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Friday WTFuckery
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 02.24.17

Would you guys enjoy a weekly potluck round-up where you all bring whatever enraged you in the past week and dump it in a single, contained thread? For me, it's the immigration harassment campaign - just the fact that there's massive energy and time being spent to terrify people who don't have the protection of the law, (or those that do! but who are not white) - makes my blood boil.

But there's lots of other options to choose from!

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Guest Post: On Bullshit
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 02.23.17

Salty Hamhocks writes: Higher education steps up. More context here.

Heebie's take
: It looks like a great course.

I remember in graduate school, there was an undergrad course offered with the name along the lines of "Science vs. Pseudoscience". Mostly I remember the flyers, which were fantastic. There was a bulleted list of questions like:
- Why can you take a course in rocks, but not crystals?
- Why do we study quarks, but not ghosts?
- Why do we study vibrations, but not ESP?

It almost seemed talmudic.

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It really gets to me sometimes.
Posted by Tia on 02.22.17

Over at the other place, a friend mentioned a contest the Post used to run: ruin a great line by adding to it. There was an entry that had become a stock phrase in her house: "The horror. The horror. It really gets to me sometimes." Of course her commenters were excited about this contest. So far my best contribution has been: "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. All considered the times were pretty average." Also great, not by me: "Shane, come back! You forgot your phone!" I thought you all would enjoy this game. You are herewith encouraged to play.

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Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 02.22.17

Two very good reads on 4chan, Milo, and this general shithead male youth internet force of destruction.

1. 4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump

2. On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America's New Right

I'm having trouble not boiling over with rage, today, and can't seem to stay detached enough to have interesting conversations. Why can't these shithead kids just start smoking a lot of pot and stay off the internet.

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Guest Post: Political Messaging
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 02.22.17

Nick S. writes: I've read any number of articles talking about what was wrong with the Democratic campaign in 2016, and what they they need to fix in the future. I am skeptical about the genre; I feel like it makes it easy for people to fall into "the pundits fallacy" -- assuming that whatever the writer personally wants politically will be popular with the voters. But, recently, I had a small epiphany reading one such article.

People appreciate when politicians tell them that the issues that concern them personally are symptoms of larger issues which are eroding the social fabric of the nation.

People want to have their sense of reality affirmed. And it's always good to hear, "it's a common problem", "don't worry, that happens to lots of people" or (less sarcastically) "You're not alone".

Perhaps that idea was ovious to everybody, but I haven't seen it phrased in precisely that way before, and I think that explains a lot of Trump's appeal and also part of the difference between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns -- when people say that Clinton failed to put forward a positive vision I suspect that actually means that she didn't identify issues as national crises whereas Sanders, in calling for a political revolution, was happy to identify a state of crisis.

If I'm correct, I have two questions. First, what are the issues on the left which lend themselves to that sort of framework? Setting aside, for the moment, the idea of political revolution I feel like that was a part of the Democratic messaging on health care ("many people can't afford to pay for necessary health care and it is an national crisis") and implicit in the discussion of climate change. I think "We are the 99%" aimed in that direction but didn't quite hit the mark, in part because it wasn't obvious exactly what concerns that slogan was validating. I would say that "Black Lives Matter" does a good job of activating that trigger, but I know it doesn't work for everybody (and, in saying that, I wonder if my idea has analytical value, or if I'm now falling into the pundits fallacy).

My second question is. to what extent is that idea a pessimistic one? I think it is and should be a powerful political message to identify real problem as stains on the national character. But it also seems like a recipe for political demagoguery and of marrying petty grievances with apocalyptic rhetoric. I'm not excited to hear the Left version of "American Carnage." But, perhaps I'm overreacting to the last campaign. It had been the conventional wisdom that candidates needed to convey optimism. But, other than 2008, that has not been my feeling about American politics lately.

Two other random political notes. I was surprised to see Brad DeLong write the sentence, "The centrist neoliberal project--use market means to achieve both social democratic ends and the rapid expansion of wealth--has crashed and burned." I'm more surprised to see him endorse that definition of neoliberalism than I am by the judgement of failure, but that felt like a milestone.

Secondly, John Holbo's latest post about Haidt is quite good and less digressive than the previous one.

Heebie's take: I went searching for a very specific post, from my first few months blogging here, and couldn't find it. (I did find posts where I wished LB a happy 37th birthday, and I re-watched the always-spectacular Fagette video, and discovered that I used to do a Create-a-Post series, where I'd give you guys two topics, and then post on whichever one got more votes. No memory of doing this whatsoever.)

If memory serves, the post went: People prefer Republicans because Republicans make them feel like: "All those other people caused your problems, and you're not responsible for their problems," whereas Democrats make people feel like: "You need to solve other people's problems, and you helped cause them, and you also caused your own problems." Note: That's not what each party is actually saying, but that's the taste that gets left in people's mouths.

The point of dredging up the original post would have been to provide evidence that this has been a problem since the Bush years.

So, to take on Nick's question - how do you tap "you are not alone" on the left? I don't know! We are all alone. We the country have already run off the cliff and are still jogging in mid-air, but have yet to look down. Parts of the coyote have looked down and parts are unwilling to. In 2008, I would have taken this metaphor a lot further.

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