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Posted on Feb 28, 2012
Lillian Thurston

Stewart Alexander, Socialist Party presidential candidate in 2012.

By Scott Tucker

Stewart Alexander believes fair elections are worth a fair fight and he’s asking for your vote. The Occupy Wall Street movement encouraged a more honest discussion of class and capitalism in this country, but Alexander is not simply a critic of big banks and high finance. He is a democratic socialist, an African-American community activist and the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party in 2012.

Alexander believes the candidate of “hope and change” is a defender of the status quo and of corporate rule. In his words:

“The phrase that came to mind immediately upon hearing President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech is ‘too little, too late.’ After spending the last few years coddling the banks and the richest 1 percent, Obama has the nerve to now call for ‘economic fairness.’ To him, this means tweaking payroll taxes and making a rhetorical call to reverse the Bush tax cuts for the rich. For working people in America, real fairness means the right to a job, a guarantee of health care for all and an end to the military-industrial complex. Obama won’t deliver this. That’s why I am running for president against him.”

The boom-and-bust cycles of capitalism require a semblance of representative government, even though Congress has become the front office of the corporate state. Even the most “progressive” reforms of the tax code now proposed by career politicians remain a form of institutionalized robbery of the working and middle classes.

“This is why,” Alexander says, “we propose creating a progressive tax structure where the rich pay far more than the average working person. In a democratic socialist society neither Obama nor Romney would be allowed to pay an effective tax rate of 26 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Corporate taxation, financial gains taxes and personal income taxes will be modernized—all loopholes will be closed and the rich will pay a steep tax on their income. This is what economic fairness looks like to a socialist.”

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Is a radical revision of the tax code the whole program of democratic socialism? No, but it is certainly one reform consistent with social democracy in the realm of the economy. Alexander is not simply a “left-wing Keynesian” reformer. After all, economist Paul Krugman plays that part admirably in the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times. Krugman repeatedly insists that the Obama administration must ramp up a “stimulus package” that might actually stimulate, rather than stifle, the economy. But Krugman would need genuine social democrats in the White House to listen to his advice, whereas Obama has filled his inner circle with Wall Street aristocrats such as Timothy Geithner. Alexander’s reform of the tax code has a much deeper foundation in workplace democracy, and in working class solidarity across national borders.

Alexander has also been a strong critic of Obama’s “continuation of the Bush era security state policies.” He has the same moral fire and political clarity as Eugene Debs, a Socialist presidential candidate who won 6 percent of the national vote in 1912, and gained more than 900,000 votes in 1920 even when he was behind bars at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Debs called for working class unity against war and imperialism, and he paid a high price. We now live under a regime of escalating state surveillance and police repression, and Alexander’s class conscious policy of peacemaking will not earn him a Nobel Peace Prize:

“Obama’s approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) annihilates centuries of civil rights protections,” Alexander writes. “The president now has the right to indefinitely jail any citizen in America without having to work within the protections of habeas corpus. Added to the NDAA is the fact that, as I write this, Bradley Manning is rotting in a jail cell. Manning is Obama’s prisoner—a moral testament to the president’s commitment to continue the job of restricting civil liberties.”

Alexander was born in Newport News, Va., in 1951. He was one of eight children of Stewart Alexander, a brick mason and minister, and Ann E. McClenney, a nurse and housewife. In 1953, the family moved to the community of Watts in Los Angeles. Bricklaying and masonry jobs were scarcer in Los Angeles, and the family endured some hard times. At the age of 16, Alexander worked nights with his father cleaning airport terminals.

In the late ’60s, Alexander attended George Washington High School in Los Angeles County. Though integration of public schools had become public policy, the foundation of the educational system fractured along lines of race and class. By the time Alexander graduated from high school in 1970, the school had fewer than 50 white students. This was part of a wider social pattern that became known as “white flight.”

In December 1970, Alexander joined the Air Force and trained as a transportation and cargo specialist. Later he attended college full time at a Cal State University campus. One professor actively discouraged his studies, and when he quit college he began working 40-plus hours a week as a stocking clerk. During this time he married his first wife, Freda Alexander, and they had one son.

After working as a licensed general contractor and with Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, Calif., he returned to Los Angeles and applied for a job as a warehouseman and forklift driver. Though his military experience made him well qualified for the job, the warehouse manager refused to interview him. Only the threat of a lawsuit (including filing a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) gained him the interview and the job.

The manager later confessed to Alexander that it was his policy to hire only blacks who were “twice as good” as whites on the job. Having fought to get that job, being “twice as good” also meant that Alexander (one of only two African-Americans among 200 employees) had to work more than twice as hard.

During this time Alexander began working with civic and community groups, including the NAACP. He later traveled to Tampa, Fla., working as a grocery clerk and as an organizer with the Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN). In 1986, Ralph Nader was the guest speaker at the state convention of FCAN, and Alexander joined him in political discussions during the event. Alexander also worked briefly with an affiliate organization, the Long Island Citizens Campaign. Both groups were formed to protect the environment and the health and safety of consumers.


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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

Ana, yes, it’s all about the health of the fabric.  I certainly agree there are at least two big reasons ‘The People’ should literally have stock in the productive infrastructure.  One, so people pay attention to it, take care of it, invest in it’s upkeep.  Two, the classic, so CW (concentrated wealth) can’t so easily commoditize labor. 

We have mechanisms for holding this stock among ‘The People’, but modern distribution and financial systems caught us by surprise and (big sucking sound) the wealth is owned by fewer and fewer people. 

But that commoditization fo labor today goes with the general feeling of disposability, disenfranchisement, which seems to further de-socialize people.  I’m getting badk to the ‘every man/woman for them-self’ attitude seeming so incompatible with or antithetical to a ‘social feeling’.  An investedness in community, not just factories.

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By - bill, March 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

I’m curious about the very specific issue of why a government elected democratically, frequently, and in a manner that did not allow elections to be ‘bought’ could not moderate the obvious depredations of an UNmoderated capitalistic society sufficiently to achieve an entirely reasonable quality of life for all, Anar.  Granted that getting there from where we’ve allowed ourselves to decline to today would be very difficult, I’d like to know why you seem to consider the very notion impossible (since my impression is that it may not be a simple matter of ideology).

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

John Best asks, “What IS Progress”?, March 25 at 12:33 pm:

Ana, it seems that we see the the trees and miss the forest with the word.

The underlying issue in my view is that without each generation continually building and revitalizing the means of production,  eventually the money also becomes worthless.  Even those who think they can stay above it all in fact rely on a strong social fabric.  Somehow in the word ‘Socialism’, needs to be recognition that we all rely on a productive educated society.

Yeah, I have gotten that from some socialists.  However, let’s not confuse production of goods with maintenance and improvement of the social fabric, and let’s not expect to receive good things from inequality and lack of freedom.  The ills that flow from handing over control of our livelihoods to an elite are many and obvious.  The means of production become crucially important if we can deny them to anyone, but they would not such a big deal if the ownership and control of production, and its benefits, were available equally to all.

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By - bill, March 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

Actually, Leef, it was Shen who brought your name up:  given the length and general incoherence of her rant having missed this might be understandable, though it did occur at said rant’s start.

Before that I was just letting that dog remain peacefully asleep, so don’t bother staying up on my account.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

Glancing through the posts, I see Bill mentioned me name, soon as I get me toenails done, I may read it unless something more important pops up which I have been putting off for year, .... like looking for those missing socks.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

No no no, Ed, we won’t put this to sleep until you show some real
insight.  You can walk off the set if you want to but I won’t.  If you
call me anything, call me tenacious or some other mean thing if you
want.  You judge everything by one or two life experiences and think
the entire world, no, the entire universe behaves as you see it.  Bull
crap!  Ed Romano  March 25 at 12:00PM –

Your post contains so many half truths and innuendoes
it would take a week to unravel.

Ed, just try one or two, paleeeezzze!  Else you risk being put into
the blowhard category.

You say there is “very little evidence” about my criticism
of the status of education. Good God woman, do you
live in some rich, isolated enclave? Take a look at the
condition of this rapidly diintegrating

No I don’t, ! but I think you assume everything and think others should
assume what you say is the veritable truth and just believe you.  You
obviously are not a critical thinker, are you, Ed?  Otherwise you
would know one of the sacred tenets is not to assume anything!  And you
do with every breath you take and every word you write.  Oh, by the way,
you don’t have to invoke God when being a sexist by your using the
word woman as a kind of expletive!  Where is your decorum, man? 

You know, Ed, we are supposed to be arguing for our respective
positions.  I’ve given my reasoning, but you’d rather bash my head
instead of providing anything on which to make an evaluation.  But you
act like one of those who abhor their words being examined for
proximity to truth.  It is apparent why you’d rather not have anything up
for examination.  Shall we just simply “type” you?  Oh by the way, I have
an excellent command of the English language, and I am not a bad
person.  Does that put your mind to rest?

And one more thing.  Every post you and dashbill make towards
me make all my points clear about your motives.  QED QED QED…

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By - bill, March 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

You’re still a bit confused, Shen:  I don’t bother much talking WITH you any more because you’re clearly too dense to discuss anything relating to your own behavior rationally.  It was particularly amusing to see you demanding examples from Ed when you so adamantly refused to engage in discussion of concrete examples of your own sloppy thinking when I presented them to you.

But I do consider you a moderately interesting if unpleasant specimen so don’t simply ignore you completely, and when someone else is having trouble with your crap then if I think I might be able to help them deal with it I’ll give it a shot.

Such discussion in an open forum that you clearly frequent hardly constitutes doing so ‘behind your back’ (a point which Leef didn’t seem to get either, but I didn’t bother to correct him - he was just babbling again).  As I observed to Ed, people who don’t like being analyzed ought not to behave in a manner that causes such speculation to occur.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

Ana, it seems that we see the the trees and miss the forest with the word. 

The underlying issue in my view is that without each generation continually building and revitalizing the means of production,  eventually the money also becomes worthless.  Even those who think they can stay above it all in fact rely on a strong social fabric.  Somehow in the word ‘Socialism’, needs to be recognition that we all rely on a productive educated society.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

You always appear to love talking about other people behind their
backs even when it is published out in the open on a forum. Leefeller
described the practice to a tee at March 24 6:23 am.  I am a direct
person, dashbill so while I have lots of education in it and actually
teach it, I don’t consider myself an authority on critical thinking, by
comparison, I think I am more authentic than you.  You behave as the
backstabber.  As far as what you have concluded, which I think is a
heap of merde, you could take your petty criticism of me and apply it
back to yourself.  You shouldn’t mind, since they are just cheap shots. 
You know the old adage, treat yourself before trying to treat others. 
The exorbitant opinion you have of yourself is so extensive s to be
without end.  You put in your paltry bias when you describe others, me
in particular, which nullifies anything that had any possibility of being
“constructive.”  It is hilarious that you would say you “resisted the
temptation to make [any] evaluation…”  Why if you tried to do that I
do believe you would become anesthetized with your own bile.  As it is,
only your mind appears not to have any space for self-evaluation.  She
laughs heartily at her admittedly personal opinion of you.  (I can
even talk about myself in the third-person! hahaha)

Now who do you think you are advising?  Ed?  Oh is that because you
do not think Ed has his own ability to see reality?  Reality according to
dashbill?  Ummmm uh huh.  Right.  As a matter of fact, Ed is much more
astute than you.  And as a matter of fact I did make the comment about
your ”being an asshole because you ARE acting like one” to you and
about you.  Did you forget that little eyetalian gem of mine?  Here it is
in Eyetalian: Tu sei uno stronzo, perché voi agisce proprio come uno
stronzo!  hahaha And yes, I am having fun at your expense.  It is evil,
it is really bad.  But then how else would I be able to blow the smoke
from my famous truthdipping two pisolas, swish my long auburn red
hair, and walk off in my stiletto heels.  clickety clack, clickety clack.

It is freudianly interesting you have spent so many feet of Truthdig
space and ridiculous amount of time scrutinizing and criticizing me
and stretching your already stressed brain trying to get a real handle
on the She.  It is a laugh riot.  Do you have any idea how absurd your
comments resemble the schoolyard lambastings by a pre-teenage boy
having an identity crisis?  So telling is your disavowal of not giving a
“parting shot.”  A real comedy.  WOW By the way has anyone on Truthdig
ever said they cared one bit what you think?  More laughing, peels of
laughter!  You will pardon me whilst I go read some papers for their
ability to think critically, won’t you?  I get paid to do it.

Report this

By Ed Romano, March 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Bill, Your post shows me that you have been dealing with this ( Shen ) for a lot longer than I have. It took me awhile to learn that conversing with her was like ice skating on quicksand. But, for me, it’s all over now. I tried to steer clear of any contact after we reached what I hoped was a truce. But almost everything I wrote, things that had nothing to do with her, she took as a personal affront.
  Thanks for the Ghandi info…When I read it I remembered it as being correct. But ...Christianity…Western Civ…?? Used to be pretty synonymous. Seems like they’re both on their death beds now.

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By Ed Romano, March 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Okay. The lid’s off the pot again I guess, but this will be it for me, because I will not be entering the spider web again after this. My wife once had an aquaintance, part pit bull as we later discvovered, who worked in a law office. She said when you are engaged in a court battle a good tactic is to throw every kind of mud you can at your opponent. Not all of it will stick, she said. But some of it will and that’s what the jury will remember. Your post contains so many half truths and innuendoes it would take a week to unravel.
    Did I think you were trying to"revist our quarrel”? I’ll have to admit the thought crossed my mind when you finished with that gem about the dangers of having a “closed” mind and ..”.We have to ask if fools are born or are they made ?”... And that I “should broaden the gap in my body of knowledege” is a truly hilarious statement coming from someone who thinks that liberal democrats are going to save us from cess pool that have helped to create. You are about as rigid thinking a person as anyone I have ever encountered.
    You say there is “very little evidence” about my criticism of the status of education. Good God woman, do you live in some rich, isolated enclave? Take a look at the condition of this rapidly diintegrating
joke of a nation that we’re all living in. Does it seem like the work of a population that has been well educated? Yes.Yes. I know…other factors etc. etc…don’t bother.
  Your mother read the enyclopedia to you? I think she must have ,missed a few volumes….. But let’s put this dog to sleep….The ability to absorb information has NOTHING to do with intelligence. I had a friend who was a walking encyclopedia and was thick as a brick when it came to putting two things together and reaching a sensible conclusion. This didn’t make him a bad person. It just made him a bad influence on people who were bamboozled by his ability to spout thousands of “facts”. You , I’m sure, are not a bad person either, but you seem to have mistaken the ability to manipulate the English language with having a firm grasp on what you’re talking about. It’s not the same thing.

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By Anarcissie, March 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous—I think liberals and progressives are particularly fond of deprecating their opponents as stupid or ignorant, whereas rightists tend to attack their opponents as disloyal, disobedient, corrupt, or foreign.  In other words, the lib-prog model of authority is school, whereas the rightist model is the army.

I haven’t been able to detect a similar overall framework among Left radicals, probably because they are so scattered.

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By - bill, March 25, 2012 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

I don’t know if this will be helpful in understanding Shen, Ed (and Shen may well not take it in quite the spirit in which it’s intended), but for what it may be worth:

Shen obviously considers herself to be an Authoritah (well, not EXACTLY like Eric Cartman) in the area of critical thinking (not to mention quite a few other areas), and as I recall she seemed to indicate that she actually taught it (that’s when I remember the phrase “Those who can, do (or play); those who can’t…” popping into my own mind).  I resisted the temptation to make that observation because 1) I don’t believe it’s a valid generalization at all and 2) I suspect that it doesn’t apply to Shen (I don’t think she’s incapable of critical thinking, I just think she often lacks the self-discipline to slow down and actually engage in it, perhaps because she’s so focused on her voluminous output that attention to detail in that output - not to mention to input that prompts it - gets relatively short shrift).

Now, Authorities often don’t react well to being questioned in even the slightest detail, often because they see it as impugning their professional competence.  Combine that with what might be a somewhat ‘Latin’ temperament (well, she did make a reference to her ‘dago ass’ at one point), throw in a gutfull of having seen enough discrimination against women over the course of many decades that she now tends to see it in any criticism directed at her (thereby ignoring the possibility that, as Freud might have said, “Sometimes someone thinks you’re an asshole merely because you’re acting like one”), and you might get - Shen.

At least that’s the suspicion I’ve been coming to watching her, in large part from her behavior AFTER things started to cool down here.  It’s made me considerably less intolerant of her than I had previously become, and if it makes sense to you too it might make the manner in which she expresses herself at least somewhat easier to take.  She may not like being analyzed any more than you do, but people who are difficult to deal with (including me, by the way) shouldn’t be surprised when those having difficulty with them start speculating about what the hell is going on in their heads to make them act the way they do.

I didn’t read what you said as knocking teachers per se:  I saw it as being appropriately critical of the RESULT of our education system.  There are all kinds of reasons why good teachers may not succeed in teaching critical thinking well these days:  huge classroom sizes, required curricula, emphasis on standardized testing results (unless such tests themselves emphasize testing this area, which would surprise me), unenlightened administrators, in too many cases being themselves the result of an already-poor education in this area, lack of reinforcement in the home, the dumbing down of the mass media… the list is endless.

This is not a parting shot - I’m just assuming that your interest in learning remains as healthy as it seems to have been over the rest of your life - but the Gandhi quote you cited referred not to ‘Christianity’ but to ‘western civilization’ (which may make it even more appropriate for the purpose you seemed to be using it to highlight).

Oh - and your Simic citation.  I actually did read it the first time you posted it (though your first link didn’t work, so I had to track it down myself).  My initial reaction was positive (hey, it reinforced my own preconceptions, right?), but the comments (including those appropriately critical of some parts of the article) were also worth thinking about.  In any event, thanks for calling it to our attention.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 25, 2012 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

Why, Ed, do you think that any questioning I have of what you say
is an attempt to revisit our quarrel?  I do not!  I am a teacher who
has not experienced education they way you seem to have had and
I wonder why you do have the opinions you do?  What are their
source? You criticize without giving examples of real experiences. 
Or any that your wife encountered in her teaching career.  You know,
credible for instances. 

I am not overly sensitive and it is utterly defensive on your part to
accuse me of it.  I am concerned about the education of our youth
since they will be taking over this country in another generation. 
You seem to have a chronic allergic reaction when someone suggests
you broaden what appears to be a gap in your body of knowledge about
what I am sensitive about!  Education!  I admit to being keenly aware of
the very thing we are talking about!  Would you squelch my curiosity
about someone who rails against what I’ve made my career?  Your
obvious intransigence about increasing your knowledge about not only
critical thinking, which I think in this last post of yours you finally admit
it is of paramount importance, but also what you perceive to be a
irreparable malady in the entire school system,

I think your description is quite untrue.  You do not use the very critical
thinking about the status of education.  You just keep castigating it with
very little evidence you have thought it through. 

For instance about the question of the ignorance of the parents.  As an
example of an uneducated:  Do you know how many Americans do not
finish school?  My mother did not graduate from high school. But, as an
unusal person, she was an autodidactic and educated herself, buying an
set of Encyclopedia Britannica and the huge unabridged Merriam Webster
dictionary (6 inches thick) and reading each and every book cover to
cover, sharing what she learned with her daughter, a hem…me, instilling
in me a love of knowledge and the learning process. This is not common.

I have had many interviews with parents and know for a fact they are not
educated well, nor do they care to become educated, nor do they
encourage their children to become educated.  So you and I have a
definite different set of experiences.  Your question about where the
parents were educated if not in the American system is in my estimation
a shortsighted interrogative that if you had any taken any real quality
time thinking about it you would see how hazy it is and I find it
shocking. There is a fallacy swallowed hook line and sinker about those
who teach that is completely provincial and it distracts from the
possibilities of improvement. 

If you have such vivid criticism of the education system in this country,
what then are you and your wife doing about improving it other than
vocal rants about it?  Is that how you fix all the problems you encounter? 
What did your wife do all those 34 years in the schools where she worked
to make sure there was quality teaching going on?

Report this

By Ed Romano, March 25, 2012 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

Shem, You seem close to starting the fracas up again. I was not going to reply for fear of doing just that, but some of what you said should not be left unanswered..Did I say something that made you think i was trying to “shelter” myself….From what ?
I don’t deny that there are books written on the subject of C.T., and many of them are no doubt excellent. The teaaching of this skill is, or should be recognized, as one of the most valuable an educational system can provide. But the educational emphasis in this country is not to produce critical thinkers, but compliant and passive citizens. The last thing an exploitative society wants is citizens who can think critically.
    Shen, perhaps I will be allowed to say that you might be becomming overly sensitive from having been in the trenches of these forums for so long. I am NOT dismissing the books you recommend. It seems to me they were offered because you thought I needed to be smartened up about this matter. But why since I already agree that C.T. is crucial in a citizenry. The absence of it is one of the main reasons why the nation is so screwed up, as Simic is trying to demonstrate.
  You write that the general ignorance of the parents of the children in schools is “staggering”. Okay. No argument there. Can I ask where these parents were educated if not in the American school system ?
  You come close to thinking the Republican Party is in league with the devil. I don’t come close. I hit that target dead center. But if we think that they are the only political organization reponsible for the asylum the nation is becomming….you must   - in your better moments….admit that does not come close to being the case.
  And finally, your last paragraph….written to offer me a lesson about rigid thinking. Shen,it might have been written as an exact description of the ideas that you are trying to advance yourself,but you are completely unable to see that. I was actually stunned by that paragraph and it was the reason I decided to respond…. PLEASE. This is not a slap at you…but I am reminded of something that is sometimes said about music….Those who can- play. Those who can’t- teach.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 25, 2012 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Aw come on Anarcissie, March 25 at 7:22 am – so do self-righteous
anarchists, libertarians, Right-Wingers of every stripe, those, you know,
who stink to high heaven (if there were such a place)  also blare out their
opinions at various decibels. Yeah, many liberals and progressive also
think they know and just as often speak out of their asses with their
patronising opinions with no impeccable foundation.  Eh whatchagonna
do about human nature!?  It is genetic don’tchyathink? Or maybe it is
enhanced school larnin’? Or maybe family or church larnin? 
Whaddathink?

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By Anarcissie, March 25, 2012 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, March 25 at 6:38 am:

‘... When one thinks they know, there is poignant resistance to further inquiry. ...’

In that case, liberals and progressives are in a lot of trouble, because they constantly vaunt the superiority of their knowledge and intellectual powers over those of their opponents.

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By Shenonymous, March 25, 2012 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

Re:  Ed Romano, March 24 at 10:16 am - Sorry you felt you had to
shelter yourself, Ed, on what you think you know about critical thinking. 
Yeah, there have been tons of books written on all kinds of things.  The
Library of Congress has approximately 34.5 million books.  I’m fairly
certain there are tons of them about the evils of our economic system,
and no doubt about the virtues of it as well.  To whatever avail they are
depends on whether they are read, understood, and assessed for truth
value. And that is the crux of learning the process of critical thinking.  It
is not an elitist practice, it is a survival skill for every single human with a
brain to learn how to determine the worth of what is dished out to them
sometimes wholesale riddled with a particularly restricting ideology, and
more importantly to see if what they themselves is nothing but wind
eggs.

Dismissing the books I recommended, is of course your choice, but it is
too bad since they are highly regarded for their insights that go much
deeper than Simic does and delivers an even more solid indictment of
this “unpretty” situation you say prevails.  That is not to demean Simic in
the least, however his article is shorter than short by comparison.  And
he does not give much as references, in the way of helping you (in the
collective sense) go further to approach the truth, which only enlightened
minds knows is never absolute!  But of course it is your decision not to
investigate any deeper than his article.

The failure of the society to think critically cannot be laid at the feet
solely of the education system.  I would think your wife who taught for
34 years might have been a teacher of some excellence.  Was she the
only one in her school that was?  The general ignorance that in fact
describes the parents of the children in schools is staggering and they
are the biggest detriment to a satisfactory quality of minds that our
children develop.  This is prevalent from pre-K to graduation! 

It is only reasonable to think it is not simply the insistence of the
Religious Right found among the Republican political persuasion that
vigorously attempts to slather the education system of a pluralistic
society such as we have in this country with creationism.  But it is a
enormous problem that must not be dismissed out of hand and you
seem to agree it is “part” of the problem.  Don’t you think your criticism
of teachers is rather vague and ambiguous?  How far have you checked
out the qualifications of the teachers in this country.  I have had a great
deal of experience with them, as I actually train them in the humanities
and have for a decade.  And I have worked with them out in the field as
well as professionally I have to keep in touch with the reality of the
classrooms.  I have a lot of disagreement with you on this score.  But
maybe it is best to take it one piece at a time.

When one thinks they know, there is poignant resistance to further
inquiry.  Keeping an open mind allows one to get closer to whatever is
the truth.  But if one thinks they have the truth, there is only a closed
mind, and the consequences of a closed mind is intolerance and
dogmatism.


We have to ask if fools are born or if they are made?

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By Anarcissie, March 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

John Best asks, “What IS Progress”?, March 24 at 6:39 pm:

‘... Wouldn;t it be more productive to abandon the ideas of ownership of the means of production, and look toward the end goal, not the means? ...’

Well, that’s the Bismarckian con.  ‘Just let us have the power, and we’ll give you all the goodies you want, little children.  If you’re good, that is.’

But….

‘Papa may have,
Mama may have,
But God bless the child that’s got his own.’

I think you’re probably correct that many who use the term ‘socialism’—favorably or unfavorably—have no idea what it was originally supposed to mean.

This may be a good thing; it may enable actual socialism to sneak up on the ruling class.  They will have lied about it so much they will be unable to recognize it when it eases in the back door and makes itself at home in the kitchen.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment

bill, March 24 at 7:19 am
“Er, John, wasn’t it you who brought up this particular sub-thread by saying “Socialism.  Can we talk about the word itself, how it’s used?””

Yep, and then I started looking over some definitions,and what people were posting, and I thought, geez, talking about the use and mis-use of the word catches you in the mire of a sort of language constrained discussion that I do not think can get to any enlightenment.  What is behind the word?  Why would people conceive of the notion?  Social?  Society? What is the root? 

Wouldn;t it be more productive to abandon the ideas of ownership of the means of production, and look toward the end goal, not the means? 

I mean, so what if the workers owned the means of production if they couldn’t produce a decent life?  Isn’t the idea which is important the notion that with a healthy society, people can be off?  I don;t know what a socialist candidate’s platform is, but I doubt they really are proposing anything about ownership of factories and so forth.  They probably propose more of the internal ‘look and feel’ of the Scandinavian governments.

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By Ed Romano, March 24, 2012 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

Shen, I’‘ve been braced for a long, long time. If I may put up a little defense of myself from here in the witness stand….I am well aware that there have been books written on the subject of critical thinking…I’m reminded of something Ghandi once said when asked by a western reporter what he thought of christianity…I think it’s a good idea, he said. You people should try it sometime…or something like that…. I’m well aware that books have been written. There are also tons of books written about the evils of our economic system….all to little avail. Who would deny there are people in the U.S. who are actually capable of practicing critical thinking? But Simic is talking about the situation in the country that actually prevails…and it ain’t pretty. I think we would be hard pressed to deny that the schools have failed miserably when it comes to teaching people how to reach reasonable conclusions….or at least not reach conclusions that are completely bizarre.
I would take exception to the idea that our dumbed down nation is the result of Republicans insisting that creationism should be taught in schools alongside evolution or , preferably according to them without referring to evolution at all. That’s part of the problem., certainly. But there is a lot more that goes into scooping the brains out of students and filling up their skulls with patriotic manure than that…again I’m reminded of something the ex teacher and writer Johnathon Kozol wrote…the flag above the door in every classroom is not there for a decoration… I am not a enemy of teachers. My wife is one. I think the profession is probably the most undervalued one in the U.S. But I also think school in the U.S. is a place you send your children to learn how to be stupid, in part because many of the people teaching the kids are not teachers at all. They are agents of the system, passing along the values that the system requires in order to have a nation of uncritical, passive citizens and ready made cannon fodder when the need arises….Teachers who are brave enough to challenge a malignant cirriculum do not last long in a school system…at least not the ones I have known. I know that what we’re seeing on the horizon is scary. But it is not all due to the demands of the Republicans. It is also brought about by the demands of liberal capitalism .... Now, if you will excuse me I’ll go and put on my suit of armor…..By the way, my remark about having illusions shattered was only in an attempt to get someone to read it because I posted the Simic site awhile back and there was no response. Thanks for looking.

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By Shenonymous, March 24, 2012 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Good morning, with all due respect, Ed,  a teacher of critical thinking
in academia for over 10 years, I have an entire library of books on the
subject.  And can list two dozen books and articles on it that would,
how did you put it?  Shatter illusions?  But maybe not in the indirect
way Charles Simic put it.  His article really was not dashing belief in
education, or critical thinking, but presented a kind of satirical obser-
vation of what has happened to our society since the Republicans
have been trying to infuse their religion into the public schools. The
fight is going on without relief.  Some really excellent books that
would support Simic’s thesis are Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,
by Richard Hofstadter, The Seduction of Unreason by Richard Wolin,
The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby, and an amazingly lucid
report of the effects the Religious Right has had on American Education,
Monkey Girl, by Edward Humes.  These are just a few and are all available
as used books, and if very good rating is selected the copies are very
inexpensive, and sent fairly quickly.  These books can set one’s hair on
fire about the attempted destruction of our children’s minds.  They are
all extraordinarily footnoted and uncountable reliable references are
provided, so no duping going on.  It was reported in the news just the
other day that the state of Tennessee has “given legal ?cover to public
school teachers to challenge the science of evolution ?and climate change,
in a move that looks set to deepen a debate about ?politicisation of the
classroom.”  Brace yourself.

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By Ed Romano, March 24, 2012 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Good afternoon comrades, Here’s a little item that should put to rest the bickering about “critical thinking” that has been going on here recently.Check it out at the risk of having your illusions shattered.
http://nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/mar/20/age-of-ignorance/

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By Ed Romano, March 24, 2012 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Bill, I was surpirised and mildly uplifted by your post. I don’t agree with most of it, but it was good to see you present your side of the tiff in a resonable, and well constructed manner while avoiding labeling me as paranoid or suffering from a brain malady. But since you allowed yourself to psychoanalyze me I think I should be allowed to sense something about you.I don’t consider myself infallible. It could be that I was wrong in thinking you wanted me to float a few baloons for you to shoot at, but I’ve been around awhile and my antenna doesn’t often fail me…. As an aside I’d say that although I have experienced this practice in the past, I have never seen it anyway near the degree I have in these forums. Wonder why that is ?.... I don’t see any point in making this into a book length argument, but I would like to say that you are right about me when you say I don’t believe a person’s labor should be regarded as a commodity. I’m NOT offering this as rebuttal to your own understanding of, but it’s interesting that this issue formed a major part of Marx criticism of capitalism. I think that a person’s labor is an extension of their being. It is not something, or shouldn’t be treated as something separate from that being. Most civilized people today consider slavery to be ( to put it mildly ) wrong. I think wage slavery is also wrong, even if it is not as openly recognizable as is the complete ownership of one person by another. I think I said earlier that humans should not be treated as objects to be used for the enrichment of other humans… If governments can be used to enforce laws that favor inequity they can also be used to outlaw it But this bickering is in reality…ridiculous. It is like two fleas argruing about which part of the dog is most comfortable.It appears vto me that the system which now has its tentacles in every part of the globe is coming apart at the seams. It is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. The only way it can go is to the right, and become openly what is now partially hidden…a military dictatorship. What we (and I include myself) are doing on these sights is playing a fools game…pretending that what we think has a chance of changing anything. Onward.

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By Anarcissie, March 24, 2012 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

John—If you don’t like the existing vocabulary, you can always try to invent a new one.  In my view, public discourse on political and economic matters is hampered if not sabotaged not so much by the existence of established concepts and words, but by the careless, vague way in which they are used, and the heavy doses of propaganda which have been added to them.  I would concede that terms like ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ have probably been obscured beyond recovery.  We should be mindful, though, that much of this seems to be what people want, including the people who participate in leftish forums and blogs.

Bill—I am glad to hear that Michael Harrington’s book is online.  I used to recommend it, but it went out of print and access to it was uncertain.  As for Bernie Sanders and so on, any working politician has to deal with things the way they are, so that getting the ruling class to concede a few Welfaristic items a la Bismarck may seem to be the only practical hope.

My own analysis, carried out over a long period of time, leads me to believe that the works of government are inevitably tainted and corrupted by its intrinsic violence.  In a sense this view can accord with Welfarist practice, since the Welfare can be seen as a temporary mitigation of immediate crucial problems, while a more fundamental revision of the social order is achieved from the ground up without the use of the existing state’s violence and fraud.

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By - bill, March 24, 2012 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

Whoops, John - One More Thing.  How would you propose to achieve ‘human welfare’ without either largely discarding capitalism (and the profit motive) as Anar’s definition of traditional socialism may require (though my earlier questions about the degree to which the profit motive could coexist in a traditionally socialist system were not addressed, so that’s unclear) or using the ‘welfare state’ approach (which as best I understand it does not refer to ‘welfare’ as it’s usually defined in this country but rather to the use of highly progressive tax policy and a strong social safety net to ensure the ‘human welfare’ of all)?

More particularly, I thought it possible that when you referred to the ‘welfare state’ you were using the ‘welfare’ part of the term in the sense of the system that Clinton helped ‘reform’ back in the ‘90s rather than in the sense that’s usually meant by the phrase ‘welfare state’ - but whether that was the case or not the answer to the above question would be interesting.

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By - bill, March 24, 2012 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

Er, John, wasn’t it you who brought up this particular sub-thread by saying “Socialism.  Can we talk about the word itself, how it’s used?”


Thanks, Anar.  Most of the first 3 chapters of Socialism Past and Future turned out to be available on line, and while I’ve only skimmed them they seemed to indicate that Marx himself was divided on the topic of social democracy rather than categorically against it (but it was late, so I may have misunderstood that).  Harrington also seems to deprecate at least the largest Communist regimes as abuses (rather than examples) of socialism - is this in your experience the common view?

In any event, my main question involved the difference between the relatively narrow definition you offered and the quite broad definition in WP.  Your answer suggests (as the WP articles did) that consensus may be difficult to achieve about that.

Just to make sure I’m not misunderstanding you, my impression is that given his apparent comfort with the welfare-state approach you would probably not consider Bernie Sanders to be a socialist according to your definition of the term.  Alexander gives at least a nod to worker-owned cooperatives but otherwise sounds pretty similar:  would you consider him a socialist?

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By Ed Romano, March 24, 2012 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Good morning comrades, This morning I’d like to recommend a book guaranteed to open the eyes of even the most blind….well, perhaps not some of the folks involved in this forum, but…Anyway,this book is bound to give a major headache to people who think that the massive problems we are living with in this system can be corrected with a little tinkering,or by electing another savior…liberal or otherwise. So, for those who are not comfortable with having their illusions shaken - I suggest sticking to something listed on the N.Y. Times best seller list.
  The Title of the book is - The World According To Monsanto, by Marie-Monique Robin. Perhaps we could get Mr. Hedges to say something about it?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 24, 2012 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, March 23 at 8:01 pm —I really liked this post.  It does show how to be above all the pettiness.  If we try to stick to a dispassionate analysis, and politely , politely point out errors in ‘critical thinking rigor’, it seems things might move along with less increase in the aggregate blood pressure.  Naturally we must not overact to out errors being noted. 

Now, on socialism…..I take an easy, work free perhaps irresponsible position.  I say throw the existing theoretical definitions out.  The seem like a smoke screen which obscures understanding of what is or could be going on with ‘government, and it ‘feels’ to me, these theoretical descriptions of system components mostly serve the interests of those who wish to promote the following idea:  That systems of human organization follow natural laws, and they are understood, and that the ruling class at any given time has adequate understanding and mastery of the system to use it toward the welfare of people.  Not ‘welfare’ in the ‘welfare state’ definition, ‘welfare’ in the ‘general living conditions’ sense. 

What I am trying to say is the framework for political discourse itself, the pre-testes ‘ism’s’ seem an impediment to me.  I favor perhaps moving on to some ‘old ideas with a new vocabulary’.  The traditional ‘ism’s’, just seem so ingrown they bear no fruit…..discussions go round and round because the framework seems to have evolved to produce the feeling of understanding without the ability to accomplish anything with that understanding.

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By Leefeller, March 24, 2012 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

I feel it can be safely stated, animals usually do not know how to read and write, though they do have their leaders of the pack and followers of the pecking order. As for egos, I to not know if animals have egos or not? Who was it that said; “Humans are the only animals who can talk down their noise and the only ones who have too?”  As for my ego, it is sitting on the chair next to me hat.

Talking about a person like they are not present and cannot hear seems quite rude to me, but in some circles rude is acceptable, and especially it appears not in comments secretions like here?  I have seen a lot of talking whining and carping about other persons as if the person of subjuct cannot hear all the whining, carping and even condescending comments, for some reason reminds me of a bunch of school girls.  (I know my comment may be sexist, but real boys never talk about other people unless it is about girls and never in the same room).  Oh wait, this is what seems to be going on here, after all She is a girl and it seems the boys are talking about her like she is not in the room when they know she is? ...  Damn you clowns,.... now you just got me to do the same thing?

As for egos, I keep mine in a closet unless I happen to be going to my High School reunion.  Now I cannot help but notice some people wear their egos on their sleeves and then we have the people whose egos always enter the room before them, I will not mention Bills name here, because that would be rude! It seems to me these social ungracious platitudes are done for their polarizing response.  Seems like poking a stick at a varmint in a box, hoping the other varmints in boxes join in?

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By Anarcissie, March 24, 2012 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

bill—In regard to socialism, I gave the traditional definition, worked up by the inventors of socialism in the 19th century.  Some people have strongly disagreed with me about it in the past, but they did not come up with anything I could regard as an improvement.

The involvement of government requires that the government mediate the will of the workers or the people through its monopoly of force, in such a way that the workers can own and control the means of production through it.  This approach requires us to believe that some method or procedure, representative democracy, let us say, will accomplish this end.  But this is not what we observe at present in allegedly democratic states.  In representative democracies it turns out that an elite class arises which has expertise in manipulating democratic institutions, and this class winds up controlling, if not owning, the means of production, which is more or less what was going on in the case of capitalism.

The dictatorship of the proletariat did not fare much better.  The same kind of thing happened, at least in those cases I know anything about.

For this reason I would say that in actual socialism, according to the original definition, the path of ownership and control would have to be as short as possible.

I have been rebuked for my view of social democracy, and I do not claim to be a social democrat, so in that case I recommend reading the article in Wikipedia.  My former view was that social democracy was equivalent to the Welfare state, in which capitalists remain in control of the state, but allow the workers a government-mandated set of goods, services and privileges, which keeps them from desiring socialism.  I have elsewhere related it to Bismarck: the ruling class buys off the acquiescence of the working class, allowing it a free hand for adventures in imperialism, industrial development, and high finance.  As I said, I have been told this is wrong.

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By Korky Day, March 24, 2012 at 4:28 am Link to this comment

If Ron Paul doesn’t win the Republican nod, there’s no point at all in voting for the Republican or Democratic presidential tickets this year.

However, in that disastrous case, there are Web services now which offer pledging.  This one looks good:  http://www.PledgeBank.com .  We should gather e-pledges something like this:

In the 2012 presidential general election, I pledge to vote for any ticket of my choice, other than the Republican or Democratic tickets, if a majority of registered voters pledge likewise.

That majority might be 105 million.  I can’t find an accurate or official number.  Maybe nobody knows!

The success of such a pledge drive should force the media to pay attention.  Then voters could coalesce around one anti-Duopoly ticket.  That might be via the Americans Elect ballot line, if that process does not betray its stated principles.

Possible winners:

- - Stewart Alexander of the Socialist Party.
- - The Green Party.
- - Ron Paul (Republican) and Dennis Kucinich (Democrat) for president and vice president.

The above pledge would apply to the national level.  There could be state pledges, too.

Sure, a few people would chicken out and betray their pledge, but they’d be more than replaced by late-comers and bandwagon-joiners.

How about it, folks?
Can anybody improve on that?
It’s worth a try, don’t you think?

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By ardee, March 24, 2012 at 4:05 am Link to this comment

little bill posts a disclaimer as to his lack of study or knowledge of socialism and then proves it in his execrable definition that is exactly the opposite of what that political system embodies..nice job little bill. I thin it intentional in fact.

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By Shenonymous, March 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment

Try Michael Harrington’s Socialism Past and Future.

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By - bill, March 23, 2012 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment

I’ll begin, Anar, by noting that most of what I’ve read about socialism comes recently and from Wikipedia, so I’m looking for an explanation of where that (or my understanding of it) may be incorrect rather than challenging the definition that you advanced.

1.  My impression is that at the very least a system in which the means of production are owned by the state (rather than ‘the workers’) can qualify as socialism (this at least typically would seem to be associated with a ‘planned economy’ where market forces do not operate at all to determine amounts of production - the kind of system which has more recently become called communism but remains one variant of socialism unless true communism implies that there can be no private ownership of ANY kind, not just no private ownership of means of production, and the similar form of socialism does not).

2.  I’m not clear about whether, when ‘the workers’ actually DO own the means of production (e.g., a collective or even a single-person enterprise), they are allowed in more traditional forms of socialism to operate it for whatever profit they can manage to obtain and hence within an economy driven in part by market forces, or whether it still must be part of a planned economy (i.e., prices - if applicable - and production quotas are set for them) - though I think that for any NECESSARY enterprises that latter must obtain.

3.  So my impression is that traditional socialism REQUIRES that enterprises of any large size or necessity be part of a planned economy, but that smaller (and less necessary) enterprises MAY be able to operate within a market economy without stretching the definition of traditional socialism too far.

4.  Which brings us to ‘social democracy’ (see WP article on that subject) - a form of socialism which split off from more traditional socialism around a century ago and then split in two again around 60 years ago.  This appears to be the prevalent form of ‘socialism’ in Western Europe and in particular in Scandinavia (where most examples are quite close to the kind of ‘mixed economy’ that we nominally enjoy here, though with much stronger social programs and large-enterprise regulation).  It also seems quite similar to what ‘socialists’ like Stewart Alexander and Bernie Sanders promote.  It’s not clear that this form of socialism requires that ANY means of production be socialized rather than merely regulated (though large, necessary enterprises may still tend to be).  Some traditional socialists deny that this is really socialism at all:  do you?

That’s enough material to start with, anyway.  Any enlightenment would be appreciated.

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By Shenonymous, March 23, 2012 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

Reading the comments on critical thinking it was sad to see
the ignorance and arrogance that swarms about it. Then I had
a great big laugh for the same reasons. Mainly because the
unsupported claims made on these forums prove how many
simply do not understand why misunderstandings abound and
causes much conflict.

For those who are untutored, critical thinking and even education
itself often seems to be an assault on their comprehension and mental
reckoning, and seems to be against their intelligence when challenged
by one who has this skill.  It can be intimidating.

I‘d argue that it’s a rhetoric borne out of ignorance about the way the
human thinking mind works. It is really better to affirm reasoning.
Correct reasoning is the way the human mind avoids assumptions and
promotes more truthful assessment of what others say, which in turn
promotes a pathway to authentic interaction.

Many seen here are overly prideful and actually become belligerent at
ideas that are different than their own. An atmosphere of harangue
arises to try to conceal an unconscious shame of ignorance. It’s too
prevalent and seen very often on blogs. It’s a common way to act when
one wants to swagger what they “think” they know. The truth is they
don’t “know.” There’s almost always a lack of references or evidence for
what is defensively claimed, most often aggressively. It’s a retreat into a
subjectivism, an emotional egotism that handicaps any genuine
exchange of ideas.

The interchange is taken personally. I’ve fallen into this trap myself when
I‘ve let go of my critical thinking consciousness and let my emotions
victimize myself, much to my self-sorrow! Animosity is constructed,
destructive really. One’s pride is temporarily puffed up and a momentary
self-satisfaction felt. Problem is that it’s very difficult to crawl out of
having fallen into the abyss of this kind of pride.

One trained in critical thinking skill alleviates this pathology. It really is
the pathology of narcissism. But, it would be denied by those whose
pride is swelled up.

Every post made on Truthdig and almost all blogs are arguments of a
type. They are presentations for others to accept and believe. Even brief
comments. Arguments covertly promote specific ways of being and
seeing. Sometimes they are convincing and little or no disagreement
happens. Other times there is huge disagreement and a verbal battle
materializes. Claims always assert a specific configuration of reality.
When that reality is acceptable interaction can run smoothly, when not,
challenges can be verbally brutal.

From the comments made on this forum, it’s clear there is a
misunderstanding of what is critical thinking. Critical thinking is the
ability to think clearly and rationally. It’s not to be confused with being
argumentative, or being critical of other people’s ideas. What it includes
is the ability to engage in reflective and independent thought.  Surely this
is something anyone who interacts verbally with others wants for their
selves. It’s not always a natural skill, as evidenced on this forum.

There are 6 things critical thinkers are able to do: They understand the
logical connections between ideas; identify, construct and evaluate
arguments; can detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in
reasoning; to solve problems systematically; identify the relevance and
importance of ideas; and they reflect on the justification of their own
beliefs and values. The last one is most missing from commenters’
posts. It’s more than clear that not every conversation or discussion will
be this deeply concerned about clarity of thought. But when engaged in a
dialogue of any intensity, it might be wise to have the ability to think this
rational way. It’s having the skill to think about one’s own thinking and
how to most sensibly present what you think.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

Shen…Comrades?  for what? This is anonymity land, I could do any jerky thing I want.  But I’m trying to get everybody to consider lightening up and try living without the egos.  If we all admit we’re not perfect, it wouldn’t hurt.  Air of superiority?  Bullshit.  Rank statement?  Shit, that was a compliment.  The implication if anything was that one required a bit of simultaneous sophistication and nose holding.  You do get too touchy at times…...so what?  Substance over style.  Sometimes your style is a pain in the ass, so what?  You write some profound things, so I don’t give a fig about your style.  Is it what I’d prefer?  No, but so what?  The world does not revolve around me.  Now have a good night and don’t be so damn touchy about a little bit of criticism.  If it feels better, take a shot at me.  Go ahead.

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By - bill, March 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Nice set of posts, John.  I don’t fault you any more for misunderstanding how I’m dealing with Ed (which I just noted in my response to him) than I faulted you for your earlier misunderstanding of what I had said:  communication is hardly a perfect art on either the sending or the receiving end, and my main beef is with CONTINUING miscommunication in the face of repeated attempts to rectify the problem - which means that had you been in Ed’s place rather than just a presumably casual onlooker I’d be somewhat more critical (as I have been with him) of the persistence in this area.

As to your question about voting for Mr. Alexander, the answers would almost certainly include voting for what you believe in, voting for the closest thing you believe in that seems not to be a waste of your vote (i.e., has prospects for growing into something more robust), and voting as a gesture of protest - all of which seem entirely reasonable to me, and I wish I could expect the total to command more notice than it probably will.  Identical reasons apply to voting Green, Libertarian, etc.  Other reasons?

As for the term ‘socialist’, it seems to me to be far more abused than used.  Obama a socialist?  Puh-LEAZE!  Bernie Sanders?  Well, maybe.  On the other hand, our most popular social programs have enough socialism in them that better recognition of this might take some of the curse off the term (as might recognition of just how broad a range of governing styles it actually covers, some of which would likely be entirely acceptable to the American public and preferable to what we have now).


On the more general subject of education which Ed and Anar have been making interesting observations about, I agree with Ed that attending college often has very little to do with intelligence (whatever intelligence actually is, and I’m not entirely sure that I even always know it when I see it let alone that it can be reliably measured).

Whether college normally contributes to learning is less clear to me.  Back in the ‘60s (i.e., in my high-school- and college-age years and a bit after Ed’s if I recall correctly) and perhaps for a while before and after that high-school did a pretty good job of educating many people and college was considered a place to broaden your horizons as well as begin concentrating on a field, and in that sense I think few people managed to escape without SOME broader understanding of the world (not all of it coming from the classroom).  More recently my impression is that both high school and college may conform more closely to Anar’s characterization of education as being essentially an authoritarian tool, but I have no real experience upon which to base that (the apparent general decline in average competence of high-school and college graduates does not directly support that thesis though it would certainly be an expected consequence of it).

If indeed evolution is taught as doctrine rather than as the result of mountainous (literally) evidence and analysis that’s appalling:  appreciating how conclusively fossil and more recently DNA evidence supports the theory of evolution is well within the capacity of even pre-high-school students.  By contrast, due to the significant fluctuations of climate over even historical (let alone geologic) time climate science is significantly harder to present so clearly:  I wouldn’t count on many pre-high-school students being able to understand how such natural variations can be reliably factored out to leave an unambiguous human-caused residue and I’m not even very conversant with the details myself - so appealing to authority (“90% of experts agree, and here’s IN GENERAL why”) seems less unreasonable to me (at least in an educational context which also encourages students to question EVERYTHING, which I wish were the norm rather than the exception).

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By Shenonymous, March 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

Nice going John.  Do I get to defend myself or should I just bow my
head and take the insolence and criticism leveled at me and about me
not even with the courage to say it to me?  Well it doesn’t really matter
what you think.  Regarding that I am an acquired taste:  What a rank
statement that was.  Speaking of partisan aroma this forum stinks of it. 
And do I go too far?  Exactly when?  It is so easy to make cavalier
patronizing statements like that without any reference at all.  Your air of
superiority has a stench to it along with a few others who populate these
forums.  If you are needing to make comrades please do not do it at my
expense.

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By Anarcissie, March 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Socialism is the ownership and control of the means of production by the workers.

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By Shenonymous, March 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment

Cyr, your opinions are empty swipes at the only political view
that advocates for the ordinary people of a society, which tends
to be the majority.  You always seem to have the same boring
litany and shows you are really afraid of the liberals who have
substantial registered voters unlike the Greens who capture the
least number of registered voters of the five major parties with
the Democrats as of 2012 registered voters having 43,140,759,
the Republicans with 30,700,138, the Constitution Party 367,000,
the Libertarian Party 278,446 and finally the Greens with 246,145. 
It looks like for the populace, the Party of the People is the Democratic
Party, and Greens are a whisper.  Reference:
http://2012election.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004483
A list of all the parties that appear on some ballot on a variety of state
ballots fo POTUS can be found at
http://2012election.procon.org/sourcefiles/2008party_lables.pdf 
I did not see a party called The People’s Party which I think is a viable
party label possibly for the Occupy Movement, unless they way to start a
party called the Occupy Movement Party, which might have wide appeal.
They ought to seriously think of doing that as an antidote to the
euphemistic Republican Tea Party.  Course then they would have to get
involved with the money campaigns require. 
The Platform for the Democratic Party includes plans to:
  1.    Rebuild the economy and provide and insure economic justice
          for all citizens through fiscally responsible management,
  2.    Provide high quality affordable health care
  3.    Protect the environment with environmentally sustainable
          programs
  4.    Educate our children
  5.    Defend our nation
  6.    Provide income security
  7.    Honor and protect human rights at home and abroad
  8.  Insure fairness for all citizens equally.
  9.  Provice quality leadership principles and advocate for political
          campaign finance reform

Now I’ve read the description of the Greens provided by both Korky Day
and you David S. Cyr.  Essentially from the pages of the Party Platform,
the key values they think will guide a politics of vision and action are:
1.  Grassroots Democracy,
2.  Social Justice and Equal Opportunity,
3.  Ecological Wisdom,
4.  Non-violence,
5.  Decentralization,
6.  Community Based Economics,
7.  Feminism and Gender Equality,
8.  Respect for Diversity,
9.  Personal and Global Responsibility
10.  Future Focus and Sustainability
Source:  http://www.gp.org 
There are laudable issues the Greens have for the nation.  But again, the
only thing I’ve said about the Greens is that their numbers are relatively
speaking the lowest of the major parties and that they have not been in
the public venue very loudly since 2004.  The Democrats have the
highest.  Again, and if you do not like it, I am sorry but my sole interest
is to defeat the Republicans in 2012.  You may have a deep-seated
hatred for liberals but their agenda is not much different from the
Greens.  It would appear that it is out of absonant envy that you
rapaciously denigrate them.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

Well -bill, you have a style alright.  I’m not saying you intend to get under anyone’s skin.  Precision is fine, might drift to picky, still tolerable unless I’m cranky, but what if you drift to picayune? 

Funny, you describe yourself as Shenonymous might.  (wink, dig-dig, wink)

But this forum is not about -bills style.  apologies all. 

Socialism.  Can we talk about the word itself, how it’s used?  What are we voting for if we vote for this eeeeeeeevil Socialist?

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By - bill, March 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

I’m afraid, Ed, that you ARE wrong about the motives you presume to impute to me.  And being the one whose motives they are I can say that with absolute authority.

So when you continue such allegations, I don’t hesitate to correct them - with increasing bluntness and including observations of paranoia when that seems appropriate (though if you can come up with another reasonable explanation for someone who persists in feeling persecuted when no such persecution exists I’m all ears).

With similar authority I can state that you’re also wrong about my attitude toward what you believe.  When I’ve questioned it it’s been to try to understand it better, and the best example I can offer is that when you finally made it clear that you did not believe that labor should be a commodity for sale under ANY circumstances (rather than simply something which should not be for sale to capitalistic endeavors that might exploit it) I had no problem accepting that as an entirely legitimate difference in viewpoint between us and moving on.

To make sure that last is absolutely clear, not agreeing with your viewpoint is not the same thing at all as arguing about it (let alone disparaging it).  One can argue points of logic, but someone’s more fundamental underlying belief system does not admit to argument (possibly excepting cases in which it seems to be internally inconsistent, but as far as I can tell that’s not true for yours).

You’ve observed yourself that your position is a somewhat unusual one, so the fact that people (especially people like me who aren’t happy as long as significant gaps seem to exist in our understanding) have some difficulty getting it clear in their own heads should be no great surprise to you.  Parenthetically, I’m not sure that your position is more unusual than mine is (I once stumbled upon someone else here who had started to vote Republican because the only feasible path forward seemed to be over the shattered remains of the national Democratic establishment, but it was in an old thread so we never had the opportunity to compare notes).  So I’m no stranger to having difficulty being understood - but I’m not threatened by it either and am happy to work on correcting it with anyone who’s honestly interested.

The fact that John seems to think that I’ve been trying to make you lose your composure is significant to me:  while he is also in error (challenging and seeking explanations for your incorrect perceptions about me is what I’ve been doing, since I don’t appreciate being criticized without good cause) it does make your own reactions seem a bit less off-the-wall (and in fact constitutes the kind of outside advice that I suggested you seek).  I suspect that such misconceptions may arise at least in part from my extremely direct approach to discussion and debate:  beating around the bush is not my style at all.

By the way, it’s also not my style to talk down to people:  I assume that using the most precise words I can come up with to express what I’m trying to convey rather than trying to dumb the presentation down because I think whoever is reading it will otherwise have difficulty is the appropriate way to proceed, at least absent clear indications to the contrary.  Are you providing such a clear indication now, or is it just something else you manage to feel threatened by (yes, that’s a bit of a snark)?

That about covers things.  You are course completely free to believe what you want about me, but if you’d like to avoid this kind of interaction in the future I suggest that you become a great deal more circumspect about how you present some of those beliefs in public here.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 23, 2012 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Ed, I’m not saying he’s an intentional disruptor, but he could be, and he does know how to get under peoples skin.  Anyway, good luck.  He get’s your goat, no harm in admitting it.  Laugh, live and learn my friend.

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By Ed Romano, March 23, 2012 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

John, Appreciate you attempts to cool down the heat in the kitchen, ( Blessed are the Peacemakers ). But why should we always have to be doing this in a forum that is supposedly provided to help shed some light on important issues ? I’m not a bull head.  I’m ready to smoke the peace pipe at any time, and I’m not concerned with Bill’s assessment of me. If that’s all there was to it I would remain comletely silent. But he has presented his salvos in a way that makes it seem I am afraid , or not capable of, backing up the arguments I have made here. That I will not be silent about.  He seems to think I owe him some explanations, or clarifications. I am not wrong when I say that the reason he wants me to do this is so he can display what he thinks are his superior arguments. I’m not wrong about this. It’s what seems to be going on in these forums about 90 % of the time. I’m not up for that. I have expressed my arguments here as clearly as I can - giving examples where I thought to clarify various points. This was not enough for Bill. I’m not Hemmingway, but I think my writing is clear enough for reasonable interpretations to be made….John, among other things, that you wouldn’t expect in civilized discourse, this fellow called me paranoid. He said my brain is not in the right place, that I am confused…. Well, the few times in my life when bullys tried to put it over on me they found out they would have been better off to stay home that day. Sure, I can get my dander up, but I’m always aware that winning an argument with a dolt is no victory at all….. I appreciate your comments and I’m always up for peace. I went on to you at some length here because I respect your approach.

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By Ed Romano, March 23, 2012 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

Anarcisse,  ” In general the longer they are educated the less critical they become. ” Sounds like something I have often said, and not merely as a joke…School is a place where you send the kids to learn how to be stupid…. I had to leave school at 16 to begin my real education in a shoe factory. So it took me awhile to shake off the stupor that had I picked up in school. When I first started reading about the world that I had been plunged into, I was in a bit of awe of people who had been to college or university. It didn’t take long to learn that having gone to these institutions had little to do with intelligence, or ,necessarily, even any substantial
learning. I have a relative who graduated from a state university. One day there was a discussion in which the name Harry Truman came up. She said, “Who’s that?”
  You don’t need to hear this I’m sure, but I have been impressed on these sites with the rigor of your thinking on such topics as -evolution, critical thinking etc.- And although I’m pretty sure you are a graduate of the higher education industry…it seems to me that you escaped with your brain intact. It would be interesting to know how you did that.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 23, 2012 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Ed,
You’re a great guy, but you’re giving him what he’s looking for….your composure.  You might be writing in a perfectly composed matter-of-fact frame of mind, but the reader will interpret the verbiage in their world.

Yes, you’re saying ‘look who’s talking’, right? 

Hey, I had a friend a long long time ago, we lost touch, but we shared an apartment for a summer.  WE were friends in high school.  Some time into the sublet, he got annoying and I started hanging out with new friends.  He asked me one day, if ‘there was something wrong, we didn’t hang out much anymore’.  I told him, “Fred, you’re kind of annoying’.  I felt instantly horrible, the look on his face was…....... well in hindsight, I can laugh about it, and I suppose Fred can too.  But I learned something from it, and I’m not sure exactly how it applies here, but there is annoyance, and hurt.  -bill is annoying.  What can I say?  Give the back-and-forth time to cool down? 

I thik it would be interesting to graph over time each pairing of truthdippers (nod Shen) who have annoyed each other, and perhaps see a Hans Rosling style animation.  I’ll say this, it’s no wonder the so-called ‘conservatives’ think the so-called ‘liberals’ are a disagreeable lot.  I do think it a credit to our general self-esteem.  The extremists (left and right) seem to coalesce around consensus, logic be damned, and this group slightly left of center (not extreme left) seems to be favor individual opinion as Truth to the extent of not giving a damn about ruffled feathers or hurt feelings.  It’s as if we validate our invincibility by acts of nastiness, and the extremists seek real invincibility by grouping together at any expense.  Yup, ‘we’ might be the fools ‘they’ think we are. 

The difficult and narrow path to walk is consensus with reason, instead of consensus at the expense of reason or non-consensus in spite of reason.  While we fail to do so, the enemies of reason gather the onlookers to themselves.

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By Ed Romano, March 23, 2012 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

Well Captain, I think the voluminous response you posted shows just how much you are above it all.
If you are capable of any sincere honesty, not with me, but with yourself…..go back over the post you sent to me and ask yourself what your response would be it if that was addressed to you. There is an attempt to be subtle, but it dosn’t quite come off. Can’t you sense the hair rising on the back of your neck ? ....Over the years I’ve developed a good sniffer when it comes to people like you. Since you consider yourself capable of psychoanalyzing my before and after moods, perhaps I will be allowed to have a sense about you in this matter…. In order for me to be upset,in any way, with what you have to say about me I would have to care some slight bit about what you think. Ask yourself….why would I do that ? On the radar screen of my concerns Bill, you are not even a blip.
  As an aside, allow me to say this if I can without raising your hackles. If you are aspiring to be a pedant I suggest you learn how to write an English sentence that is not chock full of extraneous words…verbosity that is. The purpose of writing is to communicate- not trot out our vocabulary in an attempt to dazzle the audience.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 23, 2012 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

OK -bill, a fair post, criticisms traded, and perhaps put to good use. 

I will say Shen is an acquired taste, and many don’t get her.  I don’t like some of the partisan aroma, and there is a bit of agenda in that direction, but I find it is offset by some great references,  research, experience, and humor.  In the final analysis, shen tightens up the debate, but sometimes goes too far…..as we all do on occasion. 

Fine point about putting people in boxes, I do that extremely rarely, but it has it’s uses for emphasis.  Like cussing.  When I display blatant bombastic arrogance, it’s for effect only, not a matter of habit.

This segues into a point you broach with Anarchissie, the ‘self boxing’ of both conservatives and liberals.  And, the use of the terms as derogatories by external persons, in large part because people have self-identified into a larger group containing, well, let’s just say nut cases?  Extremists?  Closed minded ideologs?  No, the ‘right’ (another box) has no monopoly.  I am in an incredibly entertaining argument with a self-identified ‘leftie’ (not in so many words, but yes), who has blindly accepted some green scam, and in doing so, promotes the advancement of theft against the commons. 

I don’t know if the numbers are the same for the quantity of closed minded ideologues on the left and right, but certainly, they behave very similarly.

Obviously unclear thinking (and lazy or ‘outcome oriented’ research) have a cost to our advancement, a high cost we might all agree.  But restricting the question to abuse of rhetoric, shall we say?  That is lack or mis-use of reason.  Often education is offered as the solution, that bland, never-gets-here, we all nod our heads solution, education.  I think we need more.  I think we should be calling people out on abuses of logic as they occur.  In a civil, just-the-facts-maam sort of manner.  I suggest we don’t alienate the offender, rather give every chance to re-make their point.  Yes, I am suggesting that we start a trend to call out logical fallacies by name if needed so logical thinking and discourse becomes part of the culture.

If we can accomplish this here on TD, perhaps it will spread.  Perhaps trolls will be more reluctant to jump in with their spiel.

And the entire discussion about putting people in boxes is blatantly applicable to the new poison words, socialist, and one anarchissie really hates: progressives.  We need to tighten up, out in the public sphere, what these words mean.  Any words that are used to confuse the public into supporting various petty and grand corruptions.

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By Anarcissie, March 23, 2012 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Unfortunately I cannot now find the article, which was, after all, only a news article.  However, it seemed that the researchers found that the more educated their testees were, the less they were likely to question authorities.  The measurement was made by having the subjects read short articles and comment on their apparent veracity.

This not only makes sense intuitively but certainly comports with my own educational experience.  People are rewarded and promoted for, basically, regurgitating.  The idea of education is essentially authoritarian—we, the educators will tell you, the students, what’s what—and actual critical thinking would simply impede the process.

Evolution is a good example.  In most schools, Evolution has not been taught as the result of scientific method, but as a doctrine handed down by authority.  It is said to be ‘not a theory, but a fact’, as if our perceptions of facts were not theories.  Under such circumstances it is the Creationist who is the critical thinker.  Not a very good critical thinker, perhaps, but the only one in the room.

The Climate Change debate is another example.  The scientific argument would be: here’s the data, here’s our interpretation of the data.  Instead, from the liberal or progressive side, we saw arguments like ‘90% of scientists believe in global warming’ or the like, a purely authoritarian argument.  Along with this constructive authoritarianism came negative authoritarianism, the condemnation of infidels and heretics not only for thinking the wrong thing, but for dishonesty and bad faith.  Indeed, I have been ludicrously abused here on Truthdig not for skepticism about Climate Change, but for merely criticizing the rhetorical methods of believers—it was asserted that if I made remarks like those immediately above, I must be in the pay of Big Oil.  I wish!

In my opinion, critical thinking is natural to humans as well as other animals, and has to be trained if not beaten out of them.  In general, the longer they are educated, the less critical they become.

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By - bill, March 23, 2012 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

Interesting post, Anar.  That people who are more educated may have more information on which to base their existing opinions (and hence be resistant to changing them without a similar quantity of new information to the contrary) certainly makes sense - but does not by itself lead to the conclusion that they do less ‘critical thinking’ (so I’d be interested to know what separate data led to that insight:  if the answer is ‘none’, then it would not be the first time that researchers jumped to an unwarranted conclusion from their data).

Then again, I think I remember the finding that people tend to be more receptive to data which reinforces their existing opinions - and while this also, in and of itself, does not support a conclusion that with increasing education they are doing less critical thinking it certainly suggests that this might be the case.

On the third hand, critical thinking itself is a skill that for most people can only be acquired through education in that area (and perhaps only through CONTINUING such education), so that may be a compensating factor (at least in cases where this subject is being taught competently to them).

Whenever I hear such conclusions my first reaction is to suspect that they’re over-simplifications of a more complex situation, even though they may provide some insight.  I have no idea how educational levels compare between liberals and conservatives, but there are certainly SOME beliefs held by many of those who at least characterize themselves as conservatives (creationism being perhaps the most glaring) that suggest a lack of education (I can’t off-hand think of similar examples on the liberal side, but that may just be because I’ve been up all night).

My own experience makes it clear to me, however, that conservatives have nothing like a monopoly on closed-mindedness and bias (whether that correlates with educational level or not).  It also suggests to me that ANY generalization about ANY group (racial, political, whatever) should be approached with skepticism.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 23, 2012 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

Dave stated;

“If old people are unwilling to change their children will need to remove them out of their way to survive… by whatever means necessary.”

By old people, do you mean anyone older then you?

Quiet an assumption Dave almost sounds threatening, guess we all need to know what your age is in order to find out who fits into your grand scheme of removal. It appears from your posts, you may be just reaching puberty and obviously believe Peter Pan is not fiction.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 23, 2012 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

I think it’s been shown scientifically that the more educated people are, the more they stick to their existing opinions and the less critical thinking they do.

This criticizes the common thought among liberals and progressives that the problem with ‘conservatives’ or right-wingers is that they aren’t educated enough.  The more educated conservative is the more conservative conservative.

According to the report I read, the scientists speculated that when people pick up new information, they favor that information which accords with what they already believe.  (This effect has been demonstrated elsewhere.)  Therefore, the more they learn, the more their beliefs are confirmed.

I have to suppose that this tendency applies to liberals, progressives, and people of other political colorations and flavors as well.

Indeed, often, when I have observed some egregious error on the Net and have shown its author the right way to think, he or she simply recites the error back to me; whereupon I have to go over the material I have just presented, in an effort to break through their obdurate misconceptions.  It’s quite tedious.

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By - bill, March 23, 2012 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

I differentiate between occasional incompetence (which is just part of being human) and persistent incompetence, John.  I haven’t seen any of the latter from you, and in fact only a single instance of the former (which being directed at me I wasn’t willing to let slide, though my response to you was I believe suitably measured especially considering the surrounding circumstances).

I think Ed’s heart is in the right place even if his brain hasn’t been lately.  I supposed I could treat him with kid gloves even more than I already have been, but that’s a kind of de facto condescension that I feel is appropriate only with the actually impaired rather than the just temporarily confused.  Between those two conditions may exist a blurry region where one could be considered temporarily impaired, I guess:  my own preference would be for someone to try help get me straightened out in such a situation rather than assume that I couldn’t deal with that, so that’s how I tend treat others who might be in that state.

Shen, by contrast, strikes me as the kind of bullying control freak that should not be allowed to persist in that behavior unopposed.  That’s not an impression I developed solely over the near-month which this thread has been going on (during the early part of which she was quite civilized, though during the later part of which I’ll suggest that there’s been more than adequate material upon which to base an opinion):  it’s one I recall from earlier diatribes of hers that I’ve encountered (without becoming involved myself) over time.

Given the degree to which she attempts to drown those who debate her with her verbal diarrhea, her complete refusal to engage on specific areas of disagreement to try to resolve them, and her consistent misreading of what others write I’m pretty sure that her interest in ‘meaningful dialogue’ is minimal to non-existent - and while it’s possible that this reflects abject incompetence rather than deliberate intent (never ascribe to evil that which can be explained by incompetence is a maxim I usually try to follow) that does not change the impact upon discussion at all.

Most such cases I’ve encountered aren’t so blatantly destructive that they can’t be easily ignored while discussion continues.  While it’s obviously a judgment call, I think this case goes beyond that level and I’m acting accordingly even though (as you observe) it’s not particularly pleasant.

But I also recognize (as I just noted to Ed) that in part this reaction (and possibly Shen’s as well) may be exacerbated by the deliberate and highly successful fear-induced polarization of ALL of us, even within relatively small regions of the overall political spectrum (see David’s newest post for a fine example of this).  I’m inclined to reject that as something which should significantly change our behavior for much the same reason that I consider entreaties not to criticize Obama “because that will only help the Republicans!” to be absolute poppycock, but the two situations are not quite identical and it at least bears thinking about

We’ll see.  Meanwhile, I’ll remind you once again that what constitutes a ‘waste of time’ to you may not constitute a waste of time to others, and vice versa.  Remembering things like that may be one of the best inoculations against the detrimental effects of polarization that we have available to us.  Avoiding the tendency to place people in boxes (like ‘builder’ and ‘destroyer’) is another.

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David J. Cyr's avatar

By David J. Cyr, March 23, 2012 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

An “educated” liberal is a person who’s become so dependent upon books to instruct them in what they must “think” that they are incapable of experientially learning from life.

Entrenched in their irreversible corporate party (D) dedicated opposition against everything they say they are for, and in support of everything they say they oppose, the “educated” liberals have proved that they are either unable to learn from the lessons of the living history that has developed all around them, or they are consummately evil.

With climate change accelerating, our children do not have any time to waste — let alone the many decades their fossil-minded (R) & (D) parents wasted in mindless, careless and callous retrograde support of the corporate party’s Republican/Democrat team.

Without substantive sensible systemic change soon — beneficial change in the interest of all humanity that cannot and will not ever come from the corporate party — humanity’s future will be much more ugly than our past… and of much shorter duration.

If old people are unwilling to change their children will need to remove them out of their way to survive… by whatever means necessary.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 23, 2012 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

“........nor would I agree with him that there’s any inverse relationship - or probably any relationship at all - between a liberal’s amount of education and his/her educability”  OK, you are right, I need to slow down.

BUT those last few posts were such a waste of time.  Some tolerance is required.  We are in a low bandwidth media, and we use fast response criticisms.  This leads to instability.  We are generally dealing with sharp people, with personality and behavioral variations which certainly can trigger criticism….....if you let it. 

My suggestion?  Look over the long run.  Get to know people better and base your opinions on several samplings.  Look for what is consistent and forget what is not.  If you don’t like someone, why feel a need to say so?  What does it accomplish? 

The web is full of snarky kids, smart-ass punks who make critical quips just to be the nasty self-involved creeps their parents raised.  Little ‘net bullies.  A long time ago, I felt the urge to vent on the web, to strike out, and I did so with all the panache I could muster.  It is so, so easy to piss people off.  It is far more challenging to engage in meaningful dialog in this media.  And the easy way didn’t feel so good.  I am a builder, not a destroyer.  And you can count me with the incompetents if it makes you happy.  I’m fine with that.

Go pet you cat a while then let me know what you think.  I’m up for reading another -bill post to see if you’re a builder or a destroyer.

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By - bill, March 23, 2012 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Not to put too fine a point on it, Shen, but since I ‘clarified’ Ed’s meaning to you before he did your thanks should have been shared.  Of course, as I observed to him you just can’t seem to respond to that kind of correction with anything but deflecting venom (unless you’ve turned that venomous focus toward someone else, as happened in this case).

Perhaps if more people had been unwilling to tolerate your crap earlier in your life you’d have turned out better.  Or perhaps not - I don’t much care at this point.  Just don’t expect me to tolerate it:  it’s kind of a ‘thing’ of mine not to.

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By Shenonymous, March 23, 2012 at 4:52 am Link to this comment

No, Ed. I am not looking to revisit ‘our’ war.  Not sure what you
mean by “you people…” but apparently because of the proximity
of a few posts I took your and dashbill’s tete a tete personally. 
There is a tendency to speak in the realm of the blurred indefinite. 
Thanks for clarifying it.  It does not change my opinion of the prick
dashbill.  He is more than bristly.  He blows poison darts.  You have
been extra civil and apologetic.  I think you are sincere and I will
henceforth not let the thin skin I developed from your and his verbal
belittling abuse be so reactive.  He obviously cannot help himself, but
you apparently can.  You are a better man than he is, Gunga Din.

dashbill you think too highly of yourself and act the primo asshole.  You
are pretentious and overwork yourself to be a pulpiteer!  I think you are
just a pitiful nonentity, an electronic nonentity, who passes egotistical
judgment not only on me, which is the most scathing and full of detritus
(shit), but on a corps of TD participants.  Your arrogant condescension
towards everybody on Truthdig makes you repulsive.  If that is your goal,
you are successful.

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By - bill, March 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

Y’know, Ed, when you ACT as paranoid as you’ve been acting lately someone’s eventually likely to call you on it.  Leef opened that door, but I didn’t hesitate to go through it after you kept it up rather than paid any attention to my suggestion that you might want to seek the opinion of someone less personally caught up in this discussion than you obviously are.

If I were intending insult you, Ed, you would not SUSPECT it, you’d damn well KNOW it (as I said to Shen, I’m not exactly a shrinking violet in such matters).  I wasn’t intending to insult you before, and in fact I’m not even now:  an honest but critical observation is not the same as an insult, nor is an expression of impatience when that observation is completely sloughed off.  If criticism hurts your feelings, rather than simply dismissing it as an insult (a trait you seem to share with Shen:  ever noticed how she NEVER responds directly to specific criticism but instead just asserts how nasty whoever is criticizing her is?  kind of like a politician, in fact…) you MIGHT instead consider making an honest attempt to understand why it’s been offered up (even if it just turns out to be a mistaken understanding by the other party, that’s still a good way to handle it).

That would certainly have avoided a lot of mistaken assumptions and resulting hurt feelings on your part with me, so if you’re not too invested in playing the victim (another honest question:  I really can’t tell at this point) you could give it a shot and see how it turns out.

In closing, I don’t play the kind of games you’re suggesting I do with people, Ed:  while I do find their reactions interesting, if I deliberately tried to provoke reactions rather than simply observed them occur as situations developed naturally that would interfere with the ability to draw reasonable inferences about them.  Even if I were so inclined I also just don’t CARE enough about anyone here to bother playing games with them:  I’m just here for the discussion, and that’s why I get prickly when it gets derailed by the kind of crap that’s been going on here for quite a while.

A corollary to that last is that I don’t care enough about anyone here to consider them an enemy, though I’m happy to consider someone a friend if things happen to turn out that way.  I kind of thought the two of us were heading in that direction, and that’s why I was so surprised at the way your fight with Shen seemed to spill over into general distrust of just about everyone here (yes, I understand that you don’t believe any such change in the tenor of your posts occurred - that’s why I suggested that you seek the opinion of someone less involved than you are or I am).

The kind of polarization being encouraged in the current political climate doesn’t just separate left from right:  it separates left from left (and for all I know right from right as well).  What better way to keep the population diverted from demanding real change?  Those guys are GOOD (but not in a good sense, obviously).

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By Ed Romano, March 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

Shen, I’m about to give up on you people…. I was writing to Bill concerning the tenor of what he had written to me. I said…that’s about as good a put down as I’ve heard from someone who is not irriated…He had claimed that he was not irritated in a previous post. And I was trying to say that he could have fooled me. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. For God’s sake are we going back into the trenches ? Are you just looking for a reason? Not everything or everyone on this forum is remarking on something you posted…..And the “sense” I had about him being more than a little bristly, and only trying to draw me out so he could use what I had to say to trot out and display his magnificent ananlysis….was justified, I think, by his later post in which he called me paranoid, because I refused to play his game. He didn’t try to give me reasons why my feeling was wrong, because he knows I wasn’t wrong. ...Much easier to hurl an insult than to try advancing whatever the hell it is he’s tring to sell…. I am NOT trying to insult you in ANY way. God almighty, I’m having trouble keeping track of who’s smearing who and who’s keeping score.

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By - bill, March 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Whoops, John - the competence count may be back down to 2 now.  Read the part about liberals again, this time making some attempt to catch the reference in it:  I understand that not being interested in my post you may have skimmed it, but then if you weren’t paying attention you really shouldn’t have presumed to comment in any detail on its content.

I just don’t give people a pass for the kind of persistent incompetence and whining on such prominent display here - today, or any other day.  If you don’t like my resulting comments, by all means feel free to skip them.

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By Leefeller, March 22, 2012 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

Along with those missing socks, someone seems to have been nipping me Tequila!

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm Link to this comment

-bill, did you have a bad day today or what?  I’m not interested in posts like that last one, whatever the hell it was. 

I hadn’t realized you were the sort to make a statement like “...between a liberal’s amount of education and his/her educability”  You used ‘liberal’ in what seemed a derisive manner.  Say it aint so -bill. say it aint so.

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By Shenonymous, March 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

You must practice at being a rat bastard daily in front of the mirror
dashbill.  It is unimaginable you ever have one happy moment. 
Take a hike.  You act like a troll so you must be one.

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By - bill, March 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Well, I’ve got to admit that I’m truly impressed:  both the degree and the universality of incompetence since my last post has reached new (and to me previously unimagined) heights.  The fact that Leef and David are the sole exceptions to that boggles my mind (though David is still pretty much Johnny-One-Note so there’s no real change there - nor would I agree with him that there’s any inverse relationship - or probably any relationship at all - between a liberal’s amount of education and his/her educability).

Nothing on display here which learning to read wouldn’t cure, mind you.  But I’ve given up holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

Shen, Ed (mistakenly, as usual) interpreted my post as putting HIM down, not putting YOU down.  That’s something you should be able to identify with, since you make that mistake yourself so frequently.

As for your inability to understand what I myself, wrote, well, it’s just not worth any more of my time trying to explain it yet again (though to give you a final hint which you’ll doubtless not manage to make use of you could re-read the part that explained the distinction between voting FOR one’s values - what you said liberals would be doing - and voting AGAINST something which contravened them even more than what you wound up voting for did).

At least you’ve progressed noticeably beyond your earliest postings in this thread, when you suggested that the problem of being bought-and-paid-for was limited to the Republican party and then, when I provided a glaring example to the contrary, asked if there were ANY OTHER national Democrats who fit the mold.  Now you’re even willing to criticize Obama’s performance, rather than defend him as having had his hands tied by Republicans as you did earlier here (whoops - you seemed to do it again just now:  hard habit to break?).

Perhaps I should be thankful for small favors, though given your continuing attitude problem it’s a bit difficult.  By the way, my question about whether Korky misspelled Obama’s name simply reflected the fact that I didn’t know whether you had misquoted Korky or not (and didn’t care sufficiently to go back and check).  When it comes to criticism I’m really not a shrinking violet, you know - though in any event I also wouldn’t have bothered to waste a new post directed to Korky specifically to get an answer to that question.

I still find it kind of amazing (though by now certainly should not) that you are so incompetent at reading that you can even QUOTE a passage of mine to rebut and STILL misread it.  Said passage being “they did not like how Obama, with his strong Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, performed in his first two years in office” and your response being “What strong Democratic majority in both houses of Congress?  Are you narcoleptic?” then immediately followed by specifying the precise makeup of those strong Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during the period in question (Obama’s first two years in office).  Truly impressive.

Korky still doesn’t seem able to wrap his mind around the fact that he just doesn’t constitute any kind of authority when it comes to defining ‘democracy’.  No surprise there.

And poor Ed’s still stuck in his little paranoid hole (yes, I’m starting to lose patience with it now).

Huzzah!  John just weighed in without saying something stupid, so that makes 3 on the side of the angels.  Could the incompetence epidemic be fading?  Tune in tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-channel.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

The Republicans want to reinstall the draft?  Send rich kids off to fight for the privileges they enjoy?  They must have some plan to send the brats off to guard golf courses in Hawaii.

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By Shenonymous, March 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Why Ed, darling, let’s try Ed Romano, March 22 5:45 am

Well Bill, that’s about as good a put down
as I’ve ever heard from someone who is not
irritated.

Now let’s turn to dashbill’s post right before yours, -bill,
March 21 at 9:45 pm.

You are not as transparent as you might like to seem, Captain
Kangaroo Ed Romano.  I’ve noticed you like to ride on the backs
of others who do the dirty work.

Now tell us did you turn any of those babyfaced draftees?  Was Korky
Day one of them?  You might never know.  He said he slipped off to
Canada.  Even if not, you have a soul mate there.  Yeah, but…I totally
agree with you and admire you on what you did though. I’ve heard the
Republicans want to reinstall the draft. Hmmm I wonder why they would
want to do that?

I wish my grandsons had seen there were other options in life.  But they
were home schooled in a strongly Christian household and did not have
any thought they could go to college or have a career outside of Subway
or McDonalds.  If they survive, oh gawd I do hold my breath, they want
to go to college after their service.  It is criminal that young men think
the military is their only salvation.

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By Ed Romano, March 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

Korky, If I had to list the peopleI thought were among the greatest Americans of the 20th Century you men who went to Canada, rather than share the responsibity of the crime known as the Vietnam War, would be on my list. If it were in my power there would be a memorial to you along side the one memorializing the poor bastards who got sent over there. I was ready to send my sons to Canada, but the war ended before that became necessary. I belonged to a group of war resisters and one of the things we would do is to go to draft boards on days when draftees were scheduled to be sent to Boston for their physicals. If I live to be a thousand I’ll never forget the shock I experienced the first time we did this….The kids were lined up on benches on both side of the recruiting office. If looks could kill the recruiting officer would have mowed us down. I was stunned by the youth of the kids being drafted. They looked like little more than babies…they were so young. We tried to tell them that there were alternatives to the path they were on…draft counseling, for example. Everytime we said something they turned to the recruiting officer to see what his response might be. This is what their “education” had taught them… that in any confrontation with authority their own personal soveriegnty must give way. We passed out phone numbers where counseling was available….Every American who lived through that era should be furious that the government would have the balls to launch more military adventures after seeing all the children….that’s what most of them were..all the children that it was responsible for getting killed….killed in a useless war. God bless you man.

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By Ed Romano, March 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

Shen. Listen Doll, Will you give me credit for speaking the truth here if say I have absolutely NO idea of what the hell you’re charging me with here? Who did I ask to put you down ? How did I display a “need to dominate”?....I don’t believe I’ve even had any correspondence with you since we signed what I thought, and sincerely hoped,  was a peace treaty.

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By Shenonymous, March 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

Korky Day –

That’s your classic lesser-of-2-evils position, which
few, if any, commenters on this thread support.  The
well-meaning lesser-of-2-evils voter might have some
credibility if that voter, or the candidate, or the party,
had a plan (some day!) to end the Duopoly and thus
permanently get out of the lesser-of-2-evils trap.  That’s
the Dennis Kucinich (or maybe Ron Paul) supporter.

First of all I don’t give a rat’s ass what other commenters on this
thread or any other thread thinks or supports, nor do I care what is
thought of me!  Until someone attempts to slander me or my personal
beliefs, or denigrates the political ideology I have concluded is the best,
best for me, I pay little attention to what others believe.  Like religion,
as long as there is no proselytizing going on against my will, I don’t
really care what anyone want to believe.  I have respect for very few
who post on these threads anyway.  Dennis Kucinich is one of the
best but he had technical problems in his last election and personal
problems.  Technical due to gerrymandering and his lost his district to
someone better known in her district.  Personal because he appeals to
the progressives and not enough non-Republicans.  As a centrist leftist,
a liberal, A Democrat liberal, I still would have voted for him, and I sent a
donation to his campaign, although I do not live anywhere near Ohio.  He
had no intentions of running against Obama.  Until he gets his political
motor running again, he is out of the picture.  Ron Paul is completely
uninteresting to me and I do not see him qualified at all to be president.

Now Korky you may put your mark on a Republican’s name for the
reasons you gave, or a Green such as Jill Stein, and that is your right
(but if you are not a citizen anymore, how can you vote here?).  Without
batting an eyelash, i will vote against the Republicans for the reasons I
gave…and for a Democrat for my liberal reasons and that is my right
even if you think I am deluded.  Like that form of democracy, or lump it.

I do not have to adopt your language Korky. I do not think I live in a
pseudo-democracy, nor do I live in an autocratic regime, and feelings (or
emotion) does not enter into it in the least.  As I said, I am a pragmatist. 
You don’t live here anymore having given up your citizenship, or so you
imply. So I wonder what you are getting out of all this politics.  I don’t
give any credibility to your sentiments as a citizen of the United States. 
You seem to want to have your feet in both nations.

I believe I do live in a democratic country.  I’m afraid you do not read
well and if you do read you do not interpret what you read well.  So why
should I care what you say or what you think?  I’m afraid you do not
understand the distinctions made within the notion of degrees, which
does not suggest pseudo.

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By Korky Day, March 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

The USA does not qualify as a democracy.  From an article I published in AZ in 2006 which mostly still applies:
  1.  The USA Constitution has never been approved by referendum.  We’ve never had a national referendum on anything!
  2.  Proportional representation is almost unheard of in this country.  One of the few exceptions is the city elections in Cambridge, MA.  (Iraq’s new constitution does have “pro-rep”, I’ve heard, like most of the world’s countries with elections.)
  3.  There is no ranked balloting (such as instant run-off), either federally or state-wide.
  4.  The initiative, referenda, and recall are lacking federally and in many states.
  5.  Only a few small New England towns still hold legislative “town meetings”, in which all adult citizens can speak and vote.
  6.  The 2000 presidential election was stolen by the Supreme Court, similarly to in 1876.
  7.  All presidential elections are rigged by the Electoral College.
  8.  Almost all elections at all levels are bought by rich interests (to effect their plutocracy).
  9.  Our old psuedo-democratic 2-party system persists.  No nations writing constitutions nowadays copy it.
  10.  Systemic voter alienation, apathy, and ignorance result in voter turn-outs which are embarrassingly low.
  11.  About 9/10 of our mass media is controlled by a handful of plutocrats.  Exceptions include this e-newsletter, Green Pages newspaper, parts of the Internet, Air America Radio, “Now” show on PBS-TV, etc.).
  12.  The Fairness Doctrine in broadcasts was abolished.
  13.  We have no fair presidential debates.
  14.  We have no Question Period (as in Canada and Great Britain) when the elected opposition in Congress would shower the president and cabinet with their toughest questions.
  15.  We have insufficient “freedom of information”.
  16.  Massive sectors of government are unnecessarily secret.
  17.  Most voting machines are controlled by Republican private contractors—and the Democrats complain little about the cheating.
  18.  Most states have highly restrictive “ballot access” which keeps most candidates off the ballot if they are not Democrats or Republicans.
  19.  Federal voting rights and enforcement are very poor.
  20.  Voting rights (and other citizenship rights) of non-Whites, especially, are constantly violated.
  21.  Males candidates are still given great advantage by the rules of elections.
  22.  The federal Senate has no representation on the basis of population.
  23.  Gerrymanding of voting district boundaries has persisted for centuries.
  24.  Far too much power is concentrated constitutionally in the office of President.  That has resulted in, for one thing, many assassinations.
  25.  Workplace democracy is almost always prevented by the plutocracy.
  26.  The USA’s admitted colonies have no voting representation in Congress.  (DC, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, etc.)
  27.  People around the world in the USA empire are subject to indirect rule by the USA by occupying military, puppet governments, secret “free trade” hearings, etc.  They have no voting representatives in the USA government.
  28.  The USA military is now in 155 or more countries.
  29.  The USA government has invaded and similarly interfered with other countries hundreds of times.
  30.  The USA has no fairly acquired territory.  It has not dealt fairly with any of the displaced, defeated, or controlled indigenous nations.

(from my article 2006 January in the Newsletter of the Green Party of Maricopa County, AZ.)

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By Korky Day, March 22, 2012 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

No good liberal (or good anything-else) should vote for Barack Obama because he has never addressed electoral reform, which would be to establish a fair voting system, which the USA has never had, except in some cities.  That would include proportionality.  How anyone can maintain that a disproportional voting system is democratic is beyond belief. 

As far as I have noticed, Obama hasn’t even addressed election reform (as distinguished from electoral reform), which is the related topic of conducting the election fairly, including counting the votes fairly.

Shenonymous takes the position that (in my words) the Republicans are so bad we have to support the theoretically-liberal Democratic Party because it is, by far, the biggest other party, regardless of how much it is like the Republicans in practice.

That’s your classic lesser-of-2-evils position, which few, if any, commenters on this thread support.  The well-meaning lesser-of-2-evils voter might have some credibility if that voter, or the candidate, or the party, had a plan (some day!) to end the Duopoly and thus permanently get out of the lesser-of-2-evils trap.  That’s the Dennis Kucinich (or maybe Ron Paul) supporter.

Shenonymous writes also about the Supreme Court.  That court’s outrageously partisan, anti-people, unconstitutional rulings usually can be beaten, in practice, with constitutional amendments. 

If the USA were democratic, such amendments could be initiated by a democratically elected congress (which we don’t have) and/or a democratically elected president (which we don’t have) and/or a national initiative petition drive (which we don’t allow in our undemocratic Constitution).

I generally support Wikipedia, though it is biased about lies such as America’s alleged democracy.  It gets almost all facts correct, such as election vote tallies.

Shenonymous argues that the US American “democracy” “has been skewed by the Right-Wing Conservative Republicans to be unbalanced due to the money they have been able to infuse into the machinations of government.”  In other words, she accuses the Republican Party of making the USA a pseudo-democracy, though she shrinks from using that word for the reality. 

Also, she ignores that her Democratic Party could have pushed to make the USA a democracy with many constitutional amendments, etc., over the centuries, but it hasn’t, though expanded voting rights certainly help. 

The party brass know that the electoral system gives their party alternating rule, and they try to win as often as possible, and that’s all they care about, not the long-term or short-term welfare of the people or the planet.

Like corporate honchos working in the corporate system, party honchos do what works in their system.

Then Shenonymous admits:  “they have not yet achieved the degree they need to have a ‘real’ democratic country.”
If it is not a ‘real” democratic country, what would you call it?  A pseudo-democracy?

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By Korky Day, March 22, 2012 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

I’m a USA-born citizen who later became a Canadian, as a Vietnam-era war resister.

Here in Canada, the New Democratic Party (NDP) is, as Shenonymous quoted, for “ensuring more proportional representation”.  Both the NDP (2nd largest party) and my Green Party (5th largest) and most smaller parties support a change to proportional representation (pro-rep). 

The ruling party, the Conservatives, and the 3rd-largest, the Liberals, have never done so, as they always have benefited greatly by disproportionality.  Just like the Democrats and Republicans in the USA, those 2 parties support what gives them unfair advantage.

Canada now has 5 parties in Parliament.  Political science has found that a disproportional parliamentary system (as Canada has) tends to produce a 2, 3, 4, or (rarely) 5-party system.  Similarly, a disproportional presidential-congressional system (USA) tends to produce a duopoly (in a 2-party system). 

Those tendencies are extremely strong and permanent.  No temporary gains by one party or the other can change that unless they change the electoral system.  Those tendencies affect all the parties, even my Green Party, driving them against principles and ideology - - and toward centrism and corruption.

Shenonymous asks, “the Greens are not doing much better in the USA than they are in Canada.  Can you [Korky] explain the lack of enthusiasm in Canada?”

The Green Party has similar support anound the world.  The dissimilarities arise mostly because of the unfair voting systems in some countries.  We Greens have one seat in the Canadian Parliament (0.3% of the seats) but 9% of the seats in the Deutsch Bundestag.  The reason?  We don’t have pro-rep; they do. 

The “big 4” pseudo-democracies are the USA, Canada, the UK, and India.  Most other multi-party governmental systems in the world use pro-rep and thus rise above my threshold for considering them to be democracies.

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By Shenonymous, March 22, 2012 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Gee She, can’t you keep from double posting?

My apologies.

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By Shenonymous, March 22, 2012 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

Gee Ed, are you always looking for someone to put me down? 
You haven’t really changed your need to dominate have you?  Are you
ready to start with me again?  Youse knowz I yam here, sweetie.

- bill, March 21 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment
quote]they’ll be doing so in order to avoid someone they
perceive as being even MORE out of step with those
values than Obama has proven to be (though to give
the devil his due he’s right out there with his golden
liberal-sounding rhetoric just as he was during his
previous campaign and doubtless some will be convinced
by that).

Why dashbill, that is exactly what I am saying!  Thank you, and QED
are you saying you are more logical?  I like your humor.

Even you admit that the BEHAVIOR of the national
Democratic establishment is completely out of line
with the values of the Democratic rank and file, and
Obama is no exception to that (you keep offering up
excuses based on Republican opposition, but those
hardly explain his failure to live up to so many campaign
promises about things completely within his own capacity
to keep).

If you are a real critical reader, you would see that I am not defending
Obama, (did he really misspell Obama’s name?), and I am highly critical
of Obama’s failures. 

So while Korky is certainly wrong in his generalization
that “real liberals won’t vote for Barrack Obama”


It is cowardly to criticize someone’s spelling behind his back, and not
to his face directly.  hmmmm we, Popeye and I, have to wonder about
your ethics, dashbill.

you are equally wrong in your generalization about
the REASON why they will vote for him.  Voting
AGAINST something is not a ‘values’ vote (to
araphrase the equally immortal but far more
eloquent words of Eugene Debs, “voting for what
you want even if you won’t get it rather than voting
for what you don’t want and getting it”)

I’ll be picayune now…your overly long sentences are difficult and
annoying to answer succinctly.

…it’s a STRATEGIC vote (voting for what you don’t
want because the only realistic alternative is even
worse - which is what I’ll be doing too while holding
my nose next November, though in a less conventional
manner, and as one who has done both I can assure you t
hat voting for what you really want is a LOT more pleasant).

Obviously you just can’t fathom anything that you yourself have not
said. 

It’s really not possible to gauge Obama’s relative
‘popularity’ until there’s a Republican nominee for
the GOP and independents leaning that way to rally
around.  And even then a simple poll of who people
plan to vote for won’t be a true gauge of popularity
if there’s a lot of lesser-evil voting planned.

Maybe you can’t gauge it, but the writing is continuously in the daily
reported poll information.  Sure we will be watching the graphs of how
he does against the likely-Romney.  It is silly (to use Korky’s favorite
word) to not pay attention to the ups and downs. I’m almost positive,
since I do not get daily emails from him, that Obama is watching it too,
as would the likely-Romney candidate.  We will see…won’t we?

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By Shenonymous, March 22, 2012 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

Gee Ed, are you always looking for someone to put me down? 
You haven’t really changed your need to dominate have you?  Are you
ready to start with [ime again?  Youse knowz I yam here, sweetie.

- bill, March 21 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment
quote]they’ll be doing so in order to avoid someone they
perceive as being even MORE out of step with those
values than Obama has proven to be (though to give
the devil his due he’s right out there with his golden
liberal-sounding rhetoric just as he was during his
previous campaign and doubtless some will be convinced
by that).

Why dashbill, that is exactly what I am saying!  Thank you, and QED
are you saying you are more logical?  I like your humor.

Even you admit that the BEHAVIOR of the national
Democratic establishment is completely out of line
with the values of the Democratic rank and file, and
Obama is no exception to that (you keep offering up
excuses based on Republican opposition, but those
hardly explain his failure to live up to so many campaign
promises about things completely within his own capacity
to keep).

If you are a real critical reader, you would see that I am not defending
Obama, (did he really misspell Obama’s name?), and I am highly critical
of Obama’s failures. 

So while Korky is certainly wrong in his generalization
that “real liberals won’t vote for Barrack Obama”


It is cowardly to criticize someone’s spelling behind his back, and not
to his face directly.  hmmmm we, Popeye and I, have to wonder about
your ethics, dashbill.

you are equally wrong in your generalization about
the REASON why they will vote for him.  Voting
AGAINST something is not a ‘values’ vote (to
araphrase the equally immortal but far more
eloquent words of Eugene Debs, “voting for what
you want even if you won’t get it rather than voting
for what you don’t want and getting it”)

I’ll be picayune now…your overly long sentences are difficult and
annoying to answer succinctly.

…it’s a STRATEGIC vote (voting for what you don’t
want because the only realistic alternative is even
worse - which is what I’ll be doing too while holding
my nose next November, though in a less conventional
manner, and as one who has done both I can assure you t
hat voting for what you really want is a LOT more pleasant).

Obviously you just can’t fathom anything that you yourself have not
said. 

It’s really not possible to gauge Obama’s relative
‘popularity’ until there’s a Republican nominee for
the GOP and independents leaning that way to rally
around.  And even then a simple poll of who people
plan to vote for won’t be a true gauge of popularity
if there’s a lot of lesser-evil voting planned.

Maybe you can’t gauge it, but the writing is continuously in the daily
reported poll information.  Sure we will be watching the graphs of how
he does against the likely-Romney.  It is silly (to use Korky’s favorite
word) to not pay attention to the ups and downs. I’m almost positive,
since I do not get daily emails from him, that Obama is watching it too,
as would the likely-Romney candidate.  We will see…won’t we?

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By Shenonymous, March 22, 2012 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

p. 2 to dashbill

There’s a reason why so many normal Democratic
voters stayed home in November, 2010, and let a wave
of Republicans sweep into office (most unfortunately in
state and local offices:

Times are a’changing as Bobby Dylan reminds us.  There is a huge
groundswell for Democrats to not only get out the vote in spite of the
Republican fascist attempts to disfranchise the voters, the liberal and
Democratic voters mind you.  Or haven’t you been watching the news??? 
Also there is a very huge effort to get more Democratic voters registered. 
So you might be right, or I might be right.

while I think the national Democrats got exactly what
they deserved, the state and local Democrats did not):  they
did not like how Obama, with his strong Democratic majorities
in both houses of Congress, performed in his first two years
in office.

What strong Democratic majority in both houses of Congress?  Are you
narcoleptic? 
Prior to Obama:
Years 2003-2005 Total Dems in Senate 48, Repubs 51, House
Dems 205, Repubs 229 with one independent in each house.
Years 2005-2007 Senate Dems 44, Repubs 55, House Dems 202,
Repubs 231. 
Half Bush, Half Obama:
Years 2007-2009 Senate Dems 49, Repubs 49 (equal), House
Dems 233 Repubs 198 with 4 vacant seats.
Obama:
Years 2009-2011 Senate Dems 57 Repubs 41, House Dems 256,
Repubs 178
Obama:
Years 2011-2013 Senate Dems 51, Repubs 47, House Dems 193,
Repubs 242
Now yes, there was a space of two years where Dems controlled the
Congress from 2009 and 2011.  In 2008 when Obama came into office
there was a equal Senate 49 each party and Dems had a 35 majority in
the House, but whatever was passed in the House was not passed in the
Senate and the House used the filibuster to upset Democratic legislation.
Duh!  The other years the Republicans had the switchblade at the throats
of the Democrats and there were some BlueDogs conservative Democrats
who nearly always sided with the Republican conservatives.

And while the Republican circus in Washington
since then will likely cause a lot more of them to turn
out next November, it won’t be because they feel that
much better about the national Democratic establishment:
it will be because the Republicans are so appalling (and if
you really look at your own post that’s basically what you’re
saying as well).

Indeed I yam (me and Popeye agree) but it is irrelevant as long as they
get out and vote against the Republicans.  That is exactly what I am
doing!  As I ‘ve said over and over and over and over, I AM NOT
THRILLED WITH THE PRESENT CHARACTER OF THE MAJORITY OF
DEMOCRATS IN POLITICAL OFFICE! I feel they need to be much stronger
liberals!  what is with you deaf guys?  Do we need to do sign language or
sumtin’?  Sheesh says She!

Why not just come out and admit that such
lesser-evilism is what you’re advocating?

I am admitting it!  Really, can’t you read? Maybe you need 350 power
reading glasses?

Debating it (rather than just taking pot-shots
from behind permanent fortifications) might even be fun.

Yes it would be fun if there were any “real” debaters about.

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By Leefeller, March 22, 2012 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Bill Mahr stated; For Ed or Korky?

“I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.”

Well David the scholar exceptional and master alienateer has once more done it again, such consistency should be complemented.

“The more degrees of “education” a liberal gets the less educable they become.”

Such wisdom focused with laser like quality on the liberal towers over most anything else I have ignored recently, Sanatoriums ‘Man on Dog’ comment comes to mind which brings me back to pets and Romneys Dog on Car roof!

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By David J. Cyr, March 22, 2012 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

RE: New York Review of Book’s “Age of Ignorance”:

Liberals smugly consider themselves to be “intelligent” because they don’t vote for the corporate party’s really retrograde Republicans… “smart” voter choosing instead to vote for the corporate party’s deeply depraved Democrats to get what the Republicans voted for.

In a corporate-state the function of the “education” system is to produce uneducable people.

The more degrees of “education” a liberal gets the less educable they become.

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By Ed Romano, March 22, 2012 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

Stupidity is sometimes the greatest of historical forces.
    Sidney Hook
  To all people who are sincerely concerned about the issues being discussed here I heartily recommend looking this up….only takes a few minutes.
http://www.nybook.com/blogs/2012/mar/20/age-of-ignorance

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By Ed Romano, March 22, 2012 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

Well Bill, that’s about as good a put down as I’ve ever heard from someone who is not irritated. Will I have my honesty questioned if I say that I have absolutely no idea of what you’re talking about? I’d have to go back over earlier posts to find some clues. You may be right that I said some things that are confusing, but at this point what’s the use of extending what looks like it could be the beginning of another mud fight…You say that if I had been saying the things I have posted recently forty years ago I would have run into flack similar to what I have experienced here. As a matter of fact I was saying these things forty years and the history of the past forty years has done nothing so much as confirm what I believed at the time ....That was about 1970 right ? Isn’t it interesting that economists are now saying real wages have not advanced a nickle since 1970 while the wealth of a small minority has gone through the roof? I didn’t find this info in a Marxist tract. I heard it on CNN. Did you say that these things are “cyclical”? Since the “evidence” all around us seems to show that things are getting worse- not better….can I ask how long can we expect this cycle to last - 1970 to ???
  I happen to believe that human beings should not be treated as commodities. Their access to the things they need from this earth should not depend on whether or not some pirate can profit from their labor. This is fundamental to me, and if Christ himself came down and told me this system, that is so obviously spreading havoc and doom all over the planet, is justified I would take a stand in opposition to him. If my belief offends those who have a stake in this iniquitous system….amen, brother. Amen.

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By - bill, March 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

C’mon, Shen:  tighten up the logic a bit.

All the ‘real liberals’ and even only moderately liberal people *I* know who’ll be voting for Obama (and that’s most of them, unfortunately) won’t be doing so to “vote for… their liberal values” (that’s what they convinced themselves they were doing in 2008, and in Dubya’s immortal if stumbling and inadvertent homage to The Who they “won’t get fooled again”):  they’ll be doing so in order to avoid someone they perceive as being even MORE out of step with those values than Obama has proven to be (though to give the devil his due he’s right out there with his golden liberal-sounding rhetoric just as he was during his previous campaign and doubtless some will be convinced by that).

Even you admit that the BEHAVIOR of the national Democratic establishment is completely out of line with the values of the Democratic rank and file, and Obama is no exception to that (you keep offering up excuses based on Republican opposition, but those hardly explain his failure to live up to so many campaign promises about things completely within his own capacity to keep).

So while Korky is certainly wrong in his generalization that “real liberals won’t vote for Barrack Obama” (did he really misspell Obama’s name?), you are equally wrong in your generalization about the REASON why they will vote for him.  Voting AGAINST something is not a ‘values’ vote (to paraphrase the equally immortal but far more eloquent words of Eugene Debs, “voting for what you want even if you won’t get it rather than voting for what you don’t want and getting it”), it’s a STRATEGIC vote (voting for what you don’t want because the only realistic alternative is even worse - which is what I’ll be doing too while holding my nose next November, though in a less conventional manner, and as one who has done both I can assure you that voting for what you really want is a LOT more pleasant).

It’s really not possible to gauge Obama’s relative ‘popularity’ until there’s a Republican nominee for the GOP and independents leaning that way to rally around.  And even then a simple poll of who people plan to vote for won’t be a true gauge of popularity if there’s a lot of lesser-evil voting planned.

There’s a reason why so many normal Democratic voters stayed home in November, 2010, and let a wave of Republicans sweep into office (most unfortunately in state and local offices:  while I think the national Democrats got exactly what they deserved, the state and local Democrats did not):  they did not like how Obama, with his strong Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, performed in his first two years in office.  And while the Republican circus in Washington since then will likely cause a lot more of them to turn out next November, it won’t be because they feel that much better about the national Democratic establishment:  it will be because the Republicans are so appalling (and if you really look at your own post that’s basically what you’re saying as well).

Why not just come out and admit that such lesser-evilism is what you’re advocating?  It’s hardly an unpopular position (though perhaps more so here than most places), and not even an indefensible one - and seems more popular (if not necessarily more sensible) than other defensible liberal voting strategies.

Debating it (rather than just taking pot-shots from behind permanent fortifications) might even be fun.

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By Shenonymous, March 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

Korky Day, March 19 2:18 pm

Shenonymous wrote, “electoral reform is absolutely
indispensable…That is something on which all ?real
liberals can agree with the Greens.”

Then real liberals won’t vote for Barrack Obama because
he has never addressed that issue, as far as I’ve heard.
Dennis Kucinich, on the other hand, is strongly for
proportional representation (pro-rep), unlike all other
presidential candidates in the Duopoly, with the possible
exception of Ron Paul (about whom I am unsure on this
point).

Not true. Obama is the most popular of the political candidates as the
credible polls show. I disagree that “real” liberals would vote for anything
other than their liberal values and which means stopping the Republican
Party from ascending to complete conservative despotism. Like it or not,
the Democratic Party with the numbers is the only political machine that
can stop the Republicans. You can have your agenda and I wish you well,
but saving this country from Right-Wing fanatics who would continue to
shove every cent they can into the 1%’s pocket has my greatest concern.

I have read yards of literature on what you advocate and I do admire
much of it.  But I have an antecedent priority.  I agree that more
socialism is one way to level the playing field from the wealthy and
corporate class, but that will have to take place over a period of time
and there is none with a presidential election this year. Changing the
flavor of our legisla-tive body and what kind of person occupies the
White House has to happen through a number of steps, election reform
and campaign reform are imperative but Republicans will fight those
efforts tooth and nail. I am downright horrified to think if a Republican
sits in the White House and appoints Supreme Court justices.

Korky Day, March 19 1:18 pm

Leefeller wrote, “It was I believe Korkys request
not to use Democrats and Republicans in discussion”.
No, I think it’s silly, for instance, for Shenonymous to
refer to the Democratic Party as liberalism.

It is silly of you to think me silly Korky Day. Shall we have a contest of
who is sillier?

A look at a few of the major parties in your former nation Canada,
(didn’t you say you now were a citizen of the USA), might be revealing.
The Conservative Party of Canada formed by merging the Canadian
Alliance (formerly the Reform Party of Canada) and the Progressive
Conservative Party of Canada in 2003 and considered politically not as
conservative as its American counterpart. http://tinyurl.com/4lkcah  It
is the most popular party in Canada.

The New Democratic Party is the federal socialist political party in
Canada and won 30.63% of the popular vote, coming in second to the
conservative vote. http://tinyurl.com/nwx73 Originating from populist,
agrarian, and socialist roots into what is now the modern socialist party.
Once part of the Christian left and the Social Gospel movement, the NDP
says it is secular and pluralistic in British Columbia. It claims broad
concerns as the New Left and advocates gender equality and equal
rights for LGBT citizens, improving environmental protection through
government regulations, national water safety standards, increasing
corporate taxes, reducing poverty in Canada, aggressive human rights
protection, expanding funding for public transportation, expanding
public health care, including dental and prescription drug coverage,
social assistance policies that reflects citizens’ needs and assist their
re-entry to the work force, abolishing the unelected Senate of Canada
and ensuring more proportional representation, worker’s rights
including raising the minimum wage to pace the cost of living,...

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By Shenonymous, March 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

2. ...aboriginal people’s treaty, land, and constitutional rights,
a foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy, peacekeeping, and
humanitarian aid instead of offensive military action, renegotiating
the NAFTA, ending the Canadian War on Drugs and legalizing
recreational drugs, lowering taxes for small businesses. The
American Democratic party has similar tenets.

Claiming to be secular, the United Church of British Columbia sees its
mission as “the will of God, church union is seen as an answer to the
difficulties of building a church in a huge country with a small popula-
tion and sees itself as a better vehicle for carrying out the mission of
the church, and providing a strong and unified voice for social reform.”
Nothing is found in their description to have religious tolerance as one
of their concerns. http://tinyurl.com/846tf57

Mainly interested in liberalism, I took a keen interest in Canada’s
liberal political philosophy. The principles of the Liberal Party of
Canada are based on liberalism as defined by various liberal
theorists and include individual freedom for present and future
generations, responsibility, human dignity, a just society, political
freedom, equality of opportunity, cultural diversity, bilingualism, and
multilateralism. http://tinyurl.com/5sxvln and http://tinyurl.com/7ogznf3 
From the PREAMBLE of the Liberal Party of Canada’s Constitution:

The Liberal Party of Canada is dedicated to the
principles that have historically sustained the Party:
individual freedom, responsibility and human dignity
in the framework of a just society, and political freedom
in the framework of meaningful participation by all persons.

The 2011 Canadian election the Conservative Party won 39.62%
of the vote, the New Democrats won 30.63%. Liberals won 18.91%,
Quebecois 6.04%, Greens 3.91%. Canada has 21 parties.

Korky Day, you claim Wikipedia is wrong on the fact of America’s
democracy.  Do you say it is also wrong on the results of the 2011
election?  It seems to me based on published data that the Greens
are not doing much better in the USA than they are in Canada.  Can
you explain the lack of enthusiasm in Canada? 

In reviewing the Canadian Liberal Party, it seems very close to the creed
of American liberals as well. Despite of what the current character, or lack
of it, is of the Democratic Party, it is still the party of liberals whether or
not your or anybody else would deny it.

The USA doesn’t have a democracy of any kind.
?It has a pseudo-democracy, which some well-meaning
apologists call a dysfunctional democracy.

It is too too obvious you hold an obstinate conventionally narrow
view of democracy.  Of course the USA is a democracy. It is a federal
constitutional republic where a republic is a type of democracy and
which is a political system where the supreme power is held by the
citizens who are entitled to vote for officials (such as the president)
and representatives (such as senators and members of the House of
Representatives) responsible to them (the people). You may argue that
it is not working that way, but I would argue back that it is but that it
has been skewed by the Right-Wing Conservative Republicans to be
unbalanced due to the money they have been able to infuse into the
machinations of government. 

The general public is divided into both educated and not so educated
and most of the people have been perennially caught unawares of the
hijacking of their country by the conservatives and are getting caught
up, but they have not yet achieved the degree they need to have a “real”
democratic country. It is going to take more time and and education.
The Occupy Movement has tried with some success, not enough though
to change that imbalance caused by the money that permeates and
powerhouses everything that would give the people the power over
their own citizenship.

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By - bill, March 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Well, Ed, all I can say is that the intensity evident in your March 21 at 12:46 pm post is not consistent with the impression I had had of you from the tenor of your pre-Shen-tiff posts (and some of their actual content where you described some of your belief system).  However, it was a bit presumptuous on my part to suggest that the tiff might be the reason rather than simply asking you (as I had earlier asked her, in both cases suggesting only that you pose the question to yourself rather than answer it publicly) whether something else in your life might have caused such an apparent change.

The first paragraph of my March 21 at 3:54 pm post seemed pretty clear to me, but I’m happy to explain it:  your rather intense earlier post occurred after a period of such relatively uniform civility here (in particular, reaching back to before your preceding posts in the thread where you had not appeared upset about this issue) that I went looking for what might have triggered it and the only even remotely possibly offensive (due to its confrontational nature) post I could come up was my preceding post to Korky.

Since John had a similar reaction this wasn’t just my imagination.  If in fact that intense post was harking back to the brouhaha of several days ago it would have helped a lot to have made that evident (though if that was indeed the case I’m curious why you did not simply choose to let that particular sleeping dog lie).

Incidentally, I can assure you that there was no irritation whatsoever in my March 21 at 3:54 pm post, so your ‘sense’ is faulty in this case.  Please consider the possibility that the feud with Shen (and/or other activity here) might have made you a bit gun-shy in general in this area.

The difference between ‘evidence’ and ‘examples’ can perhaps be illustrated by the observation that if one looks only at the period between noon and midnight one could conclude that the sun is going out.  Now, if you limit your statements to this specific period they may not be unreasonable, but in this example it should be pretty obvious why attempting to generalize such statements to a longer term would be wildly inappropriate.

Our country is well over 200 years old and in that time has experienced continual vicissitudes of all kinds.  If about 40 years ago you had applied the same kind of reasoning you’re using now you would have had some difficulty avoiding the conclusion that “The historical evidence seems to indicate that welfarist mitigations of liberal capitalism IMPROVE over time” - and the reasons why that would have been a logical over-reach are exactly the same reasons why your current assertion is:  you simply don’t have the data required to substantiate any kind of longer-term trend (the data could be considered ‘anecdotal’, though applying that characterization strictly to the temporal domain is somewhat unusual).

“Your later post has made me sense that many further discussion here is not meant to bring about any clarity or enlightment , but will merely be an opportunity to display your opposition” suggests that your crystal ball is seriously out of whack, Ed.  If you can’t manage to fix it yourself, you might consider seeking some outside assistance.


Anarcissie, my fear is that the ruling class may in fact be fairly rational and competent - and correct in their apparent assumption that they don’t NEED ‘the Bismarckian option’ to maintain their grip on power as long as they’ve got the duopoly to keep us divided.  On the plus side, though, if that assumption proves incorrect there may be hope for the kind of uprising (peaceful or not) that might never occur at all without that impetus.

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By Ed Romano, March 21, 2012 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

Bill, I am not upset with myself in any way because of the go round I had with Shen, In fact, I am feeling pretty good about the fact that we have been able to call a truce…..But after reading your post this evening ( 3.54 p.m.) I’ve changed my mind about trying to answer the one you posted at 11 a.m…. This is not meant to say anything other than this… Whatever you were trying to convey to me in the first paragraph of your later post at 3.42 p.m. is completely beyond my understanding. I am not able to decipher it….except that I sense a bit of irritation on your part.  I will say this however, In your post at 11.a.m. you stated at the beginning that you were not interested in “examples” but only “analysis”.
But at the end of that post you asked for “evidence”
Can I ask ...what is evidence without examples ? I hope you can understand why I am a little confused.
.... Your later post has made me sense that many further discussion here is not meant to bring about any clarity or enlightment , but will merely be an opportunity to display your opposition…. I have learned my lesson on this web site and I will not be playing that game that any more.

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By Anarcissie, March 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment

bill, March 21 at 2:01 pm:

‘... Not that I’m at all sanguine about seeing ANY degradation in social programs or tax progressivity, but I do tend to question such grand generalizations where there’s some reason to suspect that they aren’t using anything like the required spread of data points necessary to substantiate them. ...’

I don’t think we’re going to find enough data points in history to come up with a well-reasoned statistical theory.  Lacking them, we have to do the best we can using intuitions and guesswork.  This would be easier if the U.S. ruling class were rational and competent; we could expect them to take the Bismarckian option, maintaining through welfare a quiet home front to service their imperial adventures abroad.  But they don’t seem to be rational or competent.

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By - bill, March 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

Hmmm again, Ed.  I tended to interpret the post of yours upon which I commented as referring to me simply because for quite a while now my latest comment to Korky was the ONLY even moderately pointed one I’ve noticed (and I have been reading them all) since the previous couple of posts you submitted (which made no mention of what you later seemed to consider such a problem).

For that matter, I haven’t noticed anyone ‘calling you names’ (the complaint in your latest post) since your tiff with Shen ended (though looking back it seems that was less than 48 hours ago - how time flies when you’re having fun).

I’m at least glad that this has revealed something upon which Korky and I can agree:  writing your comments in, e.g., an editor if they’re likely to be lengthy so that you can save them at judicious intervals works great (I keep an editor window open and periodically copy all of a growing comment into it and then save it to disk - in part because by old habit I always grab Notepad for this purpose and Notepad’s idiosyncrasies about line-wrap result in extra newlines in the post if I copy it FROM Notepad TO the comment box).

A quick Google found that this process has been automated a bit in a Firefox add-on at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/its-all-text/ (which I haven’t tried so can’t vouch for).  It could also be automated by the Web page itself via suitable scripting, though this would be non-trivial to do right for the general case (e.g., a browser or PC crash rather than simply fumble-fingering).  General-case solutions are also somewhat difficult to implement in the browser (though do exist in some editors which ‘auto-save’ at frequent intervals so that you don’t have to remember to) and even more so in the underlying file system (which doesn’t know anything worth saving is going on at all unless the application tells it).

By contrast, a specific enhancement to the browser (or a Web page script module) that ONLY handled the kind of fumble-fingering that seems to have hosed your post might be relatively easy (but not general at all, which may explain why it’s never happened).


John - My point about selectivity addressed your example of rats during the plague.  For example, while I carefully evict things like ants, spiders, moths, etc. from our house, I just swat mosquitoes because they’re actively after my blood (and would similarly have had no compunctions about eradicating the rat population during the plague years:  while they may not have been after humans in quite the same sense, they constituted a real danger rather than simply an annoyance).  Perhaps I’d be more considerate even of mosquitoes if they were easier to catch without getting bitten, but as it is…

I do understand your more general point about people who spend their time doing things you consider useless, but still suggest that you aren’t likely to get very far using that argument.  To put it in a perspective you may find easier to relate to, many people would consider what we do HERE to be useless and I’d be tempted to agree with them (I myself consider it to be more recreational than to have any significant probable, let alone quantifiable, utility, though one can always hope).

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Might you re-state your point about selectivity…..I admit I often can’t always afford to re-red if something doesn’t hit me square between the eyes on first read.  It’s a bit hypocritical I admit, as I often don;t write as plainly as I should.

wrt “.... you seem to consider placing emphasis on pets to be ‘over-indulgent and self-centered…”  Consider a person who watches sports almost 24/7?  I am making a point about people who spend so, so much time on their particular thing.  It takes away froma diversity of activities.  Yes, it’s peoples time, they an do what they want, but I suppose I ‘promote’ spreading oneself around a little bit more than many people do.  Naturally, that can be a problem too, over-spreading.  Been there. 

1. Moderation in everything.
2. Quality over quantity.
good for ya.

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By Korky Day, March 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

In my comments herein I address the general readership out of respect for them, not out of disrespect for the other commenters. 
If anyone wants to be sure not to lose the text they are composing, they can write it elsewhere (where they can continually save it) and then paste it in here when they are done.

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By Ed Romano, March 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

My Good Jesus, How thick are our skins ? I’m not zeroing in on any particual poster here. It just seems to me that a lot of us can’t express our point of view without tossing out a few zingers to those who
disagree. In the heat of discussion things can be said that we later regret but there is too much that passes here that we wouldn’t dream of saying if the other fellow was sitting across from us…not unless we wanted to take a trip to the emergency ward. There are peop[le I respect here whose philosophy I don’t agree with. But I’m tring to express a point of view that I know is not main stream. If someone thinks they can deflect my ideas by calling me names… to me it says more about the weakness of their own argument than it does about mine…..Comrades, let’s move forward.
    BILL, that I have respect for you is evinced by the fact that this evening I spent a half hour or more answering your posting to me…..Just as I was finishing I must have hit a wrong key…..I lost the whole thing. If the guy who invented these cursed PC’s had been here I would have remolved his goomies with a rusty razor…. I’m going to have supper and watch a movie. If I have time I’ll try again later.
Tomorrow I’m going to visit my brother who lives where civilzation has not made any substantial   inroads….but as soon as possible I’ll get back to you ( look out ).

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By - bill, March 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie (sorry for misspelling your name earlier:  I got it right on my first try and then ‘corrected’ it after seeing Ed’s spelling - one of the reasons why I tend to abbreviate to the first 4 characters), my point was more that it’s not clear that inequality (the primary manifestation of the drawbacks of capitalism) is statistically increasing rather than simply undergoing cyclical variations.  And that if we are experiencing only such cylical variations, then whatever deterioration we’re seeing in ‘welfarist’ policies is quite possibly just part of that cycle rather than the far more alarming long-term trend without prospect for reversal which you and Ed seemed to be suggesting it is.

Not that I’m at all sanguine about seeing ANY degradation in social programs or tax progressivity, but I do tend to question such grand generalizations where there’s some reason to suspect that they aren’t using anything like the required spread of data points necessary to substantiate them.

I don’t know where to find longer-term data in this area so just tossed out the very limited data on the Gini index as a start.  Having just been introduced to (but not yet read) The Spirit Level perhaps I can find something in there (meanwhile, by all means chime in with any you know of).

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By - bill, March 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

Hmmm, Ed:  I realize that you’re probably still pretty upset with yourself about having lost it when dealing with Shen (not that I criticize you for that, as I already noted), but please don’t project your own remembered venom onto what others post.

Korky was persistently strutting around like a megalomaniac and I called him on it.  that’s not venom, it’s simple bluntness.  If you don’t like it, fine - but don’t mistake it for the kind of fight that you (and I) have had with Shen.

Are you simply not interested in addressing the substantive response I made to your own post?  That’s not what I would have expected, but then again you haven’t seemed to be quite yourself of late (that may seem a bit blunt as well, but it’s not clear that something subtler would get through under the current circumstances).


John, you didn’t so much press a hot button of mine as open up a somewhat unusual subject for discussion.  And it’s still interesting to me (though don’t feel obliged to continue on my account - I’m just still enjoying it).  For example, where you seem to consider placing emphasis on pets to be ‘over-indulgent and self-centered’, my own viewpoint is that placing such heavy emphasis on OURSELVES (whether it be in contrast to other species or simply in contrast to the less fortunate humans around the world) is what’s self-centered (especially in the case under discussion, where as a society we’re entirely capable of eliminating the domestic human needs that you’re interested in - so getting us to do that in an organized government-managed manner is what I try to accomplish in that arena while targeting my personal charity at what government is NOT likely to manage).

Rather than attempting to identify areas where in your opinion people waste their money, I suspect you’d have better luck appealing to their compassionate instincts to try to pass such government programs.  People tend to be kind of persnickety about using their disposable income any damn way they please, but often are willing to pay higher taxes for a good cause (and then figure out for themselves how to spend what’s left).

Your example of rate during the plague years suggests that you still didn’t quite get my point about selectivity (where I presented mosquitoes, bacteria, and viruses as examples of pests that actively attack us).  Not that it’s all that important in itself, but I consider it at least marginally more so when considered as a possible symptom of continuing miscommunication.

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By Anarcissie, March 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

bill, March 21 at 11:00 am:

‘Ed, Anarcisse posted a similar sentiment a while ago:

“The historical evidence seems to indicate that welfarist mitigations of liberal capitalism deteriorate over time.”

You agreed with it:

“Anarcisse, That is a spot on observation. Pretty hard to deny outside an asylum. However, if it doesn’t agree with some people’s illusions… they will want “examples”.”

And my response was embedded in another post (March 19 at 8:43 am) such that you may have missed it - so here it is again:

Ed and Anar, I won’t ask for ‘examples’ of your thesis but rather actual analysis - with some of the rigor that has been applied to, e.g., the climate-change debate. ...’

Analysis of what?  I think most people agree that the ‘welfarist mitigations’ have been in decline in the U.S. and have come under increasing attack in Europe and elsewhere.  We don’t have a lot of data to work with, however.  It seems intuitively clear that welfarism was instituted and increased in capitalist states in order to compete with fascism and Communism; when these threats receded, the ruling class was less interested in welfarism and it began to be rescinded.  But that’s only one cycle, or maybe a cycle and a half if you count Bismarckian welfarism (which was instituted to counter socialism).

As the poor and the working class get poorer and poorer, they are going to have less and less political and economic power, which will accelerate the decline of payoffs designed to keep them quiet, until some kind of crisis or breaking point is reached.

I haven’t seen a lot of rigor applied to the climate-change debate.  We know that belief in (adverse) climate change has been slowly declining among the general population, but I have not seen anything but speculation about why this is happening.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Ed, are you reading venom into my posts?  It’s not supposed to be there.  I did hit a hot-button of bill’s when I mentioned my ‘pet-peeve’, but it’s an example of a broader range of similar expenditures of peoples time/energy. 

Apologies if I sound venomous, but with this snake avatar, I suppose that’s a natural attachment.

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By Ed Romano, March 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Smack, crack, whack ‘im again ! Biff, slap, stomp, growl ! Smear, hiss, demean, spit !....Boy, I haven’t seen this much venom in one place since William F. Buckley called Gore Vidal a f…ing queer on national t.v. Talk about the causes of war…I’ve never been so enlightened.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

bill, I don’t want to get into it, but I don’t seek agreement, and I don’t go out of my way to look for disagreement.  Either once just happens or it doesn’t I don’t care.    I resist the natural or unnatural urges to categorize people as friends and foes.  Not that this is what you were doing, but I look for it in people.

As for the ‘big brown eyes comment, I’m not looking it up, but I think I was not referring to you, rather, society, and the generic pet lover seems to favor certain species.  I almost never talk about or care about individuals preferences, it’s more the general cases that interest me.  As for your interest in the welfare of a far broader range of species, fine, that’s you, enjoy.  But I wouldn’t promote it to the general public.  For instance, In Europe in 1350 or thereabouts?  Rats would definitely not be on my list of friends. 

And in general, the argument is not about pets specifically, you don’t seem to address this, and that’s fine, but pets are an example where we could cut populations and expenditures in half , exactly like we could cut many categories of ‘splurge’ hobbies and entertainments, we would enjoy them just as much, and it would definitely leave more money for the proverbial octo-mom’s kids.  My central point is that as a matter of public policy, we should at least take some reflective steps to see if perhaps we are a bit over-indulgent and self-centered, so much so that it is a detriment to the overall society. 

I would love to see half of those people in those ‘entertainment and hobby-pastime industries’ to be applying themselves to education for an alternate energy economy.

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By - bill, March 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Ed, Anarcisse posted a similar sentiment a while ago:

“The historical evidence seems to indicate that welfarist mitigations of liberal capitalism deteriorate over time.”

You agreed with it:

“Anarcisse, That is a spot on observation. Pretty hard to deny outside an asylum. However, if it doesn’t agree with some people’s illusions… they will want “examples”.”

And my response was embedded in another post (March 19 at 8:43 am) such that you may have missed it - so here it is again:

Ed and Anar, I won’t ask for ‘examples’ of your thesis but rather actual analysis - with some of the rigor that has been applied to, e.g., the climate-change debate.  It’s easy to look at a nadir like the one we’re in the middle of now and state such generalizations with a mere hand-wave, but the only way to be sure is to chart some real metric over time (e.g., the Gini index, to factor out advances that raise ALL boats and thus might make just looking at something like absolute poverty, which tends to decrease, misleading).

The lowest U.S. Gini index reported (38.6, expressed as a percentage) occurred in 1968, one year after we began tracking it.  It’s now nearly 47 (i.e., significantly worse).  But the estimated value in 1929 was 45 (nearly as bad) and I suspect that pre-income-tax figures - say, just before 1900 - may have been at least as bad (if anyone can track them down I’d be interested in seeing such estimates).

In other words (and unlike the case with climate change), the level of inequality in our system may simply be cyclical rather than statistically increasing.  So one need not reside in an asylum to demand something in the way of actual evidence from someone who asserts otherwise.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 21, 2012 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

“(that the opressed)“are always asking the government for relief from oppression must show that the government is the agency that allows oppression in the first place…...”  Not necessarily true.  New working conditions may be exploited by management until the government gets involved.  The government can anticipate everything and make regulations before they’re exploited.  Look at OSHA.  Sure the government is sluggish, and impeded by the ones with money to slow them down, but eventually we got a pretty good set of workplace safety regulations.

Granted they’re being ignored in the modern day, but in the 70’s and 80’s I think it wasn’t too bad.

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By - bill, March 21, 2012 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

You really are quite a piece of work, Korky.  Are you under the mistaken impression that someone appointed you God while the rest of us weren’t paying attention?

To be more specific, you DON’T get to make up your own definitions for terms whose accepted definitions aren’t to your liking.  And your own opinions are just that, not anything resembling facts.

As far as I can determine from your posting history here I’ve got a significantly better-functioning brain than yours is - but that doesn’t give me any right to claims of such omnipotence either.

THAT’S why citations matter.  Clear enough for you?


John, while agreement is nice, I find I learn more when I disagree (or just THINK I may disagree) with someone.  I even learn something from disagreeing with an idiot (at least when actually debating with them rather than simply correcting them as I just did with Korky), because even if they have nothing whatsoever in the way of insight to contribute to the discussion the simple act of formulating (and when necessary researching) my own position is edifying.

Seeking only agreement seems somewhat akin to caring only about those animals with large brown eyes you mentioned - which suggests that you didn’t understand my position there either.  I’m one of those people who evicts insects from the house (mosquitoes, as noted, excepted) rather than just steps on them:  they and other very small animals who can still live fairly comfortably in the niches we’ve left don’t require the help that feral members of domesticated species do, but they still deserve some level of respect (IMO, obviously).

My impression is that some societies have by law restricted child-bearing and may even have neutered those who did not abide by that law.  I don’t have a real problem with that if the society’s resources would otherwise be seriously stretched - but when that is NOT the case (i.e., it’s simply a matter of principle to those making the laws rather than one of necessity) I’m a lot less sanguine about it (though I’m not sure I’d really consider it immoral, just more of an imposition on individual liberty than I’m personally comfortable with - since ALL societies impose SOME limits on individual liberty for the sake of the perceived overall benefit and, excluding attempts to impose majority morality on minorities, I’m inclined to consider exactly where they draw their lines more value judgments than moral issues).

I maintain that OUR society can easily afford to support the kids of the ‘octo-moms’ you mentioned (i.e., I don’t think it’s a serious problem), though conditions could certainly change enough for that to be far less feasible and even now I don’t think that uncontrolled population growth is a good idea despite the fact that in the U.S. it’s far slower than it once was.  So my feeling is that we AS A SOCIETY (i.e., via government programs) should take care of that problem while I as an individual devote my discretionary resources to taking care of those (e.g., animals and the disadvantaged abroad whose governments don’t have adequate resources) who need care and are not (nor seem likely to be) supported by government programs.

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