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March 12, 2017

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propaganda: noun 1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc. 2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc. 3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

if the NYT is propaganda, then all newspapers must be.

all media outlets must be.

ObWi must be.

i must be.

Not to mention synagogues, churches, mosques, temples, etc.

--TP

durig the bill keller / judith miller days, arguably propaganda, although i'd say that was more a matter of the mix of personalities making them vulnerable to being exploited by others.

a propaganda organ, rather than a source.

these days, not really. they have a point of view, and they operate within a particular ethos and culture, like everybody else. not the same as propaganda.

also fwiw, usa today is actually a not-bad source of news. the writing style is pitched to a different audience than that of the NYT, but I find them reasonably accurate and even-handed.

This was about my contention, but I am going to pop in and out.

My contention is that the NYT on foreign policy has a centrist liberal bias and it permeates what they write, both in the news and in the opinion section and in that nebulous category of analysis (which is basically an editorial masquerading as analysis.) I have thought this for decades. My guess is that there is an ethos at the NYT and people know how stories are supposed to be written. They just do it automatically. In some cases I think they have to be conscious of what they are doing, but it is generally going to be impossible to say for sure. Certainly in the internet era they receive a lot of pushback from readers (some from me), so they know what some of us think about what they do. (In one case, on the I-P conflict, I even think I saw a tiny effect of something I complained about in a story. But it wasn't lasting.)

Here is an example of bias--

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/world/americas/what-happens-when-you-fight-a-deep-state-that-doesnt-exist.html?_r=0

I think the "deep state" concept is oversimplified and lends itself to caricature, but the NYT in this piece mixes everything into the pot, just as Bannon would do but from the opposite viewpoint. It is one thing to accuse judges and regulators at the EPA of being part of a "Deep State"--that's idiotic. It is not so obviously crazy to see the intelligence agencies in the same way. Just a few years ago they were spying on Democrats who were doing an investigation into the torture policies of the CIA. Somebody, maybe Clapper, but I forget, lied to Congress about it. Apparently the NYT doesn't think this is relevant to mention. Instead, because the story is meant to prove a thesis, we get the mirror image of what the Trumpists would say.

And it is also clear that people within the Beltway are pushing back hard against Trump in favor of a new Cold War with Russia. You don't have to trust Trump or his motives to think this. His motives could easily be due to some form of corruption or some bizarre Putin worship or a combination of things or he might really believe it is important to ally with Russia against ISIS or all of the above. But many people in both parties wanted us to be more involved in Syria than we already were, trying to topple Assad and bleed Russia and Iran and as part of that we were constantly told that Obama stood by and did nothing, when in fact we poured billions of dollars into that war. I wouldn't know what Michael Morell said on Charlie Rose if I didn't read the far lefty sites.

The New Yorker did a piece on Trump and Russia a couple of weeks ago which I finally got around to reading. Yes, this is the New Yorker, not the NYT, but same sort of bias. Early in the piece they do a token acknowledgment of the sorts of interference the US used to do in other countries during the Cold War. They report Putin's accusation that the US is trying to topple him, saying there is no evidence of this. True AFAIK. They then report a Russian at a think tank saying that there was a real fear in Russia that a Clinton victory would lead to an American policy of trying to turn Syria into a new Afghanistan for Russia, of trying to kill Russians there. Nothing is said of where he might have gotten such a notion. The casual reader would think this is yet more Russian paranoia based on the sorts of things both sides used to do in the Cold War. A bit later in the article Michael Morell is cited as an expert. No mention that he had advocated exactly that policy on Charlie Rose a few days after endorsing Clinton. In other words, the Russians had a former acting CIA director who had endorsed Clinton advocating covert assassinations on national TV a few days later and the New Yorker didn't think that was relevant to mention. I don't think the NYT has ever mentioned it either. But somehow, those devious Russians got wind of it. The article also fails to mention that TIME magazine claimed the US interfered in the 1996 Russian elections.

On Syria, the New Yorker mentions the Russian intervention, not ours. It doesn't mention that Kerry explicitly said that Russia came in more directly when it feared that ISIS would take Damascus.

Now you have to be kind of an obsessive lefty blogreader to notice this crap. Which is sort of the point. The NYT and the New Yorker are both rather similar in their outlooks and I think they write what they write to tell their affluent liberal readers what they are supposed to think about the world. Is it conscious bullshit? In some cases, probably. But it's also probably natural if you are in a certain environment to pick up the "right" way to think about certain issues.

And then there is this "moral authority" story--

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/world/europe/in-trumps-america-a-toned-down-voice-for-human-rights.html?_r=0

Basically this was a reporter calling up " experts" and getting them to say things which she could use to write an editorial about America's real or imaginary history as a moral leader, now being ruined by Trump. The actual news in the piece is better reported in other stories--the fact that Trump's policies have many people morally outraged is true, but the same was true during the Iraq War and before that with our support for death squads in Latin America and before that was Vietnam. Large parts of the world never took America's self image as a moral exemplar very seriously.

I link to this piece not because I fully agree, but because it is a nice compilation of what liberals were saying about Bush just ten years ago. Most of what they are saying seems right to me. Yet now we are losing our moral authority?

https://warontherocks.com/2017/03/scholarly-double-standards-and-the-american-presidency/

What is different about Trump is that he is boorish--hypocrisy really is the tribute vice pays to virtue and Trump doesn't pay it. That matters. But the difference can be exaggerated.

I also meant to reply to sapient's link about Yemen on the other thread, but maybe later.

It might be useful to mention the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model here as it describes much better (despite some shortcomings) what's going on today in "the west" than say traditional concepts of propaganda (eg Soviet style)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_model

It seems to me that the participant formerly known as cleek's initial post is right on the money: there has to be intentionality a la 1. and 2. in the definition for it to qualify as propaganda. Sure, Donald's point about subconscious bias because part of the dominant intellectual grouping is valid, but you'd have to believe they would consciously suppress dissenting opinion for them to be considered propaganda. Someone, maybe Donald, has complained about American hypocrisy in vociferously complaining about recent Russian interference in the election, when America has done the same thing, but I think this misses the main point: sure, they condemn Russia, but this is obviously and mainly for form's sake, the real (and fully justified) complaint and outrage is about the possibility that American traitors may have colluded in the inteference.

novakant's link looks very interesting indeed, and might replace or at least provide an important qualifier to the normal definition of propaganda, thus rendering my first couple of sentences semi-invalid, but I don't have time to read the whole thing now, so the first part of my post hovers in the "subject to revision" category.

So, assuming the existence of the New York Times and many other publications, who is trying to manipulate whom, and on whose behalf?

Donald says this: My contention is that the NYT on foreign policy has a centrist liberal bias and it permeates what they write

Okay, but back to cleek's comment, everyone has some kind of bias. So if you think the NYTimes is not reporting the whole truth, can't you find something else to read? That's what I do. I don't expect it to be possible for any news source to be completely unbiased. That's different than propaganda.

Obviously, the term propaganda is subject to discussion. The NYTimes represents whom? The Democratic Party establishment? Why did they undermine Hillary Clinton then with all of the over-hyped email stories? It's all very confusing as to what their "agenda" is.

Also, I'm curious what Donald means by "And it is also clear that people within the Beltway are pushing back hard against Trump in favor of a new Cold War with Russia."

What does he mean by "people within the Beltway"? And what does he mean by a new Cold War? Does it mean that there are people who don't like Putin? I don't like Putin. Putin represents a white nationalist authoritarian movement, one that he apparently is interested in spreading throughout the West, that I find horrifying. Is it somehow bad to object to that? Does that make me a "new Cold Warrior"?

My contention is that the NYT on foreign policy has a centrist liberal bias and it permeates what they write

I think this is exactly right, and I think it's about the extent of it.

A point of view is not propaganda.

Like sapient, I read a lot of stuff to get a lot of perspectives.

What I do appreciate about the NYT is that they invest in more thorough reporting than an organization like, for example, the AP, which is more of a headlines-oriented news service.

Eat the meat and spit out the bones.

....he apparently is interested in spreading throughout the West...

I would opine that the above is an example of where the line from critical assessment to propaganda is crossed.

danged italics

I would opine that the above is an example of where the line from critical assessment to propaganda is crossed.

Propaganda or inference?

There has definitely been intentionality with some propaganda from the NYT - the push to the Iraq Way foremost. There's no other way to explain their nutso anti-Clinton bias either. The fact that there's probably no propagandistic intent with their crossword puzzle doesn't undo episodes like that.

Pravda

They will mislead you on every important issue.

From weapons of mass destruction to the importance of Hillary's emails you will end up knowing less than if you had never read it at all.

My fault for only just canceling my subscription last year.

A few links:

From Time re: Le Pen.

From re: Germany.

From Newsweek re: Brexit.

From NYT re: alt-right.

From Mother Jones re: Europe.

Okay, lots of people are apparently on the anti-Putin propaganda bandwagon. Who've you got - The Intercept and The Nation?

In case it wasn't clear, my 4:38 was in answer to bobbyp's 4:03.

After Bernays, novakant listed Chomsky, so here is classic in between them that I have read. Jacques Ellul This article longer and more technical than novakant's.

Ellul was a French Christian anarchist, Protestant in France I think. What I remember quickly from the book is a) Goebbels often kept to the truth in his releases, and b) propaganda happens in the street, the living room, the kitchen table. BS doesn't matter if no one is listening, or no one cares, or no one does anything about it. Propaganda is not top down, but bottom up. Trump wins on facebook likes and twitter storms. And c) the point of propaganda is to get people to act, to do something.

A short but dense and difficult book, that I was led to by The Last Psychiatrist, if anyone remembers that contrarian site.

I seem to be making an HTML error. Promise to preview and look next time

fixed -- wj

In case it wasn't clear, my 4:38 was in answer to bobbyp's 4:03.

The fact that Russia is messing in other nations' domestic affairs as part of their efforts to acheive their foreign policy goals does not logically demand that spreading white nationalist authoritarianism "throughout the West" is one of them.

Not propaganda you say? Let's settle for hysteria, OK?

They will mislead you on every important issue.

The noise to signal ratio on "free trade" is also very high at the Times.

I didn't like communism, sapient, but I also didn't like supporting death squads or bombing Vietnam, so it is possible to disapprove of a country like China or Saudi Arabia or Israel or the Soviet Union in te old days or various others because of their behavior -- it is also possible to disapprove oone's own country's actions-- and still not want a new Cold War. Morell wanted Syria to be a new Afghanistan and there are plenty of people in DC who complained that we weren't intervening in Syria, I don't trust the people in DC who think America needs to intervene in every conflict.

As it happens many people in the Trump Administration are as hawkish towards Russia as some of Trump's critics. I think some of the push against Trump is meant to pressure him in this direction.

As for reading the NYT, I do it too, but on some issues they are full of it. I would probably watch Russia Today in part because the mainstream press here demonizes it, but there are only so many hours in the day. However, some of the best clips of John Kirby lying about Yemen on YouTube were put there by RT.

As for conscious vs. unconscious bias, it is pointless to get into that because you would in most cases have to mindread. It doesn't matter much. They are trying to position themselves so that they are taken seriously in DC circles and that means they are not going to stray too far from whatever current Beltway opinion happens to be. On something like the bombing of civilians, the NYT leans over backwards to give the bomber's rationalizations and excuses if the US or an ally like Israel does it. They do not do this with Russia or Syria. Phrases like " moderate rebels" are used for people we arm, though Hamas would be considered moderate in a Syrian context. So yeah, I do see the NYT as propaganda, in Chomsky's sense. People learn to fit in or they don't last. As for other mainstream magazines and papers, it would work the same for the most part.

The fact that Russia is messing in other nations' domestic affairs as part of their efforts to acheive their foreign policy goals does not logically demand that spreading white nationalist authoritarianism "throughout the West" is one of them.

Guess you haven't noticed who Russia supports, and who supports Russia. Okay, fine. Nothing to see ...

However, some of the best clips of John Kirby lying about Yemen on YouTube were put there by RT.

You don't seem to have a problem taking things out of context, and cherrypicking embarrassing tidbits, in order to spread a narrative. Hmmm. There's a word for that? Or is it just your point of view?

The context was that the US supported the Saudis as they bombed civilians in Yemen, so Kirby couldn't very well admit that the strikes were deliberate as it would be an open admission of complicity in state terrorism. This isn't exactly a unique circumstance in human history or American history. I wouldn't expect him to do anything but pretend that the Saudi bombing was very different from what what the Russians were doing in Aleppo.

It's ugly, but pretending there was some context here doesn't make it less so.

I wouldn't expect him to do anything but pretend that the Saudi bombing was very different from what what the Russians were doing in Aleppo.

Let's say you're right, which I deny, but I'm too busy to reargue the circumstances. Your undermining Clinton (although saving your credibility by voting for her) hasn't really helped any of the people you've championed, and her loss of the election has harmed incalculable numbers of people.

Hope you feel better as you, now that Trump has won, sort through history, ignoring Republicans who committed the most horrific foreign policy outrages, and pretending same same with Democrats, the party that worked for peace. All of this instead of daily missives criticizing Trump. Why have you stopped criticizing the current administration to "try to move them to left" or whatever that ploy scam form of activism was.

No more daily reports on Yemen?

It doesn't matter that you deny it. It's open and shut. Kirby was in a position where he had to pretend two similar things were different.

As for Yemen, I take If for granted people here know Trump is awful. I comment a bit at Larison,s blog sometimes, pointing out to Trump supporters there that it was obvious that Trump was an arrogant ignorant blowhard who would be a disaster in foreign policy. Larison does that himself, but there are. Few people over there who supported Trump hoping that some of his random comments criticizing Clinton's record meant he would be less of an interventionist. In fact he has hired people who are both anti Russian and anti Iranian hawks. Even the supposedly sane Mattis wanted to stop an Iranian ship and search it for weapons. And yes, Trump is also worrseon Yemen. That will be the aspect which finally means Yemen will become a mainstream issue. So long as some sort of contrast can be drawn between Obama and Trump, it will make it easier for Democrats in general to denounce or involvement. That FP piece you linked was of that genre. It is true that Trump is worse, but it whitewashed Obamas role a bit. Still, if that brings the issue into the mainstream, good.

As for here, I have one foot out the door anyway. I did see a local Indivisible group. They aren't doing Yemen yet and we have a local representative who is not good on that or other Mideast issues.

Lots of typos there. Hopefully people can figure out what I meant. That's enough ranting for the night.

fwiw, i stopped reading the NYT after the judith miller episode. that was just such an egregious breach of basic public trust that i lost all confidence in theior editorial quality.

i know they've tried to repair that, but in the interim i've found other sources.

once in a while i'll read vsomething there, but in general not.

hey aren't doing Yemen yet and we have a local representative who is not good on that or other Mideast issues.

Looks like you'll have to take on Donald Trump by yourself. Or start a movement! Good luck.

once in a while i'll read vsomething there, but in general not.

The Washington Post is my first stop. There's still a lot in the NYT to read. I have my quibbles with their editors, but there's a lot to that paper, and I still read it. And I read the New Yorker religiously, even though I don't love some of the writers (because I do love others).

I think "criticism" is important, but so is support.

my thing with the NYT is not really about their editorial position, it is with the profoundly arrogant and condescending attitude they displayed toward their readership during the miller BS.

i found bill keller and daniel okrent in particular to be really just obnoxious.

they are without question a serious and well written newspaper, and i don't share the sense here that they are some kind of propaganda organ, they have a point of view and a sensibility, like pretty much everyone else.

they simply lost me as a reader. i doubt anyone there is losing sleep over it. :)

they simply lost me as a reader.

I get it. I've been tempted to cancel my subscription, most recently over the email stories.

There are things about the NYT that are indispensable to me though: the book reviews foremost. A lot of the reporters are excellent (even heroic).

Dean Banquet and the headline writers, not so much. I hate rewarding them, but what about the food writers, and everyone else who works there.

Institutions. They're a thing. They're majestic and terrible. I guess I'm a true constituent of the liberal establishment, because I don't want to get rid of them. They've failed us in some ways, and they shouldn't take us for granted. But we shouldn't take them for granted either.

I think "criticism" is important, but so is support.

I think just about everything that could be said about all you've said in this thread can be summed up by your decision to put criticism in quotes, but not support.

Guess you haven't noticed who Russia supports, and who supports Russia. Okay, fine. Nothing to see ...

So US unconditional support for Israel is support for the oppression of the Palestinian people?

So US arms sales to Saudi Arabia are implicit support for the spread of radical Whahabism?

Two can play that stupid game. So I ask, when will you stop being stupid?

"I think just about everything that could be said about all you've said in this thread can be summed up by your decision to put criticism in quotes, but not support.

That's fair. I think criticism of treasured institutions is the exception, and support is the rule.

It's interesting that you would have taken this as a moment of controversy, rather than so many more significant issues that have been raised.

By the way, NV, no need to explain, but aren't you the one who wants WWIII in order to bring whatever good things WWII brought our way?

Watch this again, and then complain about Yemen.

http://www.fallen.io/ww2/

Two can play that stupid game. So I ask, when will you stop being stupid?

Supporting Israel is the same as supporting Nazis in each country in Europe? Same same?

bobbyp, you're smarter than this.

By the way, have you ever noticed what the Iran deal was and how hard it was to negotiate how to NOT bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran?

Go ahead, be a purist. Join Donald's movement. Good luck to you both. That's sincere.

Supporting Israel is the same as supporting Nazis in each country in Europe? Same same?

So we should just turn a blind eye to our policy toward Israel? Thanks for playing.

I support the Iran deal.

I am not a purist. You are, sad to say.

Supporting Israel is the same as supporting Nazis in each country in Europe? Same same?

You are arguing like a 5th grader. Just stop. Please, just stop.

And I do not mean to infer that I disparage 5th graders. I support and send money to the 5th Grader Liberation Movement.

So we should just turn a blind eye to our policy toward Israel? Thanks for playing.

Please quote where I said that I support Israel. Also, whatever our "policy" to Israel is now, as opposed to where it was with Obama, no.

I don't support Trump. I gave Obama a pass, believing that he had a comprehensive foreign policy that included reluctant support for Israel. I don't trust or support Trump, or any of his foreign policy.

Tribal? Whatever you say.

I hear they break kneecaps.

Hmmm. Pretty soon that will be our politics, sad to say.

Donald, next time you are on Larison's site ask him about him membership in The League of the South,

"The “godly” nation envisioned by the League should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities. "https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/league-south

I gave Obama a pass...

I kinda' think that's the point. The idea that we cannot criticize "our tribal leaders" when they are in power is, frankly, reprehensible to me.

It should be reprehensible to any American.

Lyndon Johnson did great things for racial justice and economic equality..but I still marched in the streets against his policies in Viet Nam.

Obama rode a wave election in '08 and worked to pass a reasonable start at a rational health care system.

Good on him.

But he did some not so great things as well. I don't think pointing them out and asking our "tribal leaders" to get off their 'effing asses and do better is some kind of terrible thing.

It's what we are supposed to do.

I am late to this discussion, as I have been a lot lately, but I was trying to find if it somehow started with this: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/taibbi-russia-story-is-a-minefield-for-democrats-and-the-media-w471074

which I will just say is a fairly good summary of what I think on the NYT inching into the propaganda game.

As for who I read, most of my life I read the local paper, the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and, of course the Washington Post. Then I listened to NPR and read the Christian Science Monitor when I had time.

Of those, today I will not read the Washington Post, except for an occasional oped from one of the guys on the right, their news is as close to the Democratic house paper as George Stephanopoulos is.

I read the Journal occasionally but it is inconsistent in its news/opinion presentation.

I read the Christian Science Monitor when I get the chance and listen to NPR occasionally.

The Times is the hard one. It can, and has in this election cycle, present balanced and insightful factual reporting. Unfortunately less and less of that makes the front page or the section leads. You really have to scan through the on line and sample enough to find those solid news stories. The leads have become less fact and a clear presentation of the days events/issues written in a way to sensationally support the editorial board. Or maybe just sell a few more papers. Who knows?

In addition other papers like the Tribune are just selling clickbait on the verge of bankruptcy. It makes it hard to get a handle on the facts and make good decisions when neither parties talking points are complete enough to inform us.

As far as Russia goes, I don't know if Putin's really that interested in spreading traditionalist white authoritarianism throughout Europe, or if he just sees NATO as a threat and wants to fnck it up by whatever means is handy.

I don't know if he wants to reduce Syria to rubble to keep Tartus in place, or if he wants to flood his regional rivals with burdensome refugees by the millions. Maybe both.

Who knows what goes throuh his mind? We only know what he does.

The guy is a freaking brute. A kleptocratic authoritarian murderous thug. Regardless of how good bad or indifferent we are, by comparison or otherwise.

The guy is a freaking brute. A kleptocratic authoritarian murderous thug. Regardless of how good bad or indifferent we are, by comparison or otherwise.

Yes. Unfortunately, Russian history is full of them. I posted a link for the millionth time to NV. Russian people have suffered hugely because they are brave. But also because of their crap leaders.

We've done way better - sorry - is that American Exceptionalist? We've done better until now.

Mike Furlan: Donald, next time you are on Larison's site ask him about him membership in The League of the South,

Thanks for this. Donald is crazy tolerant of JD Vance and the racist argument.

Of those, today I will not read the Washington Post, except for (lunatic George Will, or worse, Charlie Krauthammer?) their news is as close to the Democratic house paper as George Stephanopoulos is.

Their news is pretty much standard stuff, but they sneak in really misleading economic stuff and right wing economic memes all the time...cf Dean Baker (endlessly) on this very topic.

And Robert Samuelson is a Peterson Foundation lickspittle. Paul Ryan with a mustache and glasses.

So to assert they are just like George Stephanopoulos (I guess implying he is some kind of Democrat, which is debatable), well, this is really a stretch.

Go Zags.

Thanks for this. Donald is crazy tolerant of JD Vance and the racist argument.

I don't read Vance and didn't know that. I have no truck with Xhristo-fundy right wing isolationism (just in case you were wondering).

Thanks.

Sorry to go, but the 5th Graders' Liberation Front bagman is at my step demanding cookies.

As for conscious vs. unconscious bias, it is pointless to get into that because you would in most cases have to mindread. It doesn't matter much.

I've used the mindreading hammer to twack people from time to time, but this is bizarre. You have to try to and understand where people are coming from and what they believe in order to persuade them, or at least decide if you are wasting your time. Every time someone explains how Trump did or didn't win because of racism/economics/populism/sexism/etc is mind reading, the difference is that there is not a person to say 'hey, I wasn't thinking that'.

Mind reading is problematic when people try and create positions that someone else doesn't hold by making lots of inferences about what they say or don't say. It's fair to look at the NYT and see how the pattern of their decision reveal hidden biases. But to claim that those hidden biases are the same as the ones that are full on display when Steve King quotes Wilders really misses the boat. I really think you should rethink this.

Predictably the return of sapient has lowered the level of discourse again immensely, but hey whatever - I just wish he/she could just have the decency to use the humanitarian disaster in Yemen to score points, it's disgusting.

I just wish he/she could just have the decency to stop using the humanitarian disaster in Yemen to score points, it's disgusting.

Yemen:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/feb/08/yemen-food-crisis-we-are-broken-bombing-hunger

Thanks for the link, novakant. The situation there is heartbreaking. Trump hasn't helped it; in fact, he now prohibits refugees from entering the US, and wants to deport people already here.

Using Yemen to claim cruelty and hypocrisy in the Obama administration isn't "scoring points"? Kerry worked on a ceasefire there. What is Tillerson's plan?

If anyone cares to donate, MSF is there.

novakant, your 5:14 AM note is getting over the line into a personal attack. Time to dial it back a bit.

Thanks, wj. I've said what i want to in this thread, and will take a break. I'm sure novakant will not react similarly to others here.

i mostly like reuters and the beeb for breaking news.

ap will usually get it out there first, but they can be a little shouty.

if i want analysis, i don't look to a news organization.

i don't know where that leaves me, propaganda wise.

we all do our best to understand wtf is going on.

fair enough, wj, that was over the line (but let's apply that kind of scrutiny to everybody, please, no matter how superficially friendly the tone)

what bothers me the most is that, as Donald has argued elsewhere, it seems impossible to argue the issues here anymore without getting dragged into either some partisan mud fight or being brushed off with the world-weary shrugs of lesser evilism

Mike Furlan-- I have heard secondhand about Larison's other views. In the year or two I have been reading him he has never once strayed off foreign policy, where I agree with him. In that area he is Chomsky without the baggage, meaning that he criticizes US policy without ever falling into the trap that lefties ( and centrists and righties) fall into, where they project virtues and ideals onto some guerilla group which in real life probably isn't that wonderful, if Larison has some romanticized view of what the Civil War was about he has had the good sense to keep it out of his column.

If pointing out the cruelty of Obama's policy is scoring points, then it is also point scoring to point out that Trump is worse. Actually, both things are true. Obama's policy was an incoherent mess in both Syria and Yemen. The lie Kirby told was to claim the Saudis weren't on the same moral level as the Russians in Aleppo. Some liberals in the US now use the same arguments I used to see in Commentary in the 80's, where it was a terrible sin to compare the atrocities committed by our allies with those committed by the Russians. Though I won't say all liberals. Some in Congress are critical of the war in Yemen.

LJ, I was talking about the NYT and personally on some issues I think they consciously choose to leave out facts, but you never know for sure. I have a good friend who is very far right and it is weird arguing with him on evolution, climate change, Islam, or foreign policy, because on one level he is sincere and yet his views are dependent on filtering out things he doesn't want to hear. Is he consciously lying? No. If I weren't his friend, but instead if he were a politician would I care that much? No, because the the arguments he makes on certain subjects would be the same whether he is consciously lying or not.

In the case of the NYT, I think it is the same thing. If you want your readers to understand an issue in a certain way, you present some facts and downplay others. In the case of the NYT this happens constantly. Dean Baker often writes about how they mangle their reporting on " free trade" issues and they have been doing this for decades. Chomsky wrote book after book on their hypocrisy on various human rights issues. Over the years I have written them numerous emails complaining about what I have seen. I think it is more than a little arrogant for you to write one paragraph with one example telling me to " rethink" an issue I have been thinking about for as long as I have read the paper, which started in the mid 80's. In some cases I strongly suspect that the NYT deliberately spins its stories and leaves out facts that go against the storyline they have on a given issue and in other cases it might be a subconscious bias that people who work for the corporation have to adopt. With the Internet I think they get much more pushback than they used to get. In the old days I think they could bank on the fact that critics to their left were confined to a few marginal leftwing magazines and they only worried about people to their right.

I usually avoid citing Chomsky because of his own baggage-- when people cite him almost invariably people bring up his own mistakes. But I see the sense in how he writes about media bias. He generally avoids questions of personal intent and just points out the patterns and end results. He assumes people aren't necessarily personally dishonest, but only the people who think a certain way and filter out inconvenient facts will survive in the MSM or in a given think tank. And there is no reason to think this wouldn't apply to one's political opponents or people overseas. In many cases they may believe their own BS. Does my friend believe the nonsense he spouts? Yes. If I refut

I accidentally deleted the last part of that overly long rant. It was actually interesting, sort of. It is a pattern of behavior in my friend that you see in others, so here is the longer version. Yes, longer. I will shut up after this.

One thing my friend is passionate about as a Christian Zionist Islamophobes is Israel, so he has repeatedly made the claim first stated by the Israelis long ago and dutifully repeated by many supporters until the late 80's that the Palestinians only fled in 1948 because their leaders told them to leave while the Arab armies drove the Jews out and the Palestinians could then come back and loot their neighbors. I point out that Israeli historians using Israeli records have shown that many Palestinians were deliberately forced out in a process that included some massacres. One such historian, Benny Morris, even wishes the process had been more thorough.

Now you would think that a rational person upon hearing this would ask for sources or google or go to the library or something. What does my friend do? He repeats the same argument the next time the subject comes up. He brings it up, btw, as an example of Muslim perfidy.

Is he lying? No. Filters.

If you want your readers to understand an issue in a certain way, you present some facts and downplay others. In the case of the NYT this happens constantly.

in all communication, this happens, constantly.

people cannot (and will not) mention every aspect of every situation, all the time. all people have agendas: reporters, editors, readers and random internet blowhards, all of us.

as David Byrne once sang: facts all come with points of view.

it's not (necessarily) dishonesty. reporters know people don't want to read 50 page theses on every subject they cover. so they cover the things that they think readers will find interesting/useful/important. that doesn't always fit every reader.

pick any source you like, and they will exhibit blind spots, intentional downplaying of things someone finds important, and plenty of plain old ignorance.

When a newspaper with a slant covers an issue with that same slant over and over again, they aren't doing that for the benefit of their readers, except in the sense that the readers of that given newspaper may want that particular slant. Readers who dislike the slant may hate read the paper or be driven away.

On so called free trade issues the NYT has long had a Tom Friedmanesque slant in its coverage. In covering economics in Western Europe they have long written about it in terms of sclerotic economies overburdened by excessive regulations that hamper business so the economies are on the verge of collapse. They were writing that way back in the 90's. I vaguely remember reading parodies of the typical NYT story on this subject.

Saying that we should consume our sources critically is fine. But part of that includes pointing out biases when we see them.

As it happens, a friend of mine just sent me this:

http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/incredible-animation-summarises-noam-chomskys-5-filters-of-the-mass-media-machine/

This Dean Baker piece illustrates the point. He has written a lot of similar posts about the NYT.

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/it-s-hard-to-get-good-help-danish-edition

tell me who is presenting information for public consumption that does so without being influenced in any way by their social and cultural position, assumptions, and beliefs.

I'd really like to know. It's surely not me, and it's surely not anyone commenting here, and it's surely not any public organ of news or analysis that I have ever read or heard of.

If there's someone out there who is, somehow, pristinely objective, I'd love to read them.

Donald and novakant, if you think you are immune from the things you accuse others of here, you need to go out to CVS and get yourself a mirror.

Everyone is influenced by their personal history, and the history of the environment they live in. No-one is immune.

We all try to do our best to overcome our biases. None of us succeeds completely. That's just a given.

If you want to talk about Yemen, talk about Yemen. If you want to say there is some weird plot to not talk about Yemen, I doubt that is so, and to the degree it is so, it can be addressed by talking about Yemen.

You will be more successful in raising the issue if you eschew yelling at other people because they aren't talking about Yemen.

novakant, your 5:14 AM note is getting over the line into a personal attack. Time to dial it back a bit.

Okay, I have a problem with this. novakant is actually correct here, wj. sapient is abusing other commenters and engaging in personal attacks, but not getting called out for it because they've raised the bar for what behavior gets them in particular warned. Over the last 8-12 months they've repeatedly gone through a cycle where they grow increasingly abusive until they finally manage to cross the line in the eyes of a front-pager, express mild contrition (I recall once maybe 3-4 months ago one of their shows of contrition was literally something as patronizing as "I know, I'm bad"), dial it back for a day or so, then resume abusive posting at the same level of escalation they were at before, and escalate from there. The only reason this cycle broke in the past was because they got cocky and were flip and insulting directly to lj rather than their normal pattern of making a show of repentance to the people with keys, then resuming attacking everyone else who didn't take their side.

Pointedly in this thread, sapient has a history of personal attacks on Donald which have crossed the line to the point where they have been warned multiple times, but no one batted an eye yesterday when they posted the following:

Hope you feel better as you, now that Trump has won, sort through history, ignoring Republicans who committed the most horrific foreign policy outrages, and pretending same same with Democrats, the party that worked for peace. All of this instead of daily missives criticizing Trump. Why have you stopped criticizing the current administration to "try to move them to left" or whatever that ploy scam form of activism was.

No more daily reports on Yemen?

(Emphasis added.)

The personal attack that I would call clearly over the line is emphasized, but its context is included to 1) show it's not taken out of context, and 2) point out how much very-thinly-veiled mindreading and accusation of malice and bad faith has been normalized here over the last year - not just by sapient, but their posts have probably contributed more to it than anyone else. This is not meant as an attack on sapient, though I expect it will construed as one. It's meant to point to the degeneration of tone on this blog due to increasingly lax adherence to - and enforcement of - the posting rules. That's a problem, and it's a far more serious problem than novakant pointing out that one of the main catalysts for tone-shift is shifting the tone... again.

We need to have a conversation about what is and is not acceptable here. ObWi isn't LGM or Balloon Juice, and the reason it isn't shouldn't only be "because there's fewer commenters". Like DJ, I have one foot out the door (and I'm sure there are more than a few regulars that would not miss me one jot), but I still am invested in the community here because I've been a member for... um... 13 years now? Non-lurking member for 11? With a couple of exasperated or work-related hiatuses, but still. The tone on here has changed more dramatically in the last year than over any other similar period, and IMO it hasn't been for the better. We really need to consider why, and if we are willing to continue down this path.

Russell, since you are getting personal, I will point out that you regularly get up on a soapbox and vent, usually at people who aren't here or are badly outnumbered in a crowd where most will agree with you. Political blogs are a funny place for one participant to lecture another on self righteousness.. It doesn't make you wrong on the issues you rant about.

Something like Yemen happens in US foreign policy on a regular basis and people ignore it for whatever set of reasons. With most people, it is because they don't hear about it. They don't hear about it because the press doesn't make it a major focus of concern. Why not? Probably for a number of reasons, none of them good. And people are tribal. When people do hear about it, some get upset, but it is confusing because they don't see it as a major issue in the media that they normally consume. The natural thing to do is to shrug. I don't blame people for this-- there are lots of issues and nobody can do all of them. I do blame people who become apologists. And I don't understand the defensiveness about the NYT.

The fact is, though, I am sick to death of centrist liberals. Much of that talk about Bush's war crimes was partisan BS. Yes, Bush was awful. So was Obama on Yemen. Bush was worse.

Am I just as blind? No doubt. It doesn't make me wrong, any more than you are necessarily wrong about the people you rant about.

This is actually why I have one foot out the door here. I write emails and letters, which is the weakest form of activism. Almost useless, though I do think the NYT is less bad than it was in the past because of the Internet pushback. But this blog is a time sink, basically, a place to vent. I need to cut way back or go cold turkey.

When a newspaper with a slant covers an issue with that same slant over and over again, they aren't doing that for the benefit of their readers, except in the sense that the readers of that given newspaper may want that particular slant.

then why are they doing it?

is it some kind of conspiracy?

What is or is not acceptable?

Whatever the owner of this site decides.

I am a guest here and will accept without argument what ever the house rules are.

Russell, since you are getting personal, I will point out that you regularly get up on a soapbox and vent, usually at people who aren't here or are badly outnumbered in a crowd where most will agree with you.

Yeah, it's mostly liberals here now, and I use the place to get stuff off my chest. Guilty as charged. I appreciate everybody's willingness to let me blab away. So, thanks everyone.

I first got into political blogging with the Patriot Act stuff. I started on Free Republic, where I did not spend a lot of time, then went to RedState, where I spent a few years.

That place stopped being open to people with other points of view, so I came here. When I got here, it was not so liberal-leaning, now it is.

I've been here a long time now, it's kind of my water cooler. It's where I hang out and talk to people about stuff. I should probably spend less time here, I'd get more done.

Centrist liberals bug me, too. I live in a centrist liberal bubble, it can get pretty precious sometimes. It can be annoying.

My only point in getting personal was to point out that we all have biases. So, arguing the point that someone, or some news outlet, is influenced by their biases is almost a tautology.

I appreciate that the hypocritical aspects of US foreign policy disturb you, and I also appreciate that folks here often jump all over you when you bring them up. I'm sure that's frustrating.

Peace out.

More and more I think slarti has it right.

Get out in the country around some family, raise some goats and pigs, and just do your thing. Leave the pissing matches to folks who need a hobby.

We were talking about John Prine in the other thread, slarti's living the Spanish Pipedream.

Other than blogging I have intermittently put some serious time and effort into low-level political stuff. Like, in real life. I'm not sure it's made much of a dent. There's too much fucking money in the pipeline, we're barely a republic anymore, let alone a democracy.

I'm 60, based on family history I'll probably make more or less 80, my wife and I are probably in an OK position to get through it all, no matter who is president. My step-sons a hippie, he lives in OR, even with the measly income he makes as a musician he's probably gonna be OK. We don't see grand-kids on the horizon.

So as far as my immediate concerns, it most likely isn't gonna matter what the country does. Plus I live in MA, the place is a bureaucratic clusterfnck, but we mostly muddle through without damaging each other too much.

Lucky, lucky me.

Lots of other folks aren't so lucky, I plan on doing stuff to help them out if and when I can.

But the big picture stuff is so far over my head that it's all kind of academic.

So yeah, I come here and vent, but I don't really expect much to come of it.

Don't make the mistake of taking me at all seriously, I'm just a guy on the internet, yelling at clouds.

I appreciate everybody's willingness to let me blab away.

Yeah, but you're damned good at it.

No problem Russell. I have been thinking I am here too much when I should be doing something useful.

Cleek--

Bluntly, yes, in some cases I suspect the editors or reporters or somebody decides to spin the story a certain way. I have specific examples in mind too, but that would mean yet more very long comments, so I won't go there.

. Most of the time it is probably just the surrounding ethos. You know all the Serious People have opinions that range from A to B, so you conform. People who think there might be something really fundamentally screwed up about our policies or the way they are framed will probably not last long in the mainstream press unless they learn to suppress it. They write for some fringe rag or internet site. People in the Serious Press either always believed A to B or gradually adopted the viewpoint in their stories.

And now, finally, I am going to shut up for the day and cut way back in the future.

The tone on here has changed more dramatically in the last year than over any other similar period, and IMO it hasn't been for the better. We really need to consider why, and if we are willing to continue down this path.

I hope that the fact that I have been willing to tackle sapient on a couple of occasions, most recently for trying to dictate to novakant how he should respond, entitles me to comment on this. If NV is right about the change in tone (and I think she is at least partly right) I believe it is because of first the campaign and now the presidency of Trump. It seems to me that sapient, and others of us, perceive the current situation to be not just a quantitative change from business as usual, but a qualitative change. NV and Donald and maybe bobbyp might disagree, but to most of us (and certainly to me as I have said at tiresomely repetitive length) the success of Trump represents the crossing of a threshold, from where the general, complicated political ecology can be argued about, and parsed for all its different issues, to a situation where the very existence of the democracy (faulty though it may be) is at unprecedented risk. I understand that NV, and Donald and bobbyp or others may disagree, but this perception explains the passion and undoubtedly inappropriate descent into even more hyperpartisan argument, often verging on implied or explicit insult. I'm not making excuses, and I'm not just talking about sapient either. But I think what you are seeing is the agonised thrashing of people who perceive something precious edging closer to extinction. Anybody can argue if it is precious, and even whether the threat of extinction is worse than usual, but I do generally think tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner, even if (I fully see) just asking for understanding is not going to cut it.

, I didn't see sapient's crazy tolerant of JDVannce aand the racist argument.

Amazing to see so much crap compressed to neutron star densities without the benefit of a gravitational field.

So someone point out where Vance was a white supremacist. And then point out where I tolerated Vance being a white supremacist. I have not yet checked up on Larison's alleged nasty views because on foreign policy I agree with him and if he holds those other views he hasn't let them pollute his blog. For sapient that is enough to confuse Vance and Larison and to conflate liking Larison's foreign policy views with crazy tolerance for white racism. I probably will look into what Larison has said on the South, but will continue to quote him on FP so long as he makes sense there.


And yes, I keep lying about leaving.

I looked up Larison's views. Briefly, he is wrong. He sees the Civil War as aggression against the South and disapproves of itbecause it killed hundreds of thousands, but he agrees ( thank God) that slavery was morally repugnant.

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/46573

This is wrong on the merits, the South started the war and so he obviously has a huge blind spot. If this came into his writing on foreign policy I would probably stop reading, but he praised Obama on the Iran deal and is a very strong critic of Trump. I will link his latest post here or in the next ( sigh) one.

Larison's post on what label best makes sense of Trump's approach to foreign policy.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/trump-the-militarist/

Having left for a good long time in 2011 (after a very specific, very characteristic last straw example of gratuitous sneering from a regular commenter), I don't necessarily agree that the tone here is worse than it once was. Then again, I spent several years barely ever peeking at Obsidian Wings, so I don't know how the conversation went on in the meantime.

Maybe the fact that the commenting community is smaller, more like a group of friends who have by now "known" each other for a long time, makes the conflict and stridency more potent *and* more upsetting. But this happens IRL too, as groups of friends morph from one phase to another.

In coming back more regularly, I felt some admiration for this group for sticking with an often contentious conversation for so long. At the same time, I would agree with GftNC that things got darker after the election.

I can't go on right now because I've got work obligations that I can't postpone today, but I've had a post in mind for a while about the dynamics of blog communities. I might actually get something coherent ready to post in a day or two, so if anyone is interested in a conversation about conversations, don't walk out the door yet! I'll be curious to see what people have to say.

And I should have added to my 01.51, in all fairness, that although the tone she does it in is different, NV (despite her undoubted talents and interesting take on things) has also at times contributed to a more personally unpleasant atmosphere, as when she accused cleek of threats of violence - an absurd accusation as became clear when she provided her "proof". I mention this in the interests of fairness, given that it is NV complaining about "personal attacks".

JanieM: very much looking forward to your piece.

JanieM: me too.

russel and cleek:

I really don't need a lecture on how there's no objective point of view, it is blatantly obvious. In fact I am arguing that US propaganda is trying to sell us their version of the world as the objective and righteous view and that such a notion is incredibly dangerous, especially combined with a historically unparalleled political, economical and military dominance.

There is no uniform "US propaganda".

Lots of folks who live here understand this country's flaws, historical and current, quite well.

All of that is not by way of "giving you a lecture", it's by way of saying we understand your point.

also, two el's in russell.

This is a topic that always comes up among guys named russell. Oddly, perhaps, I've sometimes been in conversations with three or four of us at a time. Less uncommon a name than one might suppose, I guess.

Two esses, two ells. I don't know any exceptions.

novakant,
again, the key word there is 'propaganda'. You say 'US propaganda', obscuring the agent. Propaganda isn't really an agent, someone has to sell it. Though I am sympathetic to what you (and Donald) say, this is where you fall down a hole because you have to try and figure out who the agent is. Chomsky and Herman call their model the 'propaganda model', but their explanation seeks to explain why the agent is not 'the deep state' or some circle of nameless CEOs, but the populace itself. But even that falls apart. There is a moment in the moving Manufacturing Consent here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWpY7ZhhvS0

where they put Chomsky on a jumbotron screen inside a football stadium to lecture on the 'irrational jingoism' and 'submission to authority' that a focus on sports brings. That scene is wonderful because it simultaneously supports Chomsky's notions but also demonstrates how much it is 'we are not the cool kids, but are actually cooler than them, but no one realizes it' that drives his arguments. Donald knows I have my own issues with Chomsky, but a lot of the force of Chomsky's rhetoric is precisely the same, trying to make one group cool. It's Nietzsche's point about christianity being a slave morality, with their small numbers (at the beginning of the clip, Chomsky talks disdainfully about the '80%') providing proof for the rightness of their views.

Identifying a problem which lies in human nature does not necessarily recommend a solution. Yet when people point this out, they get dismissed by you because we don't hew to your black and white view of what is right and wrong, generating the same cycle over and over. We try to keep this place open to allow people to talk, but it is also up to everybody individually to try and keep the tensions down. I hope that is not too much to ask.

GftNC,

The tonal shift started well before election day. Trying to write it off as shocked reaction to a sea change only works if you avoid looking at how far things had gone before then.

As to cleek and threats of violence - there were literally an endless number of ways cleek could have said "I don't want to hear a particular sort of speech"; they chose stating they'd hunt down and drown anyone who spoke thusly. I don't think my life was ever in danger, but that's rarely the case with online threats and rhetoric. Their statement was a fairly deliberate decision from someone who has for years been the most hostile and combative of the regulars, and it's the kind of thing that likely wouldn't have been tolerated from someone who is not as well-liked as them. I know you two are tight, but cleek has for as long as I remember "commented angry", and been quick to get nasty. It's who they are in this venue, and I suspect they're like that for reasons similar to why I go dog-latched-onto-someone's-leg at times - I've been online too long, and I picked up bad habits in online contexts that are long gone. For my part, I learned how to "have conversations online" on the UseNet, and if you know what that entails I mean I learned that in the worst possible way. I've gotten a lot better since then, but old habits ingrain themselves. Dunno about them, though; I can only observe how they act. And how they act is not typical of the rest of the commentariat... and frankly I really have trouble seeing no malice in a promise to drown people who say things you don't want to hear even if it doesn't mean I think they're actually going to... how was it? Track down and drown anyone who behaved like they clearly thought I'd behave absent their threat?

cleek wants a bubble - they've said so themself repeatedly since they came back, to say nothing of loudly breaking out their pie filter after years of it going unmentioned - and that's not conducive to dialogue if you don't conform to the bubble. Making "jk, but really... no, jk, but really" threats of violence to shut up people you disagree with is profoundly disrespectful, but it also normalizes the idea that abuse and threats of violence (to shut people up or otherwise) are appropriate. There's a reason the posting rules forbid them, and for the most part any such speech (except for the Count, who against all reason gets a pass on this as well as everything up to calling for the rape of serving politicians - or little better, making lolrape jokes... but that's a whole 'nother bag of worms) would be quickly called out... for good cause. It's hostile to open communication. If you want a bubble, open communication is not something you want, but do we collectively want a bubble?

--

Anyway, JanieM, yeah, make that post.

NV, thanks for a substantive reply. I've been commenting here for a couple of years, and was lurking long before that - back to hilzoy's time. I think the tone changed not after the election, but gradually after it became clear that Trump was going to get the nomination, and went into overdrive after the election. It's a sliding scale, so there was no sudden shift, but I think it started last year, certainly at the Republican convention if not before (I would say it started before).

I don't know why you say cleek and I are "tight". I appreciate his comments, and definitely missed his voice when he absented himself after your accusation (in all fairness I think he was also sick of political wrangling generally, particularly after the election result), but that's as far as it goes. What you call cleek's threat was so very clearly a (over-exaggerated for semi-comic effect) rhetorical device, aimed at a theoretical, abstract character as opposed to a real person, that I think any attempt to paint it as "abuse and threats of violence" is truly crazy. However, I don't think you're crazy. Your explanation:

I've been online too long, and I picked up bad habits in online contexts that are long gone. For my part, I learned how to "have conversations online" on the UseNet, and if you know what that entails I mean I learned that in the worst possible way.

is very interesting, and makes a lot of sense (of course I had no idea what it entails, but supplied the missing "if you don't know what that entails"). sapient thinks I'm some kind of flower-child who only sees the good in people, but I assure you that is absolutely incorrect. I think the ecosystem here benefits tremendously from such different points of view as are represented, and actually I think most commenters think so too. Furthermore, FWIW, I do not think there is any actual malice in any of the regular commenters, just occasional greater or lesser spurts of annoyance. Of course I do not expect to convert you, or anyone else, to my viewpoint, more's the pity!

About GftNC and Cleek being tight, I recall when someone whose name is lost to my memory discovered (the now defunct) hocb and said that they had discovered the secret meeting place of all the cool kids at ObWi where they plotted against the common folk with commonsensical views. Any attempt to convince him was brushed off.

Cleek makes a pie filter, that becomes evidence against him being open minded? Really? If being open minded means you need to take in everyone's point of view all the time, count me out.

I do think there is a 'bubble', but why the hell would anyone want to place themselves somewhere where _everyone_ is disagreeing with everyone else? There's a bubble because when there isn't, people are willing to use rhetorical tricks to gain the upper hand rather than saying 'gee, you've been here for 10 years, I don't think you really mean that'. I want a place where I can talk to people. If I'm constantly on my guard, trying to score points and ginning up support for my views, I'm going to be stressed out. If you want to be dismissive and call that a bubble, that's your choice, but there are a ton of things I can talk about here that I can't talk about anywhere else.

this from GftNC
I do not think there is any actual malice in any of the regular commenters, just occasional greater or lesser spurts of annoyance

is precisely my view. The range of experiences and activities of the people here is astonishing, but this group is self selected. In the world but not of it in the Christian formula. That's why accusations of 'well, what are you doing to save [x]' really don't work. If we were really committed, we probably wouldn't have time to thrash things out on a blog.

LJ-- I think the coolness factor is real. Almost every political faction group either takes pride in being the popular mainstream one or thinking it is or if that isn't possible, then people often take pride in being part of the group which understands what is really going on. Some people do both-- that is, they manage to be cool in their own minds and mainstream. I used to be both evangelical and a Chomsky reader. I was cool in two dimensions. Now that I am an enlightened liberal Christian, my coolness beggars belief.

But thinking one is part of some inner circle of understanding is irrelevant to Chomsky's point, which Is so obvious it is banal. He says that you would expect the upper classes in any society to feel basically good about a system which produced them, though they might not be fully happy about all the details and favor various reforms. ( Personally I too just want reforms-- not sure what a full scale revolution would produce.). The mainstream press will reflect this. If there are any serious wrongs committed by the government, they will be, if acknowledged, portrayed as tragic mistakes or at worst as the actions of some horrible individuals like the one currently in the WH. Looking at how the MSM functions in the US this seems pretty much on the mark.

Let me assure lj that any coolness I might have left is not derived from posting at ObWi ... :)

What drives me up the wall is a seemingly high tolerance for killing brown people in faraway countries among some posters here that is incongruous with their entirely justified sensitivity towards any sort of sexism, racism of homophobia etc.

But thinking one is part of some inner circle of understanding is irrelevant to Chomsky's point

I don't think you watched the clip. Chomsky creates his own "inner circle of understanding". Here's the transcript,

Now there are other media too whose basic social role is quite different: it's diversion. There's the real mass media-the kinds that are aimed at, you know, Joe Six Pack -- that kind. The purpose of those media is just to dull people's brains.

This is an oversimplification, but for the eighty percent or whatever they are, the main thing is to divert them. To get them to watch National Football League. And to worry about "Mother With Child With Six Heads," or whatever you pick up on the supermarket stands and so on. Or look at astrology. Or get involved in fundamentalist stuff or something or other. Just get them away. Get them away from things that matter. And for that it's important to reduce their capacity to think.

Take, say, sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it -- you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance. [audience laughs] That keeps them from worrying about -- [applause] keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it's striking to see the intelligence that's used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in -- they have the most exotic information [more laughter] and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.

You know, I remember in high school, already I was pretty old. I suddenly asked myself at one point, why do I care if my high school team wins the football game? [laugbter] I mean, I don't know anybody on the team, you know? [audience roars] I mean, they have nothing to do with me, I mean, why I am cheering for my team? It doesn't mean any -- it doesn't make sense. But the point is, it does make sense: it's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements -- in fact, it's training in irrational jingoism. That's also a feature of competitive sports. I think if you look closely at these things, I think, typically, they do have functions, and that's why energy is devoted to supporting them and creating a basis for them and advertisers are willing to pay for them and so on.

Chomsky is someone who has taken rhetoric to the level of a competitive bloodsport, but more important, note how he uses these various tropes to create a group of people more discerning than the ordinary, and they lap it up. Recall that HRC got hammered for the 'basket of deplorables' Why is it that HRC gets dinged (and I'm not going to look it up, but there were several people here who complained about her saying that) which was half of the Trump supporters, so we are talking about maybe 20%? Yet Chomsky is happy to consign 80% to the dumb sheep category. Why? Because he knows his audience...

I could just as easily interpret Chomsky as saying that the "other media" simply aren't bothering to target the most politically engaged 20% of people, and even that as number he's admittedly ("or whatever they are") pulling out of his a$$.

Now that I am an enlightened liberal Christian, my coolness beggars belief.

Dude, you're not really happening until you're in the Unitarian Jihad.

Cleek makes a pie filter, that becomes evidence against him being open minded? Really? If being open minded means you need to take in everyone's point of view all the time, count me out.

i suspect everybody here is happier that they no longer have to sift through the pointless exchanges of fundamentally incompatible points of view.

regardless, i reserve the right to stop listening to people who add nothing to my life. if i feel that a person only divides and subtracts, i have ways of shutting that down. after how many years (?) i don't need any more of that shit in my mind so if you like, consider that particular entry point closed.

and just FYI, i wrote the original ObWi pie filter a decade ago, when ObWi was attacked by a particularly annoying troll.

I'm reminded of this.

What drives me up the wall is a seemingly high tolerance for killing brown people in faraway countries among some posters here that is incongruous with their entirely justified sensitivity towards any sort of sexism, racism of homophobia etc.

I'm not sure about here (not having kept a mental tally). But my sense is that a lot of those who exhibit a high tolerance for killing brown people in faraway countries have an equally high tolerance for killing white people in faraway countries.

I submit that, if Russia did not have nuclear weapons, they would be beating the drums like mad for sending US forces into Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion. And probably pushing on, at least with raids, into Russia itself, in order to attack base areas. Probably would have done the same over Georgia a decade or so ago. Do you doubt it?

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