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Thursday, February 13, 2020


I have arrived!  I have a troll.  Signs itself RFGA PhD I think.  And they said no one cared!


RFGA, Ph.D. said...

I'm not a 'troll.' I came here from Leiter Report because of my interest in politics. And I'm just as much a philosopher as you are, Professor. Why aren't you fair-minded enough to address substance of my post instead of defaming me? said...

Ever notice that Russians tend to neglect English plurals, as well as definite articles? Oh, well, English-speaking Russians still seem to speak English better than most Americans.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

I dashed that response off on my cellphone, sitting in my car waiting for my daughter to get out of school. I see posts riddled with typos, but let it go as a gesture of good will. Not much of that around here. How about the SUBSTANCE of my earlier post, though? Still haven't heard anything about that. If you didn't catch it, here's the gist: 1) No Rust Belt for Bernie, or any other Dem, because of the Trump effect 2) There is a very good chance that a poll that flies in the face of 'conventional wisdom' is based on biased sampling.

David Palmeter said...


I think the rust belt is a definite problem for the Democrats not because pockets are full there--they aren't. That's why it's called the rust belt. I grew up in what is now the rust belt. My upstate NY home town has gone from 50K to 30K in population. The same is true of city after city in upstate NY, as well as PA, OHio etc etc. What jobs are there do not pay what the unionized factories in those cities paid.

I think Trump's appeal is more cultural. He sounds like "one of us," the guy sitting at the bar railing against the stupid pols.

The irony, of course,is that Trump is doing nothing that's in their interest. Instead, there are there are tax cuts for the wealthy, and cuts in benefits for those who ened them. There are "national emergency" tariffs on steel, which hammers the far larger fabricating industry of the rust belt. The list goes on. His budget wants to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I don't see how that would help the rust belt.

The list of Trump's shortcomings is too long for me to repeat, but you get the idea.

As to people not responding to the substance of your comment, go back and read it again. Assume you're correcting a student paper and marking down for ad hominem. What grade would you give it?

This blog is the only place I go where I'm not considered a left winger. I suspect most here consider me a centrist. I don't, but that's beside the point. My posts are often met with strong disagreement, but, apart from a few exceptions from a couple of people who no longer post here, the comments have been civil and to the point, and devoid of ad hominem. You should try it. I find it very rewarding.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

All kinds of America bashing goes on around here; plus I was called a troll the 1st time I posted. So let's dispense with the the appeals to civility. The fact is, job opportunities and even wages are rising steadily in and around Detroit, about as rusty as it gets, where I still live. Ditto just about everywhere else in the Midwest. Your hometown must be an outlier. As for the President's appeal, are the working class folks like me, who sincerely love the man and pack his rallies, so stupid as to be either clueless when it comes to their own interests or gullible enough to mistake a charlatan for their economic savior? 'Lumpen proleteriat' one of this blog's readers called us in frustration over the failure of impeachment scam. So much for your Myth of the Ad Hominen Free Zone.

Enam el Brux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dean said...

I would invite RFGA, the one with the Ph.D., to dip into the various compilations and editions of notes of the constitutional convention and contemporaneous discussions of what America was about to become. "Bashing" prevailed, if by "bashing" the Ph.D. means extremely divergent opinions and heated criticism of those proposals. The debate was not "civil." Here's to America, the new boss to Britain's old one.

I would also invite the Ph.D. to investigate more deeply the meaning of "ad hominem" and its related logical fallacy.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Dean/aka America's Pete Townshend wannabe,

No, by bashing I meant hateful remarks about American history and customs and insults like 'lumpen proletariat' and 'troll.' Both Adams and Jefferson, despite their differences, had our country's best interest at heart. You people want to 'radically transform' her, in BO's contemptible words, that is, DESTROY her. But, look, sycophant, I'm all in for vituperation- bring it on. Just don't expect me to compete for Blogger's Lady Byng Trophy.

p.s. I notice no one calls Mulvaney on putting 'Ph.D.' after his name.

Anonymous said...

Back to debates over substance, if we may.

Would anyone like to argue for or against these two claims that RFGA has made (the first explicitly and the second more implicitly)?

1) that job opportunities and wages are rising steadily in Detroit and just about everywhere else in the Midwest;

2) that this rise, if it is indeed happening, is due to Trump.

I ask these questions honestly.

My own awareness is of severe wage stagnation for the middle and working classes since the 70s/80s, combined with an extreme concentration of wealth at the top during that same period, with all the major redistributions of wealth going upwards rather than downwards (Reagan-era lowered taxes on corporations, S&L bailouts, Bush tax cuts, Obama bailouts of the financial industry, Trump tax cuts). But I'm open to learning, having my factual information corrected, and developing a more nuanced understanding. Which is what this blog is good for.

ES said...

Dear RFGA,

I'm with you; the word troll has been thrown around a lot in the media, usually meant to frame anyone saying anything "uncouth" or someone shilling for a foreign government.

That is most decidedly not what a troll is.

When the word troll was first used online, it denoted someone who came into an online thread or conversation to derail, distract (rickroll, anyone?), poke fun, and start disingenuously start heated arguments for the fun of it.

Now, you seem to have a genuine belief in president Trump, but that does not mean your arguments are not disingenuous. Calling folks "America bashers" does not signal that you are here for genuine discussion.

You are most definitely here to give your own opinion but also wilfully want to sling faeces at members of this community. Nobody asked you to come here. You are here to "start shit".

In that original sense of the word you are therefore most certainly a troll looking to make yourself feel better by attacking these "lefties" in a community that you have absolutely no stake in. You're looking to score some cheap hits and have a laugh at others' expense.

I suggest you either leave your insults at the door if you are looking for a real conversation, or otherwise leave altogether.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a midwestern regional college. My students are mostly first generation working college students, many with families and many who went from high school directly into the workforce before returning to school. Unlike more traditional universities of the kind many here might teach at, at our college, religious and politically conservative students are very well represented and very outspoken. I have yet to encounter a single student who supports Trump--though again, I often have students criticizing Democrats as socialists and supporting Republican and liberarian policies and positions.

My students constantly complain about how all the jobs they can find have shitty wages, how expensive their prescriptions are, how they don't have healthcare. Our local news is constantly filled with stories about closing businesses and the opioid epidemic.

The economy is better in broad general ways that benefit people at the top, but I see no sign that ordinary people in my rust-belt town are feeling that.

It's true that Trump has strong support in my area, but it's not as strong as RFGA suggests. My impression is it's mostly a combination of desperation and contempt for the Democratic Party, not belief that Trump has or will delivered for them. He'll be tough to beat, but all the evidence suggests Sanders can do it if the DNC will allow it.

s. wallerstein said...

I agree with ES above.

Here's Wikipedia's definition of "troll".

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses[2] and normalizing tangential discussion,[3] whether for the troll's amusement or a specific gain.

RFGA's comment yesterday on Professor Wolff's previous thread beginning with the phrase
"Dream on, Professor. And, while you're at it, feed some more false hope to your America-hating fans." is not an attempt to start a reasoned dialogue about politics. It's intent is to provoke.

Now if RFGA or any other Trump supporter were to appear in this blog, identify him or herself as a Trump supporter, give reasoned arguments about why he or she supports Trump without insults, without disqualifications, I'm sure that all of us would be more than willing to discuss the issues with him or her and would accept their presence as a regular commenter.

Dean said...

In fact, one of my roommates decades ago was a Pete Townshend wannabe, and a Native American one at that!

I'm having trouble connecting the dots. How is a desire for radical transformation hateful per se? Weren't Adams and Jefferson, each in his own way, eager to effect radical transformation?

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

We like things how they are with President Trump. Still a lot of work to do though. Most importantly, end legalized abortion. You folks, OTOH, think USA is 'fundamentally evil,' a la Marx, because capitalistic. Ergo, you hate us, that is, patriotic Americans.

David Palmeter said...

I for one don't believe the USA is fundamentally evil, though it's done some evil things (e.g., slavery, treatment of Native Americans, incarceration of Japanese Americans). And while there certainly are socialists who post on this blog, and Sanders is their preferred candidate, and Sanders also calls himself a socialist, he really isn't in the traditional sense. He does not favor government ownership of the means of production. He's not going to nationalize Amazon, Google or Microsoft. He does favor a helluva lot of regulation of the capitalist economy and a strong social safety net. Essentially, he seems to me to be a New Deal liberal or a Social Democrat in the European sense.

Anonymous said...

RFGA, who is "we" in "we like things how they are"? Show me some reliable numbers and polls. I have my anecdotal data about rust belt Americans, you have yours. Why should "we" believe you when you speak on behalf of all Americans?

No one on the true left believes any nation is fundamentally evil. It's a distinctive feature of left thinking, one we get grief for from conservatives, that we don't think evil is "fundamental"--it's often very circumstantial, good people can do bad things, bad people can become better, and so on.

Marx didn't hate the US. He considered moving here. He wrote a letter of congratulations to Abraham Lincoln. Marx didn't even hate capitalism, he saw it as a necessary stage with some good characteristics that becomes harmful if we don't move beyond it. Even many conservatives understand it's perfectly possible to morally critique a nation or individuals without hating them, to even severely critique them. When they severely criticize American culture on moral and religious grounds, does that mean they hate America?

Most leftists are realists: humans are by and large imperfect, most nations do bad things. We criticize the US more because it's our country, we know it better, and we care more that it improve. We also criticize the US more because it is one of the most powerful nations in the world--so while all nations do terrible things, we do them with greater consequence.

Who gave you the right to be the standard bearer of patriotic America? You want to ask what's the real America? Present day conservatives don't look like 18th century colonial America, and they sure as hell don't look like the 20th century America of the new deal, a century in which for 7 decades the top marginal tax rates were orders of magnitude higher than the last 3. They don't look like the first half of the decade when the socialist party was a major political force across the country, including the rust belt.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

"I notice no one calls Mulvaney on putting 'Ph.D.' after his name."
There is no reason to call me on it. I earned the degree, in participating in social media I choose to identify myself and in posting on this blog conduct myself in a respectful way when disagreeing with other participants. That, more or less, summarizes the difference between us. said...

RFGA, Ph.D, says, "...working-class folks like me...". Hmmm, I guess Ph.D.'s don't carry as much weight as they used to. C'mon, guys, this is a transparent troll---he's to be made sport of, not earnestly engaged with. On the other hand, bandying back and forth with Russian bots is where the true conversational chess action is.

LFC said...

There is a lot of data available on U.S. incomes, wages, distribution of both income and wealth etc. There is also, and relevantly, data available on mortality figures by age and other demographic characteristics, and on causes of mortality (including, e.g., drug overdoses, suicide, etc.) See e.g. the much-noticed (at the time) Deaton-Case paper, now a few years old but still relevant.

I doubt much of this would substantiate RFGA's claims about dramatically improved economic conditions in the rust belt and other depressed areas. With unemployment low, one might expect gradually rising wages in certain sectors, but my impression (a/k/a guess) is that increases, to the extent they have occurred, have been modest, and that many people need multiple jobs to survive. However, I haven't done the research.

Even if Trump can be credited w certain economic improvements, which is highly debatable esp. since he inherited a fairly strong set of ec. indicators from Obama, Trump's policies on immigration, climate, business regulation, courts, and aspects of foreign policy (e.g. policy on Iran, on Israel/Palestine) are disasters. Former amb. Martin Indyk, hardly a radical, pointed out recently that Trump's so-called peace plan for I/P would create Bantustans -- that's Indyk's word -- in the West Bank. It's the most one-sided "peace" plan a U.S. admin has ever proposed for the region.

Link to Indyk interview: