[FoRK] The real threat of reactionary socialism

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Sun May 25 00:55:31 PDT 2008

On May 24, 2008, at 9:09 PM, Joseph S. Barrera III wrote:
> Jeff Bone wrote:
>> I agree;  I think I pointed out that she was on the loonie fringe in
>> the first e-mail about this.
>> Doesn't really change the point, does it?
> Sure it does. You're worried about a "trend" but she's a totally  
> irrelevant nutbar.

I think your facts are right on but your conclusions are wrong, and  
here's why.

Yes, she's a nutbar.  But if you can't spot the trend, then you aren't  
paying close enough attention.  Here's how it works.

She's a nutbar, and she makes some comments that are, frankly, pretty  
outrageous --- yet the only place it's initially picked up is in the  
right-nutbar media.

What does this tell us?  Well...

(1) media loves nutbars and outrageous statements, so the fact that  
it's only picked up by opposite-extreme media is a bit curious...

(2) that tells us that it's not being regarded as all that exceptional

(3) data point:  in 2006 a random use of the term "macaca" cost George  
Allen his reelection

(4) data point:  in 2002 Trent Lott's comments at Strom Thurmond's  
birthday cost him his Senate majority leadership slot

(5) in both those cases the mainstream media picked up and ran with  
those stories like crazy right from the get-go

So from this we can synthesize the following plausible hypothesis:   
the "mainstream" media in general reacts with vigor to outrageous  
right-wing statements, but not to similarly outrageous left-wing  
statements.  Now, unlike the right-wing conspiracy theorists, I don't  
actually suppose that most of the "mainstream" media is in fact a vast  
left-wing conspiracy.  I think they're in business, and I think  
they'll sell anything sensational.  And further, I'd say they probably  
have a pretty good idea of what counts as sensational...  and a  
sitting Congresswoman making comments about nationalizing the oil  
industry isn't regarded as sensational because, in the opinion of the  
mainstream newsmakers, most people aren't going to find the suggestion  
all that outrageous.

And there it is.

I could be wrong, but I've made my living in one way or another over  
the last 15+ years by extrapolating about trends from often fairly  
sketchy evidence, and I've not been wrong about that sort of thing  
very often.  So you could be right, my pattern recognizer could be  
generating a false positive here --- but I feel pretty confident about  
the prediction I'm making.  America's leaning a lot further left than  
most people are willing to acknowledge just yet.

Time will tell.

> Does anyone know who the two people to her right (physically  
> speaking) are?
> Looks like they were basically cracking up. Practically laughing at  
> her.

Yup, I believe I already pointed this out.  Didn't recognize those  
folks, though.


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