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I will not, as I can not, explain or mitigate the professionally annoyed and annoying creatures of this world whose allegiance to party or hatred of party is such that reason is a mere hostage in their daily dramas. For most of them, the market explains them, or personal pathologies do, but logic is of no use as an analytical tool. Rage radio gets more listeners by making anger, and the speakers may believe what they say or not -- it's irrelevant -- and logic is simply a tether that marks how far they may go before alienating their market and becoming the middle of the night conspiracy guy. The dedicated omphalus of rage -- a Hannity or the like -- may have some genuine psychological deviation in maturation or some trauma or some bit of malign experience magnetized to some center of joy, but logic will not pry such things loose from any distance.

However, the passing man, and it usually is a man, or the staid woman who is certain beyond discussion of the secret truth that is contrary to what you and I trade in can be understood, at least in impulse. Such a person is not bad, but there is a reason for the unreason. Part of it, I will argue below our cornice of orange, is due to the two phases of memory among Republicans -- the legendary and the oblivious -- and part of it is due to a simple frustration with logic itself.

If you don't know yet, I hate to be the one to bear the brunt of the argument, but logic is insufficient for human experience. See below, if you wish.

I'm a Jonathan Swift specialist, so when I met the existentialists saying that reason wasn't everything, I thought, "Duh!" Or perhaps I was an existentialist, so, when I read Swift, I thought, "Darn right, Bubba!" Either way, Swift illustrates the problem with relying upon reason rather ingloriously. I can argue that reason isn't sufficient, but it's probably better if I allow the Dean to show you.

I think the advantages by the Proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.
[21] For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the Number of Papists, with whom we are Yearly over-run, being the principal Breeders of the Nation, as well as our most dangerous Enemies, and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the Kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their Advantage by the absence of so many good Protestants, 24  who have chosen rather to leave their Country, than stay at home, and pay Tythes against their Conscience, to an idolatrous Episcopal Curate.
[22] Secondly, the poorer Tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by Law may be made lyable to Distress, 25  and help to pay their Landlord's Rent, their Corn and Cattle being already seazed, and Money a thing unknown.
I'm sure you know the source, but, if you don't, you can visit Jack Lynch's wonderful annotation here. (And Jack Lynch is every hero since the crack of time, if you ask me, for the work he has done.) Charles Beaumont and others pointed out that there is nothing illogical about the Proposal. It's perfectly reasonable to breed the poor for venison.

In Book IV of Gullivers Travels, Gulliver meets the non plus ultra of reason: the Houhynymns. They are planning a genocide of the Yahoos (humans) on their island, as they consider the creatures pests, and Gulliver sails away from their island sadly. They expel him, you see, and his boat has sails made of Yahoo skins, which Gulliver regards as just another hide.

Jonathan Swift does this sort of thing fairly often: he presents his intellectual readers with a "modern" and scientific proposition where they must reject the entirely rational solution because it is at variance with the human. In other words, Jonathan Swift, the clergyman, insists on moral values that cannot be quantified or subjected to rational analysis. (Nevertheless, philosophers would do just that, later. Kant's "moral absolute" and Bentham's extension of the social would put such instinctive moral impulses on the operating table.)

Ok, you may not be writing angry comments yet, except you may be wondering what this has to do with conservatives and fearing that I'm going to let them off the hook.

"I know I'm right"

Consider this: there are arguments that are easy to make regardless of their validity. You know this already, probably. All of us who watch or participate in politics are aware that anyone arguing for laws "getting tough on drunk drivers" has a slam dunk. Try arguing that the laws are too strict and see what happens. (It is possible that we should argue that people demonstrate probable cause before arrest, even in drinking and driving, where licensure denotes a privilege.)

So, imagine the arguments surrounding something like the death penalty:
Pro: To satisfy, one must show
1. Irredeemable individuals
2. Crimes prevented by the threat of execution
3. Restorative principles.
This bar is nearly insurmountable. From a rational point of view, the argument is a wounded duck.
Con: To show a bad side, all one needs is
1. Unfair implementation
2. One innocent person on death row
3. Remediation and restoration in a single instance.
As most of us know, this is pathetically easy to meet. It has been met, over and over again. Nevertheless, it is possible to believe in the death penalty. In fact, I sort of do. I cannot defend that believe rationally, but I "know" that there are instances where a person is recidivous to death, violent, and in pain. I do not believe in my own ability to determine such a person, however.

There are numerous issues where constructing a rational argument is either difficult or impossible, and these issues most emphatically do not always mean that the issue is in the wrong as much as that discourse, social convention, and the rules of logic may not permit a proof of the position. Most frequently, the issues that evade discursive proof are moral issues, and these are the ones most likely to involve either a) tradition, b) family, c) intuition, d) community, e) "categorical imperatives."

So, let's take a relatively "clean" argument like my position that police should not randomly roadblock for sobriety tests, but should, instead, have probable cause that a crime is in commission before stopping a person. Legally, my argument loses. Politically, people will hiss my position. Socially, people will suspect that I drive drunk. (I actually don't drink -- too expensive.) Thus, in every regard, I will find myself saying, again and again, "Police should need to see that a crime is being committed before they arrest a citizen!" and I will lose face and place.

It's enough to make a person hostile toward argument. It's enough to make one fold one's arms and say, "I'm right, and I know it. I don't care what you say."

Bible College and Fireworks Stand
For casual conservatives, things like abortion are simple matters of feeling or conviction. The same is true of issues of safety. They cannot argue these positions, even if they are articulate, and their intellectual champions are routed fairly regularly. They thus retreat into a position of hostility toward argument itself, if not toward reason.

Long Legends and Short Memories

Who won the 1960 Presidential election?

If you read textbooks or trust reality, then John F. Kennedy won the election. However, since 1960, there has been a seething, hateful, belief that Nixon won. You may not think about 1960 much, but it is accepted faith for the Republican Party that "dead people elected Kennedy" thanks to "Dailey's Democratic Machine in Chicago."

For Republicans, "Camelot" was the radicalizing insult. Santorum, as this article shows, isn't the only one still nursing the grudge. They not only felt robbed, but then insulted. This insult from the perceived sleight could not be appeased, either, by anything, because it functioned as a perpetual justification and warning: "They stole 1960, so I say screw 'em."

You and I think of JFK as a foreign policy hawk and domestic policy liberal. They think of him as "the 1960's" personified. Extramarital affairs, charisma, eloquence, education, dazzling logic -- all of the things they would have trouble mustering were in one package, and they were certain that America would never have chosen it.

It is an article of faith in the GOP that this Tammany Hall styled "Democratic Machine" existed and exists, that it steals elections, and that this justifies desperate responses. Part of this is a way of capitalizing on an even longer memory/legend in the South: the mythical Reconstruction legislatures that voted the way carpet baggers wanted. (Such a legend had, indeed, acted as justification for the Talmadge, Bilbo, Long and the others who established machines against them.) It is a similar article of faith that "Borking" means that partisan and arbitrary treatment of appointees is now "fair."

For Democrats, the insulting behavior of Ronald Reagan toward all who held different opinions radicalized many. (He made me radical.) I've been told that W. Bush has done the same for another generation, and the GOP will never realize that the 2004 "I'm gonna spend it" of Bush made a good many liberal kids into radical kids. However, what radicalized most of the left was an ongoing series of actions and overt dismissals that merely saw expression in Romney's "47%" comment or Ryan's "makers and takers" dichotomy. We've not only been called worse, but we've been called worse nearly every year.

For the long memory GOP the truth of historical injustice is irrelevant. It is mythic. It serves as a defining moment, like a flight from Egypt. Goldwater and Reagan rise to mountain sides because they are holy, not because they did or said or thought holy things. The truth value comes from the apotheosis itself.

Placing a 'fact' into the legend makes it true, just as placing a figure into the constellation of conservative heroes makes that person heroic.

. . . and the Short Now

The people who are committed, lifelong conservatives are angry at us because of historical injustices that are true because they are believed. They do not need for the injustices to have consequences, or for them to be met; they simply need them to be a sempiternal cause. (Viz. the battle against "Welfare" this year. You and I know that there is no such thing. Gingrich won in 1994, and Clinton capitulated, and there is no such beast. If the GOP base were polled, they would probably say that Welfare is a federal program that makes a comfortable living.)

Most folks are going through their day. They extrapolate from their senses and personal experiences. If there are clever ways to screw up, they don't spend time working through them. Hasty generalizations are par, and either/or thinking is a valid proposition for most of them. They have work to do, families to raise, and happiness to achieve.

For reasons mysterious, the amount of history carried in a person's mind seems to be getting briefer. This may be an illusion, but it is a convincing one.

Recently, I asked my students to read the very well written "Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws" by Suevon Lee at Pro Publica. The students were supposed to evaluate it as informative writing. (It's really good.) The results surprised me. They changed the author's sex several times, which did not surprise me, but their view of the issue did.

The students all began with the view that "voter fraud is a very serious issue." Even though the article makes it clear that fraud of any sort is at a rate of 1 in 15,000,000 votes, they still came back to their foundational assumption that "It is important to make sure that only those with the right to vote do so." The students accurately noted everything -- got the picture that in person fraud doesn't occur, realized that the laws pushed for the GOP -- but still came back to how important it was to "stop" "vote fraud."

These students were and are political naifs. They are also quite typical of the short now. "I have a law to stop voter fraud: everyone has to show a driver's license" gets proposed, and the listener thinks, "Voter fraud would be very bad. I have a driver's license. Pretty much everyone does, don't they? Sounds good to me."

My formerly liberal cousin said, "Why shouldn't I buy health insurance from Texas and make them compete?" Again: "competition lowers prices, so more competition is good." No problem. I then asked him if there was collusion and if the Standard Oil effect would occur or merger mania like the banks. He hadn't considered that before, but he figured there was no competition now, so how bad would it be? I then asked him about bank influence in Congress now that there are only five of them.

Tolerating their rage

Should we be the bigger women and men? Well, yes, but that usually just means being the bigger sucker.

No yore awe dance
I suppose it means knowing why your uncle or sister is blowing steam out of every hole and emitting a moaning shriek that has sent the animals to their dens and set the local monastery to its prayers. If you have on your hands a Party Faithful, then that person is sure already -- long before this election -- that everything you are aligned with is thieving, stealing, and sapping strength for misbegotten ideals.

I would like to think that most of us find ourselves across from folks who have gotten a gullet of rage radio or simple solutions to complex problems. If the former, all I know how to do is duck (and hope that duck isn't on the menu). Since reason won't be involved in the construction of the complaint, your answer won't work, whatever it is.
Try this:

"Bob, you ever notice that those radio guys want you to be upset? Seriously, that's how they make their money. They're not getting elected, and they're rich, so what's it to them? They just want you really angry, and anger is a bad thing for a holiday."
Also, though, watch out for something else: if someone is arguing from convictions and morality, please don't try to make that person look foolish. That person's positions come from concerns over behavior and society, and anything you do that doesn't respect the other person's basic commitment to wanting a better world is a disservice and a failure. Reason may not guide us to the best solution, but conversation can help.

Reminding each other of the need for humility and the fallibility of we Yahoos never hurts, either.

Originally posted to A Frayed Knot on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Defending the believe (9+ / 0-)

    It should be "belief," but I need to stop editing and saving so often, or I might break the sandbox.

    Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

    by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:00:05 PM PST

  •  Changed the photo (6+ / 0-)

    In the second section, I had a photograph of a lawn jockey in the Bronx. I removed that and replaced it with one of my favorite photos. I did this because, while the idea that lawn jockeys are not racist is an example of one of the things I'm talking about, I should not want to gratuitously use that image. It's offensive by itself, and I will use it if I am writing about racial ignorance specifically.

    The new image reflects the same illustration, I think, of anti-ratiocination. (That's worth a bunch of points in Scrabble.)

    Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

    by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:09:54 PM PST

    •  The text on the signage in the photo is (5+ / 0-)

      tantalizingly unreadable -- just not enough pixels.  If this undecipherability serves your point, it is a point poorly served.

      Almost nothing has a name.

      by johanus on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 01:34:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which one? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, KateCrashes, JVolvo

        The photo of the truck is the replacement photo, and I think it's quite legible. The vegetable stand, on the other hand, was a question of mercy to readers by small size vs. large size for a road sign.

        The truck from the Bible College and Fireworks is my favorite. The other was simply a fruit stand misspelling the names of things, and I would argue doing so to attract customers (i.e. "I'm really authentick caus I cant spel"). In that case, the image is not really needed to illustrate as much as to offer a diversion for people who have been reading a lot of text.

        Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

        by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 02:15:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The second image - the sign is unreadable (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lineatus, johanus

          Although you say here that it isn't really necessary but merely a diversion, that image distracted me from your text because I was trying, unsuccessfully, to read it.  Which is a pity as you have written a very interesting diary.  If you want to avoid annoying your readers I would either make it legible or remove it.

          "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

          by matching mole on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:36:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, I'm SO sorry I have to post this (2+ / 0-)

    I agreed with you right to the end, and then you wrote this:

    if someone is arguing from convictions and morality, please don't try to make that person look foolish. That person's positions come from concerns over behavior and society, and anything you do that doesn't respect the other person's basic commitment to wanting a better world is a disservice and a failure.
    So when Peter LaBarbera says THIS:
    Who are we kidding? This titanic fight has always been about homosexuality, not just “defending marriage.” We need to stop conceding the moral high ground in a fearful bid to appear “tolerant”: one pro-family group, Protect Marriage Maine, asserted that “same-sex couples are entitled to respect” – a claim at odds with historic Scriptural teaching. While Christians should respect all persons as made in God’s image, we must never “respect” behaviors and relationships grounded in sexual sin.
    Do you REALLY want me to turn the other cheek?

    I didn't think so.  There are some arguments people make out of "concerns" that just cannot be sanctioned.  Segregation was one of them.  So is homophobia.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:17:47 PM PST

    •  Sorry, but (7+ / 0-)

      I don't think you can object to that paragraph when you agree with the rest of the diary. You've constructed a straw man. The paragraph doesn't suggest turning the other cheek or sanctioning repugnant beliefs. It simply suggests refraining from ridiculing a person for holding such beliefs. That's very different from condoning the beliefs. The foundation is respect for individual human beings -- not for their beliefs.

      •  some beliefs, and hence those professing them, (0+ / 0-)
        It simply suggests refraining from ridiculing a person for holding such beliefs.
        need to be ridiculed, lest they be given more credence then they are due. when you give respect, to someone opining ridiculous beliefs, you give them, and their ridiculous beliefs legitimacy, which is undeserved.

        such as mr. labarbera should be ridiculed, in public, as frequently as possible. he should be laughed at, in the public square, as his professed "beliefs" are shown to be nothing more than a drape, covering naked hate.

        •  I really have to disagree, (0+ / 0-)

          emphatically. I don't know how you get from "some beliefs need to be ridiculed" to "those professing them need to be ridiculed." Those aren't the same thing at all.

          When we oppose, dismiss, or argue against beliefs that we think are ridiculous, it's perfectly possible -- and in my view essential -- to do so in a manner that respects the individual espousing the ridiculous beliefs. It's even possible to expose someone as hypocritical, ignorant, disingenuous, or willfully obtuse while still treating them as a human being  worthy of respect.

          This approach certainly does not give any legitimacy to ridiculous beliefs. What it does is to acknowledge the essential spark of common humanity, or of spirit if you prefer, that imbues and animates each of us.

    •  He does not qualify ("See above") (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JVolvo, lineatus

      What I said was that the professionally disaffected are not my topic. Peter LaBerra's career is keeping the pot boiling, and his food comes from hating gay people. I think he probably is one of those suffering a pathology rather than a mere market niche.

      For people who make a simple position, such as even being against marriage equality, trying to make them look foolish is going to backfire (they'll dig in, because of they'll hear you as asking them to change a position on homosexuality). The reason, if we're talking about Aunt Minnie and Cousin Ted, is that such a person may say "gay marriage," but that person can only think in terms of church marriage. He or she starts from the simple experience he or she had and then applies a position of positive or negative feeling.

      Myself, I would argue, though. I'd say, "A Satan worshiping child killer and a bestiality practicing pagan can marry today, so long as they're male and female, so obviously marriage, as far as the state is concerned, has nothing to do with morality. It's a legal status. If we want to put a morality test on marriages done by the courthouse now, it's a little late."

      This has nothing to do with Peter LaBarbera or Bryan Fischer. Those folks are not basing their words on morality or religion or experience.

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:46:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Swift is a heavily flawed example. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonga 23

    There are a number of excellent logical reasons why eating the children of a neighboring people is not a good policy. Swift was not interested in reason at all, but in rhetoric, highlighting the consequences of the English occupation of Ireland by taking them to an absurd extreme. How anyone can consider his arguments a triumph of abstract reason escapes me entirely.

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 04:23:33 PM PST

    •  Have you read it? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JVolvo, Eikyu Saha, Nulwee

      You sound as if you are reading a summary someone wrote for you.

      Please read the Proposal, stop inserting a summary of "intent" before the reading, and recognize that saying "rhetoric" is not saying anything in this context.

      Yes, the composition is a perfect demonstration of the Ciceronian oration, and a dilettante may stop there as if it were a destination. Given the fact that Swift's parodic framework forces him to give away the game, it's obvious that he was not attempting to perform "abstract reason," whatever that may be.

      Instead, one might wish to know Swift's models. For that, you will need to read the Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences. Arbuthnot passed on many "hints" to Swift of the projects being proposed there. Additionally, the presses hummed with solutions for the balance of trade, from Charles Cotton on to Defoe to whomever one wishes. For Swift, the critique of the projectors of all sorts is always the same: have they checked their projects against humanity, against morality, and against "nature."

      I eagerly await the logical reasoning that has no recourse to morality that would make cannibalism taboo instead of, as Kant would have it, taboo first.

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:54:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  you should read more of it than the (0+ / 0-)

      Cliff's Notes version, which you clearly haven't. mr. swift was a brilliant satirist, which is why his work survives to this day, much as shakespeare's does. it speaks to the common human condition and politics, which haven't really changed all that much since the ancient greeks (and probably ancient chinese philosophers as well) first put them to paper.

  •  Mostly sound but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    if you ever update this or re-post it

    My formerly liberal cousin said, "Why shouldn't I buy health insurance from Texas and make them compete?" Again: "competition lowers prices, so more competition is good." No problem. I then asked him if there was collusion and if the Standard Oil effect would occur or merger mania like the banks. He hadn't considered that before, but he figured there was no competition now, so how bad would it be? I then asked him about bank influence in Congress now that there are only five of them.
    expand this.  I'm sure there is a valid point here and I just didn't see the connection.

    The next time you give your literary essay prompt on voter fraud you might precede it with an explanation of Type I v. Type II error which is essentially the voter fraud debate with rejecting legitimate voters in order to ensure all votes are legitimate being the Type I error.  Insisting on eliminating Type I error allows unacceptably high Type II error which is to say disenfranchisement

    I'm sure you are right and Republicans still harbor the perceived injustice of 1960 as their lens by which they view the world.  They have therefore rejected both logic and history-me I'm still not happy with the Republican party for stealing the election of 1876 and equally unhappy with Democrats for their part in the corrupt bargain known as the Compromise of 1877.

    "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. Keep the faith.

    by Tonga 23 on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:03:29 PM PST

    •  Interstate health insurance competition (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonga 23, JVolvo

      I'm no expert on this. I just have my own opinion.

      I know that interstate health insurance purchasing has been the GOP's answer to all complaints about health care, and I'm sure that the bogusness of it has been explained here at Kos by someone who has thought deeply about it.

      All that occurred to me was that the "interstate competition" would mean that Aetna or Humana would offer super discount rates in order to drive out other competitors, while operating from a state with low-to-no regulations. When the others had gone out of business, they would act as the usual oligopoly, but with the additional power of a subscriber base and capital holdings that could buffalo Congress.

      I'm sure that there are other problems -- the different status of regulation being chief. (E.g. if North Carolina enacts a law forbidding the "you must go to arbitration when we kill your family member" provision, then the company will magically be based in Texas.)

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:59:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Banks & insurers (0+ / 0-)

        Whatever the qualms about mega-banks, allowing interstate banking has not driven all smaller banks out of business. It has, though, resulted in all sorts of reduced consumer banking expenses and access to better banking products than,say, were available through the '70s.

        The lobbying issue is, I think, not mich of a talking point. Basically, lobbying will move out of the more-hidden statehouse corridors to the corridors of Congress.

        I myself would be happy to see the experiment, controlled with regulation, as necessary.

        •  Off our topic (0+ / 0-)

          As I say, this is not my topic, but I can't resist your begging the question. Interstate banking is a red herring. The destruction of Glass-Stegal marked the end of rational banking, as it meant that the poisonous apple of investment income and its illusions of "shared risk" overwhelmed the profits of banking. Interstate banking is nothing I brought up.

          I brought up interstate health insurance, where states have no control/regulations on the practices of the insurers operating in their borders. My analogy to the banks was in the merger mania that occurred with a permissive/promiscuous FTC and DoJ that allowed every single merger to go ahead. The result was that every time one bank bought another, competition and services decreased for consumers, and collusion became a fact without the need of any meeting between executives.

          Consider the ATM fee for use of a non-bank machine. Initially free, when one large bank charged, all banks charged. There was no need for collusion, because the command to maximize profits was in operation, and the need to compete for customers had vanished. That's oligopoly.

          What "products" and "services" have retail customers received from mass banks that state-wide (regional) banks did not provide? The already large C&S, Trust Company, Wachovia, etc. were both large and nimble before they were mollochs.

          Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

          by The Geogre on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 01:16:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  More off topic (0+ / 0-)

            I only hoped to suggest the possibility that interstate insurance would have little more danger to it than interstate banking—something that Glass-Steagall (amended, but not destroyed) had comparatively little to do with, as it merely recognized practices that had been put in place through state actions allowing interstate bank ownership by reciprocity.

            Among consumer benefits, I count widespread ATMs, free or inexpensive checking accounts, more convenient bank hours, and a variety of other products, such as debit cards, which were largely unknown 30 years ago.

  •  I had exactly that experience (9+ / 0-)

    In August, with my mother.  We were at lunch with a couple of her friends -- my yearly ritual when I go to visit my parents.  One of her friends, a staunch Democrat, asked me what I thought of Paul Ryan.  My mother said, great choice!  I said, yes, I think so too, as he will energize the R base; but his budget is a nightmare, it is mean.

    My mother basically agreed, but said, well, it isn't going to pass.

    Hmmm.  What to do?  Point out to her that the only way it wouldn't pass is if enough misguided people like me vote D and stop him?  So why not just shortcircuit the process and vote D yourself?

    Or just be quiet.  

    In the interest of familial harmony, I just said, Mom, he wants it to pass.

    My mother also at one point rather grandly and condescendingly said that she knew where my D impulses came from, but wasn't it a shame that I didn't have the facts.

    Again, could have shot back, well, Faux News is not exactly the best source of actual reality-based information, nor the things you forward in emails about the Kenyan Muslim in the white house . . .

    I just reminded her that I got  my values from her raising of me, and her catholicism which reminds us to care for others.

    Yes, she used to be rational, used to be a Democrat.  Not sure what happened . . .

    But it is no good to argue, truly, if one side of the discussion simply pulls rabbits out of a hat and calls them buffalo.  And not of interest to "win" and make my mother look silly -- I rather think she accomplished that on her own.  Sigh.  Love ya, mom.  (but eternally glad your party didn't win)

  •  Enjoyed this tremendously (5+ / 0-)

    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:25:16 PM PST

    •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, JVolvo

      Thanks. I don't know why people think I think I'm better than I know I am and feel obliged to tell me so. I just thought the first paragraph was about as hot a bit of writing as I'm likely to do this month, and we need to find a way to forgive what's going to happen at table today and tomorrow.

      (I actually wore a shirt I got some time ago from The Onion that reads, "My Vote Cancels Y'all's.")

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:04:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  IOW, the Age of Reason is no more. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre, Nulwee

    Very well written, but I wonder whether there is any way to counter the influence of the degenerates. Yes, that's right, I said degenerates. Not personally (necessarily) but culturally.  As the light and life fades from Western Culture, the outright hostility toward reason and tolerance will, I believe, only get worse. I just wish I knew how to change that.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:45:23 PM PST

    •  Translatio Stultitia! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tle, Ignacio Magaloni, JVolvo

      There is a trope that goes back to. . . well at least Charlemagne. . . that the "light of learning" has moved the way the sun has: westward. The thinking went that it started in Eden, Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, Paris. The English poet George Herbert was already predicting that it would go to America when there was nothing in America that was English except Jamestown. This metaphor is the translatio studii or movement of learning.

      Alexander Pope plays on this trope in The Dunciad by tracking the corresponding move. When the light of learning moves on, night comes. That's why the fourth book of the The Dunciad starts with his asking the "Dread Anarch" to pause just for a moment and then let darkness take the singer and the song.

      This is the translatio stultitia -- the movement of stupid.

      So, as we nod to the light in Tokyo and Beijing, we may do so from the gravest dark.

      To be serious, though, I don't know how we answer the devolution and duncification. The short now is horrendous, and I theorize that the instant message and the flat, memoryless Internet are shapers of it. The way to fight is with self discipline, which basically means we're screwed.

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:19:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whuh? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Geogre

        You obviously have a more thorough education than me; that's all completely new to me.  However, my reference to the West is straight from Spengler's Decline of the West (or, as I prefer to translate it, The Going Under of the Lands of Evening).  It's a book I strongly recommend.

        But yeah, we're screwed.

        I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

        by tle on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:45:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just more Classical, probably (0+ / 0-)

          Folks used to notice that City X was the center of learning, and they noticed that it had moved west from where they assumed all learning had begun. In the middle ages, metaphors were not merely metaphors -- a figure was supposed to betray a real relationship or be tossed in the ditch -- so they thought, "Light of knowledge really is light, like the sun, because it moves west, like the sun."

          If it does, though, then what happens to a former center of learning when it's a has-been? Night moves west, too. :-) As America took over from London, London would be "duncified."

          I think the metaphor is a metaphor, but -- man, oh, man -- it sure is getting dark.

          Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

          by The Geogre on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:03:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  One small thing (0+ / 0-)

        the internet is not memoryless. It remembers, pretty much, everything and enables it to be found.

        THAT's why those who use it effectively are such a thorn in the side of those who don't "believe" in its existence.

        Everything you say, everything you do, is recorded and preserved for as long as the power companies keep the juice flowing.

        On the other hand, the internet has no context for anything that it saves. Google doesn't "know" anything, it just records a set of relationships and defines some as more powerful than others, then lists them in order. WE provide the context but our memories are imperfect, so we use the net to recall the detail of the things we have half forgotten and make them whole again.

        It is the iron clad accuracy of the memory that so many people are having trouble with. Once we could "rely" on our memories to meet our needs/preference/predilections/prejudices, no more. The net keeps telling us that we are wrong about yesterday and that is driving a whole lot of cognitive dissonance; we aren't used to perfect memory and we have depended so long on our own, and others imperfect ones that we can't reorganise our minds to accommodate the new reality that emerges when we can't, or are not permitted to, forget.

        Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

        by Deep Dark on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 01:20:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry for compressing (0+ / 0-)

          I did a piece that was altogether too long about how I feel the tools are changing our minds. The Internet is both indelible and ephemeral.

          1. As Fred Kaplan argued some time ago, e-mail, PowerPoints and the like are marking the "end of history," as the primary documents that historians need for constructing narrative and which historians need even more for analysis are moving onto private media. If that were not bad enough, primary sources are on proprietary and obsolete formats, and every year's medium promises eternity and embeds a replacement.

          2. Of course it "remembers" what people store on servers, and thus there has never been an age when less stands between an individual and an education. All that is needed, today, is literacy and an Internet connection and one may have information. However, this requires organization and discernment, and the torrent is so thick, with so much profit margin that the surfeit drowns the potential.

          3. What I meant about "memoryless," though, was a pretty well discussed habit of humans to off load mental tasks. As soon as we learn to write, we can free up part of our remembering and let the paper hold the memory. We then use that for spatial organization of information. With the Internet, we have offloaded enormous amounts of our daily information.
          a) Reading maps
          b) Telling time
          c) Reading long works.
          Several people have argued, and some have experimentally shown, that heavy Internet use means that we "know we can find it" and therefore forget it.

          I just hate to be pedantic, and I don't want to sound like some ponderous jerk. For every person who hasn't heard of these concepts before, there will be at least one comment -- usually in first place -- saying, "Nothing you've said here is brand new research publishable in a journal." I'm sorry, though, if trying to sound like a pedant made me sound cryptic.

          Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

          by The Geogre on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 05:26:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I say what I think and peace be damned. nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  about 1960 (4+ / 0-)

    The 1960 election was 52 years ago, and has become the stuff of legend.  The facts don't matter much anymore.  But I will still point out that Kennedy won the electoral vote by a comfortable margin (since the system favored the candidate who won more states by narrow margins over the one who won fewer by wider margins.)  He got 303, Nixon got 219, and a segregationist Democrat, Gov. Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, got 15.  Even if you flip Illinois to Nixon, Kennedy still wins 288-234.  You would have to flip a few more states to give Nixon the win.  If things got really close, the Byrd electors might have voted for Kennedy.

    Illinois was (and still is) what we now call a "purple" state, and the Republicans downstate were (and still are) no less adept at gaming the system than the Chicago Democrats.

    The popular vote totals were also, for various reasons, unreliable in 1960.  The main reason is that two states, Alabama & Georgia, still elected Presidential electors directly, and they both elected some unpledged delegates (who voted for Gov. Byrd.)

    •  I entirely agree (0+ / 0-)

      The myth trumps truth, and the free electors of Alabama and Georgia messed things up, alright.

      There is no plausible way, in any reality, that "Nixon won." I tried to link to articles that offered objective rebuttals to the myth, but the myth remains, and I suspect its potency is not actually due to the feeling that Nixon was owed the presidency as this lingering. . .

      impenetrable. . .

      undisprovable. . .

      sense that "Democrats had dead people stuffing ballot boxes, in person, in smoke filled back rooms, while Dailey got a phone call from the Pope/Masons/Jews/Trilateral Commission/Gnomes of Zurich/Mafia."

      This last is the certainty. The non-disprovable is believable, believed, and thus justification. "Voter fraud is going on all the time! We don't have any prosecutions, and that just proves that they're getting away with it!" Once we posit a non-disprovable and then supply an organization for it, it's self-sustaining.

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:10:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Propaganda Addict (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo, The Geogre, Eikyu Saha

    ".....the propaganda addict...see in everything its propaganda content and nothing else....Everything is for or against him. nothing is innocent, nothing is pleasurable, everything is connected with his diseased apprehension of power. Before he gets power, he hates the people who have power; he does not trust their intelligence...personalities...good will...or motives. They must be scum because....he the propaganda infatuated man...should hold it."
    -Psychological Warfare, Linebarger, 1948

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:37:13 PM PST

    •  Ah, Mr. Hannity or Beck? (0+ / 0-)

      One thing I know for sure is that I should not have any power.

      Long ago, I realized that being responsible for things is more than I want: leaving the world without a footprint left behind is much more attractive.

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:12:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anger Porn / Rageaholics (6+ / 0-)

    I don't know who came up with "anger porn," but it seems to fit so well.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:40:41 PM PST

  •  Reasonable people don't change the world (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ignacio Magaloni

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 08:42:36 PM PST

  •  Fortunately, I'll have a house full of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    progressives today so I won't need this,

    "Bob, you ever notice that those radio guys want you to be upset? Seriously, that's how they make their money. They're not getting elected, and they're rich, so what's it to them? They just want you really angry, and anger is a bad thing for a holiday."
    I'm going to keep it in my back pocket though, just in case.  Thank you for your thoughtful diary.  It helps when other people remind me not to jump so quickly to angry responses.

    I lie to myself because I'm the only one who continues to believe me. - Vermin

    by 84thProblem on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 04:00:50 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this! Deep thought for Thanksgiving. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    I always love some intelligent epistemology and semiotics before turkey.

  •  Been a long time since... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Geogre

    I had a meaty and mind muscle stretch. I vey much enjoyed this. Recd and hot listed because this is heady stuff.

    I prize intelligence. So should all of us, but alas your mileage may vary.

    How much further to the right can the republicans go before they circumnavigate themselves? - MKDANAHER

    by Qantumreflection on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 06:40:32 AM PST

  •  yes there are: (0+ / 0-)
    Consider this: there are arguments that are easy to make regardless of their validity.
    and what separates me from the howling class, is that i recognize this to be true, and i don't attempt to force these arguments down other people's throats, by legislative fiat. therein lies the critical difference, between left and barking mad right. between a rick santorum who, if he could, would make morals into law, his religious beliefs legislated into legal canon, however irrational they might seem to the rest of us. transubstantiation would become a national standard. in effect, legislating magic.

    this is why we vigorously work against electing people like mr. santorum to positions of power, where they can cause real damage. or, once elected, and the truth of them be exposed, they are (hopefully) quickly dismissed from the public gate.

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