The Monday Morning Teaser

A lot of the news this week sounded like it came from The Onion. The fantasy of buying Greenland turned into a rift with our NATO ally Denmark. Our president was talking about being “the chosen one” and retweeting claims that he was “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God”. The chair of the Fed was a US enemy on a par with the dictator of China. American Jews are “disloyal” to a foreign country many of them have never seen.

This week I’m going to treat all that like trolling. It’s meant to make us jump up and down in outrage and ignore the real news: the Amazon basin is on fire, the G7 countries don’t look to the US for leadership any more, and the US/China trade war is nowhere near resolution as it pushes the world toward recession. Yes, our president is dangerously unstable and says ridiculous things that sometimes have real-world consequences, but that’s not news. We all knew that already.

The big thing going on in Sift-world this week was the accidental viral outbreak of last week’s featured post “How Should We Rewrite the Second Amendment?” It caught on, but with an audience I never intended: NRA types who hated it. A typical featured post these days gets 500-1000 page views (in addition to being seen by subscribers through email), but this one racked up 10K page views its first day, and eventually settled out just over 15K. At last glance, it had 290 comments, overwhelmingly negative.

I decided not to try to answer all the comments individually, so this week’s featured post will respond in general to the comment stream, which is an interesting artifact, revealing a chunk of the blogosphere that Sift readers may not see very often. That should be out soon.

The weekly summary — which, as I said, will try to skip quickly over the week’s various evidences of presidential instability and talk instead about the issues we’re meant to be distracted from — should be out around noon or so.

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  • Brian Douglas  On August 26, 2019 at 10:13 am

    I did see some of the comments that the Second Amendment post generated. Unfortunately thoughtful debate via social networking sites quickly degenerates into “troll vs troll”. Any even slightly “political” topic elicits the same pattern – within a few comments the exchanges become increasingly heated and vicious.

    • weeklysift  On August 26, 2019 at 10:43 am

      You’ve reminded me of the old “Spy vs. Spy” series in Mad magazine.

    • Anonymous  On September 2, 2019 at 6:20 pm

      “within a few comments the exchanges become increasingly heated and vicious.”

      That is generally not the case on this site. It’s a political blog, and the comments are generally thoughtful and civil.

  • Anonymous  On August 26, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    A decade ago I wrote a couple of posts about conspiracy theories on There was a storm of comment reaction and personal attacks that went on for some time. The article was reviewed negatively on “truther” websites and furnished me with many examples of poor logic and character assassination as a substitute for seeking an enlightened viewpoint.

    Extreme echo chambers make reasoned discussion nearly impossible. The NRA took a wrong turn a long way back. Had they stepped up as a professional association like the AMA, bar associations, the ARRL and the NFPA–then they could now be a part of the solution instead of being part of the persistence of the problems. Gun violence is an American health problem at its core, most deaths being friends and lovers shooting themselves or each other.

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