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I once worked on some office renovations across the street from the Board of Trade. It was fascinating to look across, into the windows, and see a whole societal space organized by jacket color. It was like a view into Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

They ate in different areas, worked on different floors, gathered in groups together. My coworkers and I often commented on it, and on what a bizarre view that it made.

Somehow I doubt that it was either Alphas or Betas that put up this sign, but I’d bet they gave an order to take it down. Still, it’s telling that the (likely) gold-jacketed plebes that posted this up think that they actually are in the 1%.

"But it’s worth noting what exactly is the most important conservative consideration— what is actually being conserved? What part of the status quo is most important for the conservative to maintain? There are many options: religion, social ways, class & race issues, relation of big business to government, money-making opportunities, even style of dress can fit in there.

Moderates and liberals must internalize that the overriding conservative issue today, the one that trumps all others, is Social Mobility. All of the conservative issues above fit in some way or other under the fear of social mobility and the breakdown of class structure. Most liberals find this hard to understand—they tend to believe that a rising tide lifts all boats and that all Americans should have equal opportunity, and often don’t realize that not everyone believes this.”

(read more at my longer move sideways)

Why insist on carrying guns publicly, as so many are?

Does wielding a pistol in a safe public place (far from rattlesnakes and other wild animals) gives its owner a feeling of extra security? Perhaps there’s a feeling that it’s needed in case of a physical threat. On the other hand, absent any real threat it brands the carrier a coward and a weakling. It displays, for all to see, an unreasonable fear of others: the paranoid’s fear of the crowd and of ordinary people.

Or maybe someone carries a gun to show off his country roots. He keeps a tool of the country, or the woods, close at hand or on display—maybe he thinks he looks like a cowboy from the movies. Instead, he looks out of place, like he doesn’t understand the proper place for tools and insists on carting around an unnecessary one. He may as well use a pitchfork as a walking stick, carry an axe over his shoulder, or keep his fencing tools jangling on his belt. (In fact the axe might be more effective.)

But the bearer usually knows this. The point of private citizens carrying an offensive weapon in a public place is most often simply to appear threatening, to offend people, and to make a statement. The point, frankly, is often to anger anyone that might want to limit gun use. Reading bulletin boards about open-carry laws reinforce this impression— most posters sound like they simply want to “exercise their right” and to display their political allegiances in the most threatening way possible.

It’s fairly easy to understand how instilling fear in strangers would make someone feel powerful. We men tend to subconsciously rise up straight, puff out our chests and set our jaw straight when other men size us up or get too close. Or we look away, moving on, when it’s clear we can be overpowered. The gun on display lets us be the one who doesn’t look away, the one who would win that fight, and it does so without us needing to move— we just need to show off our piece. It feels like a quiet strength, like respect, but it isn’t.

Because the price of that power, socially, is that we have to show our paranoia and our deep-seated fear to have it. Carrying the gun creates the equivalent of the insane talker on the subway: others look away, slink on by, no one wants a confrontation, because this person is obviously unpredictable and has no need or understanding of the natural equations of power and risk.

" (There may) be occasions when Christians are mistaken on some point while nonbelievers get it right. Nevertheless, the overall systems of thought constructed by nonbelievers will be false—for if the system is not built on Biblical truth, then it will be built on some other ultimate principle. "

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Nancy Pearcey, “Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity”

This quote, found in Ryan Lizza’s fascinating and frightening New Yorker profile of Michele Bachmann, is one of the most succinct explanations I’ve ever seen of why, despite all evidence to the contrary, many fundamentalists refuse to believe in evolution: it is based upon the wrong principle.

Perhaps an explanation that Darwin was a devout Catholic could help? Somehow I doubt it; it’s hard to see how anyone could penetrate such circular logic.

And before the right starts saying, “It doesn’t matter how we got here; it only matters what we do about it now,” that’s nonsense. Accountability matters. Credibility matters. Responsibility matters. When those who screw up deliberately and then demand that they alone know what they’re talking about, it matters.

I recall thinking, early in the Bush presidency, that it seemed like the federal budget was being blown on purpose. It was hard to imagine how that wasn’t the case: the massive tax cuts, the ballooning waste, surely no one could be that irresponsible.

And yet, irresponsibility was ultimately an easier explanation than believing some paranoid story that Republicans were deliberately trying to bankrupt the country. Sure, that fit with the pledge that most GOP Congressmen had made to Grover “drown it in a bathtub” Norquist, but it was too cynical even for me.

After reading this article I’m starting to believe it once again. I don’t think the GOP has any intention of raising the debt ceiling. The constitutional requirement that we pay our debts may guarantee that our domestic commitments will be cut. Ultimately this may be the plan: raise the deficit so high that all revenues must go to interest payments when the debt celling isn’t raised, meaning the US can’t meet it’s internal needs, and must slash the programs that the GOP has fought against for years.

Sounds paranoid. But I can’t think of any other plan that the Republicans could be following, based on what they’ve said and done for the past ten years.

—jron

And why should we care? Turns out it’s a pretty big deal:

  • Lawmakers pay a small fee to join ALEC, which calls itself an educational non-profit.
  • ALEC receives massive contributions from major corporations for promotion. 
  • In return, ALEC organizes lavish junkets for member lawmakers (which are called “scholarships”) where they promote their clients’ ideas.
  • At the same time, ALEC writes model legislation at the request of those corporations, and they currently have hundreds of bills that are being followed, some verbatim, all over the country.

As an example, AZ State Sen. Russell Pearce discussed his ideas for Arizona’s controversial immigration bill at an ALEC conference, in the room with the largest private prison company, who then shifted their business focus onto detaining illegal immigrants. All of ALEC’s efforts involve attacking working people, consumer rights, and voting.

In their own words:  “ALEC provides you with sound policies and resolutions that offer limited-government free-market solutions for your state.  ALEC is pleased to present its new model legislation that was recently introduced at the 2011 Spring Task Force Summit.” 

To see what laws your state is considering that were drafted by ALEC, visit alecexposed.org.

azspot:

Democrats were united on one issue in the 2008 presidential election: the absolute disaster that a John McCain victory would have produced. And they were right. McCain as president would clearly have produced a long string of catastrophes: He would probably have approved a failed troop surge in Afghanistan, engaged in worldwide extrajudicial assassination and kidnapping, destabilized nuclear-armed Pakistan, failed to bring Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to the negotiating table, expanded prosecution of whistle-blowers, sought to expand executive branch power, failed to close Guantanamo, failed to act on climate change, pushed both nuclear energy and a “nuclear weapons renaissance,” opened new areas to domestic oil drilling, failed to reform the financial sector enough to prevent another financial catastrophe, supported an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, ignored the poor, and failed to lower the jobless rate.

A lot of truth therein, but President Obama appointed two Supreme Court Justices — ponder upon who President McCain would have selected for those slots.

Not only that, he pushed through a healthcare package that’s more ambitious than social security was when it was first introduced, and designed to be built upon over time.

  • If we had President McCain, we’d be leading the charge in Libya to the cheers, not dismay, of the GOP.
  • We’d be emulating Hoover by slashing social programs to balance the budget without a stimulus bill.
  • We’d have no healthcare reform at all, unless you count limiting the ability to sue for malpractice.
  • We’d have VP Palin representing the US to the world, further destroying our credibility with our allies (and everyone else).
  • We’d have deregulation and tax cuts as a response to the financial meltdown, further rewarding those who got us into this mess. (You think there hasn’t been enough action? We’d be going in the other direction.)
  • We’d still have the voting rights division of the DOJ focused on deterring voting instead of on voting rights.
  • We’d still have a toothless EPA.
  • We’d still have an unprepared FEMA.
  • FDA wouldn’t have the power to control tobacco.
  • There’d be no Fair Pay Act.
  • There’d be no Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act.
  • Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would be strengthened instead of obsolete.
  • SCHIP wouldn’t have been expanded for 4 million kids.
  • We’d probably have no electronic medical record system begun.
  • We would definitely still have the Reagan travel ban on HIV-positive foreigners.
  • Medicare still wouldn’t be able to negotiate for cheaper drugs.
  • Two million more acres of wilderness and 15,000 more miles of rivers would not be under federal protection.
  • The White House would most likely still be rewriting environmental reports.
  • We’d probably still have a media blackout on return of fallen soldiers, and we wouldn’t recognize those who committed suicide.
  • There would be no federal 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.
  • States would still not be able to enact fuel standards above federal levels.
  • Carbon Dioxide emissions would still not be regulated.
  • There would still be no federal support for stem-cell research.
  • It’s possible nuclear nonproliferation talks would have been restarted but we don’t know.
  • We would not have reengaged in treaties to protect the Antarctic.
  • We would definitely not have reentered talks to curb global warming.
  • There would still be no family travel to Cuba.
  • All offshore tax havens would still be open.
  • We’d still have no-bid defense contracts.

I expect Republicans to say it doesn’t matter who you elect—they’ve been doing that for decades to encourage apathy and low turnout. That may be partly true when you’re talking about someone like Ben Nelson, but it’s not even close overall.

It’s supremely annoying when self-proclaimed liberals join the GOP equivalency bandwagon. It’s false, it’s stupid, and it needs to be called out as such.

—jron

" It’s the same damn story over and over. The state AFL-CIO chooses litigation and electoral politics over popular action, which dissolves everything into mush. Meanwhile, the right is vicious, crafty, and uncompromising. Guess who wins that sort of confrontation? Please prove me wrong someday, you sad American “left. "

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Doug Henwood: Wisconsin: game over? (via azspot)

The left came to trust the judiciary as an impartial body that would eventually rule in their favor, after decades of it being true. But it’s not anymore, and it’s past time we accepted that fact. Lawsuits only harden public opinion—we have to elevate our political actions, and our politicians need to raise their game even more so. Wisconsonites did this before Walker’s bill passed (and after), but lawsuits are no longer going to work in favor of the people. This is a new era, and we have to adjust to it.

Back in 2006, Illinois’s junior senator told my sister that he thought the strong conservative lean of the Supreme Court would convince liberals that they could no longer rely on the courts, and that this would be good in one sense, because the left would finally adjust their political tactics accordingly, in order to compete with the right.

I think we still need more convincing, despite Obama’s belief that we’ll understand this is new territory.

Old habits die hard.

(via azspot)

17%

That was the effective tax rate paid by the 400 Americans with the highest adjusted gross income in 2007, the most recent year with IRS data available. The figure is down from almost 30 percent in 2005. All in all, this April 15 could be the best tax day for the wealthy since the early 1930s - with top rates on ordinary income, capital gains, dividends, estates and gifts at or near historic lows.

(Source: azspot)

" Our new Government is founded upon…the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. "

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Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, in Savannah, Georgia on March 21, 1861

First, he makes it fairly clear that the Civil War was fought over slavery, even though there were no promising federal proposals to abolish it at the time.

The entire “cornerstone speech” is here, and well worth reading in full, because there are other points he raises that are still being debated, beyond the issue of slavery.

One of the things most fascinating to me about the speech is the rejection of the idea of national common wealth and federal rules or regulations, which dovetails in many ways with today’s conservatism. The idea of subjecting all commerce and improvements to local municipalities is, in my mind, counter to the idea of the United States being an actual cohesive nation (which was likely intentional, as the CSA was to be a confederation of states), and seems to me the basis for claims that the Civil War was about states’ rights.

States’ rights, however, were not the foundation of the revolt, but rather a conservative cause that was written into the new constitution, on par with presidential term limits, unrestricted corporatism (under a different name at the time, of course), and allowing cabinet officials to debate in the new congress. It is fascinating that most of those issues are still key conservative causes today.

Destroying the federal government’s power has risen and fallen in importance as a conservative goal for decades and decades, but has always been debated. Grover Norquist has been the most outspoken recent proponent, and his Club for Growth has succeeded in making it an integral part of the GOP’s mainstream base concerns today.

To me, this is nothing other than an “anti-patriotism,” and an idea that holds our entire country back from being as great as it really can be. It cripples our capability and willingness to respond to national crises, alienates whole communities from each other, undermines our health policies, and exacerbates our fiscal problems.

This is why I am opposed to nuclear power in the US. It’s not because I’m opposed to nuclear power per se, but because Congress and the GOP continue to undermine the federal government’s power to regulate. Comparing our regulatory abilities to those of Japan, I simply do not believe nuclear facilities in the US will be properly maintained over the long term.

This approach to government needs to be finally called what it is: destructive, anarchic, and frankly anti-American.

—jron