Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Friday
Jun082012

The Commentariat -- June 9, 2012

President Obama's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

CW: Optimism! So if we could build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam & the Empire State Building during the depths of the depression, why the hell don't we do something equally fabulous now? Tim Egan celebrates the anniversaries of the Golden Gate Bridge & the Seattle Space Needle, built 25 years later.

... I spoke too soon. It just occurred to me that an old friend of mine -- Chuck Middleton, President of Roosevelt University in Chicago -- just built this -- and he began the project just as the recession hit. Chicago Tribune story here. The building was dedicated May 5 of this year.

 

 

New York Times Editors: "Religious conservatives are losing one of their primary arguments for trying to ban the morning-after birth control pill that can prevent pregnancy if taken within days after sexual intercourse.... As Pam Belluck reported in The Times on Wednesday, the latest scientific findings and expert opinion indicate that the pills work by delaying ovulation.... This page supports easy access to the morning-after pill without a doctor's prescription.... We also support a treatment regimen based on RU-486, which does abort an implanted embryo weeks after the morning-after pill no longer works. It provides a safe alternative to the dwindling availability of surgical abortions in many areas. The decision on taking RU-486 should be left to women and their doctors."

CW: I see Charles Pierce & I are on the same page (see my comment in yesterday's Commentariat): "The recall provision exists in Wisconsin law not as a kind of impeachment-by-other-means, but as a direct response to the depredations of corporate wealth upon the political commonwealth that were rife the last time we had a Gilded Age. That so many Wisconsinites forgot this is a tribute to seven months of television advertising and the fact that we don't teach civics any more.... The recall was a vehicle, nothing more, and, if nothing else, it kept Walker from calling the legislature into special session to do even more damage before the November elections."

Yesterday I linked to a story of dubious origin that charged that White House e-mails proved President Obama had secretly broken his campaign pledge to fight for the importation of safe, cheaper drugs. Peter Baker of the New York Times confirms the story. His piece, which tells what happened step-by-step, is worth a read.

Woodward & Bernstein: Nixon -- "Far worse than we thought." The Post has a page of links to stories on Watergate; to refresh your memories or perhaps learn some of the highlights for the first time, this is a good place to start.

Presidential Race

James Downie of the Washington Post responds to Republicans going nutso over President Obama's remark yesterday that "The private sector is doing fine," a remark he later walked back in an Oval Office press availability. It's doing a lot finer, Downie argues, than it would be under Romney's economic prescription. ...

... Here's the walkback. Note the President's reference to firefighters, police & teachers:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

.... Who Needs Firemen, Police & Teachers? Here's part of Willard's response to Obama's presser yesterday:

     ... Read Steve Benen on this. He's livid: "Let's be clear about this: Romney is rejecting the idea of saving the jobs of cops, firefighters, and teachers. He sees this as an applause line. The Republican nominee for president believes we can 'help the American people' by laying off, not just public-sector workers in general, but specifically cops, firefighters, and teachers." ...

     ... Greg Sargent, in the same vein: "At the same time, however, Romney takes care to show great sympathy with first responders. As Jonathan Chait has noted, Romney has spoken movingly of the financial plight of firefighters under Obama, even though they belong to the parasitic class that he is trying to scapegoat for the economic misery of other Americans. ...

We knew Mitt Romney liked firing people, but we didn't know that included firefighters and cops. Middle-class voters already distrust Mitt Romney for being out-of-touch and uncaring about regular folks. Bragging about wanting to give pink slips to first responders only cements that perception. -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

     ... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos gets it exactly right: "In his words, firing government workers would put other Americans 'back to work.' But that's nuts. Anytime somebody loses a job, it's bad news for the economy. That alone demonstrates that Mitt Romney doesn't understand what it takes to be president." CW: note that in his walkback, the President makes crystal clear that he understands that working teachers, firefighters & police contribute to the economy.

Steve Benen chronicles "Mitt's Mendacity" of the week. Benen finds 20 whoppers in Week 21. The segment from Rachel Maddow's show embedded in the post brings home the point that Willard is completely -- and oddly -- shameless. When he's caught in a lie, he just keeps telling it. He has even defended telling lies as a valid & standard political tactic.

Andrew Sullivan: Obama "must make it plainer that, in this country's politics, he is still the change agent. If he weren't, why would they have done so much to stop him?"

Local News

CW: I'm posting this story only because the island is a few miles upriver from my house:

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "On Thursday, a 1.4-acre patch of land on the Caloosahatchee River off Fort Myers, Fla., was gaveled away in an unusual Internet auction that featured the private island.... The new owner walked away with $258,5000 worth of sand, rock, oak trees and sea grapes, and, of course, a battalion of Florida's unofficial mascots, mosquitoes." CW: Alvarez is exaggerating the mosquito population; the water here is brackish, so mosquitoes can't mate & there's always a breeze on the river. This is a manmade island, built when the Corps of Engineers dredged a channel through the river to complete the Intercoastal Waterway. Another larger island, near the city center, is for sale for about $5 million. Other islands in the river are bird sanctuaries. ...

... In slightly more important Florida news ... Joseph Williams of Politico: "Good-government advocates have sued the state of Florida, alleging its purge of non-citizens from voter rolls has swept up too many legally-registered African American and Latino voters and is undermining laws that ensure fair access to the ballot box."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A federal health official's ruling has cleared the way for 50 different types of cancer to be added to the list of sicknesses covered by a $4.3 billion fund set up to compensate and treat people exposed to the toxic smoke, dust and fumes in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

AP: "Spain could ask for a rescue of its troubled banks this weekend when European finance ministers hold an emergency conference call Saturday to discuss its hurting lending sector, a move that would turn the nation into the fourth from the 17-nation eurozone to seek outside help since the continent's financial crisis erupted two years ago." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Responding to increasingly urgent calls from across Europe and the United States, Spain on Saturday requested assistance for its cash-starved banks. European finance ministers in turn promised up to $125 billion in aid, which they hope will quell rising financial turmoil ahead of elections in Greece that could roil world markets."

Guardian: "Bradley Manning has failed to persuade a military judge to throw out half of the counts against him in a pre-trial hearing before his court martial for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of state secrets to WikiLeaks. Colonel Denise Lind, presiding over the proceedings at Fort Meade in Maryland, rejected a defence motion that 10 of the 22 counts against the US soldier should be dismissed."

Washington Post: "Former D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown pleaded guilty Friday to lying on bank-loan applications and violating a city campaign law, branding a once-promising star in local politics as a convicted felon."

AP: "China will launch three astronauts this month to dock with an orbiting experimental module, and the crew might include its first female space traveler, a government news agency said Saturday."

Reader Comments (14)

Interesting story on the island--and, fittingly, you found some corrections to make! Ok about the mosquitoes, but..are there snakes??

And if the Corps of Engineers can create a valuable island....

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralphonsegaston

@alphonsegaston. Snakes. We got snakes. We got lizards that look like snakes -- long & slithery & got no feet (but got no scales). We got river rats -- my husband has caught 5 in the basement & one got in the kitchen once -- I screamed bloody murder. We got giant palmetto bugs a/k/a cockroaches. We got spiders -- my neighbor whacked one on her kitchen floor & it exploded with a hundred babies running in all directions. We got a big critter -- maybe one of the many opossums around or a raccoon -- who is eating my mangoes (haven't seen him, just seen the hollowed-out mangoes). We got alligators. I saw a 12-footer swimming past one time. We got monitor lizards -- there was a 7-foot monster on my seawall the night of the 2000 election -- not a good omen. We got iguanas. But we also got manatees, an occasional dolphin, lots of tarpon, snow crabs you can harvest off your dock if you have a mind to, pelicans, egrets (one of the bird sanctuaries I see from my yard, which I think the Audubon Society maintains, looks like a white cloud some afternoons, as egrets nearly cover the trees), cranes & herons, flocks of ibis, giant green parakeets (descendents of domesticated birds), bald eagles & osprey, plus the usual snowbirds, both fowl & human. It's a wilderness in the city. For better or for worse.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@Carlyle. Thanks. I will heed your advice, offered in the same spirit I'd guess as my threat to slip on North, tho' I remember--in real, true, honest to goodness fact-- black flies swarming along the Nation River, so thick I spooned them in with my food, and so ravenous themselves that I watched my blood running down my legs into the water as we lined our canoe through a shallow stretch of clear and cold---but, perhaps because the water was so cold, their bites didn't hurt. I've always tried to avoid the ones that do. But bad as the biting ones might be, living in Ronmeydom--after eight years of Bushdom I cannot forget-- might well be worse.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

From @Dave S.

Blast from the past in today's WaPo:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/woodward-and-bernstein-40-years-after-watergate-nixon-was-far-worse-than-we-thought/2012/06/08/gJQAlsi0NV_print.html

...and today's GOP is far worse than Nixon was.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Apropos of nothing except perhaps bad men in politics, Rick Scott has been on my mind. There is something––is fey the right word?––about him, the way he moves, turns his head in an almost coquettish way, his speech which seems to me to be lacking in heft––and then what comes out of that mouth smacks of sophomoric blather. And I'm wondering how this man who was CEO of a health concern that went belly up because of fraudulent practices could get elected as governor, but as I write this sentence I realize how futile a question.

Continuing with bad men: the picture of Nixon reminded me of the phrase––"nattering nabobs..." that someone used the other night on a news show. Bill Safire, that skillful ventriloquist, praised for his brilliant lexicon, had the perfect dummy in Spiro Agnew whose cool, uninflected voice was the perfect vehicle. The most famous of these triumphant linguistic confections was the aforementioned nattering, but here is the complete piece:

"In the United Sates today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. they have forgotten their 4H club––the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

Imagine the fun Bill must have had collecting all those N and H words to produce such memorable alliterations.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I'm still trying to figure out how firing police and firefighters and teachers creates jobs. Willard never explains it....or I missed something.
He sure doesn't seem to get some simple concepts such as the role of demand or the goal of expansion of the economy. He must think it's a zero sum game and if you hire a teacher you have to fire someone else, perhaps someone in the private sector?
As I said, I'm perplexed.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

To understand the resistance of the T GOP to all things that would be good for America, just keep in mind they are just following the well laid out plan of the 1%

By being against everything except military spending they are pusing the way toward the "Secular Caliphate of the 1$

Three candidates for "Supreme Leader": Ron Paul, Donald the Great and Rick Santorum. Rand Paul will wait.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJefffrey

Germane to Victoria's, and I guess all of our frustration with divided politics, is this interview from Bill Moyer's.

http://billmoyers.com/episode/encore-how-do-conservatives-and-liberals-see-the-world/

Apropos Chris Chirstie just this past week at the CPAC conference wow'd the crowd by saying "We're right and they're wrong!" Yeah there's no one more divisive but at after watching this I feel a little less anger and angst and a little more thoughtful about how we can bridge this divide. I found this a fascinating discussion.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Obviously, my problem is NOT fixed. This interesting comment just plain got disappeared:

From Nadd2:

Recovering from my strenuous efforts to recall Scott Walker, I want to comment on some of the comments. First, we had little control over the timing of the election. The overwhelming surge of Wisconsin residents eager to sign recall petitions meant that we couldn't delay much it beyond the legal starting date. It was the Republicans who, with their court cases, filings, and other delaying tactics, managed to just push the election to the first week in June when students had left. Second, if we hadn't had more than one candidate, the Republicans would have run a "fake Democrat" to ensure a primary (although I agree that uniting behind one candidate early would have been preferable). Third, retaking the State Senate is a huge deal. If Walker still could count on majorities in both houses of the legislature, we would be seeing an immediate call for a special session to ram through more of his extreme agenda. Because of his successful efforts to consolidate power in the governor's office, he can still do some damage, but not as much.

CW Update: I take it back. The comment appears in yesterday's thread. However, we should all read it because Nadd2 addresses some of the issues we've been talking about & s/he does it from an "insider'"s perspective. Very informative.

June 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Marie,

How frustrating! Once again thanks for all you do. That's a great comment and commensurate with much that I have read. I forgot about the fake democrat. I still think Moyer's interview is worthwhile, but now I'm troubled that it only superficially addressed the immorality of the dirty tricks squad. It's a fitting reminder on the anniversary of the Watergate exposition that we have much work to do to bring real integrity to our governance.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Note to DaveS: There can be no no real integrity to [or in] our governance so long as money rules.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

I'm the one who thought the senate win was meaningless. I did not realize special sessions are often called. However even if the Republicans had retained the senate, I think Walker would choose to lay back for a while - play nice, beer and brats and all that. The last thing Wisconsin wants right now is another fight. Better to finish off the unions after November. And I do think they will go down. The other day the NYT had a piece about the pension vote in San Diego and San Jose. There were lots of comments and they weighed heavily against the unions - really heavily. Pretty astounding for NYT readers.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaley Simon

@James Singer

Point taken. Yes work to get the money out. But that money is only exploiting divisions that already exist. Heal the divisions and the money is muted. There has to be a way to defeat the fascists. It's been done before, and it was never easy. If history is a guide it will be ugly. Can we find another way?

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

@ Dave S. I think I posted the Moyers interview of Haidt a while back. I watched it, anyway. I think Haidt is a bit naive & hasn't thought things through.

Let's look at a few of his premises. Liberals are more open to new experience than are conservatives. That's true as far as it goes. But it doesn't take a genius to move on to the next step: liberals are more open to new experience than are conservatives because they taught themselves to be. It's quite natural -- for all of us -- to be comfortable with what we know. But liberals push their own boundaries. Yeah, when I was 16, I would have been embarrassed to be staring up at the penis of Michelangelo's David. But I grew out of it. Indeed, I have stared up at the penis of the David, with strangers milling about, & I don't recall feeling any embarrassment at all. But then, I saw it when I was well past the age of 16. So, at 16 my view of sexuality was conservative. I could have remained naive & grown up to be a prim church lady. In my case, getting over teenaged embarrassment might relate to personal experience. But it doesn't have to. Consider Sister Margaret Farley. Her liberal ideas about sexuality, except perhaps in relation to masturbation, do not likely reflect her personal experience. She's just does not limit her views to what she learned/believed when she was 16. I think it's fair to say, with all due respect, that conservatives are emotionally and intellectually retarded. Haidt doesn't seem to even consider that.

While Haidt is partially correct about tribalism, even there what he is really describing is conservative behavior. I don't think I'm better than you because I had such-and-such an experience & you had a different one. I don't belong to the University of Wisconsin tribe or the Irish heritage tribe. Haidt says we judge people on these bases every time we interact with them. I don't. I expect people to have beliefs, experiences & foibles which are different from mine. It is the differences that make other people interesting to me.

(I do agree with Haidt about Democrats lacking a coherent narrative, but that is tactics much more than substance. I'll admit Obama is squishy on substance, too, but that goes back to his basic desire to do what Lincoln correctly said can't be done: "please all of the people all of the time." The desire to please is sort of a politician's curse. Look where it got Bill Clinton: claiming in sworn testimony that the meaning of "is" is mutable.)

I don't mean to suggest that Haidt is completely wrong. I just think he is too willing to accept as justifiable conservative views that are in fact naive and simplistic. He doesn't make me want to go hug a conservative.

Etc.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.