“Why have we become like gods as technologists and like devils as moral beings, supermen in science and idiots in aesthetics – idiots above all in the Greek sense of absolutely isolated individuals, incapable of communicating among themselves or understanding one another?” Lewis Mumford
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Cleveland Heights, Ohio
- If, during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organization, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometric powers of increase of each species, at some age, season or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite variety in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection. [Charles Darwin (1859) On the Origin of Species]
- “It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.” James Madison
- All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it. -Benjamin Franklin
Thinking Outside the Agora
- What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? January 27, 2015Sometimes our younger selves can be remarkably prescient, and sometimes they simply have no idea what it is they're talking about. Today, we want to know what it was that you wanted to be when you grew up. Read more...
- Gizmodo Watch People Freak Out at Their First Taste of Virtual Reality Porn | Jalopnik Feds Have Bee January 27, 2015Gizmodo Watch People Freak Out at Their First Taste of Virtual Reality Porn | Jalopnik Feds Have Been Spying On Millions Of Cars In The U.S. | Jezebel Men Promise Brooklyn Women 8 to 12 Inches, Deliver 4.3 | Kotaku 'We Want Refunds!' - Why Pro Wrestling Fans Are So Angry Again Read more...
- How One Man Accidentally Forged An Ancient Archaeological Artifact January 27, 2015You're a goldsmith, and a couple of guys approach you asking you to make a special gift for a friend. It's a Greek-themed tiara, and they want a specific inscription. Well, what's the worst that could happen?Read more...
- The Fantastic Four Trailer Is Here, And It's Not At All What We Expected January 27, 2015I'm not sure that this first trailer for Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot is fantastic, exactly, but it's certainly intriguing. It seems like it's trying to completely hide the fact it's a superhero movie, revealing practically nothing about the heroes, their powers, or the evil blogger they'll be facing.Read more...
- Hints From Terminator Genisys' Big Fight And A Key Game Of Thrones Scene January 27, 2015Don't hold your breath for Joss Whedon to direct Avengers 3 and 4 — or for a Star Wars spin-off starring Obi-Wan. Just how much does Lois Lane interact with Bruce Wayne in Batman v. Superman? And do we already know the team-members in Justice League Dark? Plus The Flash is attempting its biggest VFX […]
- What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up? January 27, 2015
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- Design for the IoT, Win a Trip to Maker Faire Bay Area IRL! January 27, 2015
- Play With Boxwood Pinball, Kitables, and Modular Robotics at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire! January 27, 2015
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Category Archives: current events
The variable progress we’ve made toward a color-blind society requires the astute observer and citizen to grapple with the causes of the breakdowns that focus attention on a grievous collection of problems, and, at the same time, may tend to crowd-out and push the sundry daily problems out of view.
The shocking events in Ferguson Missouri crowd out the following daily problems:
1. everyday racism
2. racial profiling
3. law enforcement presuming guilt
4. traffic stops for being black
5. killing innocent people, killing innocent people-of-color
6. police regarding themselves as enforcers of laws but not subject to laws
7. officer safety divorced from objective risk management
8. heavy-weaponization of police departments
9. the dangerous synergy, and daily transactions, between the military-industrial complex and the law enforcement complex
10. not applying social and psychological-scientific understanding to the consequences of militarizing police departments
Consider whether or not the police in a given year kill more innocent people than the number of police killed in the line of duty.
Psychologically, in a critical, larger, sense, our police are us.
This ghastly power is mostly explained as fear of the neighbouring nation, which is supposed to be possessed by a malevolent fiend. Since nobody is capable of recognizing just where and how much he himself is possessed and unconscious, he simply projects his own condition upon his neighbour, and thus it becomes a sacred duty to have the biggest guns and the most poisonous gas. The worst of it is that he is quite right. All one’s neighbours are in the grip of some uncontrollable fear, just like oneself. In lunatic asylums it is a well-known fact that patients are far more dangerous when suffering from fear than when moved by rage or hatred. (C.G. Jung pg 231 Civilization In Transition)
Some criminologists argue that there is a deep antagonism between cops and black and brown men that leads both to perceive the other as a constant threat, feeding a complicated intergroup conflict. For police, it may be fueled by a sense that they represent the last line of defense for the rest of us.
But the death accounts of unarmed black men often demonstrate something more basic at work in brutality cases: The victim was somehow perceived as less than fully human. (Less than human: Do some police take a step beyond simple prejudice? By David Dante Troutt, Reuters)
Police are not soldiers. Are democracy at its most local level is threatened if we allow our police departments to morph into combat teams.
Officer safety is a magical fear in a specific sense: advocates of risk management that approve re-arming police departments with technology that is designed to kill militarized enemies, and protect from the same, can only bridge the desire for safety with the need for the technology by entering irrational suppositions and fantasies about threat into the equation. It is a fact over the last decade that heavily armed SWAT teams have entered the wrong houses, have burst through the doors of innocent citizens, and for the sake of officer safety, killed innocent people.
Detroit SWAT officer murdered seven-year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010.
Our religions and political ideologies are methods of salvation and propitiation which can be compared with primitive ideas of magic, and where such “collective representations” are lacking their place is immediately taken by all sorts of private idiocies and idiosyncrasies, manias, phobias, and daemonisms whose primitivity leaves nothing to be desired, not to speak of the psychic epidemics of our time before which the witch-hunts of the sixteenth century pale by comparison. (C.G. Jung pg 155 Symbols In Transformation)
Comment: The nexus of racism and fear is obviously very deadly. Equipping law enforcement with inappropriate surplus military equipment is insanity. As Dr. Jung stated, “If you put enough bombs all in one place, they will go off by themselves.”
How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program By Taylor Wofford, Newsweek
|1033 procurements are not matters of public record. And the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which coordinates distribution of military surplus, refuses to reveal the names of agencies requesting “tactical” items, like assault rifles and MRAPs — for security reasons, a spokesperson for DLA told Newsweek via email.
Police in Watertown, Connecticut, (population 22,514) recently acquired a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle (sticker price: $733,000), designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs, for $2,800. There has never been a landmine reported in Watertown, Connecticut.|
Comment: the police work for the citizenry except in police states.
| In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought more attention to police militarization when it issued a comprehensive, nearly 100-page report titled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing (pdf). Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that this police militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.” |
Comment: plus, follow the money.
| “Bring it. You fucking animals, bring it,” one police officer was caught on video telling protesters. In Ferguson and beyond, it seems that some police officers have shed the blue uniform and have put on the uniform and gear of the military, bringing the attitude along with it. Read more-businessinsider |
In Ferguson, the blurred line between law enforcement and combat By Adam Serwer, MSNBC
| These heavily armed men are part of a more recent tradition: the militarization of American police. They are, like domestic surveillance, weapons built to fight a faraway war turned homeward. Hands-up is how black people survive nonviolent protest in the era of what author Radley Balko calls the “warrior cop.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program, first enacted in 1996 at the height of the so-called War on Drugs. The Department of Justice, according to the ACLU, “plays an important role in the militarization of the police” through its grant programs. It’s not that individual police officers are bad people – it’s that shifts in the American culture of policing encourages officers to ”think of the people they serve as enemies.”
Since 2001, the Department of Homeland Security has encouraged further militarization of police through federal funds for “terrorism prevention.” The armored vehicles, assault weapons, and body armor borne by the police in Ferguson are the fruit of turning police into soldiers. |
Police are not soldiers.
Parade of idiots:
The electorate could be sorted by decisive cognitive faults, and I mean by this the ones that reflect a complete inability to allow a fact to take the place of nonsense.
Each of the following fibs eliminates from cognitive respect (in my mind) any person who advocates it.
1. There is no global warming
2. the earth was created 4,000-6,000 years ago.
3. (bonus) the earth was created before the stars
4. Intelligent Design is a scientific theory
5. a fundamental tenet of Islam is that all other religions are defective
6. (bonus) Islam is, normatively, a single religion
7. high rates of taxation always lead to higher unemployment
8. the Civil War wasn’t primarily about the issue of slavery
9. Social Security is bankrupt
10. Poor people are lazy
And, FBI unable to qualify what are the qualities of a ‘most excellent’ hacker.
Meanwhile…”NASA-funded R&D engineers are working on plans for future spaceships to enter orbit around Mars using a doughnut shaped, steerable balloon-chute to slow down by flying through the Red Planet’s atmosphere.”
My jaw figuratively drops at the varieties of ‘Maker & Moocher’ arguments. Unemployment bumps up by 50% and suddenly there are 50% more takers too lazy to find a job. Ridiculous.
In the mid-terms we will hear the 47% argument (of Mittens,) refined into a battle cry about the class war between the Takers and the Patriots. This preposterous argument goes like this: if the government distributes enough goodies then the new army of takers will overwhelm the main street patriots and forge a tyranny of the majority. In turn, this will lead to the destruction of free market capitalism and freedom and personal responsibility.
2012 Presidential election. Thank you foxbusiness.com.
Of course: lies and damn statistics — ignorance may exist anywhere and obviously a college degree isn’t an arbiter. For example, we have persons educated as medical doctors serving in the US Congress who believe in young earth creationism. Sure, they represent red states, still. . .
Alan Keyes, graduate of Cornell and Harvard: When they came to lead, the children of the generation that fought World War II allowed the focus of American education to shift decisively away from a serious regard for the seminal documents that convey the logic of America’s liberty. This is the key to the elitist apostasy from America’s creed. On account of this apostasy, a more and more organized, self-consciously elitist faction has matured. It rejects the moral egalitarianism that undergirds America’s creed of liberty. Therefore, it works to overthrow the form of constitutional self-government that respects the sovereignty of the people. Informed by socialist totalitarian ideologies, this elitist clique is endowed by the materialist, authoritarian corporatism of the money powers now largely in control of America’s financial institutions, its so-called mainstream media and both the Democrat and Republican parties.
In political terms, these elitist faction forces come against the U.S. Constitution from left and right. Whatever the rhetoric of their verbal professions, in their actions they unanimously reject the premise that there is one benevolent and superintendent Deity whose spirit, will and judgment created human nature and ultimately rule over human affairs. This rejection of God’s authority is the daily proven fact that belies the specious opposition that is supposed to divide one of the elitist faction’s wings from the other. Whatever they say, the resultant of their supposedly adversarial interaction has for more than a lifetime consistently undermined this central pillar of American self-government, without which its other supports are like branches of a tree, forced to bear a weight they cannot stand. [excerpt] Defending the American Way, WorldNetDaily, June 2013
Slavery and sexism in the founder’s era kills your point concerning ‘moral egalitarianism that undergirds America’s creed of liberty,’ Dr. Keyes. Kill as I use it here is unqualified, so obviously and plain as day there was no moral egalitarianism back in the olden, golden, and beloved day.
The ignorance Keyes is apparently proud of did not come from his lack of education. But, from the perspective of my own being badly educated–in the normative-institutional sense–does his scree exemplify ignorance? What is ignorance and is it valid to assert that ignorance is supported by a particular individual nature–in the sense of finding what causes it?
The escape claus goes like this: what one knows is not such a big deal, what is a big deal is whether or not one ever got the message cum transmission.
If Remi Brague is correct in saying that it is the Judeo-Christian faith in a transcendent God, not only separate from the life of a particular tribe or political community but outside human history, that ultimately grounds the classical culture of emulation; and if Benedict XVI is correct in discerning that, at least in comparison with Europe, America remains a profoundly Christian nation with a strong tradition of independent, church-supported liberal education; what are we to make of the mainlines of the history of American higher education? That story as it has been told for two hundred years, whether in celebration or in lamentation, has been the story of unremitting secularization.
Even Henry Adams’s Education, his great memoir-style protest against the secularization of the American university in his life-time and thus the loss of the very character of university–despite being a protest–seemed only to further establish the main storyline ofthe field. “If Harvard or Yale had been less foolish in their origins and had held onto the Church, we should have probably kept a base on which to build some real scholarship; but when our ancestors cutoff the limb that made us a part ofthe tree, we naturally tumbled off. I do not suppose we ever produced a graduate who would have known how to sacrifice a bull to Jupiter.”‘(10) He argues that powerful as the literary and political tradition was in America, in the Boston of his youth, at Harvard, it was devoid of any religious underpinnings:
“Of all the conditions of his youth which afterwards puzzled the grown-up man, this disappearance of religion puzzled him most. The boy went to church twice every Sunday; he was taught to read his Bible, and he learned religious poetry by heart; he believed in a mild deism; he prayed; he went through all the forms; but neither to him nor to his brothers or sisters was religion real. Even the mild discipline of the Unitarian Church was so irksome that they all threw it off at the first possible moment, and never afterwards entered a church. The religious instinct had vanished, and could not be revived, although one made in later life many efforts to recover it. That the most powerful emotion of man, next to the sexual, should disappear, might be a personal defect of his own; but that the most intelligent society, led by the most intelligent clergy, in the most moral conditions he ever knew, should have solved all the problems of the universe so thoroughly as to have quite ceased making itself anxious about past or future, and should have persuaded itself that all the problems which had convulsed human thought from earliest recorded time, were not worth discussing, seemed to him the most curious social phenomenon he had to account for in a long life.”
His memoir of his later years, after his wife’s suicide, and the insanity and death of his close friend Clarence King who he had once thought represented the perfection of the frontier American, becomes an agonized, strained search for faith–he spends his final years touring the French countryside in his new motor car, trying to catch some whiff of faith from the power of the Virgin, which he acknowledges still retains its force at Lourdes. But his own failure and the triumph of secularization was never Henry Adams’ point–rather, as he argues repeatedly, “eccentricity is strength,” and American history, like human history, gives up its prophetic ghost to those who are willing to read it in silence, to those who will listen rather than forever reciting their own variety of pseudo-religious experiences. Adams is a believer. He believes that Americans who flew into the wilderness in 1620, in 1776, in 1845, in 1892–who knew that the only way to save their nation was to leave it behind–carrying their household gods on their backs, have not been defeated. Henry Adams realized that the restraints of a fixed religious, cultural, familial, or political tradition were only superficially a “handicap.” He repeatedly compared himself, “American of Americans, with Heaven knew how many Puritans and Patriots behind him and an education that had cost a civil war,” with a sort of pride and arrogant relish, to a “Polish Jew fresh from Warsaw or Cracow . . . a furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the ghetto, snarling in weird Yiddish.” In tl1e “races of the twentieth-century,” the race to abandon all restraints of past or nature, to strip oneself of all prejudicial identity and submit oneself, the naked servant and worshipper of the dynamo, he asserted (strangely enough!) that the American cultural tradition would prove as resistant to the worship of the twentieth-century Alexanders, Pharaohs, and Caesars, as the Jewish cultural tradition had ever proven. It is a breath-taking claim-the claim that American eccentricity can survive 600-pages worth of experiential learning and never lose its old illusions about liberty, virtue, or wisdom!
What then are we to make of this narrative of the liberationist effects of the American frontier on the old-world traditions imported from Europe; what are we to make of the story of the tabula rasa, the erasure, the secularization, the oblivion of the past and its lessons, prejudices and constraints? Henry Adams’s assertion invites us to look again at the meaning of the history of American higher education:
“Harvard was founded to help the Puritans escape Anglican Oxford and Cambridge, and Yale appeared in 1701 when a group of New Haven ministers, influenced in part by distrust of the liberal heresies that were to dominate Harvard, established a competing college to preserve the old social and religious order in Connecticut. Again, the Congregationalists who founded Amherst were in part moved by the objections to the Unitarianism that shook Harvard in the early l9th century, and the Yankee Methodists who set up Boston University at the time of the Civil War felt that Harvard’s classical curriculum and aristocratic values were destroying the ethos of pious dissent. The same era also saw the Jesuits establish Boston College, to help the new Boston-Irish community maintain its religious and social integrity. (Riesman in Sanford, 89)
From this history can we say that it is secularization or the perennial escape to eccentric orthodoxy that is the core “American” dynamic of the history higher education in this country? Is the declension of Harvard from Puritan seminary to Unitarian classical college to secular multiversity the inner dynamic of American higher education, or has the original eccentric dynamic of Harvard’s Christian orthodoxy simply metastasized in hundreds of small Bible colleges and Christian liberal arts colleges across the country? Are not these small Christian liberal arts colleges the truly American-the most distinctively American-contribution to the idea of the university in the modern world?(11) Whatever one thinks of such quaint neo-medieval, neo-classical flora and fauna sprouting in the American frontier–whether one considers them the hope for the future of Westem Civilization or embarrassing windows into the reactionary mind of middle America, it can hardly be denied that they, and not the anonymous, mega-state-universities of the great cities, are the peculiarly American features of the modern educational landscape.
Alasdair Maclntyre, in the now famous final paragraph of his work After Virtue, prescribed another round of that excellent habit of running away:
“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that Imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead–often not realizing what fully what they were doing–was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another–doubtless quite different–St. Benedict.”
‘Tis sure to be an immortal paragraph. But (dare I say that) Alasdair Maclntyre, like Christopher Dawson, indeed like Edward Gibbon, imagines that this “construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral lite can be sustained” is a “turning aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium.” Yet these Britishers never fully grasp that this English, Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Italian habit of running away with their traditions on their backs is actual pietas to the founders of the imperium. Eccentricity is a very American virtue.
Indeed George Washington himself knew the value of a strategic retreat that might keep one’s ragtag army intact–to fight another day . . _ or at any rate to hold out until one can find an ally with a navy.” (12) [excerpted from Chapter 5, Eccentric Education – The American Way, Susan E. Hanssen, The Idea of the American University (Bradley C.S. Watson, editor)]
[full chapter-pdf] See also Ms. Hanssen’s “‘English in spirit': G. K. Chesterton and the debate over church and state in the 1906 Education Act,” The Catholic Social Science Review (2007).
Whatever are the virtues of institutionalizing orthodox centralities in the periphery, I tend to view the eccentricity–that (unbeknownst to Keyes) could still smartly inform his own argument–to itself cast off further eccentricities so that, eventually, the operating quality is, as Ms. Hanssen puts it, institutional peculiarity-more than any other quality.
To weigh the gross generalization, secularizing and neo-liberal and post-modern Blue does correlate with degree of education and everyman traditionalism does correlate with deficits of learning and Red. For both Blue and Red, there is a lot of sub-set or sub-cultural eccentricity, and, let’s call, ‘eccentrification.’
American religiosity is extremely variable with respect to the straightened ordinates of classic Christian commitment, and, it would seem the employees of the governed are nowadays so energetically variable that the straightest Constitutionalism is spun away off to some radical precinct.
There’s no reason to refuse the challenge of orbiting cloisters. The neo-liberal order wants able workers to be ejected from schools. This represents another turn on the secularizing gyre, following from Taylorite pieces and Fordist machinists, and, now (and newly minted,) inchoate collections of human post-capital detritus. Denouement!
This is where both Mr. Keyes’ ideological ‘eccentrics’ and Ms. Hanssen’s historically minded supposition roll back to the natural law tree and beg for me a question about personality and the nature of personality and cognition. Surely it matters how the societal and spiritual conditionals work to instantiate particular human ends. Intentionality is not subsumed in the mystic chord even if it comes to be modified. There haven’t been, nor are there any utopian Natural Law states or political entities that have escaped doing lots of harm.
Certain rearguard’s aspirations–and eccentricity is presumably also defined to be a rearguard–are cast outward in comprehensive, oft times in totalizing terms, with there being no room to quibble over either ‘their being no God, but God alone,’ or the actualities of a Thomist heaven and hell, or the cosmos set in place necessary to the Pauline ‘only possible true church.’ This latter eccentricity is such that its closing circle (and argument) encompasses the entire universe. This is the same presumption naming eventuations happening “outside human history.”
Keyes is arch and forthright in framing his eliminativist perspective. As much as he could have padded its bluntness with a portion of Henry Adamsian ‘depressive,’ his position isn’t for him able to be cast off, and, it takes no prisoners, and, its educational precepts are staked to analytic compliance. What’s true for him is to be true for you.
Of the Virtuous Zeal Which the Monks Ought to Have
As there is a harsh and evil zeal which separateth from God and leadeth to hell, so there is a virtuous zeal which separateth from vice and leadeth to God and life everlasting.
Let the monks, therefore, practice this zeal with most ardent love; namely, that in honor they forerun one another (cf Rom 12:10). Let them bear their infirmities, whether of body or mind, with the utmost patience; let them vie with one another in obedience. Let no one follow what he thinketh useful to himself, but rather to another. Let them practice fraternal charity with a chaste love.
Let them fear God and love their Abbot with sincere and humble affection; let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and my He lead us all together to life everlasting.
In America, that the above is voluntary with no other respect otherwise given, might be the simple phenomenal element forceful enough to cast the sturdy outward and into eccentricity. What isn’t voluntary is attainment within the eccentric order. I doubt theocratic designs will bring forth any pearls.
Blues for a Hip King – Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya 1985
Any man that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.
Something a martial artist would say. And, so he was, and Mandela was a man with a singular sense of time and an African sense of will.
Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 Sowetan.live.co.za
Mandela was for me, the greatest human of our time.
“Buying and Selling is an Art, whereby people endeavour to cheat one another of the Land…….and true Religion is, To let every one enjoy it.”
Gerrard Winstanley A New-yeers Gift for the Parliament and Armie 1650
(I’d be a Bernie Sanders Democrat if Bernie was a member of the Democratic Party. So, I’m a Winstanley Democrat, because the triangulation of George Fox, Eugene Debs and Thomas Paine somehow incarnated by Winstanley in the late 17th century is about right.)
Charles S. Pierce: In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible, though not many of them. There have been lazier Congresses, more vicious Congresses, and Congresses less capable of seeing forests for trees. But there has never been in a single Congress — or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress — a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party’s 2012 nominee for president of the United States. (Charles S. Pierce blogs at Esquire, in a devastating manner about politics–so I don’t have to do so myself, as much.)
President Barack Obama:”They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.”
I find Conservatism in its Reaganesque revision to be abject and might as well throw into the compactor the Tea Party and Libertarianism* and everything to do with the whiny ethos of the “Makers;’ itself a position of bathos first scribbled out in post-Burkean form in the, alas, enduring circular banalities of Ayn Rand.
In the last week I wandered through comment threads expressly etched to pry apart the paradox of Ted Cruz’s high IQ and ivy league credentials and his having before the Supreme Court. (Clarence Thomas!!!)
(But I wasn’t doing so to contribute or be a voyeur. I did so because the problem posed by a public personage triggering a public inquiry about his or her ‘intelligence’ provides a great portal through which to witness the sweep of folk sociology and folk psychology as-practice in discussion about the nature of intelligence. This particular topic happens to interest me a great deal.)
Cruz apparently was indoctrinated into his father’s belief system as a teenager and has used his great mind for purposes other than shifting away a half iota or more from that 25+ year old teenage belief system. Speaking to David Gregory this weekend, Senator Cruz made a number of comments that indicate he has forgotten, or is unaware of very large, important chunks of the U.S. Constitution. Oh, well, I guess that part of his reputation is undeserved and is now in the toilet!
(Meanwhile, Cruz’s father reminds us all, Obama is a Muslim!)
Still, I can inhabit the devil’s advocate enough to understand that as far as ‘getting one’s way,’ politics is a hard ball game played by more than a few crusty white men and, so, right at the beginning of the day, many such men understand that, for example, ‘the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact,’ and ‘one’s deepest beliefs shouldn’t be sacrificed in the a pyre fueled by the anti-royalist dreams of the founding fathers.’ At the end of the day, for those men, taking an entire economy of the USA hostage for the sake of rolling back the healthcare of many African-Americans is just a day’s labor in the second Civil War.
Although it does take a mountain of chutzpah to then blame the hostage’s family for killing the hostage, after the kidnappers’ insane demands weren’t met.
It is a historical fact that at times corporate collectivists and plutocrats both ensnare populist resentment, and, re-deploy it for purposes dreamed up in 1% fan club think tanks. But, if, like Paul Ryan, you deeply adhere to the entwined ideas that it is (#1) government that makes it impossible for the one percenters to (#2) exhale and fill the sails of the fleet of swamped middle class dinghies, then you, I’m afraid are stupid about economics, as is Paul Ryan. and, just as evidently, as are the entirety of Tea Party reactionaries, Ron/Rand Paultards, and the other hand children to the upper echelon of the corporate and financial classes–you know, the one’s who think “Tea Party” on their way to their offshore bank’s web site, and guffaw, ‘what suckers!.’
GOP is said now to be run by their nihilistic wing. Better: they’re being run by a mob of autistic teenagers.
Falsification of Libertarianism: I enjoy both liberty and freedom today in portions that exceed anything that would be possible were you to give the world over to any persons and to any ideology supposed to be libertarian. This is true despite any argument you could devise to try to prove my statement of fact to be not true. (And, I mean: little ol’ me is free.)
Count me against an immoral act of war against Syria. A strike against Syria would be an illegal war too.
I’m usually against war of any kind. Strictly speaking, I would endorse my country defending itself against direct attackers.
President Obama and his minions and the pro-war coterie have not made either a moral, or logical, or grown-up case for potentially chewing up innocent Syrian civilians for whatever are the various objectives being promoted. My opinion is admittedly facile, and is intentionally harsh.
I’m just a solitary idealist about peace sitting in the comfort of my home. I sit here in a haven safe from most threats–although I hear the NSA is storing my internet data–and I do understand my Syrian counterparts mostly cannot be sure he or she or their own will make it to tomorrow, alive.
The unintended consequences are not being discussed much. The pro-war argument rests on asserting a “norm” that only is so if the world embraces its enforcement. Otherwise, the norm is a “has been,” and the rationale must logically slide over to the quid-pro-quid arena in which a lot of history’s barbarities have played out.
War…is as much a punishment to the punisher as to the sufferer. – Thomas Jefferson
The package would take effect in 2016. It requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls and shortens early voting by a week, from 17 days to 10. It also ends same-day registration, requiring voters to register, update their address or make any other needed changes at least 25 days ahead of an election. A high school civics program that registers tens of thousands of students to vote each year in advance of their 18th birthdays has been eliminated. Talking Points Memo, August 13-2013
The question is: how much voter fraud is there in North Carolina? In-person fraud based on a voter misrepresenting his or her identity is squashed by voter ID laws. From this one would suspect such fraud is a big problem in North Carolina.
Of course, it isn’t a problem at all. The scope of this particular bill is telling. There is no reason to candy coat the intentions behind the explicit targeting of this new law. North Carolina seems hellbent on returning to the 1850s.
North Carolina races to the bottom!
There isn’t enough evidence to plausibly argue “voter fraud” anymore. And arguing “voter integrity” is a tough sell, even to the masses, when you are actively precluding registered voters from casting a ballot. So now the argument to justify voter suppression has devolved to this: Because blacks are no longer killed when they try to register to vote, because many more vote now than voted 50 years ago, “things have changed” enough in the South to permit states to enact discriminatory laws that threaten minority votes in more subtle ways. The intended result is the same — disenfranchisement — but the method of getting there has a more sterile and bureaucratic visage. In this, Southern lawmakers are demonstrating to Justice Kennedy and everyone else that they indeed understand fully their “heritage” and their “history, its triumphs and its mistakes” and have learned from them. Fifty years after Birmingham, they have learned once again how to use the law as a weapon and not a shield against minority citizens within their midst. Andrew Cohen; ESquire-Politics; North Carolina Voting Bill – Justice Kennedy Has To Answer For North Carolina
Voter fraud convictions represent a 1 in 10 million failure to protect the integrity of the vote. I recently heard for the first time the new argument on behalf of making voting harder: actual voter fraud is undetectable and so it is wide-spread, even if there is no evidence. This new rationale leans heavily into territory the GOP owns, such as: the transvaginal probe being for the sake of the woman’s heath; teaching the controversy of biological origins; certainty about shari’a being the first foothold of the new caliphate here in the USA; and, the whole shebang constituting supply side economics.
In other words, the rationale is irrational and, fundamentally, nonsensical. I suppose it’s simply obvious advocates of suppressing legal voting cannot admit the obvious actual reasons for it being necessary to make voting more difficult.
Still, it is easy to fashion a forthright response if some Republican were to ask me to do so–on their behalf. It would go like this: “Elections are battles with great powers at stake, and in a grown up game for power you do everything possible to win.” No Republican will ever confess as much–in public.
Racism, gerrymandering, state’s rights, nullification, and the Southern Strategy become once again fashionable in the GOP. If you know a Republican, ask him or her if they would like to see every eligible voter exercise their right to vote. Then see if he or she will fall back on election integrity, or, be honest.
Progressive Pulse – North Carolina
ACLU – North Carolina
Brennan Center For Justice – Voting Rights
ACLU – Voting
Fair Vote – The Center For Voting and Democracy
Demos.org – Voting Rights
Election Law Blog (Rick Hasen)
(From this article:) So where should the Republican Party go from here? How about trying to have a conversation with the middle class? What about talking about the need for better jobs at better wages? Why not?
Why not? For one thing, the GOP has been the party of cheap labor for well over 100 years. And the GOP’s plan to take back the women’s vote involves transvaginal probing.
But, yeah, freeedom!
When it comes to fiscal policy, then, Republicans have fallen victim to their own con game. And I would argue that something similar explains how the party lost its way, not just on fiscal policy, but on everything.
Think of it this way: For a long time the Republican establishment got its way by playing a con game with the party’s base. Voters would be mobilized as soldiers in an ideological crusade, fired up by warnings that liberals were going to turn the country over to gay married terrorists, not to mention taking your hard-earned dollars and giving them to Those People. Then, once the election was over, the establishment would get on with its real priorities — deregulation and lower taxes on the wealthy.
At this point, however, the establishment has lost control. Meanwhile, base voters actually believe the stories they were told — for example, that the government is spending vast sums on things that are a complete waste or at any rate don’t do anything for people like them. (Don’t let the government get its hands on Medicare!) And the party establishment can’t get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to those base voters that they were lied to.
The result is what we see now in the House: a party that, as I said, seems unable to participate in even the most basic processes of governing.Paul Krugman
The following video is a nicely realized slice of bright-eyed Tea Party angst concerned with the problem of young voters and reconfigured GOP party rules. (*)
video via Constitutional.War.org.
We are talking about voters who, by and large, vote against their own economic self-interest time and time again and who, quite honestly, are the biggest suckers in the history of representative democracy. They continue to support policies that render their states into third-world sweatshops for corporations headquartered thousands of miles away. They doom their kids to inadequate schools and themselves to the whims of free-market medicine. The problem, of course, is that the rest of us have to live with the consequences and, it should be noted, pay a fkload of the bills for it besides. Charles S. Pierce, Esquire Politics
(In the video I am most amused by the aside early in the video about ‘George Washington not wanting two parties’ because without knowing anything else about what Dude understands about early American history in the founding era, I’m fairly confident he could reel off an impressively loopy mash-up about that history and rope in Washington.)
(*) Proponents of the “compromise” ignore the enormously destructive problem of the proposed Rule 12. Rule 12 would enable 75% of the Republican National Committee later to eliminate their “compromise” and to destroy or make drastic changes in dozens of other rules which have served our party well over the years.
In practice, Rule 12 would enable an RNC chairman to enact almost any rules change he or she desired, because an RNC chairman already has so much power and influence that he or she can almost always can get 75% or more of the RNC members to vote for or against anything. A chairman already has the enormous “power of the purse,” and should not have also the power to change party rules at will.
There is already quite enough power flow from the top down in our party. Instead of approving more power grabs, we should be looking for ways for more power to flow from the bottom up. That’s how to attract more participants into our party. Red State September 2012
Hopefully during the recess the Tea Party will be making a ruckus at all the local get togethers and town halls so as to hasten the GOP fratricide. Although, it is a strange kind of fratricide which pits an obese thug Chris Christie against the oily hypocrite Ted Cruz or the smart-as-a-chair Rand Paul. Keep in mind the GOP agrees at least in the need for a race to the bottom. Cheap labor and the hegemony of the makers remains the GOP objective.
The thuggish Chris Christie, the Koch Brothers, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Steve King, John Boehner, and the whole lot of GOP ideologues, propagandists, polemicists, plutocrats, racists, and, fundamentalists, do have a program for the middle class and I call it: Sorting.
Utopian Sorting is an even better term.
He chooses Peace. He must be able to make a choice.Interview with Yukiyoshi Takamura in Aikido Journal
In an earlier post about the vigorous development of an anti-Constitution police and surveillance state, I referred to Carl Jung’s insight about the concretization of harmful utility from charged unconscious constellations of collective fears. A simpler way to describe this is to state that if we go looking for evil-doing we will project it on anything our unconscious is on the lookout for; then on, something like, everyone.
The Trayvon Martin tragedy connects with the surveillance state via the consequential vector of a collective unconscious complex. This complex encapsulates the dark side of our collective roots, roots anchored in how it was we created a nation from an American frontier that required the near extermination of the native inhabitants and the kidnapping and enslaving of Black Africans.
This primitive social complex compels our hyper-vigilance, and evokes the solitary vigilante. This vigilante may be found acting as the canary in neighborhood coal mines, or, he or she may be huddled over a computer screen waiting for algorhythmic processing to pop up a ‘suspicious’ character (or propensity,) out of an ocean of indiscriminate data.
This complex is archaic. It’s dark imperative is simple to name: tame the savages one way or the other. Or, as Frederick Turner put it in his book about it, Beyond Geography, its mission is “educating the children for citizenship.”
Among the concomitant terrible issues of this unconscious social complex are willful mistakes in ‘threat’ identification, and, slaughter.
The murder of Sitting Bull was what led with terrific inexorability to the savage collusion of this business, for it confirmed the fears of the Sioux Ghost Dancers that the troops had been brought in to murder them all. Badly frightened but defiant Sioux huddled under Chief Bog Foot in the Badlands off the reservations where refugees from Standing Rock came bearing news of the murder. While they danced and awaited further news the troops surrounded them and began a kind of negotiation that ended with the dancers being prodded toward Pine Ridge Reservation December 27, [1880.] On the 28th the troops camped about 20 miles from the agency and plans were made to take from the dancers whatever arms they might have.
You another American dawn, but singular in its way, for what it broke upon was the end of something that vastly predated the corporeal realities of those who now faced each other across a tiny patch of clay-dry Indian soil. On the slopes of the little hillock stood 470 white men muffled and capped against the weather, their rifles greased, glinting, and government-issued, and there four big rapid fire cannons trained downhill. Among them, grim faced, expectant members of the US 7th cavalry–Custer’s outfit–sat their big horses and remembered the Sioux at Little Big Horn. And on the flats below some 340 ghost dancers camped in canvas lodges. The Indians were ordered to surrender their arms. They look at the surrounding guns and into their lodges full of women and children and then delivered up an obviously fallacious cache. So now the close-buttoned, anonymous-faced soldiers moved in, poking and kicking through the lodges while the women called to their men and the children cried. A shaman kept blowing an eagle-bone whistle. Some lodges were overturned and theirs content scattered. The sun rose.
A pitiful treasure of rifles, some of purely talismanic value, was this discovered, but when a soldier attempted to search the body of a young man, the latter drew a concealed gun and fired. In an instant the Indian threat, such as it had been, was exterminated as the gunners and riflemen dropped almost all of the men where they stood at the entrances to the lodges. But now the real battle began, inevitable and terrific. The whole civilization–Chicago and St. Louis and the older outposts eastward; fortresses, soldiers, and slave castles beyond the edges of the Old World; driven kings, commanders, prelators, and nameless spear carriers–all its gathered force poured down the greased barrels and into the screaming women and children who fled westward along winter’s dry gulch toward no refuge. The soldiers pursued them, mile after mile, while behind them a sullen smoke drifted up the smoldering canvases of the lodges.
Black Elk was there, having riden desperately out with others from Pine Ridge when the sounds of the heavy guns announced sure annihilation. Armed with his vision and nothing more he galloped his lathered pony through the smoking destruction out along the gulch,
“and what he saw was terrible. Dead and wounded women and children and little babies. . .scattered all along where they been trying to run away. The soldiers had followed along the gulch, as they ran, and murdered them there. Sometimes they were heaps because they had huddled together, and some were scattered all along. Sometimes bunches of them have been killed and torn to pieces where the wagon guns hit them. I saw a little baby trying to suck its mother, but she was bloody and dead.”
Numbers here are meaningless, but Gen. Nelson A.Miles in charge of operations, spoke truly when he laconically reported, “I think very few Indians have escaped.” (pp 293-294, Beyond Geography)
There is no space between the archaic wish to tame the savages ‘to the last man, woman, and child’ and the contemporary claim that enough vigilance, gun-wielding citizens and patriots, and surveillance will do the trick.
photographic inversion from While Seated.
Chief Justice John Roberts closes a gate and supposes it is no longer necessary and the immediate response on the part of several states is to furiously rush to demonstrate that the gate was actually needed.
Now, the GOP will triple their efforts to suppress the votes of non-white and younger voters. Actually, there’s a fairly large element in the GOP wanting to re-fight the Civil War–given the currency and rhetoric of nullification, States’ rights, and the many strategists and tacticians working tirelessly everyday to solve the problem of ‘too many minorities finding their way to the voting places.’
Republican efforts to stem the non-white tide of electoral participation make for them a new badge for their sour brand, Dixiecans. Chief Justice Roberts’s legacy will from now on darkly turn about his volunteering to be an accessory to the new wave of racism.
“The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective. The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclearance is no longer needed. … With that belief, and the argument derived from it, history repeats itself.” Ruth Baden Ginsburg nails it.
The Dixiecans move to proudly and shamelessly ratify their heartfelt southern heritage. They will next crusade against the backlash. Soon enough we will learn just how racist is the ‘Philosophy of the Tea Party,’ as the Tea Party masses rush to embrace ‘white supremacy.’
On its face, this looks like a big victory for Republicans. Is it really? I suspect it will turn out to be a poisoned chalice. Many of the GOP’s current problems stem from the fact that it is overly beholden to its white, Southern base at a time when the country is rapidly becoming more racially diverse. In order to expand its base of power beyond the House of Representatives, the GOP needs to expand its appeal to minority voters. As the ongoing battle over immigration reform demonstrates, that process is going poorly and looks like it will be very difficult.
The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act will make it easier for Republicans to hold and expand their power in those mainly Southern states. That will, in turn, make it easier for them to hold the House. It will also intensify the Southern captivity of the GOP, thereby making it harder for Republicans to broaden their appeal and win back the White House. Joshua Green, Business Week,
The Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Decision Is a Poison Chalice for the GOP
Alternate view from the arch GOP racist John Fund, writing in white supremacist rag The National Review, “The Supreme Court’s decision today to overturn a small part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is actually a victory for civil rights.”
I’m less inclined to rant rave or riff on political matters because of the calming effect the confirmation bias supplies while I read Charles S. Pierce everyday at his second-to-none “commonsense tilted” current events blog at Esquire Magazine.
He didn’t reveal anything anyone didn’t know — or suspect — was going on over the past 12 years. But he did reveal its dimensions, the precise parameters of the distance between the PRISM program and the spirit of the Constitution, and the exact distance our fear and our apathy and our neglect of true self-government had carried us from the morning of September 11, 2001 to this weekend. Pierce: Snowden Effect, Day Two
Ever since Obama, while Senator, caved on granting immunity to the telecoms, I understood he would likely be a disappointing protector of the Constitution.
I have several comments.
#1 Now that TIA (Total Information Awareness) has been partly outed, my own strong opinion is: All such broad surveillance violates the Constitution’s 4th Amendment. ‘Hoovering’ data is unhooked from probable cause; end of argument.
#2 Carl Jung stated once something like, “If you pile up enough guns somewhere, they will eventually go off by themselves.” Let’s unpack this comment about psychology. Jung isn’t saying the guns will literally go off by themselves, he means the personal psychic energy attached to the collective fantasy of the guns’ meaningful usefulness (or instrumentality,) eventually concretizes their use.
The idea that large scale data sets have interesting patterns in them makes widespread surveillance a compelling activity psychologically. Eventually both the data and the patterns will be misused, leaked, sold to monied interests, and, used to bring the wish fulfillment full circle. The ‘inner’ urge to uncover patterns is drawn toward the forbidden varieties of fruits hidden in the large sets of data. Most of the tasty fruits have nothing to do with catching jihadists.
#3 Kafka. In our form of government, the government works for us. We cannot argue about the policies and embedded issues and moral trade-offs if those who work for us insist the legal rationales/rationalizations must remain secret for the sake of our own safety.
#4 “Trust Us” is not a workable way to brush it all under the table cloth. (President Obama’s interview with Charlie Rose was the lowest rhetorical point of his sadly mediocre Presidency.)
Do you know what I mean when I speak of a person who spouts something stupid and/or idiotic, and, remarkably, does so as if the sheer twin forces of their sincerity and belief might convert this ‘something’ into a something smart or insightful?
Heck, I’ve done this many times; usually about local sports teams.
Don’t blame the financial crisis on borrowers.
Don’t tell me that poverty simply reflects the bad ethics and attitudes of the poor.
Don’t try to explain ‘libertarian philosophy’ or ‘intelligent design.’ Just: stop before you make a fool of yourself.
Don’t valorize Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher by telling me what each accomplished as if the bloodshed never made it to their hands.
Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies:
Getting rid of Saddam and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction is an important set of goals if the war goes well. No war, however, can do more than provide a basis for making Iraq somewhat better and then giving the Iraqis control over their own destiny. No outcome of the war can reshape the Gulf or the Middle East.
The idea of instant democratization coming out of the war and spreading throughout the region denies the laws of cause and effect and is ridiculous. So is the idea we know enough about national building to create an Iraqi United States.
The best we can do is minimize our mistakes and the effect of the law of unintended consequences. To do this requires both realism and commitment. If we rely on miracles and good intentions, or act as occupiers rather than partners, we are almost certain to be far more unhappy on the tenth anniversary of the next war as we were on the tenth anniversary of the Gulf War.
(My late mother had a crush on Tony Cordesman.) Throughout the last half of 2002 the subject my mother and I talked the most about was: Iraq’s soon-to-come moment in Dick Cheney’s cross-hairs. One day I stopped by, sat on her bed, and our conversation commenced with her question, a question promoted by an article in the New York Review of Book that lay opened up across her lap.
She asked me,
“Do you suppose that, besides all the UN inspectors, Iraq is also the most photographed country from air and space that ever was?”
At seventy-five years of age and privy to exactly none of the intelligence Cheney enjoyed, nevertheless, her estimate of the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD was far superior to that of Cheney and his gang of neocon thugs.
How do you account for this difference? The actual difference isn’t a matter of hair splitting. The open source turned out to be correct and the top secret source turned out to be completely bogus.
Scroll ahead ten years and consider: more than a half million casualties, upwards of one million excess deaths, and, not to mention, vast treasure adding up to trillions of dollars, and consider, today, the failed state of Iraq.
By spring of 2003, weeks past shock and awe, my mother had decided, rightly, that a hideous war crime was being perpetrated.
I didn’t expect the schadenfruede to be so long-lasting.
By Paul West
March 18, 2013, 4:00 a.m.
WASHINGTON — A smug, uncaring, ideologically rigid national Republican Party is turning off the majority of American voters, with stale policies that have changed little in 30 years and an image that alienates minorities and the young, according to an internal GOP study.
That blunt assessment on the state of Republicanism at the national level comes from a major new report, out Monday, that will likely shake up an already battered party. It was commissioned by the head of the Republican National Committee in the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat last year.
Without offering detailed policy prescriptions, the 98-page report calls on the party to “smartly change course,” modernize itself and develop “a more welcoming brand of conservatism that invites and inspires new people to visit us.”
There are extensive lists of proposals, many of them technological and procedural, designed to help the GOP better engage voters, especially women, minorities and the young, and reverse a losing pattern in five of the last six popular votes for president.
“Unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future,” the report concludes.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in remarks in Washington on the release of the study by the party’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” is unsparing in his analysis of the 2012 election setback.
“Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. Our primary and debate process needed improvement,” he says, according to an advance text of his remarks.
“We know we have problems. We’ve identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them,” he says.
Most of the criticisms are familiar to those, both inside and outside the GOP, who have watched the party fail to come to grips with changing demographics and, instead, try to rely on older, white voters who represent a shrinking part of the electorate.
“Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us,” the report says. Young voters, it says, see the party as “old and detached from pop culture.”
In calling for the GOP to develop “a more welcoming conservatism,” the report rebukes those who remain in denial about the seriousness of the problem and those who are unwilling to broaden the party’s appeal.
A just-concluded gathering of conservatives in Washington cheered speaker after speaker who urged the GOP to stick to its guns and, instead, largely blamed the 2012 defeat on Romney or the way he ran his campaign.
“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the study says. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
The report calls on Republicans to counter the party’s image as an arm of business. It says Republicans should “blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”
Beyond that, however, there are no policy details. Indeed, the authors point out that they are not a policy committee, in a section calling on the GOP to “embrace and champion” comprehensive immigration reform without further specifics.
In addition, an extensive set of “inclusion” proposals for minority groups, including Latinos, Asians and African Americans, appears to mimic similar, failed outreach efforts by various RNC chairs over the last 30 years.
The report notes the party’s problems with women voters, especially unmarried women. But its 10-point plan for appealing to women makes no mention of the GOP stance on any social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, that have turned off many of the voters in question.
In a section on campaign mechanics, Republicans are advised to make “a critical cultural shift” on early, absentee, and online voting, trends that the report notes are “here to stay.” The report fails to note, however, that Republican elected officials fought to block and even reverse that trend at the state level in 2012.
Although the RNC study spares Romney any direct criticism, it includes tacit criticism of GOP polling that seems directed at his campaign. Research conducted for the study report found that 70% of Republican pollsters surveyed said that Democratic polling in 2012 “was better than our own. Fully 22% felt the Democrats did ‘much better’ than the Republicans when it came to accuracy and reliability.”
In a section on party primaries, there are thinly veiled attacks on efforts by outside groups, such as those tied to former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and organizations like the Club for Growth, that seek to apply litmus tests or weed out candidates considered unelectable.
“It would be a mistake for any one organization to think it can circumvent GOP voters and hand-pick our nominees,” the report says. “Third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects.”
There are also calls for fewer candidate debates during the presidential primaries, a shorter nomination calendar and an earlier national convention.
The report is the product of a committee headed by Priebus’ allies and supporters, including Henry Barbour of Mississippi, the nephew of former governor and RNC chairman Haley Barbour; former George W. Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer; and Sally Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
If this problem of the GOP–losing national popular votes–interests you, you’ll be moved to follow the various scenes of crashing perceptions and the subsequent wreckage.
If somebody asked me what the chief deficit of the GOP is, I would answer that the Red States provide generous amount of evidence about what the Grand Old Party hopes to accomplish. So, from this, my short answer would be,
The GOP wants to race to the bottom. This desire strikes many people as being the equivalent of asking voters to punch themselves in the face–and be better off for it!
The bottom is many ‘bottoms’ and each such bottom can be well defined by the data. If you aspire to obtain the median education or household income or physical health of the average citizen of Mississippi or Tennessee or Alabama, then I have a political party that aims to support your goals.
What is the predicated goal enabled to head downward? Cheap Labor.
There you have it. The strategic handwringing is marvelous yet the actual situation isn’t very dire. The GOP is in fine shape when you look at what the nature of their actual success is all about.
Its libertarian “Chamber of Commerce” wing is fabulously fat and happy. The libertarian wing requires frightened, racist, aging, married, white people to lock in political advantages in Red States and so it has gone famously for four-plus decades. Fueling non-economic resentments of such people and then also gaming as much as possible the available, gritty mechanics of elections has proven to be a marvelous trick.
This strategy has worked out well. The political directors have leveraged resentment and cheap labor to a commanding political lead in the Red states. Has the bottom come into view? Not yet; ‘call the Texas textbook folks.’
(Cheap labor figures into the ability of state level oligarchs to put their money to work on political projects without many monied opponents standing in their way.) The GOP’s success is etched by the various state-level measures. Hurray for Kansas!
Losing national and statewide elections in blue states is the price exacted by the Red State strategy. The GOP protests too much. There is no chance of the GOP winning substantially more votes of young, or single, or minority, or, highly educated voters, as long as the GOP wants to play this hard ball strategic and tactical game on any Purple-to-Blue state’s territory.
For example, it should be completely obvious that the GOP, if it is hoping to make it harder for minorities to vote, is not going to make the party attractive to those same minorities. Having leaders in some states assert the state’s interest in penetrating and raping a woman’s vagina prior to the woman undergoing a medical procedure is not going to make your party attractive to most women. Supporting the teaching of intelligent design and/or young earth creationism; denying climate change; and, (recently we learn,) spinning slaveowners as benefactors of slaves, is not going to make your party more attractive to college kids and the educated classes.
Over the long term of the GOP, the paradox inherent betwixt its ruthless plutocratic libertarian ideology and its core voters’ theocratic fantasy is resolved by the GOP’s inability to accomplish the task of replacing its aging white core voter. Who knew paranoia and fearfulness and resentment has a shelf life?
Until then, I fully expect GOP directors to continue to follow the overt marching orders of Rush and Rand, and be obedient to the tactical orders of ALEC and the Koch Brothers, et al.. In doing so, at least, its power players will continue to enjoy big paydays. I get it: the principle grifters, the Makers, are laughing all the way to the bank. The GOP’s success is not fragile as long as there are, in the Red states, resentful and fearful old white social conservatives for the rightward Makers to shake down and manipulate.
The key requirement of continued GOP success supposes the “Libertarian directors” understand the grievances of the social conservative hoi polloi are never to be resolved.