CSotD: The Cassandra Dialogues

John Deering offers a familiar take on a folk tale, though with a twist.

Variations of the story exist in several cultures, but the most familiar involves a young girl who is aided by a frog (or other animal) that then wants a kiss or, more often, to sleep in her bed.

Either way, when she is pressed to comply, it turns into a handsome prince and her fortune and happiness follow.

Deering’s variation shows the girl refusing the frog’s aid and thus cheating herself out of all the good that would have followed.

An important variation here is that, while the frog is now telling the truth and offering to help the girl, it has a substantial record of lying, which makes her refusal to embrace him even more understandable.

Barr began telling the truth when he was questioned by the Jan 6 Committee, though he had broken with Trump slightly earlier, over the election lies and Trump’s attempts to skirt the truth of his defeat.

Since then, he has become a willing font of information about the Trump administration, countering some foundational lies and insisting that Trump is unfit for public office.

But he says he’d vote for him again, which makes the American princess reluctant to trust his word.

In the Greek myths of the Trojan War, Cassandra is blessed with the gift of prophecy but cursed with the fact that no-one will believe her, the crescendo coming when she warns them not to trust Greeks bearing gifts and they ignore her warning, bringing the wooden horse inside their walls.

History is full of reasons that Cassandra’s story has lasted more than 3,000 years, though we prefer the happily-ever-after tale in which the princess embraces the frog and is rewarded, rather than the less cheerful one in which Cassandra is raped, abducted and murdered.

It doesn’t help to have created a system of information exchange which, as Joy of Tech says, is currently sinking into self-destruction.

This latest Twitter crisis is being decried as the end of the platform, and, though we’ve heard that before, things do seem particularly dire, despite Musk having recently hired a new CEO to reportedly lead Twitter out of crisis mode.

There are two stories at work here, and you may believe either.

In one tale, Musk purchased Twitter with $44 billion of his own fortune, but has proved incompetent to run it properly, making foolish mistakes while being distracted by indulging right wing fantasies.

In the other, he was staked in the purchase and is working under a plan to turn Twitter into a sounding board for those right wing fantasies.

But the horse is already within our walls, whatever may be hiding inside it.

As noted here before, I’ve curated the site such that it continues to be useful, blocking haters and extremists and autocratic nincompoops.

However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still out there, exerting their influence on people who haven’t blocked them and haven’t stopped listening.

And people don’t seem to listen. They should have been able to see the photos of Trump’s inauguration and clearly known that it hadn’t broken any records and, in fact, was a bit paltry.

But Kellyanne Conway insisted that it was a massive gathering, and described Trump’s fanciful headcount as “alternative facts.”

Seven years later, we are awash in alternative facts.

Some are alternative facts of our own breeding. Michael Ramirez (Creators) repeats a common misinterpretation of affirmative action, which has some roots in initial, clumsy attempts at achieving diversity.

These well-intentioned failures were abandoned as the system corrected, modified and developed, and became — as intended — one in which, having assembled a large, qualified group of applicants, the attempt to achieve diversity was factored among the other elements within that well-qualified group.

But not before those early shake-down efforts provided fodder for those who opposed diversity. The notion that affirmative action means admitting or hiring unqualified minorities is incorrect, but, if suggested honestly, it’s a misunderstanding, and could be readily overcome among people of good will.

The issue is at what point an honest misunderstanding becomes an intentional lie?

Rick McKee (Counterpoint) calls the Hunter Biden Whatsapp messages a “smoking gun.” The messages suggest nepotism and that the elder Biden — out of office at the time — would use his influence against anyone who did not do deals with his son.

But Hunter’s saying so is not evidence that any of it is true. Biden attorneys are pushing back against the purported evidence, and their denial doesn’t prove that Hunter didn’t say it.

But, even assuming the messages are genuine, they aren’t a smoking gun. They’re a clue.

Example: The fact that the men who broke into Democratic HQ at the Watergate had a notebook with Howard Hunt’s phone number in it was a clue. The tape in which Richard Nixon discusses payoff money for the burglars was a smoking gun.

There’s a difference, even in a world of alternative facts.

In that world of alternative facts, however, Steve Kelley (Creators) can simply say that attempts to link Trump to tax fraud, to soliciting election fraud or to attempting to overturn the confirmation of the 2020 election results are a partisan effort to “Get Trump,” while the real crime is in “Biden Corruption.”

McKee is claiming to have found a smoking gun when he hasn’t. But Kelley is simply making vague accusations. His ideas could start a discussion, but that conversation would have to begin with an actual example or two. Until then, there’s nothing to refute.

It’s puffery, and perfectly acceptable, if not particularly admirable.

But speaking of Trojan horses, Robert Ariail points out a case that may be just that.

“No Labels” claims to be an independent third-party group with a cunning plan to win the White House through fed-up moderate voters rejecting both Trump and Biden.

That no third-party effort has ever succeeded in this is one reason to doubt their plan, while there are a number of examples of third-party candidates draining votes from a moderate candidate, the most striking modern example being Ralph Nader’s 2004 campaign, credited with shifting the razor-thin margin away from Al Gore and causing the election of George W. Bush and thus the Iraq War.

Unlike most previous third-party groups, No Labels refuses to disclose their financial backers, who appear to largely favor Trump, the likely beneficiary of a third party effort.

Another frog begging to be kissed, but this time perhaps loaded with bufotoxins.

And, as that treatment center cautions,

13 thoughts on “CSotD: The Cassandra Dialogues

  1. Since Gore didn’t run in 2004, the Nader campaign you mean must have been in 2000.

    And google verifies my memory that Ross Perot got a much higher fraction of the vote in ’92 than Nader did in ’00. But maybe not clear which candidate he shifted votes from?

    1. If I remember right, Perot took equally from Bush and Clinton, with about a third of Perot voters saying they would not have voted at all if he were not in the race. I think the only state where Perot made a difference was Montana.

      1. Yes, 2000, and I agree that, while giving all of Perot’s votes to Bush could have reversed things in 1992, I don’t know that he didn’t take votes from each or bring new voters to the polls.

        Nader was much more likely to have taken votes from Gore than W, though, again, he may have brought new voters out. And the results were closer. What Nader did around the rest of the nation is largely irrelevant, but a shift of votes from Nader to Gore, either in New Hampshire or Florida, could have reversed things, more likely in Florida than NH.

        The Florida count remains a mystery, but it’s safe to say that Bush won the state by just under 1,000 votes. Nader had won 97,488 votes, and it’s easy to see how his appeal to a more liberal public could readily have split that vote in a way that would have given Gore the state and thus the election.

        The argument against that is that the Florida election system was so hosed that you can’t make any suppositions about what might have been. Fair enough, but if you can’t say Nader cost Gore the state, you certainly can’t say he didn’t.

    2. So please someone tell what Trump did wro as president of the United States. Please please tell me.

    1. It’s more complex than just a third-party entry, because the dying Whig party — apart from having some people who never gave it up — left a structure for the Republican Party to build on. Between Whigs willing to depart and Democrats willing to come aboard, it was a substantial party from the start.

      If the GOP falls apart, it could happen again, but so far even the non-MAGA Republicans seems determined to remain faithful. If the MAGAts were the only ones to show up to vote in 2024, leaving the GOP with 20 or 30 percent of the vote, the party could fall apart as the Whigs did.

      But you can’t seriously expect a third party to suddenly appear and become dominant unless that happens, and then only after it happens. The Republicans picked up the pieces of the fallen Whig party — they didn’t cause it to self-destruct.

      A third party can’t expect to be successful unless they build from the ground up, capturing state seats, mayoralities and a few House seats, a bit at a time, until they emerge as a national power. So far, however, the third party dreamers want to start at the White House, which is just silly. Not gonna happen.

  2. “what Trump did wro”? That’s what I’m seeing, but I’ll assume you meant “wrong”…
    Among other things, Trump most commonly was seen to lie his way into the presidency and to continue lying throughout his presidency. And these weren’t occasional lies, they were daily. It got so absurd that the Washington Post fact checkers began cataloging his lies to show that it didn’t matter the topic, Trump had probably lied about it to someone during his presidency. The count was over 30,000 last time I looked. One of the big lies was his tax “reform” plan that he said would benefit the majority of us, when in fact it only benefited the wealthiest of us.
    His biggest lie was that he knew better than anyone how to make things work better, but pretty much things got worse if he had anything to do with it. Immigration policies and his wall, tariffs on China, relations with our allies, and, most significantly, his handling of the pandemic all failed badly. And then there were his illegal activities which have, so far, led to 71 counts in which he is accused of breaking the law, and there are likely more to come. In America, anybody can make this claim or that about someone it something, but until you get your day in court, they’re just accusations. Trump called election fraud in 2020 and went to court in over 60 separate cases, and lost all but one, and that one didn’t add up to enough votes to alter the results. He could not PROVE fraud in court, yet he continues to claim fraud.
    He also claims that the Presidential Records Act gave him full right to take the documents he’s accused of stealing. In fact, the PRA says the opposite: former presidents do not own the documents of the government and cannot take them as their own personal property. So, more lies.
    These are just highlights of what he did wrong during his term of office. Is that enough?

    1. “… lost all but one [of 60 cases], and that one didn’t add up to enough votes to alter the results”

      Actually, the one he didn’t lose wasn’t really a win either. It was a temporary outcome that set aside counting of certain ballots until the court could make a ruling as to whether they should be counted. But since there weren’t enough of those votes to change the outcome of the presidential race no ruling was ever decided.

      The ballots in question were Pennsylvania mail-in ballots that arrived after Nov/3. Instructions on the mail-in ballots told the voter it was OK if they arrived late. The outcome of the case was that these ballots were set aside, to be counted if needed. (IRC they were in fact counted but AFAIK the tallies were never released, and were not included in the certified total). Had they been added to the count they certainly would extended Biden’s margin of victory.

  3. The common meme that Nader lost the election for Gore is entirely false, and a narrative that was created by the DNC to cover up the reality.
    The reality is that Gore lost Florida because DEMOCRATS voted for BUSH. Not because anyone voted for Nader.
    Jim Hightower said it best:
    “Nader only drew 24,000 Democrats to his cause, yet 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush. Hello. If Gore had taken even 1 percent of these Democrats from Bush, Nader’s votes wouldn’t have mattered. Second, liberals. Sheesh. Gore lost 191,000 self-described liberals to Bush, compared to less than 34,000 who voted for Nader.” (https://www.salon.com/2000/11/28/hightower/)

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