Politics

The struggle is real.

 Both parties are amalgams of various groups whose support they must retain to win an election.

Prior to Reagan the two parties both held a large moderate middle where people might usually vote one way, but decide in this case to vote for the other party.

The Reagan campaign began a new approach of reaching out to a demographic that had always been considered out of bounds crazy: Extreme Christians. Once this group was added to the mix they had to be pandered to in every election so it became a Republican requirement to profess not only piety but tacit support for related craziness like groups who who support Israel because they believe it will hasten the apocalypse.
 
Through this channel the flood gates opened to the extreme “John Birch” types who include a great many unstable characters who live in an intellectual world of paranoid fantasies and right wing utopian philosophies. As the standards for acceptable party voters dropped, potential candidates had to endorse ALL these beliefs at least in a kind of euphemistic code understood by each group. Since the candidates had to match all these different camps they became more and more bland and uniform. Nobody could break away from any of the support groups for fear of being seen as a “Republican in name only”. And as time passed, the Republicans elected to office were true believers, replacing the lip service politicians who thought they could ride this tiger.
 
Republicans have always been good at just lining up and doing what they are told. But at the center of this thimblerigged mass were the moderate republicans. The most moderate of them had been partially annexed by Bill Clinton who declared a sea change in democrats that effectively cut off any candidates who would govern to the left of Richard Nixon. In fact Nixon was easily left of Clinton.

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Using Seattle Central College as an example.

 
1. The Upper Class – Administrators, heads of departments, Deans
These are the aristocracy. They earn good salaries, experience comfort and respect and job security. Often they can be bad at their job and achieve nothing but remain in charge for years. Few in number. Often the President of the college is just a figurehead with enough political connections to get a high salary with not much responsability. The president is like a fancy hat: It may be on top, but it isn’t in charge. 
 
2. The Middle Class – receptionists, cashiers, office assistants, janitors, security. tenured faculty.
Generally their work is boring but it is utterly secure. In many cases they express a flat, slightly sad or even bitter quality because their jobs are pretty much just about remaining employed. It is the barnacle survival strategy. This group is maybe four or five times the size of the administrators.
 
3. The Oppressed Lower Class – Adjunct faculty
These are often 80% or more of the actual teachers. In any quarter the tenured faculty “feed” first, getting the classes they want. After them is a complicated ranking of seniority and hours worked in the last few quarters and so on. They are called “priority hires” and they are a hierarchy from high to low. The high ranking instructors are often most gifted at playing the internal political games of the department they belong to rather than based on any merit. Almost anyone who becomes tenured is from this group. If a high ranking PH loses a class to under-enrollment he can take a class from a lower PH.

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I believe attribution should go to Business Insider for these but I’m not certain if they generated them or just republished them. I think this is a nice summary of how and why human decision making sucks elephant butt. If you can remember these and filter your own thoughts for signs of them when they pop up you’ll develop better arguments and be a little more honest with yourself too. It’s not easy. From one angle it’s like a list things politicians do consciously and otherwise, often successfully.

I also find them interesting as a sociobiological thing, this is a list of mind behaviors that evolved with us and have stood the test of time. Somehow or other they may have held some survival or success value. Many feel like something I can see being either advantageous to the individual getting what they want or as socially unifying (and possibly dumb) behaviors. The rest are mostly stubbornness and wishful thinking.

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About Guns:

nocarry

Sure, we’ll be happy to pry your gun from your cold, dead fingers. And don’t forget to try Prickly Ash Bitters!

  • When NRA types say: “Let’s not politicize this tragedy” they are proactively politicizing it.
  • Claiming that talk of gun control or of better access to mental health care is “politicizing” this tragedy is like saying that common sense fire prevention is politicizing arson.
  • How about this? To own a handgun you have to be licensed DMV style and test every few years. To own more than one gun or more assault-style guns you have to be part of an actual “well-regulated militia.” (with no actual police powers) this would be framed as a quasi Switzerland “Homeland defense” style group. In reality, it would probably function as more of a natural disaster response style group but it would give the gun guys a civic investment and a sense of pride while also making sure that some thoughtful eyes are on these weapon owners at regular intervals.
  • I was just watching a Ken Burns documentary on the old west and you know who had really restrictive gun control? Frontier towns — places like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge.
  • Gun sales have surged following the Sandy Hook massacre. I realize these people don’t wish to emulate the murderer but I’m damned if I can think of much about this more depressing than that it should actually inspire a sales “boom” for gun companies. It means that as a result of the shootings there are people in gun business saying “Wow! This is going great!”
  • All the people who hold up second amendment rights furiously, as if they were sacred, never mention second amendment responsibilities. Let’s get THAT talk going.
  •  The son of the current president of the NRA has served jail time for shooting into the car of another driver during an incident of road rage. This isn’t to call names but it just points out the real nature of the problem: Even the people the NRA sees as “good guys with guns”, the supposed antidote to our dangerous times, are mammals with limited self-control and sanity.

And an Open Secret

I’m pretty liberal but I hate it when people only look for the answers that give them a comfortable feeling. If you bend over backward to avoid offending, you are no longer facing in the correct direction to have an informed opinion. We have an outrageous number of gun deaths yearly in this country, as you know. There were 31,000 in 2005 and also in 2010. Using 2010 stats:
  • 55% (17050) were suicides, guns being a fairly certain means. This is tragic but its relationship with guns is somewhat gray, would they be dead without a gun? It cannot be known. This sad situation might be improved by some form of mental health screening for gun owners but ultimately it is more an issue of depression than guns.
  • 3% were accidental.
  • 2% were considered justifiable or unknown.
  • 40% or 12400 of these were murders

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Is to create a dynamic tension of necessarily opposing forces. This tension defines the overall moral character of a place. In balance: Conservatives provide cohesion with tradition, patriotism, following authority and defense of borders. In balance: Progressives provide introspection, conscience, and doubt. Working together (by working against each other) they create a structure strong enough to hold together but flexible enough to admit change. Meeting in the middle is sort of irrelevant, the goal is achieved by opposition.  And if either side has no pushback from the other, it becomes a political autoimmune disorder, digesting itself alive as it strives for purity.
Progressives: You know at some level that those asshats are holding the line for you, right? They are throwing themselves into battles in far away places because they will actually do that when it has to be done (and also when it doesn’t). And they hold down a certain kind of solid decency in a lot of places.
Conservatives are the base note. Conservatives are the ones prepared to homestead on the goddamn prairie all over again if they have to. They are representing the basic voice of humans organizing for survival, they like things predictable and familiar and they don’t like all those weirdos sniffing around. If humanity was an inchworm they’d be the reluctant back end. And if you are picturing a bunch of southern white americans you aren’t exactly wrong but you aren’t sufficient, either. You better picture the same type in Belarus and Uganda, and Helsinki because they all have them and they all think the other conservatives are a bunch of weirdos sniffing around because of their funny ways and dumb clothes. Highly suspicious.
And Conservatives: You know that these self important, holier than thou jerkoffs are right once in a blue moon about things like buying people and whether or not we should kill your daughter for being a lesbian (yeah, I heard). And they may be a bunch of insufferable ninnies for thinking that the world could ever really change, but I mean kids think that way, and we always say kids are the hope of the future so maybe…No. Fuck ’em. Progressives are the high hopeful note that may or may not be true. Progressives are a hand feeling around in the dark for the future.
Anyway, like it or not you guys actually need each other. Progressives need conservatives so they don’t give away the goddamn candy store to them weirdos who’ve been sniffing around. And conservatives need progressives so the rich people don’t start actually selling them one of these days.
Meanwhile you might as well hate each other, I don’t see why you shouldn’t. You’re both pretty goddamn annoying.
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A talented and esteemed lecturer in early childhood education has resigned from teaching at Yale because an email she wrote suggesting a little flexibility about Halloween costumes resulted in an inferno of moral indignation and demands for her (and her husband) to be fired by the college. (Demands by the students of course).

Here is the intolerable message:

“This year, we seem afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween,” she wrote. While noting that she did not wish to “trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community,” Christakis went on to question the imposition of “standards and motives” on others as well as the feasibility of agreeing on how to avoid offense. “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” she asked. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”

Even -asking- the profoundly politically correct to consider being a little more relaxed results in a take no prisoners purge of the impure. Left wing. Read your history. You do this. Stop.

The Reign of Terror | The Great Purge | The Cultural Revolution | The Killing Fields

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This isn’t a tortured metaphor, I promise. Many things HAVE changed about America over the years but underneath there is a Kevlar skeleton which controls the ways things can change and grow. Part of it is deeply corrupt.

Here is my proposal: 

The people fighting against admitting and correcting climate change (and against developing alternative energy) are like the slave holders who started the civil war.

This might sound like someone yelling “NAZI!!” every time they hear something they don’t like, but trust me, it isn’t.

Southern slave holders were too blinkered to see that technology was rapidly advancing and that holding slaves would soon be made obsolete. They imagined that their lifestyle would carry on exactly in its God ordained fashion forever, with them perched atop of a pile of lesser beings: those being poor whites and enslaved blacks.

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There’s some disagreement about how long modern humans have existed but the figure of 200,000 years is frequently cited. The lifestyle of the stone age was wandering groups of associated families usually between 25 to 50 people. Pretty much anyone you knew, you knew for a lifetime (yours or theirs). The stone age ended as the neolithic revolution in farming transformed the lifestyle of people into the sort of population dense settlements that have basically carried on to this day.

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that about 107 billion people have ever lived – since the beginning. Scientists suggest that out of that huge number, only about 12% of those people lived in the stone age. 12% doesn’t sound like a very significant number to influence the sort of people we are today. Until you realize that every person since then is a descendent of that 12%. And even more importantly that that 12% of all people was us during 96% of our time on Earth. Our roots are deep, deep in the stone age. 

So our inner cave clan easily breaks through the surface of our modernism. 192,000 years of comforting small groups of closely related people with a distrust of strangers is not something you shake off like a daydream. When we utterly detest racists and xenophobes we are behaving toward ourselves as we might to our dog humping legs at a party or chewing shoes. We shout “NO!” and we drag them off, “stupid dog” we mutter. The dog’s behavior has been momentarily suppressed but not altered in the slightest. And certainly not for the next generation of dogs.  Continue reading

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I think there’s an odd problem waiting for the right wing media who keep desperately trying to officially classify the San Bernardino shootings as Islamic terrorism (because it’s about blaming Obama for terrorism on American soil, get it? So much for not politicizing).

The main killer, the guy, seems to be using Islam as the rationale but really he’s perfectly in the mold of the seething, isolated grudge holder who we’ve seen so often. He’s an unusual new hybrid for Americans: He’s killing because he’s a fucked up jerk, but he’s hitching his wagon to a larger cause, Islam. Of the two issues here I would say it’s more like he did it because he was a fucked up angry jerk. Since he would identify this act as Islamic terrorism though, who am I (or the news media) to argue with him? His stockpiling of weapons and the readiness of his wife to join him in suicide/mass murder indicates a long period of drifting toward this moment.

But if THIS is terrorism then so is the more common garden variety carried out more typically in this country by angry right wing men who have hitched their wagon to anti-abortion or anti government causes. The personality type for these events is a mostly a forgone conclusion. If we can’t register guns maybe we can register bitter, grudge holding bastards. Of course it would just become one more thing on their list of reasons they plan to kill some folks.

I am 100% in favor of calling Islamic terrorism what it is. There are people who balk at the phrase, instantly complaining that it indicts all Muslims. * Of course it doesn’t represent all of Islam…It represents the terrorist side of Islam. In its own way it’s as ridiculous as arguing with the phrase “Islamic charities” because not all Muslims are charitable! This is simply using words meaningfully, to describe what something in particular is.

I would like to extend this logic though. When we have an act of right wing terrorism let’s call it loud and clear. When we have an act of left wing terrorism let’s call it loud and clear. We haven’t had an ongoing issue of left wing terrorism in this country since the sixties but we do have a chronic right wing terror problem. And for some reason it’s virtually taboo to state this fact. That reason of course is that the American news media are made of entirely of jelly and kissing up to power. To protect their commercial revenue and increasingly meaningless “access” they keep within the lines approved of by those they report on.

Truth in naming is notable for its absence in most public conversations. But I would adore hearing Bill O’Reilly say “Another act of right-wing terrorism” (I got your “no spin” right here, pal). Potentially some acts should even be called Christian terrorism if the rationale put forward by the perpetrators has some Christian theological justification.

But somehow I don’t think the right wing media is going to start calling it that.

— Update: It’s come out that in their online courtship the two killers shared an interest in martyrdom and prepared for an attack far in advance.

 


*(Honestly, the left is SO concerned with being nice and not offending anyone that they virtually become BFFs with the some of the most regressive, hidebound, anti-woman, anti-gay theology on the planet. But that is another topic.)

 

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Some humans can live as wild and solitary as tigers. Humans can live as isolated families miles from their neighbors. They can live in tribes, villages, clan groups, small towns, cities and mega-cities. Humans are not infinitely adaptable but they are capable of many different modes of existence. It’s well known that these different life styles operate under different rules. Neighborliness and charity for example, are different things when surrounded by ten, ten thousand or ten million people.  

If you live in a town of two hundred people and you see a person broken down beside the road, well first of all, you know them! If you don’t know them directly, they most likely know someone you know. But even if not, it’s likely that they will be approached and given aid. So there is this appearance of a warm generosity. On the downside of course is the famous way that small town folks know each other’s business TOO much…there’s the sense that you can’t reinvent yourself, you can’t break free of everyone’s conclusions about you. Rather like the whole town had become a kind of extended family, uncomfortably defining you. 

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