Follow-up: When I posted this on Facebook, someone told me that these days, absentee/mail-in ballots can be tabulated just as fast as in-person votes. Or at least this is true in states that are up-to-date on technology. I hope so, because the delay in announcing a definite result is my biggest worry. The longer the results are in limbo, the more potential there is for unrest.

Even so, I still maintain that a blowout is better than a squeaker. We need a margin that makes allegations of fraud untenable, and a POTUS who has a national consensus behind him.

Hi Michael - not really trolling, just disagreeing and putting up arguments.

Not sure why my counterarguments are bothering you, since you actually agree with me that a Biden presidency would be better for the nation than a Trump one.

I think what the last weekend shows is what I have been saying - the problem of national schism is being created mostly from the Right, with Trump trying to drum up fear and loathing of what Democrats want - "Communism! Anarchy!", and GOP figures are too cowardly to risk publicly distancing themselves from him due to the large element of cultish devotion he has in the party "base".

Meanwhile, on the Left, there is nothing like the same level of political endorsement for statue destroying, or guns on the streets, even though it is still going on. Seattle has wound up its Left wing idealism without too much disaster (save for some more-or-less self inflected deaths).

I would bet that most Democrats would like to see an end to the pretty indiscriminate statue attacks, and worry that it looks way too "cultural revolution" for comfort. I would prefer that its leadership spoke out more about it, but the key point is that they are not endorsing it for political gain, as is the GOP (and its enabler, Fox News and other Right wing media.)

It is not difficult to imagine that the rabid Leftists are insidiously inserting into high-use websites such as the Prescott blog, followers who claim not to be trolls but are actually much worse than trolls. They are activists who are instructed to promote discord on the given website. They often present falsehoods as if they were facts. It is important to be alert for these people who would destroy the United States of America, people who are actually remote from the day-to-day living in the United States of America but present themselves as just an interested commenter “putting up arguments”. - AOD

Appreciate the thought, AOD, but my little corner of the Internet isn’t really "high-use." I’m sure activists do post comments on heavily trafficked sites, but they’d be wasting their employers' money here. 😁'

Gee. Talk about your "Paranoid style in American Politics", AOD.

Rest assured that I am just a politics watcher from afar, moving from voting for more conservative parties as a young man to the more Left wing party now (although I doubt I will ever go Green.)

It's also sort of funny that you think I am wanting to "destroy" your nation when I came here to say to Michael "get a grip - your country is not going to go into a civil war: it has had riots and social unrest before - in our lifetimes - without falling apart." Hardly a radical message.

You were not named in my comment. But, if the shoe fits---wear it! - AOD

Interesting opinion piece on the prospect of a peaceful Brexit-like transition to two Americas. I haven't listened to the linked podcast yet, but I will.

The article optimistically says violent skirmishes are not in our future, because we just don't do things like that in the 21st century. I'm not so sure. There are plenty of violent skirmishes going on in the US right now. It would be great if more widespread violence could be avoided, but I don't know anymore.

Fascinating post and rather eerie as I'm currently reading both the books you mention: Mackay's Madness of Crowds and MA's meditations. And to round off the coincidences, I too have always been haunted by end of civilisation scenarios and bouts of mass hysteria. Yes, anyone with a sense of history can see that we are showing all the signs of an end of civilisation period - the economic debt, mass hysteria, breakdown of family and the traditions that glue societies together. And even very few intelligent people seem to have any objectivity or sense of what is happening. We can't stop the madness; all we can do is watch it happening, protect ourselves and our families and do what good we can.

Michael, for goodness sake. You need more PBS Newshour, less Powerline, in your life.

Hinderaker writes:

"But lately, I have begun to wonder. Is there any basis on which we can share governance of America with people who hate our country and our traditions, institutions, culture and freedoms? Why, exactly, should we want to do so?"

Ha. Ignoring the hyperbole and generalising arrogance of castigating all of those who think the question of who deserves public commemoration given their race related actions are doing so because they "hate" America, here's a reason Hinderaker might want to keep sharing the country with them: it's the culture warring Right which looks like it would lose the most, economically, from this fantasy split scenario:

"With their output surging as a result of the big-city tilt of the decade’s “winner-take-most” economy, Democratic districts have seen their median household income soar in a decade—from $54,000 in 2008 to $61,000 in 2018. By contrast, the income level in Republican districts began slightly higher in 2008, but then declined from $55,000 to $53,000.

Underlying these changes have been eye-popping shifts in economic performance. Democratic-voting districts have seen their GDP per seat grow by a third since 2008, from $35.7 billion to $48.5 billion a seat, whereas Republican districts saw their output slightly decline from $33.2 billion to $32.6 billion."

Furthermore, Brexit is rapidly proving to be a clear warning of the economic costs of disunity more than anything else.

A split makes no sense at any level, and is just a milder form of Right wing conspiracy/paranoia that is hell bent on gaslighting itself into believing that it would be end of America if (when) Democrats re-take government at a Federal level.

A new website collects news articles and opinion pieces relating to talk of a second American civil war. Concern over this prospect appears to be at least somewhat on the rise. No shock there, given the ratcheted-up tensions in the country. What's surprising to me is that the majority of the pieces seem to be written from a left-of-center perspective. I was under the impression that the political right was more worried about a civil war.

Anyway, this is the site, for those who are interested:

Opium may have aided Marcus Aurelius's calm / stoicism (or maybe he needed it for chronic pain). Google for "Marcus Aurelius opium".

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