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Scuba

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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
Number of posts: 53,475

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Rebel flags at the White House - An (on edit) Sociologist weighs in

This is posted on facebook. I'm not a member, so cannot link to it. It was forwarded to me by my sister, a friend of the psychologist who wrote it. It sounds on the money to me.

When push comes to shove, this is metaphorically what the tea party is all about, based on statistical generalities of meta-research. It is the latest incarnation of far-right nativist social movements in the U.S. such as the Know-Nothings (1850's), the Ku Klux Klan (1920's), and the John Birch Society (1950's).

The father of David and Charles Koch, primary funders of the tea party, was one of the original Birchers. The primary correlate is anxiety about social change. All have been irrational, intolerant, ethnocentric and paranoid, believing THEIR America was being taken from THEM, the REAL Americans: white, middle-class, English-speaking, native-born, mostly male, middle-age and older, mostly Calvinist Christian. It is composed of reactionary rather than moderate (or evolutionary) conservatives.

Conservatives don't like change. Moderate conservatives realize they must adapt to change, but choose to do so in an incremental, evolutionary manner - in part, to stave off the revolutionary change that might otherwise occur. Reactionary conservatives act on behalf of relatively advantaged groups and want to reverse progress, to return to a period they perceived themselves as dominant and unchallenged. They perceive change as subversive and themselves as victims. Such reactionary groups emerge during periods of significant social change, when their sense of prestige, deference, and cultural superiority appear undermined and threatened.

Less than 30% of tea party rhetoric is "conservative" according to the primary tenets of post WWII conservatives. More than 70% is what social scientists often consider "pseudo-conservative," utilizing conservative rhetoric for non-conservative ends, to attack the enemy (Parker and Barreto, among others). Most tea partiers themselves are pseudo-conservatives.

The election of Barack Obama, the first black president, is too absurd to absorb for many tea partiers. It cannot possibly have happened legitimately. Therefore, he and his election must be delegitimized. This has occurred simultaneously with significant Hispanic immigration, the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court, the first female Speaker of the House, the legalization of gay marriage in +20% of our states, the passage of affordable health insurance, and the attempt to recover from a major economic recession. The very identity of tea partiers is threatened by such changes, most specifically by having a black man in the presidency, serving as the primary "face of America." It should not be surprising that the majority of tea partiers reside in our southern states.



On edit, the author is a sociologist, not a psychologist. My bad.

"... many consider the GOP’s imperialistic unilaterists less loco than the narcissistic anarchists."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/opinion/sunday/dowd-a-mad-tea-party.html

With 78 percent of Americans feeling blue about the country being on the wrong track, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, many consider the G.O.P.’s imperialistic unilaterists less loco than the narcissistic anarchists. As grandiose delusions go, global domination makes more sense than self-annihilation. “If I was in the Senate now, I’d kill myself,” Chris Christie said on Friday.

...

Ben Smith of BuzzFeed reported that the roast sponsored by Rupert Murdoch and others featured Rumsfeld, Joe Lieberman and Scooter Libby, known as “Cheney’s Cheney” until he was convicted of lying during a federal leak probe. Lieberman, a guest told BuzzFeed, said it was nicer to be at the Plaza than in cages after a war crimes trial. There were pardon jokes about W., whose relationship with Cheney was shattered over not giving Libby one. Libby said W. sent a note: “Pardon me, I can’t make it.”

...

“In his memos and homilies, Rumsfeld will say things that are just contradictory, as though by saying everything, you’ve covered all your bases,” Morris continued. “It’s deeply anti-rational, as if there’s no deep reflection or thought. You have no evidence? Well, ‘the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,’ as Rumsfeld said about W.M.D. in Iraq. Taken to some crazy conclusion, you can justify anything that way.

...

When Morris asks Rumsfeld about the “confusion” that linked Saddam to 9/11, he answers brightly, “I don’t think the American people were confused about that,” adding, “I don’t remember anyone in the Bush administration saying anything like that, nor do I recall anyone believing that.” Holy mushroom cloud.

What is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with success in other fields?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/opinion/sunday/is-music-the-key-to-success.html

The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.

...

Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.” Mr. Allen began playing the violin at age 7 and switched to the guitar as a teenager. Even in the early days of Microsoft, he would pick up his guitar at the end of marathon days of programming. The music was the emotional analog to his day job, with each channeling a different type of creative impulse. In both, he says, “something is pushing you to look beyond what currently exists and express yourself in a new way.”

...

Consider the qualities these high achievers say music has sharpened: collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. All are qualities notably absent from public life. Music may not make you a genius, or rich, or even a better person. But it helps train you to think differently, to process different points of view — and most important, to take pleasure in listening.



So next time the School Board says they can't afford music education, show them this article.

Obamacare: The Rest of the Story

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/opinion/keller-obamacare-the-rest-of-the-story.html?_r=0

Unless you’ve been bamboozled by the frantic fictions of the right wing, you know that the Affordable Care Act, familiarly known as Obamacare, has begun to accomplish its first goal: enrolling millions of uninsured Americans, many of whom have been living one medical emergency away from the poorhouse. You realize those computer failures that have hampered sign-ups in the early days — to the smug delight of the critics — confirm that there is enormous popular demand. You have probably figured out that the real mission of the Republican extortionists and their big-money backers was to scuttle the law before most Americans recognized it as a godsend and rendered it politically untouchable.

What you may not know is that the Affordable Care Act is also beginning, with little fanfare, to accomplish its second great goal: to promote reforms to our overpriced, underperforming health care system. Irony of ironies, the people who ought to be most vigorously applauding this success story are Republicans, because it is being done not by government decree but almost entirely with market incentives.

Using mainly the marketplace clout of Medicare and some seed money, the new law has spurred innovation and efficiency. And while those new insurance exchanges that are now lurching into business will touch roughly 1 in 10 Americans (the rest of us are already covered by private employer plans or by government programs like Medicare), these systemic reforms potentially touch every patient, every taxpayer.

...

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed three years ago, more than 370 innovative medical practices, called accountable care organizations, have sprung up across the country, with 150 more in the works. At these centers, Medicare or private insurers reward doctors financially when their patients require fewer hospital stays, emergency room visits and surgeries — exactly the opposite of what doctors have traditionally been paid to do. The more money the organization saves, the more money its participating providers share. And the best way to save costs (which is, happily, also the best way to keep patients alive) is to catch problems before they explode into emergencies.

Two women walk into a bar, and talk about the Bechdel test.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/50-people-on-the-most-intellectual-joke-i-know/?utm_content=buffer0e999&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer


A short sampling of intellectual humor ...

Boris Spassky was once asked by a reporter, “Which do you prefer: chess or sex?”. Spassky replied “It very much depends on the position”.

...

“I’m a linguist, so I like ambiguity more than most people.”

...

“is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?”

...

The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”

The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.

The Tea Party Republicans' Biggest Mistake: Confusing Government With Our System of Government

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/tea-party-republicans-government_b_4080832.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

What's the lesson here? The radicals who tried to hijack America didn't understand one very basic thing. While most Americans don't like big government, Americans revere our system of government. That's why even though a majority disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, a majority also disapprove of Republican tactics for repealing or delaying it.

Government itself has never been popular in America except during palpable crises such as war or deep depression. The nation was founded in a revolution against an abusive government -- that was what the original Tea Party was all about -- and that distrust is in our genes. The Constitution reflects it. That's why it's hard for government to do anything very easily. I've never been as frustrated as when I was secretary of labor -- continuously running into the realities of separation of power, checks and balances, and the endless complications of federal, state, and local levels of authority. But frustration goes with the job.

No one likes big government. If you're on the left, you worry about the military-industrial-congressional complex that's spending zillions of dollars creating new weapons of mass destruction, spying on Americans, and killing innocents abroad. And you don't like government interfering in your sex life, telling you how and when you can have an abortion, whom you can marry. If you're on the right, you worry about taxes and regulations stifling innovation, out-of-control bureaucrats infringing on your freedom, and government deficits as far as the eye can see.

So when Tea Party Republicans, bankrolled by a handful of billionaires, began calling the Affordable Care Act a "wholesale takeover of American health care," many Americans were inclined to believe them. Health care is such a huge and complicated system, affecting us and our families so intimately, that our inherent distrust of government makes us instinctively wary. It's no accident we're still the only advanced nation not to have universal health care. FDR decided against adding it to his plan for Social Security because he didn't want to jeopardize the rest of the program; subsequent presidents never got close, at least until Obama.

The myths behind public-employee pension reform

http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/The-myths-behind-public-employee-pension-reform-4885998.php#next

In the new fable, state and municipal workers are presented as the welfare queens of our age, historical anachronisms living fat and happy in the competition-free panacea of public service, and shamelessly living off the tax dollars generated entirely by the innovation of America's true workforce - its go-getting private-sector employees, who long ago stopped expecting their bosses to give them real health and retirement plans.

To them, the old-fashioned defined-benefit pension plan, the one that guaranteed a unionized state worker extensive health benefits and a sizable monthly retirement check until his (invariably too-distant) death, is the glaring budgetary inefficiency of our age, the first place we must turn to make the fiscal cuts if we don't want to become the next Detroit.

...

One was that the legend of the lazy, budget-devouring public-sector employee as the cause of America's fiscal crises has in many cases been carefully manufactured by Wall-Street-funded organizations. Their goal is to pretend that modest retirement benefits are the cause of pension shortfalls. They promote this story even though data show that stock market declines from fraud in the financial services industry were most responsible for those shortfalls. The second problem is that the pension initiatives put forward by these reformers and the conservative politicians they back often propose moving America's public pension money into labyrinthine and extremely expensive "alternative investment" programs. This is done in the name of saving taxpayer money, even though these "alternative investments" involve fees paid to billionaire money managers that are often nearly as high as the cuts to public worker benefits. In many cases, that means little real savings for taxpayers and less income for retirees - but a huge payout to Wall Street.

...

In more than a dozen states, legislators have enacted exemptions for hedge funds and other alternative investments to laws such as the Freedom of Information Act. Other states simply fail the transparency test. Rhode Island illustrates what that kind of thing means in practice. There, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo cited the need to protect Wall Street's proprietary information as a justification to hide the cost estimates of the new pension system she championed in 2012. Only after that system was ratified by the state Legislature did former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer Ted Siedle estimate that the reforms will take the roughly $2.3 billion cut to workers' cost-of-living adjustments over 20 years and use it to pay roughly $2.1 billion in new hedge-fund fees. Raimondo later relented and disclosed at least $70 million in fees for next year alone.




Who do you love most?

Something's Out Of Whack

War is Absurd

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