Conservativism Defined

Conservative by definition seeks to keep everything the same and not rock the boat. This not only counteracts evolutionary and biological forces that act upon us every moment of every minute but seeks to deny our experiences of the forward trajectory of time itself.
We age which is change.
We breath which is exchange of vital gases.
We have a beating heart that is designed to eventually wear out because the actual art of living is not to be unchanged but to progress and continually change in an ever changing world. We cannot “Make America Great Again” because the focus of that statement is regressive and specious because arguably, we have never been great for all “We The People”. Civilization does not progress by looking behind itself but by how we have learned from and adjusted to escape the past. We can no longer embrace conservative principles and believe they will bring about positive change that benefits all and not only to those that can afford it or we are doomed as a society.
Remember….the definition of insanity is to do the same repeatedly and expect different results.

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GOP The Projection Party

The Projection Party
The Republican fantasy of Barack Obama’s “divisiveness”

Of all the things Republicans have called President Obama in the last four years—socialist, radical, un-American, anti-American, elitist—perhaps the strangest is “divisive.” It seems so odd to the rest of us when we look at Obama, whose entire history, even from childhood, has been about carefully navigating through opposing ideas, resolving contradictions, and diffusing tensions, who has so often infuriated his supporters with compromises and attempts at conciliation. Yet conservatives look at him and see someone completely different. They see Obama plotting to set Americans at war with one another so he can profit from the destruction, perhaps cackling a sinister laugh as thunder rattles the windows on the West Wing and America’s demise is set in motion.

There has seldom been a clearer political case of what psychologists call “projection,” the propensity to ascribe to someone else one’s own thoughts, feelings, and sins. It’s true that we are in a polarized moment, and what is called nastiness often turns out to be genuine substantive differences between parties that represent distinct groups of Americans. But Republicans have been, shall we say, vigorous in their opposition to this president, both completely unified and unrestrained in their criticism. Yet they remain convinced that Barack Obama is the one who bears responsibility for whatever division has been sown.

Just a few examples, to let you know I’m not pulling this from nowhere. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, the man who proudly proclaimed, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” calls Obama “the most divisive [president] I’ve served with.” “We have not seen such a divisive figure in modern American history than we have over the last three and one-half years” says Senator Marco Rubio. “President Obama has become one of the most divisive presidents in American history,” charges GOP uber-strategist Ed Gillespie. RNC chair Reince Preibus calls Obama “divisive, nasty, negative.” Mitt Romney tells Obama to “take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.”

The “divisive” charge isn’t just an accusation, it’s an entire narrative arc, awaiting only the conclusion in which the American people send Obama and his divisiveness packing. As the conservative Washington Times editorialized, “He said he would be a unifier, that he would reach across party lines, that he would forge consensus. Once he took office, however, armed with a hard-left agenda and backed by a supermajority in Congress, the arrogance of power overwhelmed the better angels of his nature.” This is a story Republicans tell often, a story in which Republicans themselves are strangely absent. That “hard-left agenda” wasn’t just inherently divisive, it was also enacted divisively; for instance, one often hears Republicans claim that the Affordable Care Act was “rammed through” Congress without Republican support. You might recall that in fact the ACA went through over a year of hearings, negotiations, conferences, health care summits, endless efforts to cajole and encourage and beg and plead for Republican support, before those Republicans successfully kept every last one of their troops in line to vote against it. But as on so many issues, all of that is washed from the story, leaving only Barack Obama and his divisive actions.

Don’t ask about Republicans’ unprecedented use of the filibuster to stifle Obama’s appointments and legislation, or how the Tea Party Republicans took the country to the brink of financial catastrophe, or how many elected members of their party question Obama’s patriotism and genuinely believe he isn’t actually an American. Don’t ask about conservative media figures who continually race-bait and encourage their legion of listeners to nurture a white-hot hatred for the president and liberals in general. No, the real viciousness belongs only to Barack Obama, and its horror can be seen in things like his suggestion that that the wealthiest Americans could tolerate an increase in the top tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent (a suggestion always accompanied by encomiums to success and the reassurance that the wealthy are fine people). Not only is Obama “demonizing the rich,” as Romney surrogate John Sununu says, “when he says ‘rich’ he says it with a snarl.” You may believe that no human being on this plane of reality has actually ever seen Barack Obama snarl, but that would just mean you aren’t looking closely enough.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that Romney’s advisers are now “convinced he needs a more combative footing against President Obama in order to appeal to white, working-class voters,” so they are making clear that this election is about us and them. If there’s any confusion about who’s who, you can turn on your television to find out. Romney is currently running ads charging falsely that Obama is taking tax money from hardworking people like you to support layabout welfare recipients who no longer have to satisfy work requirements, and has now turned to telling seniors (again, falsely), that “the money you paid for guaranteed health care is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.” But I’m sure Romney does this more in sadness than in anger. After all, when faced with someone as divisive as Obama, what choice does he have?

Opinions of Obama are certainly polarized—Democrats love him and Republicans hate him. But is that a product of his actions, or of a time when the parties increasingly represent two distinct, non-overlapping ideologies? In his third year, Obama’s average approval in Gallup polls among Democrats was 80 percent, compared to only 12 percent among Republicans. This 68-point gap is large by historical standards, but it was smaller than the 70-point gap in George W. Bush’s sixth year. And the 72-point gap in George W. Bush’s fifth year. And the 76-point gap in George W. Bush’s fourth year. It would seem that Bush was actually the most polarizing president.

And like Obama, Bush came in to office hoping to heal partisan divisions. “I don’t have enemies to fight,” he said in his 2000 convention speech. “And I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect.” I suppose Republicans might say that Bush’s failure to succeed in that goal wasn’t the president’s fault but that of the opposition, while the continued acrimony during the Obama years isn’t the opposition’s fault but that of the president.

Ask Republicans what Obama might have done to be less divisive, and the most common response is that he could have abandoned his own agenda and adopted theirs instead; had he done that, they would have been happy to work with him. Which gives us a clue to the terrible thing Obama did to them. By making Republicans hate him with such a burning fire—by having the gall to win the presidency, then brazenly pursuing his party’s longstanding goals like health care reform—he brought out the worst in them. And they really can’t be blamed for that, can they?

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Red States’ Rank Low On U.S. Human Development Index

From Forbes Magazine JUN 19, 2013 @ 02:58 PM

Kenneth Rapoza , CONTRIBUTOR

Southern states rank low again in second American Human Development Index.
When it comes to well-being — as measured by health, education and income — the southern ‘red states’ continue to be in worse shape compared to their Yankee rivals, according to a study called the Measure of America, released Wednesday by the Brooklyn based-Social Science Research Council.

The state of the nation is often expressed through Gross National Product, daily stock market results, consumer spending levels, and national debt figures. If the stock markets up, everyone should be happy, says the general consensus. TV hosts are smiling. Movie stars are buying more bling and having babies with other movie stars. Miley Cyrus is spending all of her Hannah Montana money trying to find herself.

But these numbers provide only a partial view of how people are faring. Human development is defined as the process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being. The Human Development Index is an alternative to the market’s money metrics and instead measures the real freedom ordinary people have to decide who to be, what to do, and how to live in their prospective states.

The first Human Development Index was launched in 1990 by the United Nations and was the brainchild of Indian economist Amartya Sen and Pakistani economist Mahbub Haq. It has been an annual feature of every Human Development Report since, ranking virtually every country in the world from number one (currently Iceland) to 177 (currently Sierra Leone).

This is where we fare in the Measure of America.

In the heat map that ranks U.S. states on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being a high level of well being, Democratic or so called ‘blue states’ dominate on the end of the scale while Republican strongholds rank the lowest.

The best state in the union? Connecticut, of course. When you’re the world’s headquarters to hedge fund traders, the wealth gets spread around. The state ranks 6.17. When considering education levels, 20% have just a bachelor’s degrees and 15% have advanced degrees. At least 53% graduated high school. And only 11.4% did not, which for the richest state in the country is still high, though the number includes much older generations and immigrants. Average life expectancy is 80.8 years old 81.8% of the state’s school aged population (3-24) are in school. Democrats control the joint.

On the low end of the scale it’s Mississippi. They rank just 3.81 out of 10 with an average life expectancy of 75, 76% of the student aged population (3-24) are in school and only 12% with a bachelor’s degree. Just 7% of the state have advanced degrees and 19% have less than a high school education. That state is run by Republicans except for one Democrat in the House of Representatives.

The highest ranking state south of Mason Dixon is Florida, with an index score of 4.82.

See the heat map here.

Not all blue states are rolling in the well-being. Michigan is the stand-out at 4.76 on the index. The state has a Republican governor and a mixed representation in the House, but the Senate is still blue. Neither party in Washington or in the state itself has been able to improve the quality of life in the state as Detroit’s auto labor woes continue.

The state saw the greatest decline in human development over the past decade and is the only U.S. state whose 2010 Human Development Index score is lower than its 2000 score.

Other Key Findings

  • Only six states—Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming—plus the District of Columbia finished the first decade of the 2000s with higher median earnings than they had in 2000 (in inflation-adjusted terms).
  • People living in the nation’s twenty-five largest metro areas tend to have higher levels of well-being and access to opportunity than the average American. Only four metro areas, Houston, Tampa–St. Petersburg, San Antonio, and Riverside–San Bernardino, have HD Index scores below the national average of 5.03.
  • The metro areas that perform best on the American HD Index are, starting from the top, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis–St. Paul, and New York. Workers in the top-ranked Washington, DC metro area make over $14,000 more than the typical American wage-earner, are more than twice as likely as other Americans to have a graduate degree, and live 2.1 years longer.

Ironically, while Detroit is dragging down Michigan, Washington’s political industry and its derivatives, from media companies based there to cover the Fed and Congress, to lobby firms, have helped increase its well being. Thank you, Mr. President?

The five metro areas with the greatest increases in their index scores from 2008 to 2010 did so largely on the strength of improvements in health and longevity: Baltimore, Washington, DC, San Antonio, Dallas, and Boston. San Antonio, although it ranked last in 2008 and second-to-last in 2010, is gaining ground at a comparatively quick clip.

Meanwhile, the five cities with declines in index scores from 2008 to 2010 were Detroit, Portland, Atlanta, Miami, and Tampa–St. Petersburg due to a loss of income for the majority people in those metro areas, the report states.

Data on the report is from 2010. This is their second report since the first one in 2008-09.

There are many ways to measure well-being. Most of it is on an individual level. For the purposes of the study, stagnant to declining incomes over a 10 year period, coupled with health issues and educational attainment, at least, make Republican stronghold states less apt to rank high on the index than the wealthier northeastern states. The index is not a measure of individual happiness.

So, yes, dear readers in ‘Bama, the fact that you can hunt a gator and buy an M5 probably makes you a lot happier than the 30 year old paying $2,000 a month for a 400 square foot hole in the wall in Brooklyn commuting 45 minutes to his job as doorman in the Upper East Side. Give yourself a high-five.

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The Fallacy of the Golden Mean

The Fallacy of the Golden Mean
(A “Both Sides” Reader)
by Batocchio

The bad argument’s natural habitat is the political talk show. (Well, it’s one of its natural habitats, anyway.) Nourished by a steady supply of moist bullshit in the studio and the heat of the 24-hour news cycle, bad arguments flourish, thrive and proliferate. Many a breed of bad argument can be spied, but one of the most common and pernicious inside Beltway blather pits is the fallacy of the golden mean (also known under other aliases). Basically, it entails that in any dispute between two parties, the truth must lie somewhere in the middle (generally roughly halfway).

Obviously this could indeed be the case, but the problem is that this conclusion is repeatedly forced onto situations where it doesn’t apply, facts be damned. (It’s a socially predetermined conclusion versus a logical deduction.) Calling things accurately to the best of one’s ability and letting the chips fall where they may seems to be a foreign concept. Moreover, the fallacy of the golden mean – often expressed as “both sides do it” or “both sides are equally to blame” – and preferably delivered with a sage, thoughtful look or amused, knowing cynicism – is almost unfailingly invoked as a means of shutting down greater scrutiny and deeper discussion. It’s a beloved, go-to move of lazy pundits who don’t want to spend their time studying those pesky facts or who desire to appear worldly and above it all. (It’s also a useful maneuver for party hacks seeking to avoid accountability for their side. In such situations, it’s not unusual to also see the superficial brand of tu quoque arguments beloved by conservative rearguard action specialist David Brooks.)

This position conveys the image of wisdom, but closer inspection almost always reveals it to be shallow and overly simplistic. One party could be mostly right and the other mostly wrong. Both could be mostly in agreement and also mostly wrong. One could take a position that’s 40% corrupt but 60% useful, while the other position might be 10% useful, 50% corrupt and 40% insane. Other valuable points of view, beyond the binary opposition of establishment figures in the two major parties, might be excluded. (For instance, back during the Iraq War and the run-up to it, many news outlets represented the full range of opinion from the pro-war New Republic to the pro-war National Review, as Atrios and others noted.) When the goal is discussing real problems and actually trying to solve them, versus conjuring bullshit to fill air time, an amazing world of facts, substance, nuance and complexity opens up.

In the U.S. context, the fallacy of the golden mean is particularly misleading because the Republican Party has grown so extreme, in both its policy positions (see DW-NOMINATE scores) and its unwillingness to compromise. (It bears mentioning that prominent conservatives have long held similar views, but merely lacked the power to impose them.) “Centrist” and “moderate” tend to be viewed as positive labels among the pundit class, but what each actually entails tends to be defined in relative terms as a midway point between shifting poles. (For instance, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed by Republican Gerald Ford in 1975, came to be regarded over time as one the most liberal members of the court, if not the most liberal. Yet he’s never seen himself that way, remarking, “I don’t think of myself as a liberal at all. . . .I think as part of my general politics, I’m pretty darn conservative.” He didn’t change much; the power dynamics in his party did. )

It’s hard to watch the news for long without spotting misleading false equivalencies, and the shallow, knee-jerk nature with which they’re offered can be maddening. Recently, Roy Edroso chronicled the remarkable phenomenon of conservatives calling for Obama’s impeachment, then pivoting and claiming they never did any such thing – it was Obama’s fault! From “Rightbloggers to Obama: Why’re You Impeaching Yourself?”:

And here’s where the real “sordid sort of genius,” to steal from Douthat, comes in: As crazy as rightbloggers may seem to you and us, when their thinking correlates this perfectly with the conservative-Republican mainstream, there will always be thumbsucking MSM types who will look at it, pull their chins, and think, hmm, both sides seem passionate, and that the obvious solution is to split the difference and call it a draw. Thus, nutcases whose credibility should have been shattered around their three-hundredth call for impeachment are ridiculously afforded a place at the table, leaving advocates for common sense at a massive disadvantage, since most of their energy must be devoted to restraining themselves from screaming, “this is fucking bullshit.”
Driftglass has been exploring the “both sides” dynamic for years, and a recent post, “Both Siderism Remains The Last Refuge of The Morally Bankrupt,” quoted an older post from 2005, addressing the media (emphasis in original):

In your weird fetish to be “objective”, the Republicans learned the little trick that makes [the media] dance like organ grinder monkeys. Whatever goofy-assed idea they came up with, you’d reflexively cede them half the distance between the truth and their goal.
There was a book I loved when I was a little driftglass called, “Half Magic” by Edgar Eager, about a talisman that granted the user exactly half of what they asked for. Wish to be ten times stronger that Lancelot, you’ll get five. Wish for a million in cash, you get 500K. In the Mainstream Media, the Right Wing of the Republican Party found their Half Magic Charm. And each time you met them halfway, they moved the goalposts another twenty yards again…and you jogged right on along behind them, ten yards at a time.

Fred Clark offers a similar diagnosis in “Third Way-ism and Hegel’s Bluff”:

Most of the time, when someone invokes a “Third Way,” they’re simply committing Hegel’s Bluff:
Simply find two extreme views roughly equidistant from your own along whatever spectrum you see fit to consult. Declare one the thesis and the other the antithesis, and your own position the synthesis. Without actually having to defend your own position, or to explain the shortcomings of these others, you can reassure yourself that you are right and they are wrong. Your position, whatever its actual merits, becomes not only the reasonable middle-ground and the presumably correct stance, but the very culmination of history.
Hegel’s Bluff is usually an exercise in self-reassurance. It’s a way of telling oneself that one is being reasonable. It works for that, well enough — well enough, that is, that Third Way-ers applying this bluff seem genuinely confused when others fail to perceive them as being as eminently reasonable as they perceive themselves.

But persuading others isn’t really what the Third Way of Hegel’s Bluff is designed to do. It rarely persuades. It fails to offer a persuasive argument mainly because it fails to offer any argument at all. That’s not really what it’s for. Arguments are made in support of particular conclusions, but this bluffery is more about just trying to reach that state in which any given dispute is concluded. That’s what it values most — that the unsettling argument be settled, not that it be resolved. It’s more about conflict-avoidance than about conflict resolution.

Having said all of that, please don’t misunderstand me as saying that no truth can ever be found “somewhere in the middle.”**

Back in 2000, Paul Krugman coined the phrase “Views Differ on Shape of Planet” to mock these dyanmics. In a 2011 op-ed, “The Centrist Cop-Out,” he applied it to the media’s unwillingness to call out Republican extremism and inflexibility on the debt ceiling. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but his general critique remains sadly relevant:

The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated. Republicans have, in effect, taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation. And Democrats — who would have been justified in rejecting this extortion altogether — have, in fact, gone a long way toward meeting those Republican demands.
As I said, it’s not complicated. Yet many people in the news media apparently can’t bring themselves to acknowledge this simple reality. News reports portray the parties as equally intransigent; pundits fantasize about some kind of “centrist” uprising, as if the problem was too much partisanship on both sides.

Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. I joked long ago that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read “Views Differ on Shape of Planet.” But would that cult still rule in a situation as stark as the one we now face, in which one party is clearly engaged in blackmail and the other is dickering over the size of the ransom?

The answer, it turns out, is yes. And this is no laughing matter: The cult of balance has played an important role in bringing us to the edge of disaster. For when reporting on political disputes always implies that both sides are to blame, there is no penalty for extremism. Voters won’t punish you for outrageous behavior if all they ever hear is that both sides are at fault. . . .

Many pundits view taking a position in the middle of the political spectrum as a virtue in itself. I don’t. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily reside in the middle of the road, and I want leaders who do the right thing, not the centrist thing. . . .

So what’s with the buzz about a centrist uprising? As I see it, it’s coming from people who recognize the dysfunctional nature of modern American politics, but refuse, for whatever reason, to acknowledge the one-sided role of Republican extremists in making our system dysfunctional. And it’s not hard to guess at their motivation. After all, pointing out the obvious truth gets you labeled as a shrill partisan, not just from the right, but from the ranks of self-proclaimed centrists.

But making nebulous calls for centrism, like writing news reports that always place equal blame on both parties, is a big cop-out — a cop-out that only encourages more bad behavior. The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.

Lastly, here’s one of my cracks at the subject, from 2012:

Both Sides Do It
As we’ve explored before, in most cases:
…saying “both sides do it” is a form of trolling. In almost every case, when a Very Serious Person says “both sides do it,” “both sides are to blame” or any of its variants, it is to shut down discussion, not to bring it to a deeper, more nuanced level.
Among honest, sane, reasonably intelligent and well-informed adults, the following are taken as givens:

  1. Neither major party is entirely pure or entirely corrupt. You can find despicable and honorable people in both parties.
  2. There is an inherent level of bullshit in politics. All politicians lie to some degree.
    Naturally, the same crowd also holds that:
  3. Nevertheless – actually, because of this – it’s very important to take a closer look at politicians, parties, and their policies, and try to make an informed, comparative, qualitative judgment. Responsible citizenship and basic voting depends on it. Policy matters.
    Strangely, most Beltway political commentators will endorse #1 and #2, but reject #3. The same media figures who sagely inform the public that politicians lie, as if this a revelation… will also refuse to fact-check their political guests. Instead of #3, they tend to hold the following views:
  4. Wisdom lies precisely between the parties. One side cannot be significantly better/more correct than the other. It’s impossible that one side can be overwhelmingly better!
  5. It is rude to call out liars, or not invite them back after they lie.
  6. Giving both parties a fair hearing necessitates judging that both arguments have equal merit.
  7. Anyone saying harsh things about conservatives/Republicans clearly is closed-minded, hyper-partisan and not a Serious Person, regardless of the evidence.
    All of this also entails:
  8. Policy doesn’t matter.
  9. This mindset, whatever you want to call it – faux centrism, “sensible” centrism, centrist fetishism, establishment groupthink, bourgeois authoritarianism, the world view of Very Serious People, the Emperor’s New Clothes, the ol’ ruling class circle jerk – is absolutely fucking imbecilic. The people who shill it are often highly educated and have sterling pedigrees by Beltway standards, but they are shockingly shallow.
    Saying “both sides do it,” “both sides are equally to blame,” or anything similar doesn’t always spring from the exact same motives, however. There are three general categories (a future post may delve into more detail):

    1. Social: The old maxim is that, in polite conversation, one should avoid discussing politics and religion. Beliefs on them can be strongly-felt and deeply personal (and sometimes irrational), so it’s easy for people to fight. When this happens, a host or other peacemaker might offer “both sides do it” as a way to change the subject, de-escalate the situation and placate whoever’s agitated. The person (more) in the right on the political dispute is expected to play the adult and let the matter drop in the name of comity. Strictly speaking, “both sides are equally to blame” is almost always bullshit, but it has its place in friendly social situations, where it can be well-intentioned, defensible, and useful.
      All that said, politics and religion can be discussed among honest, sane, reasonably intelligent and well-informed adults. It has to happen somewhere, and at gatherings whose express purpose is discussing politics (or religion), it’s pretty ridiculous and childish to try to shut down adult conversation by insisting that “both sides do it.” The issue is knowing the venue and the participants, and how candid and in-depth one can be.
    2. Bullshitting: When someone says “both sides do it” or the equivalent on a political show, it’s nearly always bullshitting. This does come in different flavors, however. Cokie Roberts will say “both sides do it” to fill time and collect her paycheck; it’s insipid Beltway conventional wisdom, but to her fellow travelers and a certain audience, it sounds smart and will receive approving nods. The benefit is that you really don’t need to know anything (certainly not any policy details) to say it, so it’s a wonderful gift to lazy pundits. Thomas Friedman says “both sides do it” to affect the persona of a Very Serious Person and Sensible Centrist. It supplies the illusion of being independent and thoughtful to middle-information voters, even if anyone who knows the subject well knows you’re talking out of your ass. (More on Friedman’s shtick here.) Meanwhile, David Brooks and other conservative propagandists will say “both sides do it” as a rearguard action to minimize the damage to their party. The conservative movement and Republican Party have become so extreme and so irresponsible, it’s hard to justify their actions. (This increasing extremism is why Brooks’ hack arguments to defend his side have grown more obviously ridiculous, and have become more widely mocked.) The best tactic for this type of bullshitter is to hit the false equivalences hard, cherry-picking and pretending some minor incident or minor player in the Democratic Party is as bad as some glaring offense by conservatives/Republicans. It’s possible to find Democratic hacks doing similar spin on individual news items, but they’re simply not operating on the same scale. The rules of polite Beltway discourse, mirroring some of the “social” motives mentioned above, dictate that it is terribly rude to point out that Republicans are the (chief) problem.
    3. Serious Analysis: This is the rarest form of saying “both sides do it,” but it does exist, most often as a criticism of both the Republicans and Democrats “from the left.” A good example is Matt Taibbi’s work investigating Wall Street corruption and reckless greed, and political complicity with it from both major parties. Taibbi has been criticized for occasionally going slightly overboard in blaming both parties equally. (After all, the Dems passed relatively weak Wall Street reform in a climate where the Republicans wanted none at all, the Republicans have steadfastly opposed the Consumer Protection Agency and related appointments, conservative justices delivered the horrible Citizens United decision, and Republicans have twice blocked campaign disclosure requirements designed to minimize some of the damage from Citizens United.) Still, Taibbi and similar figures are qualitatively different from the bullshitters in that they want to stop corruption and encourage good policies and responsible governance, and they are willing and able to discuss detail and nuance. While saying “both sides are equally to blame” may be sloppy and overstated to make a point, for this group, it’s normally meant as the start of a deeper conversation, not a trite conclusion to end it.

Another important note, related to bullshitting and serious analysis on political shows: pointing out significant hypocrisy in a politician or party generally isn’t the same as a serious “both sides do it” assertion, although bullshitting pundits on the same panel will try to twist it as such. For instance, Paul Krugman has often pointed out that Republicans are not serious about deficit/debt reduction. The David Brooks of the world might pretend otherwise, but this does not mean that neither party is serious about deficit/debt reduction. (Pointing out bad faith, bad policies and bullshit in one party does not magically transfer those to the other party, just to make anxious wannabe centrists feel better.) While some individual Dems might be fairly criticized, colossal bad faith on the deficit/debt is a distinctly Republican failing – in fact, it’s one of the defining traits of the party. If Krugman brings something like this up, it’s to have a deeper, more accurate conversation, whereas a Brooks will try to shut it down.
Here’s another way to break it down:

If you argue that wisdom often resides outside of conventional thinking, I’ll agree with you.

If you argue that wisdom lies precisely between two poles of conventional thinking – which are moving, no less! – I’ll say you’re a fucking moron.

(It’s terribly uncivil to say all this, I know, but I still think there’s some truth to it.)

Batocchio 8/19/2014 06:00:00 PM


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Benghazi Debunked by Former CIA Chief

Michael Morell, who had a 33-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, came out in support of Hillary Clinton in an op-ed for the New York Times. The former CIA Chief is not a Republican or a Democrat and he has, in fact, said that he has voted for candidates of both parties in the past. As the presidential campaign continues, conservatives are using the terror attacks in Benghazi as a tool to use against Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time.

Morell said in the op-ed, in part, that “Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.”

ABC host Martha Raddatz asked Morell what his reaction was to what Rudolph Giuliani said. Giuliani has been highly critical of Clinton over Benghazi in order to support Trump. He’s even suggested that if he were president the attacks would not have happened.

“One thing that struck me right off the bat was what he said about Benghazi. There is this view out there that she lied about what caused the attack,” Morell said. “That she said it was the video. I think one of the really interesting things that is in early 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation walked into the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and they said that we believe the video was a motivation in this attack.”

In just two sentences, Morell shredded the conservative talking point that the video played no role in the attacks.

“Abu Khattala, who is the only person arrested, said that the video was a motivation,” he continued. “So this idea that the video played no role, which Republicans keep repeating over and over and over again, just isn’t true.”

Watch courtesy of Media Matters:

Raddatz said, “But those parents have said she said those things to them. That has resonated among the voters.”

“She said it was terrorism, right? To Chelsea [Clinton]. She said to them it was the video,” Morell said. “Those two things can both be true at the same time. And it turns out, right, it turns out that the video did play a role in that attack and Republicans don’t want people to believe that.”

That won’t stop Republicans from attacking Clinton over the Benghazi attacks, though. “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Vladimir Lenin.

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An excellent study that captures the essence of how easily led people can be, particularly Republicons.

This book was written in 2006, halfway through George W. Bush’s second term as president. A great deal was wrong with America then, and I thought the research on authoritarian personalities could explain a lot of it. Since then a new administration has been elected, and although it has had to deal with a very serious economic crisis brought on by others, it is taking steps to correct some of what is wrong.

However, the forces that largely caused the problems have remained on the scene, and are more active today than ever before. As I try to show in the “Comment on the Tea Party Movement” (link to the left), the research findings in this book apply at least as strongly to America today as they did four years ago. Indeed, the events of 2009 and 2010 have confirmed conclusion after conclusion in The Authoritarians. I wrote in 2006 that the authoritarians in America were not going to go away if they lost the 2008 election, that they would be infuriated if a new president tried to carry out his mandate. That has certainly been the case.

If you check the “hit counter” on this page, you’ll see that this site has been visited nearly 300,000 times so far. The feedback I’ve gotten from those who have read The Authoritarians enables me to give you the major reason why you might want to do so too. “It ties things together for me,” people have said, “You can see how so many things all fit together.” “It explains the things about conservatives that didn’t make any sense to me,” others have commented. And the one that always brings a smile to my face, “Now at last I understand my brother-in-law” (or grandmother, uncle, woman in my car pool, Congressman, etc.).

Maybe it’ll work that way for you too.

Bob Altemeyer
May, 2010

* * * * * * * * * * * *
(Home Page Preface Written in 2006)

OK, what’s this book about? It’s about what’s happened to the American government lately. It’s about the disastrous decisions that government has made. It’s about the corruption that rotted the Congress. It’s about how traditional conservatism has nearly been destroyed by authoritarianism. It’s about how the “Religious Right” teamed up with amoral authoritarian leaders to push its un-democratic agenda onto the country. It’s about the United States standing at the crossroads as the next federal election approaches.

“Well,” you might be thinking, “I don’t believe any of this is true.” Or maybe, you’re thinking, “What else is new? I’ve believed this for years.” Why should a conservative, moderate, or liberal bother with this book? Why should any Republican, Independent, or Democrat click the “Whole Book” link on this page?

Because if you do, you’ll begin an easy-ride journey through some very relevant scientific studies I have done on authoritarian personalities–one that will take you a heck of a lot less time than the decades it took me. Those studies have a direct bearing on all the topics mentioned above. So if you think the first paragraph is a lot of hokum, or full of half-truths, I invite you to look at the research.

For example, take the following statement: “Once our government leaders and the authorities condemn the dangerous elements in our society, it will be the duty of every patriotic citizen to help stomp out the rot that is poisoning our country from within.” Sounds like something Hitler would say, right? Want to guess how many politicians, how many lawmakers in the United States agreed with it? Want to guess what they had in common?

Or how about a government program that persecutes political parties, or minorities, or journalists the authorities do not like, by putting them in jail, even torturing and killing them. Nobody would approve of that, right? Guess again.

Don’t think for a minute this doesn’t concern you personally. Let me ask you, as we’re passing the time here, how many ordinary people do you think an evil authority would have to order to kill you before he found someone who would, unjustly, out of sheer obedience, just because the authority said to? What sort of person is most likely to follow such an order? What kind of official is most likely to give that order, if it suited his purposes? Look at what experiments tell us, as I did.

If, on the other hand, you’re way ahead of me, and believe the extreme right-wing elements in America are poised to take it over, permanently, I think you can still get a lot from this book. The studies explain so much about these people. Yes, the research shows they are very aggressive, but why are they so hostile? Yes, experiments show they are almost totally uninfluenced by reasoning and evidence, but why are they so dogmatic? Yes, studies show the Religious Right has more than its fair share of hypocrites, from top to bottom; but why are they two-faced, and how come one face never notices the other? Yes, their leaders can give the flimsiest of excuses and even outright lies about things they’ve done wrong, but why do the rank and file believe them? What happens when authoritarian followers find the authoritarian leaders they crave and start marching together?

I think you’ll find this book “explains a lot.” Many scattered impressions about the enemies of freedom and equality become solidified by science and coherently connected here.

You think I’m pulling your leg? Click the link.

A Study from The University of Manitoba – The Authoritarians

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Conservativism Must Die

America is Liberal, not Conservative

Regarding the visit to the United States of America by Pope Francis, it is hilarious if it wasn’t so sad reading the right-wing “Christians” spew their hate for the Pope. As a scientist, he has the nerve to side with 97% of scientists world-wide instead of believing faux news and the fossil fuel industry “experts”.

I seriously wonder what conservatives don’t hate which would be headline news:

READ ALL ABOUT IT, The GOP doesn’t hate something!

It is also the height of hypocrisy to honestly say Jesus has conservative values!

One thing is for certain, conservative/Republicons will go down in history as the most ignorant people to ever walk this planet because we are currently in the Age of Information yet they constantly ignore all the facts before them. It’s not like there’s only one newspaper in town but it takes intelligence to sift through the BS but of course instead, they go with an entertainment company that has to tell them they are fair and balanced.

Lastly because I’m sure someone on the right will lash out and call me names because honestly that’s all they’ve got, please take just a moment and ask yourselves, what conservative policy that affects the majority of Americans that we conveniently take advantage of on a daily basis, something that makes our everyday lives just a bit more bearable? I can’t think of anything because our country was founded by progressives with an emphasis on freedom from religious tyranny, Lincoln freed the slaves which is a liberal ideal, Ike created the Federal Highway System which would never be supported by the GOP today and Nixon signed the bill enabling the funding of the EPA, something the Republicons are now saying hurts the pockets of the world’s polluters ignoring it has helped keep the air breathable and water drinkable. Where on the other side of the coin, the policies are endless; social security, minimum wage, voting rights, women’s reproduction rights and on and on and on. I have asked this question for years and have never received an answer because there are no policies conservatives come up with that are not based on hate, greed and selfishness.

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Domestic Terrorism

Conservatives constantly rail against Muslims (Mooselums) as terrorists and never point to the true terrorists that inhabit this country.
Here is a list that stops at 2012.
On Aug. 10, 1999 WHITE SUPREMACIST Buford O. Furrow, Jr., fired 70 rounds with an Uzi-type submachine-gun inside the lobby of the Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, CA wounding three children, a teenage counselor and an office worker. He then carjacked a woman’s Toyota at gunpoint, dumped it behind a motel and murdered US Postal Worker Joseph Santos with a Glock 9mm handgun.

On July 27, 2008 Former U.S. Army private, Jim David Atkinsson, WHO HATED DEMOCRATS, LIBERALS, AFRICAN AMERICANS AND HOMOSEXUALS, using a Remington Model 48 12-guage shotgun, murdered two people and injured seven others inside the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN.

The day after Obama’s inauguration, WHITE SUPREMACIST Keith Luke went on a killing spree in Brockton, Massachusetts. His goal was to kill as many Jews, blacks and Hispanics as possible. When questioned by investigators, the deranged gunman who had stockpiled hundreds of rounds of ammunition, proclaimed that “HE WAS FIGHTING THE EXTINCTION OF THE WHITE RACE” .


In April of 2009, Richard Popalowski, a white supremacist in Pittsburgh, shot and killed three police officers following a domestic disturbance call. HE THOUGHT THAT OBAMA WAS PART OF A GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY TO SEIZE ALL GUNS, AND HE FEARED THE GOVERNMENT WOULD TAKE HIS GUNS AWAY.


On May 31, 2009 Dr. George Tiller was murdered in his own church by A RIGHT-WING “PRO-LIFE” GUNMAN who decided to express his belief in the sanctity of human life by executing a medical doctor.

Eleven days later A RIGHT-WING WHITE SUPREMACIST AND HOLOCAUST DENIER walked into the National Holocaust Museum and killed an African-American security guard.

Two weeks later, three NEO-NAZIS were arrested for bombing a diversity office in Scottsdale, Arizona.

On April 20, 2010 A MEMBER OF THE SOVEREIGN CITIZEN MOVEMENT was arrested after a failed attempt to take over a Tennessee county courthouse.

Exactly one month later, in West Memphis Arkansas, SOVEREIGN CITIZENS Jerry and Joe Kane murdered two police officers before they themselves were shot and killed in the ensuing shoot out with police.

On July 18, 2010 Byron Williams, an angry unemployed man, was arrested by police after they discovered a car full of weapons and ammunition that HE HAD PLANNED TO USE TO KILL PROGRESSIVES. He was on his way to the non-profit Tides Foundation Center, a favorite target of vitriol from Glenn Beck’s radio show.

On Jan. 8, 2011 22-year old Jarold Lee Laughner killed six people, including a judge and a nine-year old child, and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), using a 9mm Glock 19 pistol during a public meeting in a supermarket parking lot near Tuscon, AZ.

On Aug. 5, 2012 Wade Michael Page, a 40-year old WHITE SUPREMACIST and U.S. Army veteran murdered six people and wounded four others inside a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI with a Springfield XD(M) semi-automatic pistol.

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America Needs More Technical People

“but they don’t have enough qualified employees to fill those positions” is just code for greedy corporations and the dumbfucks that vote GOP. This premise that people who are unemployed are unqualified is the same con they used to outsource and use as an excuse the false need of H1B visas for IT jobs. They just didn’t like the fact that the people that built the IT industry were making relatively decent money so they cried that we weren’t qualified even though we were at the forefront of software innovation with usually the best changes being shelved because of unrealistic due dates set not by the technologists but by the marketing department. Coincidentally, non-technical management was moved in to head departments where documenting everything you did and commenting every line of code was now more important than writing good code because QA departments were either being eliminated or merged into development which ruined the very effective distance needed to separate coders from testers. This was the beginning of outsourcing because we were all basically putting together operations manuals. A select few were hired to help train management in the new countries but some of us had to train the people who were there to take our jobs and we knew it. Most of us tried as hard as we could to give bad or incomplete information which was really our only recourse. I knew my job was over when emails to my department head went unanswered and instead of allowing me to lay-off the 7 employees that I hired, they fired me and them in the same room together. It was fun throwing my box of business cards from the top of the atrium that was the main entrance to the campus.

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GOP is a Fascist Group

The current borderline treasonous Republican Party is based on ideology resembling fascism to a degree never seen before in a democracy and will be aptly referred to from here on out as Republicons, cons, the bubble people from Crazy Town.

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