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Nov
05

“TUI”

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TUI

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Nov
03

Seeing is believing?

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Rachel Maddow this morning has a Washington Post op-ed about the biennial fear fest that so conveniently comes on the heels of Halloween. This year’s popular ghoulies: “Ebola, the Islamic State, vague but nefarious aspersions about stolen elections and a whole bunch of terrifying fantasies about our border with Mexico.” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), for example, claimed “at least 10 ISIS fighters” were captured sneaking into Texas from Mexico. No one has seen them, but that is no proof they don’t exist.

About those “vague but nefarious aspersions”:

And in the conservative media, there is even more to worry about. Conservative blogs lost their minds recently over a surveillance video showing a Latino man delivering completed ballots to an elections office in Maricopa County, Ariz. Ballot stuffing! Blatant fraud! Caught red-handed! 

Actually, delivering other people’s ballots to elections offices is perfectly legal in Arizona. Even Republicans have asked Arizonans to bring their early ballots to campaign events this year, so they could be collected and dropped off at polling places. But when the person doing the same thing was Latino, the blogs made it seem like the guy was hiding under the bed, ready to grab your foot if you got up in the night.

The “voter fraud” fraud works like that, and from some of the same con artists who told repeated lies until two-thirds of the country believed Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks and had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. Even after nothing was found, people believed. Because they’d become complicit in perpetuating the fraud. In the Arizona video, like James O’Keefe’s videos, the eyes believe they saw something they didn’t. It reminded me of this sleight-of-hand demonstration where Teller of Penn and Teller describes how people trying to read others’ intentions “aid and abet the trick”:

“Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.” – Benjamin Franklin
“People say believe half of what you see. Son, and none of what you hear.” – Marvin Gaye

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Oct
21

Warren on message

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Not unlike ghosts in The Sixth Sense, The Village hears just what it wants to. Itself, mostly, and the jangle of coins. The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson hears in Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts something different, something many Democratic politicians lack: a clear message.

Stumping for Democrats across the country, Warren has a powerful message that ordinary persons can hear if the Village cannot. Like South Dakotan Rick Weiland’s
prairie populism
, Warren (born in Oklahoma) gets traction from a populist narrative:

There once was consensus on the need for government investment in areas such as education and infrastructure that produced long-term dividends, she said. “Here’s the amazing thing: It worked. It absolutely, positively worked.”

But starting in the 1980s, she said, Republicans took the country in a different direction, beginning with the decision to “fire the cops on Wall Street.”

“They called it deregulation,” Warren said, “but what it really meant was: Have at ’em, boys.”

Americans who have been had by the boom-and-bust economy that resulted (and which Democrats abetted) are tired of being lectured about pulling themselves up by their bootstraps by a Wall Street elite wearing golden parachutes. Warren says plainly what the faltering middle class knows in its gut, “The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it.” Warren is ready to fight when it seems many Democrats — including the incumbent president — just want to go along to get along.

Robinson writes:

So far this year, Warren has published a memoir, “A Fighting Chance,” that tells of her working-class roots, her family’s economic struggles, her rise to become a Harvard Law School professor and a U.S. senator, and, yes, her distant Native American ancestry. She has emerged as her party’s go-to speaker for connecting with young voters. She has honed a stump speech with a clear and focused message, a host of applause lines and a stirring call to action.

A Democratic candidate with a stirring message derailed Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid eight years ago, Robinson concludes. It might just happen again.

The Village parachute riggers are on notice.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Oct
05

Sunday Morning Music

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Had a great time yesterday at Blue Ridge Pride!

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Aug
31

Round and Around

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Hipster Wheel

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Aug
16

Quiet car trips home

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The following is a crosspost from nevernesters.com

On the Sunday Arielle and I got back from Texas we stayed over at her sister and brother-in-law’s house in Charlotte, grilled out, had beers and played with their pair of boys, who are four and two. They’ve got a great guest set-up, do my Charlotte in-laws, with a big private room downstairs. When we sleep over, we invariably awaken to the commotion upstairs: a Battle of Britain-level bombardment enacted by stampeding toddler feet.

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Aug
06

Enough with the altar calls

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I got into a bit of an internet tussle after referring to Dr. Barber’s sermon in Asheville and mentioning that altar call aspect of his speech. Someone corrected me, saying that it was not in fact either a sermon or an altar call.

But I am not convinced of that, and despite the obvious good things that the Moral Monday movement has accomplished in terms of publicity and enthusiasm, I feel like it plays into an aspect of politics that is a long term loser for the Democratic side.

It’s not that I don’t like his kind of theater. I appreciate Reverend Barber, and also admire the folks who support him. He’s doing a good thing. To a point.

My issue is that this kind of appeal to emotion, phrasing political arguments in terms of subjective behavioral observations leaves too much room for the other side to dismiss the argument, because it is always easy to discredit the other side’s opinion.
Unless it can be also made into an intellectual argument, steering away from emotional appeals, it is just another form of church, where we all congregate and congratulate ourselves for being better than they are. That’s never going to work, and in fact is probably one of the largest things wrong with the world right now.

Rather than insinuating that our side is morally superior to the other side, as objectively real as that may be, the way to make real progress is to demonstrate that the policies of the other side simply do not work and consistently create results that are objectively, demonstrably and measurably bad for far more people than those who might benefit. Facts. Just plain facts. A torrent of facts.

I want to see people chaining themselves to the Governor’s desk, not because he’s morally repugnant, but because his policies are mathematically repugnant.

Lots of people out there are voting against their own interests on a consistent basis because they can’t bring themselves to identify emotionally with liberalism. They can’t get past social issues, issues that are always about emotional appeals to moral superiority. It plays right into the gridlock.

Our group catharsis and the momentary high we get from it are not worth the resulting alienation of other groups who look at the display and instantly begin fighting against it. We need to take that away from the other side because it is one of the only things left that works for them.

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I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for efficiency. It’s a frequent rationale for bureaucratic decisions that seem to come at the expense of living, breathing people.

A Good Read

Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) speaks with Barry Lynn at Salon on the reemergence of monopolies in America. Lynn describes how, rather than overturning laws on the books for decades, the Reagan administration changed the way the laws regulating monopolies were enforced.

Yes, that was what was so brilliant about what they did. The Department of Justice establishes guidelines that detail how regulators plan to interpret certain types of laws. So the Reagan people did not aim to change the antimonopoly laws themselves, because that would have sparked a real uproar. Instead they said they planned merely to change the guidelines that determine how the regulators and judiciary are supposed to interpret the law.

The Justice Dept. went from raising its eyebrows in the 1960s at mergers that concentrated a few percent of a market to waving though deals involving 80-90% of it.

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Jun
06

D-Day

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This is a cross-post from NeverNesters (www.nevernesters.com)

 

Arielle and I tend to get a little roller-coastery on the question of spawning, but taking a long view you’d pretty much have to say declines have led advances. For long luxurious periods of our marriage we’ve enjoyed a warm relationship with the idea of never procreating. In fact we bought this very Web address back in 2012, I think.

The goal was to carve out a space wherein the intentionally childless could explore their condition. Seemed to us that more and more like-minded folks were making that decision. We were thinking big with the concept.  Read More→

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May
08

Osama [hearts] Whitney

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The following is a crosspost from www.nevernesters.com 

 

Last week Arielle and I went to go see Transcendence. It was larky, this expedition: we’d never heard of the movie and knew nothing about it save “Johnny Depp” and “sci-fi.” It SUCKED!

But this post is not meant simply to harangue Transcendence (a movie whose tag line could’ve been: In which a man stuck in a big flat screen TV engineers nanites that don’t get mean exactly, but sort of do!) I have bigger fish to fry. The fish is Hollywood’s depiction of bad guys, these days. And actually, now that I think about it, it’s also Hollywood’s depictions of good guys. I guess in general the fish I’m frying (probably more sautéing, honestly, in a little butter, because I heart movies enduringly and heart Hollywood and heart capital “c” Creatives) is Hollywood, which for the purposes of this screed I will call H-Wood, so as not to have to look plainly in the face the object of my abuse.  Read More→

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