Book Review: Bernie Sanders’ “Guide to Political Revolution” is more textbook than revolutionary

Someone—I don’t remember now who—described the major difference in American politics to be that the Left fetishizes being correct where the Right reserves that obsession for power.

For that reason, Republicans have been willing to abandon all previously stated principles so long as they can expect to have a warm body capable of signing regressive tax bills into law and who will nominate judges to protect conservative orthodoxies.

And it’s why a year and a half later, Democrats still get into fights about whether they supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the 2015-16 primary. It’s why many of us on the Left continue, inexorably, viewing contemporary events as a chance to re-litigate that contest and who was right.

So just to say, “Bernie Sanders: Guide to Political Revolution is for teenagers,” will invite cheap jokes along those lines, and merely by existing, it reinvigorates the conversation about who actually had the better fire extinguisher a year and a half ago, even as the grease fire continues to spread.

Continue reading Book Review: Bernie Sanders’ “Guide to Political Revolution” is more textbook than revolutionary

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‘Why are people in the south Republican when they should be fiscally liberal?’

HUMAN 1
1. Lack of education means a lot of people can’t actually determine what economic policies are good for them or bad for them.

2. People who can’t discern the effects policy decisions will have on them latch onto any explanation that sounds adequate by people they trust and believe.

3. Politicians who wish to manipulate the uneducated and ignorant tell these people what they want to hear rather than present sound policy decisions because these people do not understand policies.

4. Once people have heard a politician tell them what they want to hear they will associate the policy decisions these politicians advocate for as being good for them.

5. When no one understands the effects certain policy decisions will have you can pretty much argue any policy decision as being good for anybody as long as you sound convincing. For example: “We should lower taxes to create jobs. With lower taxes more companies will have more money to create jobs.” People want to hear how they will get more jobs. Lowering taxes does mean companies will have more money so they could hire more people this ought to work.” Then people assume the job tbey get will be a good job so they don’t worry about social programs since they won’t need them once they have a job which lower taxes will get them.

If you’re saying education, you’re missing a step.

Southerners could have improved their school systems long ago.

White Southerners, and rural people in general, are voting for their interests. They’re just voting for their interests relatively instead of absolutely.

To feel like you’re doing better, you need to be doing better than someone else. It’s more important to put a floor under you and have people in a status you can never descend to—a status they can never climb from—because then you have security.

Continue reading ‘Why are people in the south Republican when they should be fiscally liberal?’

Racism is a grandfathered in to American society

This criticism doesn’t mean that all white people are the devil, that malice or active racism are necessary. A hermit frontiersman in the 1800s might have had no opinion on slavery or even been against it morally.

But the act of doing nothing is tacit support of the status quo.

An auto union worker in the 1940s and ’50s may have thought segregation was wrong, but if they felt that opposition to anti-lynching bills in the Senate were equally important as economic policy, then their tacit support for a dehumanizing system of oppression is based on racism because it says that mobs torturing and murdering a man, woman, or child with impunity isn’t so important if that person is black.

In the same way, if you say that regularly stopping and frisking black and Latino people without any reasonable suspicion is just one of many issues, it’s because you think it’s unlikely to affect you or people like yourself, so you don’t care that much.

Malice is not required; apathy is more than sufficient.

Continue reading Racism is a grandfathered in to American society

Life hangs by the hairs on a chinny chin chin

The idea of when personhood begins and ought to be respected is a sort of Zeno’s Paradox —like how many hairs it takes on someone’s face before they have a beard.

We have a commonly understood idea we all agree on, but defining the exact moment where something crosses over is always absurd and any given number of people will have different, contradictory, even self-varying opinions on where they draw the line.

If you say that someone with 3,017 chin hairs is still beardless but 3,018 has a beard, that’s ridiculous. But it’s also ridiculous to say that the first hair on someone’s chin is what makes them bearded if you want that concept to have any utility and align with anyone’s intended meaning.
Continue reading Life hangs by the hairs on a chinny chin chin

Law is obeyed of respect, power obeyed of fear

The other day, the Odessa American reported on the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute’s event on policing, and as reported, the featured guests said some troubling things.

First, both outgoing Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson and Odessa Police Chief Tim Burton suggested folks ought to comply with whatever an officer tells them to do in order to protect themselves.

Now, women in the audience might not feel completely comfortable following that advice if interacting with former police officer Salvador Becerra during a traffic stop or former deputy Alfred John Herrera once in jail.

Or maybe that’s not fair. Only rarely do peace officers sexually assault people they have in their custody.

Continue reading Law is obeyed of respect, power obeyed of fear

Things are only unprecedented once, so what rhymes with ‘Trump’?

After the physicist Richard Feynman helped to create the atom bomb, he spent a period of dazed depression wondering why anyone bothered to build anything when it was all going to be destroyed soon anyway.

That’s what most liberal Americans feel like right now, and have for the better part of a week.

It’s common for losing parties to behave like it’s the end of the world, and Democrats told conservatives to suck it up after 2008 and 2012. The republic didn’t come undone in 2004 or 2000, either. It’s good to remember that history is a long time, and sometimes you lose elections. Even acknowledging that, this time it is different.
 
Things are only unprecedented once. After that, it gets easier.

No future presidential candidate is ever going to be compelled to release their tax returns. If asked they can always say, ‘President Donald J. Trump didn’t, and look: no one cared.’ After two or three elections go by, that transparency won’t even be an expectation.

At a minimum, the next four years will be like that but with virtually every aspect of the presidency and elected office.

Continue reading Things are only unprecedented once, so what rhymes with ‘Trump’?

Donald Trump isn’t president yet, but he’s already started bombing

The other day the candidates finished up the last of three presidential debates after a year and a half of serious campaigning, and the only thing left on the calendar is Election Day itself. Now the final hours of the election are unfolding like the extended director’s cut of Return of the King: we’re ready for it to be over any time now, but there’s still much more than you need or want ahead.

So the 2016 Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner just happened, and because there are pageviews to get and 24 hours of cable to fill and politics are consumed and pored over by laymen like Westerosi genealogies, it wasn’t just another private white-tie fundraiser for New York Catholics and other elite figures to mingle and lightly roast one another; it was a public occasion open to anyone with cable or YouTube and another subject to fill conversation for the chattering classes we can now all count ourselves among thanks to the steady march of progress and the Internet.

Donald Trump gave his speech; Hillary Clinton gave hers. They each apparently gave two versions of their talks because that’s how people reacted to it. Ideology is a prism for splitting the light from any event into your preferred spectrum, and we’re lucky enough to have plenty of sources available to better crystalize our thoughts, whatever the ideology.

Continue reading Donald Trump isn’t president yet, but he’s already started bombing