Our Common Good
jayrosen:

“Confidently unaware…” 
D.C. Muecke identifies three basic features of irony. First, irony depends on a double-layered or two-story phenomenon for its success. “At the lower level is the situation either as it appears to the victim of irony (where there is a victim) or as it is deceptively presented by the ironist.” The upper level is the situation as it appears to the reader or the ironist. Second, the ironist exploits a contradiction, incongruity, or incompatibility between the two levels. Third, irony plays upon the innocence of a character or victim. “Either a victim is confidently unaware of the very possibility of there being an upper level or point of view that invalidates his own, or an ironist pretends not to be aware of it.” (Source.)

jayrosen:

“Confidently unaware…” 

D.C. Muecke identifies three basic features of irony. First, irony depends on a double-layered or two-story phenomenon for its success. “At the lower level is the situation either as it appears to the victim of irony (where there is a victim) or as it is deceptively presented by the ironist.” The upper level is the situation as it appears to the reader or the ironist. Second, the ironist exploits a contradiction, incongruity, or incompatibility between the two levels. Third, irony plays upon the innocence of a character or victim. “Either a victim is confidently unaware of the very possibility of there being an upper level or point of view that invalidates his own, or an ironist pretends not to be aware of it.” (Source.)
paxamericana:

Paul Ryan is the most conservative VP nominee in over 100 years. 

paxamericana:

Paul Ryan is the most conservative VP nominee in over 100 years. 

Ayn Rand, an occasional darling of the Tea Party, has become a cult figure within the GOP in recent years. It is easy enough to see how her tough-guy, every-man-for-himself posturing would be a natural fit with the Wall Street bankers and the right-wing politicians they fund—notwithstanding the bankers’ fondness for government bailouts. But Rand’s philosophy found most of its adherents in the libertarian wing of the party, a group that overlaps with, but is certainly not identical to, the “business conservatives” who fund the bulk of the GOP’s activities. There has always been a strong strain of rugged individualism in America, and the GOP has cleverly managed to co-opt that spirit to its advantage. The problem is that Rand proclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity as a religion of weaklings possessing a slave mentality. So how do Republican candidates manage to bamboozle what is perhaps the largest single bloc in their voting base, the religious fundamentalists, about this? Certainly the ignorance of many fundamentalist values voters about the wider world and the life of the mind goes some distance toward explaining the paradox: GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time as they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction because most of their audience is blissfully unaware of who Ayn Rand was and what she advocated. But voters can to some extent be forgiven their ignorance, because politicians have grown so skillful at misdirecting them about their intentions.

Sherkat was given access to all the reviews and correspondence connected with the paper, and was told the identities of the reviewers. According to Sherkat, Regnerus’s paper should never have been published. His assessment of it, in an interview, was concise: “It’s bullshit,” he said.

Among the problems Sherkat identified is the paper’s definition of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers”—an aspect that has been the focus of much of the public criticism. A woman could be identified as a “lesbian mother” in the study if she had had a relationship with another woman at any point after having a child, regardless of the brevity of that relationship and whether or not the two women raised the child as a couple.

Sherkat said that fact alone in the paper should have “disqualified it immediately” from being considered for publication.

The Real Reason Conservatives Keep Winning — Progressives won’t win until we get a lot better at building binding communities of trust and shared identity.

abaldwin360:

 In American politics, we see the top-down authoritarian worldview of Conservatives enabling them to fall in line and take marching orders. They form strong loyalty bonds through religious affiliation, old money networks, and various social clubs that give them an immense capacity for social cohesion.

And what about Progressives? We are divided into issue silos, unable to form lasting coalitions that bond us together under the same ideological flag, and easily kept on the defensive through the age-old strategy of Divide and Conquer. We have difficulty trusting each other and our funders are unable or unwilling to invest in talent for talent’s sake — they always need to monitor the outcomes of their giving and almost never fund the operational needs of our advocacy organizations.

This is the real reason why we lose. It isn’t that their ideas are better. The difference is entirely in the execution. They set the agendas and we react to them, plain and simple. So what can we do about this dire situation? Again, the answer is easy to state:

Progressives need to engage in a values-based strategy that builds trust across the issue silos. We need to focus on building communities of shared identity that bind us together.

Building trust across organizations requires a three-pronged approach. First, we have to know our own values so that we can articulated them with authenticity and authority. Secondly, we must make these values explicit and engage in the practice of radical transparency to leave no questions about where we stand and what we care about. And third, we’ve got to seek out those who resonate with these values at the core level of their personal identity. It is upon this foundation that we can engage in the vital work of building trust.

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One belief unites most Americans: 71 percent say politics will influence the Supreme Court’s decision, with just 20 percent saying the court will decide solely on legal merits. Five justices are Republican appointees, and four are Democrats.

Americans Want Health-Law Revisions Rather Than Repeal

The SCOTUS should decide laws based on precedent and actual argument, not personal ideology. I mean, isn’t that kind of the whole point of being a judge?

(via wilwheaton)

indianajosh:


Fifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists, as compared to 30 percent by ecoterrorists and 12 percent by Islamic extremists. Right-wing extremism has been responsible for the greatest number of terrorist incidents in the U.S. in 13 of the 17 years since the Oklahoma City bombing.
After DHS withdrew the report, the department cut the number of analysts studying non-Islamic domestic terrorism. Daryl Johnson, the primary author of the report and a self-described Republican, soon left his post at DHS and said in July, 2011 that DHS has “just one person” dealing with domestic terrorism. The Department has largely been silent on domestic terrorist threats ever since.
Although current statistics show that right-wing extremism is on the rise through groups like the Sovereign Citizen and Patriot movements, domestic counterterrorism continues to receive few resources and little public attention. Though Islamic extremism remains a significant domestic security threat, current statistics and incidents such as Oklahoma City show that it is far from the only threat. In order to protect American citizens, we need to match our resources to the reality of our threats, not just the politically expedient narratives we have formed.

Another great piece over at Think Progress by my good friend and colleague, Ken Sofer.

indianajosh:

Fifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists, as compared to 30 percent by ecoterrorists and 12 percent by Islamic extremists. Right-wing extremism has been responsible for the greatest number of terrorist incidents in the U.S. in 13 of the 17 years since the Oklahoma City bombing.

After DHS withdrew the report, the department cut the number of analysts studying non-Islamic domestic terrorism. Daryl Johnson, the primary author of the report and a self-described Republican, soon left his post at DHS and said in July, 2011 that DHS has “just one person” dealing with domestic terrorism. The Department has largely been silent on domestic terrorist threats ever since.

Although current statistics show that right-wing extremism is on the rise through groups like the Sovereign Citizen and Patriot movements, domestic counterterrorism continues to receive few resources and little public attention. Though Islamic extremism remains a significant domestic security threat, current statistics and incidents such as Oklahoma City show that it is far from the only threat. In order to protect American citizens, we need to match our resources to the reality of our threats, not just the politically expedient narratives we have formed.

Another great piece over at Think Progress by my good friend and colleague, Ken Sofer.

In summary, then, the “science” of Fox News clearly shows that its viewers are more misinformed than the viewers of other stations, and are indeed this way for ideological reasons. But these are not necessarily the reasons that liberals may assume. Instead, the Fox “effect” probably occurs both because the station churns out falsehoods that conservatives readily accept—falsehoods that may even seem convincing to some liberals on occasion—but also because conservatives are overwhelmingly inclined to choose to watch Fox to begin with.

At the same time, it’s important to note that they’re also disinclined to watch anything else. Fox keeps constantly in their minds the idea that the rest of the media are “biased” against them, and conservatives duly respond by saying other media aren’t worth watching—it’s just a pack of lies. According to Public Policy Polling’s annual TV News Trust Poll (the 2011 run), 72 percent of conservatives say they trust Fox News, but they also say they strongly distrust NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN. Liberals and moderates, in contrast, trust all of these outlets more than they distrust them (though they distrust Fox). This, too, suggests conservative selective exposure.

And there is an even more telling study of “Fox-only” behavior among conservatives, from Stanford’s Shanto Iyengar and Kyu Hahn of Yonsei University, in Seoul, South Korea. They conducted a classic left-right selective exposure study, giving members of different ideological groups the chance to choose stories from a news stream that provided them with a headline and a news source logo—Fox, CNN, NPR, and the BBC—but nothing else. The experiment was manipulated so that the same headline and story was randomly attributed to different news sources. The result was that Democrats and liberals were definitely less inclined to choose Fox than other sources, but spread their interest across the other outlets when it came to news. But Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly chose Fox for hard news and even for soft news, and ignored other sources. “The probability that a Republican would select a CNN or NPR report was around 10%,” wrote the authors.

In other words Fox News is both deceiver and enabler simultaneously. First, its existence creates the opportunity for conservatives to exercise their biases, by selecting into the Fox information stream, and also by imbibing Fox-style arguments and claims that can then fuel biased reasoning about politics, science, and whatever else comes up.

But at the same time, it’s also likely that conservatives, tending to be more closed-minded and more authoritarian, have a stronger emotional need for an outlet like Fox, where they can find affirmation and escape from the belief challenges constantly presented by the “liberal media.” Their psychological need for something affirmative is probably stronger than what’s encountered on the opposite side of the aisle—as is their revulsion towards allegedly liberal (but really centrist) media outlets.

politicalprof:

Well, it finally happened: I finally read a libertarian post so silly I couldn’t resist a response.

To simplify, the libertarian in question claimed that no decision was legitimate unless he had consented to it, and that no prior decision could compel his compliance as he had not consented to it.

There are at least three profound things wrong with this argument: it’s wrong on its face; it’s wrong on social institutions; and it has no promise for building a real world social order. Let me take each in turn.

First, as to the premise: it’s just wrong. For example, I have an 8 1/2 month old son, and I make decisions for him all the time that are entirely legitimate and (probably) appropriate. Likewise, we generally don’t advocate letting crazy people kill themselves, or allowing gunmen to walk into crowded rooms and open fire. There are all kinds of circumstances in which one legitimately has one’s right to make a specific decision taken away, and in which one’s freedom to consent to an act (such as your incarceration) is denied. A blanket statement “never” is, well, silly.

Now, anticipating the objection that what the person meant to say—but didn’t, even in a follow up post—was that all RATIONAL people should have absolute freedom of choice, let me state that the politics of determining who is and isn’t “rational” are fraught with bias. Ask any woman in history who was denied the right to vote on the grounds that they were “emotional” not “rational,” or any ex-slave who was deemed (by their former masters) to be too “child-like” to be a full member of society. “Rational” is a lovely word. It’s also a tool of repression. 

Second, as to the way social institutions work, the simple fact is that by the time my son is of an age where he might choose to be, god help us, a libertarian, he will have benefitted from a vast array of social goods and services that depended on inter-generational commitments of time and labor and money. He will have drunk, bathed and played in untold gallons of safe water. He will have breathed safe air and eaten food that (basically) was safe. He will have not been electrocuted each time he turned on a light switch—which delivered power across an array of regulated mechanisms over large spaces of territory. And he will have enjoyed much, much more. Here’s the thing, though: all of it—ALL OF IT—will have been organized and paid for at least by his parents’ taxes and fees, his grandparents’ and fees, and his great-grandparents’ taxes and fees. 

The simple fact is that if you wish to have any kind of structure, institution or practice that lasts more than the time it takes two people to exchange whatever good or service they are exchanging, then a commitment beyond a one-to-one agreement is necessary. This need only grows more significant and more complex and social organizations expand in size and scope. Of course, as an adult one can choose to live outside these social orders: go and become a hermit. But if you wish to enjoy the benefits of society, you have to pay some of the costs of society. At least in a democracy you (ideally) get to have some say over those costs.

Third, on what should we do instead, let me say that I have never, ever heard a libertarian even vaguely hint at an answer to this. I have seen an endless number of “the government sucks” posts from libertarians but not a single answer to the question: how do I get electricity in a libertarian world? Where everyone has to consent to everything all the time? How do I get safe water? How do I make NASA and a national park and, yes, how do I make sure that actual enemies don’t attack? 

It’s one thing to critique the way the US does these things now. Indeed, I do it all the time. But it’s quite another to think through an alternative. And I have never seen a libertarian do this in even a vaguely compelling, real world way. Until you can answer these questions, and address my first two points with more than a mocking tone and a fantastical story, please, libertarians, I beg you:

stop claiming no decision or action taken by anyone else can ever be legitimate over you in any way. Just stop.  

destroythegop:

Ms. Fluke is an American Hero and, more importantly, a Spark of History.
Women are the majority. 
Women have the electoral power.
Women will occupy the voting booth on November 6, 2012, and every first Tuesday in November for the rest of our lives, to protect our daughters from these Misogynistic Republican Pigs.

destroythegop:

Ms. Fluke is an American Hero and, more importantly, a Spark of History.


Women are the majority.

Women have the electoral power.

Women will occupy the voting booth on November 6, 2012, and every first Tuesday in November for the rest of our lives, to protect our daughters from these Misogynistic Republican Pigs.

Our system, as any historian will tell you, was built by men who hated parties and anticipated their absence from American politics. That didn’t quite work out. But for much of American history, and particularly for much of the 20th century, our political parties have been unusually diffuse and unable to act as organized, ideological units. That left them well-suited to a system that, for reasons ranging from the division of powers to the filibuster, required an unusual level of consensus to function.

But as the two parties have polarized, we’ve learned that a system built for consensus is not able to properly function amid constant partisan competition. The filibuster has gone from a rarity to a constant. Compromise has become rare. Crises of gridlock, such as the recent showdown over the debt ceiling, have become common. And no one can say that this is what the American people want: The approval ratings of Congress have been on a downward slide for decades, and they have never been lower than they are today.

Polarization is with us now and will be with us for the foreseeable future. The question is whether we will permit it to paralyze our political system and undermine our country or whether we will accept it and make the necessary accommodations.

Doing so would require taking on cherished, consensus-promoting features of the old system, like the filibuster. But in today’s girdlocked world, those features no longer promote consensus. They simply promote gridlock.

Ezra Klein, discussing Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson’s retirement.  Read it.

I’ve never discussed this much here, but I am actually a big believer in the Parliamentary system of representative democracy.  I think our Constitutional Republic has certain fatal flaws that either must be reformed to address political reality, or scrapped entirely (Klein addresses a few of them above).  Even Britain has a vibrant 3rd party that was recently instrumental in forming a ruling coalition government with the Tories.  That coalition was able to pass an austerity program, reflecting their policy preferences, relatively quickly.  

Meanwhile, who can reasonably question that ideological partisanship, combined with procedural abuse, has prevented policymakers from implementing their solutions in America?  Britain’s austerity package did not face nearly the political hurdles that the Stimulus or Affordable Care Act did.  The latter was passed in the midst of what was possibly one of the most bitter political battles in recent memory.  It’s legitimacy continues to be contested to this day, even.  Yet Britain’s Tory-Lib Dem coalition was able to implement an austerity program quickly and with little trouble, at least when compared to what happened in America as we debated economic stimulus and healthcare reform.

Parliamentary systems have the advantage of allowing elected officials a certain degree of procedural leeway to act on their platform.  Under our system, an intransigent minority can essentially prevent the other side from achieving any of its policy goals; and quite often, the policies that do come through are half-measures and patch-work compromises that are incapable of completely addressing the problems they purport to solve because they don’t contain the full range of resources or legal instruments that are needed to facilitate the policies themselves.  The Affordable Care Act is a perfect example: you can bet that we would have a Public Option right now if Congress ran more like a Parliament.  

It also warrants mention that those who like the idea of a government that acts less are simply fooling themselves: grid-locked government more often just results in bad legislation squeaking through than it does in bad legislation being stopped.  Politicians who want to be re-elected need something to show for their constituents.  Often, that means passing a healthcare bill without a public option, or caving to tax cut extensions that are bankrupting the U.S. treasury.  For everything else, there’s always the filibuster.  The end result is that we’ve flirted with a completely avoidable economic disaster during the debt ceiling debate; we have a healthcare bill that is hopelessly flawed despite its good provisions; and we have a judiciary that is literally suffocating under Congressional obstruction of judicial nominees.

We can take the easy way out and blame one of the major parties.  Lord knows I’ve done plenty of that myself.  But the real problem is the system that allows all this to happen.  Perhaps adopting a European Parliamentary model isn’t necessarily the best course for America.  But we need, at minimum, procedural reforms in how our Constitutional Republic works.  Without them, our government will continue to be divided, impotent, and institutionally incapable of addressing our nation’s problems.

(via letterstomycountry)

Agree that what we have is not working.  Do you think that starting with the voting system to something like proportional or IRV would be an easier or acceptable first step?

This is the prosperity gospel as a Super PAC-funded marketing blitz. Money is next to godliness and poverty is the fault of the poor for not being better people.

It’s as if Jesus were a CEO and the Romans job-killing communists.

“Contrary to the President’s constant disparagement of people in business,” former George W. Bush budget director Gov. Mitch Daniels said in his State of the Union response last week, “It’s one of the noblest of human pursuits.” This is one of those phrases you (usually) will only hear in business school (funnier if it was one of those rip-off for-profit colleges). Business is one of the noblest of human pursuits? Noble as in aristocratic? That phrase, “noble pursuits,” is usually applied to an avocation not paying much but rewarding in other ways: teachers; firefighters; nurses; foster parents; soldiers; community leaders; social workers; mentors; rescue workers; care givers; farmers. Or to anyone who’s honest, shows up every day and works hard. That’s a noble pursuit.

Are the wealthy really so sensitive they need Mitch Daniels to make them feel better about themselves in a spiritual sense? What they’re doing not only pays off with privilege and cash – it also has to be venerable from a moral perspective? How much reward does one group need? They own everything and they also need to be thanked?!

The rich are not just over-paid – they’re over valued. And generous welfare recipients.

American politics is polarized, yes, but not parallel. The parties are not mirror images of one another. One is a party of multiple, conflicting worldviews and temperaments, the other increasingly homogenous in its authoritarianism. One party struggles for consensus and compromise, the other views politics as warfare.

McConnell is offering a philosophical response to a practical problem. It gets back to what we discussed last week — the right simply cannot fathom a pragmatic approach to governing. Democrats see a jobs crisis, want to save hundreds of thousands of jobs, craft a plan that works, and find a straightforward way to pay for it. Republicans see a jobs crisis and ask, “Are those public-sector jobs? What does our ideology tell us about aid to states? Unemployment, schlumemploymet — how does this affect the size of government?”

The GOP line doesn’t address the underlying problem because, as McConnell explained yesterday, Republicans don’t care about the underlying problem. What matters is the integrity of conservative ideology, not keeping teachers and cops on the job.

Notice, McConnell didn’t say the Democratic jobs bill would be ineffective. He knows — everyone knows — the measure would keep those Americans working, which would not only help the workers and their families, but also the local economies and those who benefit from their services. But for the Senate Minority Leader, whether the legislation would be effective or not is irrelevant.

Bringing down unemployment isn’t McConnell’s priority. Winning a philosophical argument is.

"From the moment I took office what we’ve seen is a constant ideological pushback against any kind of sensible reforms that would make our economy work better and give people more opportunity," the president said at an intimate brunch fundraiser at the Medina, Wash., home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley.