Harris on Rubin Report 6/13/18

 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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13 June 2018 18:31
 

Harris has really become unlistenable on the subject of Trump.

It’s impossible to believe he’s not dissembling because he knows his social cachet will take too big a hit to make a more honest assessment after all his other anti-PC stands.  But the result is a palpable lack of his characteristic integrity or at the very least his conveying the sense that he’s dumber than most people know him to be.

He grandstands for a long time, giving Rubin very little room to push back against his absurd exfoliations.  (This is probably a tactic to avoid a more pointed exposure to a series of quick interrogatories and ripostes.) 

Harris drones on about Trump not condemning NK human rights abuses—which is utterly beside the point when the president is trying to negotiate down a nuclear state and help stabilize the world first via realpolitik.  (Human rights, ever laudable, can only logically follow resolving that first.)  Rubin gamely cites Obama’s own similar behavior about Iran and Harris quickly deflects to Clinton, saying ~“most wouldn’t ignore this human rights issue” or something like that.  Obviously he’s caught in his own red herring here, and further, his point about Clinton does not even stand scrutiny.

Rubin floats the idea that last election many feared the radical identity Left was an even bigger danger than Trump, and Harris pauses and struggles to square which of the two in fact might be the bigger threat—a moment of genuine exposure of his true thinking.  But this one moment undercuts his entire argument.  If the call the last election were close enough to give Sam serious pause as it did here, then why can’t Harris grant the same capacity for cognition to half the nation?

Harris continually parses Trump in terms of his constant lying and not in the dry utilitarian terms of his actual accomplishments.  A better economy, real economic growth, lower unemployment, a serious exposure of our elites having become as feckless and lying as Trump (see CNN, NYT, Comey, Clapper and Brennan).  Are Trump’s lies, in the aggregate, perhaps worth all this?  What of the relentless propaganda on CNN, which is supposed to be above Trump?  (Harris at least acknowledges what they have become.)

Nor does Harris ever seriously address how bad eight more years of Obama might have been in many objective people’s eyes—nor face the fact that Trump was the only candidate of either party that could have beaten Clinton.  He never exhausts the logical converse:  What of another 8 years of campus kangaroo courts, identity-based consent decrees hamstringing the nation’s police (while costing thousands more lives due to inaction and passivity of engagement), classroom discipline policies that put both teachers and students at risk (by letting students who attack teachers return to class), a Left that now demands ever more spending and wants to re-engineer healthcare without having shown any specific competence to do so, a Left that wants de facto open borders (only racists could oppose them?), has no real criticism to lodge against Islamic terror, is comfortable with a MSM that polls around 25-30% in terms of the public’s trust and respect, etc., not to mention the various machinations of the FBI, DOJ, CIA now being exposed.

As to Trump’s mental incapacity, he did manage to defeat 15 or so major party candidates, the combined media from around the world, odds and bookmakers everywhere, and our cultural and intellectual elites.

I didn’t vote for Trump, but I get tired of Harris not even making a good faith attempt to make the argument from the other side.

Harris ought to sit down with Victor Davis Hanson or Conrad Black and actually deal with a serious intellectual who does not go as wobbly as the over-conciliatory Rubin does.  Hanson would likely win—no wonder he does not go out of his way to have a serious pro-Trump intellectual (aside from the middling Scott Adams).

I still admire Harris but only when he stays away from the Trump maelstrom, having proven so incapable of honestly evaluating him.

[ Edited: 14 June 2018 04:16 by John V. Linton]
 
Celal
 
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Celal
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14 June 2018 09:43
 

I agree completely.

I noticed Harris when he came out with his honest, reasoned and articulate look at religion in the “End of Faith”,  and now looking like a partisan hack, coming across like someone incapable of conducting a rational discourse. All in an attempt to satisfy his atheist base.  Looking back, he should not have been included in the company of intellectuals like Hitchens. Whether you agreed with Hitchens or not, he followed his convictions.  He went after Clintons in a book about Bill and his lies.  He supported Iraq War, consistent with his anti-Islam stance.  He gave the finger to Bill Maher’s live audience when booed about his support of Bush’s war.  Hitchens could never be accused of catering to his base.

I simply do not see that kind of integrity in Harris anymore as his views driven more by expediency than principled convictions.  Now I find him boring. A pity. Such a talented guy.

 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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14 June 2018 10:11
 
Celal - 14 June 2018 09:43 AM

I agree completely.

I noticed Harris when he came out with his honest, reasoned and articulate look at religion in the “End of Faith”,  and now looking like a partisan hack, coming across like someone incapable of conducting a rational discourse. All in an attempt to satisfy his atheist base.  Looking back, he should not have been included in the company of intellectuals like Hitchens. Whether you agreed with Hitchens or not, he followed his convictions.  He went after Clintons in a book about Bill and his lies.  He supported Iraq War, consistent with his anti-Islam stance.  He gave the finger to Bill Maher’s live audience when booed about his support of Bush’s war.  Hitchens could never be accused of catering to his base.

I simply do not see that kind of integrity in Harris anymore as his views driven more by expediency than principled convictions.  Now I find him boring. A pity. Such a talented guy.

Yes I agree Hitchens had more courage, and was finally willing to endure a great deal of social ostracism for his views.  (Interestingly, I think people on the Right build this in a lot earlier in their intellectual lives, the social=political being far more endemic to the Left, and therefore find it easier to take such stands, either: a) having long ceased to care about the social=political; OR b) having lol less connections as a result).

I hold out hope for Harris as he does have a decent spine and may just have a time-frame-bandwidth for how many hot stoves he can touch in any given year.  Given his fallout from his (quite reasonable) talk with Charles Murray, Harris has probably decided to go lukewarm for awhile.  So I’ll continue to listen to him where he makes sense (Islam and identity politics, maybe AI), and not when he doesn’t.

BTW I’m fine with intellectuals who have carve outs where there is a no-go subject—just not when they go there and then demonstrate an uncharacteristic lack of integrity.  An interesting case in point is Bret Weinstein.  He is saying some very smart things condemning identity politics, yet I do not hear him talking much about Obama, and I am totally fine with that.  He’ll touch on Trump but he strikes me as more reasonable on the subject than Harris.

The problem comes when Harris has relentlessly OCDed on the Trump subject, and continually invites these Trump hysterics (Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, Applebaum) on his podcast to heighten their own group delusions, patting themselves on the back as if these are measured responses to Trump’s palpable successes.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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18 June 2018 10:08
 

I suppose I can agree that persistent outrage is unproductive but I’m equally skeptical that open minded charity is the right approach to an evaluation of the Trump administration. For one thing I don’t see that sentiment being reciprocated. For another the toxic cultural element of the Trump movement is simply not avoidable. His rhetorical nods to fascism are not avoidable. I agree we should avoid hyperbolic digressions but I’m not personally willing to make room in my conscience for something that I find so morally repugnant.

As for the economy, I think the theory that Trump is uniquely responsible for current rebounds is pretty dubious (if that is the argument on offer) His overt disrespect of our allies seems certain to damage our trade relations and some cases already has.

On the broad view I think Trump support is far more costly than Trump resistance. My rough alliances will be with those who stand apart and against this movement even if we don’t agree on particulars. If I thought there was a semblance of leadership or competence I would try and build a bridge. There isn’t.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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23 June 2018 07:14
 

John:

Harris has really become unlistenable on the subject of Trump.

I’m 1:11:00 into the Rubin / Harris video, I think they’ve moved on from trump at this point, correct?

I find I largely agree with what Harris is saying about trump and I also agree that trump’s actions are so radical that it’s - literally - hard to find words to discuss his actions and their ramifications.

But even if I disagreed with Harris’s views on trump, I wouldn’t find him “unlistenable”. He remains a thoughtful, intelligent, well-spoken person. I’m not sure I can think of anyone with whom I always agree, is that the standard you’re setting for him? I’ll give you an example, I think Harris is consistently wrong to think that he can be both moderator and participant in the same debate. This is a stance he takes over and over again on his podcast, and it’s ruined many debates that could have been fruitful. I still find him listenable. Isn’t the whole point to find people you disagree with who will also debate you in good faith?

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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23 June 2018 08:46
 

Scott Adams comments on Harris’s appearance on the Rubin Report.

Harris, of course, has long taken umbrage with Adams’s assertion that “facts don’t matter.” Here, Adams explains that while facts matter most of the time, they don’t matter in politics. That’s not a value statement—he’s not saying that it’s “good” or “bad” that facts don’t matter in politics—it’s just a fact (one that matters, ironically enough) about politics.

Furthermore, Adams claims that this idea is nothing new. Trump is just outplaying politicians at their own game:

(At about the 12:00 mark): The world of politics was always a hundred percent bullshit. Always! It was just different bullshit. The thing that Trump has added is that he just does more of it and he does it better.

The upshot is: no matter how despicable you find Trump or how galling you find his lying, honesty is a losing strategy when it comes to politics. Is Harris the last person on the planet who still doesn’t realize this? Or are there other, equally naïve people out there?

 
 
icehorse
 
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23 June 2018 09:12
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 June 2018 08:46 AM

Scott Adams comments on Harris’s appearance on the Rubin Report.

Harris, of course, has long taken umbrage with Adams’s assertion that “facts don’t matter.” Here, Adams explains that while facts matter most of the time, they don’t matter in politics. That’s not a value statement—he’s not saying that it’s “good” or “bad” that facts don’t matter in politics—it’s just a fact (one that matters, ironically enough) about politics.

Furthermore, Adams claims that this idea is nothing new. Trump is just outplaying politicians at their own game:

(At about the 12:00 mark): The world of politics was always a hundred percent bullshit. Always! It was just different bullshit. The thing that Trump has added is that he just does more of it and he does it better.

The upshot is: no matter how despicable you find Trump or how galling you find his lying, honesty is a losing strategy when it comes to politics. Is Harris the last person on the planet who still doesn’t realize this? Or are there other, equally naïve people out there?

What I thought I heard Harris say on this point - more or less - is that not all patterns of lying are equally bad. Yes, all politicians lie, but there are tiers of badness, and trump occupies a tier that’s “several orders of magnitude” worse than what’s common. (I believe the “several orders of magnitude” comment came when they were comparing trump to Obama.)

 
 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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23 June 2018 11:25
 
icehorse - 23 June 2018 07:14 AM

John:

Harris has really become unlistenable on the subject of Trump.

I’m 1:11:00 into the Rubin / Harris video, I think they’ve moved on from trump at this point, correct?

I find I largely agree with what Harris is saying about trump and I also agree that trump’s actions are so radical that it’s - literally - hard to find words to discuss his actions and their ramifications.

But even if I disagreed with Harris’s views on trump, I wouldn’t find him “unlistenable”. He remains a thoughtful, intelligent, well-spoken person. I’m not sure I can think of anyone with whom I always agree, is that the standard you’re setting for him? I’ll give you an example, I think Harris is consistently wrong to think that he can be both moderator and participant in the same debate. This is a stance he takes over and over again on his podcast, and it’s ruined many debates that could have been fruitful. I still find him listenable. Isn’t the whole point to find people you disagree with who will also debate you in good faith?

I concur with your reasonable line of entertaining other viewpoints, and salute the correction.  I was overstating my sense that Harris is less acute and trenchant in analyzing the +/- aspects of Trump, some of whose policies have been pernicious and some of which appear to have produced some fruit (the economy, NK).

To me it’s implausible say that growth was relatively stymied under Obama for 8 years yet is taking off now quite a bit faster and that none of this can be imputed to the tax cut boosting confidence, if nothing else (i.e. if not freeing up investment capital).  I’m no expert on economics and no doubt the presidency’s impact is overstated, but there does not seem to be an obvious zero (let alone adverse) correlation here.

It’s too early to tell with NK, but my god the ball seems further along the field than “strategic patience” and there is some limit to how long one can run out the clock.  Could Hillary have pulled off this sort of realignment?  It may be that Trump, for all his faults, has an animal cunning that reads the weak spots in his international enemies more adroitly.

Similarly I wasn’t a big fan of the realpolitik acumen of the Iran deal, which granted a great deal of $ to Iran for a bad deal that let them have certain sites free of inspections, and with which $ Iran has since spawned more terror, killing more innocents.

Now if the question is Trump’s racial demagogy, then I agree with the left there, nor did I vote for him for that reason.  But to my mind it’s a mixed bag—or at least needs more careful refutation why it’s not.

Harris at one point in the video seems genuinely nonplussed whether returning the left to power or voting Trump is worse—and I think my point stands that this belies a great deal of his other rhetoric that the choice was so morally obvious it’s stunning people would disagree.

If one is being purely a consequentialist, it’s too early to tell, but some things look better than others.

[ Edited: 23 June 2018 11:29 by John V. Linton]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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23 June 2018 19:49
 
icehorse - 23 June 2018 09:12 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 23 June 2018 08:46 AM

Scott Adams comments on Harris’s appearance on the Rubin Report.

Harris, of course, has long taken umbrage with Adams’s assertion that “facts don’t matter.” Here, Adams explains that while facts matter most of the time, they don’t matter in politics. That’s not a value statement—he’s not saying that it’s “good” or “bad” that facts don’t matter in politics—it’s just a fact (one that matters, ironically enough) about politics.

Furthermore, Adams claims that this idea is nothing new. Trump is just outplaying politicians at their own game:

(At about the 12:00 mark): The world of politics was always a hundred percent bullshit. Always! It was just different bullshit. The thing that Trump has added is that he just does more of it and he does it better.

The upshot is: no matter how despicable you find Trump or how galling you find his lying, honesty is a losing strategy when it comes to politics. Is Harris the last person on the planet who still doesn’t realize this? Or are there other, equally naïve people out there?

What I thought I heard Harris say on this point - more or less - is that not all patterns of lying are equally bad. Yes, all politicians lie, but there are tiers of badness, and trump occupies a tier that’s “several orders of magnitude” worse than what’s common. (I believe the “several orders of magnitude” comment came when they were comparing trump to Obama.)

So, what Harris perceives as “several orders of magnitude worse than what’s common,” Adams perceives as “he just does more of it and he does it better.” Again, from the perspective of winning in politics. Harris seems incapable of separating the value statement (lying is bad) from the factual statement (lying is a winning strategy in politics).

 
 
icehorse
 
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24 June 2018 08:49
 

Hey ASD,

In this podcast, I didn’t hear that from Harris. The way I interpret what I heard him say was that there are some - admittedly hard to pin down - thresholds when it comes to the frequency and audacity of a person’s lies. So we could say that we’ve all come to accept (for better or worse), that politicians typically lie at “Defcon 4”, and we know how to deal with that, although it does have it’s issues. But that trump lies at “Defcon 2”, and that has bigger negative implications that we don’t fully understand and that we certainly don’t yet know how to deal with.

Edit: thanks to LJ, I edited my post to more meaningful Defcon numbers.

[ Edited: 24 June 2018 10:30 by icehorse]
 
 
LadyJane
 
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24 June 2018 09:22
 

The DEFCON scale decreases in number while increasing in severity.  Which means lying is at DEFCON 1 and your flag should be flying upside down.

 
 
icehorse
 
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24 June 2018 10:31
 
LadyJane - 24 June 2018 09:22 AM

The DEFCON scale decreases in number while increasing in severity.  Which means lying is at DEFCON 1 and your flag should be flying upside down.

Thanks!, defcon post edited.