12 November, 2010

What He Said and Other Political Nonsense

Lately, our own George has been on a political roll.  It's about enough to make me put on a cheerleading outfit and jump up and down, because I haven't anything to add except "Yeah, baby!"

First, read a succinct and cutting history of modern American politics in "What You Can't Say, political edition," which should be required reading for students.  Then watch him deconstruct a scary Con flier in "Scared yet?"  I'm now wanting to send him every stupid conservative political flier I get just so I can watch him unleash his Smack-o-Matic upon it.

In other political nonsense, I want everyone to go read this Think Progress post: "While GOP Sought Exemption For Their Industry, PA Debt Collector Tricked Consumers With Phony Courtroom."  Then give it to everyone you know who believes Cons are looking out for the little guy.  Remind them that this sort of corporate behavior is considered just business as usual to Cons.  That's the free market, kiddies!

After that, if you need some entertainment at Cons' expense, you can go read Steve Benen's "Targeting Programs That Don't Exist (But Should)," wherein we learn that the Cons' Big Idea for cutting spending is to eliminate programs that no longer exist, while claiming they cost ten times more than they actually did. 

Great job, America.  You elected the most conspicuously unintelligent group of politicians to Congress in our country's history.  It's too bad we have to watch this country die from terminal stupidity whilst living in it.  Maybe it's time for a move to a nice tropical island somewhere.  One with an army of cabana boys, bringing me drinks on an assembly-line scale, because I'll need vats of the stuff while I watch the Cons in Congress proceed to destroy what little they left standing the last time.


Woozle said...

Some solutions (apologies if I've ridden these hobby-horses here too often already):
1. A better voting system. Almost anything would allow for more parties than the current one-vote-each/all-or-nothing system. I favor range voting, but even instant-runoff would allow a 3rd party to challenge the current good-cop/bad-cop duopoly (the party of corrupt-and-ineffective vs. the party of evil).
2. Reclaim the mass media. TV has become the synapses through which the neurons of our national consciousness interconnect. Because of media consolidation, our national brain is effectively being controlled by the financial elite -- and Red America, hypnotized by the carefully-framed distortions of reality presented thereon, happily welcomes our new feudal overlords.

Those are the goals; implementation is another matter. If I weren't so busy trying to get my evil corporate/capitalist enterprise up and running again, I'd totally be working on what might be described as Social Networking for Governance -- sort of like Facebook done right (if that's conceivable), but geared to making meaningful decisions about real issues instead of growing imaginary crops on Farmville. (And yes, as described, it would probably be horrible... I'm trying to be evocative, not precise. If you want precision, read this.)

Oh, and also I'd be working on my reply to Mike's last salvo (which is just by way of saying that I haven't forgotten and I'm not done with it, just too bogged down to give it the attention it deserves.)

george.w said...

"I'm now wanting to send him every stupid conservative political flier I get just so I can watch him unleash his Smack-o-Matic upon it."

Noooo.... no more fliers! I've thrown out, shredded, pitched, folded, spindled and mutilated more of the damned things than I can count this election. It's amazing what $3bn in corporate money can do, and I don't even watch TV news.

Facebook for governance? Hmm... it probably will happen. But it's difficult to imagine how to dampen large swings in public mood on important policy questions.

Woozle said...

"...it probably will happen. But it's difficult to imagine how to dampen large swings in public mood on important policy questions."

You raise an important issue, George. I would respond with several points:

1. It seems to me that the expression of those moods tends to be largely directed by the media.

Example: People are out of work because of Republican tax cuts. The Dems haven't been able to fix the economy because (a) these things take time, (b) the Republicans are stonewalling, (c) the recovery measures were heavily compromised by pressure from the GOP. The mood swing is it's about the jobs, stupid. The obvious solution is to kick out the worst of the obstructionists so progress can resume -- and the media could very easily have made the case for this, but no... they let the Rethugs have a complete pass for their idiocy because one person's distortions and fabulation are just as valid as anyone else's solidly-established and well-researched data.

2. How many people does it take to make change, if they can overwhelmingly agree on something? ("Overwhelmingly" meaning "not necessarily 100% but maybe 90%")

How many people would it take to buy a local talk-radio or TV station, and start breaking through the Wall of Framing inside which the media currently has much of the population safely contained? Why aren't MoveOn or ThinkProgress or FireDogLake or any of those organizations suggesting ideas like this (much less implementing them)?

There are 500 million active users on Facebook -- over 7% of Earth's population. What might they accomplish if they were given real issues to "play" with instead of Mafia Wars, and decent discussion platforms with which to work?

3, What percentage of the US population is capable of rational thinking, and willing to put in the effort if it looks worth the bother?

As an anti-authoritarian, the realization that so much of our population can be so easily manipulated disturbs me, but I am forced to accept its reality.

I do not, however, accept the conclusion that we must therefore abandon democracy and replace it with rule by wise elites (which is what Straussian (neo)conservatism is all about). What I do think is that we can find ways to systematically encourage rational ideas by setting up a memetic ecosystem where rationality is rewarded over irrationality, which is what I'm trying to do with InstaGov (aka Facebook for Governance).

...or, rather, will be trying to do when I get back to it.

Woozle said...

The above was written in haste; "...because of Republican tax cuts" is obviously an oversimplification. Republican tax cuts, Republican deregulation, Republican empire-building...

george.w said...

Maybe a function of emergency and normal status for laws. Most laws would take five years to go into effect. If above 80% voted for it, four years, and so on. And every law passed comes up for a re-vote the year after it passes (which in the case of, say, Prop 8, would be before it takes effect.)