The Watering Hole, Monday, June 6, 2016: Can American Democracy Actually Work?

I want to believe. I want to believe that democracy can work in America. But can it? Can it really?

Although it was originally posted more than two years ago on Alternet, Raw Story reprinted an article that makes me wonder. It seems humans will believe what they want to believe, facts be damned. People who thought there were WMDs in Iraq clung to that misperception even harder when shown an article correcting that story. People who thought President George W. Bush banned ALL stem cell research still believed that even when told only a partial ban was put in effect. (No new stem cell lines could be created for research, but research was allowed to continue using the 60+ lines then in existence. Which isn’t nearly enough.) These were examples making conservatives look bad, but political leaning has nothing to do with it. It’s true of all humans, regardless of political philosophies. Facts simply don’t matter. But Education does. If you’re taught the truth about things when you’re younger, you’re less likely to believe false things when you get older. Kids grow up believing what their parents teach them to believe, which is fine if the parents aren’t complete idiots. But if they are, by the time kids enter the public education system they’re already off to a bad start. It would help if schools were allowed to teach actual critical thinking skills, as people would learn how to verify new information and not just accept it because it confirms what they already believe. But as the study shows, that seems to be the essence of the problem. We do not seem to be wired to process information this way. At least, according to how the scientist interpreted the results. There was no measure beforehand of how well the participants could use critical thinking skills, and therefore may have had pre-conceived ideas (however false) but couldn’t process the new information in a way that would make them change their opinion. Hence, the tendency to cling harder to what they previously believed to be true.

Religion may also be responsible for much of this. And not just Christianity, but organized religion of any kind. Particularly in America, we have a lot of people who claim religion is important in their lives, but who don’t even know basic facts about their own religion as well as atheists and agnostics do. But the areas in America where religion is least important are also the areas where literacy rates tend to be higher. Religion requires no critical thinking, and discourages questioning what one is told to be the truth. And while there have been men (almost entirely) who were allowed to explore questions about faith, their answers were heavily censored and only allowed publication if approved by the religious leaders. In other words, not a lot of objectivity, and essentially just an addition to what people are being told to believe. The approved philosophical writings were used to justify why what you were being told is the truth, which is what the study seemed to indicate happens even with so-called smarter people. People still believe what they want to believe and use their reasoning to justify it afterwards. The problem is, there are way too many people in this country who believe provably false things like the Sun revolves around the Earth, and a large percentage who don’t know the Universe began with some kind of large explosion (as opposed to being brought into existence as is). Even more frightening is that more than half do not understand or believe in Evolution. How many times have you heard someone (often a religious conservative) say, “If we’re descended from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” (Evolution doesn’t say all monkeys turned into humans. Evolution says humans and monkeys share a common ancestor.) If you can’t start with the most basic of factually correct information, how can you possibly make a well-reasoned decision on which direction to take our country? If you think voting for someone who actually believes the Earth is less than 10,000 years old is going to solve our nation’s problems, then you’re one of the problems.

As I said before, Education can help, especially when started at an early age. As soon as children learn there are natural explanations for the way the Universe works (even if we don’t fully understand them yet), and that it’s not all attributable to an impossible Being with severely psychotic tendencies who kills at a whim, there is hope for Democracy in this country. And a better life for all, too. Studies have shown that elsewhere in the world, the highest standards of living tend to be found in the least religious countries, and the poorest in the most religious. America seems to be the exception. We have both a higher-than-average standard of living and yet are among the more religious countries in the world. But that will change if more Americans grow up believing nonsense before they are taught to think for themselves. Otherwise we just end up with another generation that doesn’t have enough sense to realize someone like Donald Trump is too ignorant and unqualified to run this country. And because he loves the poorly-educated, he’ll create more because they love him so much. And the Great Experiment known as America will have finally failed.

Please don’t let anyone you know vote for Donald Trump. You’ll just be voting for the end of America.

This is our daily open thread. feel free to discuss whatever you wish. Just don’t vote for Donald Trump.

Sunday Roast: Democrats do it, too. Neener, neener!!!

*sigh*

As if the GOP “debates” aren’t enough of a clusterfuck, the DNC has decided to put their own brand of screws to the democratic process.  Because Hillary Clinton.  And big money in politics, of course.

*head banging on desk*

This is our daily open thread — Happy Sunday!!

This is what the death of democracy looks like.

MaddowBlog

During the 13 months beginning July 1 the year before elections in 2004 and 2008, registered Democrats increased by an average of 209,425 voters.

From 2011 to this year, that number was 11,365.

Over that same time, the number of registered Republicans increased by 128,039, topping the average of 103,555 during the past two presidential cycles.

All Americans should be sickened by this graph, no matter what your political leanings.  If you’re not sickened, then you have forgotten what it means to be an American, and should be ashamed of yourself.

Guest Blog by TerryTheTurtle: November 2012 – The First Citizens United Election and the Last of the American Democratic Experiment?

I think there’s no secret that as a foreigner, I view the American democratic system with an outsider’s eye. It’s the view of one who has not been taught in school from the first day that the American Democratic Experiment is unique, unparalleled and somehow ‘divinely ordained’. It may have been once, but IMO it now more resembles the last days of the Roman Empire when a horse could be Senator  (or even higher office?) and seats were bought and sold in order to ‘rubber-stamp’ the sociopaths and megalomaniacal dictators who ran the place into the dust while plying the plebs with ‘bread and circuses’.

IMO, The SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United (CU) has delivered a fatal blow to the American Democratic Experiment. I think many of you sense it, but until this November’s election is done and the impact of the unlimited corporate money which is on its way now from the American fascist establishment into the election process, you won’t be able to appreciate just how deadly that ruling is.

At the time it was passed, dissenting Justice Stevens wrote:

[Citizens United] “threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” He wrote: “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”

And Stevens took a swipe at corporations too:

“Stevens discussed how the unique qualities of corporations and other artificial legal entities made them dangerous to democratic elections. These legal entities, he argued, have perpetual life, the ability to amass large sums of money, limited liability, no ability to vote, no morality, no purpose outside of profit-making, and no loyalty”

Let’s recap briefly the new rules of the game that Citizens United brings.

1. Anyone and that means any person, or corporation (even foreign owned or registered ones like Halliburton) can spend whatever they want to say whatever they want to influence you the voter as to who to vote for. Money equals free speech under Citizens United and it doesn’t matter where the money comes from and it is the money that decides which ‘free speech’ you hear and which you don’t. Spend just one evening watching Fox ‘News’ and you know what this means.

2. The people and corporations who will spend the most money are the ones who have the most to spend and are most likely to gain from ‘buying’ an election – that is the rich, the 1%, who will have their bought-and-paid-for politicians write the rules in their favour so that they will accumulate even more wealth.

3. They don’t have to tell you who they are in some cases (e.g. 501c4s like the NRA and Karl Rove’s patently fascist SuperPAC for some reason), and even if they do, you won’t know who and how much until *after* the election is decided.

St. Ronald Raygun (yes, really!):

“It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

So welcome America to the ‘Best Democracy Money Can Buy’ – this 8 minute video recaps all I have said here and more and also calls for a constitutional amendment to redefine persons and therefore undermine CU. I for one, have no confidence that an amendment will go anywhere – to start with it would require 67 Senators who do not owe their office to corporate money to be ready to vote and November 2012 is coming first. IMO CU is an irrevocable and fatal wound to the American Democratic Experiment (1776 – 2010 RIP) – it was a good run everyone.

Noam Chomsky: ‘As long they get the backing of dictators, it doesn’t matter to western governments what Arab populations think’

I found this from The Guardian:

The 19th century … 2001 … today. Noam Chomsky sees hegemonic powers showing extreme contempt for democracy — and acting in ways they know will increase terrorism.

What is their interest (Western powers)? Not the stated interest, but the REAL interest. Is it spreading democracy? Or is it all about taking control of the natural resources.. Where will it end?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday August 2nd – Where were you?

Listen again. It seems you have forgotten.

He said it wasn’t going to be easy. He said he needed you to help him bring about the change you voted him into office for. Americans where were you these last three years? Nagging about him not handing you the change you have envisioned on a silver platter? Weren’t you Monday morning quarterbacking decisions he had to make, because there was no support at all from you for any other way?  Didn’t you stand at the sideline when the so called Tea Party took over the public discourse and turned your Congress into a blackmailing outfit? You need to take your country back, for you are the majority, but you can’t stay out of the political struggle any minute longer. The Tea Party cannot and will not be contained, because they don’t accept that they are chosen by the people, they think they are answering the call of some higher power. They do not function the way politicians do. They, frankly, don’t care about your country. They don’t care about the human beings who make up you the People. All they care about is power and they know how to wield it. But in Democracy you the People are  the supreme power. No Deity, no President, no Congressman, no Senator. You are the supreme power. So live up to your responsibility already and fight back. The streets are just outside your front door. I refuse to believe it is too late.

Elsewhere: The people of Hama face tanks and machine guns to try and take back their country!

This is our open thread. Come on!

Some links to what Europe writes:

Der Spiegel
The Economist
The Guardian
The Independent

Watering Hole – Monday, May 23, 2011 – True Democracy

It’s the evil thing…

The Supreme Court of the United States of America spit on our democracy when they handed over our government to rich corporations, both domestic and foreign, by their decision to support Corporations Citizens United.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak up or Sing, which ever works best for you   🙂