The Watering Hole, Monday, April 4, 2016: How Both Sides Get Political Debate Wrong

Political discourse in this country has sunk to a depth I feared we would one day reach, and it shows no signs of rising again anytime soon. We no longer talk about issues starting from a common point of view. Liberals and Conservatives don’t agree on what role our government should have, so any discussion about what it should do is really pointless if we don’t know from where the other guy is starting. According to George Lakoff, where Liberals would see the nation through the Nurturing Parent model, Conservatives would tend to see it as the Strict Father. When you screw up, should the government find an appropriate punishment for your wrongdoing and sit you down and explain why what you did was wrong, with discussions on how to be a better person afterwards, with the goal of making you want to choose to be a better person, or should it just spank you in the ass, lock you in your room without supper, and let you out after so much time has passed saying, “Next time’ll be worse”? Who should be deciding what our government does? People who believe in doing what’s best for all of us, or people who think only certain people should get preferential treatment? We all agree in equality for all, we just don’t necessarily agree on how important that is, or to exactly what “equality for all” refers. We agree in Justice and Fairness, but we don’t agree on how important those morals should be. If we say everybody should participate in discussing Society’s problems, shouldn’t we make sure everybody agrees on exactly what the problems are that we are discussing? Are you talking about the two faces staring at each other? Or are you talking about the candlestick in between them? Both of you see a problem. but what is the problem you both see? There are many differences in the way the brains of Liberals and Conservatives process information. To find a common solution, we must first have common ground. I’m not really sure how that’s possible, but I do know our discussions aren’t getting us anywhere because it’s clear we don’t see the world and the problems within in the same way.

 

angry trumpbernies birdieAccording to one study, people right-of-center politically spend more time looking at unpleasant images, and people left-of-center politically spend more time looking at pleasant images.

“We report evidence that individual-level variation in people’s physiological and attentional responses to aversive and appetitive stimuli are correlated with broad political orientations. Specifically, we find that greater orientation to aversive stimuli tends to be associated with right-of-centre and greater orientation to appetitive (pleasing) stimuli with left-of-centre political inclinations.”

Conservatives would rather see an angry, war mongering President Trump (see left), where Liberals would prefer a peace-loving, animal friendly President Sanders (see right). It makes me wonder if Conservatives want to see all those images of what our Military Industrial Complex is doing in the Middle East, and that’s why they elect Republicans who talk about more and more bombing ISIS into oblivion, as if ISIS lives in the Middle East alone and that such bombing would not harm any civilian populations. I know we Liberals don’t enjoy seeing such images, but maybe the Conservatives do. Another study has concluded that people who react strongly to disgusting images, such as a picture of someone eating worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative. Or maybe images of war do not bother them enough to want the wars stopped because to Conservatives, images of children being blown up is not as disgusting as it is to us Liberals. There are other key differences that Science has taught us, and understanding them can help us work toward a better solution to the problems of our Society. And, yes, I will freely admit that I omitted the word “together” in there. As you’ll soon see, I’m not entirely sure Conservatives can help us determine what’s in the best interests of all of us.

For one thing, in very general terms, both sides don’t put the same effort into solving the problem. Now, before this continues, let me say that when I speak of these groups in very general terms, unless otherwise specified I’m talking about your average Liberal and average Conservative Citizens. We’re the ones who are supposed to (somehow, it’s never spelled out how) hash out our differences and come to a consensus on how to solve our problems. The question that should be asked of anyone participating is, “How much time are you willing to spend trying to solve the problem?” Reliance on quick, efficient, and “low effort” thought processes yields conservative ideologies, while effortful and deliberate reasoning yields liberal ideologies. (Scott Eidelman, PhD, Christian S. Crandall, PhD, Jeffrey A. Goodman, PhD, and John C. Blanchar, “Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism,” Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2012)

“…[P]olitical conservatism is promoted when people rely on low-effort thinking. When effortful, deliberate responding is disrupted or disengaged, thought processes become quick and efficient; these conditions promote conservative ideology… low-effort thought might promote political conservatism because its concepts are easier to process, and processing fluency increases attitude endorsement….Four studies support our assertion that low-effort thinking promotes political conservatism… Our findings suggest that conservative ways of thinking are basic, normal, and perhaps natural.”

When confronted with a problem, the Conservative reaction is to look for a quick solution, preferably one that has worked in the past. Liberals tend to be more open to trying things that haven’t been tried before. When faced with a conflict, Liberals are more likely than Conservatives to alter their habitual response when cues indicate it is necessary. (David M. Amodio, PhD, John T. Jost, PhD, Sarah L. Master, PhD, and Cindy M. Yee, PhD, “Neurocognitive Correlates of Liberalism and Conservatism,” Nature Neuroscience, Sep. 9, 2007)

“[We] found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern…Our results are consistent with the view that political orientation, in part, reflects individual differences in the functioning of a general mechanism related to cognitive control and self-regulation. Stronger conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with less neurocognitive sensitivity to response conflicts. At the behavioral level, conservatives were also more likely to make errors of commission. Although a liberal orientation was associated with better performance on the response-inhibition task examined here, conservatives would presumably perform better on tasks in which a more fixed response style is optimal.”

Liberals are more open-minded and creative whereas conservatives are more orderly and better organized. (Dana R. Carney, PhD, John T. Jost, PhD, Samuel D. Gosling, PhD, and Jeff Potter, “The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives: Personality Profiles, Interaction Styles, and the Things They Leave Behind,” International Society of Political Psychology, Oct. 23, 2008)

“We obtained consistent and converging evidence that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are robust, replicable, and behaviorally significant, especially with respect to social (vs. economic) dimensions of ideology. In general, liberals are more open-minded, creative, curious, and novelty seeking, whereas conservatives are more orderly, conventional, and better organized… A special advantage of our final two studies is that they show personality differences between liberals and conservatives not only on self-report trait measures but also on unobtrusive, nonverbal measures of interaction style and behavioral residue.”

Even if we agree on what the problems are, we have the issue of how best to resolve those problems? Conservatives learn better from negative stimuli than from positive stimuli and are more risk avoidant than liberals. (Natalie J. Shook, PhD, and Russell H. Fazio, PhD, “Political Ideology, Exploration of Novel Stimuli, and Attitude Formation,” Experimental Social Psychology, Apr. 3, 2009)

“In this study, the relations among political ideology, exploratory behavior, and the formation of attitudes toward novel stimuli were explored. Participants played a computer game that required learning whether these stimuli produced positive or negative outcomes. Learning was dependent on participants’ decisions to sample novel stimuli… Political ideology correlated with exploration during the game, with conservatives sampling fewer targets than liberals. Moreover, more conservative individuals exhibited a stronger learning asymmetry, such that they learned negative stimuli better than positive… Relative to liberals, politically conservative individuals pursued a more avoidant strategy to the game…The reluctance to explore that characterizes more politically conservative individuals may protect them from experiencing negative situations, for they are likely to restrict approach to known positives.”

So we have people trying to find new, innovative ways to resolve the problems we continue to have, which is why it’s still necessary to have these discussions, and people who would rather avoid making the problem worse by doing something different (even though what’s being done now continues to not work.) We Liberals want to move toward a better situation for everyone, even if only incrementally, while Conservatives don’t want to upset the status quo. Conservatism is focused on preventing negative outcomes, while liberalism is focused on advancing positive outcomes. (Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, PhD, “To Provide or Protect: Motivational Bases of Political Liberalism and Conservatism,” Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, Aug. 2009)

“Political liberalism and conservatism differ in provide versus protect orientations, specifically providing for group members’ welfare (political Left) and protecting the group from harm (political Right). These reflect the fundamental psychological distinction between approach and avoidance motivation. Conservatism is avoidance based; it is focused on preventing negative outcomes (e.g., societal losses) and seeks to regulate society via inhibition (restraints) in the interests of social order. Liberalism is approach based; it is focused on advancing positive outcomes (e.g., societal gains) and seeks to regulate society via activation (interventions) in the interests of social justice.”

Life is hard. The World is a dangerous place but, unlike Conservatives, I believe it can be made better. It will never be completely safe. Ironically, this is more because of people who are Conservative (with all the aggression that often comes with that) than it is from Liberals (who would rather everybody just get along.) But if things are going to get better, we have to approach things from a new way of thinking. And this is where trying to include everyone in solving society’s problems runs into a problem. We all want Security above all else. Security brings stability, and stability brings comfort. We just want to know what the rules are from day to day. We know that Change is inevitable, and we want to minimize the effects of that change as much as possible. But in order to do that, we have to have a better understanding of what it is we face. Liberals have more tolerance to uncertainty (bigger anterior cingulate cortex), and conservatives have more sensitivity to fear (bigger right amygdala)Ryota Kanai, PhD, Tom Feilden, Colin Firth, and Geraint Rees, PhD,

“In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI [magnetic resonance imaging]. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala…[O]ur findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty. The amygdala has many functions, including fear processing. Individuals with a larger amygdala are more sensitive to fear, which, taken together with our findings, might suggest the testable hypothesis that individuals with larger amagdala are more inclined to integrate conservative views into their belief systems… our finding of an association between anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] may be linked with tolerance to uncertainty. One of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex is to monitor uncertainty and conflicts. Thus it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views.”

We often speak of the amygdala being the “fear center” of the brain, as the place where all our fears begin. This is somewhat misleading, and can lead to further confusion. First, it’s important to know that scientists and researchers do not yet have a complete understanding of how the amygdala works, but they’ve been getting better answers with recent research. To put it simply, the amygdala analyzes everything your senses pick up and looks for signs of something that caused you harm the last time you encountered it. It then sends a signal to your prefrontal cortex where the actual analysis takes place. So, if out of the corner of your eye, your brain thinks it sees something like looks like the snake that’s been biting and killing your caveman friends lately, your amygdala will send a signal to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) that says, “SNAKE!” It’s up to your PFC to put what it thinks your brain sees in context. Maybe it’s a real snake, or maybe it’s just a dead poisonous snake that Thag thought would be hilarious to put on your rock seat. That Thag is such an asshole. Wait ’til he finds the dead poisonous spider in his bed later. Well, he’ll think it’s dead. But in today’s America (and in other places, too), a Conservative who hears the word “Muslim” immediately associates that with “bad things” and sends the signal to the PFC, where a Liberal would say “Muslim what?” before sending any alarms. A Muslim author? A Muslim comedian? A Muslim surgeon? I’m not hearing anything to get alarmed by yet. There are many authors, comedians, and surgeons who are quite good at what they do. Some of them also happen to be Muslim. That doesn’t automatically make them a danger. Liberals and Conservatives would essentially disagree on what the dangers we face are. How are we ever going to agree on how to confront them, and how best to expend the resources we have? I don’t know. And I’m beginning to wonder if it is even possible.

Daily open thread. Do your thing.

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The Watering Hole, Monday, March 21, 2016: How The Right Gets The Left Wrong

John Hinderaker and Jeffrey Lord, two men who can best be remembered from me mentioning their names at the start of this blog post without the word ‘miscreant’ attached to either of them, are at it again. And by “it” I mean “spreading falsehoods about Liberals”. I was going to use the word “lying,” but then somebody would say it’s not really lying because they honestly believe it’s true. Fine. It isn’t true, it’s false, so I said they were spreading falsehoods. Whether they knew they were falsehoods or not is irrelevant, because they still spread them. But if it makes you feel any better, I think they knew they were falsehoods when they spread them like manure. I say that because I don’t think they’re entirely stupid, and you would have to be entirely stupid to believe the things they said about Liberals and MoveOn.Org recently. [Full disclosure: I am a member of MoveOn.Org. I had my picture used in a commercial they ran several years ago. I wish I could find it.] So I think they know they were spreading foul-smelling crap when they sprinkled it throughout their columns. Because they know their fans just eat that shit up, on account of that’s much easier than having to actually think about it. And Conservatives do not like to put a lot of effort into their thinking, which explains their Conservatism. (Science has been able to document many ways in which Conservative and Liberal minds differ. Read more about them here. Truth be told: the science does not support the idea of Conservatism being a bastion of curious, inquisitive, intellectual discovery. Or even one of just trying to learn the basic truth about things.)

A little over a week ago in Dayton, OH, a man named Tommy DiMassimo attempted to get up on the stage where Donald Trump was speaking but was stopped by the Secret Service. This, and this alone, is probably the only indisputable fact one can glean from Hinderaker’s column. By his third sentence (first if you don’t think the incident itself could accurately be described as “scary”), Hinderaker was already spreading the lies. “His intent was unclear, but there was every reason to assume he intended to injure or kill Trump.” Really, Hinderaker? “Every reason” to believe that? Look, I know you Conservatives are accustomed to seeing danger everywhere, but the only explanation for why you think he meant Trump harm is Projection. You assume he meant Trump harm because in your mind, if you ever rushed a stage, it would be to injure or kill someone. So that must be the reason this guy did it. Hinderaker offers no other explanation for why DiMassimo did what he did, only his personally limited imagination.

Framing is everything in today’s political discourse. With attention spans being so short – SQUIRREL! Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. Attention spans are short and time is limited, so the Conservatives want you to spend as little time thinking as possible and just react. And the best way for them to do that is to lay the groundwork for what they’re about to say and force you to accept it, process it, and reply to it within the framework they’ve presented it. From this point on, Hinderaker wants you to view the entire incident as a violent attack. If you reject that framing, nothing else he says or, by extension, what Lord says later, will make any sense. Not only is Hinderaker projecting in this column, he’s shining a bright burning light on his own cognitive dissonance. He has already admitted he has no idea why DiMassimo tried to get up on stage, but that doesn’t mean to him he can’t he know exactly why he did it. DiMassimo boarded the stage for an unclear purpose that must have involved injuring or killing Trump. Lacking the intellectual capacity or imagination to come up with any other reason for DiMassimo’s actions, Hinderaker goes for the violence motive, another trait of Conservatism. (If it were me, and I was able to get to Trump, I would have mussed up his hair in front of everybody, so that he would have had to look ridiculous putting it back together.) So now he hopes that in your mind, we’re talking about a violent person. This is important because he’s about to launch into a rambling, anti-intellectual, anti-tax, anti-union, anti-regulation, and anti-LBGTQ diatribe transferring every lie he can think of about DiMassimo onto every Liberal in America. I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but it’s plain to me that Hinderaker has insecurity issues so severe he has to lash out at anyone he perceives as differing from the image he has in his mind of what it means to be a man. And given his propensity for projection, it’s not hard to imagine why. And as bad as Hinderaker’s column was at reflecting reality, Jeffrey Lord took it to an even lower level.

Lord opens with a link to MoveOn.Org‘s site. Despite everything he’s about to make up about them, the first thing you notice on theri website is a request for donations. “Join our nonviolent campaign standing up for love and democracy, and against Trump’s bigotry and incitement, by making a contribution today.” Then Lord immediately calls us “the new Ku Klux Klan. The newest leftist incarnation of that old leftist formula that combines racism with violence to push the progressive agenda.” I have noticed more and more Conservatives using the term “leftist” in their comments, probably because it’s reminiscent of the term “Communist.” I’m guessing this was Frank Luntz’s idea, but who knows? (Luntz is the “pollster born in Hell” to whom I referred in my song parody “Republicans Lie“.) This is another falsehood, of course. Communism involves a level of Authoritarianism many Liberals reject (but which many Conservatives find appealing, oddly enough.) Lord’s lies continue. “The American Left has a horrendous history of flat out racism and bigotry, liberally salted with violence. From the 19th and early 20th century Klan,…”

I’m stopping him right there. Lord has done what I’ve seen many Conservatives do when I’m hanging out on the Twitter: He presumes that because the KKK was founded by Democrats, that it was founded by Liberals. Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot look at someone’s political affiliation alone, without context or reference to a year, and know what that person’s political leanings were. A Republican of 150 years ago was likely to be a Liberal just as a Democrat of that time was likely to be a Conservative. The KKK was founded by Conservatives who happened to be members of the Democratic Party. They were white supremacists and they were ugly human beings and their actions were in absolutely no way defensible. They were violent, reprehensible troglodytes, and they are nothing like we Liberals in MoveOn. I have never heard of a single MoveOn event where someone was targeted by the organization for violence. Yet that was the entire purpose of the KKK getting together – to direct violence against someone. And whether they think it matters or not, it is a fact that Trump has the support of many of the major groups today who believe in that for which the KKK stands. Even State Senator David Duke (R-LA) supports Trump. David Duke would never join an organization like MoveOn. I cannot conceive of how anyone with an IQ in the three-digit range would equate MoveOn with the KKK, so I have to believe Lord does not have one.

Based on nothing but Hinderaker’s character assassination of DiMassimo, Lord then declares that he is “absolutely typical of the American Left.” He also points out that DiMassimo’s a Bernie Sanders supporter, but if he’s “typical” of the American Left and he supports Sanders, why is Hillary Clinton ahead in the delegate count? But I digress. Lord goes on to give a distorted history which paints all liberal activists as violent (because of the few violent actions of a few extremist liberal groups) before circling back to the Klan as being liberal. Then he tries to paint us as the racist ones by completely mischaracterizing and distorting an article he quoted. When students at the University of Illinois Chicago decided to organize a protest against the appearance of Donald Trump, MoveOn “chipped in money to get signs and a banner printed and blasted out an email to members in the Chicago area encouraging them to join the protest.” The protest was promoted on Facebook and about 1.5 million people saw it. Out of that number, about 1% pledged to show up. The end result of the protesters’ efforts was the last-minute cancellation of the event, out of a misplaced fear for the candidate’s safety. But that’s not the way Lord chose to frame it. “Got all that? MoveOn.org, in the finest traditions of the Klan, organized a mass shutdown that was specifically directed to people because of their race.” If that’s what you got then you didn’t read the same story I did. MoveOn did not organize that protest as the story he quoted clearly said. His proof that this was “directed to people because of their race” is the sentence “Hundreds of young, largely black and brown people poured in from across the city, taking over whole sections of the arena and bracing for trouble.” Note the logical fallacy he employs: Just because hundreds of people of color showed up to protest the event, the call for the protest must have been directed only at people of color. Then there’s the idea that when the KKK organized something directed at people because of their race, it was done for the exact same reason, and with the exact same level of support of those people, as when MoveOn organized an event specifically directed at people of color, even though they did no such thing. MoveOn didn’t organize the event, and they didn’t direct their efforts to people of color. And if MoveOn ever WERE to direct their organizing at people of color, it wouldn’t be for the purpose of killing and lynching them, or setting fire to their homes. But that is how people like Jeffrey Lord and John Hinderaker see us. Because it’s what THEY would do.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the KKK, Hinderaker, Lord, Trump, or anybody else like them.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 7, 2016: Look At The Ideologies, Not The Party Names

As I get into my occasional Twitter fights with conservatives, I find that many still believe the false notion that the Democrats and Republicans of today have the same ideological position on the Left/Right-Liberal/Conservative scale as the parties of the same names did 150 years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth. For these people, political ideological history ends about fifty years ago. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t happen, and the famous Southern conservative, pro-segregationists of the Democratic Party didn’t switch to join the Republican Party (cough, Strom Thurmond.) So now along comes Dinesh D’Souza with a movie trying to make that very same bad argument. It’s idiotic and shallow. It completely ignores the content of Republican policy today and how it compares to 1860 Democratic policy. And worst of all for them, it’s hardly an intellectual argument at all since even I can debunk it, and my only intellectual achievement was to be an inactive member of MENSA for two years.

Yes, the people who founded the KKK were proud registered Democrats. They were also very much conservative in their political ideology. Yes, the Democrats of the 1860s supported Slavery, but that’s because they were conservative and they were white supremacists. (They said so.) The Founders of the KKK and the supporters of Slavery were Conservative White Supremacists who happen to be registered politically as Democrats. At that time, racists and white supremacists had a home in the Democratic Party. They were not as welcome in the Republican Party, which was founded to end Slavery. The people who wanted to form this new party made a famous public appeal to, among others, “Free Democrats” (meaning Democrats who didn’t support Slavery), to join them.

More than a hundred years later, after passage of the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts under a Democratic president, the conservative white supremacists felt they were no longer welcome in the Democratic Party, and left to join the Republican Party. Not all of them, but many of them. So it’s extremely wrong and intellectually dishonest to argue that the Republican Party of today would still support the abolition of Slavery and the elimination of groups supporting white supremacy. Not when white supremacists are openly supporting the Republican front runner in the presidential race. And why would one of the most famous victims of the KKK, civil rights icon Representative John Lewis, join the Democratic Party if he felt the KKK was still welcome there? Can any of you people who believe the two parties have always been the same ideologically throughout their histories explain that? As for “re-labeling” this ugliness as “the South” and trying to bury it there, it’s because that’s where it happened.

It’s time this country confronted the simple fact that while all Americans are entitled to their choice of representation in government, their criteria for choosing that representation is not required to be fact-based, or logical, or in the best interests of the country as a whole. And we have a lot of people in this country who hold very, very ugly views about their fellow human beings, in part because they don’t view their fellow human beings as fellow human beings. Do we really believe these people’s views should determine how this “land of the free” should be run? Do we really want a country dedicated to the stupid and baseless concept of racial supremacy? Why do we not confront this ugliness every time it rears its head? Why do we pretend it’s okay to believe some races are better than others, to the point where you write those into your judicial opinions and they become the law of the land? And why do we pretend that the level to which we find this ugliness is not higher in conservatives than it is in liberals? Even conservatives like D’Souza are so embarrassed by this part of themselves that they’re in denial, and projecting it onto their ideological foes, we liberals, saying we’re the real racists, we’re the real intolerant ones because we liberals won’t tolerate intolerant conservatives. If you understand what words mean, then you know that makes no logical sense at all. But that doesn’t matter to them. Because it doesn’t feel right to them to blame their ideology for their racist opinions. Because that would mean they might have been wrong all this time. And that just can’t be right to them. So it must be us Liberals who are to blame for America’s Ugliness. And we continue to pretend Conservatism itself isn’t part of the problem, when it very much is at the root of all that is wrong and ugly about America. Today’s Congressional Republicans happen to be extreme conservatives, but there was a time when they were extreme Liberals. And they did some of their finest work for America back then. It’s a true shame those Liberals would not be welcome in today’s GOP. Lincoln would weep.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 1, 2015: Another Conservative Myth Busted

Will Conservatives never learn? I suppose that’s like asking, “Does the Pope shit in the woods?”, which, given the Holy See Hippie we have now, I wouldn’t put it past him to go on a few “Nature walks” now and then. But when it comes to tax policy, the answer is Yes, they never learn. Case in point: Kansas, a/k/a “KS”, a/k/a “Koch State” (H/T Jane), a/k/a “Land of Tornadoes, Cute Little Flying Monkeys, and Blood Thirsty Munchkins.” Yes, that Kansas. Way back in 2012, the brilliant minds of the Conservative Republican-controlled State Legislature decided to heed the demands of David Koch and cut taxes drastically. (Don’t waste my time and yours by asking me to prove they did this at the behest of the Koch Brothers. If you honestly think the Kochs had no influence on the tax policy of the state in which Koch Industries is headquartered, you’re too naive to be reading political blogs and should go back to bed, curled up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth while sucking your thumb. Or just read 1980 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential nominee David Koch’s official platform.) But now, three years later, the job growth never happened, and KS finds itself with a $400 million budget shortfall. They realize they’ve cut as many public services as they can get away with cutting (I’m sure they’ve gone too far, but that’s an argument for another day), and now they have to consider doing something anathema to them: raising taxes. They justified their tax cuts to the public by claiming that tax cuts would spur economic growth, and businesses would come rushing to the state to take advantage of the low taxes and bring jobs to KS. They always say that. And it’s never true. Not once.

“We hoped they would just be a magic lantern and everybody would react to it,” [Senator Les Donovan] said. “But, eh, it’s hard to get a company to uproot their business when they’re established and move to another place just because of this difference in tax policy.”

That’s the problem with Conservative philosophy. It tends to be rooted in what people want to believe is true, and not on what actually is true. They believe greed is good, that it’s okay not just to want more for yourself than what your neighbor has, but to want more than you could ever possibly need in your lifetime. But Greed is not good, Conservative People. Selfishness in not a Virtue. We are all Human Beings on this planet, and none of us is any more special than any other. That includes you. We survive because we know that we need each other to do so. Nobody in this country “made it” alone. You may have created a business from scratch, and it may have grown into a nice income producer for you and your family. But your success is not entirely of your own doing.

Your business likely sells one of two things, goods or services. Either way, you want to get something in exchange for those goods or services, and if you don’t want to work on the barter system, then you need something to exchange on which you both agree on the value. Money. And to make sure that the money you’re using is legitimate, you agree to only accept money made by the Government (the ones who decide what its value is, under the Constitution.) Now, right there you’ve proven that taxes are necessary. Someone has to pay for the things the Government does on your behalf. One of the things the government does is build and maintain the roads you use to bring your goods to your customers or yourselves to perform services. Someone has to protect those roads from highway bandits, so we hire police, who also make sure our other laws are enforced. I could go on with more examples, but the point is that everybody benefits from the things we all pay taxes to have done. And that includes that little business you created. Your business benefits from the things our government does, so why shouldn’t your business pay taxes? Your business is not a person like you, it’s an artificial entity created on paper to act as if it were a person in legal proceedings, which includes the sale of goods and services to your customers. They aren’t paying you for your goods and services, they’re paying your business. There is no such thing in Nature as a business or corporation, so they can’t possibly have “natural rights.” They can only have what rights the government that sanctioned their creation gave them. And if any Conservative tries to argue that our Founders wanted Corporations to be able to act free of the interference of Government, they are flat out lying to you. They barely tolerated their existence, being all too familiar with what was done to them in the name of Corporations. such as the East India Company. So, no, they would never go along with the idea that corporations shouldn’t be taxed and shouldn’t be regulated.

So the Conservative Republicans (you might think that redundant if only because there are no more Liberal Republicans, but I think it’s important to differentiate between the party and its ideology; there are Conservatives in the Democratic Party, and they’re every bit as dangerous as Conservative Republicans) have had it their way and tried to grow their economy through austerity and found, much to no one’s surprise who knew what they were talking about, that it didn’t work. That’s because Conservatives have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to taxes, in this case, or anything, in all the other cases. And that’s because their entire philosophy is rooted in the false notion that we’re all alike, and we would all behave the same way (their way) in any situation, and that looking out for yourself is more important than looking out for your fellow human being because nobody needs anybody else to survive. So why on Earth would you want to put any of them in charge of the government that’s supposed to be looking out for you? Someone, please explain that to me.

This is our daily open thread. Have at it.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 20, 2014: Conservative Governance

I’ve often said it’s the ideology of the political people doing things, not the party, that matters. On a national level, the Republican Party is entirely Conservative, with no Liberals in the House or Senate. The Democratic Party, OTOH, has many fiercely staunch Liberals, but it also has Conservatives, especially from predominantly red states, who we call “ConservaDems”, from the Latin word for “assholes.” People almost exclusively attribute to Republicans what should rightly be attributed to Conservatism. When people talk about what a Republican-controlled House passed, they often ignore how much Democratic support that same bill got. And that support usually didn’t come from the Liberal Wing of the party, it came from the Assholes, I mean, ConservaDems. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (a/k/a, “LBJ”) passed his New Deal legislation, some prominent millionaires set about to destroy everything FDR (a/k/a “Neil Patrick Harris”) did. They did it because they were Conservatives, and Conservatism is a philosophy rooted in Selfishness, of putting the needs and desires of oneself above all others. It is the antithesis of Liberalism, which seeks to do what’s best for everyone as a whole. The mistake is in believing that the best way to govern a country is to treat both philosophies as equally valid. They are not. When you want to govern a population of lots of different people, you need to think about the group as a whole, not just about the individuals, whose concerns ,must also be considered. Conservatives do not believe in thinking about people as a whole group, but prefer to think of them as a bunch of individuals. I’m not saying there’s no place for a little bit of Conservative thought brought to a search for a public solution to a problem. It actually helps to have people who can say, “But the way you wrote this, convicted sex offenders can still vote in school board elections. Do you want that?” Or something like that. They can help define what the reasonable limits of our public assistance should be. But if you left it entirely up to them to decide, there would be no public assistance at all! And that is where America is headed by giving control of the country to Conservatives. Here’s some examples of the kinds of things Conservatives do when they get hold of public office.

By now you’ve heard stories about Ferguson, Missouri, Grand Jury Witness 40, the one whose testimony staunchly (and a little suspiciously) supported Officer Darren Wilson’s version of events. I say “suspiciously” because she raised money for Darren Wilson’s defense before giving testimony. And because she was a documented liar. [WARNING: Site has photo at the top of Officer Wilson standing over Michael Brown’s deceased, uncovered body. Just thought you should know.] This has not stopped Conservative radio and television entity Sean Hannity from using her perjury testimony words to defend Wilson. Now, one might wonder why a prosecutor would put someone up to testify to a grand jury, whose sole purpose is to decide if enough evidence exists to indict someone, if he knew the person would not give truthful testimony. He must not have known how unreliable a witness she was. Funny thing about that. It turns out he did know. He knew she could not possibly have been a witness to the events of that day, yet he put her forth, without revealing to the grand jury why he knew she was lying, to relay what turned out to be, for all intents and purposes, Darren Wilson’s version of events, as if it would corroborate what he told investigators. Conservatives do not respect the Truth, especially when it proves them wrong. If you know nothing else about how the grand jury process works, you must have heard that you can indict a ham sandwich. All that means is if a prosecutor wants to bring charges against someone so they stand trial, it can easily be done, even if evidence exists of the person’s innocence. So when a prosecutor with a history of being pro-police fails to convince a grand jury that a cop shooting an unarmed man might have committed a crime, you have to conclude he didn’t try very hard. Maybe there’s another ham sandwich out there against whom he will bring charges. In the meantime, that’s what Conservative law enforcement will get you. Expect to hear more stories like this.

Speaking of Missouri, even though women in this country (regardless of which state they’re in) have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion, a woman there must give her consent and convince the person performing the abortion that she is not being forced to have it. But it’s not enough for her to say on her own that she wants to have an abortion. But State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced a bill to be taken up in next year’s session that would require a woman to obtain and present the consent of the biological father before receiving abortion services. The language of the bill says there’s an exception if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, but in an interview with Mother Jones Brattin said that the rape would have to be proven.

“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin tells Mother Jones. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.” Brattin adds that he is not using the term “legitimate rape” in the same way as former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who famously claimed that women couldn’t get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” “I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed,” Brattin says. “That’s just common sense.” Under his bill, he adds, “you have to take steps to show that you were raped…And I’d think you’d be able to prove that.” The bill contains no provision establishing standards for claiming the rape or incest exceptions. It also doesn’t state any specific penalties for violating the law nor say whether a penalty would be imposed on the woman seeking the abortion or the abortion provider.

Some Conservatives may argue that if there is no penalty for not doing these things, then why worry about it? That’s not the point. Why write the law that way at all if it really doesn’t matter to you whether or not he woman is telling the truth? Unless, of course, your entire point is to humiliate and dominate a woman already going through a very difficult decision. A decision she has every legal right to make. Because we already know the truth doesn’t matter when you’re a Conservative. Brattin defended his bill by claiming it was an attempt to protect men’s rights. That’s nice, except Roe v. Wade protected a woman’s rights, not a man’s. If any such right existed in this situation, it surely would have been part of the debate from the beginning. It hasn’t because it doesn’t. You won’t hear many Liberals introducing bills like this..

And if you think Conservative governance is bad from the beginning of life, it doesn’t get any better at the end, either, especially when it’s a “legitimate death” at the hands of the state. If you don’t know this already about me, I am adamantly, 100% opposed to the use of capital punishment anywhere in the world, but I am especially opposed to its use in a country supposedly built on the idea of personal freedom (if you listen to the Conservatives.) There is 0% justification to execute someone for a crime he did not commit, but Conservatives on the Supreme Court don’t think that’s a problem. Nor are Conservatives particularly concerned about how cruel an execution is, as evidenced by Oklahoma’s refusal to stop using a drug in its lethal injections that doctors have warned is inadequate to do the job it’s supposed to do. After botching the execution of Clayton Lockett, 21 inmates have asked the courts to suspend further execution using lethal injections. One of the drugs used, which is supposed to make the condemned unconscious, doesn’t perform well enough to be used in operations (where you don’t want the patient waking up to find out his insides are opened up) and would be “problematic” to use in executions. The drugs that would be best for this purpose, if you still want to go through with killing someone that badly, are sold in Europe, and most European nations refuse to sell them if they know they’ll be used in carrying out executions. Good for them. What Oklahoma Government Murderers are failing to remember is that lethal injection was supposed to be a more humane way of killing someone because they would be unconscious for the part where they are killed. That point is entirely missed when the condemned is wide awake and totally aware of the effects on his body. Liberals care about this kind of thing. if you’re going to have executions at all (and there is no evidence that it does any good at deterring others from committing the same crimes), then don’t be like the people you say are the worst in Society. Conservatives, who respond better to negative stimuli, don’t get that a killer who knows someone else is getting executed for his crimes, is not in the least bit deterred from killing again. So you can expect more people to be put to death and, because it is inevitable if you’re going to execute people, more of them will be innocent of the crimes for which they are being executed, which doesn’t serve Society at all.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the disease that is Conservatism, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 30th, 2013: “UBUNTU”

I know that Wayne posted this on yesterday’s Sunday Roast, but it bears another look – especially in light of the myriad inhumane arguments, diatribes, and lies rising to a cacophonic crescendo over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” Just look at so many of the self-serving and ignorant comments on Think Progress’s various threads about the ACA. It’s getting to the point where I think I’d rather live in a more simple society where greed and selfishness are not idealized.
ubuntu

These children put the childish “adults” running/ruining our country to shame. It seems that those who supposedly revere our founding fathers have forgotten one of the earliest ideals of this once-great country, as depicted in the Great Seal of the United States:
Great Seal of the United States

“E Pluribus Unum”: “Out of many, one.”

“Ubuntu”: “I am because we are.” Even those children understand the basic concept of what a workable society should be, and are living it. Why the fuck can’t we?

This is our daily open thread. I’m totally disgusted – how about you?

Watering Hole: Monday, February 27, 2012 – Birth Control All Female Panel

This speaks for me and for itself.

Some of you may have seen this before.  I wanted to share it again because the birth control issue is NOT going away.

Here’s a link to a good rant on how women really feel about the War on Women.  On April 28, there will be a protest rally/march in all 50 states.  And for the men that love women, we would love to have you join us.   🙂

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