19 February 2017

Low-effort Thinkers

Senator Tom Cotten, a Republican from Arkansas, recently took to the Senate floor to denounce the border adjustment tax Paul Ryan has been promoting. While Cotten, along with others, made some good points about the effect of the tax, Cotten also said something very telling. He said “some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them.”

A few years ago, Cotten's home state University of Arkansas conducted a study to determine the approaches conservatives and liberals take toward analyzing public policy proposals. They tested self-described conservatives and liberals by asking them to consider public issues under various stages of stress. They found, as stress levels increased, the opinions of the liberals became more like those of the conservatives. In other words, as thinking about the issues became harder, liberals became more conservative. While none of the researchers said so, the clear implication of the work was that conservatives are low-effort thinkers. They want public policies that are easy to believe not hard to understand. Tom Cotten's statement, that “some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them” clearly reflects that phenomenon. He seems to believe an idea intellectuals prefer is "stupid."

I'd like to think that our legislators don't think that way but after what we've seen coming from the Republicans I think they do. They want to give their supporters public policies that are easy to believe because low-effort thinkers can't handle anything that's hard to understand.

12 November 2013

Easy to be Devout

Here's an article which deals with the resistance of evangelical preachers to deal with the problem created by red state rejection of Medicaid expansion, The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about.

The article notes the resistance of the preachers to condemn or even criticize the rejection of Medicaid expansion despite the great suffering which will result from it. The preachers say government has no part in providing relief to the poor and sick because it's the churches' responsibility.

Interestingly, those who don't trust Big Government do trust Big Religion. Perhaps it's because Big Religion has no power to compel compliance with its doctrine. Big Religion can tell us we should give relief to the poor and sick but if we don't we face no penalty. Big Government, of course, has tools to force compliance. Obviously, that makes being devout a good deal easier than being civic -- and gives us reason to doubt the sincerity of all who claim to be saved.

14 August 2013

Don't Eat Rat Cake

Much has been made in recent weeks of the return to grocery store shelves of Hostess snack cakes. The iconic Twinkie is back and consumers are happy to be able to buy it. The happiness may be short lived, though. Twinkies are being baked by rats. Yes, rats -- non-union bakers and bakery workers.

The danger doesn't have to persist, though, the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) is offering the new owners a chance to end the danger to consumers. They're offering them a chance to work with BCTGM to bring back the experienced and expert professional bakers the last owners betrayed. As this article, Twinkies Union Wants A New Slice Of The Cream-Filled Pie reports, BCTGM is willing to let the past remain the past and make a new deal to safely deliver what American consumers want.

Let's hope they succeed but in the meantime, try Tastykakes. They're union-made and actually are quite tasty. Check the website for availability in your area.

29 January 2013

Debunking the Second Amendment

When a parent of one of the Sandy Hook victims appeared before a hearing at the Connecticut Capitol to talk about stricter gun control, he may never have expected to be the target of verbal abuse in the hearing room. Apparently he expected too much from the gun cult.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Parents of children killed in the Newtown school shooting called for better enforcement of gun laws and tougher penalties for violators Monday at a hearing that revealed the divide in the gun-control debate, with advocates for gun rights shouting at the father of one 6-year-old victim.

Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was killed in last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, asked people in the room to put themselves in his position as he questioned the need for any civilian to own semiautomatic, military-style weapons.

‘‘It’s not a good feeling. Not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket or looking at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. It’s a real sad thing,’’ said Heslin, who held up a large framed photograph of himself and his son.

A handful of people at the packed legislative hearing then shouted about their Second Amendment rights when Heslin asked if anyone could provide a reason for a civilian to own an assault-style weapon.

Newtown parents urge enforcement of gun laws

The gun cult are low-effort thinkers. As long as we allow them to lean on the Second Amendment, they will continue to resist strict gun control. We need an interpretation of the Second Amendment which denies it to the gun cult and that wouldn't be hard to create.

The Second Amendment has been said to be the least clear and most ambiguous of the Bill of Rights. That shouldn't surprise anyone. We've been arguing about it for decades and only found in it a personal right to guns in 2008 when the judicial hacks of the Supreme Court created one. That came after years and years of gun cult propagandizing.

The thing about propaganda is, it can be made to work both ways. It can do good as well as bad. To be successful, a strict gun control movement would have to create its own view of the Second Amendment. It would have to forget about fighting with gun cult stooges in Congress and create a pervasive new understanding of the Second Amendment which doesn't include a right of personal gun possession.

That would be relatively easy to do. The Second Amendment is not about guns. It is about the military. It never was intended to declare a right gun possession. It was intended to ensure the military comprised common citizens. The "right of the People to keep and bear arms" means we should have common citizens in the military not everyone can have a gun. That's what the Founders intended.

25 January 2013

Filibuster-reforming with the Devil

Apparently, the Senate has its filibuster reform. To me it deosn't seem to be much and that sentiment is confirmed by a Republican Senator:

“The rules change doesn’t really do a lot,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) told TPM, saying he’d vote for it. “It certainly preserves the 60-vote threshold, preserves the blue slip procedure. It preserves the filibuster. And that’s important heritage for the Senate.”

Apparently, preservation was Harry Reid's goal. Maybe he thinks the Democrats will be able to use the rules when they don't have the majority. If that's the case, Reid seems foolish. Republicans don't respect tradition. They're perfectly willing to throw-aside tradition if they see a political advantage in doing it.

Reid should be more cautious. Not just for what he's doing to the Senate but also for what he'd doing to himself. Negotiating with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is like dealing with the Devil. Anyone who attempts it deserves to be regarded with some suspicion.

21 January 2013

A Loyalty Oath for Social Security

At National Memo, Eric Laursen asks What Do Americans Really Think About Social Security?

According to Laursen, Americans have been overwhelming supportive of Social Security for just about forever. Survey after survey has reported a solid majority of Americans like the program and have since its inception. Regardless of what the policy-makers say, about it and its problems, they want it protected under any circumstance. That support, however, creates a bit of a puzzle. Why do we have so many in Washington and the power centers opposing it?

One reason may be that these lawmakers, policy wonks, lobbyists, and upper-tier journalists tend to see Social Security—like many other things—as a quantitative puzzle rather than a human problem.

Why do we elect lawmakers who don't see SS the same way we do? Is it because support for SS among the voters is so widespread and so strong we just assume the candidates hold the same opinion we do? If that's the case, we ought to become more active in ensuring the policy-makers understand the depth of support for SS. This seems like a political problem and one which may be easy to solve. No candidate ever should elected without making a pledge to protect SS.

Maybe we need a Grover Norquist-like loyalty oath to SS. Each candidate for public office should be offered a chance to sign the pledge. Anyone who doesn't should be opposed as a threat to economic security of the American People. The loyalty oath seems to work for right wing extremists--policy-makers are terrified of Grover Norquist. Maybe it's time to take a lesson and use their tactics against them.

19 January 2013

Ann Wagner Embarrasses Missouri

Ann Wagner is the newly elected US Representative for my home state of Missouri's Second District. She replaced the disgraced Todd Akin who embarrassed the citizens of Missouri with his comments about "legitimate rape." While Wagner may never sink to Akin's level, she's already embarrassing Missouri.

HR 152 was the House's legislation to fund Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Ann Wagner voted against it. Despite all the help Missouri received when a killer tornado devastated Joplin, Wagner voted against helping our fellow Americans in the Northeast.

It disgraceful and shameful. According to Wagner, it's OK to take but not to give back. I never thought that's the shame we'd have to bear, that we'd be known as deadbeats.