They also blog who only sit and comment… (Commentariat 2)

ctt and ca iconsPrincipal coding work on a suite of “commentariat” functions is complete. The result consists of three interconnected pages, of which one, “State of the Discussion” (SoD), is available from a main menu link, while the other two, “Comments This Thread” (CTT) and “Commenter Archives” (CA), will be accessible via icon-links available on each comment where it appears in comment threads, as well as within the SoD:

State of the Discussion

Answering a request initially from “Will Truman,” Contributing Editor at Ordinary Times, SoD portrays “the site upside down,” beginning with the most recent comments. Each item as displayed features the commenter, his or her avatar, the comment text or excerpt, and links to the full text, to the commented-on post, to the comment replied-to if any, and, via CTT and CA, to other comments by the same commenter either on the same thread or on other posts as archived. Individual comments are color-coded by post to make associating them easier, and also to provide an at-a-glance “heat map” of discussion at any given time. The entire output is paginated, and will be adjusted so that the full-width/columnar desktop display resolves to a simple sequential display on small screens.

State of the Discussion

State of the Discussion

The two icons that appear at the lower left of the individual comment-excerpt boxes link, respectively, to CTT and CAA.

As for the former:

Comments This Thread

Frequently as a commenter, when I’m engaged in discussion, I want to be able view the other commenter’s statements, or prior additional statements, while responding. At other times, I may run across someone who has said something notable on a particular topic, and I will be curious whether he or she has had more to say, or I’ll wonder where a particular exchange began.

By clicking on the CTT icon, the commenter will be able to bring up a new overlay page showing just the particular commenter’s comments offered on that discussion, in reverse chronological order.

Comments This Thread Are Go

Comments This Thread Are Go

At the bottom of the popped-up page, users can find another link to the given commenter’s archive of comments going back to the misty origins of all existence, or, rather, to his or her first comment ever at the site…

Commenter Archives

Open Commenter Archive

Open Commenter Archive

…or, really rather, all the way back to the first ever comment associated with his or her or zir or for all we know their email address: If the commenter happens also to be a registered user, then the code will seek all associated comments – so covering multiple email addresses – but, if you change email addresses or comment from different accounts, the archive will be incomplete: You can try registering for an account at this or whatever site the feature is installed or you can try, in the future, to be more consistent in establishing your own record of argument, but that’s up to you, and for now the objective is to add some useful background to discussions, not to perform volunteer identity tracking for government security agencies (maybe later!).

So the possibly incomplete paginated archive will look like something like this:

Commenter Archive

Commenter Archive

Next Steps

These features are all, obviously, in their early, unbackfed stages, and will have to be customized on a per-installation basis, not distributed as a one-size-fits-mostly all basis. I think they’re stable enough to try out at a busy blog like OT (they seem to be working on my development version of the site).

Changes like these don’t fully equalize blogger and commenter, or turn commenters into full-fledged bloggers, but they point to a completion of the circle or continuation of the spiral that I discussed last year in the Read the Comments! series.


Empowering or “realizing” the Commentariat in this way is one way to traverse the spiral conceptually and practically. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I expect to return to this position or to an homologous one again, but I think, pending feedback and suggestions, I can now justify focusing attention, at least as far as blog development goes, more at the author’s or site-right-side-up level – including by laying out the theory underlying the above graphic in more detail, and in relation to recent political-philosophical discussion here as well as at OT.

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Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution.

3 comments on “They also blog who only sit and comment… (Commentariat 2)

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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