"When I get new evidence I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes
- Teaching Cartoon: Two On ‘Timing’ & a Tale
- THE VOID (trailer)
- Humberto Maturana & Heinz von Foerster: Meta-Science, Reflection
- Visual Experiment: On the Trail (ARK)
- Teaching Cartoons: Instrumentality 1 & 2
- Mandorla: Trailer
- A Hidden ‘Meta’
- Who Are Your Luminaries?
- Everyone is going one place or the other, ‘cept corporations
- Kippie’s Ekaya
- Free Play Softball League: Ludic Aspirations & the Blue Men Group
- Symmetry Visual Experiment
- Teaching cartoon: Preparation
- Africa, the Original Home of Every Single Racist
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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
- It's time to get skeptical about "the selfish gene" December 5, 2013The truth makes for a bad meme. That seems to be the lesson we can take from the continued popularity of Richard Dawkins' idea that the "selfish gene" controls evolution. Read more...
- A sunken WWII-era Japanese 'mega sub' has been found near Hawaii December 5, 2013Researchers diving off the coast of Hawaii have found a sunken 400-foot (122 meter) "Sen-Toku" class submarine. One of the largest pre-nuclear subs ever built, the "mega sub" was torpedoed by the U.S. shortly after the Second World War to prevent the Soviet Union from getting their hands on the super-advanced technology.Read more...
- Here's how to make a Wonder Woman movie December 5, 2013Today, we got our first look at the new Wonder Woman, wondered (yep!) aloud just what we were hoping to see from her character, and then came up with an idea.Read more...
- Giant African Snail Facials Are a Thing That Exists December 5, 2013What better way to relax than by placing giant snails across your brow so they can slime and crap all over your face. For beauty! Read more...
- Listen to Isaac Asimov in 1988, explaining why scientists rule December 5, 2013In 1988, legendary science fiction author and scientist Isaac Asimov did a fascinating interview on PBS show Open Mind, where he wound up delivering the closest thing I've ever heard to a science sermon. Plus, his muttonchops are epic.Read more...
- It's time to get skeptical about "the selfish gene" December 5, 2013
- Projects With Ryan Slaugh: Helpful Circuits December 5, 2013
- School Us: We Want Your Tutorials December 4, 2013
- Inkimals: 2D Hand Drawings Become 3D Personal 3D Prints December 4, 2013
- Finally! The Electric Giraffe has a Hometown Maker Faire December 4, 2013
- Teaching Programming Logic to the Ultimate Beginners: Children December 4, 2013
Category Archives: speculations
>>via Robert Rich Facebook; Robert is doing the music.
Life is a system of ‘now you see it,’ and ‘now you don’t.” Alan Watts
“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.)
On Sunday we enjoyed an iconic Free Play Softball League contest. Perfect weather greeted us. The home team won on what surely was the first walk-off two run, two RBI sacrifice fly. It was hit by John. He was making his first appearance in a Free Play game. I later learned what brought him to our game for the first time.
The game was iconic because it obtained almost all the implicit goals of our weekly softball games: the game was well played, very close, included some absurdist theatre, and showcased several individual feats. The photo below captures a bit of our happy collective mood in the game’s aftermath.
Given the “case” this particular game presented, I, with my researcher’s beanie set a kilter on my head, found the morning’s affair to be especially wondrous. We’ve been doing three experiments, one started last season, one started at the beginning of this season, and one started six weeks ago. Collective informal, ad hoc, social experiments aimed to identify possible avenues of change interest me a great deal. This past Sunday offered up a good, let us call it, ‘experimental circumstance.’
Experiment No. 1. Set in motion last season, and implemented by virtue of a voice vote, we began to call balls and strikes using a nifty affordance, a mat placed over the rubber home plate. It delineates a strike zone determined entirely as a matter of a pitch striking it on the fly. At the time it was a daring experiment because it attended to a problem only a few people felt was a problem: batters waiting for the perfect pitch under the old regimen, under which balls or strikes weren’t called. We have stuck with the experiment, having the catcher call the ball or strike. We have also gone back to the old routine under specific extreme circumstances having to do with wind velocity!
Experiment No. 2. Set in motion at the beginning of this season, and implemented willfully by me and several others, this experiment had a singular hypothesis. Should we actively promote the entertainment and sporting opportunity to our personal networks and on local bulletin boards, our numbers will increase. New players have arrived and stuck with us. We’ll see if our numbers stay robust as the weather becomes less attractive in the fall.
Experiment No. 3. Set in motion six weeks ago, and implemented without any input from the group, we have moved from having me determine the line-ups–a role I had for nine seasons–to me picking up teams school-yard style with Mark Jr. There were two basic goals, the primary one being to spread the talent around more equally, and, secondarily, to offset the advantage Mark jr. himself offers to the team he is placed on. This latter goal follows from his own tracking of the performance of his weekly, temporary team. By doing so he quantifies our results and certifies that his team wins 75% of the time.
(I’m tempted to say we’ve also been doing a meta or over-arching experiment that has something to do with giving me such a hand in the proceedings! As I mentioned to Kurt on Sunday, if I’m bossy, it’s the only day of the week I’m like a boss. Oddly, my imperial authority is partly rooted in the fact that I carry the collective equipment in the trunk of my Civic, and store all of it over the winter. He who trucks the crown and throne and battle gear. . .)
Because of this secondary goal of picking two teams, offsetting Mark Jr.’s track record, he and I have figured out a rough formula. My team is always the home team, and, I get the first pick, and, I start with longtime player Francis, and, in the fourth round Mark Jr. makes up for my extra player, and, finally, we may haggle over the last few picks.
Francis is the key gimme because he plays shortstop. Mark Jr. brings his own performative edge to his own team because he is a lock-down shortstop on our bumpy grassy infield. Others among us have tried their hand at shortstop, yet is has come down to Mark Jr. and plucky Francis.
This approach held until last week. Experiment No. 3 constitutes a series matching one person’s picks against a second person’s picks. In the experiment MArk and I determine our own line-ups, figure out in which slot players bat.
The 15-8 game was the only game where some players thought the distribution of players at the outset determined the outcome of the game. Mark Jr. has won 50% of his games. So far this experiment is progressing. Its most positive effect so far is twofold. First, players no longer feel my solitary, inept picking is ruining their chance to win. Second, when players express displeasure with the line-up, the blame is distributed to two possible culprits. The experiment has dramatically dampened second guessing about weekly competitive balance.
An Epic Fly
We play on a diamond with a screened backstop and no other fences. (Our field reminds me of the country fields I played on in Vermont decades ago.) As far as I know, this is different than the set-up for most of the (higher-than-our-modest level) slow pitch softball played year in and year out in our region. Next door to our favored wide open field #8 are four manicured, fenced, typical fields. On those fields, hard hit drives and flies can leave the field in classic home run fashion. On our field the hitter probably has to run out a home run. Outfielders, especially when the field is dry and hard play to prevent balls from skittering past them.
Sunday, John, a friend of Carman, shows up to play with us for the first time. He goes out to shortstop for our batting rounds. He looks experienced. He’s wearing actual baseball/softball jersey pants. He’s big. Then he takes a few practice swings, and the ball just soars off his bat.
I think to myself, “He’s pro.” This is my way of stating what was obvious to me, this is a high level player, one whose hitting approach is to launch the pitch over the fence. And, then I thought, here’s a guy who offsets Mark Jr.. And, this meant we might just do a straight back and forth choosing of players for the first time ever.
So we did. Francis got to play with Mark jr. and happily showed his mettle and versatility with one of the season’s most stellar outfield catches, a running chase-down of a falling bullet.
It came down to the last inning. The visitors took a 13-9 lead in the top half of the inning. In the bottom half, the home team grabbed three runs and John, the brawny newcomer stepped up to the dish with the bases juiced. Francis, in left field, was something like 350+ feet away. In a fenced-in softball field he would have been standing on the other side of the leftfield fence.
I don’t know squat about elite softball but I suspect top level players who come to the plate with the game on the line, one run behind, bases loaded, knowing any hit wins the game, nevertheless want to send the ball into a definitive orbit.
Mark Jr., for whatever reason, commanded his pitcher move to short, and he took the ball and stepped to the mound. Okay, he stepped to not a mound but, rather, to a rugged gash where a mound never existed. He threw some practice pitches. He took some grief from the home team. Tom, our elder was catching and warned Mark Jr. about “too much arc.”
Standing on the sideline, I understood this was a case of mano-y-mano, taking the game literally in one’s own hand, live by the sword or die by the sword, gamesmanship. Ha! Absurd! Crazed! It was a beautiful distillation of everything our free play game isn’t ordinarily about–yet our game can be about anything.
Then John blasted a 3-2 pitch in the direction of heaven itself. There’s no fence! I half expected the fly ball to sprout a parachute on the way down. The outfielder catches the ball and three runners tag up. It wasn’t even close. The tying run scores and the next, winning, run scores and would have beat any throw.
Game, but not match. John, you da man. (It turns out John is visiting us to get reps before autumn’s league and tournament league action.
April 28. Day Two of season twenty-seven. 9:45am, Field #8, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights, Ohio? Drizzling.
Then a busload of 9-11 year old boys and their minders unload and inform us they have a permit for the hallowed field for this day.
We count our numbers and seems their are eight, and we will commence to practice the game of softball. We make our way over the the fenced in softball fields. Another team is practicing on the northwest diamond–no doubt for the opening week of league play–and Dave asks of them if they will engage us in a friendly game.
Later, with a light rain falling, a second inquiry is made and this other team agrees to a game. As it turns out, our spontaneous opponent is a co-ed team in the co-ed league. (We’d be co-ed too; alas…) They inform us in the league they are in the men bat on their ‘off batting side.’ However, for the purpose of what amounts to a scrimmage-type game, they decide not to do so.
We play four innings, and the line score looks like this at the end:
What fun was had! After the game, the two teams collided in gratitude and high fives and hand shakes. We mentioned anybody is welcome to join us on Sunday mornings. We told the Scrappers,
We’ve been playing pick up games for decades here on Sunday mornings.
April 21. Opening day and we have eleven, then Pete shows up and we’re twelve. It was a crisp day. The metal bats could transfer quite a pointed zing at times.
Freeplay Softball league
Sunday mornings 9:30; game time 10:00am
Open to participants 16-116 years of age; any gender; any background
We try to keep an accurate score.
Several years ago I heard an introductory presentation by a retired sociologist. He spent a half hour presenting basics so he could frame a further argument about politics in a small city. The problem of introducing sociology is impressive to me–there was no mention of problems in this introductory presentation. Sociology sets off to abstract social functionalities in various ways and the ‘meta’ in relation to each such way is abstracted too; conundrums of self-reference and subjectivity and multiple subjectivities, are abstracted, so forth, on and on, etcetera.
The sociological project often ventures away from the sensible matter of considering and studying the practical sociological experience and learned informal social means of the (so-called) folk. What of a field of inquiry termed Folk Sociology? I will need to google it!
Excerpt via N+1.
Too Much Sociology N+1 Magazine – The Editors – This spread of sociological thinking has led to sociological living?—?ways of thinking and seeing that are constructed in order to carry out, yet somehow escape, the relentless demystification sociology requires. Seeing art as a product, mere stuff, rather than a work, has become a sign of a good liberal (as opposed to bad elitist) state of mind. This is why you must support upper-middlebrow Terrence Malick one day, and the next spuriously shock everyone with a loud defense of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Too often, being on the left tasks you with a vigilant daily quest to avoid being tagged with snobbery. In sociological living, we place value on those works or groups that seem most likely to force a reevaluation of an exclusive or oppressive order, or an order felt to be oppressive simply because exclusive. And yet despite this perpetual reevaluation of all values, the underlying social order seems unchanged; the sense of it all being a game not only persists, but hardens.
The initial demystifying shock of the sociology of culture in the academy partly accounts for its popularity. Thanks to the dead ends of certain kinds of European hermeneutics the realization that repeated analyses of Balzac novellas might not shake the foundations of the subject, let alone those of capitalism?—?it became more promising to ask why certain classes of people might be interested (and other classes not interested) in Balzac at all. No more appeals to the inexplicable nature of genius. Seen from the longue durée of social change, individual authors or works were less important than collectives or status groups, cities or systems. Like latter-day Northrop Fryes, armed with data, the critic-sociologists converted writers back into “literature” as a system, and from there into refractions of codes, institutions, and classes.
The effect on a sector of the professoriat, at least, has been liberating. It has led to a new wave of semi-sociological studies of institutions instead of works. Many of these, such as The Economy of Prestige or The World Republic of Letters, are, if we permit ourselves a value judgment, among the best works of criticism in our time. The overpowering influence of sociology outside its own disciplinary borders was recently verified in a list of “most-cited” intellectuals in the humanities.
“Most-cited intellectuals” is etched here without irony!
Personally, I’m curious about folk sociology*, and glad, Hans-Georg Moeller wrote Luhmann Explained From Souls to Systems. The opening leaf in Moeller’s book offers up Niklas Luhmann this way:
It has always been clear to me that a thoroughly constructed conceptual theory of society would be much more radical and much more discomforting in its effects than focused criticisms–criticisms of capitalism for instance–could ever imagine.
…a fine Batesonian insight methinks.
* (Speculation;) First order question of folk sociology: What do you know about your being an agent and actor? embeds a second order problem of reflexivity.
Dependency relations between phenomena can be very complex. In much of life, dependencies are conditional and probabilistic: If I put a fresh worm on the hook, and if it is early afternoon, then very probably I will catch a trout here. As we learn more about the complexities of the world, we ‘upgrade’ our representations of dependency relations;10 we learn, for example, that trout are more likely to be caught when the water is cool, that shadowy pools are more promising fish havens than sunny pools, and that talking to the worm, entreating the trout, or wearing a ‘lucky’ hat makes no difference. Part of what we call intelligence in humans and other animals is the capacity to acquire an increasingly complex understanding of dependency relations. This allows us to distinguish fortuitous correlations that are not genuinely predictive in the long run (e.g., breaking a tooth on Friday the thirteenth) from causal correlations that are (e.g., breaking a tooth and chewing hard candy). This means that we can replace superstitious hypotheses with those that pass empirical muster.
Presentation: Philosophy In the Age of Neuroscience
I’m agnostic in so many ways! I’m not an advocate for the proposal that states: Brain = Mind. Still, I am really pleased the Churchland’s convictions have cascaded–as it would be–into the field of ‘The Mind.’ I remain suitably impressed by the evidence which certifies if the physical system of the brain is shockingly altered, the mind is altered too.
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.
If you were asked, ‘How do you reduce prejudice, prejudicial behavior, bias?’ how would you respond?
Just the other day I was asked this same question by a good friend who has been charged with teaching college sophomores something useful about how to, as she put it, think, feel and behave, in a diverse social environment.
It strikes me as a difficult and complex problem, and, also, one that is itself prone to being addressed in unreasonable and biased folk-psychological estimations of how, in effect, prejudice and bias can be said to operate.
Is the mitigation of prejudice against the opposite gender simply a matter of unlearning a pattern of response, or simply a matter of replacing this same pattern with a new behavior? My friend and I discussed empathy in terms of being the kind of ‘simulation’ that could serve this simple ‘replacement’ formula.
We moved onto consider bias being partly a consequence of inaccurate evaluation; with this possibly being a crucial aspect of a biased learned response. This seems, to me, closer to the developmental knot of bias, in that inaccuracies of evaluation often are straight-forward threads of such a knot.
This also allows for experiential approaches to revealing the evaluative aspects of how people experience different, other persons.
The following formula summarizes our intuition.
presence + ignorance + humility
= (more accurate evaluation) increased potential to reduce biases in evaluation
presence: intentional focusing of external (object) awareness, while also being reflective and introspectively sensitive to emergent internal content (Note-Presence constitutes an active, vigilant behavior with respect to sub-conscious and automatic, or otherwise habitual, upwellings of inaccurate evaluation.)
ignorance: knowing ahead of time what you don’t know (Note-Ignorance contextualized by: knowing how one might both choicelessly and choicefully fill in the blanks with: prior knowledge; stereotypical knowledge; ad hoc knowledge; sub-conscious intuitions: prejudicial knowledge
humility: willing submission to being attentive without prior knowledge (Note-Submission is equivalent to also being willing and able to entertain an experiment through which one closely observes the nature of their own participation in their own experience of instantiating inaccurate evaluation.)
I much prefer the international party / creep show by design that is Google Plus (G+) over both The Facebook and The Twitter. Alas, hardly anyone I know shares this view as of the end of 2012.
The baptistry in the new Mormon Temple in Nauvoo, Ill., features 12 oxen representing the 12 tribes of Israel.
Many losing candidates became elder statesmen of their parties. What lessons will Romney have to teach his party? The art of crawling uselessly? How to contemn 47 percent of Americans less privileged and beautiful than his family? How to repudiate the past while damaging the future? It is said that he will write a book. Really? Does he want to relive a five-year-long experience of degradation? What can be worse than to sell your soul and find it not valuable enough to get anything for it? His friends can only hope he is too morally obtuse to realize that crushing truth. Losing elections is one thing. But the greater loss, the real loss, is the loss of honor. What Romney Lost – Garry Wills – NYRB – 11/9:2012
For the archetypal moment, Willard was the perfect candidate, fit to the cultural contradictions stretched between “government hands off my Medicare,” and the opacity of out-of-sight riches, and, of course, the etch-a-sketch scrim for the shape-shifty fulfillment of Romney’s feudal ambitions intermixed with the White Horsey Prophecy.
The latter I offer with a wink, while pointing in the direction of that most scientology-like of the post-modern Christian Heresies.
Newleftmedia once again demonstrates that if you shoot enough video interviews at Romney (or Tea Party) events the most select slices of STUPID are gloriously deranged.
My favorite spot of dumb in the video is the guy, once again, passionately wishing for the U.S. not to be, anymore, the laughingstock of the world.
It is possible to empathize if you can simulate the guy’s sense that the world is laughing about something ‘the world’ surely doesn’t find anywhere near as funny as that which actually is laughable.
What’s funny are America’s proudly stupid people, their hypocritical religiosity, their ignorance, their pride in their ignorance, and. . .one could go on and on. As a marker of cognitive ability what does it mean to think Obama is a Muslim, atheist, communist?
Sure go vote for the manic plutocrat, mendacious Reagan wannabee, and, strangely enough, perfect symbol of greed and one percent Toryism, Willard Romney.
The sad answer is there is no way to know what Mr. Romney really believes. His unguarded expression of contempt for 47 percent of the population seems as sincere as anything else we’ve heard, but that’s only conjecture. At times he has advocated a muscular, John McCain-style foreign policy, but in the final presidential debate he positioned himself as a dove. Before he passionately supported a fetus’s right to life, he supported a woman’s right to abortion. His swings have been dramatic on gay rights, gun rights, health care, climate change and immigration. His ugly embrace of “self-deportation” during the Republican primary campaign, and his demolition of a primary opponent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for having left open a door of opportunity for illegal-immigrant children, bespeaks a willingness to say just about anything to win. Every politician changes his mind sometimes; you’d worry if not. But rarely has a politician gotten so far with only one evident immutable belief: his conviction in his own fitness for higher office. (excerpted from WAPO’s endorsement of Barack Obama)
This turned out nice. Yellow Zebra reflects a pass through FX in Photoshop. The source material was a captured frame from streaming image discovery and manipulation programmed by Leonardo Solaas, and, keyed and initiated by me. This is the basic search and retrieval methodology constituting what I term Appropriated Random Kitsch.
However, Leonardo’s automated manipulation is too close to the source in this instance, so this image ends up a discard, or, is it just a remix?
Paul Ryan in remarks this weekend, about President Obama. “Whatever the explanations, whatever the excuses, this is a record of failure.”
Linguists could parse Ryan’s phrase, whatever the explanations. I’d be curious to learn more about its construction. Actually, Paul R-Ayn, explanations do matter. Let’s bring our big brackets in to play. On one end is the domestic economy from the mid-nineties going forward into the Bush era, then the inkling of a housing asset bubble, and then cheap money, exotic derivatives and collateralized debt instruments, into that August four years ago, and, soon enough, TARP, and, under the circumstances, a fairly close election.
Obama’s first two years without enough of a congressional majority or mandate to go full-on-Roosevelt, then the Tea Party wave election, and, a spectacular do nothing congress, in which many of the House’s GOP members were, in effect, pledged to the destruction of Obama’s Presidency.
What are the explanations? What does it mean to state whatever the explanations?
Keep the concept explanation in mind for the following thought problem. Here’s a question you can pitch to right leaners, tea partistas, libertarians, and, galtians: if a two trillion dollar stimulus in 2009 & 2010 would have driven unemployment down to 6% by August 2012, would it have been worth it? In other words, assume it would have and decide your answer.
Okay, my iconoclastic view is that if you do not care to accurately explain why a problem came about and happened, then it’s unlikely your solution is going to work. For example, this sense of mine means creationists and advocates of intelligent design disqualify themselves for solving the problem, how is biology to be taught?
It’s likewise with those who advocate supply-side economics; privatizing social security; and democratizing the mid-east. (And, on and on of course, on both sides of the partisan divide.) Paul Ryan is the leading intellect of the GOP and, at the same time, he’s an anti-intellectual, is apparently against explanation.
David Frum: Romney has transformed a campaign about jobs and growth into a campaign about entitlements and Medicare.
Charles S. Peirce; Esquire: This is a guy in love with his own concocted genius.
[Ryan] does not have the raw balls to explain to the country that, no, he does not believe in government — not the federal government, anyway, and not as it was originally conceived, as the fundamental expression of a political commonwealth. He’s grandfathered his plan to chloroform Medicare so that, despite the deficit that he considers such an urgent problem, nobody alive today who might vote against him will be affected by it. For the same reason, he will not specify the cuts that he will make or the tax “loopholes” —coughMortgageInterestDeductioncough — that he will close. In any way that will come to matter to the people whose lives his policies will make harder and more miserable, Paul Ryan is still the high-school kid living off Social Security survivor benefits and reading Ayn Rand by flashlight under the sheets.
John Dickerson; Slate; But for all of the talk of a new emphasis on policy specifics, this is still going to be a campaign deeply connected to American values. When Ryan spoke on Saturday, he talked about the threat Obama poses to the American way of life. Underneath every policy debate will be the argument that when tough choices have to be made about the federal government, you’re going to want candidates who share your values when they’re doing the awful math of scarcity.
Let’s contemplate seven phases of the fully realized form of R-Ayn’s utopia perspective. (I read these goals to constitute a furious race to the bottom.)
(1) throw millions of government employees out of work
(2) throw millions of people off their healthcare
(3) throw millions of college students off their Pell Grants
(4) pluck hundreds of millions of dollars from the pockets of the elderly, the salaried and hourly work force, and, give this money to
(5) tens of thousands of high-wealth individuals, including many who never worked a single day in their life for their wealth
(6) just for grins, increase the incidence of the late stage cancers women get
(7) Accelerate tens of millions of sick people visiting emergency rooms
This will be wrapped in Christian ‘ethics’ and Patriotism. Except, obviously, Romney and R-Ayn won’t be running very hard on this platform at all. It’s a loser. They’ll run against Obama the socialist and anti-Capitalist deceiver, and traitor to America, and son of a dirty fucking hippie and African. The GOP side, methinks, are now forced to go completely with the culture war strategy, the politics of resentment, and this seems especially congruent with their patently racist voter suppression strategy.
The point of this would be painting, again, the picture of Obama being something like an African Jihadi Manchurian Anti-colonialist Cosmopolitan Ivy league Affirmative Action Saul Alinsky Communist Organizer who abhors success and loves the culture of handouts. There will be plenty of dog whistles and appeals which suggest Obama is actually trying to buy votes with welfare. This tactic reflects a useful but untrue explanation Romney/Ryan endorse.
As a political and sociological phenomena, I, for one, am interested in how this all works to fit together the social and institutional structure and political economy of the USA. What, come the day after the election, explains the result, and, explains how one might smartly anticipate the new prospects? Just sayin’ . . .explanations matter!
(8) [The Hill] The House Republican budget released Tuesday would shield the Pentagon from nearly $500 billion in automatic cuts and roll back some of the $487 billion reduction approved in last year’s Budget Control Act. The plan from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) asks six congressional committees — but not Armed Services — to find $261 billion in savings to help roll back the automatic cuts through sequestration that were triggered by the failure of the supercommittee. The Ryan plan also increases national defense spending to $554 billion in 2013, an increase of $8 billion over the $546 billion that was agreed to under the Budget Control Act.
War. Destruction. Death.
I suspect the scale of our nation and its resources help conceal how unexceptional in many ways is our nation’s recent performance. My provisional explanation about this particular trend, (rooted to an anthropologically-minded analysis of the socio-political economy,) begins with the 1960 election. We can track over fifty years the curve of an appalling amount of death-dealing, the amount hundreds of billions of dollars purchases.
Meanwhile, domestically, why would anyone intentionally amplify, for example, greed and rent seeking and Randian ethics at the same time, for example, most of Asia and Europe and India, has come to eat our lunch and shorts by committing to eventually educating their billions of children better than we educate our own American children?
Who possibly in their right mind believes America’s future global ability to compete will be secured by making the country into Texas?
Romney/Ryan would be unable to convince me that their intense, self-righteous utopian phantasy about saving America is not also yoked to an equivalent Shadow; underside; blindness; and hubris. But I can’t (much) explain why it is they wholeheartedly endorse America transforming itself into an even more vicious, hyper-aristocratic, Galtian triumph-of-the-makers, society.
Especially this is so when I contemplate a future in which several billion 20-40 year old English-speaking Chinese and Indian men and woman have no trouble rattling off, when asked, what is the scientific method.
Not sure the exact date of this clip from an old issue of Science; (early twenties?)
The concept of serendipity that is the most robust is found in the field, sociology of science. My opinion is that this is the only robust treatment of serendipity.
Low hanging fruit.
Fill stop right there. Meanwhile, Obama’s inner populist doesn’t ring true for me at all. But, Willard doesn’t even have an inner populist. This leads to the coding crunch in the above call and response videos.
If Romney squeaks by and also is gifted with slim Republican majorities in the Congress, then I would predict the filibuster would be ejected. Romney would be under a ton of pressure to instantly deliver the country to the gateway of the Randian/Vatican utopia.
Ezra Klein: The Keynesian case for Romney
But Romney, though he often buys into that sort of nonsense while criticizing Obama, knows better. Time magazine asked him about cutting spending in 2013. “If you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5 percent,” Romney said. “That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression. So I’m not going to do that, of course.” You couldn’t have gotten a clearer definition of Keynesian budgeting from Obama.
Will Romney, if elected, flip flop flip back into his natural state of easefulness: technocratic Reagan wannabee? In which case, his policy venture strikes me as revolving around tax and regulation mitigation, and, purchasing more toys for the military. …kind of exactly like Reagan. With such a thrust out of the gate, like Reagan, he could then ride the business cycle to both more concentration of wealth and tilting of the table toward the warmer climes, and, maybe an unemployment rate of 6-7%.
The deficit would skyrocket. Many more children would be thrust into poverty. He’d have to avoid a regional war ‘about’ Iran. And, an activist Congress could cast all manner of politically harmful legislative paper across his desk. Still, Ezra Klein considers, albeit late in the game, the obvious prospective Romney tilt away from a doctrinaire, kamikaze, mission.
(For normal, old school, capitalists oriented to the quaint structure of the consumer economy, it still doesn’t make much sense to vote for Romney–if the main goal is too grow one’s pile of assets should same be rooted in consumption of goods and services. On the other hand, new fangled speculators and rent seekers and Galtian innovators may laugh at such stocks and bonds avatism.)
Now, let’s rank those scenarios by their probability of occurring, at least according to the InTrade market’s betting estimates:
1) Obama and a divided Congress.
2) Romney and a Republican Congress;
3) Romney and a divided Congress;
4) Obama and a Democratic Congress;
The least Keynesian outcome is suddenly the most likely outcome. The most Keynesian outcome is the least likely outcome. But Romney and a Republican Congress — the second most Keynesian outcome — remains the second-most likely outcome.
The wild card remains the utopian fervor of the teaparty members of the House of Representatives. In the past, this wasn’t a factor at such times when a newly minted Republican President made the turn toward the Keynesian. This turn has always happened, and it could be cast as the inevitable consequence of the GOP having reached their usual ne plus ultra objective: a return to power.
But the teaparty wish is for a permanent rearrangement of the political economy and Constitutional order. This fantasy, even if it can be made to jibe with the rightward ‘Galtian’ plutocratic fantasy of sustaining its own defense of privilege and hyper-wealth, collides with the tried-and-true and old fashioned Republican muddling along with Keynesian strokes, paying off donors, and, doing nothing about social issues.
(After all, you need those social issues to remain unresolved so that resentment, etc.. never wanes.)
Starting with Richard Nixon, every Republican president has left the dollar lower, the federal budget deficit higher, the American trade position weaker, and the U.S. manufacturing work force smaller than when he took office. James Fallows 2005
One of the interesting features of our contemporary media culture is that groups of (what may be called) very serious people are convened to publicize their willful and shameless individual effort to pretend absolutely no one in the audience can figure out when something amazingly ignorant; or misinformed; archly absurd; or divorced from reality, wanders from his or her brain to all the way out of their mouths.
Paul Krugman is clearly the academic and social scientist and person with a good connection to reality in this unintentionally ridiculous and horrifying confab from Sunday. Here is his post today:
Update: So you see what I mean. We have a terrible failure of demand — and Carly Fiorina thinks the key problem is excessive taxes on corporations (our effective rate is actually fairly low). Hey, if only we had low rates like Ireland, we could have 14.7 percent unemployment … oh well, never mind.
As it often happens, practiced ideologues re-version the ‘little boy with the hammer’ by suggesting their favorite clever trick would have just the right positive effect. Such august people do this with a straight face. I am not smarter than Carly Fiorina, yet, I would be smarter than she was on Sunday in my refusal to spout my most ludicrous hunches on a coast-to-coast television show.
Something anyone may do if they choose to do so, would be to investigate a subject matter of our current events. If you possess a modest set of researcher’s chops, it is possible to investigate a subject without either encumbering or over-determining findings by dumbly using an ideological lens, or, otherwise employing the means for doing solely ideologically-flavored investigation.
I did this when I realized it was necessary to do so if I wanted to understand how the real estate and derivatives crisis came about. My investigation required me to sort through numerous ideologically inflected accounts and to offset these eventually with actual academic research; the kind that eventually followed on the heals of the crisis. My understanding ended up being both superficial and weakened by my lack of mastery of technical subjects, yet, it also ends being more secured to the facts of the events than 99% of the pseudo-analysis the public was subject to at the surface of the media’s informational onslaught.
To do this act of investigation is to intelligently inform yourself about a subject matter. The payoff is you might find that you end knowing more about this subject of research than all but the actual experts and the small number of people who have taken the same trouble.
One could do the same were one to want to know more about why we’re subjected to so much public, pseudo-intellectual blather and idiocy, and, let’s face it, also subjected to very very smart and upper echelon elite successful people saying incredibly stupid things.
One of the research vectors could be: why does this happen when, in the equivalent of the emperor having no clothes, there would be any number of persons in the audience who see right through the ‘presentations.’
In 1997, the last year for which there was solid research done on the subject, 42 percent of the Forbes 400 richest Americans made the list through probate.
This lies at the heart of our plutonomy thesis: that the rich are the dominant source of income, wealth and demand in plutonomy countries such as the UK, US, Canada and Australia, countries that have an economically liberal approach to wealth creation. We believe that the actions of the rich and the proportion of rich people in an economy helps explain many of the nasty conundrums and fears that have vexed our equity clients recently, such as global imbalances or why high oil prices haven’t destroyed consumer demand. Plutonomy, we think explains these problems away, and tells us not to worry about them. If we shouldn’t worry, the risk premia on equity markets may be too high.
Secondly, we believe that the rich are going to keep getting richer in coming years, as capitalists (the rich) get an even bigger share of GDP as a result, principally, of globalization. We expect the global pool of labor in developing economies to keep wage inflation in check, and profit margins rising – good for the wealth of capitalists, relatively bad for developed market unskilled/outsource-able labor. This bodes well for companies selling to or servicing the rich. We expect our Plutonomy basket of stocks – which has performed well relative to the S&P 500 index over the last 20 years – to continue performing well in future. From this basket, we would highlight in particular, at the moment, LVMH and Richemont.
RISKS – WHAT COULD GO WRONG
Our whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer. This thesis is not without its risks. For example, a policy error leading to asset deflation, would likely damage plutonomy. Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfranchisement remains as was – one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich. This could be felt through higher taxation (on the rich or indirectly though higher corporate taxes/regulation) or through trying to protect indigenous laborers, in a push-back on globalization – either anti-immigration, or protectionism. We don’t see this happening yet, though there are signs of rising political tensions. However we are keeping a close eye on developments. (Equity Strategy Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer; Citigroup, Kapur et al, 2006)
(mouse over for controls) Taryn Hart, The Plutocracy Files interview William K. Black.
Our nation is approaching a tipping point.
We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.
Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness and wise consumer choices has never worked – and it won’t work now. (Paul Ryan, leading intellectual light of feudal Tea Party Republicanism.)
Newt Gingrich is another leading intellectual lantern of Conservatism it is believed and said by some.
Despite all the ideological pieties leading Republicans wrap themselves in, and wish to ensnare ‘us’ by, I can reduce their ‘end’ to six words: Cheap Labor, and, Show Me the Money.
These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost. (Ronald Reagan)
Cheap labor. I do wonder about the psycho-social factors in political behavior. The point remains that in our current climate the proponents of the miniaturize-the-government ideology are looking for culprits to punish. Actually, they’re looking for the usual culprits: liberals, labor, the professional classes, cosmopolitans, homosexuals, non-Christians, immigrants, teachers, professors, the unemployed, minorities.
Track: the affect-laden and rhetorical language/artifacts moved to explain why all sorts of groups need to be sacrificed, need to be summarily tossed from their, as Ryan puts it, hammocks. (h/t to the psychohistorian Lloyd DeMaus.) But, sure, if the people will have a plutocracy, then so it will be. I do note the awesome bait-and-switch pulled off recently by Mr. Ryan. This could get ugly, but then there is the Mittster!
From another perspective, it’s all Object Relations. Donald Trump, a laughing stock who doesn’t appreciate to any degree that he is so, said something revealing. He said that America needs a leader who will restore the world’s respect for America. Daddy’s home! This calls to mind the certain fact that Mr. Trump is surrounded by people who fawn over him.
Every candidate is surrounded by Yes people. No doubt Newt’s handlers affirm his assertion that Islam is posed to infiltrate and take over the U.S. No doubt Pawlenty’s people affirm that, ‘yes, Tim, supply side economics really works.’
The overarching plan is diabolical. Can the Republicans do enough to sink the economy and then attach blame for their own accomplishment to President Obama? They are greatly advantaged by Obama’s apparent own inability to understand that his opponents sincerely and doggedly wish to destroy him, and his kind.
(DeMaus was on to something.) Given this prospect for wringing out the ‘socialistic’ impurities by delivering diverse culprits into the noose of this budget cutting device, we can expect an uptick in pundits and thought leaders joyfully explaining how the banks, General Motors, Fannie and Freddie, should have been allowed to devolve and disappear. This would be them speaking of scapegoats who weren’t sacrificed, as a way of sadistically offering a sneak preview about those who remain and are to be sacrificed.
The third phase of the business cycle, the Time of Sacrifice, is usually seen as a reversal of the manic, or inflationary, phase, but it actually is a continuation of its guilt-reducing process, only now all economic activity is “depressed” rather than wildly sped up. A fantasy is shared during this phase that things had gotten “out of control.” The nation is imagined to be a giant body with two parts: a top, which must be fed, and a bottom, which must be punished. The role of the top part of the body is taken by the rich, and the fantasy is the familiar “trickle-down theory”-that if the rich are fed, the poor might somehow benefit. It is the same fantasy expressed by the primitive Anyi of Africa, when they used to say as they brought gifts to their king and his court in time of trouble, “When the king’s breasts are full of milk, it is his people who drink.”(24) All “supply-side economics is based on this magical fantasy, whether carried out by David Stockman in the 1980s or Andrew Mellon in the 192Os. What we wanted was to “let the hogs feed,” as Stockman phrased it,(25) to make the rich fatter, under the delusion that we were all infants dependent upon their maternal breasts for our sustenance.
That the “supply side” argument for feeding the rich-supposedly as a way to increase investment-was thoroughly irrational was revealed by studies made by the Federal Reserve Bank, Business Week and others(26) which showed that America’s investment rate was actually at its highest in decades, that there existed “a record $80 billion pile of ready cash” available for investing whenever the demand existed and that money shifted to the wealthier part of the nation at the expense of everyone else would only dry up demand further and produce lower, not higher, in-vestment. Few were surprised, then, when, as the Reagan plan took effect, investment plunged rather than rose. “Supply side” tax cuts for business and the wealthy had only felt right; few claimed it could be demonstrated as right. As Senator Howard Baker admitted when he passed the program, “What we’re doing is really a river boat gamble. we’re gambling that this new economics will work.”(27)
The other task of the Time of Sacrifice, that of “punishing the bot-tom,” involved a similarly delusional fantasy shared by most of the nation – that we were bad in enjoying so much prosperity and that part of us must suffer for our badness. Just as when we were children it was our bottoms which had to be punished, so too the bottom half of the body politic-the poor, the unemployed, women and children on welfare-would have to be punished for the indulgences of the rest of us. The first thing which was necessary was to strangle our economic bloodstream, our money supply. We suddenly “discovered” monetarism and reversed the growth of our monetary supply, “bleeding” our economic system of its life – giving blood, precisely as doctors used to bleed their patients to remove the “polluted” blood which they imagined had been produced by “overindulgences in food and sex.”(28) It was, of course, not just a “mistake” for the Federal Reserve Bank to allow too much money in the Seventies and then suddenly to squeeze the money supply so hard that interest rates went to 20 percent and no one could buy cars or houses. It was, rather, the purpose of the Fed to produce these erratic swings in money supply, in accordance with the manic-depressive cycle. If they hadn’t done so, we would never have had a Time of Sacrifice, and within a few decades our steady growth in productivity would soon have produced so much surplus that everyone in America would be living comfortable, and we would have no poor whom we could make suffer for our guilt.
In a similar vein, it is only when the sacrificial, “purging” nature of Reaganomics is taken into account that what seemed to be its conflicting parts can be viewed as a coherent whole. It has often been demonstrated that the two parts of Reaganomics-monetarism and “supply side” tax cuts – don’t make sense hitched together. Economist James Tobin states the case clearly:
The idea that money and prices can be detached and delegated to central bankers while Congress and the executive independently take care of budget, taxes, employment and output is the kind of fallacy that makes exam questions for freshman economics, a fallacy now elevated to presidential doctrine. If Amtrak hitches engines at both ends of a train of cars. . . one engine heading west to New York, the other east to Boston, and advertises that the train is going simultaneously to both destinations, most people would be skeptical. Reagan is hitching a Voicker engine at one end and a Stockman-Kemp locomotive to the other and telling us the economic train will carry us to full employment and disinflation at the same time.
What Tobin overlooks is that providing a train with two engines going in different directions is a plan designed to produce a train wreck, i.e., purposely set up to reduce surplus, sacrifice productive capacity and provide victims of the crash. The “supply side” tax cuts of Stockman were the “feed the rich” fantasy and the monetarism of Volcker was the punish the poor” fantasy. Reagan implemented both at the same time as a way of insuring the sacrifice of the minority to relieve the conscience of the majority. The only question which remained was, as Stockman told one reporter, “How much pain was the new President willing to impose? “
When Stockman put his budget figures into the computer and found that even with the most optimistic assumptions Reagan’s actions would produce deficits in excess of $100 billion, he told the Atlantic Monthly reporter that he found the figures “frightening – ‘absolutely shocking,’ he confided – yet he seemed oddly exhilerated by the bad news.”(31) Why exhilarated by the bad news”? Because he knew we had hired him to produce bad news, to produce a Time of Sacrifice, to produce 150,000 victims. (Lloyd DeMaus, Reagan’s America)
We learn Paul Ryan was partly inspired to get into politics my Ayn Rand. Alright, this means the author of the novels that constitute the capitalist version of Mein Kampf, may have had something to do with the swinging hammocks.
Again: Cheap Labor. Randian Hayekalistic yokelism. Hey, didn’t save up the quarter million dollars for your cancer treatment? Too bad. Go die. Didn’t sock away a couple of year’s worth of salary for the years after we shipped your job off to Pakistan? Round up some cardboard. I fully expect Mitt and Tim to endorse a supercharged social Darwinism and get behind a Randian red in tooth utopia.
Did I really read that a majority of Republicans in Mississippi believe inter-racial marriage should be against the law?!? Because it is possible to find Republicans who join together: young earth creationism, neo-Birtherism, belief that Obama is a jihadist, racism, who think liberals are Marxists; reject climate science; understand the founders were evangelicals; despise the enlightenment; are TENthers; blame the real estate implosion on poor black folk who didn’t read the fine print, I do wonder about what would be the equivalent to this ripe melding of irrationality and ignorance on the other, leftward side.
All I could come up with was figuring there probably are a bunch of Democrats who think bringing Geithner and Summers into the halls of power was a good idea. But, it is hard to then enumerate some long list of daft beliefs and find actual Democrats who hold them all, as-it-were, together.
And people thought the birthers would go away! We’re to reassert the holy idea of American exceptionalism in this context of super-charged ignorance, paranoia, resentment, and, irrationality–where it became known in public that Ayn Rand inspired a budgeteer to go into politics? And, then, having claimed he (and his ‘own’) represent a sea-change in what “Americans want,” he shamelessly pulls a bait-and-switch. The only thing missing is Ryan hissing, “You suckers.”