The Coalition of the Comfortable vs Reality

I have said many times that one of the greatest of all of the Bush legacies of destruction, is the destruction of facts.

The iconic quote, via Suskind:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality-judiciously, as you will-we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

The mantle of the reality Based Community was proudly taken up by the Blogosphere as the standard for all argument. Do you have FACTS to back up what you say, or are you creating your reality. This spawned another iconic quote; “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

Combined with he techniques that Fox news perfected when confronted with pesky facts….Deny the fact, make up your own version of the fact, smear the messenger bearing the fact, and then claim that the fact has been debunked and wave away any further discussion of that fact….a new political reality was indeed created.

A reality where Giuliani can claim with a straight face that there were no terrorist attacks on the US under George Bush. But that sort of thing is not the real and lasting damage that I speak of. The real and lasting damage is that a new generation has grown up and become politically active knowing only this technique of ‘debate.’

And so that is the technique these relative political naifs use. To great effect, to so great an effect that then their older more experienced allies who should (or do) know better have adopted it too. It is the faith based argument, the argument of ‘the gut,’ it is the argument of those that have no real argument… except for the one overweening argument that they share with Republicans: We’re right and you’re wrong.

And NOTHING you can say will change that.

It is the substitution of opinion and instinct for fact, and not only has it destroyed the larger political conversation, but it is threatening to destroy the blogosphere as well, this substitution of individual ‘felt’ reality for a reality that can be proven.

If nothing can be proven to a level that overcomes ‘the gut facts,’ of the opposition…..such as the “fact” that you can trust a politician to never lie….then it simply does not matter what actual fact facts you present in argument. The “gut fact” can never be disproved by fact facts because the gut fact is a “higher,” unquestionable fact.

And when you are proceeding from a “higher fact,” such as that a politician will never lie, has only the best interests of The People at heart, (and not the interests of say, Big Pharma) and is smarter than everyone else in the world when in (what used to be called) reality he is only smarter than the person saying he is the smartest person in the world, and is therefor able to fool the person making the argument into thinking so….


ALL other “facts” flow from that “higher fact.”

In THEIR ‘reality’….Said politician is the smartest guy in the world, will never lie or obfuscate or obscure, has only the best interest of The People at heart and so….

Any actual facts that disagree with something this politician says or does are obviously untrue. Indisputably, in ‘fact,’ untrue.

Simply untrue.

No matter how thoroughly they can be proven. Let alone (shudder) any logical inferences that can be drawn from those facts. And if you bring up the past 40 or 50 years of the set in stone pattern of Democrats lying to and betraying their base, (which the naifs have not lived through for the most part, or not paid attention to at any rate, since they have only started paying attention since their guy showed up) then you have committed the mortal sin of comparing this politician to any other Dem politician of the past, when HE is obviously different from every other politician who has ever lived. You then are a heretical apostate who must be burned at the verbal stake of their scorn, denial, own version of the ‘facts,’ smeared, personally insulted and dismissed as someone just trying to “make trouble,” “get Republicans elected,” and “destroy” said politician. And you obviously have some nefarious motivation for bring up the uncomfortable facts

These are their “facts.”

This is their “reality.”

And if you question or challenge their “reality,” if you disPROVE their “reality,” then it is obvious that there is something wrong with you and your facts…..because obviously it is simply impossible that there could be something wrong with their ‘reality.’

At the first sign of “dissent” (presenting facts) the Foxification begins. The facts are denied and other, unlinked and usually misunderstood facts, are substituted. If you persist and present further proof, you are insulted. If the insults don’t work, your motivations are smeared, and once your motivations are in question you….and your facts…can simply be waved off.

It is a quicksand form of argument that once it begins, cannot be escaped. Nothing can be proven because no fact rises above the “Higher Fact.” They may not be able to say WHY you are wrong….but you are simply and obviously wrong.

This is NOT a tactic, not consciously used to derail the discussion into a personal argument and an exchange or just receive personal insults, as one might think. It is not a conscious strategy used to distract from the actual issue by diving to the lowest possible level of debate.

This is all they know.

This is all, unfortunately, they are capable of. They have no standards of argument other than the standards of Rove and Fox. And in the process of introducing these standards of ‘argument’ into the once Reality Based blogosphere, they have succeeded in destroying any other standards.

And thus the political conversation has devolved to its current level on the blogs.

So what is to be done?

After months of studying the phenomenon I have reached the only possible conclusion. The only thing that can be done is to ignore the worst of these folks. You simply cannot honestly debate them. They cannot be convinced because they are possessed of unchallengeable and unassailable “higher facts.”

It is a waste of time and energy, and only pointless conflict can come of it.

But it takes discipline to ignore them, discipline to not jump in and destroy their assumptions and illusions masquerading as facts, reason, and argument.

It takes the kind of discipline that the Left must develop to overcome the “reality” that they, like Bushco and Fox, wish to create.

It takes the kind of discipline, both individual and collective, that will be necessary to move the conversation and the country back to REAL reality, instead of created reality.

And we all know that REAL reality has a well known Liberal Bias.


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  1. Tim Geihtner is obviously an honest guy because Obama appointed him and Obama is an honest guy.


    • Edger on January 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    don’t you want to WIN? Eh?


    • Edger on January 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    long ago… (in 2007)

    No Time Left To Compromise With Evil, by OPOL

    Some people believe we shouldn’t complain too loudly, protest too vigorously or argue too passionately – the theory being that if we appear too leftist, too radical or too seriously committed to our beliefs that people who don’t share those beliefs will be offended and therefore unlikely to become seriously committed radical leftists themselves one day.  Well I have big news; those dim bulbs are not likely to ever shine – certainly not in response to our stifling ourselves.  For once, let’s let the smart people have their say.

    If one guy believes in global warming denial, torture, war profiteering, and ripping off the poor and another guy objects to all of these things, then one of these guys is right and one is wrong.  This is not merely a difference this is a distinction.  I’m not saying the latter individual is more human than the former, I’m saying he is a better human…period.


    Some people have said to me ‘I don’t trust anyone who claims to know the truth.’  My response is that some truths are complicated and some truths are simple.  It’s no great horror to know the simple truth when you see it.  Torture is an abomination, dropping bombs on babies is an outrage, people deserve healthcare and good treatment, and lying to the people is no way to run a democracy.  All of these things are true.

    One does not compromise with Straussians, neocons, chickenhawks or clueless bastards.  People who still support George W. Bush, torture and war profiteering at this late stage of human history are beyond reason or persuasion.  There is no point whatsoever in worrying about how such people see things, what they might say, or how they might characterize our actions or arguments.  These people should not be appeased or wooed, they should be marginalized and driven back under the rocks from which they have slithered.

  2. … thinking about this comment from a poster at Dk, Bruh1, who I believe is a very original thinker.  It was an interchange between bruh1 and heart of a quince (“quince” here at DD):

    I understand what you mean, but ultimately people can play you in ways that they can not play me because I don’t allow them to use my own sense of what is reasonable against me. They can use your progressive psychology against you just as the centrist in the Senate play the progressive Senators. You have to be willing to hit back. And I think this is a BiG problem with progressives. Many of you are afraid to do so because your own psychology is waiting for absolute proof. Meanwhile the other side dominates you while you are waiting for that smoking gun.

    This line stood out for me:

    I don’t allow them to use my own sense of what is reasonable against me.

    Ignoring … I’d like to define that term, at least insofar as I see it, as an individual, because my understanding of that as a political strategy has changed over the past year or so.

    Even the folks who are a hopeless cause in this context have to be dealt with sometimes, as revolting a task as that is … so what I am groping to say here is that “ignoring” isn’t just turning one’s back, iow, one can speak to them or not speak to them — the “ignoring” occurs in our own mind, not particularly in our physical behavior.

    Iow, it’s a state of mind, not any one behavior.  That keeps this strategy flexible under many circumstances.

    And I’m looking at this essay with the title put the other way:  “Reality v. The Coalition of the Comfortable.”  Guess which side I’m on.

  3. a motherlode of Cambodian proverbs…lol. Trying to decide which one(s) to post here. Here ya go.

    Skill cannot defeat will.

  4. see the defense mechanisms pop up when discussing something outside of one’s reality.   Especially with Obama.  I don’t know how many diaries/essays and comments I’ve seen, that get attacked in some way, where I thot, if the person just left Obama out of the comment or essay, the reaction would be totally different.  For example, if you speak out against the wars, and blame it all on Bush, you certainly get a different response from many than you would if you said, these are Obama’s wars now.  

    • Robyn on January 8, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    { Place hands over ears }


  5. I never say that people are stupid.  (Confession:  I may sometimes think it, but I don’t say it!)

    If intelligent people are saying stupid things, unless they are obviously on drugs, it’s best to try to get into their mindframe if you want to have any influence.  HOW are they thinking?  In other words, method.

    And when you are proceeding from a “higher fact,” such as that a politician will never lie, has only the best interests of The People at heart … and is smarter than everyone else in the world when in (what used to be called) reality he is only smarter than the person saying he is the smartest person in the world …

    With this, then you can at least start to get at the root of understanding.  I would only say that your example is somewhere in the middle of the methodology chain.  Power, and people’s responses to power, are also part of everyone’s consciousness.

    “You can’t fight city hall,” etc., etc.  You don’t address that with arguments, because you can’t fight city hall.  But if you do fight city hall, the impact can send shock waves beyond the terms of the fight itself.

    Now, I would say that you can’t BEAT city hall.  Not now.  But you can fight it.  Small numbers can fight it if their intention is to fight it.  If their intention is to beat it, then their doom is pre-ordained.

    At this point, I think what is needed into dramatic mass actions, but small actions by relatively small numbers of people.  Cindy Sheehan is one example.  There are others.  Actions aimed at the chinks in the framework of understanding.

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