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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,766

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Explaining stupidity: "isms" and Loss Aversion

"How can 'they' be SO STUPID?"

"How can 'they' vote against their own interests?"

"Why do 'they' support something so manifestly destructive- to 'them'?"

I've lost track of the versions of this fundamental question- they are myriad. The question is asked over and over, but particularly in relation to people who are clearly not at the top of the income distribution, lacking powerful educational/family connections, often struggling with challenges to the health, well-being, and future of themselves and/or their families.

Writing them off as "stupid," or even "delusional" may feel good, but it does nothing to promote the understanding needed to build positive connections and promote change.

Identifying the "ism" driving their oppositional orientation (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) is a start, but focusing on something as big as an "ism" won't help you communicate with them, either. Often the reverse- identifying them as an "-ist" or a "-phobe" simply widens the gap.

As a wise elder of my acquaintance puts it "turn the pocket inside out."

Almost all forms of "ism" relate to the assumption of, and benefit from, a specific kind of privilege.

White people- no matter how economically, educationally, or otherwise disadvantaged- still retain the advantages of our white privilege. We may not be conscious of it, we may even deny its existence, but it's there all the same. We have a much higher chance of surviving a traffic stop. We don't have to think twice, while shopping, about picking up an object and moving along to see it in a better light before putting it our basket or taking it to the register. Thousands of daily, subtle things we benefit from, stresses we don't experience, worries we don't have, assumptions we can unthinkingly make, whether we're aware of them or not- these are our privilege as white people in a racist culture.

Male people retain the privilege their "Y" chromosome conveys in in a patriarchal culture.

Cisgendered people, able-bodied folk, members of ANY group that enjoys privilege in a culture that bestows it, may be unaware of, or even in denial of, that privilege and the advantages it bestows, but they react with immediate, even instinctive, opposition to any kind of change that threatens its loss.

And when those intangible but very real privileges are practically the only advantages you enjoy in a wealth-worshipping, power-driven, hierarchical, profoundly inequitable society?

They are exponentially more precious. Realized or not, the holders thereof will cling to them with grim determination intensified all the more by the fading hopes of ever achieving the economic or social success to which that privilege "should" entitle them.

The more we suffer from the effects of inequity, the greater our aversion to giving up the few tangible or intangible advantages our privilege conveys.

Examining things from the status of loss aversion- however intangible or even imaginary those losses may be (how manyof those people longing for a return to the imagined paradise of an orderly Leave-It-To-Beaver past would really have been any better off than they are now..?) helps me understand the grim obstinacy their self-defeating choices.

Loss aversion is almost always more powerful, as a psychological motivation, than hope of benefit.

The upsurge in overt racism after Obama's election is a pretty clear indicator that we can expect something just as- maybe more- virulent, pervasive, and obstinately vicious from those who fear the loss of the privilege that comes with their "Y" chromosome.

I'm not looking forward to it.


Call. It. Out. Again, and again, and again, invariably and unwearyingly. CALL IT OUT!

Unbelievable MTP misogyny. "Nana Clinton?" Do they even hear themselves? A rant.

This one's a two-fer!

Sexism PLUS ageism.

Of course, this is a combo all of us "invisible women" (On the Invisibility of Middle-Aged Women) are all too familiar with.

I am looking ahead, to a Clinton victory. I refuse to consider the alternative. (Denial CAN be a good thing, sometimes...)

And I am looking back, at the past eight years of an Obama presidency, and what it foreshadows for a Hillary Clinton presidency.

First, an admission: While I never, ever bought into the whole "post-racism" bullshit, I really DID think, back in 2008, that America's progress in dealing with racism was more substantial than subsequent events revealed. It's one of the costs that come with white privilege. No matter how good our intentions are, white privilege allows us to take breaks, to accept the hopeful narratives rooted in our privilege with less critical scrutiny, to selectively focus on what we want to see.

Black people know otherwise. Black voices were there, quietly trying to prepare us for what they knew was coming. Black experience was unsurprised by the post-election explosion of unvarnished, virulent, racist backlash.

It has been a painfully expensive eight years for black Americans, faced with the surging manifestations of bigotry, hate, and discrimination. But black people and allies worked to turn that costly experience into an extended "teaching moment" for all of us, making lemonade from a harvest of unspeakable bitterness by their determination to use the power of the spotlight.

I salute and admire those who have provided an example for American women facing the vilely misogynistic backlash to come:

Call it out.

Call it out, without wearying.

Call it out, every time.

Call it out, again and again, and again.

Call it out, the big manifestations.

Call it out, the small manifestations.

Call it out, EVERY TIME.

Call it out, in the face of being dismissed as "angry, strident, shrill" and all the other epithets.

Call it out, in the face of danger, assault, doxing, rape threats, death threats, denial, hate.

Call it out.

Call it what it is: Misogyny, sexism, bigotry.

Call it out, to the point where even if they don't give a rat's ass about the reality of the issue, they get so damn' tired of being called on it that they start to think before they act or publish or speak misogyny.

Yes, sure, there'll be a whole new crop of contemptuous dog whistles. They'll find all the creative ways to justify their sexism that they've already used to justify their racism, and more.

This fight won't be won in weeks or months or years, there's millenia of patriarchal misogyny baked into every aspect of our culture, economy, and our institutions.

I'll get tired, I know.

I'll want to let it slide, sometimes, just because the fight is so damn' wearisome.

But I have your example to inspire me, black America. I have my children and grandchildren's experience to anticipate. I have a lifetime of being told "girls can't" to burn for energy.

So I will CALL IT OUT.


She said it. Now people have to talk about it: "basket of deplorables" - BRILLIANT

The timing is perfect.

Well done, Hillary!

"Yo, people! Finding the room a little crowded? THERE'S AN ELEPHANT IN HERE WITH US....!"

"Birds keep disappearing? Hang on a minute while I put this bell on the... YEP, CAT HERE!"

"Whaddaya mean, 'gorgeous outfit'? DUDE'S NEKKID! HIS TEENY TACKLE'S BOUNCIN'!"

If these things get said too early, they get written off, not believed, and the person saying them gets discounted and even vilified.

It these things get said too late, the response is "well, no shiteedah, Brilliant One..." and the person saying them gets no credit, and maybe even blame, as in "You didn't notice until NOW?"

But at the exact right moment, these things can be said, and the Wall of Denial crumbles like concrete with too much sand in the mix.

Now people HAVE to talk about it.

Who follows Trump?

What does that say about Trump?

About them?

And about America?

And about our future?

Oh yeah... I give her *major* props on this one. Right thing at the right time. This discussion will outlast the corporate media howling about "gaffes" and it will cut deep and the blood will not clot soon. This discussion will continue. The memes will spawn and go viral.

It was effing *beautiful.*


A "Taco Trucks" Clinton Campaign Ad I'd Like to See

Clips of happy people at taco trucks, biting into yummy tacos...
Clips of smiling taco truck operators making food, making change, closing up for the night, dropping off the deposit at the bank...

(More clips of food trucks and other small/micro businesses in the background as Hillary talks)

Hillary: "I can't promise a taco truck on every corner. But I can promise a business environment friendly to micro-businesses and small family entrepreneurs. I can promise to make self-employed and small business peoples' concerns as much a part of my Administration's agenda as the priorities of big businesses with high-paid lobbyists."

Zoom out to Hillary and a couple of campaign staffers standing in line at a taco truck for lunch items, Secret Service people and all...

Shots of Hillary with truck owners, talking to them, while campaign staffers nom yummy burritos, tacos, gorditos, etc.

(Hillary voice-over): "Small businesses and family businesses build strong communities. I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this message."

A) "Why" Trump is going to Mexico- and B) what it'll do to his campaign

There's been a lot of speculation, gleeful or otherwise, that this impulsive trip will somehow backfire on Trump, that it will result in terrible publicity, humiliating treatment by Mexican leaders, etc., that will cream him in the polls, yadayadayada...

Y'all are not getting it.

Stupid? Well, yes, in the objective sense of the term, the Nuclear Cheeto is definitely "intellectually challenged."


There is one thing he knows better than anyone/anything else, and that is, how the brains of the 34% work, and how to toss them the cookies that make them salivate.

And that's all he really cares about- keeping the adoring crowds adoring.

So: WHY is he going to Mexico?

It's very, very simple: So he can say that he went.

And when he comes back, no matter what the media coverage says, the Human Hindenburg will tell his acolytes what they want to hear about what he did/said while he was there, and he'll burnish those fantasies with the credibility that having "been there" makes what he's bloviating a) important; b) TRUE! or c) YOOOOOOOGE!

And then he and his surrogates will "Trump"et his Incredible Foreign Policy Experience, because, 'trip to Mexico!'

And in the debates, he'll endlessly assert 'truths' and 'realities' based on what he did/found/etc. during his Major Foreign Policy Swing through the entire Central/South American region, and claim that his 'experience' Trumps all other sources of factual information.

And the 34% will suck it up and drool it back out and magnify his claims and beg for more.

He's gonna get a YOOOOOOOGE return on this little investment, believe me!


I think our own DemoTex is one of these "freaks on the peaks," yes?

'Freaks on the peaks': the lonely lives of the last remaining forest fire lookouts

Dozens more like him do the same across the US every summer, perched in 15ft by 15ft wooden cabins atop remote towers with sweeping panoramas, a low-tech, very human first line of defense against conflagrations. They are known, unofficially, as the “freaks on the peaks”.

The nickname is affectionate, not derogatory. It recognizes certain qualities needed to operate in lonely eyries – an embrace of nature, solitude and disconnectedness. And an ability to shift mental gears and respond when tempests and fires interrupt serene observation of cloud and canopy.

But yanno, I think DemoTex's posts here are even better than the nice Guardian article. Here's a few for those (like me) who count ourselves fans of the "eyes above" who keep us safe in fire-prone country.

"Earth, Wind and Fire (and Smoke, Lots of Smoke)"

"The Emmy landed at Lemmon Rock fire lookout today - incredible!"

"Bye Bye Birdie"

Maybe it does take a very special few to be the "eyes on high" or the "freaks on the peaks," but all of us who live in fire country can appreciate them!

Thanks, DemoTex and all of you Eyes on High!


Political Correctness vs Legal or Regulatory Action: Where does "real change" come from?

The "PC is a waste of time" argument is made here: The Culture Of The Smug White Liberal

Before you decide, read this one, too: Waitress stunned by cruel message diners left on receipt instead of giving a tip

This is not our first time through this cycle. I remember listening to arguments about whether it's worthwhile to "force" people to conceal their racism and bigotry by eliminating the n-word from circulation, back when.

The arguments took several tacks, one of which was "they're gonna be bigots anyway, showing their ugliness in public hurts their own cause." Another was "we have better things to do, like pushing anti-redlining regulations in the mortgage industry (or other 'actual action.')"

There's always been a school of thought that dismissed the importance of semantics and social disincentives focused on bigotry, cruelty, and oppression, in favor of structural redirection via legal and/or regulatory action.

Sometimes it's been argued that "enforcing political correctness" has the paradoxical effect of exciting oppositional defiance and actually encouraging the tendencies such enforcement is focused on limiting. Lord knows, the cussedness of human nature certainly validates that in individual cases.

And sometimes it's argued social engineering via 'pc enforcement' runs counter to liberal/progressive core ideology itself, if not the actual First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. After all, people SHOULD be free to express repugnant beliefs.

They are, of course. "PC enforcement" via the application of social incentives and disincentives is not the same thing as legal/regulatory action. It's focused not on what people have legal sanction to do, but on what they have social sanction to express.

I will defend to the death your right to hold repugnant, bigoted views and beliefs, but that doesn't mean you have a right to make me listen to them or validate them.

I remember listening to a clueless racist from my own family, back when I was a youngster, arguing that "desegregation won't help" against racism, and that busing laws were the wrong way to go about it.

They certainly aren't magic, solve-it-all-permanently-in-one-go bullet solutions.

We thought at one point that the Voting Rights Act would be such a magic bullet solution, and how tragically wrong history has proven us in this era of diligent voter suppression.

I don't think it's an "either/or" choice.

Research validates that not only can you make people change their behavior by changing their beliefs, but you can make people change their beliefs by changing their behavior.

In other words, "acting as if" can powerfully change your thinking, just as changes in your thinking affect how you act.

Here's what I wonder: What made the person who wrote that disgusting message believe it was OKAY to do that? And with the belief that it's okay to treat someone that way based on what you assume about them, how and where will they next act on that belief?

If we want real change, I firmly believe that we MUST work both ends against the middle, consistently, thoughtfully, incrementally, and for the long, long haul.

There will always be backlashes against change, from one direction or another. Attempts to roll back progress, by playing one end against the other.

Only by working BOTH ends against the middle: pushing for changes in thoughts and actions and belief via social incentive/disincentive, AND pushing for changes in actions, systems, and structures via legal and regulatory means, can we continue the journey in the direction of human evolution.



They all seem to be either a) curled into a fetal position rocking themselves gently and moaning; b) standing around with deer-in-headlights looks and rigid pasted-on smiles; or c) diving behind doors and muttering 'no comment!'

They have what may be the single best (and maybe ONLY) chance to salvage the party's chance to boost down-ticket races, and they're blowing it, JUST TO SPITE OBAMA!

Let's see if we can break this down into really simple concepts, like GOPpie voters need, okay?

1. Zika virus is in Florida, which is IN THE U.S.

2. The worst damage Zika virus does is profound damage to gestating embryos, resulting in severely malformed fetuses.

3. Profoundly damaged embryos and severely deformed fetuses generally RAISE THE ABORTION RATE.

4. The GOP has staked a massive percentage of its political capital, for DECADES, on preventing abortions in America.

5. President Obama has requested Congress to allocate $1.9 billion in emergency funding to keep the Zika virus from spreading and producing a virulent epidemic.

6. Which would, if successful, prevent abortions, save babies and moms, and generally be a public health triumph.

And Congress first whinged about grabbing money away from other important programs to provide pathetically smaller amounts of emergency funding, and then tabled the WHOLE FUCKING THING until after their summer vacation????

With MORE Zika cases emerging?

Guys, guys, guys.... THINK!!!

WHAT does it cost you, Paul Ryan, to holla "OKAY, everybody back to Washington by 9 am Monday, we are GONNA SAVE BABIES, NOW!"


Oh... I see. Y'all only wanna save babies when Obama isn't involved, izzat it?

Or... or... maybe y'all are just so effing paralyzed by the looming Orange Dumpster Fire about to engulf your party that you can't even raise a finger to save yourselves?

You're denying the 247 GOPpie Congresscritters running for re-election the opportunity to stand up at their town halls and look stern and noble and say "We made an extraordinary commitment to save babies, because we believe in that."

Because Obama had something to do with it?

Or because you've just already given up and are mewling helplessly trying to drag yourselves out of the radius of total destruction by the Nuclear Cheeto?

Which is it?

Just curious...

(Oh, and BTW, do you know how much each and every microcephalic baby costs? Fo' shizzle, dudes... ask any health economist. $1.9 billion to keep it from happening is the CHEAP route.)


If you think the pre-election misogyny is bad...

Someone in another threat asked "Is there a rational explanation for the virulence of Hillary-hatred?"

Well, several. Starting with the one unforgivable sin in the eyes of the GOP, that applies regardless of gender, ethnicity, skin color, etc.-- WINNING. She was already tainted by association with Bill Clinton, who'd committed the Unforgivable Sin of denying the head of the Bush Crime Family a second term. Then she won the NY Senate seat. Then she just would NOT give up and take her shellackings in the media, crumble under all those Congressional investigations, etc.

That's all pretty unforgivable in GOP eyes, irrespective of demographics.

But I'm remembering back to 2008, when America nominated its first non-white major party candidate for President. I honestly felt, back then, as though it was a sign of progress in the generations-long fight against racism.

Not a victory, no. I wasn't THAT naive. But the nomination itself, followed by the victory (and a fairly decisive victory, at that,) convinced me that we'd come further along the path than in fact we had.

The roseate glow of that victory dissipated quickly, of course. The festering wound of racism hadn't really healed much at all, if any, and that election simply ripped the scab off and let forth a flow of putrescent manifestations of racism beyond anything I'd imagined or feared.

Now I watch the misogyny, overt or thinly-veiled, or even heavily-cloaked and dog-whistled, in the coverage of and responses to Hillary Clinton's campaign, and I wonder what we're in for, should she win the Presidency.

Buckle up, my friends.


"Is there sanctuary for the disenchanted Republicans in THIS Democratic Party"

One pundit asked rhetorically, after Hillary's acceptance speech. And then answered (quelle surprise) with a critique I'm sure he thought was scathing, of the agenda she laid out.

So, let me expand a little on the issue of "sanctuary" for Republicans, in the Democratic Party that nominated Hillary Clinton for President, in 2016.

If you want a refuge from the thin-skinned ego, the unprepared narcissism, the uncontrolled temper, of a man who has never done a day of public service, welcome.

If you want a refuge from the terrifying thought of a man who honestly believes "I, alone, am the answer", in spite of not one single day in any kind of elected office, welcome.

If the notion of that orange-tinged finger on the metaphorical nuclear button gives you the jimjams, welcome.

If the scams, the bankruptcies, the stiffed contractors, the bilked 'students' of "Trump University," the hypocritical cheap-labor underpinnings of his clothing empire repel you, welcome.


Here's the deal.

You take us as we are.

Progressive platform and all.

You don't get to re-make us into your vision of what a left-ish, center-ey, sort of moderate-oid, 'acceptable' party with an 'acceptable' agenda SHOULD be.

If you're looking for refuge from a GOP that's become a hot mess, in the hope you can push and twist and leverage and maneuver and whine and insist and shove the Democratic Party into your box, fuggedaboutit.

It's a harder job, maybe, but what you should REALLY be doing, is heading back to your hot mess of a party and cleaning it up, turning it into what you think a party should be. And if that's "adult, deliberate, respect-worthy, conservative, thoughtful, practical, and successful," more power to you. I'll never love ya, people, but you could regain the small amount of respect I once had for some of you.

In the mean time, yeah, you can take shelter here, temporarily.

We get it, you don't like us, you don't like what we want to accomplish for this very great nation, but we're less awful than what your party's become, and right now, between today and November 8th, we ALL have to make some hard choices and compromise some passionate desires to preserve us from something infinitely worse.

The coffee's hot. Help yourself. Remember you're a guest, and we will try to remember that, too.

Guests don't get to redecorate or remodel the host's home.

But they get shelter from the storm, and respect for their humanity. We're up for that.

Stick with us through November 8th, then head back to the smoking ruins of your own party and rebuild THAT.

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