Buck up, friends. It’s time to work

I returned election night from a day at the University of Wisconsin that involved a long bus ride, and then an hour’s slow ride filled with flag stops on Chicago’s Metra Electric line. I followed the results in agony as it became apparent that the Midwest was slipping away. Around 10:00 my daughter Hannah texted me to ask: “What is happening, Daddy?” At that point, I started to quietly cry.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars working on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s election. She deserved–we all deserve–so much better than to lose to this grifting demagogue. I knew from 538 that she had a significant probability of defeat with her polling lead spread so thin–basically what ended up happening. Still, I never really believed it would happen. Defeat came as a brutal shock. Like many Samefacts readers, I didn’t really sleep Tuesday night. Much of my life’s work in health policy may be in tatters.

I am still heartbroken. But I’m over the catatonic phase. Instead I feel oddly exhilarated, girded for coming fights. President-elect Trump won the Electoral College. So he won the election barring something very strange happening. He lost the popular vote. He has no mandate, whatever he might claim. There is a clarity in the coming battles. And the stakes could hardly be higher. We have each other. Most of the country is with us. So buck up, friends. And let’s get to work.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

48 thoughts on “Buck up, friends. It’s time to work”

  1. Not to mention that he cannot control reality if reality works differently from how he thinks it does. He will neither write nor direct the horror show which will unfold in the near future; reality will have the last word. Presidents cannot control the course of events but can quickly lose control if they operate too much out of la-la land.

    Someone somewhere ought to start an online community dedicated to the proposition that reality cannot be fooled. Wonder what they should call it.

    1. To quote the revered sage Harry S Truman: "He'll sit there and he'll say "Do this! Do that!" and nothing will happen. Poor Ike – it won't be a bit like the army."

  2. Commiserations, Harold, from the other side of the Atlantic.

    An election has been lost, not the country. The poplar vote indicates that, though that particular fact is being overstated.

    What went wrong? It was in places like rural Wisconsin that the "Blue Wall" collapsed. The "Obama coalition" and the Democrat GOTV effort misfired where it mattered. There are even reports that the Clinton GOTV turned out Trump voters. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clint

    It is back to the drawing board. We believed Obama had taught us the secret formula for winning elections. We were wrong, and either the formula is different, or it doesn't exist.

  3. I live smack dab in the middle of the Midwest. Full disclosure: Neither my wife nor I, both registered Independents, voted for Trump. We also didn't vote for Clinton. Neither candidate was palatable to either of us. Same goes for my very, very Republican parents (I'm proud to say) in their late 70's, and a surprising (to me) number of acquaintances.

    There may be a little something to that huffpo opinion. My wife sleeps days and we have a no soliciting sign by the front door, yet she was awakened no less than five times by canvassers who rang the bell only to hand her political flyers designed to hang on a doorknob and say nothing more than "here you go, please vote". Guess who they were working for.

    But that's a relatively minor annoyance. You want to know how the Midwest "slipped away"? Well the attitude of that language, as if we were cattle escaping your pen, says a lot. The Midwestern folks Democrats regularly refer to as racist voted for Obama in greater numbers than they did for Hillary. What does that say? Well to hear it here and elsewhere on the left, it only says we're misogynist too. Wrong again. Hillary lost the vote among Midwestern women. Are they misogynist? None of the ones I know. The Democratic Party didn't own and control those Midwestern Obama voters, they only thought and acted like they did. Most Midwestern Democrats I know wrote in Bernie.

    Obama won the primaries and Presidency, twice, because he wasn't Hillary. That should have told you something, but like everyone who thinks they know more than everyone else, you weren't listening to anyone other than "people I respect". You'd been talking among yourselves about Hillary's second term as a given for far too long to see what was in right front of your face. You're not listening still. EdWhitney keeps asking whether the electorate is immoral or stupid, but it must be one of the two, right? No other explanation makes any sense to someone unable to see outside the bubble they've confined themselves to.

    The Republicans nominated their candidate in a democratic process. One voter, one vote. The establishment was very much not pleased with the result, but they respected their primary voters and went with their choice. By contrast, anyone here remember how the Democratic convention went? Primary voters on the Democratic side were also in favor of a populist outsider, also displeasing their establishment. Anyone see a trend there that crosses party lines? You should have. It was plain as day. But the will of Democrat primary voters was Trumped (pun obviously intended) by Superdelegates. Their vote didn't count. The under-educated hoi polloi can't be trusted with something so important. After the conventions the Democratic establishment went on to mock the Republican establishment for allowing their convention to spin out of their control and nominate such an absurd candidate while accusing THEM of voter suppression. Did you think Millennials and women (and even Independents who didn't have a horse in the primary race) wouldn't notice who was actively suppressing votes in the primaries? Did you think getting Bernie to stump for Hillary would ease the sting rather than exacerbate it?

    But yeah, continue to look outward for someone else to blame and shame.

    1. Sorry, TheMidwesterner, but super-delegates did not deliver the nomination to Hillary Clinton, nor would they have. Super-delegates committed to follow the majority of the elected delegates. Clinton won by taking the votes of 55% of delegates, a bigger majority than the once Obama beat her by. The results are on Wikipedia. The outcome agreed with independent polling of party members.

      The whole "It was rigged against Bernie" thing was a Trump theme. Bernie himself did not fall for it, but continued to point out the real dangers of a Trump Presidency. I am not so sure if your vote made him in any way happy with the outcome of the election.

      1. Thank you for setting me straight. Wasserman-Schultz didn't resign in the middle of the convention for nuthin', but it wasn't as bad as my poor recollection of events.

        My vote, which wasn't for Bernie, was not intended to satisfy anyone other than myself.

    2. There is always a problem with interpersonal communication on even the best of websites visited by people who have never met one another. I posted a comment quoting two delegates to the Constitutional Convention when the issue under discussion was the degree of participation the people should have in their government. Roger Sherman and Elbridge Gerry both agreed that the people lacked information and were likely to be misled by pretended patriots and that "that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions, by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute."

      I think that Sherman and Gerry raised questions which are pertinent to today's politics. They were saying, correctly as I see it, that the people did not lack virtue, and, also correctly, that they were easily misled into baneful measures and opinions by designing men and pretended patriots. I was therefore objecting to the moral excoriation of the electorate, which seems to have been arrived at by numerous people appalled by the outcome of the election, and proposing that Sherman and Gerry provide the right framework for approaching the future. It is therefore incorrect and unjust to transpose this into my assuming that the Trump voters are either immoral or stupid, when neither Sherman nor Gerry were suggesting anything remotely resembling that pair of alternatives.

      I do suggest that the deadly sin of sloth has played a role in creating the outcome of this election. Legions of Trump voters could not be bothered to scrutinize his record of business bankruptcies, fraud against vulnerable enrollees in his "University," and stiffing of contractors who have gone out of business because he did not want to pay them. They could not be bothered to notice that Trump could not even negotiate a deal with John Kasich to come to the RNC in Cleveland, and ask themselves how likely it is that he will be able to negotiate fantastic trade deals with China, etc, etc. Similarly, progressives (Michael Moore being an outstanding exception) could not be bothered to question the assumption that the Trump supporters featured at his rallies on TV were a random sample of his voters. Because of sloth, they thought that the loudmouth bigots who made for good television were representative of those who would cast their ballots for him. I work with many of these progressives. In vain I tried to tell them of my experience attending a Trump rally in April, where I picked up on tremendous frustration but nothing I could call hatred. They did not want to expend the energy required to examine their assumptions.

      Sloth is called a deadly sin for a reason. It will kill us if we do not recognize it and take precautions against it. That is what I am asserting and am prepared to take responsibility for.

      1. The simple totals of the popular vote confirm Ed's assertion that racism wasn't why Trump wom the EC. For he received fewer votes overall than the non-racist Romney in 2012. He therefore did not energise large numbers of bigoted hillbillies who had sat out previous elections. Essentially he turned out most of Romney's voters, including both the deplorables who were always part of the Republican base and moderates who held their noses and voted for him in spite of his manifest defects. You could argue that the moderates are effective racists too by their actions, but this is not an effective argument to win them over.

        In contrast, Clinton failed to match Obama's 2012 vote by a much bigger drop, in spite of superior organisation. It was the lack of enthusiasm that killed her. Democrats like Midwesterner were it seems far less willing to forgive her lesser failings than Republicans to ignore Trump's much bigger ones. They will pay for their delicate sensibilities, and keep paying. In politics, there is no try.

        1. "Democrats like Midwesterner were it seems far less willing to forgive her lesser failings than Republicans to ignore Trump's much bigger ones"

          Clinton is a woman, and the bar is set higher. I am not equating that with "misogyny", which is active woman hatred, this is just an uperceived bias.

          If Biden was the candidate and had used a private server as VP, would there have been the same brouhaha? Given the slim margin of Trump's victory in the rust belt states and Florida, it could be the first Comey letter that did her in, the second was just a reminder on the eve of polling. Having a private e-mail server (mistake on her part, yes, and not well handled) was not illegal, but vast numbers of people got the impression it was. And being a woman, the cognitive dissonance was expressed as a "trust" issue, when Trump has an appalling record of bad faith in his business dealings.

          Good article here on why it was not Clinton's fault: https://newrepublic.com/article/138635/dont-blame

        2. The grand totals for the two top candidates in 2016 versus 2012 are interesting. There were about 126.8 million votes in 2012 versus 120.5 million votes in 2016. About 6.3 million fewer votes in 2016 than in 2012; Clinton got 5.4 million fewer votes than Obama 2012, with Trump getting 862,000 fewer votes than Romney. I am having trouble getting exact numbers, but even with Libertarian plus Green votes this year the total is short of Obama plus Romney four years ago. The "fed up, turned off" factor has played a major role in this tragedy. Political scientists will no doubt analyze the data with great rigor in the near future, but Excel shows that they will have something to look at.

        3. Trump might well have gotten fewer votes than Romney and still turned out a previously uninvolved contingent that was motivated largely by racism (acknowledged or otherwise). Remember that he lost a lot of regular Republican voters. I don't have the figures for voters in general–and I don't know who does–but certainly many prominent Republicans made public their choice not to vote for Trump, and it's reasonable to assume they're representative of something going on among Republicans. (Not to rely on anecdote, but this is consistent among my Republican connections as well. Lots of people just not voting for the top slot or, less often, going for Johnson.)

      2. Well then I hope you'll accept my apologies. I did not intend to mischaracterize your comments. To this simple-minded under-educated Midwestern mind the statements "Did the people elect this man because they lack virtue, or because they have been misled into baneful measures and opinions by false reports circulated by designing men?" and "If the more accurate diagnosis is that they were the dupes of pretended patriots…" sounded an awful lot like a high-falutin' fancy way of saying the electorate must be either immoral (lack virtue) or stupid (misled dupes) to have chosen the "wrong" lesser of evils. Now that you've explained the nuances to me I can only guess that I am to take comfort in your defense of our virtue with the Sherman and Gerry argument that the electorate, rather than lacking virtue, are merely easily misled dupes which you ascribe to its slothfulness on both sides of the political spectrum, which, described as a deadly sin, seems to put us right back into the lacking virtue category. All-righty then.

        1. Righto. More or less.

          I stick with "dupes" and I stick with "sin." "Dupes" because the president-elect is a pretended patriot who is already surrounding himself with Washington insiders and lobbyists who are the detritus of the swamp his voters supposed he would drain. They believed him during the campaign, and they were wrong to do so.

          "Sin" is not immorality; it is an eternal part of the human condition. Man is imprisoned in the labyrinth of his own ego structure, and tradition distinguishes seven basic patterns of self-imprisonment: wanting more than his share (avarice), thinking that the universe cannot function without him (pride), seeing other human beings as potential sources of self-gratification (lust), etc. Sloth is the indisposition to be bothered with realities which threaten his peace of mind and require him to become engaged with the parts of the world with which he is uncomfortable. Political discourse of the past several days has been calling it "living inside your bubble." One manifestation of its influence on our minds is, "No one I know is voting for X." The value of X varies with the political leanings of the speaker.

          That is why I said that too many progressives were trapped by sloth in supposing that they could learn what they needed to learn about Trump voters by watching them on TV and the Internet rather than going down to the state capitol building where they were venting their anger at the establishment figures of the Republican party and starting conversations with them.

          Being easily misled and lacking virtue: a bit of both.

          1. See friend, what I'm trying to get at here is how y'all, not just you, but the Democratic elite in its entirety, come across to a neglected though vital demographic that just gave you the finger in a very big way knowing damn well the stakes could hardly be higher and is prepared to raise the ante if they still haven't gotten your attention. I've lived and worked my entire life among this demographic and let me tell you I ain't joking. I think we can agree there ain't nothing funny about any of this – it just got real. I get the impression you're all struggling to understand the message you've been sent and I'm trying to help illuminate the areas I'm familiar with. I think it's more important now than ever that we examine the unhealthy divisions that have reached a boiling point in this election cycle and try a little harder to learn how to communicate more effectively across the divide. There is much work to be done in this area it would seem, but if you're more interested in pigeonholing your opponents into a nice comfy little box in your spreadsheet that solves for you the mystery of why didn't Hillary win by 50 points (which any reasonable candidate should have against Trump) then by all means do whatever makes you feel better and I thank you for your time, but I hope you'll do so knowing that the 2016 elections' expression of resentment in no way alleviates any of it.

            I posted this link on another thread that speaks to your dupes framework and I do hope you'll take the time to read it. It in the question is addressed "how we can take the same reality, the same facts, but interpret them through different frames of mind and come to such different conclusions". It's Washington Post, fair enough?

        1. Ah. So you made a mistake. There were only two feasible candidates. Voting for somebody outside the feasible set is identical to not voting at all, with bonus wasted emotional and time expense. Afterwards no positions of the candidates outside the feasible set are likely to gain traction. So it would have been more efficient to do nothing. You went down that path, and achieved, what? I certainly am unpersuaded you achieved anything positive at all. And you are now burning time defending yourself!

          OTOH, I voted for a feasible but flawed candidate with a very clear view about what I was trying to achieve, and she lost, just barely. Apparently a majority of voters agreed with my choice. Likely that voter distribution will provide some tangible influence in the future, if history is any guide. (It sometimes isn't.)

          1. I made no mistake by voting my conscience in a state where only one candidate had a feasible chance of winning, and I don't need to defend my sacred right to vote for the candidate of my choosing to you or anyone else, I have only to exercise it.

          2. I made the mistake of assuming that "TheMidwesterner" handle signified that you were a contested (midwestern) state voter. My bad. In that case, you could have equivalently written in "Daffy Duck" and saved the time and energy you invested in interminable navel gazing. I certainly wouldn't think any worse of you for doing it.

  4. There's clearly a lot of anguish and anger about this election result. I think The Midwesterner is quite right that a lot of it should be directed at Hillary Clinton and at those who nominated her. She did a dreadful job running against Barack Obama, threw away huge institutional advantages, and now this time was going to be different? She has now managed to lose against someone who is, let's say, a poor match to any ideas I have had about what a good president should be. She had a number of chances, as it became clear through polling how eager many voters were to ensure that she not be President, to withdraw, claim health issues, anything. Neither Biden nor Kaine nor Bredesen would have brought the set of vulnerabilities she brought to the campaign. She looks to me to have cared more about her glorious expected future as President than about the success of the issues about which she claimed to care.

    1. Campaign, or candidate, or both?

      At the moment, from what I read, I think campaign. Clinton's positive economic message got lost amid the mudslinging, while Trump's simplistic one to "renegotiate trade agreements" and return manufacturing jobs was simple to grasp, however impossible in practice. Trump promised a unicorn, probably few understood what Clinton was offering.

      Winning the popular majority and 232 Electoral Votes in a year when many believed that the race "fundamentals" (longevity of Democrats in the White House, a stuttering economic recovery, a President who is popular but not Reagan-popular ….) were against her, is not a mean achievement, though less than expectation.

      1. "while Trump's simplistic one to "renegotiate trade agreements""

        I think you mean Obama's 2008 message to renegotiate NAFTA, right? Or is it only wrong when the other side does it.

        1. Yes, President Obama really did have a great chance to focus on NAFTA, he should have ignored those minor matters like a banking collapse and a $trillion war that incompetent Republicans left him to manage, then turned on him and refused to co-operate in any way to save the country. I am sure you will be applauding the new wars of President Trump, both the trade wars and the shooting wars.

        2. Renegotiating an existing international agreement is easier said than done. You have to threaten credibly to denounce it and revert to the status quo ante (which you didn't like), in order to get the others to the table. You also need a clear negotiating aim, and a strategy to secure it. If it's reopened, the others will have their own wish-lists at your expense. It's not surprising that the level-headed Obama decided the game was not worth the candle for NAFTA. It's ten times worse when the deal involves nearly 200 other countries, like the Paris agreement or the Uruguay round and WTO. Trump thinks top-level diplomacy is like closing a real-estate deal. He will find out how wrong he is.

      2. I will ask you again, how do you think Clinton should have gotten her economic message through? If you want to blame her, you must explain what she could have done differently. She talked about it all the time; it was not her choice that the media couldn't and wouldn't focus at all.

        1. Not sure if you are addressing me because I do not blame her; I think she could have won and "If only Joe Biden … " is idle speculation. Mulling over her campaign suffers from hindsight & post-hoc rationalisation.There are a multitude of factors, like Trump's campaign, sloppily run but he has the demagogue's and con-artist's knack of finding a gimmick to get his marks on side. There were the weirdly-timed Comey letters which fed into the media "untrustworthy" narrative – I have seen data that seems to show that the letters depressed Democrat turnout and energised Trump's. Could she have talked more on the economy? Only by eschewing completely Trump's failings, leaving it to her surrogates to attack him, and making her own speeches 100% what she could do for the economically distressed. Large dollop of hindsight there, but the best I can think of.

        2. Somebody (Judis?) has made the point that a well-stocked policy platform is not the same as an electoral programme. Where was the simple, five-point message? We criticised Sanders rightly for the vagueness of his policy proposals on say banking regulation. But he turned his flimsy platform into a strong message.

          Hillary Clinton was the Democrats' ideal candidate – for Vice-President.

    2. What this is missing is that, contrary to the message a lot of progressives are trying to spread, that those of us who voted for her in the primaries overwhelmingly did not do so as the lesser of two evils. We thought that, of all of the people who were running, she would make the best president. I still believe that; I think Bernie Sanders would have been a disaster at actually running the government. So, saying that she always had the option to withdraw is completely pointless. (I also think that you grossly underestimate how difficult it would have been for someone else to step in at any point after the beginning of 2016. Also, there is zero evidence in a long history that Joe Biden is even vaguely competent as a presidential candidate. I love the guy, but he has a long string of failures at that particular task.) I didn't want her to withdraw; I wanted her to be president.

      I also think that a lot of progressives, predominantly male ones, grossly underestimate Hillary Clinton as a candidate. Yes, the email thing was a problem, but she also had a lot of virtues. For one, her performance in the debates was masterful. She refused to rise to his bait, and instead gently needled him into a meltdown. Bernie Sanders would have gotten into a shouting match, which plays straight into all of Trump's strengths. On top of which, the way that the public views any of the alternative nominees does not in any way resemble how the public would think about them after the GOP slime machine had subjected them to the full fire hose of hate.

      1. I voted her because I thought she represented a more plausible, pragmatic approach. I thought Bernie – despite being much closer to me politically – stood a lesser chance against any Republican because he was too progressive. Even if he won, I doubted he could get his ideas accomplished.

        I definitely vastly overestimated the sanity of the country. And I do say sanity because the paranoid right which has consumed the Republican party and beat down anyone even reasonably sane (at least by flanking the Cruz and Jeb contingencies). This is literal birtherism having won.

      2. "full fire hose of hate" is a good line, and you are right that somebody else who now looks golden would have been transmuted to lead also – probably not quite as effectively as she. She was I think uniquely vulnerable to being brought down, with her history. The election was a near thing – Nate Silver, who was being attacked by other poll aggregators on grounds that he was taking Trump's chances to win too seriously, said he had a 35 per cent chance of winning, you could look at that as suggesting that if you ran the election three times, she would have won two of them. It could easily have gone the other way, but it didn't, and she chose to run that risk.
        Would Bernie have been the nominee, if she had withdrawn from the contest? It would have been a different race, and someone else might have entered.
        As to her likelihood of being a good President. Hard to know. I am fully aware that Brad Delong has issued a retraction of the below, a retraction which is of Moscow show trial quality. Nonetheless, coupled with the utter failure of the campaign against Obama eight years ago and her inability to make her case against Mr. Trump overwhelming to the voters it makes me think she really did and does not have the right stuff, either to run for President or to be President. Delong said, when she was running for Senator from NY:

        "“My two cents' worth–and I think it is the two cents' worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994–is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn't smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.

        “So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation's health-care system… [ellipses in original]

        “Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch–the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.”"

  5. Just looking up the results. The numbers were rounded, but it appears Hillary Clinton lost Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by about 1% of the vote in each state.Winning Florida and any one of the other three, or winning the last three, would have swung the election.

  6. On one hand:
    "He has no mandate, whatever he might claim.
    Most of the country is with us."

    on the other hand:
    The Presidency
    52 Senate Seats
    At least 238 seats in the House
    33 governships
    and more statehouses than in the last 70 years in Republican Hands.

    Well there is Ginsburg.

    1. The downside, 225backtobe, is Pottery Barn Rules now operate. Whatever breaks, Republicans own it 100%. Since they never took responsibility for their own screw-ups 2000-2008, they should neither be allowed credit for anything Obama did, like the improving economy, or be allowed make excuses that nothing is their fault.

      1. They will of course blame the Democrats, the Iranians, outside agitators, Megyn Kelly, radical Islamic terrorism, Ukraine, and probably the Jews.

  7. i know this may sound a bit like i'm asking for trouble but why haven't we heard anything from the bellmore perspective? i had assumed after weeks had gone by with no new comments from him that he finally got banned but then i saw someone else asking about him in a prior thread. i checked his facebook page and it has seen no new activity since late june. does anyone have a contact number or email for him in the real world to find out if he's alright? he can be an execrable and tendentious interlocutor but he's still a real person and i have no desire for harm to come to him.

    1. I have taken the liberty of using my blogger's access to the unpublished email information of commenters to send Brett an enquiry on your behalf and mine. I have offered to pass on any message he may have, publicly or privately.

      1. Mr. Bellmore's email address is publicly available in his profile, as he often reminded respondents to his comments when he wasn't allowed to continue conversations here in the comment forum like everyone else.

  8. Mr. Bellmore was not treated well here by blog management, as we all well know.
    There was the one comment per post rule enforced only on him, later relaxed, only to be reinstated again as a policy ostensibly to be applied more generally to those who felt the need to comment too prolifically. No offense to NCG but we all know that it wasn't applied evenly.
    Mr. Bellmore's comments were not popular here, but he expressed them with a degree of civility seldom reciprocated and avoided getting caught up in the frequent personal attacks on his character.
    If the last voice outside the self-imposed bubble that is RBC since the Great Comment Purge has given up on engaging with this community, who can blame him? Ironic that you miss him now…

    1. mr. bellmore frequently argued in bad faith, erected enough straw men to create a straw brigade, and showed an unfortunate tendency to disregard the humanity of those who were not part of his immediate set. what started my asking about him was my concern for his well-being not a desire to read his opinions, although i'm sure he would have a pungently idiosyncratic take on things. his disappearance from this site seemed contemporaneous with his disappearance from facebook and after a little digging i noted that his wife has posted nothing to her facebook since august. whether we agree or not we're all human and it seemed worrisome that he was missing.

      1. I'm as happy relaxing in a comfy tepid bath of same opinions as the next guy, but I do think it's not good for me. Engaging with holders of other opinions make me smarter, I think. On the other hand, GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS.

        1. The problem is that there is a history. I've been encountering him for at least 10 years, and probably up to 5 years longer, and there is not a sliver of difference between the recent incarnation and the bad faith fraud of the beginning years. His modus operandi is as a sort of intelligent troll, alternating between generously stated innocuous truths (in later years sometimes explicitly invoking his quite beautiful and innocent RL family, his quite decent engineering career, and evidently some illnesses) and sequeing in real time in other threads into pernicious nonsense bolstered by often quite subtle lies.

          I am not going to dig it up but the post that got him banned (for the last time) on Crooked Timber was impressive not for Brett's contributions but for the real-time sleuthing of his statements on other sites deployed by commenters who had had enough that showed that specific claims he made right then were demonstrably false. It would have been otherwise difficult to detect.

          I admit that the mere sight of his comments infuriated me. This is not because I hated him personally (though for a lot of historical reasons, let's say I don't ever feel a need to be polite), but because his constant posting clearly crowded out any high integrity opposing viewpoints. Echo chambers are real, and I actively search out sane right wingers to challenge my closely held religious viewpoints (I even read Rod Dreher, though I did give up on the Left Coast). However Brett was, as he always has done, injecting intelligent noise bombs into the discussion, instead of providing high integrity counterpoints.

          I won't litigate this any further, except to say that Matthew Kahn ought to show up again. I even bought his book, though I disagree with a lot of it.

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