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  1. Renegade


    You are misusing the term 'white trash'. white trash /ˈˌ(h)wīt ˈtraSH/ noun INFORMAL•DEROGATORY poor white people, especially those living in the southern US.
  2. I had about the same. My experience with classroom philosophy wasn't a good one. The main thrust of the course was learning the taxonomy of philosophers' theories, but my interest was more critical/analytical. I didn't really care what you call it or who got credit for starting it; I only care whether it's practical and how it affects the people who adhere to it. This is probably off topic for this thread, but it's interesting and I don't feel like starting a new one. What's your philosophy? Mine has two parts. 1) one action is better than another if it brings more well-being to a greater number of people. (sounds like utilitarianism). But, it's not quite that simple. 2) Well-being is subjective. You can't know whether you brought the other person well-being without asking them. As an example, let's say I take an action that results in better health for you. You'll live longer and have lower medical bills and fewer trips to the doctor. However, as a cost, you'll also have less fun. Was my action 'good' or 'bad'? In my philosophy, you're the only person who can answer that.
  3. Good example. It also runs the other way. Pro-life Democrats are becoming extinct as well. To a point, I agree with everything you said. Of course money influences politicians. But, it always has. Money driving politicians isn't new...the excessive partisanship is. I think the rich donors (and volunteers) are becoming more partisan right along with the rest of us. Perhaps their increased partisanship comes from the same source. To some extent, I blame the partisanship on our 'fourth estate'. Maybe it's just another aspect of the big money problem, but 'journalists' today are rarely neutral. Almost everything you read or see is presented with a political agenda. Technology also plays a role. We're not all listening to the same 3 news broadcasts every night. Now, you can find a news source that matches (and reinforces) whatever political inclination you have. Incidentally, I also blame the press for our current President. The media latched on to him from the beginning because his antics brought in viewers/readers. In the early days of the Republican primaries, Trump was getting twice as much coverage as all the other candidates combined. If they would have ignored him, or even if they would have just been even-handed, we wouldn't be where we are today. Perhaps negativity sells? Consider this article: How the Press Failed the Voters For news related to their 'fitness for office': Here's another one from the same article:
  4. If you can't see that each side mischaracterizes the the other, then you are a true partisan. It may help win votes. It does not help the nation or its people. I'm not talking about the substance of the positions. I'm talking about the lack of real engagement and willingness to discuss, debate, and compromise. It's been a while since I went to a dance, but I'm reasonably sure some things haven't changed. For example, I doubt you get many dance partners when you call her a racist, plutocratic, worker-hating, climate-destroying, science-denying ignoramus...even before you've said "hello". If I wanted her to dance, I'd probably start with something like..."I hear you have some very interesting political ideas. Would you care to discuss?" Sure, they usually say no anyway, but every once in a while, they say yes. Having been a conservative, I guess it's easier for me to see how the liberal message (full of ridicule, self-righteousness, and disdain) is received. It's completely ineffective. No...scratch that. The current liberal message is actually counter-productive in the way it's received by conservatives. I want very much for the liberals to do a better job of engaging with conservatives, because that's what helped me. When I first joined NHB, under a different screen name many years ago, I was a conservative. There were a few (certainly not all) liberals around back then who were willing to treat me as a real person and engage me in long and painful debates on various issues with a minimum of name-calling. We, with reasonable respect, exchanged ideas, quoted facts, and made logical arguments. Over time, I realized that in some cases (SS, climate change), I was just wrong. In other cases, I discovered another point of view I'd never considered that needed to be weighed and respected. And, I don't believe it was all one-sided, either. I believe they learned as much as I did. In still other cases, I realized I really wasn't conservative in the first place. I had been influenced by the 'halo effect' (assuming that because the party was right on some issues some of the time, they must be right on all issues all the time). That's when I deserted the conservative 'team' and became a renegade, refusing to claim any ideology or let any group speak for me. Where does the intellectually curious person go today to discuss their ideas? The internet seems to be a great big cesspool of hate. In real life, people avoid talking politics as much as possible. Just the thought of asking a neighbor what they really think makes people anxious. Have we lost the ability to exchange ideas? In science, no idea is sacred. If you have evidence, facts, a hypothesis...your argument will be considered. In politics...no. Whether we're D or R, our first question is "What's the source of this information?" If it comes from 'the other side', we immediately discard it (propaganda! lies!) without even considering its merits. I give up...nothing left to say right now. My style of political engagement is an anachronism. I'm going back to my escapist entertainment for a couple days. After a while, I start to get overly passionate and need a break. Maybe a few years from now, when there's still been no effective government action on any of the major problems facing the nation, voters will wake up and realize they need to stop attacking each other and work out real solutions. Or maybe not. Maybe one side or the other will work itself into enough of a fanatic frenzy to REALLY take control of the government, in which case we could end up like Venezuela (leftist) or Turkey (right-wing).
  5. So, you haven't asked them? Real people, in person...not NHB avatars? Perhaps you are right. I'll think about it. SS might be just the topic to take up. It's an issue that needs to be addressed. Oh, I know I wouldn't last. I get no joy out of taunts & insults, whether delivered or received. In the past, people would read one of my sentences and then extrapolate that I was a socialist or a fascist (depending on which sentence they read). It totally messed up their paradigm that I refuse to be either a Democrat or a Republican. I'm just me. When I said, "To me, passion is a sign that a person's emotions have overridden their logic", I was talking about visible passion. I have no idea what really goes on in someone's thought process or how passionate they may be on the inside. In a political discussion, this visible passion usually takes the form of anger. Initially, the passionate person states their case in a reasonable manner. Then, when the other person doesn't immediately 'get it', the passionate person becomes upset. They refuse to consider counter-arguments or facts that don't support their case. Eventually, they become angry, demonstrated through name-calling and unsupported accusations. It's at that point that I become wary that the passionate person is no longer thinking clearly about the issue. You (rightfully) decry the Republicans for learning and speaking a certain language of insult against Liberals. And yet, Democrats do the same thing. Terms like "Right Wing Noise Machine" are trigger words. They trigger an emotional response from the other side, raising barriers and preventing communication. They clearly signal that the speaker has no respect for the listener's opinion and no intention of engaging in an open-minded discussion. I may not be using the term 'feedback loop' correctly, but it seems to fit. Feedback loop definition: "the path by which some of the output of a circuit, system, or device is returned to the input". D's are mean to R's because they're mean to us. R's are mean to D's because D's are mean to them. The meaner they are, the meaner we need to be. How is it not a feedback loop when we return their output right back to them as an input and they do the same? In a war, everyone is just 'returning fire'. At some point, as the nation is destroyed, it ceases to be important who fired the first shot. Democrats had control of government and did very little. Yes, they passed the ACA, but now the Republicans are causing it to fail. Republicans had control of government and did very little. Yes, they passed a huge tax cut, but I'm sure the Democrats will reverse it when they get the chance. We spend too much time trying to 'win' control of government and too little time trying to do good together, now. Forty years ago, the two sides would debate and compromise in order to move the nation forward. Now, all they do is plot and scheme how to 'win' control of government. 1906 law that created the FDA was bipartisan 1935 law that created Social Security was bipartisan 1965 Civil Rights Act was bipartisan 1965 law that created Medicare was supported by about 50% of Republicans in the Senate & House 1970 law that created EPA was bipartisan 1990 expansion of the clean air act (under 'W" no less) was bipartisan Many more examples exist. Now, we only pass laws when one side 'controls' government. Then, when the other side gets control, they undo whatever the first group did. This is no way to run a country. Bipartisan laws are much more effective and long-lasting.
  6. Republicans also use this same 'slippery slope' logical fallacy to attack many good liberal ideas. Doesn't it make you mad when they do that? It's true that Republican ideas would cause disaster if taken to extremes. However, I believe the same is true of some Democrat ideas. Most Democrats instinctively know that they'd never take it that far. I think most Republicans believe the same thing about their ideas. Ask your conservative neighbors if they want to get rid of Social Security. I'll bet you lunch that very few, if any, will say yes. I don't know anyone who wants that. I'm not even sure what goes on in the NHB represents the real opinions of real people. I think they treat the NHB like a game. Although I've never played, I imagine it's like Orcs and Humans in World of Warcraft. They've sorted themselves into two teams and now they just log on to see how many points they can score. There is no real discussion. At this point, NHB is dead to me. The NHB's extremism chases away all the reasonable people and thus becomes more extremist. It's a feedback loop, like so much of our modern political discussion. How do we break the cycle? Maybe I should jump in with the piranhas and see how many I can tame. My other problem with NHB is the pace. I'm only good for a post or two every day (and sometimes not even that). On NHB, a single thread can get dozens of posts every day. I can't keep up. Who said anything about abandoning political convictions? Why is this an either/or? Why can't people with political convictions discuss them civilly? Personally, I don't find passion persuasive. To me, passion is a sign that a person's emotions have overridden their logic. That makes me look at whatever they say with increased skepticism. I believe you can be an activist without being an extremist, but admittedly, these two are somewhat related. And, almost by definition, an activist is a partisan. But, in the past, even our partisan activists treated each other with respect (usually) and were willing to compromise for the good of the people. Republicans need to do that now. To a lesser degree, so do Democrats. People at all levels need to check themselves. This egotism than any one person or group has all the answers is not helpful at all. When our political discourse ceases to include real discussions of facts and logical solutions to problems, our government will not work. When all we have is vitriol, lies, name-calling, and posturing for the extremes, I'm afraid it will lead to violence. War is politics continued by other means. When civil politics ceases to function, what comes next? Violent politics? When Democrats and Republicans see each other as 'a threat to the country', what should they do about it? Some will seek solutions that don't involve free and fair elections. You mentioned that the last time we saw a situation like this was during the antebellum period. I think you're right. I think we need to be very careful now. We are starting to see the far fringe of both left and right act violently for political reasons. If we don't rein in the rhetoric, it could get worse.
  7. LOL! No thanks. There was a time when a person could have a good discussion there, but I'm afraid that time has passed. About once every 3 months I'll click the link and look at every thread on the first page. I think it's been a few years since I saw a good logical discussion. If those folks are representative of the general population of conservatives, then your partisanship is on point. OK, I'm not going to spend much time on this. It makes me uncomfortable defending people I disagree with. But, just one for an example and then I'm done: Let's do a fact check.... From the GOP's web page: Independent opinions: The Washington Post gives the claim "4 Pinocchios" , their worst rating. So, even though I disagree with specific Republican proposals (i.e. privatization of Social Security), the claim that they want to "end" the program is a straw man (or false statement, if you prefer). It's also not helpful for resolving the program's very real funding issues. Like an adult dealing with children. When your child acts like a 3 year-old, it doesn't help to descend to their level. Let the Republicans make fools of themselves, if that's what they want to do. But, don't join them. I believe independents & undecideds are watching, hoping for adult leadership. Shouldn't we try something different this time, given how poorly things turned out last time? Aren't you the pacifist?
  8. There's a difference between being 'wrong' and being a threat to the nation. Wrong is often a question of magnitude. For example, is defense spending good or bad? 'Right' and 'wrong' is often a question of 'how much'. Good solutions to problems often require looking at the issue from all angles. If you look at the way you framed the issues, you've created a straw man on just about every point. For example, very few Republicans see themselves as "anti-worker" or "against equal rights" or "anti-science". No honest, well-meaning Republican would frame the issues using the terms you did. Too many people refuse to talk to the real person standing in front of them. Instead, they talk to the imaginary Mississippi plutocrat racist or the apocryphal San Francisco communist welfare queen that they've been led to believe represents the other side. Sure, extremes exist, but they're not the norm or even the majority. They make the news precisely because they are the extreme. This focus on the extreme prevents real dialogue, compromise, and progress. How is this even possible? Looking at it objectively, scientifically, how can that happen? There are literally hundreds (maybe thousands?) of issues. Even if they tried, even if they wanted to, how could they possibly manage to pick the wrong side on every single issue? I would say that anyone who believes that Republicans are always wrong has turned off their critical thinking and accepted groupthink. It is not my intent to be a Republican apologist. The extreme partisanship that grips both parties has an especially tight hold on the GOP. Sometimes, their actions fall right in line with your straw men. But, I don't believe matching their extremist partisanship is the answer. Democrats shouldn't be a mirror-image of the Republicans. Hate from the left and the right does not cancel out. It creates a feedback loop. Have you ever been in a loud, emotional, painful argument/fight with someone you care deeply for? One of those arguments when you drag up stuff they did 10 years ago? An argument where you refuse to admit your own errors because that would be a sign of weakness and give comfort to the other person? How did it end? I feel like that's where we're at with partisan politics in this country. You can't 'win' a fight like that. We need to work things out. Divorce won't turn out well for anyone.
  9. Good question. The explanation is here: The Rise of Partisanship and Super-Cooperators in the U.S. House of Representatives. But, it isn't easy to understand. I think each dot represents one member. If you zoom in close, you can see faint lines connecting the dots. These lines represent how often each member votes in agreement with each other dot. Lines between blue dots are blue. Lines between red dots are red. Lines between red and blue are gray. The algorithm places the dots next to those they agree with most often by minimizing the total length of the lines. Sure. This graph shows the difference in ideology between the average Democrat and average Republican member of Congress over time–zero suggests no average difference in ideology according to their NOMINATE scores. As you pointed out, it doesn't address whether the group as a whole is more or less liberal...just that they don't agree. Here's another chart from the same source that shows Congress becoming more conservative as whole while Democrats become more liberal and Republicans become more conservative. Here's another. This one is from a poll of voters, not politicians. It shows how even our values are drifting apart. Pew Research OK, one more (from the same article as above). This one bugs me most of all. It shows how negatively we view our fellow American citizens...just because they disagree with us. I believe the partisanship is irrational and detrimental to effective government. Although it's stoked by politicians, 'news' organizations (Fox, HuffPost, etc.) are willing partners. This hyper-partisanship is tearing us apart.
  10. It would have to be a non-Democratic system. Republicans Schwarzenegger and McClintock polled 62% in that election. All other candidates (Dems, Greens, Independents & other) only 38%. No matter how you slice it, the Democrats weren't going to win that one. If you're talking about the effects of name recognition and celebrity (that helped Trump win), then I agree. But, it seems that's what people want. Voters are like the pretty girl in high school that only dates bad boys and then complains when her dates are bad. I think we have to fix that one voter at a time, from the grass roots up. If there's a systematic fix for it, I don't know what it is. Celebrity has been a big factor in winning elections since George Washington.
  11. I think you're talking about Presidential primaries? One defense of the current system is that it allows less well-known (and less well-funded) candidates (Jimmy Carter?) to compete on a small scale. Then, they can turn that early success into a national campaign. If we only have one big national primary, that significantly skews the results toward celebrities with national name recognition. Why is that a good thing? I think the 'weeding out' should be a long and gradual process. I don't want the selection made before I even get a chance to vote. Right.
  12. The Democrats have a few moderates left, but both parties have become significantly more partisan over the years. There's been a lot of research into this and it's not only these authors that notice the lack of moderates on both sides. Here's one of the dozens of graphs floating around (this one shows voting patterns in the House of Representatives) that give a visual representation of the change. So, while saying 'there are no moderates left' is a slight exaggeration, we continue to head in that direction and we're almost there.
  13. Renegade

    To impeach or not that is the question

    Exactly. Well said. Impeachment isn't something to be considered lightly, but when the evidence is there, you can't look past it.
  14. I feel your anger, but I prefer 'anthropogenic climate change'. Climate has always changed. The real problem is that people are causing it and it's happening very quickly. Natural processes are certainly being disrupted, but not destroyed. 'Global warming' was an OK term because it does factually describe, in general terms, what's happening. However, it doesn't lay the blame where it belongs...on people. In scientific terms, climate isn't destroyed, only changed. As I see it, the real harm is that climate is changing too quickly...not that it's getting objectively worse. Plants and animals can't adapt to the changes quickly enough, and so they will die off. Our crops and coastal areas have similar problems. For example, if the sea level had always been higher than it is today, we would have built accordingly and would have no complaint. The problem is that the sea level is changing quickly. If the climate had always been 2 degrees warmer, we would have developed agriculture and population distributions to match. Considering the planet overall, I see the problem as primarily change and the swiftness of the change, not the end state. We need to reverse, stop, or at the very least slow, the change. Adaptation and evolution can't keep up. I would find "climate destruction" to be a misleading and emotional appeal, and therefore less effective. The simple facts are scary enough for me!
  15. I heard the authors of this paper discussing the topic (Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America) on NPR and found it very intriguing. They have an interesting view on why our political system isn't delivering better results. They look at politics as an industry dominated by two companies...a duopoly. They claim that the current political system fails the average voter because the Democrat/Republican duopoly discourages outside competition. Lack of competition in any industry leads to poor customer satisfaction. Both parties work together to eliminate any outside competition. I'd encourage anyone to read the full paper. It's an interesting and easy read. Anyway, I really like their recommendations for the election process (explained in more detail in the paper): - Establish nonpartisan top-four primaries: The top 4 vote recipients, regardless of party, advance to the general election - Institute ranked-choice voting with instant runoff in general elections: This would eliminate the argument that a vote for a 3rd party candidate is a wasted vote. It works like an instant runoff election. In the first round, you count all the first-choice votes and (if no one got a majority) the lowest vote-getter is eliminated. Every ballot listing that candidate as the first choice is re-counted using their second choice. The process is then repeated by eliminating the third-place vote-getter. - Institute nonpartisan redistricting: No gerrymandering. - Rewrite debate access rules for presidential elections: The current 15% threshold is too high and prevents third-party candidates from competing. What are your thoughts?